Sitting on a stack of phonebooks, feet stretching for the gas. D drove over to the Lunar Tower.
She parked the taxi up front and got out. The valets gave her confused looks—-she hopped and skipped inside as if she didn’t notice them because she didn’t.
The lights were garish. Gold chandeliers hung from the ceiling like bait. Grand grand pianos and whitewashed jazz. We invite you to instead put on one of Three Songs About Lenin, or a Lenin Symphony.
She skipped past the front desk. A woman with pearl earrings eyed her. D ignored her too.
The elevator, the doors, the button, the tenth floor. D went up quick.
The doors opened and she found the suite easy. She skipped over and knocked. And knocked. And knocked again.
D tried again and said, “Hello? Porter here to pick up and deliver one Sublime Object.”
D scratched her head and thought about this. Then she turned around and saw a housekeeping cart. Still doing rooms.
A floor keycard set on the cart. D snatched it real quick and went back to the suite door.
Key to lock—-click. Unlocked. D tossed the key back to the cart and let herself in.
The space was wide. A wider window overlooking the city. The rising sun peeking through.
A bourgeois interior. Intricate and decadent patterns. D wrinkled her nose as if she smelled something foul—-until she realized she did.
D followed the trail.
By the corner lounge. She smelled it before she saw it. And then she did. And to that she said, “Ew.”
Sitting across from her in a luxury chair, a mess of red ruining the white and the gold and the mahogany. Red soaked into the upper part of the suit. Hunched over, what was left of Santino D’Angelo’s head hanging forward at an awkward angle.
D held her breath and stared at the body. She rubbed her chin.
She said, “Santino. Santino? It’s D. You wouldn’t happen to—-guess you wouldn’t. Okay fine. Don’t mind if I take a look around.”
D took a look around. She inspected drawers and cabinets and shelves. In the bedroom she found some suitcases, arranged as though one of them were missing. She rummaged through them and found nothing sublime or objectionable.
Then she heard a scream.
D hurried back to the lounge. She rushed toward asking Santino’s corpse, “What? What?” as if it could answer but it couldn’t because it was of course a corpse.
She looked across the suite. The housekeeper had come in and saw things as they were. What was left of Santino. D.
Silence between the two still alive.
Then D said, “I was definitely going to call someone. But you know—-feel free to get the head start.”
The housekeeper got the head start. She knocked her cart over in rushing out the suite. D said, “Hey,” then went over and picked up after her.
Styx stepped out to the alley by Amérique’s apartment—-he ducked.
A crash of glass behind him. Shards spilling into the access hall—-the door yet to close.
Styx rushed toward the violence, sudden and prepared.
He threw an arm out and caught the wrist, swinging down, a crowbar in hand. With the other arm he caught his attacker’s throat—-he looked very much like Elisha Cook Jr. if you happen to be familiar.
Styx slammed his head into the man’s nose for good measure.
With a muffled cry the man went to the ground. Crowbar dropped—-both hands over his nose.
Styx went around the man and grabbed him by the back of his shirt. He dragged him across the alley and past Styx’s 1933 Indian Four. All black, all sleek, all beautiful.
All dead. The tires slashed and the engine innards gutted out.
They moved to a trashcan—-graffitied on the side were the words THIS IS OUR IDEOLOGY BON APPÉTIT.
Styx threw him against the thing, a bang and a thud.
Time wasted zero—-he put a heavy boot to the man’s head and asked, “Who sent you?”
“Broke my fucking—-”
Styx stomped on his head. A whimper.
“Still have over two hundred to break. Let’s try again. Who sent you?”
“I—-ow fuck—-like I’d give you shit.”
“Better give me something. Or I’ll cut you like a movie trailer.”
“We—-we take orders from him, but we don’t know shit about him.”
“Who is he?”
“Nothing but a company man.”
Styx nodded. Then said, “A company man. That’s a good name. And where was this company man based?”
“There’s more than one base. Could be anywhere.”
“Then I only have two more questions for you. Question one, where’s the girl?”
“What fucking girl?”
“Shit. I don’t know. Could be anywhere. Could be with him. Could be with whoever he passed her onto. Which brings me back to could be anywhere, bringing me back to I don’t know.”
Styx nodded. Then he said, “Okay. Question two, do you have a light?”
The man spat blood and said, “Right pocket.”
Styx searched him and found it. Styx took out his Gauloises and lit it. He tossed the light away.
The man said, “You fuckin’ motherfucker.”
Styx ignored him, puffed and then said, “Okay. I’m going to give you ten seconds starting now—-now. I’m counting in my head. Answer question one or I’m sliding this cigarette into a nostril and stubbing it out on greymatter.”
“What—-Jesus—-okay okay wait! There’s a factory on the west end. Used to be a factory anyway. Who knows what the fuck you call it now. You can try there.”
The man breathed heavily as if he had just finished a marathon.
Styx said, “Thank you,” and proceeded to shove the Gauloises up the man’s nose regardless. The man struggled but failed and so screamed in agony. Styx then picked up the crowbar and left the alley and caught a cab and told the driver his destination.