I love old black and white movies ... Sam Spade, Boston Blackie, The Thin Man
.... Well, anyway, that's what I was thinking when I wrote this.

Oh, and just in case....
THUD .... The Usual Disclaimer applies.
Embraceable You
by Arrow, (c) December, 2003

          Back in the 1830’s, Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen stood on a patch of land, looked around the
wilderness and saw the future.  In 1836 the two brothers ran an advertisement in the Telegraph and Texas Register for
the “Town of Houston.”  They boasted that the town would become the "great interior commercial emporium of Texas"
and that ships from New York and New Orleans could sail up Buffalo Bayou to its door.  While it might have been a slight
exaggeration, John and Augustus did manage to persuade the Texas Congress to make Houston the temporary capital of
the new Republic of Texas and promoters were quick to offer lots and buildings to the government.

          In January 1837, when the first small steamship reached Houston, the bayou was filled with branches and the town
only had twelve residents and one log cabin.  Four months later, however, the population had grown to 1500 and there
were 100 houses.  The town that John and Augustus dreamed of was on its way to becoming a reality.  During the
ensuing years, the people of Houston built roads and railroads.  They worked on clearing, widening and deepening the
bayou.  As the nineteenth century came to a close, the communication systems of mail, telegraph and telephone
allowed the development of the cotton and lumber market.

          Then, when oil was discovered at the Spindletop oilfield, Houston took a new turn and by 1929, forty oil companies
had offices in Houston.  By 1930, Houston was the largest city in Texas and had three newspapers and four radio
stations.  The city had paved 196 miles of roadway and had begun to replace wooden bridges with steel and concrete. 
The citizens of Houston moved through a city that had electric streetlights, an electric streetcar system and over 97,000
automobiles.   The Democrats held their 1928 convention in Houston plus Houston could also proudly claim an
impressive thirty-seven-story building, a free secondary school system, two universities, a thirty-acre zoo, a public
library, a museum of fine arts and a symphony orchestra.  The depression may have slowed its progress, but Houston
was still growing.

          On this rainy night in Houston, however, most of its citizens probably weren’t thinking about any of those things. 
They were finishing their work for the day, fixing supper, putting children to bed, settling down for the day and preparing
for tomorrow.
          Just a short walk away from Houston’s downtown area, soft music filtered out from a small café into the cool night
air.  Inside the dark café, most of the small tables were empty while a large, black man sat at a piano on the small, dimly
lit stage.  He was playing quietly, a haunting melody that drifted under the conversations of the people who had come to
“Lucky’s” on this rain-filled night.  A tall man entered the club and handed his coat and hat to the pretty blond in the
coatroom just inside the door.  Everything about this man was neat and precise, from the cut of his hair to the creases on
his black, pin-stripe suit.
          “Good evening, Mr. Fortunato,” the young woman said brightly as she took his coat and hat.  Her smile slowly
faded however as he turned away without looking at her.  Lucky Fortunato’s eyes carefully scanned the room and he
took note that each table had a clean, white tablecloth and a small, lit candle as he counted the night’s patrons.  He then
turned to smile at the coat check girl and tossed her a coin.
          “Thanks,” he said with a wink, before walking away.  Her smile returned as she watched him stride over to the
small bar at the side of the room.  When the man behind the bar saw him coming, he pulled out a cup and saucer and set
them on the end of the bar.
          “Evenin’, Mr. Fortunato,” the bartender said quickly.  “Coffee?”  Lucky nodded as he stepped up to the bar.
          “Is she here?” Lucky asked as the bartender poured the dark liquid into the cup.
          “Yes, sir.”  The bartender returned to his work and Lucky absently picked up the cup and took a sip of the coffee. 
As he watched the piano player, he slipped a plain gold flask from his inside breast pocket and poured a small amount of
amber liquid into the cup.
          The lighting on the small stage became brighter and the piano player ended the melody he had been playing.  He
paused for a moment then began a new song.  This one he played much louder and after a moment a young woman
walked out on the stage and stood next to the piano.  Her blue silk dress fell from her shoulders to her toes and nicely
showed every curve of her body.  Dark brown curls loosely framed her face and rested on her shoulders.  She smiled
at the piano player then began to sing.

                    “Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you. . . . . .
                         Embrace me, my irreplaceable you. . . . . .”

          One by one, the people sitting at the tables stopped their conversations and focused their attention on the singer as
her voice floated smoothly through the room.

                    “One look at you, my heart grew tipsy in me. . . . . .
                        You and you alone bring out the gypsy in me. . . . . .”

          Outside, a cowboy sauntered up to the front door of Lucky’s but stopped to listen as the singer’s sultry voice
echoed in the rain-washed evening air.  His black Stetson sat squarely on his forehead and drops of water glistened on
the shoulders of his long rider coat.

                    “I love all the many charms about you. . . . . .”

         The cowboy sighed wistfully then stepped inside the club.

                    “Above all, I want my arms around you. . . . . . .
                       Don’t be a naughty baby, . . . . ."

          As the singer stepped back slightly into the shadows to watch the piano player, the cowboy slowly walked over to
the bar.  He looked directly at Lucky, but Lucky seemed to not notice him.
          “Coffee, Detective?” the bartender asked.  Detective Tom Nash shook his head as he turned to watch the singer.
          “No, thanks.”

                    “Come to mama, come to mama, do. . . . . .
                        My sweet embraceable you.”

          Both men focused their attention on the singer as she finished her song.  When the last notes from the piano had
faded into the darkness, she carefully stepped down from the stage and they both watched her glide effortlessly over to
the bar.
          “Hi, Tom,” she said softly as she moved past Nash.
          “Evenin’, Kitty,” he replied as he removed his hat.
          “You sang good tonight, kid,” Lucky told her and she slowly shifted her attention to him.
          “Thank you, Mr. Fortunato.”
          “I thought we might have dinner later,” he asked.  Kitty glanced at Nash, but he looked away as if he didn’t want to
intrude on a private conversation.  She sighed softly and looked back at Lucky.
          “That would be nice,” she agreed then turned to leave.
          “Goodnight, Tom,” she said without looking at him.
          “Kitty,” he replied with a slight nod as she left.
          “So, wha’ d’ya want, copper?” Lucky asked after Kitty was gone.  Nash nonchalantly looked around the room
before answering.
          “Not many people here tonight,” he observed.
          “Maybe they don’t like the rain.”
          “Maybe they don’t like murder,” Nash challenged.  Lucky had not yet looked directly at the police officer but he
quickly turned his head at the word “murder.”
          “What are you talkin’ about, Nash?” he demanded.
          “They found Carl Peterson face down in the Bayou this morning.”
          “He was in the same business as you.  Thought you might know why someone would want to kill him.”
          “We weren’t that close,” Lucky said sarcastically.  Nash sighed quietly as he glanced down at the hat he held in his
hand then slowly looked back at Lucky.
          “Let me try to help you understand.  Carl Peterson’s daddy helped build most of those nice buildings you see in
downtown Houston.”
          “History.  Carl’s a part of Houston history.  He belongs here.”  Nash and Lucky locked stares in silent combat.  “If
you know what I mean.”
          “I’ll send flowers.”
          “You been here all evening?”
          “Sure,” Lucky answered after a moment’s hesitation.  Nash noticed the slight pause but opted not to comment.
          “Well, you hear anything,” Nash said as he slipped his hat on, “you let me know.”
          “Yeah, sure.  You’ll be the first one I call,” Lucky answered.  Nash snickered softly.
          “You do that,” he said with a smile then casually left the club.

          Detective Tom Nash pulled his coat closed as he stepped outside.  The rain had started up again.  He pulled his hat
down further on his forehead and started down the sidewalk.  There was an all night diner on the next block.  Maybe he
could get breakfast before he went home.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Lucky and Kitty sat at one of the tables near the bar talking quietly.  The customers were all gone, the stage was
dark and the bartender was busy cleaning up the bar.
          “Need anything else, Mr. Fortunato?” he asked.
          “No, Jack.  Go on home.”
          "See ya tomorrow, Mr. Fortunato,” Jack said as he left.  Lucky took the flask from his pocket and poured some of
its contents into the coffee cup sitting in front of him.  He held the flask up to offer it to Kitty, but she shook her head.
          “No, thanks,” she said quietly as she watched Lucky return the flask to his inside pocket.  “So, how do you like
          “You don’t think I’m a native?”  He tilted his head slightly and smiled at her as she laughed softly.
          “I like Houston.  It’s not anything like Chicago.  It’s new.  It’s growing.  It has potential.”
          “Yeah.  Potential.”  Lucky leaned back in his chair and watched Kitty take a sip from her cup.  Her eyes watched
him thoughtfully as she slowly set the cup back in its saucer.
          “So, how about you?” he asked.  “Have you always lived in Houston?”
          “’Fraid so,” she admitted.
          “Do you ever think about leaving Houston?  Do you ever want to see somewhere else?”  She looked down and
shook her head slowly.
          “No,” she said when she looked over at him again.
          “Then we have something in common.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Nash sorted through the papers on his desk disinterestedly.  He had sent out the inquiries on Lucky Fortunato
weeks ago.  He wanted Fortunato out of his town but he would settle for seeing him behind bars.  He looked up when a
tall, gray-haired man walked up to his desk.
          “Mornin’, Chief,” he said.
          “Tom, have you found out anything about Carl Peterson yet?”
          “Not yet.  I’ve got a suspicion, though.”
          “Just remember, his family’s important in this town.  Everyone will be watching.”
          “As long as they just watch and don’t try to tell me how to do my job, we’ll be just fine.”  The older man smiled
patiently at the Detective.
          “You know, Tom, the days of a lawman being judge, jury and executioner are long gone.”
          “You think that’s what I’m doin’?”
          “You’re lookin’ at Lucky Fortunato, aren’t you?”
          “And you disagree?”
          “Just be sure you’re being objective about this,” the Chief cautioned.
          “Objective!” Tom fired back.  “Carl didn’t have any enemies here in Houston and Fortunato’s business isn’t doing
too well.  Maybe he wanted to reduce the competition.”
          “Maybe,” the Chief agreed reluctantly, “but Fortunato could have friends we don’t know about.  I just don’t want to
trade one problem for another.”  Tom sighed and looked away from the Chief’s penetrating stare, choosing not to answer.
          “Just don’t leave any loose ends,” the Chief warned as he turned to leave.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Kitty stood on the porch and glanced around the quiet neighborhood.  The row of neat little houses seemed too
perfect.  Wives were inside doing housework, husbands were at work and children were at school.  Everything was just
the way it should be.  She turned at the sound of the screen door closing to see her Aunt standing behind her.
          “You came in late last night,” her aunt said as she handed Kitty a glass of lemonade.
          “I had dinner with my boss,” Kitty explained.  Her aunt nodded thoughtfully.
          “Do you like him?”
          “Aunt Lou!” Kitty admonished and her aunt merely tilted her head slightly and smiled.  Kitty smiled back and
          “I don’t know.  He’s nice enough, I guess,” she admitted.  “Maybe I should have married Roger.”
          “That whiny young man with the glasses?”
          “He has a men’s clothing store in downtown Houston,” Kitty said in his defense.
          “He also has five children and they all look like him.”  Kitty laughed for a moment then a shadow seemed to pass
over her eyes and her smile faded.
          “There was a murder, Aunt Lou,” she said softly.
          “Ah,” her aunt sighed, “the policeman.”  Kitty silently watched her aunt for a moment.
          “I should get ready for work,” she said as she stepped past her aunt.
          “Yes,” her aunt said to herself as the screen door closed with a bang, “the policeman.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Billy Bascom was a guy most people hardly noticed.  He lived in an old house near the rail yard.  After he left
school at thirteen, Billy had supported himself over the years by doing odd jobs, some of them legal, most of them not. 
Currently he was in the business of selling his own medicinal concoction.  He bought the cheapest home brew he could
find, never asking what it was made from, added a little water and a little tea for color.  Many of his customers were the
men who slipped off the trains that rolled through Houston and made their way to Billy’s.  For the pennies in their
pockets, Billy would sell them a loaf of bread, a cup of coffee and one of his little bottles.
          Billy was unloading his truck when he heard the gunshot.  The jug he was holding shattered in his hands as the
bullet struck.  He quickly looked around trying to see the gunman as the liquid contents covered the ground around him. 
The second bullet caused him to stagger backwards as it slammed into his chest.  He stood still a moment then fell face
forward onto the damp ground, his unspoken question still lingering in his eyes.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          "Do we know who he is?” Detective Nash asked as he looked down at the lifeless body.
          “Probably the guy who lived here,” a uniformed officer answered with a nod towards the old house.  Nash glanced
over at the small wooden building.  If it had ever had a coat of paint on it, it was long gone and time had turned the wood
to a dull shade of gray.
          “Okay, turn him over,” Nash said quietly.  As the body was moved, the scent of blood mixed with stale liquor
wafted up from the damp ground.
          “That’s him.  Billy Bascom,” the young officer confirmed.  Nash reached down and picked up one of the pieces of
broken pottery that lay around on the ground.
          “There’s a couple jugs still in the truck,” another officer standing by the truck told Nash.  “He must’a been taking
‘em inside.”
          Nash fingered the piece of pottery in his hand as he looked around.
          “No witnesses?” he asked.
          “No, sir,” the officer next to him confirmed.
          Nash tossed the pottery shard on the ground and walked over to a small brick building.  When he went around to
the front, he noticed that the door was padlocked.  He figured that the building was probably a tool shed for the railroad. 
As he moved around the shed he carefully examined the ground, hoping to find something that would give him some
sort of clue.   Before he turned the corner, which would bring him to the back of the building, he stopped and leaned his
shoulder against the wall.  He could see Bascom’s home and watching the coroner remove the body of Billy Bascom
made him realize that standing here would have given the killer a nice clean shot.  The glint from something on the
ground caught his eye and he looked down.  Near the toe of his boot was a spent shell casing.  Using the pencil from his
pocket, he picked up the casing and examined it then carefully wrapped it in his handkerchief and slipped it into his

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Lucky Fortunato leaned back in his chair and watched the police officers searching his club.
          “You know, Nash,” he said calmly, “if you’d tell me what you’re looking for I might be able to save you some
time.”  On his way across the room, Nash stopped next to the table where Lucky was sitting.
          “Well, that’s real nice of you, Lucky,” Nash acknowledged sarcastically, “but that’s not how it works.”  A young
officer came out of Lucky’s office carrying a shiny new handgun.
          “This is all we found,” he said as he handed the gun to Nash.  Nash examined the gun carefully.
          “Nice piece,” he commented.
          “Thanks,” Lucky answered.  As Nash turned the gun over in his hand he noticed the slight scent of Hoppe’s.
          “Clean,” Nash said.  Lucky stared up at Nash thoughtfully.
          “You think I killed Peterson, don’t you,” Lucky asked finally.  Nash stared back at Lucky as he set the gun down on
the table.
          “Maybe your buddies in Chicago are looking to extend their market.”
          “My buddies in Chicago don’t even know Houston exists.  Besides Prohibition’s on its way out.”
          “Maybe you just don’t like competition.”
          “I don’t need to kill people to get customers into my club.”  Nash glanced down at the gun sitting on the table.
          “All your guns this clean?” he asked.
          “I don’t have any other guns.”
          “Yeah,” Nash commented as he turned away from Lucky and shifted his attention to the other officers.  “Okay,
we’re done here, “ he told them.
          “You can check my apartment,” Lucky offered.  Nash turned his head slightly to look back at Lucky.
          “We already did,” he said then adjusted his hat and followed the other officers out of the club.

          Moments later when the piano player came into the club, Lucky was still sitting at the table.  He had both elbows on
the table and his chin was resting against his crossed fingers.  His eyes stared straight ahead and there was a slight
scowl on his face.
          “Evenin’, Mr. Fortunato,” the piano player said as he stepped onto the stage.
          “Evenin’, Clarence,” Lucky replied without shifting his gaze.
          “Kitty and I were about to work on a couple new songs.  Is that all right?”
          After a few seconds, Lucky put his hands down and turned to watch Clarence as he leafed through his music.  The
scowl left his face and he walked over to stand next to the piano.
          “Clarence, do you think you could get a few guys together?  Form a band?”
          “Yeah, I know a few guys.”
          “Good.  Do it.”  Lucky nodded as the idea formed in his head.  “We’re gonna get this place jumpin’, Clarence.”
          Lucky turned and smiled as Kitty walked up to the stage.
          “Kitty,” he said, “Clarence is gonna put together a small band.  How do you feel about doing a few numbers that
are a little more upbeat?”
          “It’s fine with me,” she said softly as she slipped off her coat.
          “Great,” he said as he began to walk back to his table.  He stopped and slowly pivoted, looking around as if he was
seeing the place for the first time.
          “A dance floor,” he said to no one in particular.  “If we move the tables a little closer together, we could add a
dance floor.”  He looked over at Clarence and Kitty who were watching him closely.
          “Or I could expand,” he concluded.  He nodded as if he was agreeing with himself then headed for his office.  Kitty
stepped down from the stage and followed him.
          “Mr. Fortunato?” she called hesitantly.  Lucky stopped and slowly turned to face her.
          “Is…everything all right?” she asked softly.
          “Sure.  Why?” he asked with a shrug.  Kitty glanced down for a moment before answering.
          “I saw the police leaving as I was coming in,” she explained.
          “They were just doin’ their job,” he assured her, but the worried look did not leave her eyes.  “Nothin’s gonna
happen to Lucky Fortunato.”  He flashed her a big smile then, with a tip of his head, turned and walked into his office.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Detective Tom Nash was in a good mood as he drove to work in his 1923 Chevy.  The recent rain had washed the
buildings clean and the air smelled sweet.  The people walking on the sidewalks all seemed to be smiling.  As he
approached a city park, he could see a rather large crowd of people gathered there.  He slowly pulled up at the end of the
park and stopped.  The people standing around appeared to be slightly agitated and when he stepped out of his car, he
could hear the grumbling and angry voices.  Nash began to casually work his way around to the front of the crowd.  He
realized that people in the crowd were beginning to argue with each other as an angry voice shouted above the other
          “We’ve had over ten years of freedom from alcohol and now the government wants to give in to the gangsters and
the drunks.  Are we going to allow demon rum to run down our streets again?” the voice demanded.
          Nash sighed as he reached the front of the crowd and saw the young woman standing on the park bench.  Her
short blond hair was slightly disheveled and she gestured dramatically as she preached to the crowd.
          “Just because our President is weak, should we give in to the devil?” she asked.  Nash looked around at the faces
watching her.  He had the disquieting feeling that things were about to go from bad to worse.  He decided to try to stop
the inevitable.
          As he stepped in front of the young woman, she looked down at him and smiled.
          “Hi, Nash,” she said quietly.
          “Time to go home, Miss Dewberry,” he answered.
          “Nash….”  She didn’t get to finish her statement because something flew past her head and he quickly pulled her
down from the bench.
          “Hey!” a man standing a few feet away yelled then turned and hit the man standing next to him.  “Leave the lady
          The man he hit staggered a bit and rubbed his jaw.  His answer was a full swing at the other man, which landed
squarely on his opponent’s jaw forcing him to fall backwards into the crowd.
          As the crowd turned its attention to the ensuing fight, Nash took the opportunity to shepherd the woman away from
the crowd and into his car.  After he closed the door behind her he turned to see uniformed officers beginning to arrive
to break up the fight.  Confident that they would disperse the crowd before it turned into an angry mob, he chose to get
Miss Dewberry as far away from the scene as possible.
          “You can let me out at the next corner,” she said as she leaned towards Nash and smiled.  “I wouldn’t want to
waste any more of your time.”
          “I think I’d better see you home safely,” he said without looking at her.  Her smile turned to a pout and she sat back
in the seat stiffly.
          Nash glanced at her from the corner of his eye and smiled.  She was a small, wisp of a girl and she looked almost
like an angry child as she sat staring out the window with her arms crossed in front of her.  While she was quite nice to
look at, her power came from her father’s wealth and influence.
          “Just what do you think you were trying to do out there?” Nash asked after a few moments of awkward silence. 
Her answer was to pull her crossed arms even tighter and pretend to stare out the side window.
          “You know, Prohibition didn’t fix anything.  It probably made things worse.”  He looked over as she slowly turned
her head to look at him.
          “Well, maybe if the police had done their job, it would have,” she said quietly.  Nash merely chuckled softly and
returned his attention to his driving.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Nash read the short report a second time.  While it was good that the Chicago detective had taken the time to send
him the information, he wasn’t pleased with what he learned.  The letter explained that Lucky Fortunato did not have any
known mob connections.  It was speculated that Lucky left Chicago because his brother, a local police officer, had been
killed during a shootout between two rival gangs.
          “Nash,” the Chief said as he walked toward his desk.  “Mr. Dewberry has asked me to thank you for helping his
daughter the other day.”
          “No big deal,” Nash answered with a shrug.
          “So, any progress with the Peterson case?”
          “Well, Peterson and Bascom were probably killed by the same person.  Looks like the bullets match.”
          “Peterson and Bascom?  Interesting.  Is there any connection between the two?”
          “Not that I can see.  Peterson was pretty careful about the booze he served but Bascom wasn’t.  I doubt they used
the same supplier.”
          “Still looking at Fortunato?”
          “Both men were shot by a rifle.  Doesn’t look like Fortunato owns one.  Thought I’d go out and talk to Jake
          “Do you think he’s a suspect?”
          “Not really, but he did sell to Peterson and he just may have some idea about what’s goin’ on.”
          “Let’s hope so.  The mayor’s watching this one.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Jake Crandall set the last crate of bottles in the back of his truck and pulled a large piece of canvas over them all. 
He stood back and wiped his forehead with an old handkerchief, as he looked up at the sun directly overhead.  His wife
would have lunch ready and later he could drive into town and deliver this last batch.  It was a smaller batch than usual,
but he knew it was good.  He took pride in his product.  The recipe had come from his grandfather who only made
enough for special occasions.  When Prohibition had come along, Crandall was about to loose his farm but, thanks to that
special recipe, his farm was paid for and he had been able to fix up the house the way his wife had always wanted.
          A glimmer from the trees at the edge of his property caught his eye as he walked toward the house.  He squinted,
trying to see what caused it.  There was no movement and the quick gleam of light did not reappear.  A single shot rang
out and Jake Crandall fell to the ground before he could take another step.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Nash’s thoughts were not on his surroundings as he walked down the sidewalk.  As a result, when he turned to
enter the drugstore, he nearly collided with Kitty as she was leaving.  As the package that Kitty was holding fell to the
floor, he realized that he had not been paying attention.
          “Uh, Kitty, I’m sorry,” he stammered as he picked up the package and handed it to her
          “That’s all right, Tom.”
          “I hope I didn’t break anything.”
          “No, I’m sure it’s fine.”
          “Are you on your way to work?”
          “Yes, I am.”
          “I was just heading that way.  I’ll walk with you.”
          “All right,” she said as she stepped outside.  Nash followed her out and fell into step alongside her.
          “Kitty … ,” Nash began.  He looked over at her as she looked up at him and smiled.
          “Yes?”  He turned away nervously and looked straight ahead.
          “So, do you like working for Fortunato?” he asked.
          “He’s nice enough.”
          Neither one spoke as they walked down the street.  Kitty did glance up at Nash once or twice, trying to see his
face, but he seemed to be deep in thought.
          “I was planning on driving out to see my dad on Sunday.  He likes company,” Nash said finally.  “It’s a real nice
drive and I was thinking…that…maybe….you might…”
          “I’d love to!” Kitty answered quickly.  They both stopped walking at the same time and looked at each other.
          “Good,” Nash said.  He turned away with a sigh and together they continued down the sidewalk.
          “Good,” Nash repeated.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          “Mrs. Crandall,” Nash asked, “did you see what happened?”  The distraught woman in front of him brushed a wisp
of gray hair from her forehead.  As she turned to answer Nash, the strand of hair stubbornly returned to its place above
her eyebrow.
          “No,” she answered with a soft sob.  “I was making lunch.  Jake said he’d be in a minute, but he never did.  When I
went out to check on him, I found ….”  Nash waited patiently as the woman broke down in another wave of sobs.
          “You didn’t hear anything?” he asked softly.  She took a deep sigh and shook her head.
          “Mrs. Crandall, … can you think of any reason why someone might want to … hurt … your husband?”
          “No.” she answered quietly, “his customers were all satisfied with ….”  She looked up at Nash, suddenly nervous
about what she should say next.
          “It’s all right, Mrs. Crandall,” he assured her, “we know about your husband’s business.  It’s not important now. 
We just want to find out who killed him.”  He put his hand on her shoulder and she smiled weakly at him.
          “Jake kept a ledger, “ she told him.  “He was very particular about that.  He accounted for every drop.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          The front bumper of Nash’s black Chevy nearly touched the back bumper of the shiny Chevy Roadster sitting in
front of Lucky’s.  Nash slowly got out of his car and walked around the Roadster.  He sighed and shook his head wistfully
before straightening his hat and entering the club.
          The first thing he noticed once he was inside was the lighting.  Gone were the candlelit tables scattered in the
dark.   While the candles remained on the tables, they were for decoration only because the room was well lit.  More
tables had been crowded into the room and the people at the tables were laughing and talking.  The constant murmur of
their voices mixed with the steady throb of music coming from the stage.  No one took any notice of Nash as he made
his way carefully around the back of the room
          “Can I help you, sir?” the bartender asked when Nash approached the bar.
          “Nope.” Nash answered without looking at him as he walked around the end of the bar and moved towards the
door in front of him.
          “Sir, you can’t ….,” the bartender protested, but Nash had already opened the door.
          “Is he in?”
          “Yes, but you can’t just …”  Nash was inside the room long before the bartender finished his sentence.
          Lucky looked up from his desk and watched Nash cross the room.
          “Ever hear of knocking?”
          “Business is lookin’ up.”
          “It’s a good night.”
          “I see you’re still serving … tea.”
          “Old habits die hard,” Lucky explained with a grin.
          “Well, you’re supply’s been cut off.”
          “What’re talkin’ about?”
          “Jack Crandall is dead.”
          “Look, Fortunato, I know you were one of his customers so don’t play dumb with me.   Jake kept very good
records.”  Nash held up the small black ledger book to emphasize his point.  Lucky slowly leaned back in his chair and
eyed Nash carefully.
          “And you think I killed him,” he said complacently.
          “No. I don’t.”  Nash reached back and pulled a chair closer to the desk.  “Mind if I sit down?”  Lucky didn’t answer;
he just waved his hand inviting Nash to sit.
          “You see,” Nash explained, “the killer seems to favor a rifle.  You don’t seem to have one.”  At this, Lucky smiled.
          “No, I prefer my Colt. It’s more …. personal.”  Lucky got up and walked around to the front of the desk.  “But you
didn’t come here to tell me I’m not the killer.”
          “Carl Peterson and Bily Bascom were both customers of Jake Crandall.”
          “Yeah, when Jake wasn’t happy with how a batch turned out, he’d sell it to Billy.”
          “So what do you want with me?”
          “You’re gonna help me catch the killer.”
          “And how am I going to do that?”
          “I think you’re gonna be next on the list.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

         Nash pulled the last crate from the back of car and handed it to Lucky.
          “That’s it,” he said.
          “It was a pretty small batch,” Lucky said as he turned and carried the crate into the club.  Nash followed him
through the open doorway.  He leaned back against the doorjamb and waited for Lucky to come out of the small
          “Now what,” Lucky asked after he locked the storeroom door.
          “We wait.” Nash hesitated for a moment, then straightened up and took a small step forward.
          “Lucky, I ….thank you for agreeing to help.”
          “Yeah, well, I’d rather be doing something than just waiting for the next person to die.”
          “Mrs. Crandall, sure drives a hard bargain,” Nash said with a slight laugh.
          “Yeah, she’s quite a businesswoman,” Lucky agreed.  Nash started to leave, but turned back around to face Lucky.
          “I’m sorry about your brother,” Nash offered.  Lucky shrugged.
          "It happens.”
          “How did you end up in Houston?’
          “It just seemed to be about as far away from Chicago as I could get.”  Nash laughed and nodded his head in
          “You got that right,” he said.  “Keep a watch out for any new customers or anything out of the ordinary.”
          “Yeah, I know the drill.”
          “I’ll be checkin’ back with you,” Nash promised as he left.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Lucky looked round the noisy club as he stood as the end of the bar.  He spoke to the bartender or a customer now
and then and occasionally sipped his coffee, but his eyes never stopped watching the faces that filled the room.  There
seemed to be more people than usual because the club was packed.  Apparently word had spread that Lucky had the
last batch of Jake Crandall’s home brew but the patrons just seemed to be people enjoying the music and having a good
          The tempo of the music changed from something fast with a heavy beat to a softer, slower melody.  Lucky shifted
his attention to watch Kitty step up on the stage.  She always looked wonderful, but tonight she was wearing the long,
blue silk dress.  He smiled because he was quite partial to that dress.

                    “Embrace me,. . . . My sweet embraceable you, ......."

          Lucky’s soft sigh was almost a groan when Kitty began her song.  As she continued Lucky’s attention was focused
completely on her.

                    “One look at you, my heart grew tipsy in me,....."

          A small commotion across the room began to make its way into Lucky’s consciousness, but he did not allow it
to break his concentration.

                    “Above all, I want my arms around you .....”

          The voices grew angrier and louder, forcing Lucky to react.  He jerked his head around to see a young woman
standing next to one of the tables arguing heatedly with the man and woman seated at the table.  Other people in the
room were beginning to turn their attention away from Kitty to the scene unfolding at the table.  Lucky sighed heavily
and stormed across the room.
          “Is there a problem here?” he demanded quietly.  The young woman looked up at Lucky defiantly and the fire in
her eyes showed a strength that belied her small stature.
          “No problem,” she said.  “My mother is leaving.”
          “No darling,” the woman at the table said calmly, “I’m not.”
          “Cynthia, I like the music.  I like … the tea.  I intend to stay.”  She smiled at her daughter, but there was sadness in
her eyes.  Lucky could see the trace of tears beginning to form in Cynthia’s eyes as she sighed in exasperation.
          “Your mother is obviously capable of making her own decisions, Miss,” Lucky said.  “I suggest you sit down and
enjoy the music or, perhaps, you’d better leave.”
          “Mother,” Cynthia said bringing her voice down to a more agreeable level, “you’re here with your driver.”
          “Yes, dear.  He brought me and he’ll take me home.”  Cynthia stared at her mother for a moment then turned her
stare on Lucky.
          “Fine,” she said after a moment then turned and stomped away.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Lucky leaned back in his chair and looked around his club.  The room was darkened now, but the music and voices
of the people who had been here still seemed to linger in the air.  It had been a good night, well, except for the little
altercation between Diana Dewberry and her daughter.  By this time next year Prohibition would be a memory and
Lucky’s was ready.  Lucky smiled.  He’d found a home in Houston.
          “Excuse me, Mr. Fortunato.”  Lucky’s reverie was brought to an abrupt end by Kitty’s voice.  He turned to look at
her.  She had changed from the blue silk to a simple flowered dress.
          “Kitty,” he said, “I thought you’d left.”
          “I wanted to talk to you.”
          “Okay.”  Kitty looked down for a moment and took a deep breath before continuing.
          “How long do you think it would take for you to get a new singer?” she asked.
          “3 – 4 days, maybe a week,” he answered slowly.  “Why?”
          “I think it’s time for me to leave.”
          “Is there something wrong?”
          “No. I …, “ she paused to sigh and look down again.
          “You know, things are only going to get better?”
          “I just don’t think this is the job for me.”  Before Lucky could reply, his attention was diverted by Nash as he
entered the club.
          “Hi, Kitty,” Nash said as he reached the small table where Lucky was sitting.
          “How’s it going, Lucky?”
          “Nothing out of the ordinary, ‘cept maybe for Diana Dewberry and her daughter having a rather loud argument.”
          “Mrs. Dewberry, was here tonight?” Nash asked.
          “Yeah, she was her with her …. chauffer.  Something her daughter didn’t seem to be too fond of.”  Kitty’s eyes
darted back and forth between the two men as she listened to the conversation.  There seemed to be a sort of
camaraderie between them that she didn’t understand.
          “That’s interesting.  Nothing else, huh?”
          “Nope.  Guess there hasn’t been enough time for word to get around.”
          “Yeah, guess so.”  Nash turned his attention to Kitty.  “So, you ready to go?”
          “Sure.  ‘Night, Mr. Fortunato.”  Neither Kitty nor Nash were looking at Lucky and he chuckled softly to himself.
          “Why don’t I walk you both to the door?” he said, standing up.  “I need to lock up anyway.  Don’t need any more
          “Good idea,” Nash agreed as he and Kitty turned to leave.  Lucky followed them out the front door.  Nash’s old
Chevy was parked behind Lucky’s shiny roadster.
          “And she’d rather go home in that?” Lucky asked himself.  “Women!”
          “Nice night,” Lucky said nonchalantly as he looked around.
          “I’ll be talking to you,” Nash said as he and Kitty began to walk to his car.  Suddenly, a shot rang out.  Nash pushed
Kitty to the ground and pulled out his gun as he looked around for some sign of the gunman.  A second shot rang out,
echoing in the cool night air.
          “Stay down,” Nash told Kitty.  “You all right, Lucky?”
          “Yeah, I’m fine.”  Nash’s eyes scanned the empty street.  After the second shot, he thought he had an idea what
direction it came from.  After the third shot, he was sure.
          “Take care of Kitty,” he said and ran off after the shooter.
          “Tom!” Kitty cried as he left.
          “He’ll be all right, Kitty.  We’d better get inside.”  When Kitty turned and looked at Lucky she saw the bright red stain beginning to spread on his shoulder.
          “Mr. Fortunato!  You’re hurt.”
          “Just a scratch.  Come on, let’s go back inside.”
          Nash never looked back as he raced across the street, confident that Lucky would protect Kitty.  He figured that the
gunman would have taken off by now, but he hoped to catch site of him before he could get away.  He reached the alley
where he thought the gunman had been and he stopped a moment at the front of the building.  He adjusted his grip on
his gun, took a deep breath and stepped into the alley.
          It was empty.  He ran to the end and looked around.  There was a vacant lot behind the buildings here, which was
dark and empty.  Nash lowered his gun, turned and walked back through the alley.  As he reached the front, he saw the
shell casings lying on the ground.  Crouching down to pick them up, he also noticed something else.  Something in the
air.  A scent.  Perfume.  It was familiar.

                   “You know, Prohibition didn’t fix anything. It probably made things worse.”  He looked over as she
             slowly turned her head to look at him.
                    “Well, maybe if the police had done their job, it would have,” she said quietly.

          “Thought you were going to lock the doors?” Nash asked as he walked into Lucky’s.
          “Looks like we need to get you to a doctor,” he said when he looked at Lucky.
          “Did you get the guy?” Lucky asked.
          “It’ll wait.  Right now, Kitty and I are getting you to the doctor.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Detective Tom Nash pounded impatiently on the massive door.  It opened slowly and a proper looking butler stood
on the opposite side of the doorway.
          “May I help you?” he asked.
          “I’m here to see Mr. Dewberry.”
          “Is he expecting you?”
          “I doubt it.”
          “Then I’m afraid …”
          “No need to be afraid.  This is official police business and I need to see Mr. Dewberry now.”  The butler hesitated
then led Nash into an elegant front room.  Dewberry was sitting in a leather chair reading the morning paper.
          “Mr. Dewberry,” the butler explained, “this is Detective Nash.  He’s says he’s here on official police business.”
          “Thank you, Charles,” Dewberry said as he folded his newspaper.  “What can I do for you, Detective?”
          “Does your daughter own a rifle, Mr. Dewberry?”
          “A Winchester.  I gave it to her on her sixteenth birthday.  Why?”
          “I believe she’s been using it for something more than target practice.”  Dewberry slowly stood up to face Nash. 
He was a large man and he used his size along with his position to intimidate.
          “I don’t think you know what you’re doing,” he threatened.
          “Of course he does Daddy.”  Both men turned to see Cynthia Dewberry stroll into the room.
          “Go back upstairs, Cynthia,” her father commanded.
          “Not today, Daddy.”
          “You mother is not well.  She needs you.  Go back upstairs.”
          “My mother is passed out cold,” she said with a laugh.  “She won’t wake up for another five or six hours.  Just in
time to go back out with her … chauffer.”
          “Cynthia!” her father demanded.  Cynthia turned away from her father and looked at Nash.
          “Are you here to arrest me, Detective?” she asked.
          “Yes, ma’m,” he said.
          “Why?  I was doing the city of Houston a favor.”
          “How’s that?”
          “I was just destroying the devils.”
          “Cynthia,” he father pleaded softly, “don’t say anymore.” She looked back at her father sadly.
          “I just wanted my mother back, Daddy.”

= = = =  *  = = = =

          “Are you telling me that little bit of a girl owned a gun?” Lucky asked Nash
          “Does everybody in Houston own a gun?”
          “Well, I don’t know everybody in Houston.”  Lucky laughed and Nash laughed with him.
          “Thanks for your help, Lucky,” Nash said.
          “No problem.  Besides I may get a new business out of it.”
          “What’s that?”
          “Mrs. Crandall and I are going into business together.  Houston is about to be the home of the best sipping whiskey
this side of the Rio Grande.”
          “Welcome to Houston, Lucky.”
          “See ya around,” Nash said as he left.

= = = =  *  = = = =

          Lucky sat back in his chair and listened to the band practicing.  His club.  His band.  His booze.  Things were
definitely looking up.

              “Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you.
                 Embrace me, my irreplaceable you.”

          Lucky stood up suddenly and stormed out of his office.
          “Whoa! Stop!” he said as he approached the stage where the band was practicing.  The band stopped playing
abruptly and the singer stopped in the middle of a word, her eyes wide open in fear.
          “Sing another song!” he demanded.
          “’Scuse me,” she stammered.
          “Nobody sings that song in my place.  Understand?”
          “Yes, sir.”
          “Good.”  She turned and looked at Clarence apprehensively and he began a different melody.  The band slowly
picked up on the song and one by one began to play along.  The singer took a deep breath and began to sing.

                    “They're writing songs of love - but not for me.
                        A lucky star's above - but not for me.
                          With love to lead the way I've found more clouds of gray
                             Than any Russian play - could guarantee.”

          Lucky nodded his approval and returned to his office.

                   “I was a fool to fall - and get that way
                      Hi ho alas and also lackaday
                        Although I can't dismiss
                           The memory of his kiss
                             I guess he's not for me.”

= = = =  / * \  = = = =
= = = =  *  = = = =

          Jaimie watched apprehensively as he reached the last page.  It was only an assignment for her creative writing
class, but maybe she shouldn’t have shown it too him.  What if he hates it?
          “Not bad,” Levon said as he handed the typewritten pages back to her.
          “That’s it?  Not bad?” she asked.
          “Not bad,” she thought.  She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
          “Well, there is one thing,” he said slowly.
          “Oh, boy, here it comes,” she thought.
          “Is that blue dress hiding somewhere in your closet?”
          Levon’s laughter was muffled by a large, blue throw pillow, with fringe

= = = =  *  = = = =           = = = =  *  = = = =
= = = =  / * \  = = = =


** “Embraceable You” and “But Not For Me”
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin, music by George Gershwin, from Girl Crazy, 1930

*** Historical information about Houston was found at The Handbook of Texas OnLine


Houston Knights Fan-Fiction                     Knight Vision                     Houston Knights TV

Arrow's Flight                     Fanciful Threads