St. Valentine's Day Massacre DancebyMostodd07©
Two of Johnny Rubies' thugs manhandled Pauline onto the stage. She stood bravely before the crowd of about one hundred partygoers and mobsters. Behind her the small orchestra finished playing "The Stripper" and started up with a more modern number than emphasized the sensuous drums and walking bass. Pauline scanned the crowd again, looking for her boss -- State's Attorney Gabriel Reid. When she found him, he looked more anxious than she felt. He edged closer to the hard-to-see doorway, which was guarded by two large men.
"Quick yer stalling! Take it off!" someone yelled. Soon most of the men in the throng took up the chant. Even their girlfriends were excited, clapping in time, happy it was someone else that was going to be displayed for everyone's amusement.
"Take it off! Take it off!"
Okay, Pauline thought. If everyone is focused on me, then maybe no one will notice Gabriel trying to explore the hidden passage. She was nervous because she had never flashed -- much less stripped -- for a mob like this. Her biggest worry was the fact that she was a fraud. Once she was nude, her deception would be obvious to all, and probably cost her her life. She took a deep breath and gave a final look to Gabriel. She could only pray he knew the sacrifice she was about to make, and that he would be successful and find his brother.
Pauline began to sway in time to the music, trying to imagine what she should do to make her performance memorable. How had she ended up in this situation, when only twelve hours before she was an assistant state's attorney, working hard to put criminals away, and suffering through a mad crush on her boss, Gabriel Reid. She had to admit, something had gone seriously wrong since the morning, and it might cost her and her boss their lives.
That morning, Pauline wore her favorite business suit to work even though it was not any shade of red. It was a golden yellow. She liked it because it made her feel comfortable and happy. The jacket sported wide lapels, which helped to hide her large breasts. They were sexy and sensitive, but certainly not very business-like or professional. Her nipples had the embarrassing tendency to get hard and pointy. So, her blouse was tightly buttoned, with no décolletage ever visible. The pencil skirt was a little short, but that was to be expected, because it was so narrow. Pauline's body compensated for her large bosom by keeping her hips rather narrow. It made it almost impossible to buy any kind of one-piece swimming suit, the only kind she ever wore. Her slender, long legs looked shiny in her silk stockings, supported by lavender garters, which matched her lingerie. Her jet black hair, usually long enough to tickle the top of her ass, was carefully rolled into a French twist, so that her slender neck was exposed, and the perfume she dared to put on that morning could waft about her as she moved.
Because it was St. Valentine's Day, Pauline had dared to hope that her handsome boss, State's Attorney Gabriel Reid, might finally take notice of her, and return her smile. She had dreamed of his gray eyes and his strong shoulders for the past year since being hired as an assistant state's attorney. But, he had always remained the consummate professional, strong-chinned, chiseled features, eyes fixed on the prize -- cleaning up the city's mobsters. In this crusade, he had been helped by the city's police force, and especially his own brother, Michael Reid. Together they made a formidable team, investigating and prosecuting and putting the bad guys behind bars. Pauline had felt honored to be teamed recently with Michael as he continued his investigation of the Russian, Dzhon Rubinseev.
When Pauline arrived at the State's Attorney's office, she felt the tension. Everyone was trying to keep busy so that didn't have to face the fury of Gabriel Reid. His personal assistant Gail had a grim look on her face but caught Pauline's attention before she could get to her office.
"He's been looking for you," said Gail. "It's Michael. Go into see him. Now!"
Pauline knocked at his door, with a cautious smile on her face. There was no returning smile on Gabriel's face, only anger and concern.
"Did you get a report from Michael last night?" Gabriel asked.
"No, he was going to see a friend from your neighborhood, he said. Molly Flanders, he said." Pauline offered the information, and then was surprised by Gabriel's reaction.
"You let him go to see Molly Flanders alone? Don't you know who she is?"
"A friend of yours from long ago, Michael told me," Pauline said.
"Moll and I parted company a long time ago, when I went to law school and she opted to become an exotic dancer. 'My body, my choice' she told me then. Do you know who she is now?"
Pauline shook her head, checking her phone discretely to see if Michael might have left her a message. There was none.
"For the past year, she's been Rubinseev's girlfriend. He's put her up in her own penthouse, takes her to the opera and art galleries and showers her with presents, the way he treats all his women for a time. She's lasted longer than any of his others. Michael had to be crazy to go see her alone. Did he ask you to accompany him?
Pauline shook her head again. "No. He just wanted to stop by and chat with her, he said. We were looking for the location of the underground dance party Rubinseev holds every year, and he thought he could convince her to tell him where it was being held."
"He's crazy. That dance party is just an urban myth. It's never happened. But you were wrong to let him go by himself. You could have called for back-up. Or gone with him. Or just talked him out of it."
"Look, Mr. Reid, I'm sorry. Where is Michael now?"
"Nobody knows. He's disappeared since last night. You were the last person he talked to. Now what can you tell me about his plans? Do we have enough to get a search warrant for Molly Flanders' penthouse?"
Pauline didn't think so, and didn't want to have to try to convince one of many bought judges that Rubinseev had on his payroll to issue a warrant. Gabriel was waiting for her answer, when Molly Flanders walked into the Office of the State's Attorney.
"Hello, Gabriel," Molly said.
She was gorgeous. Not just because she was tall, blonde and curvaceous, but because she held herself with a certain sexual confidence. Pauline was as tall as Molly and had her own curves, but did not radiate the sensuality that Molly did. Even Gabriel seemed taken aback when he saw her. Then again, Pauline didn't know what the nature of their relationship had been when they decided to part.
"Where's my brother?" Gabriel said quietly.
Molly sat down. When she crossed her leg, a generous amount of thigh was exposed. She pulled a cigarette from her purse, and held it to her ruby red lips. When Gabriel made no move to light her cigarette, she lit it herself with a gold-plated lighter.
"There's no smoking allowed in this building," Pauline said. "And those things will kill you."
"My body, my choice," Molly said. She flicked ash on the carpet until Gabriel found an ashtray hidden in his desk.
"Michael came to see you last night?" Gabriel said it as a statement of fact.
"I asked for his help," Molly said. "Then he left. But if Johnny's men were outside, I'm afraid they might have taken him."
"Where would they have taken him?" Gabriel asked.
"I don't know, but I can guess," Molly said. She threw an invitation onto Gabriel's desk. "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre Dance."
Gabriel picked it up and studied it. "This isn't a real thing."
"It is," she said. "It's Johnny's way of celebrating a life of crime. You can't get in without an invitation. It's a costume ball he hosts it annually. But I've had it with him."
Gabriel passed the invitation to Pauline, who was stuck by the fine embossing. She didn't recognize the address as anything but an abandoned manufacturing plant. "Johnny Rubies invites you ..." She recognized the name Dzhon Rubinseev used -- Johnny Rubies.
"I won't take it anymore, Gabriel," Molly said, as though she were reciting lines in a bad play. "He's gone too far if he's taken Michael. Michael's your brother! Johnny thinks he owns everything. He thinks he owns me and my body. He's put his mark on me. I can't stand it."
Pauline didn't see any obvious mark on Molly, but didn't pursue it. Let Gabriel ask it he needed more information.
"Are you willing to testify against him? Tell us everything you know?" Gabriel asked.
"Of course. I'll even wear a wire if you like."
Gabriel studied Molly, who remained stiffly upright as she snuffed out the last of her smoke.
"I'll set you up with a stenographer. Pauline knows what we want to hear. With your help, we might be able to give Johnny Rubies a St. Valentine's Day to remember."
"I've got to get back to my place, Gabe. If I'm gone too long, Johnny's men will report it, and he will suspect something. No. I'll go back to my place, and I'll see you tonight."
"I'll give you protective custody. Pauline will arrange it all for you."
"Johnny is expecting me to be at the dance tonight. I want you to be there, too, for my protection." Molly uncrossed her legs and stood up. "Will I see you there?"
Gabriel took the invitation back. "I'll be there, but you won't." Gabriel turned to Pauline. "I want you to accompany Ms. Flanders back to her residence and keep her there. If she gives you any trouble, call for backup, Pauline."
Molly's eyes narrowed, but she soon recovered her poise. She stood up and extended her hand in friendship. Gabriel came closer, and she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "I was hoping to share a dance with you. Maybe another time."
Pauline walked with Molly to the street. She felt completely underdressed compared to the fur that Molly draped around her shoulders. A long black limousine pulled up, and a feeling of dread clutched at Pauline.
The driver was a swarthy man with a shaved head and sunglasses. He looked Pauline up and down, a visual frisk for weapons. He hadn't touched her, but Pauline felt slightly violated by the intensity of his inspection.
"This is my friend from my old wild days," Molly explained to him. "We had some really good times."
The chauffeur allowed a smile on his face as he reappraised Pauline and her business-suited body. She wondered how much his imagination told him from just the sheen of her hosiery. She was afraid it was more than she was willing to acknowledge.
They reached the penthouse just after noon. Pauline didn't know what she expected, but Molly's place was spectacular. The view of the city and the lake were unobstructed. The furniture seemed new to the point of never having been used. The light fixtures dazzled. The objets d'art perfectly situated throughout the place were impossible to evaluate, but easy to admire.
Molly sat on a white sofa, and invited Pauline to join her. Pauline sat in a chair opposite, watching Molly's every move. The minutes went by slowly until Molly tried to break the ice.
"You can let down your hair, you know. It's just us girls."
Pauline undid her French twist and let her luxuriant hair free, which felt good.
Molly looked at her appraisingly, even more warmly than the chauffeur had. "I love your outfit. You'll have to tell me where you got it. I can see why Gabe hired you."
"He hired me for my work ethic," said Pauline, slightly insulted. "He has always been a perfect gentleman at work."
"That's not the Gabe Reid I knew," Molly said. "But that was a long time ago. Do you want me to tell you what we used to do? Gabriel, Michael and me? They would have to arrest themselves if we did those things now."
"What's on Netflix?" Pauline asked, hoping to change the subject. "Any good movies we should stream while we're waiting?"
Molly had been watching the clock and checking her phone while Pauline talked. "Oh, sure. Let's watch a scary movie."
"How about a musical instead?" Pauline said.
"Let's compromise. A scary movie with some champagne."
Molly opened a magnum of champagne then found a scary movie that Pauline had never seen. For the next 103 minutes they both cringed, squeaked, screamed and hid behind throw pillows. By the end, Pauline was exhausted. She had been careful to drink very little. Molly had killed most of the magnum herself.
"Do you want to see my costume for tonight?" Molly asked. "Well, what would have been my costume."
"Oh, sure, I'd love to see it. I have to call the office while you do that."
It was time for Pauline to check in and report the situation. Everything was fine, at least to this point. She didn't want Gabriel to accuse her of the same error she had made keeping in contact with Michael Reid.
Molly went into the bedroom, and Pauline checked her voice messages. Nothing out of the ordinary. She tried to call Gabriel Reid, but Gail told her that he had left for the day.
"He had to get a costume, and he was going to the gun range," Gail said.
"Who does he think he is," Holly asked, "the sheriff from 'High Noon'?"
"Always," said Gail, and hung up.
Pauline started to worry. It was no joke. Gabriel intended to crash Johnny Rubies' party, searching for his brother.
Molly's phone was on the end table. She had left it while she was getting changed. It buzzed, and Pauline went to get it.
"Your phone's ringing," Pauline called.
"Let it go to voicemail," Molly said.
The phone stopped buzzing in Pauline's hand. She looked at the caller. She almost dropped it when she saw it was Johnny Rubies. In a few seconds, there was sharp ding. He'd left a message.
She replaced the phone, a little shaken by her telephonic proximity to a man reputed to be so evil. The phone lit up again, this time with a text message. "He's coming?"
Again from Johnny Rubies.
"He's coming?" Pauline ran the message over in her mind at least a thousand times in just a few seconds. Johnny Rubies expects someone. And he expects Molly to be the one to invite him. There was only one person that Johnny Rubies could be referring to -- her boss, Gabriel Reid.
The longer Pauline thought about it, the more convinced she was that Gabriel was walking into a trap. That would be some coup for Johnny Rubies -- capturing both Reid brothers.
Someone came out of the bedroom, but it wasn't Molly.
It was Cher, of Sonny and. She had straight black hair that hung to her hips. Her eyes were surrounded by mascara and eyelashes looking like a kind of flower. Her lips were puckered and painted red. Everything about the makeup was overdone. The long slinky dress was a throwback to the Flower Power days of the Sixties.
"Pretty nice, huh? I hate to waste it. I'm glad you got a chance to see it." She sashayed to the center of the room, leaned side to side like Cher had a habit of doing, swinging her long hair. "In the old days, I used 'Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves' in my act."
"It's a great costume, Molly." Pauline was amazed at her transformation.
"How about a little dinner?" Molly went to the kitchen, and began to piece together two sandwiches of prime rib, fine cheese and arugula. She opened another magnum of champagne, but his time, she kept her back to Pauline while she poured. It made Pauline suspicious.
Molly brought a tray with the sandwiches and the two flutes of champagne, careful to place Pauline's in front of her, before setting her own place. Pauline pretended to futz with her phone again. Then Pauline looked up.
"Don't forget you had a call," she said, hoping she sounded helpful.
Molly looked at the phone, and blanched when she saw who had called. She looked at Pauline, who kept a straight face.
"I have to take this," Molly said, and sashayed back to the bedroom with the phone almost tangled in her dangling earrings.
While she was gone, Pauline looked at the two champagne flutes. They both looked the same, but she had a girlfriend in college who had been roofied. It made her forever suspicious when a drink was out of her line of sight. She did the safe thing, and switched the flutes, making sure that Molly was not watching her.
The sandwich looked delicious, and Pauline realized that she had not eaten all day. Still, she was polite, and waited until Molly got back.
"Anything important?" Pauline asked.
"My mother," Molly said. "Wishing me a Happy Valentine's Day. She's so sweet."
Pauline knew she was lying about the phone call, and maybe about her mother's disposition, too.
"Here's to Valentine's Day, and finding the man of our dreams," Molly said, and they clinked glasses. In a single gulp, they drained the flutes, and Molly refilled their glasses.
Pauline complimented the sandwich before she took a good-sized bite. Molly smiled her approval, and lifted her sandwich. She took a bite, chewed slowly, and with great effort swallowed. Her eyes stopped focusing. She dropped the sandwich onto the plate, and crumpled to the floor. Cher's costume made her fall and lie in a straight line. She looked like she was rolled in a carpet.
Pauline tried to call Gabriel's cell directly, to warn him. There was no answer. She knew what she had to do.
She checked that Molly was still breathing. She was, but she was completely unresponsive. She unzipped Molly from the Cher costume and struggled to get it off her. Molly hadn't worn any undergarments. As she lay naked on the floor, Pauline saw what Molly had meant when she said that Johnny Rubies had put his mark on her. From each of her well-formed breasts there hung a small nipple ring. In the center of each ring was a cabochon ruby, hard and flashy. She looked at Molly's navel, but there was no other jewelry there. Then another flash, and Pauline saw that Molly had a ring in her vagina. It too was a ruby, a rather large one. Pauline realized that even if she could pass superficially as Molly in her Cher costume and heavy makeup, she certainly could not fool anyone if that person decided to take her to bed.
It took about a half hour to complete the transformation. Pauline was not as daring as Molly, so she left her own lavender underwear in place. She hated to abandon her favorite business suit, the yellow, but hoped she might survive to pick it up later. She couldn't get the Cher wig to fit, so she just let her own dark hair cascade down her back. There was a slight wave from being in a French twist earlier, but she was confident that the hair would lay very straight, very soon.
As consolation, and to complete her disguise, Pauline took the mink fur that Molly had worn. She went downstairs where the chauffeur waited, her first test. She tried to hold herself in the same confident manner that she had observed with Molly. It must have worked.
He said, "About time. The boss has been on my ass to get you moving."
Pauline ducked into the back seat without speaking.
"Where's your wild friend? I thought she was coming with you tonight," he said.
Pauline shook her head, and issued a one-word order. "Go."
The manufacturing plant still looked deserted from the exterior. But when the chauffeur opened her door, she could hear faint music and high-pitched laughter, the background to a party in progress.
Pauline strode to the door where three large men sporting tuxedoes and earpieces were keeping in contact with someone inside the building. As she approached she thought she saw the camera at the side of the building swivel a bit.
"Nothing to see here," she tried to convey telepathically.
The guard with a clipboard checked a box and nodded to the others. "About time," he said.
The door was held open for her, and she walked confidently into a hallway with one of the guards. He directed her down two other hallways, until she reached the brightly lit hallway from where the music had been spilling. A small orchestra occupied a raised stage. Valentine decorations were tacked to the walls, along with movie posters of famous gangster films. There were about a hundred guests, men and women, all in costume and masks, although most of the costumes were Bonny and Clyde or from Scarface. There were gaming tables, some with pink tablecloths, where guests were playing poker or spinning a roulette wheel. One long table was reserved for craps. Three ten-foot wooden posts were standing upright near the side of the orchestra. They were decorated with pink and white streamers and red hearts and pictures of tommy guns. At the top of each was a heavy brass ring. They looked like the kind of stake used in the Middle Ages to burn witches.