Aachoo Voo, Private Eye
I made an appointment to go see Big david. I wanted my money. I needed my money. The rent was due on the apartment and the cat needed a new pair of shoes. Of course, to get in to see Big david, you had to contact Big Tony who had to contact Big Louie who had to call Big david's secretary, Candy, who then put in a request to Big david's bodyguard, Little Guido, who, if he felt like it, maybe mentioned it to Big david when he found him in a mellow mood. Then, depending upon whether or not he was in the right frame of mind to see a real live human, maybe the message was passed back down the grapevine to the lucky (or not so lucky) seeker of favors. It took two days but I had evidently found favor with the notorious gangster. "Hey there, doll." Big david said, looking up from his plate of ravioli. "Sit down, take a load off. How you been? Some Chianti?" And I shook my head and slid into the booth opposite him at Sterling's Silver Palace Saloon and Restaurant. I'd heard there were gambling tables in the back and call girls and moonshine stills, maybe even movie stars and organ grinders and I was a bit nervous. I didn't want to be caught dead or alive there if the place got raided.
"Everything alright, Big david?" the owner of the joint asked anxiously, leaning on the back of my booth. "More wine? Ravioli? Some dessert, perhaps? What can I get for your friend here?" Indicating me. Big david swallowed a huge forkful and said, "I'm fine. Tell the man what you want, Sweetheart. It's on me." I turned to look at John Sterling. He was movie star handsome, with a scar that ran from his right eyebrow down to the bottom of his cheek. It didn't ruin his looks like you might think it would but made him even more attractive. There was a palatable fear in his eyes, though, an anxiousness to please that led me to suspect that Big david might have had something to do with that scar. "Black coffee, thanks," I said, meeting his eyes, "With two sugars." "Coming right up." he smiled and hurried away.
I turned back to my host. "About my money....." but he waved his hand and said, "Not while I'm eating ravioli. I never discuss business while eating ravioli." So I waited as he ate and when the coffee had been served, I sipped it quietly and observed the patrons of the establishment. It was an elegant place in a mildly gaudy way. Almost full even at three in the afternoon. Ladies sipped tea, some, beer and wine. Some were eating pasta and laughing at one another in that semi-high society piety that I so detested. A few of them glared at me as my eyes swept the room while their male companions looked me up and down and nodded their approval. One idiot held up a wine glass and toasted me just before he was struck with a heavy alligator purse. I was amused and also relieved that it wasn't me getting slugged this time.
Several tables away, I caught the eye of a dark haired handsome waiter and he turned pale and rushed off into the kitchen like he'd seen a ghost. Then I realized that he was a guy I had dated a couple of years back. I think his name was Mario. The relationship had not ended well, (very few of mine did.) I seemed to recall accidentally knocking his car out of gear as we sat atop Lover's Leap Hill, snuggling then arm wrestling as he tried to get fresh. Somehow, the passenger side door had flown open, I had probably kicked the handle with my foot, and I had fallen out backwards and righted myself and looked up just in time to see the car going over the side of the cliff, Mario's eyes wide as saucers and his sensuous mouth forming a gigantic O.
"I forgot just what a gorgeous dame you are." Big david said, trying to get my attention. He had finished eating and pushed the plate away from his sizable belly. He was a huge man, tanned and tall and muscular. He had short dark hair and eyes the color of bones. Eyes you couldn't look into or you'd die of fright. He was wearing an expensive suit and a unique ring on his right ring finger. It had some sort of odd crest on it. I found myself staring at it, trying to see what it was. He cleared his throat and covered his hand with the other. "Like I say, you sure are a good looking broad. Have you ever thought of going into show business? I have contacts in Hollywood and on Broadway. I could make a few calls.....call in a few favors......"
He paused to see if I was biting the bait and I shook my head and said, "No thanks. I appreciate it but I'm not very talented, I'm afraid." Silently, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, Lord knows that's the last thing I need: to go out to Hollywood and run Jimmy Stewart down with my car! My mother would never forgive me. She idolized Jimmy Stewart. Kept trying to fix me up with Jimmy Stewart look-a-likes. It never worked out. I was a 'Robert Mitchum, Marlon Brando' kind of girl. I liked 'em big and bad with not much to say but a whole lot to do.
Big david was getting antsy. "Let's take a walk." he said trying to get to his feet. "Go down by the waterfront and catch some rats." I tried not to look dismayed so I powdered my nose and said, "Well, as tempting as that offer sounds.....I think I'll have to take a rain check. I have an appointment at five and besides, I already have a pet mouse named Manny. He and the cat play war games a lot and keep me busy cleaning up. So, I guess I'll just have to say no thanks and run. So....if you could write me out a check....." Big david leaned back in the booth and gave me a strange look. "You turning Big david down, doll? You shouldn't oughta turn Big david down. Big david don't like no rejection, you know?" I swallowed hard and put a fake smile on my face and reached out and touched the mobster's hand, much to my distaste.
"No, no, nothing like that. I just...I just need my money.... to pay the rent. I did a good job for your sister, didn't I? I found her husband, didn't I? By the way, whatever happened to those two?" I really didn't want to know but I wanted to distract this romeo from his lame-brained ideas. His face lit up. "Oh, yeah, yeah, you did a good thing, there. We was really, you know, appreciative of all your good work, me and Prudence. You know I don't deal with checks, right? But yeah, I got your money, honey. Maybe I just held off paying you so's I could get a look at that sweet puss of yours again, you know?" Oh, geez! I smiled wider, pretending that I was flattered by his revelation. "But what happened to the...to the....husband and the girlfriend?" I drank the dregs of my coffee and looked around to see if anyone was close enough to overhear our conversation.
"Well, let's just say that those guys took themselves a permanent vacation!" Big david grinned proudly. "They bought themselves some beach front property down in old Mexico!" I gulped and reached in my purse for some gum. "Gee, that's nice." I said, feeling horrible that I had had something to do with that real estate transaction. I had hoped for a messy divorce or something along those lines, not this. But I had been fooling myself. This is the way mobsters solved their problems. It always involved real estate.
Suddenly, Big david pulled out a huge wad of hundred dollar bills and threw them on the table. "Here, doll, help yourself to whatever you think you deserve!" I almost fainted. What was I going to do? If I took too many, he'd probably kill me. If I took too few, he'd be insulted. Rats! I couldn't fail this test. It could be hazardous to my health and career. I leaned over and took $2,000 and put it in my purse before I changed my mind.
I looked up into the gray eyes and a small smile flickered across the big man's face. "You're quite a dame, you know it?" I shrugged. Then he took three more thousand out of the pile and put them in my trembling hands and closed them around the money. "Here's a tip from Big david. You're a good girl. I like you. I might need to ask another favor of you sometime. Now you run on to your appointment and don't worry. Me and you'll go walking down on the waterfront some other time." And he got up, grabbed the rest of the cash, left a hundred dollar bill on the table and signalling to three of his henchmen seated at other tables, walked out with a swagger in his step.
I sat there trying to get myself together as other patrons stared and whispered behind their hands and menus. I heard the term gun moll several times as well as "Do you think Big Sophia knows?" Oh, good Lord! I looked around for the restrooms and spotting the doorway to the back, hurried in retreat from spying eyes. I touched up my face, combed my hair and washed my hands then made my way down the dark hallway past the phone booths on the left. Something caught my eye. I looked sharply, then slid into the phone booth next to the one in question and left the door cracked. Pretending to use the phone, I inserted coins and rang my own apartment. The man in the next phone booth was dialing frantically with his left hand and tapping a black cane on the floor outside the booth. He was wearing a long black coat, an ugly scarf, had very long wildish hair and I couldn't see his eyes but I was pretty sure they'd be bleary and red. I turned a little bit, nonchalantly, you know, and saw what appeared to be a black bag or satchel on the floor at his feet.
My heart fluttered in my chest. No, it couldn't be! Could it? "Grandfather Saruman, I've got it!" the strange man suddenly cried out upon reaching his party. "The book! I've got the book! Our secret is safe! Wipe out the rest of those Arehtes and I'll take care of this one and be on the next plane home! I've followed this creature halfway around the world and I'm tired and longing for the fires of Middle Earth!" It was! It was him! The thief I was looking for! Oh, it couldn't be that simple, could it? My cases weren't solved that easily. There was always bloodshed involved, usually mine. I hung up the phone and walked back down the hallway. I waited until the crow-like man turned his back to the door of the booth laughing maniacally at something particularly funny (or heinous) that old Grandfather Saruman had said and then slipped by and caught up the black bag, slung it on my shoulder and practically ran out of the door, across the restaurant and was almost at the exit when there came a terrifying shout. "Stop, thief!"
I ran as fast as my high heels could carry me. The tall figure in black tore out of the restaurant with a disbelieving look on his ugly face. I looked back at him once and then crossed the street in the middle of traffic, darting in and out, ignoring curses and wolf whistles. The man in black was not so fortunate. They didn't think he was that cute. They tried to hit him. He shook the long cane at them and screamed in rage. The sky suddenly became darkened and a peal of thunder seemed to shake the ground beneath my feet. I was almost a block away when he appeared practically behind me. "No way!" I thought and ran faster. There were six people between us. One of them was a cop. I hurriedly slid my own purse inside the black bag and kept stepping. "Stop that woman!" the villain yelled at the policeman as he gained on us. "She's a thief!"
The cop started running after me, the macabre figure close behind him. Then the cop stopped and looked at him, startled. "What did she steal....your purse?" The man stopped and composed himself. "Y..y...yes." He said, pointing his nose in the air. "Yes, she did." He sniffed like he couldn't believe he was being confronted by a mere mortal. I crossed the street again and shouted back, "But I only stole back the purse that you had first stolen!" And I ran like the wind. When I looked back, three more cops had joined the first one and they had the figure in black down on his knees with his hands behind his back. He was sobbing. "Noooooooooo!" he cried with that terrible face looking in my direction. "Nooooooo! It cannot be!" And I laughed and held up the bag, "Oh, but it is!" And then I ran into the side of a brick building and knocked myself unconscious.
TO BE CONTINUED..............in Episode Five
david from myspace...
Big david the mobster
Boris Karloff as Sauron
as John Sterling