Pulsebeat by Frank Smith
When Allie King heard the heavy iron gates of the penitentiary clang shut behind him, he breathed deeply of the crisp, fresh air and made a vow that he would never be caught again. Somewhere along the line he had made a mistake and a prison term had been payment for that mistake; but it would never happen again.
Pulsebeat is the overwhelmingly hard, tough, and suspenseful story of Allie King’s career in crime from the time he regained his freedom from prison until the day he learned the bitter fact that freedom can be lost other ways than through prison.
Allie began his career in a small way, running with the tough guys who hung out in O’Malley’s poolroom, and picking up a small illegal dollar as best he could. He soon graduated to the lucrative stolen car racket and quickly began to by-pass the lieutenants of slick Louis Manetti in his rise to the top. Along the line Allie graduated, too, from the quickly purchased love of the joy girls to sleek, beautiful Judy Parker, whose charm came at a high price indeed. With piston-like speed Allie moved into the life of a top racketeer. He even felt he was immune from the law. What Allie hadn’t bargained for was his falling in love with Judy . . . because they discovered each other when it was too late to do either one of them much good.
Queens was a fat territory on the Organization’s records and Allie had his eye on the big estates and golf courses on both shores from Nassau to Montauk Point. After a while, his unit was making as much as three strikes a week, usually on Saturday and Sunday nights, when the marks were enjoying themselves in the theatres and restaurants, or getting slopped up in Long Island night spots. When it got too hot, like the time Monk got picked up for delaying a cop in a chase, they took time off. Monk played a good drunk, but his old record didn’t help, when it was checked. When they let him go, Louie Manetti decided that the team should go to Miami Beach until the heat cooled off.
Even with Louie paying the freight, Miami was expensive. Hialeah, good food, liquor, dames and tips, flattened the bankroll so badly that Allie had to wire Louie for dough half a dozen times. Too late, he recognized the old adage, that Louie had sucked them in letting them borrow until they got in so deep into the Organization for dough, they could never quit. The obligation would hold them in line, because underworld ethics never forgave a welcher, no matter what else, and the payoff could only be a ride. It was a gimmick Allie hadn’t figured on.
A month in Miami did the trick for Manetti. When Allie, Monk and Jo-Jo came back broke, they were happy to go to work to make new folding dough. Allie picked up his key at the Imperial Heights, called Louie for another advance to pay his bill, and found a note from Judy Parker that was over two weeks old.
“What a dumb jerk,” he told himself, angry at the way he had gotten sucked into a hole when a girl like Judy lived across the hall. A Brahms lullaby stole softly into the hall from suite 622. He listened to the music for a moment, went across the hall and pushed the buzzer. He had that same funny, dropped feeling he got the first time he met her.
Judy swung the door open. Allie stood there, grinning uncomfortably, his hands damp. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, hoping she would invite him in.
She was a vision in a light green dress and her blonde hair was combed down full, until it touched the top of her milky shoulders. The dress was designed with a sheer net at the throat, pocketing the full bosom and allowing the cleft at her breast to show tantalizingly. The dress matched Judy’s sea green eyes.
As his eyes raced over her body, Allie experienced the same exciting sensation he had when, as a kid, he sat in the top balcony of the Star Burlesque on Jay Street, and waited impatiently for the show to start. She set him off, firing his imagination and he mentally undressed the lovely figure. He could see her breasts, tipped with little rosebuds, pushing toward him, like little hungry mouths, the long swell of her stomach, the round hips, the hidden, secret center of her. . . .
He felt physically wrung out as he looked into her luminous eyes that were almost on a level with his because of the satin pumps with their tapering heels.
“Still playing records?” It was all he could manage.
“Well-how are you. . . .?” Her tone was indifferent. It disappointed him.
“I just got back from Miami and got your note. . .” He waited for her to ask him in, surreptitiously wiping the perspiration from his hands on his coat.
“I wouldn’t know, since I didn’t receive a card. . .” Her voice was still cool.
“I-I thought if you didn’t have a date, we might do something. . . .” he said hesitantly.
“I have, later, but we’ve got time for a drink. How was Miami?”
He was in the room now. He had a wild desire to touch her-caress the bare shoulders and white arms, but she was being very formal, treating him like the most casual of acquaintances.
“So, so. . . .” he mumbled.
Judy passed him to open the door of the midget refrigerator. She pulled out an aluminum tray of cubes. “Scotch, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah,” his tone was caustic. “How did you ever remember?”
“Oh, I’m long on memory. Especially on postcards… .” But she was warming up a little. She poured the liquor over the cubes, adding a small amount of soda. As she walked towards him, his imagination tricked him again, and he saw her naked. He grinned because she looked funny, holding the glasses of Scotch, in the nude.
“Well, are you with me?” Judy’s voice was sharp. She had an idea he was making fun of her. “Things couldn’t have been so bad in Miami, if it put you in such a fog.”
Allie flushed. “I wasn’t exactly thinking of Miami.” This time his grin was impish. “You should know what was thinking….”
“I can imagine-but I’m a big girl now and you can tell me. What were you thinking about?” She held out his drink.
“Sure you won’t get sore?” He took the drink, watching her closely. “It was nothing.”
She smiled. “It’s the first time anybody, especially a male, came to the apartment with nothing on his mind.”
“In that case, I can be a very accommodating guy.” He put the drink down on a table, grasped her bare arms with his hot palms and kissed her hard on the mouth.
“That’s acting true to form,” she said. “Now, what were you really thinking about?”
Allie felt wildly exhilarated. She had returned his kiss. “That dress. It’s a gorgeous bunch of fluff, including what’s in it.” He watched her over the rim of the glass. The flattering reply pleased her.
“I’m glad you like it. It’s one of my favorites.” She spun around quickly, tile bottom of the skirt flaring out, to give him a better view of her long, slender legs. “I think it’s cute.”
“The legs don’t hurt either. I told Monk and Jo-Jo you had better legs than Betty Grable.”
“Were you honestly thinking of me?” she smiled.
“Sure was, Baby-but maybe in a way you wouldn’t like. It was kinda intimate….” He choked on the swig of Scotch he took.
“I expect it was. But the mere fact that a man takes time off from thinking about himself, to give a few moments to a woman is complimentary,” she teased. “Even if the thought is all about sex.”
Allie gave a little ground. “Well, at first I was thinking about the dress. Now I’m not so sure.”
“What about the dress?” Her voice still teased.
“Okay, if you want it straight.” Allie took a deep breath and blurted out. “It’s the kind of dress that builds a fire inside a guy, until he feels he’s going to jump out of his skin. It’s a prop, that’s what that dress is. A prop for rape….”
This was a little more than Judy had expected, but she wasn’t too surprised. She liked Allie; suspected he was in the rackets, and it wasn’t too hard to figure it would not be long before he came to the point, if she gave him the slightest encouragement. She took his glass, refilled it and came back, standing very close to him. Her mouth was slightly open as if she invited him to kiss her again. He could see the tip of her tongue, narrow and red, between the rows of even white teeth.
Allie put down the glass she had given him, and when Judy still didn’t move, he took her into his arms, pressing her tightly into him. He circled her firm waist with his left arm and slowly covered her mouth with his, feeling the little red tongue brush his lips like quick soft wings, as she curved her body into his, running her fingers up and down his neck and into his hair. Suddenly, their bodies grew tense, and her whole body shook as she clung to him, her fingernails digging into his neck. Allie held her until she went limp in his arms.
He ran his right hand around the swell of her breasts, tearing some of the netting. She let him caress her, not having the strength nor the desire to pull away. He kissed her neck and lips passionately, until the phone broke up the sensuous hypnosis and she pulled away to answer it. Allie followed her to kiss her eyes and lips, making it difficult for her to talk.
“I’ll be right down, Jimmy,” she managed to mumble. She hung up.
“Goddamn!” Allie threw a pillow against the wall violently. He tried to grab her, but she made the bedroom and bolted the door. He grinned sheepishly and went out of the door, his feet dragging…
©1954 by Frank Smith