The Mercedes pulled up beside the bar and the couple stepped out, laughing. The man wore a gold chain and a jersey. The girl was done up fly with a full body and lips. He held her in his arms and she kissed him. Not the kind that anyone, if they lived long enough, would know as fake. Not that contrived giggle or forced smile. It was the way she touched him. The hands. That takes a whole other level to manipulate, and the kind of person it takes to do that is either crazy or manipulative or both.
Gabrielle knew it. She’d seen it, been there, and lord the world would know one day. When her friends or family came through. When her brother stopped caring about anyone but himself and decided to finally come and help his little sister, alone, an old woman, living on the streets of Chicago.
The club was a good spot to panhandle. Thursdays were the hot nights for it. Other street folk come out in droves, sure. But Gabrielle, or L as they called her, defended her territory. They didn’t expect a woman to fight the way she did. But she could stand her ground. They didn’t grow up like her and her brother. And sometimes things broke you or made you stronger and well.
“Made me stronger. I lived,” she said out loud. A couple passed by and L stared them in the eyes, holding her tin mug. They ignored her.
“I’ve seen it, the star in the sky black as night and burning flames. Carcarocalee. Carcarocaloo. Carca.”
A quarter fell into her cup and she thanked them, keeping her eyes on the new car that pulled up to the club. The men stepped out, faces covered in masks, pistols at the ready. They stepped inside and the gunfire began. Through the screaming and running, L had the strangest notion.
“I should go in there.”
The street cleared and a deafening silence followed. L slowly headed towards the club entrance, the bouncers had yet to arrive for their posts, it being too early in the evening. The loose change clanged against the sides of her mug as she pushed open the heavy door.
“They won’t kill me, I'm just an old homeless woman.”
A dark shape spread out on the floor in front of her, she recognised the smell of blood and realised it was a body.
“I’ve seen worse.” She reminded herself.
Past the foyer the lights were dim, stairs lead down to the clubs main room, the usual thrum of music was gone. L gripped the banister with a wrinkled hand. The holes in her shoes allowed the blood to soak into her socks.
Bodies blocked the bottom of the stairs, the people had tried to run at the first sign of a threat, but they hadn’t stood a chance.
“Is anybody alive in here?”
L stepped over the pile of bodies, blood soaking into her coat. Something crunched as she stepped down, a faux gold chain crumbed into tiny pieces. She recognised the wearer as the man who had walked past her earlier. Scanning the nearby faces, his female companion wasn’t with him.
Raised voices disturbed her. The shouts came from behind a door with bright white lettering: STAFF.
“Maybe they want their wages.”
Her arthritic fingers half curled into a fist and she banged on the door.
“Have you heard about our lord and saviour?” She laughed to herself.
The shouting died down. The door swung open forcefully. A man wearing a mask held a pistol at arms length, aiming directly at L’s head.
“WHAT?” He shouted. Spittle flying out the tiny hole over his mouth.
“Your disguise isn’t very good son, and your clip is empty.” She cheerfully tapped him on the shoulder as she barged past. “I’m here for my bounty. Don’t forget to check them dead folk out there, some might get up and walk around.” She laughed to herself as she walked past him.
Two men stood in the room pointing their guns at her as she walked in. A woman, heavily dolled up, stood behind them. L recognised her as the fake girl who had been wrapped around the man who was now lying dead on the club floor.
“Two boy scouts with toy guns and a bimbo, how typical?”
The three of them shared looks of confusion as L took a seat.
“Who are you?” The woman spoke.
L made note that she was in charge.
“I’m L, and i’m gonna help you get out of this little pickle, if you give me some of the money your takin’, after all I can identify you all.”
“The Police are here, we need to leave.”
“There’s a secret way out…” L smiled mischievously “For a price, of course.”
68 People dead in Crimson Club Massacre
Police are still investigating, no suspects yet.
Image from Pixabay.