Chapter Two, Part 2
When he wasn’t out terrorizing the good people of the Five Burroughs—and plenty of the not-so-good people—Wormsy Scarpini could be found swilling rye at the 21 Club off Broadway. He and the rest of the Lucero boys occupied a few rooms on the third floor. On the infrequent occasions when the coppers worked up the nerve to raid the joint—usually when the bribes hadn’t been paid in a timely manner—the boys would simply climb out the fire escape and hop over into the next building. By the time the law’d busted down the doors, they’d peeled off.
Flopping upstairs doesn’t make much difference, though, if you happen to be three stories tall. I’d spent many a night crammed into the alley behind the 21 Club, my ear to the window, listening to Wormsy and company rattle off details of enough sordid affairs to send them permanently up the river—the one that empties into the Lake of Fire. This being the stinking peak of a New York summer, they’d even have the windows open. Considerate lads, this lot, so long as they didn’t know they were doing you a favor.
I had to back in, then around the fire escapes lining the alley if I didn’t want to rattle the neighborhood awake. I’d just begun that process—picture a middle-aged ex-captain trying to squeeze into the uniform pants he wore on the Western Front—when gunshots exploded from the other end. I recognized the patter of Wormsy’s tommy gun. Anyone who’d spent time on the seedy side of New York would. But I’d never heard it spraying death with such desperate abandon.
At least I could force my way into the alley without worrying over the noise. I wrenched myself around, taking down a stairwell.
A shadow detached from the far end of the alley. It stopped me in my tracks. Even under the fattest of full moons, Wormsy wouldn’t throw a shadow that far. The asphalt beneath me shook—a novelty, as I hadn’t taken a step and the subway didn’t run under this alley. And then that shadow wisped around the corner.
I twisted through the alley in pursuit, passing the 21 Club. Its third-floor windows had been emphatically shut and curtained once the shooting began. At the far end of the alley something else stopped me in my tracks.
It was a body. If you could call it that. Suffice it to say, where there had once stood a man now lay the shredded remnants thereof. His face and torso looked as if they had been run over the world’s biggest cheese grater.
It’s hard enough for me to frisk a human who hasn’t been opened up and had his insides minced. I didn’t even try to get at this mug’s wallet. However, the big ape detective does have a few advantages over a man-sized gumshoe—one of them being a big nose. Wafting from him was a scent only a few people in New York—in America—would recognize. And I doubted a human nose would be able to discern its subtleties amid the effluvia of gunpowder, blood, and viscera.
Under all that, this corpse gave off the cloying stench of jungle flowers. And not just any jungle’s flowers.
This body stank of Skull Island.
Check back next week for the continuing saga of King Kong: World’s Biggest Dick!