Tommy right, Tommy never Wong. He used to say that just before sticking a sword through a guy’s belly or putting a gun in his ear. It was a big joke. It always got a barking laugh out of his crew.
Another coke stoked liquor soaked 3:00 AM in a back booth at Tommy Wong’s swankest club, the Fu Mang Chu. Tommy’s henchmen have split, pleading the need for some beauty rest before the start of another day of mayhem and big money. But he won’t let me follow their example. I’m his “Number One Son of a Whore.”
He wipes coke dust from his fat upper lip and leers out into the neon rain of the dance floor. Heavy, sweaty, corrupt -- Tommy Wong, once an enforcer for Grandfather Lu, now in business for himself and for the spirits of his ancestors, which seem to be hovering around us in a thick crowd, like the wreaths and curls of smoke from the child Lucinda’s Italian cigarettes.
Lucinda -- a deep-tanned blonde with jade-green eyes, a honeyed way of moving her hips, the smirk of a Sung courtesan. She rolls a hundred and snorts up the line Tommy lays out for her on the black marbled table.
“Ha!” she says, holding in a sneeze.
Tommy’s hand is on her bare leg. That red leather skirt barely hides her crotch. My heart is beating all over my body.
She and Tommy Wong have been going at it since she before she graduated from Catholic school.
“Five years is long time,” she told me once, when Tommy was speaking rapid Mandarin on his cell-phone.
I tried not to look at her. The smirking smile. The jade eyes.
I’m not Family, just a close personal friend.
Tommy Wong tells me to do something and I do it.
If he tells me to cut off a pair of hands and wrap them in tissue paper and put them in a box and Fed Ex the box to Hong Kong, I do it. I don’t wake up in a sweat. Not yet.
3:45 AM. We’re alone on the dance floor, dazzling blue. Lucinda’s all over me without actually touching skin, snaking her body into unbelievable angles.
I shoot a glance over her head -- Tommy watching us from under his eyelids. He picks the bottle out of the ice bucket, swigs.
Lucinda’s gone to the little girl’s room for a nose powder. A real one. I’m on my sixth drink -- Hennessy XO in a head-sized snifter. Tommy Wong cuts out a line for me. I do it. As it hits my cortex, shivers from my brain to everywhere else.
“Take this,” he says, passing me the gun. I hold it under the table to look. This is a prime piece, Grade A motherfucking ordnance. Should be listed in Jane's, a hand cannon like this fine one right here.
Tommy touches my elbow, gestures at the bar.
Bruce Wu, black turtlenecked, pouring drinks.
“He stealing from me.”
"Who? Wu? Bruce Wu?"
"Wu wu wu. Turn down the volume, Number One Whore Son."
Bruce throwing a glance our way as he picks up the martini shaker and gives it a fresh death rattle.
Bruce Wu. My old Hong Kong pal. Kill you with a chopstick. Paralyze you with a big toe.
Tommy Wong taps his forehead where the hair's slicked flat. Fat forefinger.
International sign for Pow.
I shove the gun in my belt at the small of the back and thrust the napkin-wrapped extra clip he passed me into an inside pocket of my Hugo Boss blazer.
Tommy picks up a salted peanut from the glass dish and pops it into his walrus lips.
"Sig 9. Fully loaded, I already racked one in the chamber. I want to read about two dum-dums dug out of Mr. Wu's head by county coroner in my morning newspaper. Throw gat off Golden Gate Bridge afterward. Arm sharks for upcoming shark war. Good TV, huh?"
"Done is done."
"Oh you said a mouthful, Number One Whore-Son. Tommy always right, Tommy never Wong."