Catching the Flu
Posted on Wed Feb 14th, 2018 @ 12:50am by Category V: Supervillain Frederick Hollywood
The Villain's Spire
Location: New York City
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse
As Lorde walked down the street, he passed an ambulance. It looked more like a wagon from the cowboy era than anything he had ever been in. People stood by it to pose for a picture with a dead man, likely both a way to confirm the time of the deceased's death and for the workers to be in a photo op. The crazy man couldn't help but thinking, “Who said selfies are new?”
On he went. All through the massive, beautiful city coughing and screams for the departed filled the air. As he went down an alleyway that his indicator pointed him onto, many of the people resting there didn’t move. Also quite a change from the folks he was used to dealing with.
Just a block before he reached his destination a woman clutched her child. She was crying and in a tremendous state. Frederick looked at her, then down at the child. In ways, she reminded him of his own mother. He placed his hand on the woman’s forehead. “Everything is going to be okay.”
The woman looked up at him from under her shawl. “My little Angela is gone. I just don’t ever think it can be, sir.” By the look in her eyes, there could be no doubt.
Although with far less of a sincere smile than was normal for Lorde, it was just right for the moment. “If miracles could happen, would you want her back?”
For some reason, she could see the stranger was being serious. Like a mother trying to save her child from death, she reacted quickly and without thinking. “Yes! Yes, anything!”
He traced out a pattern just over the dead child’s shoulder. This would leave his mark for later. Then he spoke a few words and touched the mother's forehead again. Instantly, her color looked better and some spots on her went away. Then he spoke other words and touched the young girl's head.
The baby woke up crying as though having been reborn. The mother clutched the infant to her breast. “Thank you, thank you. Who can I say did this?”
“You can call me Lorde. Like from old English.” He was taken away a bit by the woman’s joy. There was wonderment in his mind if anyone would fight for his life like that.
Then the woman looked upon him once again. It was a hard world she lived in, and it demanded hard answers. “What do I owe you?”
She wasn’t far off. “I shall revisit your daughter one day and make a similar offer to her. Next time to save more than just one child’s life. For now, enjoy every day you have with her as though it was the last.”
After that he simply walked on, not even knowing if he would make good on his end of the contract.
After going through a section of the back alley that smelled like old food, he came to a door painted red. The locator was pointed right at it. So he knocked. “Always try knocking first,” was one of his sayings.
A well-dressed, heavy set Italian man opened a small window in the door. “What do you want?” the man said in a way that the words sort of smashed together like a freight train. The man seemed quite aggravated. Of course, not many people Lorde had seen so far seemed real happy-go-lucky.
Thinking quickly, Hollywood pulled a twenty dollar bill from his breast pocket. “I heard this was a good place to come for a good time.” Of course, if he was wrong about what sort of place this was there would likely be big trouble.
The man’s huge arm almost filling the window snaked out and grabbed the bill. After feeling it over, he stuffed it into his own breast pocket and with a grunt unlocked and opened the door. “Bars to the left. Miss Abby’s is on the right. If ya need much else, just lemme know.”
Following the locator to Abby’s was quite a scene, folks screaming and yelling and having many various forms of frivolity. There was something that passed for a parlor, plush emerald green cushions on everything, even the walls.
Sitting down at one of the smaller tables, Lorde motioned for one of the serving girls.
“Can I get ya somethin’ to drink, sir?”
He couldn’t help but feel really old when people called him sir.
Frederick reached into the display case she was toting and grabbed a pack of Lucky Strikes. He put another twenty dollar bill in her tip jar. “These, and if you can make a good grasshopper or some other sweet mixed drink that would be great. Also, as I am looking for something special, maybe you could arrange a tour for me later.”
As she walked away, the blonde man looked around at the other patrons. It was a fair mix of money. Dirty money from the mobs. Clean money from bankers and merchants. New money looking to be lost. Old money that had likely been regulars with the place from the time it had opened.
The young woman came back. “Ally will see ya now.” She also had his drink in hand, but no sales case. Maybe she had been given some time off.
Standing up, he opened the pack of Strikes and pulled one out. He cupped his hand and uttered a word that translated into Ronson. After his smoke was lit, he asked the waitress, “Do you smoke?”
“Don’t everybody, honey?” The girl smiled. He handed her the pack and took his drink. There were just so many props someone wanted to carry around. He took a sip of the creamy green mint drink before moving on.
They went through a long hallway with the sounds of sex and coughing filling the air. If this was a modern place, it would be considered quite elegant. At the end of the hallway, they boarded an elevator and headed up to the top floor.
When the doors opened, the young woman led the way. This room was filled with all the trappings of a high-powered office of the day. Some of the paintings would be worth a small fortune if they made it. A woman sat in a large chair just in front of a massive desk with a small man in a suit counting money behind her.
The older grey-blonde woman in the black and red dress spoke up as if the man wasn’t there. “How can I help you, Mister?” Clearly she had done this sort of thing before.
“Most people call me Lorde. I am looking for someone special. Like I told this nice lady here, I would like to just look around to see what I can find.” He admired the man's bowler. Maybe he would have to pick one up while here.
She rubbed her slim fingers together. “Anything can be arranged. Lorde, are you from England or something?” She checked to see if her cameo hair pins were in place.
“Oh yes, I have spent a great deal of time there.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out five twenties and handed them to the young girl.
As the young girl walked over and put the money on the desk, Alley questioned the stranger some more. “Just look around, you say?”
Lorde smiled. “Well, if I find what I am looking for I will want to discuss things some more. Also, do you know who owns this building?”
At that point, the man looked up. “The Camorra Family. What's it to you?”
“If things go well enough, I might want to put down some roots. If they might be willing to sell the place, I might be interested.” Frederick shrugged.
The man stood up quickly and threw on his hat. “Lemme go see what I can do, Mister Lorde.”
Before he could spit out, “It’s just Lorde,” the man was out the door. Clearly he had a nose for business. “So how about that tour, Miss Ally?”
She nodded and stood up. After walking gracefully over to the tall blonde stranger, she took his hand. “Right this way, sir.”
They rode the antiquated elevator down a floor. As the door opened, Lorde checked, and his locator was pointing downwards quite a long way. “Although I am quite sure you are trying to show me the best of what you got, I have to ask who you keep on the lower floors, as in the basement levels, in fact?”
Alley gave him a look that spoke volumes. “Strays, and some of the girls that are sick or have been abused by customers to the point they can't work anymore.” Being somewhat insightful herself, especially with men, she restarted the elevator and continued downwards. “Not many people tend to check the time quite as often as you do. Have a lot of appointments or something, Mister?”
“Time is something very precious to me. It is a valued commodity I have come to treasure as much as life itself.” The elevator opened and a smell hit them like a ton of bricks. Not just the scent of the sick and dying. The smells of cooking and offal filled the air. Moaning could be heard from almost every room they passed.
They turned a corner, and standing outside of one of the doors was a dark-haired beauty who looked quite well, considering the scene. “Hey Ally! Who you got there?” cough...cough “He looking for some sort of wartime special?” A small line of snot ran down from her nose, and something far less recognizable came from the corner of her eye.
Thinking quickly, Miss Alley spoke up. “Hey, Mister Lorde, I wouldn’t pick that one if I was on my last dollar. Most guys been getting deathly ill who try to spend any time with her. Lately we have had her doing laundry to try to keep her away from the crowds. Ya know what I mean, honey?”
Lorde’s smile widened, and he looked straight over at the madam of the house. “Oh no, no. I think we have found exactly who I have been looking for, ma’am.” Through his third eye, he could see a sickly cloud of mist surround the woman in question. “So what’s your name, young lady?”
“My name is Zaneta, Mister.” In Hebrew, it translated to God’s graceful gift. Lorde found it both fitting and ironic.