Old Dirty Pete was a porter stud turned flatfoot that really liked going after niggers. His real name was Sylvester Washington, but nobody ever called him that. We had a whole stable of pigs to send after damn fool studs that muscled in on the walkers, but Ol' Pete starred. He shot at least nine crooked spades dead over his time, maybe more like eleven. He never shot no white man, neither. It got to where he'd just tell a stud to take a walk to the precinct and the joker'd turn himself in. He thought it's better that way than having Pete coming after him.
They called him Old Dirty Pete because he loved swiping into young broads. Every barefoot beauty twelve years old that got rustled in, Pete'd get his fair share of, twice and thrice over. He was a crazy freak for baby broads. I don't think he ever freaked with a bitch older than sixteen. He even tried the knot on for size, with Miriam's girl Lloraine. She hadn't gotten into dancing yet back then. She musta been fourteen, maybe fifteen years old. Of course they said she's sixteen to get the papers drawn, but by the time she was sixteen for real they were split up. Bitch said he's too mean to live with.
Once he made detective he started vining just like a pimp, all silk and Fedora hats. Back in those days a detective pulled in eighty slats a week, a saw more than a true whore. Of course, Pete borrowed a C note for every stud he stomped we sent him after, so he never hurt for cash. He drove a big Mercury. He never had a woman in the house, to make him a meal in his life. He ate out well enough, anyhow. A judge or a lawyer with fat cases or a doctor maybe took his wife out to the Club DeLisa or the Palm Tavern once or twice a year. Petey was there stuffing himself almost every night. By then Poison was long gone, but Pete never took up the pimping game. I think bitches scared him. Old hardlegs scare me plenty too, but Pete could hardly talk to a broad in the first place. He didn't talk so much anyway, and half of it came out Bang! Bang! He was mean and tough alright, but if a bulldog's soft what good is it ?
Eventually he gave up the badge and tried his luck with a dive bar on East Oakwood. The Hilltop Lounge he called it. He ran the dumbest scams out of that joint. If a joker'd pay for his suds with a fin or larger, the change'd include Pete's drink. He wasn't dumb himself, neither. Once he made record hitting 147 points out of 150 max. He could bullseye ten or eleven in twelve shots any time anyone asked him to. Often enough he got all twelve, too. He gunned down a stud once for stepping on his shoe. Some joker Willie Lee, was a bell hop. They went in a gang by Garfield Boulevard on either side, but only Pete came back out. Pete said the stud went for his gun. He carried a pair of pearly .357s he was real proud of, one long barrel and the other short. They called it justifiable homicide, though nobody could tell why'd Willie go for Pete's gun. He wasn't in any rackets or nothing. Just a square stud with a wife at home and three kids, racing to stretch a half bill every week.
But he wasn't much for the murder game, anyhow. The real Dirty Old Pete was all about the beatdown. I ain't seen never young studs so polite and well spoken as around Wabash back when Petey walked down there. He taught a whole boatload of country niggers bout dis big city rigamaro alright. To his mind the Southern way of doing things was right out. God help some neighbours gathered round, cracking to one another in the street. He'd see them and say "Every living ass off the street." Those chatterbox old Mamas faded right out of there! He beat down the Cook County Commissioner one time, back when Chuck was a young stud of thirteen or fourteen. He walked up to them and said "When I come back here, I don't want to see you all standing on this corner". He turned around, they saw his billy club. Then he turned around "I'm back!" Those niggers shot like rabbits everywhere, who could make it.
One night he walked in, to speak to me. I was with some bigwigs. I don't remember who, except his boss was there. Chris came in, her teeth chattering like she'd seen a spook. Pete really scared Chris the worst. I think he reminded her of something, maybe. She said Pete's to see me, he says it's urgent. His cap'n heard and bellowed "Tell him to wait, Iceberg." I looked up at him and shot right back "Now that's just crazy talk. You know he'll beat down both of us." Everyone laughed, including the cap'n, shaking his red paws everywhich way, like I'd told the funniest. It was funny alright, though he wouldn't think so. Pete was there to beat him down.
When I faced him in the Blue Heaven Precinct downstairs he just pointed his eyes up. I sat him down upstairs, on the loveseat in Pepper's bedroom. He said "Iceberg, you gotta hear this". He dangled one of those dictaphone reels. I had to clamber all the way up and down myself, to find a god damned machine could play that thing. Pete wouldn't have any girls involved. He didn't let nobody on the whole floor, I had to kick June out of her bed. She was too old for him by then anyhow. Finally I stuck the thing in my ear, he handed over the recording and I listened in.
"Hell, Leonard! It's good to see you relax for a change." The joker speaking was the cap'n I'd just left behind! I had no idea who that other Leonard sucker was.
"Evening, Captain. Anything urgent?"
"Urgent? Anything urgent I leave to my subordinates."
"Got some good cigars in that box."
"No, thanks. I'm off cigars. Brandy! My doctor's got me off everything worth living for... almost. Leonard?"
"There's got to be a stop to your complete disregard of the taxpayers' money."
"Paid for this apple out of my own pocket, Captain."
"Leonard, you spent $18,600 in the last six months! Investigating one man, a single man!"
"Frank Ibbetts' not a man. He's an organization. And I need money to fight money."
"Now look, Lieutenant... I've got nothing against you personally. At times I even admire you, I must say. But what you've got though is too many brains you don't know how to work right. What about this $18,600 ? How am I going to explain this to the Commissioner ?"
"Well, I've dictated an explanation if you want to use it. 'Memorandum to Captain Peterson covering expenditures of the 28th Precinct station. The Combination is growing stronger every day. The only way to crush it is to get the top man. When Gratsky left the country, Ibbetts...' "
"What do you think this is, accidental manslaughter ? You're dealing with the largest pool of illegal money in the world! You're fighting a swamp with a teaspoon. The Combination keeps no books, no records. Everything's run on word of mouth and hard cash!"
"That's their one weakness."
"They have to have a treasurer."
"And I know his name. The name of a man who can pick up a phone and call Pittsburgh, or Cleveland or New Orleans and say, 'Hey, Bill. Joe is coming down for the weekend, advance him fifty thousand.' Then he hangs up the phone and the money is advanced. Protection money! Then a new all-night bar opens, with gambling outside city limits. A bunch of high school kids come in for a good time. They get loaded. They get irresponsible. They lose their shirts. And they get a gun. 'cause they're worried. They want to make up their loses. Then a filling station attendant is dead with a bullet in his liver, and I have to see four kids on trial for first degree murder. Look at it! First degree murder because a certain Mr. Ibbetts picked up a phone."
"You can't touch Frank. He's clean. We've got nothing on him! Not even a parking ticket."
"Yeah, why is he so careful? It's unnatural!"
"You can't tell a jury a man's guilty because he's too innocent."
"He's no more innocent than this gun!"
"Yeah, and you're not much smarter than a shovel! Now stop getting philosophical with me, Leonard. He's innocent until he's proven guilty, not until some detective somewhere figures the world should be made simpler because he doesn't know how to make women have less stupid children."
"Yes, Captain. Is there anything else, Captain?"
"Yes. That woman. Susan Lowell. You've had a tail on her for the past six months. Why ?"
"She's Frank Ibbetts's girl, sir. She's our most valuable lead. We know next to nothing about him, but a woman knows. She makes it her business to know. If I can get a hold of her and make her talk..."
"Leonard, you've spent six months trying! She went to Vegas, you went to Vegas. She flew to Cuba, you flew to Cuba. Couldn't get authorization for the expense, so you paid it out of your own pocket!"
"I had to, you wouldn't back me up."
"I'm not in love with her, you are. This is off the record, Leonard. Take it like it's between friends. Try to face facts. You can't bear to think of her in the arms of the other guy. Well, forget her! We're cops, Leonard. We're not in highschool. This isn't Summer vacation after Senior year. There's seventeen thousand laws on the books, and they all have to be enforced. Nobody else wants to do it, and you don't have the time to run around trying to reform wayward girls. She's been with Frank three and a half years. That's a lot of days. It's a lot of nights, Leonard. Face it, if she wanted anything to do with you she'd have done it with you by now."
I shook my head. I looked at him. He looked at me. He didn't say anything, he just walked out. I put the roll on the girl and slammed the box shut. Not so easy to do, slamming them things. It was the most work I'd done that year. I could feel my forehead sweat. Then I called Pepper in. She was out with a trick. She asked me if it's urgent ? I said naw bitch, it's just important, but it ain't urgent. I told her to meet me at the Blue. She was there just about closing time. Phyllis huffed when she walked in, then she walked out. I shook my head. I should've bitchslapped both of them right then, but that's how bitches get away with crap : there's bigger fish to fry than their dumb ass. I went at Pepper "Who's Susan ?" She didn't have a clue, honest she didn't. "The new bitch in C ?" I shook my head no. "You know Susan O'Hara. She's been in 5 for like a year. She was at the big house last week." The way we worked it out the bottom floor rooms went A to D and the first floor went 1 to 6. The bitches kept trying to go up, from D to A and from 6 to 1, I don't know why, it wasn't anything like that to start with. They were just rooms. But, vents are vents, right ? We let them have it their way.
"Not god damned Susan from number five. Susan Lowell, bitch." Her eyes opened wide. "She's with Frank. He picked her up himself. Some square broad from back East, I think she played the piano before they met." Frank was a twisted freak alright. He set Daphne down in the country after she got pregnant the first time, maybe a coupla years after he got her from me. She'd just turned eighteen. He knocked her up regular ever since then. Daphne was a regular barefoot country mama, with a whole tribe of high yellow pickaninnys after her. She just chased them around all day long, fed them and washed them, her belly to her chin most of the time. Frank kept her in the dough and I guess rolled her up just enough to keep those crumb crushers flowing out. He'd visit for a weekend now and again. Far as the neighbours knew he was a travelling salesman. Good at it, too. Daphne raised her herd on five times the slats everyone else over there brought home. But like they say, if the sucker's happy why put a pistol on him for the best.
I said "You know where he is ?" She nodded. "Well, get gussied up, bitch. We're going to see your old man." We got him out of an all-night poker game with some funny looking guineas from back east. I had the dictaphone in one pocket and the record in the other. He played it for them all. The guineas squinted like mean overseers from back down South. We didn't say anything, I just waved and took off, Pepper in tow. I heard them yakking their bird talk as soon as we were out the slammer. Pepper said they're asking who's the stud. She told me them eyetees ain't got it in for niggers like the micks. Then we laughed at that sucker Leonard. Lots of those chicken-hearted, broken studs come out of the white broads. The world's too interesting, too much fun for them. They itch to make it more boring, like themselves. If only it were flat, they wouldn't look so short as they do. They made the white bitches frigid, too. If it weren't for them not being able to get it up, white bitches'd freak worse than the negro bitches ever do. You can tell, too, the kike broads freak out the worst, they ain't white anywhere near a bed.
Sure enough there was a fresh corpse in the Morgue by the name Leonard before the week was out. I passed the old timey guarding it a sawbuck to let me in. He wouldn't take it. He said "Man, I'd kidnap a Supreme Court Judge for a silver chocolate if you say so. Ain't no how you gots to pay to go anywhere you please now, boy." I gave him the sawbuck anyway. I cracked on him "Ain't like I'm paying to get in. I just likes you, that's all. You shine 'em good," I said, pointing down. The shoes, the floors, what difference does it make anyhow ? Inside, it was just like I thought. A stiff 'bout thirty-five, with fingers shorter than my thumb, and a swipe shorter than his. I spat in his stupid open mouth and walked out. His eyes were wide open, but I don't figure he saw anything in them. Just like back when he was walking around, anyhow.
From there I went down to the Palm Tavern, across from the Regal. I went in for a bite. Jim sat at my table. His girl brought me a rack of ribs. The bitch of it is, it ain't the same, somehow. I said to him "Jimmy, how come's it I ain't had a rack like back at some greasy spoon since the old days ?" He shook his head. "You ain't as hungry as you were back then, Iceberg. When's last anyone called you Slim ?" The joker had it right. We had enough fat to make three streetwalkers between the two of us, and just on the belly at that. My girl Josie came on the stage. When she was done she came to the table. "Daddy, you here to take me home ?" The things they said about poor ole Josie. The Siren of the Tropics, the Princess o'Tamtam, the Black Pearl, the Bronze Venus, the Creole Goddess... some jokers down in Paris even called her Zouzou. What a dumb name is that ? I remembered the first time she walked through the Heaven's door. Ophelia dragged her in. Found her trying a chump cop in some department store. That's how they got to rapping. They were both from St. Louis. That's how they kept at rapping. I think Ophelia missed the old days maybe. Josie couldn't have been more than thirteen then, just some starving kid run away from ole Missouri. Was that bitch hungry! Ophelia ordered everything on the menu for her, and she put away damn near all of it!
Johnny Lions bought her out, fair and square. Before we shook on it she cracked to me "Daddy, don't ask him for too much. Please Daddy, don't. I ain't been a bad whore for you these years, whadda ya need the scratch for ? Daddy, I love him, let me go." I told her "Josie, I ain't gonna beef if all he offers up on your dumb ass is three slats, and I ain't ever gonna forget you." So I took her home in my short. She was in the two back then, only because Phyllis was being a bitch and Pepper didn't like Southern bitches much. I didn't wanta kick her up myself. She was in two for more'n a year.
About this time, maybe a little earlier, a funky kinda broad walked in. Just by herself, like that. She didn't ask for the time or nothing. She knew the score alright. Most fresh bitches came in dragged by some other bitch, the fair half of them without a clue, but not this one. She had an accent on her pretty thick, and a cut on her face from eye to jaw just like Red Cora had. Bitch was fresh off the boat, come from an island in the sea called Sardine-ya. I guess maybe they got some canneries over there or something. This bitch was something else. Maria, she called herself. A big mouth on her like a sailor, and she brawled like longshoremen after three weeks of striking. She could punch a stud right out. She had technique. After a week in 3 she cracked at me "Daddy, why these bitches all so soft ?" I shook my head. "Because you ain't taught them nothing yet, sugar."
I kicked her up to an old poolhall, direct. I didn't like her rundown on herself. It made sense alright and it checked out with itself, but with nobody else to vouch for any part of it I figured it could as well have been made up. Wholesale, some joker somewhere with too many brains he didn't know how to work right could con her whole story right up. That poolhall I set her to was an odd place alright. At first it musta been some big development, back from before the crash. Maybe it was to be a hotel. They never finished it, never got anywhere even close. When the trouble hit they had dug out three levels of basement, not finished none or nothing, and just put in the pillars as far up as for one level over ground. It went up for auction one time, some joker couldn't pay his city tax.
Miriam kept tabs on that back then. A redhead kike bitch, kept her beak shut most of the time. She had a nose like on a pelican and the smallest pussy I ever saw on a broad. They say it goes the other way, in studs. Maybe it's opposite for broads. The sad old pit went for low enough, and then she had the city contractors finish up the first floor. The Mayor didn't mind, rolled it in with some roadwork. She turned that first floor into a gym at first, then a poolhall. It made a few slats, but never anything to cover what it was worth. I never sold it, don't know why. It just sat on ice like that for years until I kicked that eyetee bitch right into there. She found the basement that hadn't been used for much, except maybe a little storage, and made herself an underground gym in there. She only trained bitches. No stud ever laid a foot in there 'cept for me. I don't know any studs ever got wise to it, either. It was something else, three dozen pussy-naked bitches going at each other like crazed jaspers all day long in there. I let any bitch that wanted go to Maria's a day or two a week. It eased the pressure on the first floor some, anyways. Maria taught those bitches to punch, to choke, to hack up a sucker with a knife.
After she'd been at it a while I noticed ain't hardly half the whores hit in the street for scratch as was before, not no more. I made it so nobody could stay in the bottom going on the street if she wasn't with Maria once a week, unless she said it's okay. Pyllis didn't like the idea, went over there to scream at her. Maria put her on her ass. Didn't crack anything to her or nothing, just put the bitch on her ass. Phyllis was panting for it, but Maria wasn't no jasper either, didn't sit on her face or nothing, just kicked her out. I laughed my ass off at her when I heard. Radell and some other bitches made her so she'd tell me herself. When Maria hit me for a range later I bought every piece the fences had on hand didn't know what to do with. After they cleared out the bottom level of that basement they racked five thousand pounds of rods in there musta been. I said to her "Bitch, if you go through a million cans of bullets in a year, I'll buy you another million. Have at it." They never got anywhere close to that, but I think some weeks they tried. I even put special ventilation down in there so they don't choke on all that powder smoke. Everyone went in, even Pepper learned to shoot 38s and a rifle, too. We'd go hunting after that, I'd just sit on my ass watch all the crazy bitches murder ducks and geese and whatall.
I don't know why I hadn't tought of it before Maria showed up, but a whore's worth a stud and a half when it comes to muscle. She ain't got all those blinders on that studs get. Her asshole's nice and loose and her head aired out. The jokers squeeze too tight and raise cockroaches in those bonehead skulls. I wouldn't trade a team of whores not even for a carload of coppers, let alone a boatload of hoodlums. Nobody's gonna be scared by a broad, that's fair enough, unless her cat is dragging out behind her or she's got three heads with a golden tooth coming out her neck. But when the work's to be done, not just yakked about, I'd send Maria and some bitches that she's tight with over any other, any time. I give odds forever my bitch comes out on top, too, and she won't have to brag about it the tenth part what a stud does. That's for damn sure.
When Chris saw the joint she said "Daddy... you could make it just like in those stories down here". Everyone started laughing, like they thought it'd be funny if some bitches were be walled to death in the dark down there. I asked them, I said "You crazy bitches want to be chained in the dark by the wall in here ?" They were all quiet, looking at their shoes, then Phyllis said "Only if we'd deserved it." I shook my head. Bitches are crazy enough on their own, but when they get together it's a circus. Before the year was out we had everything but lights in there on the second basement floor. They horsed around about it all the time. Phyllis'd threaten broads with the hole every day. I ain't ever sent any girl down there until later, though, after the war started out in earnest.
And that's not all they did, neither. One day Radell came back from way down South where those jokers got the cocaine plantations. Cali, they call it. When the hundred piece we hauled from Waukegan in Sweet's old D started drawing to curtains I took to sending the bitches down there, one by one, to get the layout of the land. I sent Ophelia down first. She knew spic from her old man and I figured she's got the quickest eye anyhow. I thought maybe I ain't ever seeing her again when she took off. Sweet's spic broad she was going with didn't seem all together to me, either. But she came back alright, and she clued me in. It ain't nothing like it grows on trees, and nothing like cotton, neither. She said it's a bush, they cut the leaves offa it, grind them down. They make a paste of it, like tapioca, and that's all there is. That paste is refined like sugar and that's cocaine what comes out. She said they don't even sell it by the piece down there. She said it goes by the bale, costs as much as bootleg bourbon. The transporation's a bitch, and then the distribution a bigger bitch on top of that.
Ophelia set it all up sweet enough, we moved the girl direct after that. A year or two after she came back I took to sending a different girl every few weeks down there, on the regular. Kept tabs a little on the organization that way. When Radell came back she had another thought. She rapped to me, Pepper, Phyllis and some other girls about it. "Daddy, you know what's a Chili ?" I said "Sure, bitch. I was friends with one. Remember when we went back there to see him, you told him your genius con you put together ?" She said "No Daddy, not like that. Chili's a country, and Peru, too. You know what they do in them countries ?" I told her I ain't got the first clue. "They mine, daddy. They dig the earth up all day. They mine so much down there they even named saltpeter after it!" The bitch didn't make any sense to me, until she got into the whole of it. This Chili's not just got a two horse and one bucket mine. It's got some large scale operations where even ten thousand studs work. They ain't working anything like a bellhop, either. She said no story from the old South is anything like what those studs go through. They work like animals down there in the holes, for nothing all day. She said ain't no worst jail in all of Illinois or even Mississippi that's half as worse as those mines down there. And she said "Daddy, you know what's the one thing they ain't got ?" I shook my head. "Whores, daddy."
She ran down to me, that there ain't no worst can happen to any bitch than to be sent down there to whore for those naked mole rats working them Chili mines. She said it could be made like a punishment camp. Them folks running things wouldn't get in the way any. Besides, she said, for them a C note's a year's wages, "Ain't no place in the whole world the buck go further than in Chili". The truth of it is, ain't no worse for a whore than to be stuck where money ain't easy. There's lotsa starving one-horse farmers get together in a barn they put a cross atop to yak how they ain't got no whores in their town. Like it's to be proud of! No gambling, neither. Might as well be proud they ain't got a bath-tub. Not one silver dollar in their pockets, between the lot of them. How's they to have gambling ? Ain't the sucker invented yet to go gambling with no bankroll. They ain't got no whores like mice ain't got no railroad. Says so right in the varmint good book, it's sinful to have railroads. That's why them mice ain't built one yet. Their faith in Musus keeps em in the old ways and away from vanities and lucre. All them white niggers got's mortgages to the bank on all the land and all the horses, then fret all day why all the young'uns wanta go up to Chi. Must be them country morals, and the empty stomach they came out of like so much wind, may be.
Radell said them running things in that there Chili wouldn't think it's punishment for the poor bitches sent down there or nothing. Just business as usual by their lights, some whores earning their whore salt every day. I shook my head. She said to me, "Daddy, any bitch you don't like, ship her off to a boat that's already cleared port all tied up, put her down there in that Chili mining camp whorehouse. It ain't anything like croaking a bitch. It's ten thousand times worse, and that just for the first year." I thought of poor old Preston. One time I was up at Sweet's he said, "'Berg, I forgot to tell you. They found old Pretty Preston frozen stiff in the alley back of the Roost. The poor bastard had wrapped himself in newspapers. The Greek fired him a week ago for staying near the fire and not pulling marks on the sidewalk. The drunk half-white bastard thought the newspapers could stand off ten-below-zero."