The shot goes wide and she curses inwardly at herself for not staying in practice. A rattle of fire and the wall next to her explodes in a cloud of brick and mortar. She dives to cover behind the nearest automobile, umbrella forgotten on the pavement. Another rattle of gunfire and the windows of the vehicle shatters and wash over her. The whole thing had been a set up, the whole damn time, right from the note in her dressing room. She hears a magazine drop and pulls off another shot that is wide of the mark.
A vehicle screams up next to her, the door flies open as Kowalski dives across the seat to grab her hand. She is so surprised she almost shoots him. Why shouldn’t she shoot, this bastard had left her high and dry. He yells at her to get in the damn car, some white knight he is. Her feet clear the door as bullets spark and sing on the pavement. Keeping low Kowalski accelerates, swerving wildly through traffic. The back window explodes inward covering them both in glass. John takes the corner at speed as she keeps her head low. The gunfire falls into the distance, she looks across smiling, John, after all this time. The smile doesn’t reach her eyes. Blood flows over the seats.
Cold fear builds in the pit of her stomach, threatening to turn into white hot terror. There is so much blood. Johns left hand clutches his right shoulder, trying to stem the flow. The right steers the increasingly erratic vehicle. She places a hand on his, guiding him to slow the car, to pull it to a stop. She notices the fear in his eyes though he tries to hide it from her, tries not to meet her eyes. He fumbles in his trench and pulls out a silver hip flask. She frowns and snatches it away from from him, taking a slug herself. He raises an eyebrow at that but says nothing. What could he say, where could he begin. Leaning over she tries to take a look at his shoulder. Nothing but blood. He mumbles a name; Ramsey, Dr Lloyd Ramsey. His head begins to dip, her stomach along with it. She pulls his face close giving a sharp slap, his eyes flash open and she warns him not to fall asleep. She demands an address from him, this mess wasn’t going to sort itself out. Pier 83, Southside docks.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Nothing was ever simple with John Kowalski, nothing was ever clear cut. Pier 83, Southside dock was Mob territory. Johns head slumps again so she pours the content of the flask over his shoulder. She wonders absently if he kisses his mother with that mouth. He drags himself onto the back seat, warning her to keep her gun close, much good it will do her though. She slides over to the wheel, smearing the blood on the leather seats and revs the engine to life. Southside docks. Into the fire.
He was an unsavoury man with a wrinkled bald head painted with liver spots and large watery eyes that apparently didn’t see all that well. He was stick thin with nervous hands and a dirty apron. Everything you wouldn’t want a doctor to be. John had insisted though, and they had already made the journey to Southside, she would be damned if she were getting cold feet because she thought he looked off. She had to trust that John knew what he was doing, even if she thought otherwise. She wouldn’t trust Ramsey though, even if he did. After a small argument with the man as to the existence of Dr Lloyd Ramsey, John dragged himself out of the car, the man’s demeanour changed at once.
Between them they managed to get him into a small room and onto a large dentist chair. The room had a single low bulb for illumination and another narrow doorway. The tools of his were trade immaculately laid out on a small wheeled tray, her faith in him rose a little. The doctor offers her a chair by the door, she places it on the back wall, opposite both doors her .38 in hand. She returns his look of curiosity with one of cold confidence that she didn’t altogether feel. He cleans Johns wound, she watches as closely as possible without taking her attention from the door. This was Gioelli family turf, but only just. The McLaughlin family had been pushing them out for years now, the Gioelli’s were losing ground. It was like being in a shower of gasoline and waiting for the first spark to catch. A half hour passed and Ramsey declared the wound superficial, he closes up John and hands him some pills with the advice to take it easy and avoid being shot. She had to give credit to Ramsey, he knew his trade well, John was moving easier but still held his arm against his torso. The doctor excused himself to clean up, leaving them both alone.
He seems lucid enough, she decides to ask about the notes. Suspicion he tells her. Someone wants them both dead. He had known he was marked for sure, but he couldn’t be sure about her. So he had sent the notes, and watched to see if she was being followed. She was. There was only one person who would want them both dead, the same person who was sat behind bars, the person who was responsible for the death of Lily Boardman. She files away her anger for a more appropriate time and asks who, without needing the answer. Who else but James Dominick McLaughlin. Jimmy the Noose, but he had to be sure.
John slips back into his bloodstained shirt, saying it wasn’t unheard of for Mobsters to run things from inside the joint. She points out that he never visited Lilies grave. He never visited her. The doctor has been gone too long he says, changing the subject, likely ratting them out. He leaves through the same door as the doctor did, leaving her alone. The minutes stretched by, the low bulb keeping a rhythmic pendulum motion, casting dancing shadows on the wall. Kowalski marches the quaking Ramsey through the door, revolver at his back. He had no choice the doctor babbles, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. John mutters something needlessly corny about showing him a hard place and pistol whips the lying bastard. She rolls her eyes, some things never change. He wraps the unconscious doctor in his coat and hat and tells her to take his legs. She asks him if he is serious, but of course he is, he always is. Outside they bundle the doctor into the driver’s side of the car and he drags her into an alley opposite.
He crouches down and she quickly follows. They had just beat a man senseless. Sure he had ratted them out but it still wasn’t sitting well with her. This was the way of things though when John Kowalski was part of your life. Before long she hears vehicles in the distance. John presses them both back into the shadows of the alley. She is suddenly very aware of how close he is, close enough to smell the cologne on him, the one she had bought for him before both of their lives had gone to hell. Tires screech and two cars race towards docs office, the first passes with a hail of bullets aimed at the stationary car. The second passes close after, a flaming bottle launched from the window. Glass shatters and orange flames leap to life inside the car. John mutters about that hard place the doctor found himself in. She stifles a cry of shock as two men come into view, Thompson’s in hand. They rain gunfire down on the burning car. There is a small pop followed by a searing whoosh as flames completely devour the carcass of the car. She notices John’s face, hard, his eyes are flint. He had just had a man killed and he felt nothing at all. He points silently at the two men in the street, painted in the fire’s light. Nick and Tommy McLaughlin. Jimmy the Noose really wanted them dead.