Paths converge at the Blue Heaven Ballroom, one of Harlem’s hottest speakeasies. Jonas Markham has followed a would-be thief into the club; Ivy Morgan is looking for rich, impressionable socialites to help feed her cult of personality; Connor O’Shea is working undercover for the Committee of Fourteen and Alistair Sinclair is meeting a young, attractive academic for drinks. They’re all seated at a corner table at the back of the club, and strike up a quick rapport.
A somewhat bleary negro in a disheveled brown suit holding a trumpet enters the ballroom through the service entrance. In an attempt to get to the stage, the man asks a sweaty, nervous-looking patron seated at the investigators’ table if he can get by. The patron gives a withering reply laced with racial invective. Intervening, Professor Sinclair gets out of his chair and lets the trumpet player pass. As he makes his way to the stage, Ivy Morgan notices that the negro holds a four-valve trumpet – “don’t trumpets usually have three valves?” she thinks…
Bootlegged liquor lubricates the dance floor as Mitch Wester and his 5-Stars finish Doctor Jazz, and begin a new number, Dead Man Stomp. As the new number begins, a man in a dark-gray suit and a wide-brimmed hat walks in to the ballroom through the service entrance, raises a gun to the nervous patron’s head, and pulls the trigger. Although the shot is lost amongst the band’s torrid number and the shouts of approval from the audience, Ivy Morgan and Connor O’Shea are showered with bits of brain and fractured skull. The shooter calmly exits through the door, as the alarm slowly begins to sound throughout the club.
Connor attempts to beat the shooter to the front entrance, but is hindered by patrons looking to escape the club. Jonas, Ivy, and Alistair look on in horror as the corpse of the dead suddenly raises itself to a standing position and makes its way out of the club. As the music suddenly stops, patrons begin to scream and the club manager faints. Bedlam ensues.
O’Shea tries to get the doormen to maintain order, but seeing a man covered in brains is too much to handle – one doorman faints while the other flees the scene. On his way back up the stairs, Connor sees the corpse trying to walk down the stairs. As the stairway thickens with crazed, escaping patrons, the corpse is trampled. Connor slowly makes his way back to the table.
Upstairs, Mitch Wester approaches Ivy and Connor to determine if they’ve been injured. When he sees that they’re OK, Wester exits the club from the stage entrance. At the trumpet player’s urging, the investigators follow him out of the club and in to the alley. As he leaves the scene, something falls from the trumpet player’s coat. Connor picks up the item and puts it in his pocket.
Screeching tires and the sounds of a car crash pull the investigators to the street. A police car has pinned the bloody, mangled, no-longer-walking corpse to a light pole. Club patrons scatter this way and that as police try to arrest them. Agent Roger Daniels appears to chastise Detective O’Shea and to look for a photo op. While Daniels spouts various buddy-cop movie clichés (“I’ve got my eye on you, O’Shea!”, “I’ll have your badge, O’Shea!”), reporters and uniformed cops take statements from Ivy Morgan. The investigators find out the identity of the corpse – Pete Manusco.