The case was labelled an "open/unsolved" by the police. The case? A dead black stripper named Irma found beaten to death in a motel that catered to those with a taste for the exotic. The exotic? Well, this is 1956 after all. And such things were talked about only in whispers and done only in secret.
But whispers have a way of being overheard. And secrets have a way of getting out. And when they do, they usually end up on Skye Masterson's doorstep.
Especially when there's an eyewitness to it all.
An eyewitness who knew the dead stripper. An eyewitness who had a roll of film showing exactly how she got that way. An eyewitness who could testify to the dead stripper and the roll of film's connection to a rich society kid who loved the shady side of life.
A rich society kid with...A taste for Irma.
A TASTE FOR IRMA
The worst thing about letting your mind wander and not paying attention to your surroundings while you’re driving, is not seeing the big, black Ford Tudor sedan with the car load of gun toting tough guys sidling up behind you—Until they introduce themselves with random acts of gratuitous gunfire.
My back windshield explodes. Shattering in a high pitched wind chime like scream, as bullets buzz around me like angry hornets. An adrenaline surge of panic washes over me like a tidal wave. I start bobbing and weaving bullets zipping passed my head like I’m a prize fighter on the Main Event Card at Madison Square Garden. All the while trying to work the steering wheel and keep my Chevy going in some semblance of straight ahead.
Trying and failing.
As if trying to duck the hail of bullets coming from the sedan behind me, my Chevy makes a hard right all on it’s own right into some parked cars. Then it decides that it doesn’t want to play shoot ‘em up anymore and stalls out on me. Not good. Because I can see the sedan coming up fast in the rearview mirror.
If you’re going to make a run for it, Masterson, I tell myself. Now’s as good a time as any.
I shove the car door open and reach for my .38 revolver in one motion. Exiting the Chevy, I turn and fire toward the sedan speeding toward me just to hold up my end of the gun fight, as I run across the street looking for something big to hide behind and settle on a station wagon. The bullets bouncing off of it’s front windshield brings the sedan to a screeching halt in the middle of the street. Tucked into the deep shadow of the station wagon, I watch as three gunsels exit the sedan. Two of them straight out of hollywood tough guy central casting. But it’s the third one, the little guy with the Thompson’s submachine gun as big as he is, that catches my eye and all of my attention.
Looking every bit like a baby faced high school kid all dressed up in his dad’s best three piece suit and fedora, the little guy’s thin predatory eyes and crooked smile gave him a sinister, almost sociopathic air. One that spoke volumes that, no matter how much smaller he was then the big gunsels by his side, the little guy was twice their size from the inside out.
“Skye Masterson!”, the little guy shouted over the ragged, blaring RATATATTAT of the Thompson’s and the high pitched jingling of the bullets it sent ricocheting off of every hard surface around me. “You sir are a hard man to find. And believe me, I took the scenic route”.
“Next time call. I’m listed”, I yell back, tucking myself even further into the deep shadow of the station wagon taking the brunt of the Thompson’s anger on my behalf. And much appreciated. “And who might you be?”
“Yeah, I guess introductions are in order”, the little guy said, waving the two big gunsels onto the sidewalk, as he came straight at me right down the middle of the street. Seemingly without a single care in the world at the harm that I could do to him. I watch as his predatory eyes cut quick glances at any sign of movement. Looking for a target for the Thompson’s that he held at the ready. “My name is Giovanni Casparo. Folks call me Casper—And I’ll be killing you today!”