Jack shrugged off Victor’s hand on his shoulder and turned back to Ella.
“Don’t mind Victor. We’ve got a long history. Not all of it pleasant.”
Ella laughed, but kept her eyes on Victor this time. Jack lit her cigarette and leaned back in his seat. He was determined not to get into a scuttlebutt with Victor.
“True, Jack. Long history. Unpleasant, all of it,” Victor said as he went to stand behind Ella and placed his hands on her shoulders. “What brings you to my humble club tonight? Surely it isn’t the bourbon or my new act here.” Victor looked down at Ella and then back up at Jack.
Jack played it cool. He puffed on his cigarette for a moment before responding. “Curiosity, mostly.”
Victor raised a brow. “Of what?”
Jack finished his cigarette, stumped it out and took a swig of his bourbon. “Well, I have this widow who claims her husband was decent chap. You know, home every night, good provider, loyal. Funny thing though,” he hesitated as he pulled the matchbook out of his jacket pocket, “this was found on him when he died.” Jack turned the matchbook over, revealing the club’s logo and handed it to Victor.
Victor turned the matchbook over and over again with his fingers, staring at it. Finally, he looked up at Jack. “A lot of people come to my club, you know that, Jack. Matchbooks get passed out a lot as well. What’s your point?” Victor handed the matchbook back to Jack, who took it and put it back in his pocket.
“I don’t really have one, Victor. Just, you know, my curiosity. A guy named Charlie White ever frequent your joint?”
Victor gazed up in the air. Was silent for a moment. Then shook his head. “Name doesn’t sound familiar, but this is a busy place.”
“Sure, Victor. I know. Say, what about that dame that worked for you. Jessica… Jessica…” Jack pretended not to remember her name.
“Daley,” Victor interjected.
“Yes, yes. That’s the one.”
“Dead, I’m afraid,” Victor replied without so much as blinking.
Jack chuckled. “I know that, Victor. Do you know what happened?”
Victor loosened his hold on Ella’s shoulders and sighed. “Why all the questions, Jack? If you want to know something, just spill it.”
Jack gave Victor a sly grin. It was true. Victor was far too clever to beat around with. The man preferred bluntness. “Fine. Did you kill her, Victor?”
It was Victor’s turn to laugh. “I’ve never killed anyone, Jack.”
Ella stood up. “Excuse me, boys. This is all lovely, but I must go powder my nose. I have another set in a few moments.”
Jack and Victor both watched Ella walk away, each eyeing her up and down as she did so. Slowly they turned and looked at one another. Jack coughed and and gave a sideways grin to Victor.
“Now, about Jessica Daley, Victor.” Jack continued his line of questions.
Victor’s face grew grim. He glared at Jack. “I already told you. I didn’t kill anyone!”
“Temper, temper, Victor old boy. I know you don’t actually do the killing. You usually get Tito to do that for you, right?”
Victor grabbed Jack by the shirt collar and pulled him in close. “Listen here, Jack, I’ve about had it with your questions. Finish your drink and get the hell out of my club!” He released Jack with a shove and another angered glare.
Jack staggered back into his seat, laughing. He picked up his drink and downed it. Stood up and put his coat on. “You’ll never change, Victor.”
“If you know what’s good for you, Jack, you’ll leave the detecting up to your cop buddies!” Victor replied. His face was flushed and his nostrils flared.
Ella breezed back into the room and stood between the two men. “Oh come on, boys. Don’t ruin my show with all of this bickering. Mr. Diamond,” she said as she placed a hand on his arm, “do stay for the final act.” She slid her hand down his arm and cupped his hand with hers. Her hand lingered there a moment and then she removed it.
Jack felt the piece of paper being placed into his hand and as soon as Ella released it, he closed his hand quickly and placed it into his pocket. “Sorry Miss D’Amore, Victor has thrown me out for the night. Another time, I promise,” he said to her with a wink and a smile.
Victor let out a slight grumble of disgust. Jack looked up at him. “You’d better hang on tight to this one, Victor. She is quite a dame!” Jack nodded his head at Ella and left the club.
By the time Jack made it outside, the rain had stopped. He walked down the street and stood under a street light. He removed the piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it.
It read: “I know who killed Jessica and why. Meet me tomorrow morning at 10:00 am on Baker Street at the tea house.”
Jack smiled. Yes, indeed, that Miss D’Amore was some dame.
The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!
This serial is copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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Jump forward to Part 5