Skip turned to Alex, "Let's get these two cubes out in the ocean and turn them into shark snacks, dig?"
Alex looked like he didn't want to do it. I wondered if maybe we could talk him out of it on the way to our watery graves.
Alex nodded, herding us out of the drawing room and toward the front doors. The guard that Jeffrey said he knocked out was up and helping the one he shot in the leg.
As we rode by the guard shack, I saw the one I knocked out was still tied up in there...
Jade Chen turned toward me with a serious look. "Flattery will gain you nothing, Mr. Randolph."
Skip laughed. I really hoped I would get the chance to knock his block off. But things weren't looking good for Jeffrey nor me at that moment. Come to think of it, it wasn't looking too good for Marilyn either.
"What about her?" Alex asked, looking in Marilyn's direction.
Jade Chen looked over at Marilyn. "I will handle her personally."
Damn, that didn't sound good. But I wasn't in any position to try and save her.
I wasn't even sure I could save myself...
Jade Chen laid her cards right on the table. She looked at Alex and Skip and said, "Take Mr. Randolph and Mr. Miller to my yacht. Take it out into the middle of the Pacific, shoot them through the head, and drop their bodies overboard."
She said it like she was giving someone instructions on how to bake a cake. After what she said about Blaze I was almost ready to think she wasn't all that bad.
"Wow," I said. "You know something, Jade? I was just about to think you were okay. But you're just a cold-hearted bitch!"
Jeffrey and I stood there, our hands in the air. My mind went back to a moment during the war when Fred Carr and I got captured by a couple of German soldiers. They got the drop on us and were marching us back to their lines when Harrigan popped out from behind a tree and plugged one of the Krauts. When the other turned to fire at him, I knocked him to the ground. Freddy, Harrigan and I spent the entire war saving each other's asses.
It made me regret telling Harrigan I never wanted to see him again...
I lunged toward Jeffrey, grabbing his arm and lifting up on it. He pulled the trigger just as the barrel was pointing straight up. The bullet buried into the ceiling, and bits of stucco came snowing down on us. When the commotion died down and I turned back towards Jade Chen and the rest, I saw Alex and Skip holding revolvers in their hands. I dropped the weapon, raising my hands. Skip kept me covered as Alex came over, pulling my own gun from my shoulder holster under my arm.
My friends across the Atlantic call that a cock-up...
Marilyn stood up, "See, baby. I did it for you."
She put her hand on Alex's shoulder and he stepped back away from her.
Jade Chen looked dead at Marilyn, "The pity of it is, child, that I have the police in my pocket. They wouldn't have arrested Alex. You killed that poor girl for nothing. And you have brought all of this upon us," she said as she waved her hand toward Jeffrey and me.
Jeffrey turned his ire and his gun toward Marilyn. I judged he was mere seconds away from shooting her. I had to move now...
I turned to Marilyn, "Of course. In for a dime, in for a dollar, huh, Marilyn? You killed her. Why? She was already out of commission."
She was sobbing uncontrollably when Alex stepped up and looked down at her. "Marilyn? Did you kill Blaze?"
She looked up through watery eyes and softly said, "Don't look at me like that, baby. I did it for you. It was all taken care of until Jake stuck his nose in it. When she recovered she would've gone to the police. You would've been arrested."
Alex looked like he was going to throw up...
"Okay," I said, finally getting some answers, "we've established how Blaze got in the situation she was in. What I want to know, Jade, is why you had to sneak in the hospital after I took her out of your place and stick a needle in her arm and kill her?"
Jade looked puzzled. "I did not sneak anywhere. And I didn't kill Blaze."
"The nurse said a dark haired woman went in her room just before she died," I said. Then it hit me like a train.
There was more than one dark haired woman in front of me...
She was blubbering at this point.
"But then, oh yeah, then you came up with a real beauty. If she needed money to feed her newfound habit, what better way than to get it lying on her back? Am I doing alright so far?"
Jeffrey looked very hurt, but it couldn't be helped.
"So, since you knew Jade Chen from her affiliation with Alex, you had a made-to-order madam at your disposal. How lucky can one girl get, huh?"
"Shut up, Jake!" she screamed through the tears.
"Scratch one threat to your pathetic little life, Marilyn."
Marilyn was sitting with her legs bent at the knees, her feet up on the settee. Her arms were wrapped around her legs, hugging them to her torso.
She started sobbing, "I didn't do anything!"
I nodded, "Oh yeah. Yeah, you did. You saw yourself losing your boyfriend so you took matters into your own hands, didn't you? What did you do? Steal a pop from Alex to give to her?"
She burst out crying. I continued, "Maybe you told her about Alex, thinking she would think if he sold the stuff he must use it too. Am I right?"
I turned to Alex, "Did you ever sell her or give her any of that crap, Alex?"
He shook his head like he was watching a high-speed tennis match. "No, I wouldn't have given her that garbage. She was too delicate, too..."
He stopped speaking as he let his thoughts trail off. I looked at Skip. He shook his head.
"No, dad. It wasn't me. And I never saw her using it."
That left one person. The one with the most at stake.
"So, Marilyn, how exactly did it go down? How did you get her hooked on heroin?"
"The police haven't handled it up to this point, Jake," Jeffrey said with anger.
I put my hands up, "Okay, but wait. We need to know where this poison is coming from. You don't want any more girls to end up like Susan, do you?"
He thought for a moment, then lowered the gun, but kept it pointed at Jade Chen. I turned to speak to her.
"Jade, when Blaze came to you was she really already on heroin?"
She nodded quickly, "I swear it. She already had it bad. I tried to help her."
Oddly enough, I believed her...
I could see Jade Chen was rattled. Maybe that was a good thing, provided I could keep Jeffrey from doing something stupid like shooting her.
"Jeffrey, what do you plan on doing with all these people?"
"The Oriental bitch dies. The police can have the rest."
Jade Chen looked positively mortified. I think she really thought her number was up. So did I.
"Wait, Jeffrey. You can't do it. You'll be no better than her if you do that. Let the police handle it all."
I couldn't tell him Jade was blackmailing the chief of police. And I needed information...
"I followed you," Jeffrey said. "Nice car."
I was so busy paying attention to what was in front of me that I neglected to notice what was behind me. I was rusty and making rookie mistakes.
"What were those shots outside, Jeffrey?" I asked.
He nodded his head. "I knocked one of the security guards out. The other shot at me so I shot back. I doubt he'll be walking on that leg any time soon."
Jeffrey was surprising the hell out of me. I thought this cat was a meek little kitten, but apparently he was a damn lion...
I hated to show my hand, but I knew Jeffrey was inching ever closer toward shooting Jade Chen. And I couldn't let that happen; not for Jade Chen's sake, but for Jeffrey's.
I stepped around and into the doorway of the drawing room.
"Jeffrey," I said softly.
He turned and pointed the gun at me until he saw who I was, then turned it back on the other people in the room.
"Jake, what the hell are you doing here?" he asked, looking at me but keeping the gun on them.
"I was about to ask you the same question."
"You!" Jeffrey said as he pointed a shaky pistol at Jade Chen. "You turned my little girl into a junkie and a prostitute! And now you're going to pay!"
Jade Chen tried to talk her way out of it. "Mr. Miller, is it? Mr. Miller, I didn't turn your daughter into a junkie. She was already on heroin when she came to me. I merely gave her a place to stay and a way to support her habit. And for that I am guilty. But I couldn't let the child suffer."
"Shut your filthy mouth, you whoremonger!" he screamed loudly...
What the hell was Jeffrey doing here? How the hell did he even find this place? And where the hell did he get a damned gun?
He backed everyone into the drawing room. This was all coming unraveled. All I had to do was listen and observe and I could've found out where that shipment was coming in and busted the whole bunch of them. I had to stop Jeffrey before he let his emotions cause him to do something that couldn't be undone.
I eased out of the kitchen and back down to the edge of the drawing room...
The front door went flying open and I heard a voice say, "Get back, punk!"
Alex began backing up toward the drawing room doors as Skip, Marilyn and Jade Chen appeared in the doorway. The dark figure began walking from the front doors toward the drawing room. Who the hell could that be? A disgruntled customer from Jade Chen's whorehouse? A hype with a bad taste in his mouth from some of her poison? I thought I was done swinging at curve balls. But I had just gotten thrown another one.
The figure stepped into the light. It was Jeffrey!
Alex looked up at Jade Chen as he was about to take his shot. "We're running low on product."
Jade Chen nodded, "There is a shipment coming in on Thursday. Make do with what you have until then."
Alex nodded and took his shot. He sunk the cue ball and cursed. Skip laughed as he pulled the cue ball out of the pocket and placed it in an advantageous spot for his next shot.
The calm evening was shattered by the ringing of gunfire outside. Everyone jumped, including me. I ducked back in the kitchen as Alex ran out front...
"Young lady," Jade Chen admonished, "I have told you before that my business is with Alex and Skip. You have nothing to do with this."
Marilyn shook her head, "Business with Alex is business with me. Make no mistake about that."
Skip looked at Alex when she said that. Alex rolled his eyes.
Jade Chen dismissed Marilyn's comment and stood up, joining the boys at the pool table. "How did things go?"
Skip smiled, "Call the supermarket, chickie baby, 'cause we picked up some serious lettuce tonight, dig?"
Jade Chen smiled. Don't tell me she actually likes that Beatnik nonsense...