Chicago Lightning

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II

GM:

The afternoon has passed uneventfully, Mugsy returned from the Barber’s to find Azog continuing to snooze while Jamison sits on a nearby couch sipping coffee and listening to news radio. At one point in the afternoon, lunch is brought in – compliments of the hotel – and if Azog were awake, he might recognize his barber, but to Mugsy and Jamison he simply seems to be another dwarf in the employ of the hotel. Lunch is delightful, roast beef, cheese, and various sandwich accouterments with an assortment of fresh baked rolls sliced for sandwiches. A caraffe of wine accompanies the meal, as well as a case of six cigars.

The Dwarf says nothing, only brings in the tray, briefly surveys the room, bows, then exits.

Azog finally wakes up an hour later, and polishes off whatever Jamison and Mugsy did not eat from the tray. Jamison continues to relax by the radio, and even the casual observer will discern that he is enjoying a fond luxury long since left behind. The time is now roughly 5pm, your evening entertainment begins at 7pm.

Comments

“Heya, Azog! What entertainment have you planned for us? What are we going to see? Will we need a cab?” Jamison casually cuts the end off of a cigar, and lights it from one of the lit candles on the tray.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Mmm. Figured we should see the Jas band. Not really my crowd, but I’m trying to avoid my crowd, see?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

[edit: I misunderstood the function of the cigars. Take two.]

For the first time, Azog takes interest in “his” suitcase.

“So what’s in here, anyways? More cigars? Ha!” He lights one and puffs. “We got some dice too! We can play for the cash if we get bored in here.” He pockets these, and the matches. “Tails and hat for opera. Maybe tomorrow."

He puffs.

“So maybe Benny Goodman tonight? It’s a swanky place and we’re trying to look like swells, here.”

He notices the photograph of the Trollop.

“Hey, who’s this? Wait. That can’t be…”

At that moment he swoons, totters, and crashes into the floor, out cold.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Jamison hops out of his overstuffed chair like a shot. Thinking that the paper was drugged, he pushes it away from Azog’s hand with the tip of his Stacy Adams. Then, he takes a bit of the ice from the lunch service, and rubs it on his hands, and proceeds to rouse his collapsed compatriot.

“Come on, kid. What’s all this, now? Azog, you still in there?” Jamison continues to rub ice on his hands, and pat Azog across the face.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Mary,” Azog mutters. “Oh Mary, what have you done?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“I knew this place was bugged!” Mugsy curses. He too rushes to Azog’s side. “What was it, a prick of the finger, did ya drink something?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Oh, es you guys. Help me up, will ya?” Azog pulls heavily on both men’s arms to sit up. “I tink es dees cigarillos. Dey make me pass out. Ugh.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Don’t touch the picture, brother. He touched that thing, and just keeled over. God knows what it is, but magic takes less time to kill you, and poison takes longer. Maybe we caught it in time, huh?” Jamison grabbed the picture off of the floor from behind a damp cloth, touching it gingerly like an angry cobra. He dropped it on the table for further study.

“Funny, Mugsy. No sign of discoloration… Usually drugged paper will show some sort of sign…”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog holds up the package. The label clearly says, “Cigarros Habanos Chistosos.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Hold on…” Jamison mused out loud. “This was the lady you called back at Ruby’s Diner! The one that got all big and ugly when I showed her the paper! You remember, doncha, Mugsy? She picked up all those hexed folks in her bus!”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog stands to full height and fumes.

“Whose suitcase is this? Why is my Salvation Army angel dolled up like a flapper?” He reads the initials on the case. “HPL. No. Lovecraft? I don’t believe it!”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Thats one of the cases we picked up at the pawn shop. We bought you her case at the pawn shop? No way thats possible. Lemme see that photo.” Mugsy pores over the subject in question. “You know, she doesn’t dress up half bad.” He comments absentmindedly. “How did you meet this girl, again?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“She was running a charity soup kitchen about six months back. I was in a bad streak. Just lost my shirt on a dapple gray. Anyways she reads me the Good Book every Wednesday and Sunday. One day I says I’s smitten, and she says no scoundrel like me is good enough for her kind. Well, I resolved to go straight right then and there! That’s how this whole mess got started.” Azog narrows his eyes at Mugsy. “You must have seen ’er when you came ’round asking questions and got my name. Or did some other Salvation Army gal direct you to me?”

Azog rifles through his suitcase.

“Look: HPL on the case. Lovecraft, right? Mary’s picture and two tickets to a show tomorrow! But the opera clothes fit a Troll, not a man. And what’s this betting book and dice? Lovecraft was a lousy gambler.” Absentmindedly, Azog takes a pair of dice in his paw and tosses into the corner of the room with a showboating snap of the fingers.

“Seven,” he predicts.

The dice make impact and pop like a pair of firecrackers. Azog is on the floor again, claws out and eyes darting around the room.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Jamison’s right hand drops to his non-existant holster, and then he sheepishly takes a pull on his cigar.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

There is a sucking sound followed by a hollow thump. A newspaper has been delivered to the room via pneumatic tube and lies tightly wrapped in a receiving basket in a corner of the room.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Wait did those dice just explode?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“You bet they did,” mused Jamison, crossing the room towards the new paper. “It’s enough to make a man want to paw more carefully through his own suitcase.”

He popped the canister, and removed the paper inside.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Can I see the funnies when you’re done with them? Oh hey, aren’t we going to see a show tonight? I’d better get ready!”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog throws on his newly-pressed midnight blue zoot suit. As he adjusts his hat in the mirror, he asks earnestly:

“Now, you gentlemen is both about ten times smarter than me, so I need some advice. This business with Mary—what do I do about it? I can’t figure if it were Lovecraft bird-dogging me all the while he’s acting like my friend, or it were somebody else. And does it even matter?

“Mary won’t give me the time of day until I mended my ways, and every hour I get further and further away from the ‘straight and narrow.’ So Lovecraft is dead, and I want revenge. Unless he’s my rival, which-case I don’t. And Boots won’t let me quit the gambling trade, and his witch-gal is after me. So I gots to find her first and take her down, which makes me a villain. But if it stops Boots from turning Chicago into another Ghoul City, then I’m a hero. But if I go against Boots, I’m good as dead, unless we out-smart him, which I can’t. You see how this is confusing?

“Anyways, I’m bored. Let’s go see that show. ‘Goodman,’ right? Hebes ain’t really my crowd, so small chance I bump into anybody I know.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“I think all of your answers can be found as we mine the depths of this caper together, troll-kin. I’d bet your magical assailant is involved with the ghouls and Lovecraft. Its pretty much a given that she’s involved with Boots. They’ll get theirs.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

GM:

The three of you get gussied up proper, and head downstairs. How do you plan to get to the Jazz club?

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“You think one of youse guys could get us a livery car at the front desk?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“That should be simple enough,” Jamison states. “Lemme just say hello to an old friend, and make sure he got my tickets.” With that, he walks across the foyer, towards the barber shop.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Ahh, it feels good put on some proper clothing. Hopefully, this night out will not be interrupted, like the last one.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Hey, look at that! Mr. Black Bag knows our barber. Y’know, I think he’s a reg’lar guy after all.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

After a moment, Jamison crosses the foyer again, and asks for a livery.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Please don’t let it be that mystical hack driver. I don’t want this winding up like the last one.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Don’t worry,” Azog mutters sullenly. “I’ve a feeling Smitty and us are on the outs. Figure he don’t approve of the way I been comporting myself lately.” He swallows hard and adds, “Prob’ly knew about Jimmy before we did. Lord have mercy!”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

GM:

The desk attendant nods and crisply picks up a desk phone to call a livery for you. Within minutes a sleek black Chrysler Imperial pulls up out front, a human driver steps out and awaits you.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Jamison follows the other two inside, taking a moment to look up and down the street for anything untoward. Just another old habit.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

GM:

As Jamison scans up and down the street, his trained eye picks up a few things that…well…are out of place. Two identical Coupes, black, on either side of the street from the entrance, each a block DOWN the street from the entrance, based on the direction they’re pointing. The doorman seems comfortable enough, but there are a few other suits standing around, just….leaning. He doesn’t SEE any iron, so much as senses it.

At the same time, he notices that their eyes pass over him disinterestedly. Whoever they are, they’re not here for him.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“You guys, we’re lucky we chose tonight to see a show. There are some serious goings-on about to go on, and I’d just as soon not be here when the fireworks go off.” As Jamison sits down, making himself comfortable, he pulls his flask, and uses the mirrored surface to watch the position of the cars as they start off.

“Guys, when we get where we’re going, I need to call the barber shop. Make sure my man is going to take his dinner elsewhere.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog enters the car casually, but not too casually.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“What was going on at the hotel tonight?” Mugsy asks as he piles into the vehicle. “Wait.” He says quietly, pausing in mid embarcation. “We should grab the suitcase, shouldn’t we?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“The… oh, the suitcase! Driver, wait!”

The car has only gone a block, and the hotel is still in sight in the rear glass.

Then Azog sees it too. Something is going down, and soon.

“What was the affair tonight? Something hoity-toity. The Star-Spangled Gala, right?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

[Whoops! Missed “embarkation.” Do-over.]

“The… oh, the suitcase! Driver, wait!”

The car has only gone a block, and the hotel is still in sight in the rear glass.

Then Azog sees it too. Something is going down, and soon.

“What was the affair tonight? Something hoity-toity. The Star-Spangled Gala, right?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Jamison looked at Mugsy. “They’re not here for us, my man. If they were, we’d have never reached the car. If they were after one of us, whichever one, they’d have taken the three of us to get him, and we’d have been had before we had our say, if they were at all professional. Now, when we get back, we’ll need to get our bearings; keep an eye out for the markers. That’ll tell us we missed the show, by going to the show. Azog, kid, you’re right about what’s going on, but they’re not here for that, either. Why not wait in the foyer? Those bored-looking suits are looking for someone in particular, and the odds on Fifth Street say that whoever it is they’re looking for is about to have a bad day.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog nods. “Shall I go back for the case or safer to leave it?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“What if its a sting?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog sticks his head out the window, sniffs the air, then comes back in and rolls up.

“They might be the Feds, or it might be a hit. Either way, I don’t want to stick around. The concert is at the Venetian Hotel. You can call your friend from the lobby. Tell him to get scarce for a while.” Azog fingers his St. Jude medallion and sighs. “Or if you want to run and grab him right now, I’ll go witcha.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

[Correction: Azog means the Venetian Room at the Southmoor Hotel.]

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Naah,” Jamison snaps his fingers. “He’s a barber. Even Capone respects a good barber.”

Jamison takes a moment to adjust his tie, and nonchalantly adds, “It’s nice to hear you’d go back, if I was. It means a lot.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“Southmoor Hotel,” Azog barks at the driver, chancing one nervous glance back at the heavies on the block.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog blushes a little. “Oh, I figure somebody’s got to look after the little guy in a mean town like this. I just hate to be the guy those heavies is after. Lemme see that newspaper, will ya?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

“So you guys are sure the suitcase will be okay?”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Jamison spared Mugsy the look, and handed Azog the paper. “No. No, I’m not. I’m not sure it would be safer on my arm, or his, either. People steal what they see. If it’s behind locked doors, this is as close to anonymous as we can be right now.”

“Not safe, understand, but as safe as we get.”

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

GM:
The Chrysler speeds down the street and the Ambassador East quickly disappears from view.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
 

Azog helps himself to the funny pages and ignores the photograph of the smouldering barge on the front page.

The Ambassador East Hotel pt.II
MadDogMaddux

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