Franky sat at a small round table with two of his fellow operators. The rain had forced them all inside but they kept watch over the girls who were out in the weather getting soaked.
The three of them had been sitting together for a few hours, sipping brandy and comparing notes on the ups and downs of the skin-trade managed on this end of Lake Street.
Things were changing on the strip, they had been for the better of a year and now all of them were kicking up to Karl Thorrson, who had suddenly emerged as the biggest meanest guy in town.
It didn’t matter to Franky who he kicked up to, all that mattered to him was turning the wheel, keeping cash in his safe, clean girls and the right supply of dope to keep them in line.
The three of them sat in the window of the bar with his name on the sign, Frank’s, and they watched as the beat cops went up and down the strip, with their long coats and hats wrapped in plastic, swinging their billy-clubs, keeping an eye on the cars pulling up to the side of the street, the girls jumping in and out, packages of dope getting exchanged for handfuls of cash, with bag men carrying the loot to the drop spots.
As long as the beat-boys did their job there would be no need for any of the three of them to get wet that night.
It was only when Franky saw Karl Thorrson walk into the tavern across the street that he felt a sense of dread, like a bowling ball in his stomach; it cut against Franky’s sense of good order. He liked things predictable, and Karl Thorrson walking the strip by himself during this downpour was anything but.
Neither of his cohorts had noticed the man, and Franky didn’t say anything to them. He waited and watched and ordered another round of drinks from Estell.
It wasn’t until the lightning struck and the crowd began to gather outside of the Round-up that Franky gave any indication that there was something amiss.
When he saw Thorrson running away as if he were fleeing the scene of murder that Franky decided it was time to alert his friends to what was happening. The two of them immediately went outside to get the news, and with the beat cops having left the strip chasing Thorrson they suddenly had work to do.
Franky let them have it, he went to the telephone and dialed up his contact with the Park Police. He informed Lieutenant Standish what had happened. The Lieutenant was cold as ice, but he promised to send a radio car with a couple of uniformed Rangers down to check things out.