The cab reached Seacaucus about a half hour later. Mitch directed the cabbie to Sussman’s Drycleaning. The cabbie pulled up to the curb and kept the meter running. Mitch hopped out, laundry bag in hand, headed into the store.
Meanwhile, the Rolls Royce idled down the block. Big Daddy’s driver had stayed close enough to the cab to keep a tail on it, yet far enough away so as to remain, well, as inconspicuous as a pimped-out ride could be.
The back door opened. Ruby exited and walked down the street, slurping on a grape lollipop as she did so. About a minute later, as she was headed into the store, she passed Mitch while he was on his way out.
Ding, ding! A bell attached to the door clamored as Ruby stepped inside. The counter was empty, but Mrs. Sussman’s voice carried from out back. “Hold on! I’ll be right there!”
Even some of the old buzzard’s grumbling traveled. “Oy gevalt. I try to get here a little early to straighten up a little and all of a sudden it’s Grand Central Station around here. Everyone so busy, busy, busy.”
Ruby looked around. She spotted it. A white suit that was so long it scraped the floor, despite being hanged from a tall rack. The prostitute stepped around the corner and looked at a tag that had been pinned to the sleeve.
“Bingo,” Ruby whispered to herself.
Mrs. Sussman’s ears were impeccable for a septuagenarian. “You say something dear?”
Ruby kept her cool. “No.”
“Sorry, to keep you waiting. I’ll be out in a jiffy!”
“That’s ok. Take your time.”
Ruby searched the counter until she found a pen and a notepad. She jotted down the customer information that had been scrawled down on the tag moments earlier:
52 Periwinkle Drive
Seacaucus, NJ 07097
Big Daddy’s operative took down Mitch’s phone number for good measure, then ripped the paper from the pad. She set down the pen, then made a beeline to the door, only to stop with her hand on the handle when Mrs. Sussman’s voice grew louder. She was at the counter now, but Ruby didn’t bother to look back.
Mrs. Sussman was a big, pudgy woman. Solid and sturdy, like an NFL linebacker, but with saggy tits, not to mention a mole on her chain with a hair growing out of it. Many a Seacaucasian had wondered over the years why she never just snipped that hair off, but no one ever actually vocalized the sentiment because overall, she was a nice enough gal and did her job well. “Aw, come on, bubalah, I didn’t make you wait that long did I?”
“No, I, uh…”
“You don’t want to go to Mrs. Cavendish’s, I’ll tell you that,” Mrs. Sussman said. “She’ll charge you double and you’ll be lucky to get have your stuff back and what you do get, well, it’ll be dirtier than when you brought it in. Trust me.”
“No, I uh…this isn’t the record store?”
“Oy, you kids and your devil music,” Mrs. Sussman said. “Two blocks down. Take a right on Edgemont and you can’t miss it.”
“No problem. Oh, and if you pass the Price Town, you’ve gone too far.”
“OK. Thanks again.”
“Have a nice day dear.”
Mrs. Sussman wandered to the back of the store, grousing to herself about wayward young people who were always wasting her time, while Ruby walked out to the street, letting the door close behind her.
She smiled as she looked at the paper. Success. She looked down the street, where the window to the back of the Rolls had been rolled down. A pair of oversized binoculars were pointed out just over the edge of the window, with the same purple hat with a yellow feather sticking out of it.
Ruby whipped out her walkie-talkie, from where is anyone’s guess as she’d left her purse in the Rolls and her outfit had no pockets, and hit the call button. As soon as she did, the hat and binoculars disappeared into the limo.
“Hunka Hershey to Big Daddy. Come in, Big Daddy. Over.”
Squawk. “Big Daddy, here. Proceed, bitch. Over.”
Ruby was beside herself with joy. Big Daddy’s girls did so love it whenever they were able to please the boss. “I got the intel, Daddy. I got it right here. Over.”
A pause. “Bitch! You don’t gotta call my ass with a news bulletin on every little thing. Who do you think your raggedy ass is anyway? The Walter Kronkite of Hoes? Over.”
“Sorry, Daddy. I just..”
Squawk. “I just, buh dah duh, nothin’! Get back here and get your triflin’ ass in the car or Big Daddy’s gonna have to smack a bitch. Over.”
Ruby’s elation turned to sadness. “Yes, Daddy. Over.”