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A Sister of Night
Last Whiteman Chapter 7
Grope shuddered, and cringed and shivered as he heard the battle between the tents, all ten seconds of it. Then the pained voice of Heavy Hand Fernando warned him that Grope had bet on the right motherchucker. Some bets a crook didn't want to win and this was one.
Mistress Frey, almost black of face and decked in phony blond hair hanging in ropes and somehow beautiful besides, looked up from her Luck-telling cards into his eyes with a glance that congealed the blood in his veins.
'Oh, this woman is ser—i—ous!'
Like that he was found out for what he was by the woman he had always avoided consulting for just this reason, that she'd see through his affected exterior and find the whimpering child within, crying for his raped mother, crying for his stolen sister, and ever after crying over the dozens of orphans, beauties and good kids he had consigned to slavery at the behest of the very man who had deprived him of his own family, Yusef Allen—the master of the soul-theiver's tents, who taxed the pimps, bribed the police and dealt like a prince with the Guardsmen and Watchmen.
All this that soul-nosey woman perceived at a wicked glance and dismissed him with a slight smacking of her sensuous lips.
The man stepped through the tent Grope had summoned him to and almost regretted it on the instant as the killing light in those blue-steel eyes had not yet subsided. He could not help himself, lost all composure, and blurted, “Jus ged it done, Hinterland—I ain't no bedder den dem dat lie dyin' out dere.”
“Quiet, you, fool soul-thief!” hissed the lustrous black woman from under her piled blond braid of hair. “Your road to Hell is already paved with the sorrows of those you cast into it. You're slim chance at redemption stands terribly before us! Is he not beautiful?: Death clothed in flesh and animated by hate!”
The man regarded Grope with scant interest and his eyes blazed as if in accusation down into the face of the woman seated at her card table with its green felt cloth and deck of cards. The man sneered viciously, stalked two steps over to Mistress Frey and shucked his coat sleeve and tilted his fist back to raise the watch top and show its one and only image, that of a pretty, blond girl of innocence, of a people long since gone from these sad streets. The sorceress hissed in derision—“You dare, you think I care, Whiteman, about your kind?”
The watch top closed and the man's hand went instinctively to that great knife at his left thigh as his eyes blazed down upon the mocking woman with a cold intensity. What followed was more frightening than the ire of the Hinterlander.
With a hiss, snake-like she rose, her vary-hued dress clinging in spots to her well-curved yet still lithe body, accentuating rather than concealing the reason why such a woman was rarely seen walking the street and kept ever to her mystery chamber. Her black-painted fingernails, sharpened like daggers played like little pointy demons before the man's rugged and soot stained face, “Whiteman, here you brought my ancestors to this land—out of Place, out of Time, and tried to remake us in your snowy image. Then, finding you are not the gods you fancied, you leave us, in this ugly pile of dried liquid stone, empty windows glaring down like your abandoned gargoyles, your wondrous machines idle and still, mocking our stranded race in this white-made place!
“But before we your pets you forsake, you bring others—Spic-men, Chink-men, even Arab men!! Dem,” she hissed, “ancient soul-drivers to us, you leave over us to stand upon our cold-ashy necks!”
Until now, Grope's constant observation of the Hinterlander had always shown clear purpose, as if he knew exactly his reason for everything. Now a mazed look clouded the eyes of the man who had become a mythic monster of retribution in a half day since the crumbling pavement of Harford Road first crunched with his heavy-booted tread.
Grope was now glad to be fully forgotten.
Mistress Frey then softened her tune to that of seduction, nearly worship, “Man from Hinterland,” she fairly danced beneath him with adoration, accentuating her statements with the wave-like undulations of her wrists and the spider-like spreading of her long, ebony fingers, “eyes like winter sky—wolf to the dogs that yap in this kennel you built called city only to leave its inmates to devour one another in your absence. This once sweet girl has worshipped you for years—you and your kind.”
The man's jaw clenched as she placed one lustrous hand on his deep chest between that stinking grease-trap of a coat and purred, “Dis lille Haiti girl were come Mamma Loi Joy, talka to da angels, don't you know.”
Her cadence changed and she spun languidly with her back to the man and snake-like slowly wiggled her hips and turned back around and began speaking again in her normal high and mighty tone, “But that was thirteen years ago. Then the dog! He of the dogs your kind brought to rule us when you left, the dog put a baby in this soft belly! And she he took, snatched away from my breast to be sold in Sweden, he cruel let me know, for a pleasure girl!”
The man's face softened and his hand moved away from his knife and the woman danced in a weird ecstasy around him, her hands touching his weapons through his coat and finally gliding into an adoring pose before him, her sensuous hands playing with the two strands of beard braided from his jut of chin.
She then pulled her hands to her own body and rubbed the contors softly so that her full figure could be appreciated under the flowing dress, “Am I not fair Hinterlander? Am I not desirable?”
The man was stone faced and she hissed in triumph, “Yesss! I am, and you do not care, for you are the risen demon of your race summoned by my power—by Mistress Frey!'
'Darn,' mazed Grope, 'I thought I set this joint up?'
She turned and looked at Grope with a simmering disdain, and then returned her attentions to the cold-hearted Hinterlander, playing with his beard again, caressing each ring securing the braids with her hands, “So, unto damnation and disease I gave my body to the evil ones, “Yuseff Allen enjoys these deep kissing lips, the meat police yearn for these soft breasts, the Watchmen and Guardsmen vie with one another for the pleasure of these lush hips—all to a purpose, all for a spell, all to the purpose of dancing for the Penthouse Man, the one whose race was once your own, the kind who have fallen into dream forever, who yearn for what they no longer are. I hate this life, these sweaty men climbing on me, pawing at me. But I am a woman who talks to The Dead!”
The man's eyes then started and she pushed away in sudden disdain and sneered, “Oh, so you did not know that you were dead? You do not know that I killed you, to summons you here—for my purpose?”
The man's brows bunched balefully and she laughed a musical laugh, “I am your priestess, God of Wrath. I worship you. This girl cast away the voodoo-doll and took up the Yore-hammer!”
She then spun on her heals and laced her long fingers together under her chin and looked up into that baleful face, “I care not for your blond granddaughter. She is far across the Ocean, dancing for the King of Jordan, I think. But I do not care. Her beauty and innocence was the first part of my sacrifice, my summonsing of you, Last Whiteman, to bring the hammer of Night!”
The man's big hands began to twitch and then reach forward to wring that soft ebony neck and she laughed musically, as if in glee, a wide smile playing across her face as she sank to her knees, ripped open her dress to expose two stupendous breasts, and spread her arms with a far away look, “Whiteman, with your knife please, bring all the thunder of Yore with the quench of my blood—the blood of vengeance!”
Quicker than could have been imagined, and serving to remind Grope that rat-swift as he was, he would not be escaping this Hinterlander, the left hand drew the great Bowie knife from its leather sheathe in the same easy motion that it transfixed the body of Mistress Frey, between those two pendulous, brown breasts, that swayed their last with a shuddersome quiver. The woman moaned in deep pleasure, like a fairy tale princess who had just kissed a frog and turned it into a prince to care for her every woe.
She died but slowly, blood running from her once desirous red lips, words softly bubbling “God a Yore, I bring... wit lovey 'ate...”
And her head fell dead and downward towards the hilt of the knife as her hands waggled pathetically.
The Hinterlander then withdrew and sheathed his blade, without cleaning it. As blood gushed down the front of the dead sorceress lulling aknee like a broken marionette, the strange man bathed his hands in her blood, used those hands to smear his face and beard and stroke his chin braids, upon which a strange light of gray came to his eyes.
The man then looked to Grope and pointed northeast to the Hostel, indicating that he would be retiring there. He then pointed to Grope and made climbing finger signs and pointed to the Rat Roost, indicating that he knew about Grope's vantage over the Rectory door and wanted him posted there.
Grope followed his new master—for boss folk were growing thin on the ground—past the mess of bodies he had just left in the road, and straight to the back of Yusef Allen's great white tent, which brats scrubbed every day on a threat and without pay, to keep it white.
The moon shone bright and the street lights luridly smudged the night.
Out came the red knife in the left hand.
Up from under the coat came a heavy automatic pistol with a silencer on the end.
Witherspoon, the Barkeep, and Broke Hand Fernando, nodded to the Hinterlander and turned their backs to face the bar door, and the man cut an entrance with one sure canvas ripping slice and stepped into the cherry lit precinct within, where Grope knew from long experience, that Yusef Allen and his foremost men sat around their water-pipe among their ravished pleasure boys.
Grope divined a purpose for himself and stepped around the tent to the front, that faced the Hamilton Tavern, and as the soft punch and splatter of the handgun exploding the heads of the occupants within the tent alerted the two brawny black bullies with their two-handed machetes that something was terribly amiss behind them within the sanctuary of their master, Grope appeared before them, nodded to the tent and advised, “Nah,” as he shook his head.
Without the need for a comic look at each other, eyes grown obscenely wide, both dropped their machetes and ran in separate directions as Grope snickered and a punching impact spattered brains and blood so thickly against the inner tent that the radiance cast by the central light described a pattern worthy of what had once, before his time, been called 'modern art.'
Grope was off, not about to await more instruction, for he had a good idea as to what service was required of him on this grim and storied night, now ruled by the silent witness of the Moon, a heavenly body he had never trusted, illuminating his low capers from Her perch in heaven as She did.
'I wonder,' Grope mused as he scurried past Broke Hand Fernando and the Barkeep, 'if Mistress Frey is up there, with her Sister Night?
'Or is she waiting for me down deep somewhere I aught not go?'
A shiver sent his stride aquiver and he was off, come what may, unlikely he knew to see the light of another day.
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