This is it. We’ve reached the final chapter in our continuing story of how Raymond Chandler‘s famous fictional LA Noir detective, Philip Marlowe, became Philip Marlowe. This story pre-dates Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep, by three years. For the entire story go here. Will Chapter 13 be a lucky or unlucky one for our hero? Read the final installment below! For the full story, go here.
At two a.m. Henry Long, William T. Phillips and I sat in the dining room at the Davenport Hotel sipping scotch. I finally learned exactly what happened, but by then I knew most of the details. Phillips explained it to me.
“Paul Robard had owned the mine. The mine was salted. There was gold in it though, which I had hid in 1908 when I got back to America. That was the gold that John Moriarity found. They employed me because they found my manuscript and were able to figure out who I was.” Phillips’ manuscript was an autobiographical account of his life as an outlaw. He said that he wrote it with the intention of having it published at the time of his death.
By “employed” Phillips meant that they had been blackmailing him for the rest of his gold by threatening to reveal his true identity. Moriarity wasn’t lying when he said he killed Chance and Robard as a way to consolidate his holdings. Both Chance and Robard knew who William T. Phillips was, and all three of them wanted full power in the blackmail scheme. Someone was bound to try to knock off the other two and Moriarity was the first to jump at the chance. Moriarity knew that Paul Robard had been having an affair with his wife, so when they went up to Big Bear for the weekend, Moriarity had them tortured and killed. He then went to Benny Chance and the two of them concocted the scheme of bringing me in to throw the heat off of Moriarity’s trail. Unfortunately for them Janice Tomlinson gave me the right description of John Moriarity. At that point Moriarity knew the best way to keep his secret was to get rid of Chance. He paid Gus to turn on Chance and also promised Gus ownership of Chance’s interests, which Gus jumped at. He was going to try to get away with killing everybody. It might have been crazy enough to work.
Phillips looked at me as we drank. He spoke.
“So what’s your next move kid?”
“I’ve got to get back to Los Angeles. There are a few questions about some murders that I’m going to have to answer to. Hopefully I won’t lose my license.”
“Well if you do, the three of us could maybe link up and go into business together.”
Long laughed and looked at Phillips.
“And where would we go Butch, Bolivia?”
“Hey. Bolivia worked for a while. We’ve worn out our welcome everywhere we’ve ever been. No town is large enough to handle the two of us. Somehow we always seemed to head back to our little hole in the wall though.”
“Well Butch, you just keep thinking, it’s what your good at.”
The two of them laughed out loud. Free from the oppression of blackmail Phillips did have charisma. Who’d have thought two of the most famous outlaws in the country could pretend to be dead and live honest lives for twenty-five years? I finished my drink and got up.
Phillips said “Hey, where you goin’ Marlowe? This party’s just getting started.”
“To bed. Its two-thirty and I’ve gotten one good night’s sleep in the past three days.”
“Ah leave him alone Butch,” Long said, “The old man needs his beauty sleep.”
We all laughed and I shook hands with the two of them. Before walking out of the dining room I looked back at the two old men as they laughed and told stories to each other. Henry Long and William T. Phillips had more outstanding warrants then half the mobsters in the Chicago. I once heard something about Phillips. A person said “ I wouldn’t want to have been in the teller’s cage when he came through the door of a bank, but if I ever met him in a saloon, I sure would have bought him a drink.” I knew what that meant now.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were united once again.
I walked up to my hotel room wading through the salmon colored carpet in the high-walled, cream colored hallway. It was quiet. This time though, I didn’t mind it. The door to my room was unlocked and it smelled like perfume inside. I switched on the light. Janice Tomlinson was in my bed, where she had been the night before. She had two drinks ready on the night stand and was wearing just enough to leave room for my imagination.
“Philip I’ve been waiting for you. I got a bottle of Four Roses for us. Let’s drink the whole thing.”
I smiled and hung my hat on the doorknob, shutting the door behind me. I walked over to the bed and sat down, grabbing my drink. I took a sip and turned to her.
“It’s coming up on three a.m., and we were both almost killed tonight.”
“Well Philip that’s true, but you said that you’d do your best to get me out of this jam, and you did. Now I want to reward you.”
She leaned over and grabbed my shirt and kissed me. Her lips weren’t cold tonight. They were as warm as a sunny afternoon in May. Her breathe smelled a little like bourbon and soda, but I wasn’t complaining. I kissed back. I looked at the blanket and pillows I had planned on moving to the floor and then back at her. I didn’t get much sleep that night.