It was a cold gray day in the Hollywood hills, though not what we call cold in Poughkeepsie. The palm trees blew moodily in the stiff wind from the bay and I wished I was in Vegas, shooting craps, with a brace of toga-wearing broads draped over the hood of my convertible. I was wearing my best suit with the polka dot tie and the lime green socks and I didn’t care who noticed the label said Cheap-Mart. I was calling on a billion dollars.
I drew up in front of a sprawling pile that made Caesar’s Palace look like a hen-house in Cornhole, Alabama. The gravel crunched beneath the tires of my Packard and I wondered if the rumors were true and the three mile driveway was raked daily by a naked broad with one good eye and a dislike for Democrats. The only nudes on show were fake Italian statues, all busy pissing on the manicured lawn. I stepped out of my car and stared up at Schmooze Hall. It was worth staring at.
“You always been this big, mister?”
I looked down. A small blonde, stacked like the shelves at Cheap-Mart on sock sale day, was lying on the ground at my feet. I examined her features for recent tire marks. There was nothing obvious. I ignored the size question and waited for the blonde to make a move. She didn’t.
There was nothing in that for me so I let it ride. Hell, the broad could have diamond trimmed stockings with platinum garter clips tucked beneath her tight little slinky skirt. She pouted at me like a fish at the aquarium. I knew the type; they were ten a penny on the boardwalk at Venice Beach.
“Don’t say much, do you, mister?”
There was nothing in that for me so I let it ride. Careless talk costs lives. I stepped over the blonde and headed for the front steps. I half expected a Busby Berkeley chorus line to come prancing down the endless marble flight, kicking up their heels like they had itching powder in their panties. My Luger felt cold and deadly next to my chest and my trigger finger twitched as the big oak doors opened and a young man appeared. I glanced at the blonde, still sprawled on the drive like a debutante oil slick.
“You oughta watch that broad. She could cause an accident.”
The young man nodded politely.
“Yes, sir. Walk this way, sir.”
The butler moved like a man who had once been a broad. I could have walked his way but I let it ride. Too hard on the hip joints and a guy needs his hips when he’s hot on the tail of a blackmailing bird straight out of Sing Sing via Big Al’s Noodle House. After mincing down more corridors than the Pentagon, we arrived at a pair of steamed-up doors. Sauna, conservatory or Big Al’s Noodle House, it was hard to tell. The butler knocked three times then looked at me like I had some information he wanted to pry out of me like I was some kinda shellfish and he had a fork. I let it ride. Finally, he spoke.
“Your name, sir?”
I paused. It could’ve been a trap. I looked around but the only eyes and ears belonged to an ugly broad in a ten foot painting by some jerk called Picasso. The dame had eyes on her ass and it made me think of my ex-wife.
“Who wants to know, Tinkerbell?”
“It’s customary to make an announcement, sir.”
“Show Mr McFee in, Mason. I know who he is.”
A soft female voice called out from behind the steamed-up doors and I stiffened, my trigger finger caressing the business end of the Luger. Of all the gin joints in the world she could have been propping up, she had to be lurking in some damp greenhouse in the Hollywood hills. Broads. You just couldn’t trust them to be where you wanted them to be.
I pushed open the conservatory doors and a blast of warm wet air drenched me like a bad August day at the Green Dragon Chinese laundry. Some like it hot.
“Over here, sugar.”
Her tinny tinkle issued from behind a forest of banana trees. I should’ve asked for a machete. Finally, I came upon the broad, lounging expensively on a wicker loveseat.
“Frankie McFee. It’s been a while.” She husked seductively, her long-lashed peepers slowly raking up and down my Sunday clothes.
There was nothing in that for me so I let it ride. I looked down at the redhead, at her flaming Rita Hayworth-style wig. She had an ass like Norma Jean and rocket thrusters that would’ve made Jane Russell weep. Buzzums McGraw, the toughest broad in town.
“Fancy a drink, Frankie?”
Her sharp silver nails toyed with a swizzle stick and I caught a whiff of rye from the long cold one on the hostess trolley.
“I’m on the wagon.”
“Really? That won’t last.”
Buzzums patted the empty seat beside her and I sat down, reluctant as a priest in a whorehouse. Her cleavage thrust accusingly at me like twin weapons of mass destruction, all pink and wobbly, innocent yet dangerous as a gigantic double scoop of strawberry instant dessert concealing a pair of hand grenades. I looked at the broad’s mouth instead. Her lips were a screaming red like a stop light that really meant go; wet and shiny as a cop’s oil-slicker on a damp November night. Something stirred in my pants and I set my jaw to imperturbable.
“I heard he got out of jail,” husked the redhead, uncrossing a pair of gams that made Betty Grable look like a bow-legged, hunchback dwarf cleaning lady out of Slipslap, Omaha. I caught a faint whiff of Chanel Number 5 and something else, something that made me realize that the broad had designs on more than the pistol in my pocket.
“You’re thinking of Mack Factor, the safe cracker. I meant the color on your smooching tackle, baby. Reminds me of my ex-wife.”
“Oh? Was she a redhead too, Frankie?”
Silently, I relocated my gaze from her lips to her eyes. They were green eyes, piercing as a predatory cat about to pounce on an unsuspecting can of pilchards. The cleavage rose and fell like bad weather off San Luis Obispo and I began to feel faintly queasy. Silver claws raked my thigh through my pant leg and scarlet lips descended on my mouth. It was the Big Schmooze, an insidious maneuver that Buzzums had made all her own. I reached for my Luger but found something else. I was hard as the toughest inmate on Death Row. My manhood threatened to burst out of my pants and poke the broad in her scent-spritzed gal-hole. She didn’t seem to object to that outcome and straddled me, threatening to send the flimsy loveseat crashing into the banana plantation. I let her kiss me. I’d been kissed before and survived the experience. Finally, she came up for air, her lipstick smeared like a kid with a face full of jelly donut.
“You’re a hard man, Frankie McFee,” she husked, squirming on the business end of my Luger like a down-on-her-luck burlesque dancer trying to spring a few bucks from a tightwad Monday night crowd with free beer coupons clipped from the Cheapskate Gazette.
“That’s a pistol in my pocket.”
“They all say that, Frankie.”
I let her ride my protection ‘til she shrieked like a trainee banshee on All Ghouls Night, her trademark mamms pounding into my face with a force and speed only rivaled by Two Buck Trixie at the Wu Ha whorehouse on Wun Hung Street. Meanwhile my hardness got harder. I was hard as nails; hard as the struts on the Golden Gate Bridge; hard as Jimmy Cagney in a movie about gangsters where everyone talks like they got their mouths full of chop suey and pistols go off like popguns and the real smell of cordite’d make them all sick as dogs ‘cos they ain’t as tough as the skin on my trigger finger. Buzzums husked in ecstasy, still grinding her round ass in ever-decreasing circles like a malt-frothing machine at the Happy Cow Milk Bar. My hardness peaked.
“Suck it, Buzzums.”
The broad slid to her knees on the greenhouse floor. I watched her closely, the Luger and the pistol in my pocket both pointing at her flaming head. Her eyes closed then opened wide. She gasped, her great bazookas rising and falling like some kind of fleshy Roman Empire but without the togas and sandals and coliseums. Or maybe she had a toga or two in her closet. I heard she worked the blackjack tables in Reno. The broad looked like she was begging but I knew she was pleading like a shark pleads with a shoal of mackerel.
“You going to blow my brains out, Frankie?”
I looked down at her green eyes and red, red lips.
“I’m going to blow your mind, doll. You know where to find it.”
The redhead laughed, a Marlboro rattle in a rye and soda wheeze.
“Your mind? In your pants, like every other guy’s.”
I unfastened my pants and let the broad decide.
“To have or have not, Buzzums?”
She stared at the business end of my Luger with the cool appraising look of a gal who’d seen more guns than the duty officer at the 20th precinct on firearm armistice day.
“I thought you’d have a bigger one, Frankie. A girl can’t always tell…”
“Farewell, my lovely.”
I cocked my pistol and sprayed half a pint of clam chowder over the redhead’s pouting mug. My man-juice coated her stop-light lips and mixed with the lipstick smears to make a mess that looked like a cherry cream pie fight at the YMCA on a hot July day when the showers are on half-strength due to water rationing.
“Looks like I met my match, McFee,” she husked, slowly inserting her swizzle stick into the muzzle of my handgun. There was nothing in that for me so I let it ride. Round one to Frankie “Loose Cannon” McFee.
“Lick it, baby.”
She surrounded the barrel of the Luger with her man-eating, messed-up mouth. Russian Roulette was no more than an idle party game for a broad as tough as Buzzums McGraw. Maybe we’d have a threesome with the nutcase blonde later and get the butler to take pictures for the society pages. It was a strange town, Hollywood.