GHOST OF A CHANCE_CHAPTER 43_I ALWAYS COLLECT MY DEBTS
Still sprawled on Meilori's carpet with Marlene half-reclining on me,
I leaned on my left shoulder to look at the monster I had only read about.
To say that the years had not been kind would have been an understatement.
He was sitting at a glowing table, pointing a luger at Marlene. Beside him sat Eva Braun. She was still beautiful ...
in a clammy, undead sort of way.
She was almost wearing a low-cut red evening gown of flimsy silk. Its neckline plunged so that her breasts were almost slipping out as she leaned forward on the glowing table at me. But believe it or not, I wasn't looking at her breasts.
Ah, alright, maybe a little. But it were her pale blue eyes that bothered me. They made the Cheshire Cat's look sane. She leaned even more forward so that any second I was sure one of us was going to get embarrassed.
And I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be her.
But it was Hitler that shook me. He pointed the luger at me as I took the fallen dagger in my right hand. I smiled crooked. What with the Eva's breasts, that made three dangerous weapons pointed at me.
Hitler looked more withered corpse than anything human. But what was terrifying were the vibrating cables running from the metal pump on his back to his twitching neck.
They were clear so that I could see the red, bubbling liquid pumping into his neck. I watched in horrified fascination as his neck muscles spasmed as the red liquid turned green as it went from the right side of his neck to the left.
That explained why he was still alive. The chandelier's lights striking fire from Eva's long sharp canines explained her long existence.
He sneered at me. "It was never about you, Amerikaner."
The luger shifted to point at Marlene's head. "I put a death sentence on your head, traitor. And I always collect my debts."
He smiled wide. "I had to lure you here to Meilori's where you could die the final death."
He croaked that damn laugh of his. "I found that just a few drops of the liquid in my pump paralyzes ghosts. From there, it was just a matter of having Strasser bait you with those Havana cigars, treated with my liquid, to have this Amerikaner fool framed for Hemingway's 'murder.'"
Eva giggled, "His only refuge would be here ... where you could be killed, traitor."
Marlene spat on the carpet. "Dreck!"
Eva husked, "You are the filth, whore. My love offered you the world to make films for Mother Germany. And you pranced naked before the American troops."
Marlene smiled impishly. "Only for the most fortunate of their generals, Hündin."
Hitler growled, "I think I shall gut-shoot you, Dirne."
He nodded to Death, calmly watching all of us. "See, traitor? Death knows she will soon be needed."
As Hitler had been insulting Marlene, I had pulled up the scortched edge of my T-shirt and plowed a long gash along my side. Blood dribbled out. I was just finishing the fourth word when Hitler turned the luger to me.
"You have written your last, swine."
I edged back to let Marlene see what I had written : "Hemingway appears behind Hitler."
And no sooner had she read the words with wide eyes, Hemingway shimmered right behind the zombie.
"Fuck you, Hitler!"
He took hold of the twin cables from the pump, ripping them from Hitler's neck. He squealed in agony, writhing to the floor. As he fell, great gouts of the putrid liquid splashed onto Eva. She managed a gargled start of a scream before withering away into smoldering corpse.
She fell still beside the moaning mummy Hitler was becoming. Death flowed to them both. "I, too, always collect my debts, ghouls."
She swept her long black cloak around them both and was gone as if she and they had never been there.
Marlene scrambled to her feet as I followed her. "P-Papa? You are alive!"
He nodded as he picked up the luger. "Have been for most of this."
Marlene's face screwed up in sheer fury. "What?"
I said, "Marlene, he saved our lives."
Hemingway pointed the luger right at my heart. "Her life. Not yours."
I heard a heavy thump behind me and an angry yowling. A flash of white and scratched hands blurred by me. Mark Twain slammed a cut-up fist hard into Hemingway's bearded jaw. The man reeled backwards to slam into the carpeted floor and lay still.
Mark Twain chuckled like an evil woodchuck. "I've wanted to do that for years."
He started to turn to me, then whipped about to kick Hemingway's unconscious body. "And damnation, there was nothing wrong with the end of HUCK FINN, you blowhard!"
Marlene sputtered in laughter, "Clemens, what happened to your poor hands?"
He grunted, "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
I whipped around. Gypsy's cat carrier was behind me. She sat glaring at Mark Twain. A massive shiny padlock secured the carrier door.
I turned to Mark. "You padlocked Gypsy in there?"
He laughed, showing me the scratched backs of his hands. "Ain't that the blessed truth!"
Marlene hugged us both. But she kissed me.
A caustic cough sounded to my right. Toya, the manager of Meilori's, who had tried to kill me twice. She was holding a thick package.
"Did you really think you had gotten away scott-free? McCord wants to see you up front." ***
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