By the time Jack pulled up outside The Wild Card, the place swarmed with cops and an ambulance had arrived for Frank. Jack stepped out of his car and looked around for Bobby. Instead, he found an angry Officer Buxley.
“That was a nasty trick you pulled on me, Mr. Diamond!” Buxley stated as he walked inside the club with Jack.
Jack patted him on the back. “I’m really sorry it had to go down that way, kid. I didn’t have a choice.”
Buxley grabbed Jack by his right arm, causing Jack to wince and stop in his tracks. Buxley turned and faced him.
“You nearly got me fired, Mr. Diamond. You should have told me your plans.”
Jack peeled Buxley’s fingers off of his arm and stared down at him. “If I had told you, would you have let me take her?”
“Probably not, sir,” Buxley said as he wiped his brow and grinned sheepishly at Jack.
“Then I did it the right way, kid.” Jack smirked at him and continued to walk into the lounge.
Buxley stood there for a moment and then ran to catch up with Jack. As he fell into step, he filled Jack in. “Two shots. One to the right shoulder and one to the left side near his kidney. He’s stable, but they want to get him to the hospital as soon as he talks to you, Mr. Diamond.”
Jack nodded and headed to where Frank laid just around to the back of the bar. An officer and a paramedic stepped aside for him. Jack knelled down beside Frank who had his eyes closed and breathed heavily. Jack touched his hand and Frank opened his eyes, blinked a few times and then smiled up at Jack.
“There you are, Mr. Diamond.”
Jack smiled down at him. “Yes, Frank. Here I am. Looks like you took a couple of nasty bullets.”
Frank nodded and began coughing, repeatedly. The paramedic rushed over and began checking his vitals, but Frank pushed him away.
“I need to… to tell you something, Mr. Diamond,” Frank muttered between coughs.
“I’m listening, Frank. Just take your time.”
Frank nodded again and breathed in deeply. His hand shook as he grabbed Jack’s. “I tried to stop her, Mr. Diamond. She… she was acting all crazed.” he whispered. He began coughing again and his face reddened.
“I need to get oxygen in him,” the paramedic said as he held an oxygen mask over Frank’s face.
“No… no,” Frank protested. “I must… I must tell you!”
“Sure, Frank. Take some oxygen first. I am right here,” Jack said as he straightened up and nodded to the paramedic.
As he turned around, Jack saw Bobby talking to one of the officers. From the look on Bobby’s face, it wasn’t a pleasant conversation. Jack walked over and waited. When they were done, he pulled Bobby off to the side.
“How’d you hear about this?” Jack asked him.
“I was here. I had been talking to Frank about a hunch I had. I left, went to the bathroom and then I heard the shots. When I came out, Frank was on the floor.”
Jack raised a brow and then asked, “Did you see the shooter?”
Bobby shook his head. “There was no one here but Frank when I came back out.”
“How long were you in the bathroom?”
Bobby lifted his head, scrunched up his face and then looked back at Jack. “Four, maybe five minutes. Took me another minute to get back out here.”
Jack nodded. “What was the hunch you were working on?”
“I remembered what you said about women. How some of them are girlfriend material and others are dames. Remember?”
“Yeah, kid. I remember. What about it?”
“Well, I saw a picture of Jessica Daley and I gotta tell ya, boss, she was no dame. I decided to ask Frank about her.”
Jack raised his left hand, pushed his fedora up on his head, and scratched it. Jack pondered the angle Bobby was working on. “So you think she was coerced into her job here?” he finally asked.
“That’s what I was thinking, boss.”
“What did Frank tell you?”
“Not much. He said when Miss Daley first showed up at the club, she was with a businessman. Next thing he knew, she was working at the club.”
Jack shook his head. “Blackmail, I bet. That was probably some rich businessman with a wife and kids.”
The paramedic joined Jack and Bobby. “He wants you back over there, Mr. Diamond.”
Jack walked back over to Frank and crouched down beside him. “I am here, Frank,” he said as he touched him on the shoulder.
Frank opened his eyes. “Mr. Diamond… I saw your angel today.”
Jack understood that reference. Frank had always called Angelina his angel. “Was she here at the club, Frank?” Jack asked.
Frank nodded his head. “She came to see Mr. Angelo, but… he wasn’t here. Miss D’Amore took her to the back room for a few minutes. Then your angel… she left. That’s when your associate, Mr. Weston showed up.” Frank coughed a couple of times and then continued, “When Mr. Weston went to the bathroom, Miss D’Amore came out… she was yelling and screaming. She called your angel a whore and swore that she would stop her.”
“Stop her from what?” Jack asked with a curious look on his face.
“From winning you back, Mr. Diamond. That’s what she said.”
Jack’s face grew dim. He let out a deep sign and shook his head. If Angelina told Ella she wanted me back, there’s no telling what Ella would do. He looked down at Frank. The man’s face had turned red and he coughed uncontrollably again.
“Who shot you, Frank?”
“She did, Mr. Diamond. Miss D’Amore shot me. I… I tried… she had a gun. I…”
His voice trailed off as he coughed harder.
Jack motioned for the paramedic and stood upright. His mind raced with questions. Good God, Ella. What are you doing? he thought as he ran out of the club.
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!
The Stacked Deck ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
Click the link to catch up on the other parts of this story:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23. Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27
Jump forward to Part 29