Zach Marlowe: Privyet Eye Part 2

From the Story Arc: Lovers and Heroes

Previous Story in the Arc: Zach Marlowe: Privyet Eye Part 1 by Bestial Boy (Wednesday, October 19, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Zach Marlowe: Privyet Eye Part 3 by Bestial Boy (Thursday, October 27, 2005)

(posted Saturday, October 22, 2005)

"My name is Bella," she breathed, looking at him with both her hands clutched on a pocketbook in front of her. "Bella Dawn Parker. And I need your help, Mister Marlowe."

It always began that way. A good-looking dame, a plea for help. And it always ended in bullets and fists, and blood, some of it mine, on the floor. And the dame always walked out with some other schmoe, leaving Zach Marlowe alone with a couple of greenbacks for his trouble. But call me a dreamer, call me a schemer, call me a sucker, but I always hoped one day when it ended it would be me with the arm of the babe--.

But I never mix business and pleasure at the start of a job.

"It's fifty bucks a day, five days advance," Zach said. And the broad opened up that pocketbook and laid out three crisp Benjamins on the desk without a moment of hesitation. Well at least she was serious. "Siddown, doll. You got my attention."

She looked around and took the only other chair, a ladder-back that Zach had rescued from the basement when the landlord wasn't looking. "It's my brother," she said, eyes growing bright and wet. For a moment Zach was afraid she was going to cry. He couldn't stand to see a doll cry. Especially a dish like this one.

But she swallowed hard, and went on without shedding a tear. "He—he got mixed up with some people, Mister Marlowe—"

"Zach," he interrupted. "Call me Zach."

She smiled tremulously. "Zach. He said it was business, but—but I don't like the kind of people that have been coming around, all sharp suits and smart talk. I don't like the way the get all quiet when I come in. And I think they have guns, Mister Marlowe. I think they're Family, and I think John is working for them."

I got serious then. Family—they were trouble all right. Protection rackets. Gambling. Booze. And Dope. Lots of dope. I'd tangled with 'em before, and they knew my name, but they knew my fists even better.

"A guy doesn't just wake up one day and say, 'Hey, I think I'll go ask the Capo for a job, doll-face.' You ain't tellin' Zach Marlowe everything you know." Zach knew he'd hit on the truth when she dropped her eyes.

"He's—he had a job, a good job, but his company went under Mis—Zach," she whispered. "I've been supporting both of us. It's hard for a chemist to find new jobs, with the Depression and all—"

Now she more than had Zach's attention. A chemist! He'd been hearing rumors, nasty ones, that the Family wasn't happy with the old drugs, the ones where raw materials had to come in from foreign parts. They wanted something home-brewed. Rumor said they'd found a boy to cook something up for them.

"—and I think he started gambling," she finished sadly. "I think he was trying to get some kind of stake to start his own lab. I told him my employer would back him, but—but he said he'd already sponged off me enough and he was going to go it alone or not at all."

"That's bad news, sister," Zach said, steeling himself against the tears in her voice. "So just how do you think I can cut him loose?"

"I don't know," she said, sounding helpless. "But—"

Whatever she was going to say was abruptly interrupted, as two guys burst through the door, guns blazing.