If You Aren\’t Confused by Now, You Will Be After This
Private investigator Paul Manning Is helping girlfriend Shirley’s boss, Larry Levinson, who had been seeing a tenant (Mary) in his building, a married tenant. Now Larry’s in jail for the murder of the building’s parking manager, Miguel. Mary had run out of her office in tears. She was heading out to her cabin at Big Bear Lake. When Paul caught up with her, he found that, yes, she had lied; she had a son hated by her estranged second husband, one of the richest men in California. Mary was trying to keep her affair quiet to ensure that she got the best deal for her son in the divorce. She was being blackmailed. Paul agreed to help her, but his first priority was to get Levinson out of jail. As Paul returned to LA, he stopped for dinner. He went to use the men’s room and caught a reflection in the mirror. It was a big guy, and he had something in his hand, and his hand was raised above his head. The next thing Paul knew, everything went black.
Somebody was driving my car and wasn’t a very good driver. It was weaving all over the road and at much too high a speed. I was going to have to sort this guy out, but I digress
You might be wondering how I knew so much about the car, driver and all while being locked in the trunk. First of all, I know my trunk and its contents intimately and, now, even more intimately. Second, I was being thrown all over the place by the rapid movement of the car, back and forth. Third, if he were driving slower, I wouldn’t have the second problem. I had to take some action.
My car has a fold-down rear seat so you can put long things (like skis) in the trunk. I scoogied over to the back of the seat on the driver’s side, felt up near the corner, found the latch and released it. I carefully lowered the seat and found that I was alone with the driver.
He looked like the same guy who hit me in the men’s room. There was a problem. He wasn’t weaving; he was following the road. It was weaving. He was on the part of the road from Big Bear Lake to San Bernardino that snaked down the mountain for about 30 miles.
I couldn’t really jump him. If I did, we could all go over the side and drop straight down about 1,000 feet to certain … I couldn’t bring myself to finish the phrase.
I decided to wait until we reached a straight piece of highway and then make my move. It took about 15 minutes to get to the bottom. As he moved onto a section that met my requirements, I took the tire iron and smacked him. Not too hard – I needed information.
As he slumped over, I grabbed the wheel, pulled him out of the driver’s seat, and was able to bring the car to a stop. He started to moan almost immediately. It seemed like a good place to chat, so I pulled him out of the car and splashed him with some water that was running in a stream nearby.
“Talk. You know the questions I would ask, so just give me the answers.”
“I’m Wilson Jessoner,” he stammered. “I work for Apex Security. We are running a protection detail on Mrs. Hartison and her son. I report directly to Moncrief Hartison.”
That seemed a lot easier than it should have and I told him so.
“I’m a communications specialist. I’m not paid for this rough stuff. I was to take you to Hartison’s house. Obviously, I’m not too good at my job.”
“Actually, you are doing very well, because that’s exactly where we are going.”
I let him continue to drive, and we made it to Hartison’s estate in Palm Springs in about an hour. The gates opened as we drove up – seems we were expected.
Jessoner was in front of me and I kept a hand on his arm. We walked up to the door. It opened without knocking and Moncrief Hartison himself was standing in the entryway.
“I wanted a peek at the scum who was trying to sleep with my wife before I have the boys drop you off in the desert,” Hartison said. “Sunrise, no water, no shoes, and we’ll let nature take its course.”
I don’t think he realized that I had the situation under control. That was probably because there were three toughs behind him and I heard two more walk up behind me.
“Come inside, Levinson, and let’s have a chat.”
Wow, for a rich powerful guy, he really didn’t know much about what was going on. I was wrestling with how to play this when a door opened and my client, Mary Hartison, nee Williams, walked out. She was wearing a revealing negligee.
“That’s him, that’s the SOB who tried to take advantage of me. Thank heavens you got him first.”
Ah, yes, this was the woman who first hired me to keep her husband, who turned out not to be her husband, out of trouble. I then found her 45 minutes later standing over that poor schnook’s body – just outside his office in a parking garage. Within an hour, I had found she worked in the building and was having an affair with the building owner, Larry Levinson.
I then spoke to her not two hours ago in a huge cabin at Big Bear Lake, where she introduced me to her “son,” who was not Hartison’s, and told me she was being blackmailed, due to the aforementioned affair, and was trying to keep it quite because she was in the middle of a very messy divorce.
The person Mary was supposedly divorcing was standing next to her with a protective arm on her shoulder. Within a very short period of time she had turned into a seductress who seemed very comfortable with the man she said she was trying to divorce.
Before I could say anything, I was gagged, had my hands tied behind my back, and was frog-marched out the door and toward a truck.
“Stop!” It was Mary “Williams” Hartison.
“I want a last word with this creep,” she said.
She came over and leaned close.
“How does it feel, having me close and knowing you can’t do anything about it, Larry?”
She put her arms around me and gave me a tender kiss on the lips. Then, laughing, she walked back to Hartison’s side.
I had to move quickly before I was shoved into the truck. I needed to hide the knife she had put in my hands.
To be continued …