Tiny beams of sunlight dance through a galaxy of holes. Holes left by the shot-gun pellets that tore through the tarpaulin the night before. As the same greasy cloth jives in the cool Hudson Bay morning breeze, starry lights flicker across Detective McBride’s unshaven face...
It was Sunday. Easter Sunday. In the Year of Our Lord, 1933. But there was nothing holy about this place. Ave Ma-fricking-ria.
McBride rubbed his stinging eyes and looked over his blood-stained lapels to the pool of gasoline and rancid brandy that had been his bed for the night. Groaning, he sat up, striking a match off a sleeping elephant’s backside. He lit his cigar, inhaling deply: “What the Scarface happened?”
It all started two nights before... or 38 years later... depends how you look at things. All McBride knew was that at 0800 hours, Friday, a Ruski submarine ran aground under Brooklyn Bridge. Word on the street was the rusty Russian leviathan came from the future... maybe from another planet... planet CCCP. Who the finkelstein knew? Who the fonsworth cared? All McBride knew was that some Communist numb-nuts had run their bastard underwater machine into Don Tillettiʼs main bootleg depot on the bay, A.K.A The Riot Jazz Cafe, A.K.A. Satanʼs Cesspit... The only watering hole left in this prohibition wasteland...
At the Riot Jazz Cafe, anything was possible: a place of dreams and liquid wonderment. Where the air was thick with the smog of pumping jazz, liquor spurted like sulphuric water from demented geysers and sweat beads clung to the walls like bats on Guano Island. Where an undulating mass of human and animal flesh danced through the night, getting their kicks, before the morning came and they back-tracked their steps on the road paved with bad intentions... The road to Riot Jazz.
Every night at this joint was like the Eve of the Apocalypse - McBride would never admit to setting foot in the notorious watering-hell-hole. But last night was different. Was it all a twisted dream? A manic menagerie on the dance
floor... Russian sailors... deserters from some cold war in the future... painted-faced comrades... time- travelling bounty-hunters...? You wouldn’t believe it if it was branded on your mamma’s eyelids.