Her name was Star, or at least that's what the Boss called her. And I wasn't one to argue with the Boss in this town. The night she walked into my life she put a light where there ain't been light for a long time. What she saw in a dime-a-dozen chain-smoking drunk like me was anyone's guess. But she said I was the only P.I. in town who wasn't in the Boss's pockets, and that made me a guy worth knowing. Chances were she was lying, and chances were the Boss would kill me in all kinda ways for messing with his girl. But hell, she was worth it. She was my Star. But this dame came with a story, and the next morning a few cigarettes and a shot of bourbon made her ready to sing. "Herod, baby," she told me, "You're all I got. The Boss is gonna find me and he's gonna kill me." Funny how she told me this in the morning, after her cherry lips had painted a bullseye on my back. Sure, I ain't got much to live for in this dirty town, but there's better ways to die than caught in a lover's quarrel. Anyhow, it turned out love had nothing much to do with it. The Boss had sent a certain Three Wise Men to bump off Star and they'd been following her ever since she split. I'd heard of the Wise Men and they didn't ask no questions, not even to their own conscience. The girl knew something, and if the Boss had sent the Wise Men, then it was something big. A few more shots of bourbon got her rhythm back. Turns out Star wasn't the first girl to split from the Boss. A week ago his top doll made off - girl called Mary. And she'd taken something with her that the Boss was real eager to get back. Star didn't know what it was, but she knew Mary was in danger just like her. I was the only chance they had of getting outta this thing alive. It was the kinda case I would'a turned down straight, but like I said, she was my Star, and she was the kinda girl worth dying for. I left Star with a friend and headed down to the Manger, a bar in the Bethel Quarter where she and Mary used to drink. It was no place for a lady, that's for sure. Full of animals, like most bars in town, and no room to shake a guy's hand. Not that you'd want to in a place like the Manger. I asked around. A name like Kingston Herod don't count for much in the Bethel Quarter, but when they heard I was a P.I. they sweated all the same. Better to point me in the right direction than have me hanging around in their dirty laundry too long. I was on my second drink when I hit paydirt... Mary was here. I found her in the corner, where the smoke was thick and the conversation thicker. Looks like she'd had the same idea as Star and found herself a sucker - guy named Joe, least that's what he told me. They were a cute couple, and love's something you don't see much of these days. But a whole lot of love couldn't shake the fear in their eyes. These kids were on edge, and not only cos of the Boss. They were real prickly at first, but I sooned warmed 'em up by telling 'em the Three Wise Men had their number. We shared some drinks and Star's story checked out. Mary had been the Boss's girl for five years, then Joe had come onto the scene and it'd been love at first smoke. Trouble was, they needed to get out from the Boss's shadow and with a job polishing wood old Joe didn't have much to offer a wife. So they'd hatched a dirty little plan and stolen something from the Boss - something they were gonna sell here in the Manger tonight. When the Boss found out, he tried to put the squeeze on all his girls, and that's when Star came running to me. I asked 'em what they'd stolen and Joe gave me the kinda smile a gambler gives a preacher. "A new hope," said Mary, "Something to redeem the world." I would'a asked for details, but right then a bunch of white hats made their entrance. I knew these boys from a previous case. Called themselves the Angels, some of the meanest boys in town. I could tell they were packing heat and a whole lot of attitude. They eyeballed us sharp and made their way over. I asked Mary if these were friends of hers, and she told me it was all part of the deal. These kids were getting themselves into a whole heap of trouble. Before I had to time to smile the guest-list got a whole lot longer. The black hats came through the back entrance, packing just as much heat and even more attitude. They were the Shepherds, the big boys of downtown. And like the Angels they had their beef with the Boss. From the look of things, Joe and Mary had brought the next-in-lines. And whatever they had they were selling it to the highest bidder. Least I hope it was bidding going down and not a bloodbath. The Angels and the Shepherds took their seats and said their pieces, throwing numbers around like they were on Wall Street. Fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, half a million - I was starting to get dizzy. But I'll give Joe and Mary credit, the kids kept their cool. But then the game met a snag when one of the Angel's clocked me. "You're that Herod guy!" he cried, and then the heat came out. The other animals in the Manger got to screaming and pretty soon it was just me and two groups of goons who were less than happy to see a Private Investigator. Let me tell ya, looking down the barrel of fourteen pistols ain't no picnic. Looks like I'd ruined things for Mary and Joe's little sell. But if there's one thing I've learned in this crazy town, it's that nothing's straightforward, not even massacres. Some guests of my own turned up, a trio of guys with gold teeth and cheap perfume. And these guys had brought tommy-guns to the pistol fight. I guess that's why they called 'em the Wise Men. I ain't as dumb as I look. I knew my office was being watched even before Star came to me that night. And when I heard her story the pieces fell into place. Any P.I. worth his salts knows the Manger is a hang-out for the Angels and the Shepherds, so I made damn sure the Wise Men were following me before I even set foot in this place. Like I said, Star was the kinda girl you'd do anything for. The Wise Men were my insurance, and they were right on time. This was turning into one hell of a party.