8: Third Raid on The Bloody Tongue

21st January 1925

Side On The Hunt 01
Equipped For The Raid on The Warehouse At Pier 90

New York City, U.S.A:

10:00 PM:

Bloody Tongue?

Should be the Bloody Cockroach, except that Cockroaches don’t bleed, because no matter how often you stamp on them, another always seems to crawl out from under its stone.

Just how many bases do these idiots have?

We discuss further activity, but need additional information before we can act. We all agree to get a welcome full night’s sleep before continuing our observations on Thursday.

Trent and Gupta will go to Pier 90 to watch the docker that we saw speaking with Leland Jefferson, the Harlem lawyer.

Greg and Joseph will watch Park Avenue, and see what the trust fund swindler, and cultist Mortimer Wilberforce is up to.

Having made plans, we take watches but have an uneventful night, and waken refreshed and almost upbeat, except Gaidar of course.

Did we know that there is a Solar Eclipse at just after 9am on Friday 24th January 1925?

Did we know that this is always a harbinger of doom and destruction among more enlightened cultures?

Especially now that the stars are wrong, this can only be a bad thing.

Gaidar: “Have we written our wills?”

Gaidar: “Have we?”

Trent: “Give it a rest man, for pity’s sake!”

Trent: “We’re not dead yet.”

Well only poor Heather, Pini, Irma, Gupta and Curtiss, but Irma, Gupta and Curtiss are over it now. Not like death is always fatal after all.

Greg always was a sourpuss, needs a frail that one.

With Greg’s words of doom in their ears, Trent and Gupta drive over to pier 90. On the back seat the now ubiquitous, two large sports bags nestle menacingly on the leather upholstery. The investigators plot up on the approach to the pier in a nice shadowy parking space. They sit in silence, alone with their thoughts.

How can I introduce Elephant Polo to the New York country clubs? Gupta thinks to himself.

Gupta: “Where is a good place for my Manhattan Ashram?”

Gaidar: “How can I stop being a failure?”

Gaidar: “How can I make things right with Janey?”

Gaidar thinks to himself.

Sitting for hours they are about to give up the ghost when they spot Silas N’Kwame, walking slowly towards the pier. He looks around, but with his eyesight this is next to pointless, as he’ll never see any pursuers. We do spot a pursuer though. It is the good Detective Poole. Like a good investigator he has let his suspect go to see where Silas will lead him.

Silas approaches a dockworker. Angry words are exchanged and furious gestures. We guess that Silas is being berated for approaching his confederate in the open, and in broad daylight. The dockworker writes a hasty note, angrily thrusts it at Silas, and storms off gesturing him to go. As he returns to his work, a foreman approaches pointing to his watch yelling. No dew-droppers allowed on his pier apparently.

Gupta watches the dockworker go back to work from the car.

Trent follows Poole, following Silas. Silas goes home. Turns out he lives on a second floor tenement, very close to JuJu House. As Trent watches, Poole stays outside for about half an hour, in case Silas goes walkabout, but when he doesn’t Poole then leaves, heading back to Pier 90. Trent follows while making sure he can’t be spotted. He has to hang well back. Poole does more detecting, working the harbour side diners to get background information. Trent uses the opportunity to call in to let Trixie, Wesley and Simon, who have stayed back at the warehouse, know what happened with Silas.

Trixie decides to make use of this information. She works on some disguises for herself and Wes, and they head off to Silas’ place for a nose around. As its daytime, the back-door of the tenement block is open and they can quickly go upstairs. Her carney skills come in useful again, when her time as an escape artist is put to good use, picking the lock of Silas humble abode. They creep soundlessly inside. They can hear movement in the bathroom. Water is running. Silas’s shabby jacket is hanging up on a hanger. Trixie has a brainwave and checks it for the note Trent had told her about. No Dumb Dora this lady. She is in luck, it is still there. She reads it quickly then places it back in the pocket. It was an address. 18th and 11th. Not a Harlem address, that is in the meat packing area of Manhattan near Chelsea.

Silas can be heard getting into the bath so Wesley checks the rest of the sitting room. He spots an oily bundle under a dilapidated Davenport. It is a Pranga. He wraps it back up and returns it to its original location.

There is nothing of interest here so they leave, with Silas none the wiser about their surreptitious visit.

They head over to the Chelsea address to reconnoitre the area. It’s a fairly large warehouse, bigger than ours. Outside it are three burly Negroes clustered around a brazier. Parked outside is a Model A flatbed, with a pile of fresh earth on it. A trail of spilt earth can be seen leading to the warehouse entrance. Leaning against the wall are a couple of planks. Nails can be seen in a small heap next to them.

Meanwhile, back at Pier 90, it’s 4pm and the end of the shift. Trent and Gupta follow the dockworker to a car. He’s done well for himself. Trent records the registration. They then go back to find the foreman they saw yelling earlier.

Foreman is unimpressed with Trent’s credentials as a Private investigator. He only responds to prompts of the folding green variety. Once Trent stumps up he is told that the dockworker is called Rodney Manimba. He is Kenyan. This foreman is a piece of work. He knows his onions, and how the docks roll. Like that all the giggle water for all of the New York speakeasies comes in through them for instance. He figures us for bootleggers so wants a piece of the action. Without it he won’t give up much more about Rodney. Finding out about those mysterious machine parts of Mukanga’s may be a problem too. And, despite the fact that he is insufferably annoying, as he’s not a cultist it’s not fair to let Greg loose on him. Not yet anyway. However when Trent gets more annoyed his conscientious reticence will decrease.

Nonplussed, they head back to the warehouse. A check of the phone-book confirms that Rodney is indeed doing very well. He has a phone. His address is in Harlem. In the same area as Fat Mabel’s, but not right next to it.

At Park Avenue, Greg and Joseph spend a boring day watching the outside of a house. Mortimer is a night owl and doesn’t come out all day. Even the expensive Joe, and sandwiches from the uptown drug-store are boring.

22nd January 1925

The Warehouse At Pier 90
The Warehouse At Pier 90

The Big Bang At The Warehouse At Pier 90:

08:00 PM

We need to continue watching people. Our options include:

One, Silas N’Kwane, Shopkeeper and cultist near Ju-Ju House.

Two, Leland Jefferson ,Lawyer on 135th & 7th.

Three, Mortimer Wilberforce, rich kid on Park Avenue.

Four, The 3 watchmen outside the Warehouse on 18th & 11th.

Five, Rodney Manimba, the dockworker from Pier 90, at his apartment in Harlem.

Six, Leland’s driver in the Bronx.

We can’t watch them all, we’ll be spread too thin. Trixie and Wesley stay at the Warehouse, shivering in the car.

Gupta joins them with an additional sports bag, and a water-cooled machine gun.

Trent and Simon watch Mortimer.

Greg and Joseph watch Leland.

We elect not to watch Silas, the driver or Rodney.

Things are getting dicey, so everyone takes the time to cast Skin of Sedefkar and don a bullet proof vests.

At Park Avenue, Mortimer Wilberforce finally surfaces at 21.00 PM. He hails a cab, and goes to a Harlem speakeasy. After 20 minutes he comes out with 3 Negroes. They all look around then take a different cab to the warehouse. Greg and Donelly are able to follow without being spotted.

As Gupta, Trixie and Wesley look on, a van pulls up directly outside the warehouse. 3 men get out then head inside. That’s 6 Hostiles identified so far.

Rodney Manimba pulls ups. He pulls out a heavy carpet bag out of the car, then speaks earnestly to the watchmen. Probably telling them to stay on their toes. He heads inside after a few minutes.

7 known hostiles.

A white guy walks up to the watchmen, says a password of some kind and enters, that’s now 8 hostiles.

Another van pulls up. 4 Negroes get out and hurry within. 12 hostiles.

The taxi pulls up. Mortimer and the 3 men go inside. 16 hostiles now.

Trent and Simon are seen parking the truck further up the road. They are wrapped in great coats, balaclavas, hats and scarves making them indistinguishable from anyone else. They trudge to Wes, Trixie and Gupta and get in the back seat of the car, out of sight of the 3 watchmen.

Leland Jefferson’s car pulls up. He is very, very careful. His driver and another man flank him on either side as he enters. Greg and Joseph hang back and remain unobserved.

19 hostiles in the warehouse now.

Then Silas appears from round a corner. He is greeted raucously by the three watchmen, and then goes inside. Cheers can be heard from within. Don’t remember him being Mr Popular before.

20 hostiles all together.

Trent has a plan to distract the 3 watchmen. Trixie goes with him. He is going to hot wire a car and then use it to crash into the vans parked in front of the warehouse.

Greg walks to the North corner and fishes out a Ghoul knife.

Wesley comes from the other side, standing at the South corner. There is a vent in the wall above him, from which he can hear drumming and chanting from within. Silas is cheered and applauded. He has volunteered to become a Jakota, the dreadful corpse worm from Ju-Ju House. Rodney Manimba’s voice rises over the others.

Manimba: “We know who our enemies are, and will this day feed them to the great Jakota.”

Joseph walks to the rear of the warehouse, and rigs a grenade booby trap on the rear door of the warehouse. It seems to be padlocked from the inside. Now, when it is opened the grenade will go off.

Trent can’t start the car he’s selected, so Trixie does it instead. Trent prepares his silenced .38 as Trixie loads her .45. he has a puzzled look so Trixie asks him.

“What’s with the furrowed brow Mac?”

“I can’t figure out what effect the side swipe of the van, into the other van, will have on the watchmen. There are a lot of variables to calculate.”

Trent replies.

“You do hafta complicate things? Just run the goon down with this car why dontcha!”

“Yes that does have simplistic charm.”

“No Shit Sherlock.”

Trent guns the engine and drives down the road. The revved engine is the signal for the others to approach from either corner of the warehouse.

He drives up onto the kerb, right into one of the surprised watchmen. It is a glancing blow. Not the desired fatal impact. He didn’t have enough speed from such a short run up.

Greg uses the crash to good effect throwing the Ghoulish knife into the jugular of the nearest watchman. So much for the Hippocratic Oath! He falls, oozing life all over the side-walk.

Trent has now raised his silenced .38 and shoots another watchman straight between the eyes. He’s better when he doesn’t have time to think. The remaining watchman, who was hit by the car, gets up and attacks Trixie on the passenger side. She shoots, but misses. Trent spins round and shoots him in the head. He falls down dead.

Gupta gets ready to open the warehouse door.

The others prepare to cover him while Greg lights a cigar and rummages in the sports bag.

He fishes out a bundle of four dynamite sticks, and lights the fuse.

Gaidar: “Careful! Don’t slip in the blood drenched snow!”

The others have drawn their weapons and Trent has picked the lock.

Gupta opens the door. We can see the cultists within. Many have taken off their shirts, and are chanting. It is very warm and humid inside. There is a hole in the floor down which Silas has climbed. So loud is their cacophonic incantation that they may not even have heard us enter. Greg hurls his deadly package towards the back wall. Then everyone gets behind the door, or cover as best they can.

The blast is deafening.

The door which Gupta is ducking behind is vaporised. Everyone in the room has been killed. Worse, it seems that there is a store of alcohol in the building. The room is in flames and it is only a matter of time before the entire building goes up. As a parting shot, Wesley calmly steps into the burning room and deposits his phosphorous grenade down the hole in the floor. A satisfying blast shows us Silas has been killed.

However, Silas, now Jakota 2, screamed an horrific scream that cost Wesley more of his dwindling grasp on reality.

Regrettably everyone has been killed, and any evidence we could have recovered has been totally destroyed.

We drag the corpses of three watchmen into the building. Greg spots one of them breathing shallowly. His scalpel glints in the flame, and the breathing stops.

Trixie spots where her bullet casings have melted the snow, and gather them up along with Trent’s two bullets. She also picks up the Ghoul knife. Joseph heads to the rear of the building and removes his grenade.

We all leave, alive and kicking.

We are no nearer knowing where all the ransom money, or the proceeds, of the bootlegging operation went than we were before.

We’ll need to have a story for detective Poole when he comes calling too.

We can search Manimba’s place. For good order we can also check Leland’s driver’s place in the Bronx, but I suspect both will be a bust.

Hope the meeting with Erica will be less explosive.

Time to leave.

Nobody left to blow-up.

Yegor Gaidar

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