Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter Twin .50s - The Sodden Wavering
Dardenella was waiting in the bar of the slightly less expensive the Three Seasons, wearing a dress indistinguishable from a miserly film of black oil paint. Her hair was chesnut enough to roast on a fire, and lips were like a red airfield beacon, so there was the usual flight pattern of men around her trying to get clearance to land like Wildcats on the Lexington. I brushed them aside by firing off a couple of rounds from my .38, kissed her like I was headed off on a suicide mission in the morning and helped myself to six or seven of the pile of free drinks on her table, flicking the little umbrellas contemptuously at the scattering Toms, one landing gently down on the bleeding leg of one of the slow ones. I offered him a suggestion that Dr. Alexander Hamilton would take care of everything, and folded it into an origami crane for a bit of apologetic flair.
The gunfire attracted onlookers, pressing their moist noses against the window for a better view of the romantic devastation. I noticed a wavy waft of long blond hair outside. Then Dardenella screamed!
As a spiderweb pattern of death opened in the plate glass window, her best hat exploded in a snowstorm of silk, netting and tiny wooden bird splinters! If her hair hadn't been piled high as the Stanford rowing crew's workout sweats she would have been laid out for the big dirt nap and I'd be looking for another girlfriend on the side. As it turned out, a quick coif and a foggy layer of Aquanet could fix what a shot an inch lower would have taken the entire drunken incompetence of San Francisco General Hospital to fail to do.
It had to be Heinreicha.
"You're alright baby. We gotta blow. 23 Skidoo. We've got a date- for a menage a-trois of revenge!~" I said.
Dardenella was upset. "I'll tear that Nazi bitches' arms off! I'll gum her hair to P-40 prop! . I'll sew her lips to Goering's Ass!."
"I like the way you think, sugarlumps."
I ran outside to the intersection and spotted a stopped rider on an Indian motorcycle. I waved one hand in the air like a moth for distraction and pulled out his goggles and snapped them back on his face.
"Sorry, Pal, Police business. Here, Call the Chief at his home number, " I said as I pushed him off, got on the bike and got Darenella on the back. As she grabbed me to hold on her chest pushed softly into my back like a couple of silk lunch bags full of fresh warm tapicoa pudding. I hit the throttle and we roared off.
Dardenella roared in my ear - she'd gone line by line through the Bay Area City Directory of Fascists and Totalitarians and had a hunch they were meeting at the Japanese Tea House in Golden Gate Park.
"I checked the cop reports. There's been at least 147 murders in the city of federal officials, Democrats, US Army Air Force personell, jazz musicians and attractive brunettes - all people sworn to stop Hitler. At every single crime scene is a woman with long blond hair, long black boots. It's been so bad the San Francisco police have actually begun to investigate. They always find a single 9mm casing, enammeled with a pink swastika. Look out!" I swerved casually to avoid an oncoming baseball stadium.
We were hot on the trail of Heinreicha the Bulleteer, the deadliest German since a cook from Hamburg invented E Coli at the 1909 Chicago World's Fair.
Riding along the paths I gently rolled the bike into the pond near the tea house rather than pay the outrageous nickle for parking on a motorcyle I didn't even own. We went in -but of course since the War started the tea house was run by Austrians.
Impatiently I grabbed the first man I saw with a name tag that said "Hello, My Name is Hans- ask me about our Alpine Tea Ceremony" and smacked him around until I happened to look out the window and notice Henreicha paddling by in a bicycle boat with a man so small, dangerous and shifty he made Peter Lorre look like Jimmy Stewart. I told Hans "sorry, maybe Abe Lincoln can help" and tucked a fiver in his apron for the trouble and the Thompson .45 I picked up from behind the postcard rack.
There was nothing to do but follow them on another paddle boat. We clammored in and peddled away.
It was a clear sky around the little forested park hill and the round lake. Hundreds of children were playing and beating each other up. The dappled sun slapped aroung the water. The ducks were pecking each other, and shunning the coots. A goose was extorting bread from another goose with compromising photos. A swan was on his back plastered from drinking two quarts of Mad Dog. The day was beautiful, but the world was ugly, and would be, tilled we scoured the sink scum of totalitarianism from it with bleach and grit for extra cleansing power.
As if to underscore the point, three huge holes drilled into the wood on our boat and water spouts from a deadly yet refreshing spray of bullets splashed high.
Normally, when you chase down the bad guys in SF, you go the nearest chase clock, punch your card, receive the car keys , cop a little air down Jones street, take out a couple of fruit stands, crash into the bay, and Bob's your Uncle. This was different. I was in just the sort of nightmare situation every private dick fears: in a Tommy gun firefight with an expert female Nazi sharpshooter around the paddleboat lake in Golden Gate park on family day. I squeezed off a few dozen rounds as she paddled round the bend, and I shouted at the sweaty but game Dardenella to increase speed to .25 of a knot. I started picking apart my cotton candy and tossing and burning it to lay down a smokescreen.
The chase has a long tradition in town, every since Stinky Yamaguchi tried to outrun Sherriff "Handlebar Bob" McFierce in his stolen '02 Horseless Smokester, nearly getting away before a carelessly tossed stick of gum put the kibosh on his wheels turning when he hit Market street. This was so far back that Stinky was sent up San Quentin for 16 to 20 for felony interference with a magical elf carriage, the only applicable law on the books.
But this was today, not yesterday. Here, not there. Now, not then. 1 O'clock, not 11 am. It was time for justice.