Monday, December 27, 2010


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from Moonstone Books

Chapter Five

An hour later, after a quick meal, Ellen Patrick was driving through the downtown section of Beverly Hills on her way to the home of Reginald Hanna. She and Campion had used the telephone directory in the restaurant’s lobby to locate the man’s address. Ellen told Campion to get his notes typed up and make arrangements to attend the Beverly Hills Town Council meeting the following night. She also informed him, with a mischievous smile on her face, that she would be accompanying him to that meeting.

Now, as she pulled up to Encino Drive, her thoughts were focused on the present. With that all too important civic gathering only hours away, whatever Topper Carson and his goons were planning would have to happen soon. She pulled over to the curb across the street from the house that was her target. It was a small, whitewashed Spanish bungalow, surrounded by shrubs and what appeared to be a fairly large yard to the rear of the domicile. From the glove box, Ellen took out a pair of binoculars and, sliding over to the passenger side of her sporty roadster, began her spying in earnest.

Ten minutes passed before she was rewarded with activity on the side of the house. A door opened and a small man, dressed in slacks and a cardigan sweater, emerged holding a big, fluffy, golden cat in his arms. He had thinning brown hair and wore wire-rim glasses and a polka-dot bow tie.

“Well, hello Mr. Hanna,” she said aloud, pleased with herself as she adjusted the focus on her lenses. The cat was a real beauty and wore a gaudy red silk collar. Hanna continued to rub its head as he moved around the cast iron lawn furniture. After a while, he sat down, out of sight behind the barrier of thick green shrubs.

Ellen started to sit back in her seat when something to her right caught her eye. Turning her binoculars in that direction, she spotted a very familiar Buick sedan parked down the street some fifty yards from Hanna’s home. There were no houses on that end of the street and the land was still scrub and trees. Sharpening her focus, Ellen could make out Jack Ochra sitting behind the wheel nervously looking up and down the boulevard. But where was his pal, the scar-faced Eddie Geller?

No sooner was the question formed in her mind then Fast Eddie appeared through a clump of trees and dashed to the waiting car. He had been scouting the Hanna property from the safety of the woods. Suddenly she was afraid they were actually going to try to steal the cat right now, in broad daylight. Then Eddie, opening the side door to the Buick, glanced up and a look of wariness washed over him. Ellen put down her spyglasses and turned her head to see a black and white police patrol car rolling past. As it neared the Buick, Fast Eddie dropped into the passenger seat, slammed his door shut and Ochra fired up the engine. They drove off and passed the police cruiser going in the opposite direction. Ellen sighed in relief and ducked her head as they drove by. Thank you Beverly Hills police, she thought ironically.

Still, she was convinced the two thugs were going to make a grab for Hanna’s pet. Most likely they would wait until nightfall before making their attempt. Which, as far as she was concerned, was perfect. She looked at her wristwatch. It was two o’clock. Plenty of time to execute the plan she was quickly ad-libbing.

Ellen Patrick drove away from the quiet neighborhood and headed back for Los Angeles, her destination the city animal shelter.

The facility was a gray, old building on the east side of the city. Traffic was light and she made good time. The parking lot in front of the building was nearly empty except for a few box-trucks stationed to the left side of the building where a loading dock was visible. Ellen grabbed her purse and marched into the front door. A tiny overhead bell announced her arrival as she approached the front counter. A heavy set woman smoking a cigarette was seated at a desk overflowing with folders while a thin, balding fellow commanded another desk on the other side of the room. Behind them was an open door through which the sounds of animals could be heard making a continuous ruckus.

As Ellen reached the counter, the odor of living creatures assailed her. Oh yes, this was indeed the pound.

“Can I help you, madam?” the middle-aged clerk with the hairless skull asked rising to his feet while scrutinizing her. Their enterprise did not regularly entertain well-dressed ladies like the stunning blonde before him. She had to be lost and looking for directions.

“Yes,” she put the thousand dollars Constance Miller had given her on the table. “I’d like to make a donation and buy a cat.”

“I see.” The man looked neither happy nor sad. Ellen had a feeling the bored expression on his face was frozen. “We have dozens of cats available and waiting for a good home. Would you like to step out back with me and see them?” He raised the end of the counter to allow her passage.

Ellen Patrick wrinkled her nose, imagining what awaited her. “I suppose I don’t have choice, do I?”

The bored clerk blinked, confused. “Excuse me?”

“Oh, nothing.” She was resigned to her fate. “Lead the way.”


Reginald Hanna held the cup of hot tea in his left hand as he flicked on the lights in his den shortly after eight p.m. Comfortable in slippers, lounge pants, and a woolen housecoat, the fifty year old widower set about his normal evening routine. Once the dinner dishes were cleaned and put away, he would retire to the den where he would sit in his overstuffed chair, drink tea, and listen to the radio. A station in Los Angeles played classical music throughout the night and it was his favorite. Hanna turned on the big mahogany set located near the curtains that covered the French windows. Beyond them, in the moonless night, the backyard extended to the woods beyond. He adjusted the knob until the music came through the speakers loud and clear. He immediately smiled as he recognized a Tchaikovsky melody. The romantic Russian was one of his favorites.

As he made himself comfortable in the green colored chair, his longhaired Siberian cat, Alexander, stretched out lazily on the matching sofa to his left. The animal eyed the glare of the reading lamp as if to indicate its annoyance with the interruption. Alexander, like his master, also lived by a daily routine. One that included a brief nap after dinner. Hanna was amused by the animal’s uppity, annoyed look every single time he entered the darkened room and turned on the light.

“Oh, please,” he said warmly. “Don’t give me that look. You’ve been sleeping for almost thirty minutes. Besides, I do believe you are putting on weight, old boy.”

The cat’s oval yellow eyes studied him as if it could comprehend his words. It proceeded to start licking its paws nonchalantly, letting him know what he said was inconsequential.

Hanna chuckled, took a sip of tea, and sat back in his comfy chair.

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice uttered from the shadows by the curtains. “Please do not be alarmed.”

Despite the admonishing, the small accountant sat up straight, his tea, music, and everything else forgotten as he watched a slender silhouette materialize from the dark before him. It was a woman draped in a skin-tight gown of white, a long slit to either side permitting her long and elegant legs to move freely as she stepped forth. Hanna pushed his glasses back up his nose as the light played over his visitor’s curvaceous figure. Bare arms, a very bold dÈcolletage revealing lots of exposed pink bosom, a long neck, yellow hair that ended in curls, and a black mask surrounding two eyes that seemed to sparkle. Over her shoulders the intruder wore a black cape and in her right hand was an automatic pointed at Hanna.

“Who are you?” he finally managed to find his voice, even though it was a pitch higher than normal.

“I am the Domino Lady.” Her voice was husky.

“The Domino Lady? I’ve heard of you. Have you come to rob me?”

“Actually, Mr. Hanna, I’ve come to stop someone else from robbing you.”

As she was making no overt signs to harm him, Reginald Hanna rose out of his chair and stood to face her. “I don’t understand. Who is going to rob me?”

The Domino Lady smiled and then turned back to the velvet curtains from which she had appeared. “If you’ll just give me a few minutes, I can explain everything.”

Hanna stood silently watching as the mysterious woman, whose reputation he had read about in the newspapers, set about retrieving something from off the floor. When she straightened, she appeared to be holding a wire cage. As she once again stepped into the glow of his reading lamp, he received another surprise.

In the cage was a cat; a long-haired Siberian cat exactly like Alexander. Hanna’s eyes doubled. “Oh, my!”

For a cat fancier like Reginald Hanna, the vision before him was breathtaking. Not only was the notorious female criminal sexually alluring as her reputation claimed, but now she was holding a cat just as lovely as his precious Alexander. He felt his heart begin to race.


“Hey, don’t push!” Fast Eddie Geller said just above a whisper as a branch slapped across his face and knocked off his fedora.

“Sorry,” Jack Ochra apologized in the same hushed tone. “I can’t see out here and my foot hit a root or something.”

“Well, try to be a little more careful, will ya,” Eddie warned as he found his hat on the ground by feeling around with his hands. It was pitch black in the woods bordering Hanna’s property at midnight.

“So why couldn’t we bring along a flashlight?” Ochra inquired, clearly upset with their progress into the thick tangle of brush.

“Because we are still in a residential area, you moron! How soon do you think it would take one of Hanna’s neighbors to look out their back windows, see a light moving around out here and then grab a phone to buzz the coppers? We might as well light a bonfire while we’re at it.”

“Alright, alright. You don’t have to get mad. But damn it, how close are we? We’ve been traipsing through this stuff for almost ten minutes now.”

Eddie Geller adjusted his wide-brim hat and peered into the gloom ahead. Through the trees he could see moonlight outlining Hanna’s bungalow. A few clouds every now and then hid the bright orb in the sky, but not enough to hamper its ample light. It was one of the reasons Eddie had opted to not use flashlights.

“It’s just up ahead. I can see it now. Come on, and keep quiet. There don’t seem to be any lights on in the place, but let’s not get stupid, either.”

Moving forward, he thought about the simple plan they had agreed upon. They would gain entry via the back door. Once inside they would find the cat and then skedaddle. Hanna would never know what hit him until he woke up the next morning and found his precious kitty was gone. It would all go according to the boss’ orders. Piece of cake.

They were coming out of the tree line when Geller thought he saw a movement by the French windows. Cautiously he pulled out his .45 automatic from his shoulder rig and waved to Ochra to stop. The other man looked at him questioningly. A cloud drifted overhead and the moon bathed the entire back of the house so that they could see someone exiting stealthily. As they continued to approach, Geller couldn’t believe his eyes or his good luck.

Coming out of selectman Hanna’s house, carrying a pet cage in her hands, was none other then their nemesis from the previous evening, the Domino Lady!

He waited for her to turn around and then raised his pistol at her and said, “Hold it right there, sister!”

The Domino Lady froze, even her mask unable to disguise her surprise at confronting Eddie and Jack.

“It’s that dame from last night!” Ochra gasped, finally catching on. Eddie wondered at times why he even hung around with the guy.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” the Domino Lady greeted with a sigh. “Seems we find ourselves in a very familiar situation once again.”

“Oh yeah,” Eddie agreed. “But now the tables are turned, sweetheart. And we’re holding all the aces.”

“Geez, Eddie, she’s got the cat!”

“No fooling, Jack. Why do you think that is?”

For a second the big man pulled at his thick mustache, his mind trying to solve the riddle before him. “Hey! I get it! She’s trying to muscle in on our racket!”

“Give the man a cigar,” Domino Lady said confirming the conclusion Eddie had reached immediately upon seeing her with the cat. “So, what now?”

“Well, lady, as much as I’d love to smack you around a little for what you did to us last night, this ain’t the time or place for that.”

“You would actually hit a poor defenseless woman like me?” Ellen’s voice dripped with honey as she brought her empty hand up to her long, elegant neck and slowly traced it down to the swell of her bosom. “I find that hard to believe.”

Jack Ochra’s eyes were glued to her breasts and he gulped loudly, his thoughts becoming jumbled in his head.

“Jack, what are you doing? Get the damn cat and hurry it up.” Geller realized their talking might awaken Hanna, or one of the other neighbors.

Ochra went to the masked avenger and gently took the cage out of her hands. His palms were sweating as he continued to stare at her cleavage. When he returned to Geller’s side, Fast Eddie tipped the brim of his fedora with his .45, smiled and the two of them vanished into the woods.

The Domino Lady watched them depart, folded her arms over her chest, and silently counted to ten. Then she went back to the French windows, slid them open, and reentered the house.

Reginald Hanna was standing inside the door holding his precious Alexander clearly shaken by what he had just witnessed. “You were telling the truth,” he said. “All of it. Those awful, awful men would have taken my Alexander.”

“Indeed, Mr. Hanna. Remember, Topper Carson does not want you to make that meeting tomorrow night.”

“That monster! I’ve always felt there was something detestable about that man. But I never imagined he was a criminal!”

“Well, now you know. You remember what I told you to do when the ransom call comes tomorrow morning?”

Hanna was petting Alexander’s furry head as he nodded. “Of course. I’m to call the police and ask for a Detective Bishop. I’m to tell him everything that has transpired here this evening and the location for the ransom pay off.”

“Perfect.” Light filtering the plate glass frosted her cold smile. “And tomorrow night?”

“Oh, I will do exactly as you want, miss. Topper Carson is about to get the most unpleasant surprise of his life. You can count on me.”

The Domino Lady laughed, assured Reginald Hanna would do his part. For the first time in her life, Ellen Patrick was actually looking forward to a town meeting.


Chapter Six

It was a warm night as the public made its way into the main hall of the Beverly Hills Municipal Building. The mayor and the selectmen climbed the three steps to the stage area where three tables have been set in an inverse U shape facing the hall. Windows had been opened to either side of the cavernous room to allow a cooling breeze from outdoors to waft through and disperse the cigarette and cigar smoke quickly accumulating. Folding chairs set in two neat rows could accommodate up to three hundred. This night they would deal with less than a hundred. Selectmen meetings were not the most entertaining of venues for the good people of Beverly Hills.

Several radio technicians were adjusting fat, clunky microphones in front of the three tables so that the elected officials, when they did begin speaking, could be heard throughout the chamber.

Most of the mingling crowd was made up of politicians, newspaper and radio reporters, accompanying photographers, and assorted concerned citizens with vested interests in one or more agendas to be discussed during the course of the meeting.

Ellen Patrick entered through the main lobby and instantly the chattering of the multitudes was silenced as all eyes turned in her direction. She was stunning in a pearl-white, conservatively cut dress that hugged her figure. Adding dramatic effect, her accessories were black, from her high heel pumps, to her gloves and a tiny leather belt with a moon-shaped silver buckle. Over her flowing, golden tresses she wore a tiny black hat with a gossamer veil that fell over her eyes and nose. Her purse was black with silver clasps and about her pink neck was a necklace of flawless silver pearls.

Maxwell Campion pushed his way through a group of fellow reporters to reach her. “God, Ellen, I think you could stop a freight train, if you tried.”

She lifted the vale off her eyes and smiled. “That is the general idea, lover.”

“You look absolutely divine.”

“Thank you.”

“Come, let me introduce you to some of my colleagues.”

“Alright. But first point out Topper Carson to me.”

As they walked up the aisle, Campion’s head tried to peer over and around people in front of them. Ellen, well aware of her effect on the men around her, proffered her most winning smile on them and the path before her opened like a female Moses parting the Red Sea.

“Ah, that’s him over there, in the front,” Campion pointed.

Ellen followed his gesture and saw a tall, hatless, robust man talking with several others. At his elbow was a small, bald man with glasses, clearly a secretary. She was reminded of the distinguished actor, John Barrymore as Topper Carson was a handsome man, with a chiseled profile. She guessed his age in his late forties, his wavy black hair graying stylishly along his temples. Unlike the actor, Carson was a big man, with an imposing physique that hinted at a very well-toned and muscular body. He wore an expensive, three-piece suit that could only be custom tailored. Everything about the man exuded raw power and wealth.

As if sensing he was being observed, Carson looked up and their eyes met. Like every other red-blooded man there, he too was immediately taken by her good looks. But there was something more behind his admiring glance, an air of confidence that asserted itself and was delivered to her by a very snake-like smile. This was a man use to getting what he desired. Ellen turned away, her emotions now heightened by the face off.

So this is the enemy, she thought as her friend brought her to the opposite side of the room and began showing her off to his pals. Carson Topper was no one to toy with recklessly. Ellen wondered what his reaction would be when the Domino Lady’s scheme played itself out. The Beverly Hills selectmen’s meeting was about to become anything but routine., she thought as her friend brought her to the opposite side of the room and began showing her off to his pals. Carson Topper was no one to toy with recklessly. Ellen wondered what his reaction would be when the Domino Lady’s scheme played itself out. The Beverly Hills selectmen’s meeting was about to become anything but routine.

A rap of the gavel signaled the proceedings were about to commence and Max ushered her to a seat in the second row to the left of the aisle, behind the photographers.

“If you would all take your seats,” Mayor Roy Underwood requested, rapping the gavel one more time. “It’s time to get this session started.”

“Hey, guys,” one of the photographers said, placing a new flash bulb in his camera. “Notice who’s missing up there?”

Campion leaned over and replied, “Uh-huh. Hanna’s not here. Now what the hell is that all about?”

When he leaned back in his chair, he saw Ellen doing a Mona Lisa impersonation as she crossed her shapely legs. “Do you know anything about this?”

“Just wait and see, lover boy. And keep your pencil sharpened.”

Following Robert’s standard Rules of Procedure, the Mayor started the meeting with a roll call and everyone was made aware of Mr. Reginald Hanna’s absence. Ellen glanced at Topper Carson and he was seated with his arms folded confidently over his chest, enjoying the moment with obvious relish.

Next came the reading of the minutes from the last meeting. Finally, with all past agendas concluded, the Mayor opened the floor to new matters. A fat little man raised his hand and said in a squeaky voice, “I propose this council reconsider the matter of the Carson proposal for land management in the northwest sector of the city.”

“Here we go,” Campion whispered, starting to jot down notes. Ellen intertwined her gloved fingers on her knee and waited. Somewhere else, she knew another related scenario was being played out. If Reginald Hanna had done his part, it would make for some exciting reading in Campion’s morning edition.


Fast Eddie Geller had been chain smoking for the past half hour. Sitting on a stack of old tires in the Linden Street Junk Emporium, he fired up a new cigarette with the dying butt of another.

“What’s got you so rattled?” Jack Ochra asked as he sat on a cast off couch with half the padding gone holding the wire cage with Reginald Hanna’s pet feline. The repository of broken and discarded paraphernalia was located three miles from the Sunoco garage where the two had made all their previous transfers. After the mess with the Domino Lady two nights ago, they had decided to move somewhere else. Just to be on the safe side.

The junk yard was on a corner lot and surrounded by a six-foot stockade fence. There were two entrances; Linden Street running north or behind them and another that opened on to Sycamore. The small shack where the manager worked was locked up and dark and the only light, other than the waning moon above, was from the street lamp behind the fence.

Geller held up his wrist to see the dial on his watch. “It’s already quarter past seven! We told him to be here at seven!”

“So, maybe he’s having a hard time finding the place.”

“I gave him simple enough directions. There ain’t no reason why…”

A car engine was heard coming down the street. Both men rose to their feet just as the front head beams lit up the yard. The car appeared and drove through the open gates to stop a few yards from where they had parked their Buick. Watching it approach, Geller tossed his just-lit smoke into the air.

The driver switched off his lights and shut off his motor. Ochra came to stand next to Eddie. The lights from the car had blinded them momentarily and now they were both blinking to make out the driver.

“You can get out of the car, Mr. Hanna,” Geller called out. “Nice and slow.”

The door opened and a man emerged. He was wearing an overcoat and a black fedora that was pulled down low. “I’ve got the money,” a timid voice said. “Please, show me my cat.”

“It’s right here,” Geller called back. “Hold it up, Jack, so he can see it.”

The squeamish figure approached them slowly as Ochra lifted the cage to shoulder height. “Here she is. All safe and comfy.”

“Oh, thank God.” The figure straightened up and pushed his hat back. He was a good six feet tall. Geller remembered the boss telling him Hanna was a little guy. This fellow had something in his right hand and now it was sparkling like a… badge!

“Police, boys. You two are under arrest,” Detective Barney Bishop said, his timid voice gone. “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”

“Like hell, copper!” Geller started reaching into his jacket for his rod. “No way I’m going back to the slammer!”

Bishop mentally cursed and went for his own .38 Special holstered at his hip. “Stop!” The last thing he wanted was a shoot-out over a kidnapped cat. Sgt. Clancy and three uniformed men were on the other side of the fence waiting for his call. Watching Geller go for his gun, he wondered if they would be in time.

All the while Fast Eddie was trying to live up to his name, Jack Ochra had made up his own mind to fight back and simply dropped the cage he’d been holding. Unfortunately he didn’t realize he let it go over his own feet.

Geller had his automatic clear and was starting to fire at the same time the metal cage hit Ochra’s left foot causing him to jump in pain. The cage burst apart in several pieces.

Bishop dropped to a crouch and squeezed off a round. Both his gun and Geller’s fired in unison. Geller’s bullet missed the cop by a country mile. Bishop’s shot took the gangster in the right leg and he went down.

Meanwhile Ochra, dancing on one leg, had his big .45 Colt revolver free and was lining up on the young detective. He was a deadly marksman who rarely missed. Suddenly the big yellow cat, very upset at having been unceremoniously dropped to the ground, came out of the broken cage and went up his right leg as if it were an elm tree, claws digging.

Ochra gave out with a scream, dropped his weapon and tried to grab the angry feline, now on his hip and still moving up. “Yeahhh! Get her off me!”

Sgt. Clancy and his men came running onto the scene, guns drawn just as the cat leaped off the yelling crook. He started to bend down to retrieve his gun when Clancy raced over and put his foot on it. “Don’t be getting stupid, boyo. The jig is up now!” Ochra straightened up and put his empty hands into the air.

On the ground beside them, Eddie Geller was clutching his bleeding leg and groaning. “Somebody help me. I’m bleeding to death!”

“Relax,” Bishop said reaching down to pick up Geller’s automatic. “Sergeant, have one of your men radio for an ambulance. We wouldn’t want to lose a suspect before he can have his day in court.”

“No, sir. That would be a crime indeed.”

As the burly veteran passed along the order to one of the younger men, Bishop began peeling off the topcoat he’d worn to disguise his appearance. He felt something bump up against his leg. It was the tabby and she was purring. He scooped her up in his arms and rubbed her head affectionately.

“You’re a brave one, aren’t you,” he said. “Taking on a gun-wielding thug like that. I think you might have saved my life.” The yellow cat looked at him and purred again.

“I hate cats,” Jack Ochra declared as Clancy put the cuffs on him.

Mayor Underwood took a small sip of water and cleared his throat. “Our next item of agenda is a vote on Proposition Six to determine whether or not to allow commercial development of city property listed as Lots 125 through 327 on the city map.”

The hall became quiet as everyone present realized the significance of the vote about to take place.

“This is it,” Max Campion whispered to Ellen Patrick. “Look at Carson, he’s all but preening like a hen house rooster.”

The Mayor turned to his right and addressed the white haired selectmen seated at that end of the table. The elderly politician glanced at the assembly and then leaned closer to the microphone. “I vote yes.”

Thus the voting proceeded along the row of officials and when it came to the last selectmen, the vote was four in favor and four opposed. The last man was a shifty looking fellow with a pinched nose and a very bad toupee.

“That’s Claremont,” Campion informed Ellen. “He’s the one we think sold out to Carson. Last time he voted against.”

“Well,” the Mayor spoke up. “What is your vote, Selectmen Claremont?”

“Your honor, I vote… yes.”

Immediately press shutter-bugs jumped up and started snapping pictures, while a buzz of voices rippled through the crowd.

Underwood rapped his gavel hard. “Please, please. Let’s have order here. Would the members of the press please back off until we have finished with the matter at hand. Gentlemen, please!”

Having taking the pictures they wanted, the photographers returned to their chairs and Underwood put down his gavel.

“Very well, the vote stands five for and four against.”

Just then the main door opened in the back of the hall and a voice called, “Mr. Mayor, a moment please!”

Everyone in the room turned in surprise. Jogging up the center aisle, looking genuinely frazzled, was Reginald Hannah, right on cue. When the reporters recognized who it was, once again the cameras were popping flashes like machine guns.

Unlike those around her, Ellen was looking at Topper Carson for that’s where the pay off lay. And it was a humdinger. The man’s face couldn’t disguise the shock at the sight of Hanna and then it was replaced with one of unadulterated anger, his cheeks brightening to a tomato red in seconds. Ellen thought if it were possible, steam might have come belching from his nostrils, so maddened was the mighty Topper Carson. It did her heart good.

“Mr. Mayor, I apologize for my tardiness,” Hanna continued as he bounded up the stairs to the tables and went to his empty chair to Underwood’s immediate left. “An emergency of a personal nature came up at the last minute and I simply could not get away until now.” It was all a sham. Following the Domino Lady’s instructions, he had been hiding in the lobby waiting for the right moment to make his appearance.

He sat down and nodded to his fellow selectmen. “Am I in time for the vote?”

“Ah… yes, of course,” Mayor Underwood said. “What is your vote?”

Hanna looked down at Topper Carson to be sure the man was watching, then with a very broad smile on his face, he replied, “I vote… no!”

And once again the photographers were ignoring the mayor’s injunctions as they rose up and started shooting more photos. This time they had two targets, Hanna and a very volatile Topper Carson. Several journalists, Campion among them, were bombarding the defeated entrepreneur with questions so that even the mayor’s renewed calls for order went unheeded.

In resignation, Mayor Roy Underwood rapped the gavel and said to his fellow selectmen, “The vote is a tie, five for and five against. Per our city ordinances, the proposition is considered null and void. There will be no further discussions on this until the allotted time dictated by said ordinances. Now, moving on to our next item on the…”

Meanwhile Topper Carson had gotten to his feet and was making a hasty retreat, his assistant chasing after him at the same time trying to put off the reporters.

“Leave me alone,” Carson blurted out. “I have nothing to say!”

Ellen, still at her seat, watched him go and smiled knowing there was one final surprise for the rankled Mr. Carson.

Once outside the building, Carson and his man hurried to a parked sedan and started to get in when the aide spotted something affixed to the windshield. He stopped and reached for it.

“What’s that?” growled Topper Carson, in no mood for any further annoyances this night. He was mentally envisioning what he was going to do with Geller and Ochra once he got his hands on them.

“It seems to be a… black envelope,” the assistant answered, leaning over the hood of the car to hand it over.

Carson took the odd-colored stationary and quickly it opened to find a single sheet of black paper inside. On it, in white ink, was a feminine script addressed to him;

Topper Carson,
Tonight was only the beginning.
Compliments of the Domino Lady

Topper Carson crumbled the note in his hands as a new rage boiled within him. Even in the gloom of the night, his assistant shivered when he saw Carson’s eyes. There was murder in those eyes.


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And tune in next week for Part Four of this tale from MOONSTONE CLIFFHANGER FICTION!