|The Unofficial Tex Murphy Message Board
|Overseer: The Story
|Page 1 of 1|
|Author:||Jim the old guy [ Nov 27, 2006 5:37 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Overseer: The Story|
Well, here it is. Whether it is to your liking or not, feel free to make any comments.
Overseer Prologue: 2037 A.D.
In a walled fortress deep beneath the island surface, hidden from human eyes and people of a curious nature, a man, a genius of a man with a vision for the future, sits at a computer terminal. Extrapolating on his plan for global unification, he realizes that his plan is a paradox. On the one hand, many will suffer and die. On the other, most will benefit and be blessed. One cannot be accomplished without the other; one is dependant upon the other.
He rubs his tired fingers across his forehead, trying to erase the ache behind his eyes. Yes, again a headache has formed as a result of continual efforts to bring his plan to its ultimate success. So much to do; so little time. But the end justifies the means. Man has always striven for world peace and domination. Wars have been fought; lives have been lost; cities have been destroyed; governments have been overturned. And why? The answer is simple: Too many individuals, without having the means to do so, have decided they were the chosen one, the one who would bring order to the planet. What disillusionment! What inanity! What foolishness! One must have a fool proof plan AND the ability to carry it out in order to attain world unity. And this one man, this visionary has those means literally at his fingertips. How can anyone deny the obvious? How can anyone oppose him? All things considered, how could his plan possibly fail? That which divides mankind will no longer exist. This in itself is cause for exultation.
Forcing his concentration back to the task at hand the genius presses on. Typing on the keyboard at exceptional speed, he gathers information from several different sources; analyzes the data; disperses the details to their respective locations; and saves the updates on backup disks. â€˜I will succeed; I will rule the world. With righteousness and goodness and mercy I will unify all peoples in a way never before imagined. As for those who stand in my way? They will be dispatched to their personal promise lands. Death will be the minimum punishment. No one - NO ONE - will stand in my way.â€™
As with most megalomaniacs, this manâ€™s genius has affected his sense of self worth. He has set himself up as judge, jury and executioner. Indeed, although he would never admit it, he has set himself up as God incarnate, the Messiah of the 21st century. History will exalt him to a greater distinction than that of Jesus Christ. Undeniably, he will have a greater affect upon humans than Jesus could have ever conceived.
A bead of sweat forms on his forehead and drips unopposed into his eye. He shakes his head and wipes away the salty liquid. He must continue; he must complete his purpose; he must not fail as he had in times past. Unaware of the madness which drives him, he ignores the bodyâ€™s desire for rest and relaxation and presses forward. In fact, he would tacitly deny his insanity. Of course people would claim he was insane. They would claim anything to stop him from succeeding. No doubt there would even be those who would try to usurp his position of world sovereignty in order to exploit mankind for their own personal greediness. This too will be dealt with harshly.
Some experts would simply call him mad and leave it at that. However, they donâ€™t realize the depth of his madness. He suffers from an insanity commonly referred to as Dandelion Madness. Why this particular designation? Once considered little more than an irritable weed, the dandelion has made a startling comeback. Its leaves can be used in an ancient recipe, now revived, called wilted lettuce. Its golden flower, once the bane of lawns throughout the United States, is used to produce a sweet tasting wine. Its real strength, however, is its resiliency, for the root runs deep into the soil. So deep, in fact, that homeowners found it nearly impossible to completely remove them from their yards. Thus the nom de plume, Dandelion Madness. On the surface, those having the illness appear to be quite normal. But, deep down inside, where the psyche itself resides, lies sturdy, unmovable, almost unrecognizable roots of dementia.
Hence, this genius, this illusory individual has been seduced by his own personal demons into thinking he alone will supply the world what it needs. The folly of man continues to surface despite all efforts of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, historians and world leaders. One wonders: will we ever learn?
In lieu of the aforementioned, there is an unknown factor at work. A presence not yet identi-fiable. An unascertained solitary figure not having the slightest clue as to the utopian whose blueprint for world domination has already achieved considerable success. Who is this mystery man? Who is the only wrench to unseat the schemerâ€™s creation?
Murphy, Tex Murphy.
Overseer: chapter one, 2043 A.D.
Arriving home from a 36 hour stakeout at a steakhouse was like transferring from hell to heaven. I empty my pockets on my desk, removing a Lucky from its pack. After lighting up, I take a couple of quick drags. Its 11 a.m. Sheesh, what happened to the regular routine of drinking myself to sleep every night. This working a real job pays well, but, it messes up my internal clock, not to mention Murphyâ€™s standard operating procedure.
I place the smoking smoke in the ashtray and retreat to the boudoir. Forget taking a shower or shaving. Iâ€™m just too pooped. Glancing around, I seem to remember something Iâ€™m supposed to do later. What was it? My mind is so taxed I canâ€™t even recall the dayâ€™s schedule. Oh well, its probably not important.
Removing my clothes and placing them in a neat pile on the floor, I finish my cig and sit on the bed. Opening the drawer to the nightstand, I withdraw a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels and the latest issue of Playbub. Two giant swigs and 20 pictorials later, Iâ€™m out - for the count.
Thereâ€™s a point of light off in the distance. Like the sun, only not as big and not as bright. Rays emanate in all directions. The light seems to be slowly rotating to the left. Moments later, it starts rotating to the right.
Thereâ€™s a heavy haze hanging in the air, moving almost unnoticeably. Fog, yeah, fog, thatâ€™s it. Breaking through the fog on a dead run is a man. He keeps looking behind, as though he is being chased. I canâ€™t quite make out the face. An older fellow, I believe.
Next, a chessboard appears out of nowhere. Close behind is the man on the bridge; the Golden Gate bridge. Itâ€™s Carl Linsky! Suddenly, overlapping the foggy bridge are dozens of watches and clocks, moving rapidly, as though time is flying by.
I hear a voice say, â€œMy life is nothing.â€ Now the man, Linsky, is climbing through a roman numeral on the face of one of the clocks. Another voice sounds in the background; a voice with an Australian accent. â€œThings could get worser.â€
Now, for some strange reason, my face appears on the minute hand of one of the clocks! And itâ€™s moving counter-clockwise. A new voice â€“ female - asks, â€œIs your daddy dead?â€
As the man teeters on the rail of the bridge, another voice avers, â€œOverlord is the HOPE!â€ Now a syringe-injector device comes into view, followed closely by Linsky holding his left hand over his left eye. He seems to be experiencing considerable discomfort; pain even. Disoriented, he will fall into the icy waters at any moment if he doesnâ€™t get off the railing. Now, a decorated egg appears. Could it be a Faberge? Before I can identify it, numerous similar eggs begin to revolve around the lone Faberge egg.
In a shocking instant, the larger egg shatters into several pieces, revealing the face of a beautiful woman. It cracks again, allowing the face of a mutant to appear. Its...its...
Before I can recognize him, his face is replaced by the face of a handsome, older, wiser man. Before his identity is known, the other older man, Linsky, in an absolute state of despair and confusion, falls - no, jumps - off the bridge. Heâ€™s screaming loudly, as though he didnâ€™t really want to leap into the bay.
Now I hear a ding - ding noise followed by a woman screaming, like Linsky. Out of her mouth, another womanâ€™s face appears. Moredingling noises. The other woman I know. Its...its...none other than....
I wake up in a start, perspiration dripping off my face, down my neck and into the small of my back. What is that infernal tinkling noise? It sounds familiar.
â€œTex?â€ Oh my hell! Itâ€™s Chelsee on the vidphone. She has woken me from my recurring nightmare. I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s good or bad. Sheesh! I canâ€™t let her see me like this. In a flash Iâ€™m off the bed and onto the floor, trying to hide my disheveled appearance. I no sooner hit the floor when I realize I left the latest issue of Playbub on the bed. I sure hope Chelsee doesnâ€™t see it. Not that Iâ€™m ashamed of reading the best menâ€™s magazine on the market. After all, we guys buy the periodical for the articles, not the pictures. But, knowing Chelsee, she wouldnâ€™t believe me if I swore on a stack of Playbubs.
â€œTex?â€, she asks again. â€œSitâ€¦sit up so I can see you.â€
â€œNo! Iâ€™ve fallen and I canâ€™t get up.â€
â€œCome on, let me see the real you.â€
â€œOkay, as soon as you let me see you first thing in the morning.â€
â€œMorning? I have never understood P.I. standard time.â€
I contemplate that last remark for a moment. P.I. standard time, or PIS, for short. That doesnâ€™t sound very inviting. Maybe I should change it to SPI - standard P.I. time.
â€œYou probably forgot, but, our date starts in exactly twelve minutes? Lucky for you, there is a one hour grace period.â€ THATâ€™S what I was trying to remember earlier. Shoot! Iâ€™m in trouble again. After the Black Arrow Killer incident at the Ritz, how could I possibly forget my date with Chelsee? Maybe the BAK hit me harder than I thought.
â€œThanks, Chelsee, youâ€™re the only one who understands me.â€
An inviting smile appears on her luscious lips. â€œI want you to freshen up, don a clean white shirt, put on the tie I bought you for solving the Malloy case, and zip on over here. Iâ€™ll be waiting.â€ With that she sends me a vidphone kiss and signs off. The tie she gave me? Well, I suppose itâ€™s better than nothing.
I move with the speed of Superman on uppers. Off the floor, into the shower. Minutes later Iâ€™m staring into the mirror at my grizzled face. To shave or not to shave - that is the question! Naw! I shaved the other day, thatâ€™s enough for one week. But I do brush my hair and polish my teeth. Thatâ€™s the least I can do for the woman I...... Then, I put on my khaki slacks, white shirt, the tie she gave me (Iâ€™ve worn better, but I donâ€™t want to hurt her feelings), a clean pair of socks, my sneakers, my look-a-like Bogey coat, and, finally, my soft felt fedora. Man, does that bring back some memories! So does the nightmare I had again. Maybe someday Iâ€™ll figure it out. A lot of it seemed familiar, but some of it was totally foreign to me. â€œThings could get worser?â€ Thatâ€™s not only bad English, its also bad Aussie.
One last look into the mirror confirms what I already know to be the truth - I make this ensemble look good! Now, how do I exit the building? Since Iâ€™m caught up on my rent, I could go through the lobby. But then I would have to see and maybe even talk with my landlord Nilo Paglio. Ugh! No way, Jose! I decide to use the customer entrance, a.k.a. the fire escape.
As I step onto the customary steel grate that forms the steps to the street, I reach into my pocket and retrieve a new pack of Luckys. Well, I know Iâ€™m running late, but I have to go through the traditional ritual of packing the smokes. Grasping the pack with my right hand, I place my thumb on the front logo, my forefinger on the edge, and my other fingers on the rear logo. Holding my left palm upward, I slam the pack into it seven times. This causes the loose tobacco to set deep into the wrapper of each smoke. Then I tear off the clear cellophane, rip off the protective foil cover, and gently tap the pack against my left hand. One Lucky forces its way out, ahead of the others, as though they were racing to see which one can be the first to give me cancer. I raise the pack to my lips, adroitly retracting the lead smoke with a precise movement of my lips. Scanning the horizon, new San Francisco looks like its on fire, a reddish hue stretching for as far as the eye can see. The pack finds its way back into my left shirt pocket. Simultaneously, my left hand removes my Zippo and flips open the lid with a soft clink. One flick of the wheel and voila! my cig is lit. I take a deep drag and exhale into the open, polluted air. Cough! Cough! Ah, the traditional P.I. breakfast. I only wish I had time to stop at Louieâ€™s for a mug of his famous Armageddon coffee, chased by a bowl of his even more famous firehouse chili.
Finally making it to the street, I survey the activity on Chandler Avenue. To my left is Nilo, evicting a dead beat; across the street, Rook is debating furiously with a destitute pawning his last known treasure; a couple leave Louieâ€™s with satisfied smiles on their faces. Yup! Another normal day in the city I love.
Moving around the rear of my speeder, I espy Zack Williams stepping out of the Electronics Shop. He too is enjoying a quick smoke. Interesting. He owns the store, but obeys his own rule of a non-smoking establishment. He sees me and a thin smile creases his mouth.
â€œHey, Zack, howâ€™s tricks?â€
â€œSoâ€™kay, Mr. Murphy, howâ€™s by you?â€
â€œCanâ€™t complain, but then, you already know that it wonâ€™t do any good anyhow.â€ He smiles at that statement and tips his hand to his hat brim in a mock salute. I return the gesture and get in the speeder. Seconds later, Iâ€™m bound for Chelseeâ€™s apartment at the Chevron Arms complex. Indelibly stamped in my mind is her apartment number - 104 - how could I ever forget. Maybe, just maybe, Chelsee and I can get to know each other in a more personal way.
On the way over, the images from the nightmare reappear in my conscious mind. The faces are all too recognizable, as are most of the events. It was at the time of my departure from the Colonelâ€™s detective agency. I was a brazen young P.I. trying to make it on my own. It was my first case and one of the most memorable of my entire life. Someday, Iâ€™ll tell Chelsee all about it. But, not tonight! Iâ€™m already well past the one hour grace period and speeding wonâ€™t help. Iâ€™d probably get caught by the cops.
As far as the Aussieâ€™s grammatically incorrect statement that â€œthings could get worser,â€ Bah! I spit on it! My latest stakeout will net me about a grand, which will keep me in rent, booze and smokes for at least two weeks. In your face, Aussie-man! Things are getting better, not worser.
Before I know it, the Chevron Arms come into view. I park the speeder in a no parking zone and take the stairs to the first floor. I knock on door 104 and cringe at the thought of Chelsee chewing me out.
â€œUh, sorry Iâ€™m late.â€
â€œWell, at least you showed up. Câ€™mon in and let me take your hat and coat.â€ Her smile allays my fears of a good tongue lashing.
â€œYou know, in this light, you kind of look like a princess.â€
â€œWell, thank you. So, which one of the seven dwarves am I blessed with tonight? Happy, Grumpy or Dopey?â€
â€œSleepy, actually,â€ as a huge yawn escapes my throat. â€œBut, hey, Iâ€™m wearing the tie you told me to wear and a clean white shirt. Get me a couple of drinks and Iâ€™ll wake right up.â€ Chelsee moves to the wetbar and pours a stiff bourbon. She considers dropping a couple of cubes of ice into it, but soon remembers I take it neat. She hands it to me and two gulps later my eyes are wide open.
â€œJust so you know, I already called the Golden Pagoda and changed our reservation.â€ She wags an accusatory finger in my direction and continues, â€œYou know how hard it is to get into that place? Shame on you for being late.â€
â€œYeah, well, after the stakeout last night I hit the hay and had trouble sleeping.â€
â€œThat same nightmare again?â€
â€œYou going to tell me about it?â€
â€œNaw! But, since youâ€™re in charge of the dinner arrangements,â€ I move off the chair and slide in next to Chelsee on the couch, â€œwhy donâ€™t I handle the early evening enter-
tainment?â€ I try to slip my hand onto her knee, but she quickly moves to the edge of the couch.
Nervously, she says, â€œTex, itâ€¦itâ€™s not that Iâ€™m not interested, I AM, itâ€™s just, well, you know, I would like our relationship to go a little further.â€
â€œWhat, like all the way to second base?â€ Ooohh, I bet that hurt. And it wasnâ€™t too smart, either. I shouldnâ€™t be so sarcastic with her. Or, presumptuous. She deserves better.
Undaunted by my cutting barb, she continues, â€œNo, no, not like that. I just want us to be open and forthright with each other. And, well, some things are bothering me, thatâ€™s all.â€
Frustrated, I blurt out, â€œIs this about Sylvia?â€
â€œNo!â€ she says adamantly. â€œItâ€™s about the ability to commit and make us potentially happy.â€
â€œWhat does Sylvia have to do with us?â€
Putting her right thumb against her ring finger, she flashes her hand before my eyes. Itâ€™s a reminder of the ring I still wear on my left hand; the ring from my marriage to Sylvia. She demands, â€œYou tell me.â€
I knew that one day I would have to tell Chelsee the whole sordid tale of my first case and involvement with my ex-wife Sylvia., but, I wanted to do it on my own time, when I felt it would be the most prudent. Looks like Iâ€™ve just been finagled into relating it in spite of my reservations.
â€œOkay, but remember, six years ago I was pretty much a moron. I had just been fired from the Colonelâ€™s detective agency and, as a young, starch-pressed P.I., I decided to start my own business. Among other things, I was arrogant, self-righteous, straight-laced and over-confident.â€
â€œWell, itâ€™s nice to know that some things never change.â€
â€œOh, thatâ€™s real cute.â€ My snippety rejoinder causes Chelsee to smile. â€œI was in the market for my own personal office when I saw an ad in the S.F. Daily. I called and set up an appointment.â€
MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CITY........
â€œAre you ready?â€
â€œYeah, Iâ€™m ready.â€ With that, the man with the pointed nose checks his tranquilizer gun one more time. â€œThis is a neat little weapon. Are you sure itâ€™s gonna work?â€
â€œItâ€™ll work. After the dart penetrates the skin, unconsciousness occurs in one to two seconds. Just make sure you donâ€™t miss. Murphy first, then the girl.â€
â€œWhat sort of bloody drongo do you think I am? I never miss,â€ he retorts in his natural Australian accent. After checking the gun, he places it in the speeder. â€œWho you got lined up to steal their speeder?â€
â€œSome kid. He owes me a favor. Weâ€™re gonna tail Murphy after he leaves the girlâ€™s apartment. We planted a wire there a few days ago. Right now heâ€™s telling her some sort of stupid story. Anyway, they should be leaving soon for the Golden Pagoda restaurant. Just be watching when they come out.â€
â€œIâ€™ll take care of my end; you just worry about yours.â€ They exchange warning glances and the Aussie departs. He flies directly to the restaurant and waits patiently for the plan to unfold. â€˜This will be easier than fallinâ€™ down,â€™ he muses.
Chapter Two: Wed. Oct. 28, 2037 A.D.
I park my speeder in front of the Business Complex at 813 Fourth Street in New San Francisco. My appointment is 9:00 a.m. sharp; its 8:30 and Iâ€™m early. Punctuality is a virtue; tardiness is a peccadillo. However, I am a little tense at the thought of opening my own personal PI agency. In fact, Iâ€™m as nervous as a tightrope walker with vertigo. I pace the front sidewalk to the point where a groove begins to appear. My hands are firmly entrenched in their respective overcoat pockets. The left hand clutches the rental ad cut from the S.F. Daily; the right hand retains both of my pride and joys - my P.I. license and my new business license. After all, the landlord may ask to see them for verification.
Itâ€™s a light radiation day, so I donâ€™t mind waiting outside. With little else to do, thoughts of the last several days flitter through my mind. I still donâ€™t understand why the Colonel is so upset with me. After all, he did break the rules. And â€˜if you break the rules, you pay the foolsâ€™ as the old saying goes. In his case, the â€˜foolsâ€™ are the state appointed officials who monitor the activities of private investigators, a.k.a. the ethics board.
As far as Iâ€™m concerned, the future is now! There should be no reason for my efforts to fail. Iâ€™m absolutely confident that I will be a success. Leasing this recently vacated office space will lodge my career in the annals of history as an extremely successful P.I. Perhaps even more successful than the famous Dobbs Investigative Services owned and operated by Colonel Dobbs. â€˜I bet that would stick in his craw,â€™ I muse to myself. Not that I dislike the Colonel; after all, I owe him for helping me get into the business and personally taking me under his wing. But, the way he fired me is unforgivable. Yelling and screaming at me in front of the office staff and a number of my fellow PIs was very embarrassing and humiliating. However, ethics are ethics; rules were NOT made to be broken.
My concentration was broken when a man rounded the corner and gave me a hardy â€œHey you! You the clown who wants to rent 1015?â€ Clown? CLOWN? Who is this Bozo, speaking of clowns. He obviously needs to work on his people skills.
â€œNo, but I AM the private investigator who might be interested in leasing 1015,â€ I reply with a smirk.
â€œYeah, yeah, whatever. Get the lead out, pal, Iâ€™m in a hurry.â€ He slips through the revolving door with the expertise of a modern day Houdini. I follow him to the elevator. He presses the up arrow and turns to face me. â€œSeets, Endrow Seets,â€ and extends his hand.
I shake the old callused hand hardily and respond, â€œMurphy, Tex Murphy. Nice to meet you Mr. Seets.â€
â€œYeah, likewise,â€ and we enter the lift before the door closes on us. He presses number 10 and we take off like a rocket to the moon. These new turbo lifts travel at near the speed of sound, causing the stomach to come into your throat and then bolt back down to your midsection within a span of a micro-second.
Gulping, we exit the elevator, turn two right corners and end up in front of office number 1015. â€œHere we are,â€ he announces as though I canâ€™t read the sign. Sheesh! What a character!
After entering, I make a quick survey and notice itâ€™s more spacious than I thought. Thereâ€™s even an adjacent room which could be used as a bedroom. Cool! That means I can move out of my current apartment and move in here, saving big bucks on rent.
â€œSo, whaddaâ€™ya think? Like it?â€ Heâ€™s plainly in a big hurry. But, I do like it.
â€œYes, I do. How much do you need today for a down payment?â€
â€œNo down payment, just the first month rent in advance. Iâ€™ve already prepared a one year lease, just in case you wanted the joint.â€
Boy, he works fast. He hands me the lease and I begin to read it.
â€œHey! Youâ€™re not going to read that now, are yaâ€™?â€ he asks impatiently.
â€œWell, itâ€™s standard procedure to read a legal document before signing it, donâ€™t you agree?â€
â€œLook, Iâ€™m in a hurry,â€ no kidding pal, â€œso, Iâ€™ll tell you what, keep the contact for a day or two, read it over and let me know. If you like it, drop it off at my office with a check. Okay by you?â€
â€œSure, why not,â€ and he hands me a business card with his name and address on it. I slip it into my pocket, shake hands with Mr. Seets, and off he goes. This gives me some time to get acclimated to my new surroundings. I begin to picture in my mind where everything will go. Cabinets here, shelves there, desk and chairs in the middle, a cot in the boudoir, the stand-alone-closet in the corner, and so on.
With an air of excitement, I bring up the few small items I brought in my speeder. For you see, Mr. Seets, I also anticipated taking the â€˜jointâ€™ as you would say. After three trips up and down the elevator from hell, I hasten to the used office furniture store and pick out several essen-tials. I give the salesman the cash and my address for delivery the next day. Iâ€™m happier than a plethora of lottery winners.
As I fly back to my apartment, where the rent is due tomorrow, Iâ€™m thankful for having the foresight to save money while working at the Colonelâ€™s agency. Prudence and preparation are also virtues I live by.
By nightfall the succeeding day, Iâ€™m completely settled in my new digs. I call my mom on my new vidphone which came with a two week subscription to the American Information Database. She writes down the office number as well as the fax number. â€œIâ€™ll fax over the baked beans recipe straight away,â€ she says excitedly. In moments, I hear the all too familiar recording, â€œYou have a fax.â€ Yup, I sure do. Momâ€™s famous baked beans recipe, complete with scrumptious secret ingredients.
Feeling higher than an astronaut in orbit, I lean back in my chair and wait for the phone to ring itself right off my desk. Maybe it will be someone who needs to find a missing person; or someone needing to spy on an adulterous mate; or someone needing me stakeout a syndicate hangout. Yessiree, things are definitely looking up.
A week later, Iâ€™m still waiting for my first call, other than mom. She calls me daily to remind me to brush my teeth and comb my hair. Gee, thanks mom. She also asks if a client has called. When I answer in the negative, she encourages me to continue the vigil and soon I would be rewarded with a case.
There is one thing that is progressing nicely, Iâ€™ve honed my skills playing Backgammon. I just might enter a tournament and blow everybody away. Also, I refill the candy ashtray every day. It seems Iâ€™ve developed a sweet tooth. Well, better than smoking. That is truly disgusting! Another way to pass the time is studying Harley Fenwickâ€™s Little Red Book Of Rules For A P.I. Iâ€™ve pretty much memorized the twenty tried and true aphorisms Harley came up with; now I have added several of my own in my effort to become the creme-de-la-creme of private investigators.
Suddenly, the vidphone rings. â€œTex Murphy, private investigator, how may I help you?â€ I ask, using my most professional voice.
â€œHi Honey, how are you today? Any clients yet?â€
â€œNo, mom, no calls except from you,â€ I answer dejectedly.
â€œWell, donâ€™t worry, Honey, youâ€™ll get some calls soon. Just give it a little time.â€
After the daily mechanical Q & A with mom, I decide to peruse a couple of law books on my book shelf. Just as I pick one out, I notice a movement in my peripheral vision. The mail slot is starting to open. A letter forces its way through. I race to the door in a vain attempt to catch the envelope before it hits the floor. Damn, just missed again. A muffled laugh seeps under the crack of said door. It seems the mail delivery man has a twisted sense of humor. Great! Even the post office mocks my misery. What next?
Ripping the letter open reveals whatâ€™s next. A letter from the Colonel. Hey! Perhaps itâ€™s an apology. Or, maybe heâ€™s begging me to come back. Or, maybe he needs my help to solve a major case. Hmmm. Letâ€™s see what it says.
I thought Iâ€™d write this note to wish you well in your new adventure. Also, you might think I still hate your guts for that little stunt you pulled on me with the ethics board.
As it turns out, a few of my friends at the S.F.P.D., among others, were able to help me clear things up and get my P.I. license reinstated. So, other than the character smearing and public humiliation, everythingâ€™s worked out fine. And I do still hate your guts, you ungrateful, two-faced little turd. I put a lot of trust in you, took you under my wing, showed you the ropes of the business. And for what? A knife in the back.
A word of advice: Someday, youâ€™re going to learn that not everything is black and white. Sometimes you have to bend the rules a little to make them work right. And even more important: NEVER BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS. That kind of thing comes back to haunt you.
So, again, good luck running your own agency. If anyone ever needed it, itâ€™s you. And donâ€™t expect me to send any business your way - I donâ€™t like seeing people waste their money.
Sheesh! This is just ducky! Has the whole world become aware of my plight? Is there anyone out there who can find it in their heart to give me just one chance? This is becoming more and more depressing as each day slowly passes.
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2037 A.D.
Two more weeks go by and still no calls. Even my mom doesnâ€™t call every day anymore. I stare out the window, watching speeders, hacks, buses and cops fly by in all directions and levels. Feeling lower than dung in a sewer, I contemplate quitting the business and going back into journalism. Thatâ€™s what I did during my college days to help support myself. As a deep sigh escapes from my lungs, I notice a speeder speeding straight for me. Feeling like a bug on the highway, I wonder what goes through a bugâ€™s mind as it collides with a windshield? Hmmm. Whatâ€™s that old punchline? The last thing to go through a bugâ€™s mind as it hits the windshield is its rear end. But, no pun intended, Iâ€™m not laughing. Quite the opposite. I begin to feel like a bug on a windshield. Just then, the speeder makes a quick right and heads for the street below. Just my luck; Iâ€™ll live to see another day.
Moving away from the window I slide into my desk chair. Looking at the door, I wonder if anyone will ever come waltzing in and ask me to take their case. Then another thought filters through my mind: On the outside of the door, in between the first and second windows, is a sign that states, â€œTex Murphy, Private Investigator.â€ It reminds me that we Murphys are not quitters; we were not cut from that kind of a mold. I meditate on that for a sec or two, take a deep breath and get back to the task at hand: Backgammon.
The most amazing significance of playing this fascinating game alone is the fact that I am losing. How can that be? Maybe itâ€™s because I am honest, trustworthy and kind and would never think of cheating my invisible partner, or anyone else for that matter. So, I grab the dice container, shake it from side to side three times, and dump the dice onto the board. The number 3 pops up. â€œWell, a five would be nice here,â€ I whisper to my partner.
As I roll the dice again, a lovely figure appears in the three small pane windows of my door. An attractive, well formed, smooth face peeks in. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and is wearing a red tam with black ribbons tied on it. The tam is cocked to one side, accentuating her sexy bearing. A shapely midsection shows through the middle pane of glass. Sheâ€™s wearing a one piece outfit, cream colored with black polka dots. The lower window exhibits a hem line about knee high, with just a hint of a white slip peeking below its lower seam. She opens the door; I pretend not to notice. I donâ€™t want to seem too eager, as though Iâ€™ve never had a case before (even though that is true). She needs to think that I am very busy and donâ€™t really want her case. Itâ€™s a psychological affect.
As she enters my office, she asks, â€œAre you the private investigator?â€ Flashing a smile that could melt the north pole (who am I kidding, itâ€™s already melted!), she slowly heads for the chair in front of my desk. I begin to hear the rhythmic, whining sound of an alto sax, playing a sultry air as she crosses the room. Itâ€™s like something out of a love story.
Collecting my thoughts, I answer, â€œUh, thatâ€™s what someone painted on the door.â€
â€œIâ€™ll take that as a yes,â€ and flashes a pretty smile in my direction. â€œAm I interrupting you?â€
â€œUh, no, actually, I was losing anyway. Please, take a seat.â€
She settles into a chair, dumps the hard candy out of the ashtray (I put those there in hopes that people would forgo smoking for something more wholesome), slips a dark wrapped tube between her ruby red lips and proceeds to flick-a-bic and light up. Blowing the smoke away from me (which I really appreciate), she leans back and casts an inquisitive look, staring straight into my eyes.
â€œYou know, thereâ€™s a rumor going around that those things are bad for you,â€ I stammer, chuckling nervously afterwards. At this juncture I wonâ€™t reveal my true feelings regarding smokers, or, for that matter, drinkers too.
â€œLots of things are bad for you, but that doesnâ€™t stop me from enjoying them.â€ It immediately registers in my brain that this woman and I could debate morality, social comportment and the effects of smoking in a group environment till we were both blue in the face. But now is not the time. I need a case, not a contest!
â€œSo, what can I do for you, Miss...?â€
â€œLinsky, Sylvia Linsky.â€ She takes another draw off the cancer stick and blows the smoke upwards. â€œMy father died last week and I would like you to investigate his death. The police think he committed suicide.â€
Trying to impress her with my knowledge of police matters, I say, â€œThe police are usually pretty good in matters like this. I mean, I canâ€™t believe theyâ€™d make that big a mistake.â€ I almost sound apologetic. Conversely, I know the police can be bumbling fools at times, especially while investigating a death. I once heard an officer reply as he was looking down at a cadaver, â€œYup! Heâ€™s dead!â€ Profound.
â€œMy father wasnâ€™t suicidal and Iâ€™ll pay you to prove it.â€
Bingo! The magic words. Reflecting on the last three depressing weeks of inactivity and food faxes from mom, it takes me all of two micro-seconds to answer.
â€œWell, okay. Your fatherâ€™s name is...sorry, was?â€
â€œCarl Linsky,â€ as she knocks an ash from her cig into the ashtray.
â€œOkay. Well, if we rule out the suicide,â€ and hereâ€™s where I overwhelm her with P.I. savoir faire, â€œthat leaves three other ways for a person to die. One, it could have been an accident; two, it could have been the result of natural causes; or, three,â€ I pause for effect, â€œit could have been murder.â€ Letâ€™s see how this hip-swinging Mae West type responds to that bit of intellectual deduction.
Without hesitation, still in control, she replies, â€œThe police say they have witnesses that saw him jump off the Golden Gate bridge.â€
There goes my brilliant prognosis. â€œWell I guess that rules out the first two. So, you think your father was murdered?â€ She notices the twirling of the pencil in my right hand. Infernal habit.
In a firm voice, she answers, â€œHe didnâ€™t kill himself, I know it.â€
Her persistence is beginning to annoy me. After all, Iâ€™m the expert here. If anyone is taking a leap, itâ€™s this dame, by implying that the police and everyone else are wrong about her father jumping off a bridge. Not to mention that, although Iâ€™m desperate for a case, I need to level with her.
â€œLook, if I take your case, you got to understand thereâ€™s no money-back guarantee. And, it doesnâ€™t sound real promising.â€ There, I said it. Now the ball is back in her court. Her...bare shouldered.....court...with...the...black bra....strap...showing. Sheesh! Calling Tex Murphy! Ground control to Major Tex! Are you there? Here?
Taking another step toward death, she takes a deep draw off her smoke, exhales, hangs her head and pleads, â€œI just donâ€™t know what else to do.â€
Thatâ€™s it; sheâ€™s got me, hook, line and sinker. I feel like Iâ€™m a kazoo and sheâ€™s the one playing the tune. So, I take another deep breath deciding the least I can do is make a visit to the S.F.P.D.
â€œWhoâ€™s the officer in charge?â€ I hope itâ€™s someone I get along with.
â€œThe detectiveâ€™s name is Eve Clements.â€
Oh my God! The wicked witch of the west! Iâ€™d rather talk with Adolph Hitler; thereâ€™s little difference between the two. â€œAlright, Iâ€™ll go down and talk with her. We can get together later and Iâ€™ll tell you what Iâ€™ve found out.â€ I donâ€™t relish the idea of conversing with E.C., but, I need the work.
A smile of relief washes over her exquisite face. She reaches in her purse and extracts a slip of paper. â€œIâ€™m staying at my fatherâ€™s house. Hereâ€™s the address.â€ With those words, she rises from the chair and sits her perfectly rounded sacro-iliac on my desk. Bending over as she fills out her address, I get a clear view of â€˜peaks and valleys.â€™ I shake the spectacle from my mind and refocus my eyes on the face of S.L. Finished, she stands erect. â€œNow, about the money up front, how much do you need because I havenâ€™t got a lot.â€ Great! A broke P.I. hired by a broke client to clear up her fatherâ€™s suicide witnessed by who knows how many people. Maybe I should go back to playing Backgammon.
â€œIâ€™m running a special this week. If I decide not to take your case, there isnâ€™t going to be any charge.â€ Not a lie; just an exaggeration. There is a difference, you know.
Smiling broadly, again, no pun intended, she says, â€œThank you. Iâ€™ll be waiting.â€ And she does a 180 and exits my office. Hips swaying savagely, itâ€™s a wonder none of the vases blew over. As she exits, I let out a sigh of relief. Finally! A case! Even though it doesnâ€™t seem to amount to much, it gives me something to do - something constructive.
Before I leave, I scan the contents of my office. What should I take with me that might be useful? Water bottle? Nah! Latest issue of Boydâ€™s Life? Uh - uh! The book of rules for a P.I.? Sure, why not. Tape measure? That could come in handy. The letter from the Colonel? Only if I need to start a fire. How about my little buddy Raymond? A toy, wind up mouse? Well, okay. Itâ€™s small and might be used for some sort of distraction.
A few scant minutes later, Iâ€™m climbing into the speeder. Putting Raymond and the tape measure into the glove compartment, I fire up my machine. Oh, one more thing. I take the P.I. rules book out and toss it on the passenger seat. It falls open to P.I. rule number one: â€œNever fall for a client.â€ Huh! An omen? Naw! Miss Linsky is a meal ticket at best; someone who needs my professional expertise, not my manhood. I close the book and with a twitch in my eye, I regard my meeting with Eve Clements. Yuk!
Chapter three: Friday, Oct. 23, 2037 A.D.
Out on the Pacific Coast Highway, up near the Big Sur, a group of colorful cottages dot the sandy/rocky shore line. Known as The Big Surf Lodge, these bright orange bungalows are mostly occupied by tourists, especially those who want to escape the daily routine of eat, sleep and work. Devoid of phones and faxes, these modest, yet comfortable units provide a temporary haven to the tired and weary.
At times, though, certain couples or loners will lease a unit in hopes of evading someone or something. Like justice, for instance. The owner, Freddie â€œPapaâ€ Johns, asks no questions, could care less about I.D., and doesnâ€™t need to see marriage licenses. Kids are not welcome, neither are pets.
It was to this establishment that the Aussie was directed. Toting only one suitcase, the clothes on his back, and a cell phone, he rented unit number six. Papa Johns was only too happy to collect a monthâ€™s rent in advance - cash at that! Also, he didnâ€™t get a good look at the Aussie; it was better that way. He wasnâ€™t the law, or a referee, or a judge, or executioner. He wasnâ€™t a policeman, or a tax collector either. What people did on their own time was their business, not his. If a customer has cash to pay, Papa Johns has a lodge to rent. Simple as that.
A short time later, the suitcase unpacked and cell phone charging, the Aussie removes his dark green overcoat and hangs it on the back of the bathroom door. Emptying the pockets, he retrieves two hand guns; one fully loaded, the other with one round only. He smiled as he gazed upon the weapons of death, for death was his business. Had been for years. The cell phoneâ€™s ringing broke his concentration; he moved to answer it.
â€œYeah,â€ was all he needed to say. There was only one person in the world who had that number - his bankroll for the next few weeks. After the debacle in Mexico six years ago, he was more than determined to rectify his lone professional mistake in his violent life. The well was running dry as a result of living high and hiding low. Interpol, the FBI and several other justice agencies were hot on his trail. But they had not even gotten close to capturing him. â€˜Stupid cops,â€™ he thought aloud. â€˜Nothing but a bunch of dumb flatfoots.â€™ Still, because of the mess up in Mexico, he was nearly apprehended. That very thought stuck in his craw.
â€œTonight, 8 p.m., at the wharf. Iâ€™ve got some work for you,â€ was all the voice said.
â€œIâ€™ll be there,â€ the Aussie replied. He smiled as he disconnected the call. â€˜Work he says. More like pleasure to me. Ha!â€™ Glancing at his watch, he realized he had a few hours to kill (no pun intended). He chose to spend most of it taking a well deserved nap. The trip from Manitoba had been long and arduous. Staying away from popular flight paths, stopping at out of the way restaurants, spending the night in cheap motels, fleeced by a remote fueling station, and verbally abused by a disgruntled store manager. Under normal circumstances, he would have broken the neck of the store manager, but these were not normal circumstances. He didnâ€™t want to leave a trail that even dumb cops could follow. Therefore, he maintained perfect self control under adverse conditions. Setting the guns on the table, he vowed, â€˜Theyâ€™ll never take me alive.â€™
Two hours later he rose from a deep, restful siesta. As his feet touched the floor, he performed certain rising rituals. Stretching, breathing, bending, a little Tai Chi and he was ready for the shower. His first action was gazing upon his reflection in the mirror. He liked what he saw: a muscular, well toned body of perfect proportions. Often referring to himself as â€˜The Body, The Mind, The Man,â€™ he smiled inwardly. â€˜The very epitome of supremacy, the embodiment of exquisiteness, the absolute personification of perfection.â€™ And then his countenance slowly changed, a frown appearing. Mexico. God! How he hated the fiasco in Mexico. Six years ago, in Nogales. The only deflection of his superlative career. It nearly cost him everything, especially freedom. The freedom to eliminate and solve other peopleâ€™s problems. The very essence of existence, an insatiable desire to kill, assassinate, bump-off those who would hinder anotherâ€™s walk on the dark side of life. Greed, covetousness, avarice motivated humans to eliminate those who stood in their way. And all this nearly ended because of a woman. The husband, coward that he was, escaped for the time being. But, the woman, yes, the woman he effectively expunged from this earth. On her he exacted revenge. She died horribly, slowly, maniacally. That was her just desserts for playing the under cover detective. One thing is for sure: no one will ever trap him again like that - NO ONE!
Reaching into the shower, he found the â€˜coldâ€™ nozzle and turned it as far as it would go. Grabbing his favorite burlap washcloth and â€˜The Sands of the Desertâ€™ bar of soap, he entered the icy cold water and proceeded to scrub away the filth clinging to his body. Another daily ritual he could not live without. The cold shower, a blessing from the gods, seemed to refresh him, heighten his senses, elevate his cat-like reflexes. Yes, a cold shower helped him to maintain his high degree of perfection, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Exiting the shower, he dried himself, shaved and dressed with the usual accouterments: Leather belt with gold belt buckle, Gaucho jeans, southwestern shirt, and, best of all, his alligator skin, pointed toe boots. Taking one last look in the mirror, he smiled and left the lodge.
Naturally, he was punctual, for tardiness was an inequity of the fool. Never allow your fellow to wait, unless he needed to be eliminated. Too much time to think, to change things around, to put a â€˜bugâ€™ in the system. It also allowed improper emotions to build. And emotions influenced clear thinking ability. No, he would bide his time until his â€˜bossâ€™ showed up.
At 8:20 p.m., the white haired man who set the appointment finally arrived.
â€œNice of you to show up,â€ the Aussie said sarcastically.
â€œYeah, well, I was tied up at headquarters. Just one of those things; Iâ€™m sure you understand,â€ and he smiled superficially.
But the Aussie understood all too well. He loathed this type of lackadaisical approach. â€œYou said you had some work for me?â€
â€œEager beaver, eh? Or should I say, eager duckbill platypus? Ha! Ha! Ha!â€ And proceeded likewise for several seconds. The Aussie forced a smile, but felt disgusted internally. Another megalomaniac. Will we never be rid of them? he thought. Drying his eyes, the older man continued, â€œThis will be the first, others will follow. Could be as many as 8 or 10, who knows? But then, you donâ€™t really care, do you?â€ and he handed the Aussie a manila envelope.
â€œOkay, letâ€™s see who contestant number one is,â€ and he untied the envelope and emptied its contents into his left hand. A middle aged, mildly attractive woman stared up at him from the photo. Attached was a note explaining the vital statistics needed to familiarize himself with the case. â€œVal Davis, a USF professor. Hmmm. Anything else I should know?â€
â€œGood question,â€ as if there were any other type of question from an exceptional man of my talent, thought the Aussie. â€œShe only leaves home to go to work and she only leaves work to go home. If she wants something from the store, she orders it via the ethernet and has it delivered. Sheâ€™s totally dedicated to her work and home life is but a necessary diversion. Also, she has one of these,â€ and he proceeded to extract a green computer passcard from his sock. He flashed it at the Aussie. â€œYou must bring me this passcard. Itâ€™s very important. So, what do you think?â€
Never ask questions that could reveal too much about yourself. But, then again, this elderly â€˜gentlemanâ€™ was not the incarnation of perfection. Peons trying to be land owners. The Peter Principle of the 20th century. Attempting to excel in an area where one does not belong. How typical.
â€œI think Iâ€™ll take the job,â€ was all the Aussie replied. â€œOh, and donâ€™t forget, transfer the money to my Swiss account as soon as the deed is done.â€
â€œOnce I see the obit in the paper or have other visual proof, THEN I will transfer the money.â€ The old guy was getting more confident as the conversation progressed.
â€œDonâ€™t worry. When I do a job, nobody lives to â€˜kiss and tell.â€™ Iâ€™ll let you know when itâ€™s over,â€ the Aussie retorted with equal confidence.
â€œLike in Mexico?â€ the old man responded.
The Aussieâ€™s left eye twitched ever so slightly, almost unnoticeably. His eyes narrowed and burned with contempt at this reprobateâ€™s remark. How dare he? In fact, how did he know? Who could have told him?
â€œI see the question in your eyes, Aussie man. I have contacts worldwide, all too happy to supply me with valuable information. And this was one piece of data I really appreciated. My plan for the worldâ€™s future is not to be trifled with. I will not accept failure; I will not accept errors in judgment; I will not accept dereliction of duty. Just thought Iâ€™d let you know. Now, on a more positive note, if you perform well, youâ€™ll be richer than you can possibly imagine. I take good care of those loyal to me.â€ With that he rose, twirled and walked to his speeder; his very expensive speeder. In seconds, he was airborne, leaving the Aussie to his own incensed thoughts.
The very impertinence of this little man; the very audacity to question my abilities. The anguish flowed through to his very soul. He was on the verge of a complete mental and emotional break-down. Mexico. MEXICO! Tears of rage welled up in his eyes. And then, just as quickly, he brought his rage under control. He recalled his â€˜soothing mantraâ€™ and began to recite it over and over. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the peace that excels all thought, the calming of the spirit, the balm that relieves the pent up tension of years dedicated to perfecting his profession. He recalled his martial arts training and began to implement his relaxation exercises. Moments later, he was back to normal. If normal can be used to describe a deranged, international hit man.
Then his attention turned to the man who just left, and he laughed out loud. A pimp, a common thug, a midget desiring to be a giant. Someday Iâ€™ll kill him too! Oh, not with the usual method of forced Russian roulette. No, no, not that way. Instead, Iâ€™ll delight in personally breaking his neck. There is always more fulfillment in killing with oneâ€™s bare hands than there is in using manu-factured weapons.
And then the Aussie stood, slowly, deliberately, confidently turning on his heels and headed for his speeder. Moments later, he too was airborne; his lodge was the scheduled destination. He was anxious to fulfill his obligation. And he would NOT allow the old man to affect him so thoroughly in the future. Now that he knows where heâ€™s coming from. Now that Iâ€™m back in charge. Ha!
As the elderly man flew away, he glanced downward to get one last glimpse of the Aussie. He knew he struck a nerve when he divulged the hit manâ€™s blunder in Mexico. No doubt the hit man was, right now, trying to figure out the source of that little tidbit. It pays to pay off police officials, even in Mexico. â€˜Thanks to Sgt. Hernandez, Iâ€™ve gone one up on the Aussie. I bet heâ€™s stewing in his misery as I drive offâ€™, he thought aloud.
Chapter four: Thursday, Nov. 12, 2037 A.D.
Parking the speeder in the main lot of the S.F.P.D. Headquarters, I canâ€™t help but notice all the activity, like ants on an ant hill thatâ€™s just been stepped on. Every type of criminal is being processed perfunctorily, as though no one had a care in the world. The criminal is just doing his job; the police are just doing their job; the courts are just doing their job; and so on and so on. Maybe if people actually started to have real feelings for each other, then maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place to live in.
I enter the main door and approach the desk Sergeant. â€œTex Murphy to see Detective Eve Clements.â€
â€œYou got an appointment,â€ he asked, not even looking up from his pile of paperwork.
â€œUh, no, not exactly. Iâ€™m here on behalf of my client whose father died a week ago. You see, my client doesnâ€™t believe...â€ He cuts me off in mid sentence.
â€œHey, Sam Spade, I donâ€™t need no song and dance routine. Take the elevator to the fourth floor.â€ Gee, thank you, Mr. Wonderful, servant of the people.
He makes me walk through the metal detector and Iâ€™m thankful I didnâ€™t bring Raymond with me. Iâ€™d never be able to live it down. I find the elevator and whoosh! fourth floor in a nano-second. Swallowing my stomach, I find my way through the Major Crimes Unit to Eve Clementsâ€™ office. As I near her room, I overhear a butt-chewing of epic proportions. Sheâ€™s ripping on some slovenly dressed detective, screaming insults and abuses as though she was getting paid for it. As the sore-butt detective leaves her office, we pass each other in the hall. Heâ€™s a big nosed cop with an easy saunter. As we pass, we eye each other suspiciously, but Iâ€™m not sure why. I donâ€™t recognize him. One thingâ€™s for sure, Iâ€™ll have to tread lightly when approaching Detective. Clements. Sheâ€™s primed for action today.
â€œYou busy?â€ I ask with a smile as I stick my head through the door.
Upon recognizing me, she smirks and waves me to enter. â€œWell,â€ pointing to a chair for me to sit in, â€œif it isnâ€™t Tex Murphy.â€ Uncharacteristically pleasant, maybe the butt-chewing took the wind out of her sails. â€œSold out any fellow PIs lately?â€ So much for the wind out of her sails hypothesis.
Recalling her friendship with the Colonel and in the spirit of good faith, I continue her metaphor. â€œWell, now that you bring it up, how is the Colonel doing anyway?â€
â€œWe had a drink together a couple of nights ago. He said if I saw you to be sure and tell you to â€˜go to hell.â€™â€ Gee, donâ€™t hold back on my account, Eve.
I have no remorse for turning in the Colonel. I did what I did and Iâ€™d do it again. And I tell Detective. Clements my true feelings. â€œHe broke the law. You of all people should appreciate what I did.â€ Back at ya, honey.
â€œOfficially speaking, you shouldâ€™ve turned the Colonel in. Off the record, I wouldnâ€™t trust you to walk my dog.â€ Maybe a further explanation is needed. Iâ€™m sure sheâ€™d understand.
â€œWell, I wonâ€™t apologize. You see, Iâ€™m a slave to my rigorous boy scout training.â€
As quick as a wink, she retorts, â€œThen why donâ€™t you be courteous, kind and obedient and get the hell out of my office.â€
Whoops! Time to shift gears. â€œLook, Iâ€™ll be so quick, you wonâ€™t even know I was here.â€
â€œThe last thing I need is some pansy P.I. wasting my time.â€ Pansy? Moi? How dare she? â€œGive me one good reason why I should do any favors for you,â€ she challenges.
â€œListen, I just went into business for myself and Iâ€™m kind of relying on people like you to help me out,â€ I plead. Out of her line of sight I cross my fingers for good luck.
â€œAll right, Murphy. Youâ€™re lucky you caught me in a charitable mood. But be quick about it.â€ I wonder if ole big nose appreciates her generosity.
At any rate, I proceed to ask her several questions regarding Linskyâ€™s death. She tells me there were six witnesses to his jumping from the bridge. After interviewing each of them, there was no reason to assume that anything but suicide was the cause. However, the fog made it impossible for a 100% identification, even though their general descriptions fit his profile. It wasnâ€™t until they fished the body out of the bay that they found out who jumped. Using his personal effects, like his wallet, they determined his name and address and contacted his next of kin. Besides the wallet, there was a suicide note sealed in a ziplock bag. The handwriting was a perfect match. Boy, this doesnâ€™t bode well for my client.
â€œCan I see the personal effects?â€ I ask.
â€œNo. They can only be released to the next of kin. If she comes down, Iâ€™ll give them to her.â€ Iâ€™ll ask Sylvia to do that later.
Something else of note. The coroner found a small scar at the base of Linskyâ€™s neck. The police assume he had surgery recently. On his neck? Thatâ€™s strange. Coincidence?
My notebook was filling up quickly. I thank Eve for her help and rise to leave. As I reach the door, I hesitate for a moment.
â€œForget something, Murphy?â€
â€œI was just wondering. Aside from my turning in the Colonel, what do you think of me? Oh, and be kind, I didnâ€™t get much sleep last night.â€
She perceives my sincerity, so she gives me a straight answer. â€œThe Colonel seems to think youâ€™ve got the potential to be a good P.I., once you wake up to reality and get your priorities straight. I agree with his assessment, by the way.â€ A small smile appears on her face.
â€œThanks, I appreciate that,â€ and I exit, feeling a bit better than when I entered.
Eveâ€™s information has given me plenty to think about. Linsky writes a suicide note, seals it in a waterproof bag, jumps from the bridge in front of six witnesses, the coroner finds nothing unusual, and the police deem it a suicide. Despite this overwhelming evidence, my client believes it was murder! At this point, Iâ€™m leaning in the direction of suicide. How can I not?
As I fly to Linskyâ€™s house, I prepare a speech to inform Miss Linsky that I will not be handling her case. Taking money from her at this point is tantamount to stealing candy from a baby. And Iâ€™m not a thief. Broke, yes, but no thief.
The house is a modest brick ranch with a high peak at each end. Located in New San Francisco, it shows more than the usual wear and tear. Somebody has been too busy to keep up regular maintenance. Before I can knock, she opens the door, anticipating a positive report from me. I donâ€™t relish the idea of giving her the bad news.
I take out my notebook and share my findings with her. Then I tell her that her prognosis doesnâ€™t look very promising. Her back is to me and sheâ€™s holding a drink with both hands. Sheâ€™s upset; I can sense it with my P.I. instinct.
â€œSo, youâ€™re saying youâ€™re not going to take my case.â€ She sounds despondent.
â€œWell, I donâ€™t want to take your money if I canâ€™t help you,â€ trying to sound reasonable.
Her voice becomes stronger as she says, â€œFine. Leave.â€
I search for excuses to soothe her soul. â€œIâ€™m just being straight up, okay?â€
Not bending a hair, she comes back with, â€œIf you wonâ€™t help me, I can do what I can on my own. It certainly wonâ€™t be the first time.â€
I sigh deeply, trying to think of what to do. Considering Iâ€™m broke and considering she seems desperate to find the truth, I finally cave in. â€œI charge $400 a day, plus expenses.â€
She does a 180, literally and emotionally, and tells me she only has a thousand dollars. But, if Iâ€™m successful, sheâ€™ll pay me a total of ten thousand when itâ€™s over. She thanks me warmly as we shake on the deal.
â€œNow, youâ€™re going to need to tell me everything you know so I can get started.â€
â€œOh, I will. Thank you, Tex.â€ Her voice quivered slightly, as though a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Taking out my pencil and notebook, I begin asking her several questions. Apparently, her father was physically fit, had a positive outlook on life and was going to celebrate his 100th birthday by going skydiving. Doesnâ€™t sound suicidal to me. As to who would murder him, she didnâ€™t have a clue. He was a kind man and everyone liked him.
Next item on the list: I inform her that she should go back to the police station and get her fatherâ€™s personal effects. I understand itâ€™s difficult, but they could contain an important lead. She concurs.
As for the suicide note, Miss Linsky claims it was a forgery. Really? Either this is a murder masked as a suicide or this young woman is stretching her claim to its furthest limit.
â€œOne more thing. How did you hear about my services?â€ Iâ€™m just being curious. She says she found a note written by her father that had my address on it, no name. She inspected the buildingâ€™s directory, but didnâ€™t recognize any names. After looking around for a while, she came across my office. She feels fate had a hand in finding me. I personally feel that fate has dealt her a poor hand. But, Iâ€™ll give it my best anyway.
Before she leaves for the police department, she hands me a key to the house and says I can come and go as I please. Iâ€™m also welcome to search anything and everything in order to find a clue or two. We agree to meet later, so I bid her farewell.
The furnishings were unremarkable, but pleasant nonetheless. Logs crackling in the fire place added a warmth I could get used to. Unpretentious cupboards devoid of anything useful lined the kitchen walls. Drawers gave up nothing important either. But, on the side board, next to the fridge, was a green case just asking to be inspected. I opened it and found some sort of drugs or medicine with a couple of syringes. Could addiction be the real cause of Linskyâ€™s suicide? DeLeon Health Services was the provider of this little ditty. Iâ€™ll want to contact them later, if necessary.
Putting the case aside, I espy the fridge. All this detective work has given me the munchies, so I decide to check it out. Nothing spectacular, except for that bunch of bananas. Who keeps bananas in the fridge? Seeing that I was very hungry and the six bananas were rather ripe, I decide to help myself. I devour one and put the rest into my coat pockets for later consumption.
My next stop was the living room to warm my hands by the fire place. It was then I spotted a piece of paper on the coffee table lying amidst a set of dominoes and some kind of electronic game board. The note said blackjack in dominoes and 21 horizontally, vertically and diagonally. Sounds like fun. I mess around with the placement of the dominoes, hoping the board will light up and set off some fireworks or something. But, apparently I was unsuccessful. Still, I put the dominoes and the board into my speeder. Itâ€™s probably a ruse, but I can use a diversion from time to time. Backgammon is starting to get boring.
Linskyâ€™s bedroom proved to be quite interesting. It seems he delighted in expensive boudoir furniture as evidenced by the cherry wood armoire, dresser and desk. The armoire contained clothes about 20 years out of date. Not much for fashion, just a fashionable bedroom motif. On the other hand, the desk produced two items of interest. First, a half finished â€˜Dear Johnâ€™ letter to someone named Delores. Second, in the middle drawer I found a letter from Banter Publications. It would look as though Linsky signed a book deal, received $22,000 in advance and did not deliver the goods. Another oddity.
On either side of the bed were two nightstands. The one contained a green address book. I flip through it until the name Delores Lightbody stares back at me. If this is the Delores Linsky was about to dump, maybe she could be helpful. My note book now contains her home address. The other nightstand had a chess set on it. Only something seemed amiss. The set had only 31 pieces; a bishop was missing from the black team. Aw, maybe it just fell on the floor.
As I exit the bedroom, I notice a closet door. Opening it revealed a ladder to the attic. Well, I could use the exercise, so, up I went. After pulling a string chain to lighten up the place, I found exactly what every attic contains - junk! Stuff that never found its way to the garage for a sale or the curb for disposal. Just as I was about to go back downstairs, I noticed a door in the corner. A door in the attic? Upon opening it, I found a furnished office. This is really fascinating. Sort of a tree house without the tree. A getaway that was only missing the â€˜girls keep outâ€™ sign.
On a table were some neurology textbooks and a tape recorder. Unable to resist the urge, I flip the â€˜playâ€™ switch and immediately wished I hadnâ€™t. The terrified voice of a man screaming, â€œThere in my head...there in my head...get â€˜em out.....oohh, get â€˜em out.....I canâ€™t take it any longerâ€ It was unnerving, to say the least.
In the titanium file cabinets I found a threatening note from someone named Blaine Warner. It looked rather childish, but serious just the same. I fold it and put it into my pant pocket. The credenza drawers were all empty, except for the one that was locked. I try to pry it open, but all I did was bend the blade on my pocket knife. Maybe thereâ€™s a key around somewhere.
Over on the other side of the room was Linskyâ€™s desk. I slide open the roll top and latch onto a credit report for Sylvia Linsky. Looks like she didnâ€™t major in money matters. There were several claims against her for defaulting on some bills. Interesting. I search the drawers, but found nothing worth while. So, I head downstairs, out to my speeder, and using the on-board street finder, I lock in Miss Lightbodyâ€™s address and take off. Iâ€™m hoping she can shed more light on this otherwise dull case. I am anxious to see what kind of dame Linsky would date. Probably a wet blanket.
Monday, Oct. 26, 2037 A.D.
The Aussie sat in his speeder, eating salad and drinking spring water. He had been watching this apartment building for two days now, since receiving instructions from his new employe
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