Bu that was then and some other night. Now was the time for the white limo to arrive. Usually about this time, eight-thirty, sometimes a little more toward nine o'clock. Well-to-do executives and well-heeled widows, they pull up in black limousines. But a cream-white limo? That takes someone who cares a whole lot about money and what it can buy, not so much about understated class. No, this near nightly occasion was the rolling in of Tuxedo Rose, the cocaine queen of the East Side.
The ritual was well-rehearsed routine and well-oiled clockwork. A Caddy would pull up and drop off two overgrown goons, tough as nails, mean as sin, walls of muscles dressed up in Brooks Brothers suits. They would clear out us rift-raft, then one would survey the street while the other checked inside the Shanghai Palace. When all was checked out, one would give a wave and then in would pull that white limo, license plate, 110 v11. One of the goons would cover the street - we always reckoned that he was looking out from some drive-by gunman- while the other opened the right rear door. Out would step a rather sturdy young man, Asian, black turtleneck shirt over black denim pants. He would then be followed by a rather elegant looking lady with a tinge of painted-woman somehow seeping through. She would always be dressed for a black tie affair, excepting she was the one wearing the tux. Oh, a tuxedo cut for a woman, to be sure, but still a black tux with black silk trimming, and always with a dark red rose as a finishing touch.
It all endowed her with a rather exotic look, a look you really go looking for but are mesmerized when you see it. I always called her, Tuxedo Rose, most others called her, Ma'am. I hear her mother called her Victoria Moore.
For some reason, she always seemed to catch sight of me before hustling in through those hand carved mahogany doors. And Chang Li always bowed when he walked in.