Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jingle Nelle, Jingle Nelle


By Absolutely*Kate


You didn't just get an off-white vellum invitation with the fancy schmancy deckled edges to come deck the halls with the hoity toity high hats at Fortunato's Supper Club slipped under your doorway, y'know. I needed to be minglin' and jinglin' like I belonged at that ritzy bash on Tonawanda Street come Christmas Eve night or someone I didn't want to was gonna get hurt. Real bad hurt. The kind that don't leave no shadows no more.

So I had to call in all the markers on all the darb tricks I could trade of any hustled angle to be made. I'm Nelle, Nelle Callahan, gal gumshoe of some gumption, some say. Me? I don't say as much as some do, but what I do do is work all the angles til their more prominent points stick sharp in my noggin. That's when a crime scene unfolds itself keen, and the coppers can pitch their pinch. Man oh man, this time though, I had to be slick. Slick and quick. Word warbled from the Canary last night, was a hit was coming down smack dab in the midnight rendition of "Oh Holy Night". Cripes. A Holy Nativity execution. Joseph, Mary and Jesus, what'll they think up next?

Doesn't take three wise guys with half a starring brain to figger the sacrilege a few extra Garbinos nosing around this gritty city without pity by the bay have stunk up lately. It all started at the Flamingo -- yeah, the Vegas dream, the cha-ching, cha-ching, but that's a long story and I only got a short span. Lemme make some calls. Cop a seat. I'll get back to you.

***
"Lena's the headliner? Really? You're not gaming my gam? That star siren is gonna croon "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" during the last surf and turf seating? Yeah, sure Benny, I can do backup. I soitently can. Stuff your chucklin' Ben, I can do sultry, I can! You just haven't been in spiffy joints at the most fortuitous times to feel my sultry coming on. But it can. Oh, it does."

With a chuckle gone guffaw, "Well then dollface, you got yourself a gig. Be there at 7 square and you're in like Jake."



A jangled groan dangled the end of the phone. Benny imagined the shatter-clatter heard next to be Nelle's cup o'joe going saucer/cup over the edge. Shame if the dame marred up that old mahogany desk any more. That piece was heirloom, priceless. If the drawers could mumble. But that numbskull of an ex-partner Jake shook this dame bad tryin' to shake her down. Detectives shouldn't oughta get shook. Nope, not by a long shot in Benny's book. That's why he kept an extra eye or four on the lookout for her. He'd promised her Pop in the old days at the precinct, and the old days were always somethin' to hold onto, somethin' to respect. "Whoa there Nelly girl. Sorry. Didn't mean to say his name. Shake it off kid," Benny gruffed, but not all that rough. "You ain't got no lollygagging time."

***
Amazing what tinsel can do to a toddling town. Up, down, all around ~ shiny, sparkly and jolly as promises waiting to jingle, the swanky ballroom at the Fortunato Supper Club was hollied to the hilt with silver and gilt. There was no guilt backstage where Nelle jiggled body parts to fit her bodice part where jingly rhinestones would shake their shimmy like Lena's sister Kate showed her. She'd sultry her part behind the songbird. Piece o'crumb cake. But now, here . . . silver shimmeries all adjusted, she had the advantage of real solid vantage from stage door left. Heavens to Murgatroyd -- from behind the gold fringe of the red velvet curtain she could eyeball the real floor show setting up now . . . Her mind met her suspects ~

There. That's Jack Rhinegold. Fresh and frisky outta San Quen. Hell on a pistol up close and personal, and rumour smirks it -- at fifty paces cold. Could be him leanin' his leer into that chorusline cutie's cleavage. Could be. Or the button could be the money guy. They always surmise where to bury the bodies so as not to mess up the manicure. Word had it the big cheese could be one of Lansky's boys. He'd surely have the means. Watch his eyes Nelle. Read his play-by-play. 'Member how Pop taught ya, "The eyes show their truths and spit their lies." Ain't it the truth. Best to keep my peepers on this creeper's.

WAIT! Holy Cow! Who's the dandy comin' down Fortunato's red and green spiffed staircase now? Arm in arm with a Sheba wannabe all winter-whited in fake fur and sparky zircon. Well, well, well, if it isn't my jerk Jake, bein' jostled by none other than the new thug in town. The youngest Garbino boy. Danny. Brains behind the operation if they'd only give him the chance. Danger lurking if he took it. A two-timer and a doubletimer. Hmmm, it was all addin' up.

"NELLE! D'ya hear me? We're ON!"

***

Hangin' back with Lena's sister Kate, backslinging backup croons to holiday tunes, the view lookin' over the togged-to-the bricks hoofers was in the groove, swell. I scanned for my man, the mark of the hour. "All is calm, all is bright", I warbled tender, soft and mild. Then I saw him. The man I knew as a child. My brother. No other. State legislator Patrick R. Callahan gladhanding from the corner table, near the bar. Pat had parted ways with Pop when he'd gone too political. Groping fingers in too many pockets was bound to not get a guy the heartiest of handshakes. And that kinda reaching out irked a mob not fondly meddled into. This not-so-silent night was waitin' to happen.

What I didn't expect to happen was the single strap fall down from Lena's knockout jet black gown. One note too high, one arm too flung and there her left breast barely hung. Jostling fellers in the front row to rich rubes three rows back rose to the unappreciation of their dates for much better ogling. Kate lost no bum's rush in elbowing the push to step me up to the open mike. You had to do these things in my line of undercover work. Tight spots come even under shining spots. Shows must go on. That's just how the biz is.

Trixie, my silver derringer, was still pressed tight to my derriere. Amazing what a glitzy swathe of garland can do to protect a hip gal around her holidays. I nodded to Joey the jazzy bandleader, found the next note, carried on the tune. It was clearly comin' on midnight high and I wasn't yet sure how this scene was going to shake down, or who I'd have to take down. Best to keep my peepers peeled. Something would be revealed. Somethings usually are.

THERE! His chair squeaked motion to sudden commotion right on our "dear saviour's" cue: "Long lay the world in sin and error pining". Yeah, it was Lansky's guy and I glared him in the eye, clutching the best weapon I already had in the clutch. The open mike's reverb revved as I screeched, "WATCH OUT BAD GUY! SANTA DON'T LIKE NO POLITICIANS BUMPED OFF IN MY ACT!"

The shooter turned to the stage. God I could see his rage. So I turned up the volume and vamped, "YOU BETTER WATCH OUT ~ YOU BETTER NOT POUT ~ ~ " Joey caught my drift, winked and brought in the band with a whole new rift. Sammy backstage reangled his audience spot. What a mess. This was gonna be no clean getaway.

In the center of the white damask round tables there arose such a clatter when Chief Gus Donovan knocked over Mrs D's chicken divan platter, standing up, the to better see what was the matter. Without hesitation, he signaled his boys in blue in back. My big brother meanwhile, shunned the courage he'd always lacked. He tabled his decision to stand tall and dove under his damask.

***
The jig was up. I remember Joey, wrappin' the night with a wicked rendition of "Jingle Bell Rock". On a Fortunato matchbook, he slipped me his number, but heck, I already had Joey's number. I remember Jake, leavin' his Suzy starlet babe sputterin', comin' up and comin' on to me with that same simmer-steam to his old blue eyes, actin' surprised. "That really You Nelle? Silver shimmers curve you crazy Callahan. Y'know, I've been meaning to call and -- "

Jake was cut off for a hundred number of reasons I won't go into to keep the Christ in Christmas when the hand on my back turned me firmly around. And I remember Patrick, standing there -- tall, lean, but quaking much too much in his hotsy totsy white wingtips to appear any more, threatening or mean. "Uh, Sis, I owe you one."

"No Paddie, we're square. That one was to remember Pop. You have yourself a merry little Christmas. Hear?"

And I heard him exclaim, as I sashayed outta sight, "You haven't heard the last of me Nelle -- No, no, not tonight!"

***
T O B E C O N T I N U E D ?
Well ain't that the way crime goes? Some folks win, some have woes. Some shadowy street not named Desire, I'm imaginin' you and me are gonna meet up again. We'll see how that goes. Til then, I'm Nelle, Nelle Callahan, wishin' you a merry little Christmas too.

***

Absolutely*Kate is writer, designer and promoter/publisher of the to be sailing HARBINGER*33, and creates theatre for the mind AT THE BIJOU ~ where writers' raves become readers' faves. She believes in believers, the magic 'neath the shadows of noir and moxie.

19 comments:

Chris Rhatigan said...

Nice job, Kate. Memorable and stylish.

Alan Griffiths said...

Very nicely done, Kate. Full of great lines and images - I enjoyed that a lot.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Ring a ding ding! Classy joint!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Nelle is one cool skirt. This story was more than just a good read, it was an experience. Even better the second time around, and going to read it again I'm sure.

Julie Lewthwaite said...

Great story, Kate, slick and stylish. I really enjoyed it - thanks!

Carrie said...

Kate is an *Absolutely* fantastic writer. 'Bout time she came out and strutted her stuff. Proud of her, love this and look forward to even more in the future.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Aw shucks, you grand gritty Crime-Greats make a noir dame feel not only welcome, but ready to do a little fox trot at the Fortunato.

The DO SOME DAMAGE line-up has been an array of gruesome talent that I'll be following and adding more bookshelves for. Grateful to Sean Patrick Reardon for holding up a flashlight in a dark alley to find this swell joint ... and always Paul Brazill for 'already being there'. (It's like comin' home again wherever you are,dear sir).

Killer Chris, scary Alan and oh so talented Julie, deep appreci'kation for kind words. To the DSD-8 (sounds like a criminal trial of no errors already) -- I salute you with my raised fedora and send good vibrations to all your publications soaring you the more. THANKS for shining me on in with your bevy Christmas gone crime tales.

Carrie Clevenger, amazing author of books, a zenith of a Harbinger*33 star and I'm sure screenplays to shine ~ your down home Texas pride makes my New England strut sashay the more. Here's lookin' at you kid. (Whoops, that line's been used, right?)

~ Absolutely*Kate
(and Detective Nelle)

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Kate, you blew me away with this one! No gum stickin' to your she, that's for sure. Spillane, Hammett, and the other big boys of crime fiction, move over. Kate's in the house!

Matthew S. Magda said...

I could not keep my peepers from keepin' on peepin' at this story.
Nelle is a character that is hard to get out of one's mind. In fact, she is the kind of gal that could keep the Christ in Christmas and do it in style while holdin' a derringer. The perfect Noir doll.

A pleasure in every sentence. Bravo Kate.

Joyce said...

What a story and what a character. So cool, Kate.

Lily Mulholland said...

Now that was a rousing humdinger of a Christmas tale! Whoop, whoop Miss Nelle (and Miss Absolutely)!

Col Bury said...

Glossy, with many undercoats.
Cool 'n' chic chick!

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Sal ~ I'm tellin' Bogie what you said. Betcha he says, "Say it again Sal". I would. Heck, I just did. My Thanks, WriterMan, with a small kiss upside your neck.

Matt ~ You come in and play with my wordplay and get your peepers all perched -- a perspicacious place to be. Appreci'kate your sentencing-pleasure. (a lingering kiss upside your neck)

Joyce ~ Nelle's real pleased with you and will help you find that diamond tiara you lost on the last shakedown you were at. THANKS!

Lilly ~ Grand surprise to see your eyes rousing up this shadowy joint of distinction. Your enthuse is a NewYear's *clink*.

Col ~ My closest brother called me tonight from California. He owns one of the largest sales and service trucking places out there. He roared when I mentioned what you said. Me? I smiled soft ... Means a helluva lot from a bloke like you, checkin' out a chick's debut at DSD. Happy NewYear in how your transcending Mr B.

THANKS AGAIN DSD-8!
"You're great", said Kate (absolutely)

Jeanette Cheezum said...

Kate*, you're off and running.Great to see you aout and about. Great job on this.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Jeanette ... anyone ever tell you how many smiles you elicit in various paces of the dancing eyes?

My Thanks AuthorLady, my thanks.
~ Absolutely*Kate

Evan Lewis said...

Methinks our Nelle has been reading Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Ah Mr Lewis under the dapper hat, Nelle wears her own fedora, and knows how to use it. But she stage-whispers to thank you most kindly for the gumshoe acclimation and convey, "Is that artillery in your hand or are you just glad to see me?" ;-)

Jodi MacArthur said...

This here's a loaded gun of jingle bell extrodi*noire. I enjoyed your Xmas rhymes and bad boy crimes, K*te.
;-)

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

So love gettin' a load o'Jode's splendiferous commentary. Glad you chimed in to harmonize on Nelle's JiNGLE. You do know the sequined dress came from your wardrobe room?

My thanks wonders-full horror MacAUTHOR,
~ Absolutely*Kate