The Virgin Goddess of the Hunt

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John opened one filing cabinet after the other but found nothing. Judging by the state of the file bars and dividers the records had been removed in haste. In the corner, he found a stove filled with ash, clearly, someone had destroyed evidence, but why have the room sealed?

Something must have been left behind to require this sort of precaution. So John searched again, he pulled out every drawer, checked the sides and backs to see if files had been affixed. There was nothing and John was about to lose patience when fortune smiled upon him. John felt something underneath a drawer before he replaced it.

By turning the drawer upside down he noticed there was about an inch of space between the bottom and the inside surface. Within this little nook, he discovered a folder that had all of the markings of a county police investigation. There were five separate files: Vito Angiulo; Gennaro Agueci; James Valenti; Patrick Weeks; and Paul Barnes.

He quickly thumbed through the files and determined these were victims of foul play. The fact that their time and place of death were the same did not surprise him. It would have been more of a surprise to find no mention of the Grand at all.

He sat on the floor and then leaned against a cabinet. John opened the folder for Vito Angiulo and began reading through the particulars.

* * * *

Max was enjoying the evening, a party was roaring in one of the ballrooms, the band was playing it fast and loose just like the women. Flappers and gentlemen alike were crisscrossing the Grand Hall heading to and from the party. Those who were leaving had the smell of cigarettes, fine booze and sweat. Guests had been hoofing it for hours and would likely continue dancing once they reached their rooms.

He also enjoyed the sight of these little berries walking to and fro. While their clothes were not as revealing as they had been when Rome was at the centre of the civilised world, he did enjoy the style. It was far more liberated than previous fashions (especially Victorian) and made unwrapping the dolls easier. Besides, it made the fire extinguishers livid, and that was always entertaining.

From the top of the staircase, he saw a group of men appear, five in all. Their expensive suits, hats, trench coats, stiff walk and menacing stares pegged them as organised crime. Not an unusual occurrence since their kind needed to traverse the more desolate regions as well, and the Grand was by far the best available.

Only a fool would believe anyone who dressed like that played the violin for a living. Max could hear cartridges shake within the drum of a Thompson submachine gun, the weapon of choice for their kind. Bulges in their sides told him they were packing heat. One had a particularly stiff walk, so he was likely hiding a shotgun, probably a double-barrelled affair guaranteed to make a mess.

Were these men on the lam, planning a caper or would they try to hustle their way into the hotel's ownership? These were questions he needed to answer before the hotel staff could mount an appropriate response.

With a big smile, he eyed the lead man while his men hung back. Given how calm his heart was, this was not a man on the run. That meant they were dealing with a seasoned professional.

"Good evening, Sir. Welcome to the Grand," he exclaimed. In the same breath, he added, "How may we help you tonight?"

"We wants to see your boss," the man said, while Max gave him the once-over.

The suit was clearly tailored and made of the finest wools. That kind of quality would fetch a pretty penny in any major city. Though no amount of tailoring would conceal those dead eyes. Max assumed this man killed for a living and enjoyed every moment of it.

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