- In: Exclusives
- Published on 16 July 2012
- By James
Crime is a sucker's road and those that follow it wind up in jail, in the gutter, or in the grave! Here below is chapter 2 of our original story. A Man Named Marlowe is about Raymond Chandler's fictional anti-hero detective Philip Marlowe. These are the events that preceded Chandler's first Marlowe novel, The Big Sleep. If you haven't read chapter 1, go here.
The buzzer ringing woke me up with a startle. I rubbed my eyes and tried to shake the groggy feeling you get after you’ve been woken up. It was a quarter of four. I buzzed the buzzer and got up and opened my office door. It was Lou, he had a troubled expression on his face and with him he brought a cute young brunette that bore a striking resemblance to Thelma Todd. The girl wore dark slacks that were tight around the hips and opened up a little as they tapered down the leg for much easier access to a calf, if you were of the mind to try to gain entry to such things. She had on beige shoes and a beige button down shirt, as if she was trying to look mannish, but was failing miserably at it. Her hair was shoulder length and she had on just the right amount of makeup. Her eyes were gray and looked as though they could eat most of you and throw the remains to the dog.
“Marlowe,” Lou peppered up. “This is my niece Ruth Moriarity. She’s the one I was telling you about earlier. She needs your help.”
I ushered them into my office, sat her down in a chair while he stood behind her, and took a bottle of rye out from my filing cabinet complete with three glasses.
“What’s it all about?” I motioned for them to drink.
“It’s my husband Mr. Marlowe, he’s cheating on me.”
She had the face of a cute innocent girl, but her voice and eyes were that of a leopard licking its lips over a wounded prey. I immediately didn’t trust her. I looked up at Lou.
“Lou, how many years do you know me? I don't do divorce work, not even for your niece.”
“I know Phil,” he said, “But it’s not just that he’s cheating on her, he also goes out for long weekend trips up in Big Bear Lake where he keeps a cabin.”
She chimed in then. “Mr. Marlowe, it’s Tuesday, he should have been home by now and he still isn’t. I hate his guts, but if he’s been hurt or killed I want the twelve grand in life insurance money that’s rightfully mine.”
I looked down at her, half smiling, half disgusted. I poured myself another shot. The taste of it hit my belly with a gurgle and it reminded me of my recent dry streak on the client frontier. Even Philip Marlowe could be bought or sold if he got hungry enough.
“When did he go up to Big Bear Lake?”
“He left Thursday morning around five. I haven’t seen him since.”
“Have you contacted the police about your husband’s disappearance?”
“No I haven’t, John is involved in some big business in Spokane, Washington, and while he has plenty of girlfriends and goes away often, his being missing and actual death being reported to the police might bother some of his business partners."
“Well what does Mr. John Moriarity do in Spokane, Mrs. Moriarity?” I asked, almost sarcastically.
She looked at me slightly annoyed, as if I was prodding, when it was her who had come to me for help.
“My husband operates the remains of a gold mine from the turn of the century. For a long time the mine was believed to have been salted, until John and a few of his friends went there as a gag on vacation, and found gold. Other then that he seems to have a very lucky streak with craps and he had a history of bootlegging long enough to give Elliot Ness an ulcer. ”
“It sounds like you picked the lead baritone in the upcoming choir event.”
She opened her purse and took out a nugget about one inch in diameter.
“Do you always carry gold nuggets around with you?”
“A girl never knows when she’ll need a little good luck Mr. Marlowe.”
Glancing at Lou, who was smiling encouragingly at me, I stood up. I felt the need to keep these pleasantries short.
“My fee is twenty-five-a-day plus expenses and I’ll have the first four days paid now. I’ll wire you for the rest if I need it once I get up to Big Bear. I’ll need the rest of the information: Whom he went with, whom you think he was going up there to see. A picture of him would also help, along with a list of his friends and places he frequented.”
She hesitated for a second before speaking.
“John’s thirty-three years old and five-feet ten inches tall. He has an athletic build with green eyes, dark hair, and a dark mustache. I don’t know who his girlfriends are, I just know he has them. He always goes up to Big Bear alone. Our cabin number is sixteen. As Far as friends, start with Benny Chance, he runs the Krypton Club. Benny is John’s major financial backer in Spokane. Paul Robard is the man who planned the trip to Spokane. That was four years ago.” She pulled out his picture from her wallet along with five Andrew Jacksons. “I expect this will be enough information Mr. Marlowe?”
I told her it was and she stood up. I shook hands with her and then with Lou, while giving him a glaring eye of disapproval and noticing how pale Lou had suddenly become. Sweet Lou, and I thought he was going to help me make my next rent. I felt like one of those trapeze artists, except I was working without a net.
... to be continued next Monday.