When I woke up this morning the marine layer covered Los Angeles like a cold wet blanket. From my house just of Mulholland Drive I could see above the clouds and the sun rising. As I sipped a cup of coffee on my deck I wondered what the city just waking up had in store for me today.
I’m Paul Manning, private detective. I like to think I’m a combination of Sam Spade and Nero Wolfe, with Spade’s worldly understanding of people and Wolfe’s brain. Who am I kidding? I drink like Spade and never made it much past high school. But there you go.
I can follow an errant husband or find out whether a prospective employee lied on their application. That’s easy. I learned those skills when I was a cop with the LAPD and have made contacts that cross all strata of society. But Bogie will never play me, and no academic need worry about my taking their job. I’m a working stiff. But I know right from wrong and in this business, that’s almost enough.
Last night I got a call from an old friend. He had his feet in a couple of different social strata and from time to time threw a job my way. He said he may have something and that I should meet him this morning for breakfast. He worked late and started late, so we sat 11 AM as the time, and the Brown Derby as the place.
“Paul, what time is it.” Maybe I was a little like Spade — I did like blondes.
“Its a little past 8,” I said.
“Oh my God,” Shirley said. “I have to get moving. I’ll be late.” All I could see was a blur as she ran through the house picking up her clothes and heading for the bathroom. She is going to have my children. Oh, I’ll make her an honest woman first. But she is definitely the one.
When Larry called my office he said something about a new company in town that was taking over parking lots and running them for the owners of the property. Parking? Sheesh, when are those people going to get a real job? Do I want to get mixed up in some penny anty business that collects dimes and quarters and lets you park your car on their lot?
“Will I see you tonight, Paul?” Shirley asked as she pecked my cheek on the way out.
“Sure,” I yelled at the closing door. One thing I liked about her is she didn’t assume anything. We knew where we stood, and we treated each other well. Like adults. We were a good together, and we knew it. Now if I could just not screw it up.
Larry Jorday knew how to work every side of the street. He may know right from wrong, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. He was sitting in a booth near the door of the Derby. A woman was with him. A blond woman. A beautiful blond woman.
“Paul, I want you to meet Linda Jackson. Linda, this is Paul Manning.” She smiled and I melted. “Paul, Linda is going to offer you a job.”
Oh boy. I was in trouble, Shirley was going to skin me alive and I hadn’t even said a word.
“Death by Parking” will be continued in no more than three days here on PT’s blog.