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“Ummm-hummm,” I commented, as my eyes roved idly among the lurid pulp covers on the back wall-- and stopped with a jolt.

The platinum-blonde kitty with the sweet blue eyes and soft pink lips was looking back at me. Beside her was a sultry brunette who looked enough like her to be a sister, and above them the words: “Showing Nightly at the Blue Parrot.”

My pulse hammered. My breath caught. My scanties steamed.

“Who is that, Zeke?” I breathed.
His skinny old neck creaked around until he could glance incuriously at the poster.

“You think I keep track of every bimbo on the streets?” he rasped.

I opened my collar a little wider, bent over to look at the magazines racked below Zeke’s counter.

Old Zeke wheezed, choked, then gargled, “The Kamiko Sisters, Miko and Kiko. Came out from Ohio a couple years back to make it big in vaudeville. Didn’t realize that vaudeville died twenty years ago … ” he trailed off.

I pursed my lips consideringly over The Shadow, wiggled the groceries a bit to start him up again.

“ … Neither of ’em geniuses,” Zeke wheezed, “but Kiko the brunette is a bit brighter. Very jealous and protective of her sister, if they are sisters. Word on the street is, either one of ’em can suck-start a Packard.”

I picked Black Mask off the rack, straightened up to lay it on the counter. Sweat was running down the myriad wrinkles in old Zeke’s face like irrigation water in a new-plowed cornfield.

“So they’re working the Blue Parrot,” I murmured. “That’s the Fat Man’s dive, isn’t it, Zeke? Tell me, what’s our old pal the Fat Man doing these days?”

Zeke’s toothless jaw clamped down stubbornly.

“I don’t poke my nose inta that grifter’s business,” he muttered.

“Ooooh, look!” I cooed. “The new issue of Dump Beautiful, with the article on decorating with hand grenades!--” and bent waaay over to look at it.

Zeke groaned, “He’s inta grambling, a little protection, a little prostitution, a whole lotta procrastination … Say, you gonna pay for that magazine, er not?”

I straightened up with a sigh--can’t win ’em all-- and smiled sweetly at old Zeke as I put a quarter on the counter.

To Be Continued...

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