The Newton Enigma.  A novel by Linton Herbert.

Chapter 4b


Tampa, Cave of Ishtar Lounge, Frontage Road, October 21, 7 PM



It was early evening as they entered.  Jon went to the man at the counter and asked, “Does a girl named Tracy work here?”


The man looked bored.  “No mister.  Never heard of anybody by that name.”


Ivan pushed Jon away.


“Sorry.  My friend here thinks he’s Mike Hammer or Sam Slade or somebody.  We aren’t detectives.  We just want to go in and hang out.  He’d heard about a number called Tracy, but we don’t know her so it doesn’t matter.”  He handed the man ten dollars.


“So you aren’t cops.”


“No,” said Jon.  “And we aren’t lawyers or soul savers or government men or rowdy drunks or trouble makers or on the make or lousy tippers or afflicted with bad breath.”


“Are you broke is the question.”


Jon gave him another twenty. 


“One drink minimum.  No alcohol.  No groping the girls.  Go into the VIP lounge.  It’s fifty bucks each plus fifty for the girl and twenty a dance.  Tracy will be in to see you.”


As they entered Ivan said, “Well I guess she works here after all.”


“For two hundred bucks I bet I could find a girl who’d say her name was Tracy.”


The inside was darker than outside and filled with stale cigarette smoke.  A cheerful fat man was running the music system, which was belting out a Goth piece.  The colored lights were dim.  One’s first thought was that the purpose of the low light was to spare the patrons the sight of ugly women. 


But the girl on stage, willowing in a puddle of white illumination, needed no concealment nor did she have any.  She approached a brass pole, eyed it hungrily, approached it as if she thought it was dirty or too clean to touch and then suddenly wrapped herself around it.  After pleasuring the pole for a few moments she backed away and threw herself at it, spun around and flung herself to the edge of the stage.  She slithered over to a patron.  Impressed he pulled out a dollar and tucked it down her front.


Ivan coughed and led the way toward the rear.  Jon shuffled sideways, keeping an eye on the girl as she glided to another patron and accepted another dollar between her boobs.


The VIP lounge was as poorly lit as it was richly priced.


Jon remarked, “Considering what must go on here, you are probably as repulsed as I would be if it were all men.”


“No, that’s not it.  Motorcycle racing doesn’t repulse me, but I wouldn’t want to do it.”


“You don’t mind watching?”


“Not at all.  People are people.  You tend to love the ones that are most like you.  The strange thing is straight males.  They are totally outside the pattern.  They just happen to be necessary for certain things.”



A woman came in.


“Hi.  I’m Tracy.  You must be Ivan and Jon.”  She eyed Ivan appreciatively. 


Mrs. McGillicuddy had been right as usual.  Nothing wrong with Tracy’s hips.  They could have crushed a man’s skull.


“We’re going off on a trip.  Your grandmother said you might be able to help us.”


“Sure.  She called.  I’ve already fixed it with the manager.  I told him it was a family problem.  Mind if I ask what it’s about?”


Jon handed her the decoded message.  “That’s about all we know.” 


She glance it over and asked, “What does it mean?”


“We think it’s in Georgia.  I’ll try to explain on the way.”


“Let’s start.  I need a break from all these male types anyway.”


As they reached the portal of the lounge, a gruff voice near the front door shouted, “Hey you can’t go in there.  It’s a private party.”  There were sounds of a scuffle.


Jon recoiled for a moment but Tracy and Ivan plunged out and into the fray.  The bouncer was trying to push three men out.  The disc jockey and the receptionist were closing it.  It looked like a close match.


Tracy landed a neat kick into one man’s solar plexus and Ivan planted a long swinging hook onto a jaw.  The last man froze but then shouted, “Mayday!”


There was the sound of men coming in the front door.  The three bolted for the back of the building, hoping to find a back door.  A little man confronted them.  “No customers in the dressing rooms.”


“Good, keep it that way,” said Jon handing him a twenty.  “They need your help out front, but I’d call the police first if I were you.”


Tracy said, “Give him your keys.”


Jon handed them over.  “It’s a white Cadillac parked out front.”


Tracy said, “Be a doll and drop it off at my place.  I’ll see you in a few days.”


They sprinted out the back door and bundled into Tracy’s little red coup.  Moments later they were whining down Frontage Road toward the interstate.


“North?” asked Tracy.


“North, Tracy,” said Jon.

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