William Powell and Myrna Loy. In 1934 they were Nick and Nora Charles, husband and wife, in a movie called The Thin Man. Based on a novel written by Dashiell Hammett published in 1934, MGM picked up the movie rights and began immediately to produce the movie. For MGM it turned out to be one of the soundest investment franchises it ever made. Powell and Loy were made for each to for the big silver screen. The moment the first scene lights up you instantly see the chemistry between the two. Spontaneous, genuine, with a lot of bantering humor thrown in, The Thin Man became an instant success. It established the two as being the pioneers in a kind of romantic mystery series which, frankly, both still holds up today as being the best of the lot . . . and rarely seen anymore, much less rivaled, in today's cinematic excursions. If you haven't seen The Thin Man series you're missing something special. Especially the first three or four in the series. They are the best. And there is a reason for it. Dashiell Hammett. Goodness, Hammett was a character. An alcoholic who loved to party from dusk to dawn. A womanizer of the first magnitude. A social maven who could schmooze with the best. Yet gracious when drunk . . . most of the time. Perfectly charming and hard working when sober. It was just getting him sober which became every one's problem. But when off the booze, Jesus, this guy could write! Read the novel and you can see it instantly. Remarkably the novel was translated into movie format and carried with it the essence, the dialogue, the feel of the novel. So successful was the first one MGM's moguls quickly tracked down Hammett and signed him to a contract to write the treatments for two more movies. Hammett did not write the scripts. He wrote 'treatements' for the movies. Essentially, novellas entitled After The Thin Man and Another Thin Man. From these treatments script writers came in and carried the novellas over into the movies. Almost word for word. So good in fact was Hammett's writing that, after he left the franchise, other writers were brought in and NEVER caught the wit, the humor, the wise-cracking banter that was the signature of a Hammett creation.
The original dust jacket
So that's what I'm trying to get at here. The importance of the writer and his creations. Find a writer who can weave mystery and humor together, and do it in such a way as it comes out so natural, so smooth . . . well then, brother; you've got something! Hammett did it so well no one, in my opinion, has equaled him. (That last line . . . does it sound like a challenge to you? It does to me. Hmmm . . . ) More should be said about Hammett's ability to use humor in a detective novel. A rarity in the genre. And always refreshing to the reader if set down properly. But that's for another time, pilgrim. For now, run off and get you a copy of the novel. And then find a DVD of the movie. You'll find yourself well entertained in both venues.
I got nuthin' brilliant or original to say today. The brilliant and original . . . and you can add 'witty' as well . . . packed their bags and left last night in total frustration. They hopped onto a boxcar heading for San Diego and said they'd maybe be back come Spring time. That's what happens when you're writing a novel . . . in my case, two novels . . . and you hit the middle portion of the story-telling and become extremely frustrated. On one hand I hate it when that happens. On the other hand I love it. While I'm not writing like mad and instead, look like I'm picking my nose and eating too many cookies while I watch the Tube . . . actually the blob of gray matter between my ears is sorting out possible plot and subplot deviations that might work. The problem is, there's a TON of different variations that could easily fit in and move the books along. So which one do you choose? Yeah; good luck on that one, Hortense! So while I'm screwing around with this conundrum, I thought I'd share an old Turner Hahn/Frank Morales story with you. One I happen to particularly like. It's called The Dead Don't Complain. Hope you like it. Either way, buzz me up in here and tell me what you think.
The Dead Don’t Complain
stench was enough to make a drug addict with a burnt out septum want to
gag.A stench so clawing, so thick, it
seemed as if it enveloped you like a rain slick and pressed against your
clothes.That’s what you get when you
find a body that’s been dead for about two weeks.
Holding handkerchiefs to our noses we tried to
view the body with a distant, professional gaze.Being homicide detectives it goes with the territory
at examining dead bodies.No matter how
bad they stank or how decomposed they were.But when a body’s been dead for two weeks, lying in a bed in an
apartment room with the windows closed and locked and no ventilation even two
old dogs like Frank and I think about transferring to something more mundane
like Parks Patrol or Administration.
what we could tell the man had been stabbed twice in the heart by a wide, long
blade.At one time the dead man had been
in his early forties, going bald, with a body that belonged to an athlete.The two room apartment we found him in was
down on Fourth Street.A bad neighborhood filled with drug addicts,
prostitutes, and other assorted fauna and flora of the discarded.Just a two room apartment with broken
furniture, a battered looking window unit air conditioner in the bedroom, and a
big iron bed large though to sleep maybe three people in it.
had been thorough in searching the dump.The man’s clothes were strewn all over the place and ripped to
shreds.The large, broken four drawer
chest of drawers had been completely dismantled.Chairs shredded and pillows ripped to pieces.
was really interested in finding something here.Obviously something important enough to
warrant murder.We stood back and
watched the forensics team begin their methodical fugue of the dead.But glancing at my no-necked, red haired
Neanderthal wannabe for a partner I nodded toward the door and silently we made
our way out of there.
Morales is the lovable teddy bear kind of guy.If you can image a six foot three, three hundred pound gorilla with
stringy red hair and a chin built out of plate armor as lovable.Actually he is.He’s married to an Italian ex-model and has a
passel of kids and lives in traditional suburbia.But he’s also a cop.A damn good cop.And he’s my partner.
gonna throw away this suit.You’ll never
wash the stench out of it.Momma’s not
going to be happy.”
nodded and grinned.Claudia, his wife,
would blow a gasket at the thought of throwing away a perfectly good sport coat
and slacks only two years off the racks from Walmart.A breath-taking beauty Claudia was.But she was a penny pinching tight ward as
look good working this case in your underwear and loafers,” I quipped,
grinning. “Maybe even start a new trend.”
up, pretty boy, and let’s go talk to the apartment manager,” Frank grunted, a
twitch at the corners of his lips—the only kind of grin he had in facial expressions—“And
loan me a couple of hundred so I can get a decent set of threads.”
problemo.If the big lug needed money I
was more than happy to oblige.The guy
had saved my neck in more tight spots than I cared to count.A coupe of C notes meant nothing to me.The pretty boy clip he threw at me was an old
joke between the two of us. Unfortunately I’ve got two strikes against
me.I’m rich and have the mug of an old
movie star from back in the ‘30’s matinee idol days.Won’t mention any names, but the unruly black
hair and the thick mustache and dimples are enough to give anyone a jolt—if
they know their movie trivia.
money was an inheritance.Came suddenly
and unexpectedly from a grandfather I had, until about three years ago, never
met.Before that I—like every other cop
I knew—I lived from pay check to pay check and felt lucky if I carried a ten
dollar bill in my billfold on any given day.But let me tell you, brother, being suddenly rich and with a mug like
mine it isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.You’d think sudden wealth would make me want to leave the cop business
and live on a sunny tropical beach somewhere in the Bahamas
surrounded by beautiful women.Sorry.Not me.It so happens I like being a cop.
Listen.If you’re a cop and suddenly fall into a shit-pot
load of money unexpectedly and from a secretive family member who doesn’t like
limelight thrown his way, and you’ve got problems.Cops—being cops—are a naturally suspicious
lot of cynics.Comes with the territory.So old friends in the department look at me
warily.They don’t say it to my face but
many of them think I’m dirty.I’m on the
yeah, to answer the unsaid question; it sticks in my craw.
those are the crosses I carry.No big
apartment manager was about five foot four and close to the weight of a Chevy
Suburban.He answered his door wearing
slacks, chopping on an unlit cigar like it was a loaf of bread, wearing nothing
but a t-shirt that did little to hide the thick forest of coarse black hair
covering his chest and arms.
you gonna clean up that mess up there?” he growled after we showed him our
badges. “The sonofabitch is stinking up the whole goddamn building.Someone’s gotta kill that stench before it
drives out the rest of us.”
remove the body,” I said, frowning, pushing my way past him and entering his
hovel uninvited. “But sanitizing a rat hole is your kettle of worms.What we want to know is who this guy was.How long has he lived here. And when did you
see him last alive.”
fat man’s castle looked like it came out of a dumpster.Newspapers were stacked a foot deep beside a
worn out looking reclining chair.Beer
cans and filled ash trays littered the place.A glance at the kitchen told me the slob must have had a phobia about
turned back to look at the fat man.He
was chewing on his cigar and his cheeks were turning to a kind of purplish
crimson.He didn’t like me pushing him
back and walking into his hive.Touch
shit.I didn’t like him.
before you say something stupid, just give us what we want and we’ll leave.Otherwise we haul your ass downtown and I’ll
let my partner here introduce himself to you on an intimate basis.”
has an interesting trick in his bag of goodies.He can take a can full of beer with his big paw of a hand and squeeze it
hard enough to blow the pull-tab off completely.Beer flies out of the can with such force it
usually splashes golden rain drops from the ceiling of a room.Sitting on the floor beside the recliner was
a six-pack of Budweiser.Not saying a
word he bent down, retrieved a can, and demonstrated.It was enough to make the slob reconsider his
himself John Simmons,” he growled, pulling the cigar from his mouth and looking
angrily at Frank. “And I just bought that fucking six pack, you ape!Look at the goddamn mess you’ve made!”
my slacks I pulled out a money clip and rolled out two twenties and tossed them
onto the seat of the recliner.
cover the damages, friend.Now, next
question:how long has John Simmons
here he hasn’t.Comes in regularly with
a broad or two and spends the weekends.Maybe once or twice during the week as well.But he doesn’t live here.”
long has this been going on?”I asked,
couple of years.Maybe a little
longer.Pays his rent in cash like
clockwork.Never talks to me or to
anyone else in the building.Just brings
his women in here and screws the hell out of’em.I get complaints all the time about the noise
they make when he brings company.But I
don’t say a thing.He’s about the only
person in here who paid his rent on time.I couldn’t care less what he did with his women friends as long as I got
did you see him alive?” Frank grunted, tossing the empty beer can onto the
man’s favorite chair.
the slob grunted, genuinely surprised, as he stuck the stub of his cigar back
between his thick lips. “I didn’t know apes could talk.But to answer your question.I saw him come in with some bimbo blond about
a couple of weeks ago.The woman was a looker.A real class act.Not like the women he usually brought with
him.She had money.Lots of money.”
they say anything to you?”
saw him through my window.They came
walking up the sidewalk.The guy owns a
fancy car and parks it in a parking building a block over. One of those foreign
jobs that costs a lot of money.Red in
color with some kind of Italian name I’ve heard of before.”
of the parking building?” Frank asked.
I think,” cigar man said, frowning and lifting a hand to scratch an arm pit.
“Over on third.Half way up the block.”
thanked the man for his gracious willingness to help an on going investigation
and left him standing in the hallway scratching his other armpit as we walked
out of the building and headed for the parking building.A quick walk over to third and we found the
parking building and flashed badges into the face of the young black man on
duty and told him what we were looking for.A big grin instantly flashed across the kid’s face.
Lamborghini Contouch. Jesus!What a
gorgeous set of wheels!I get a stiff
one just looking at the damn thing.Yeah, it’s here.Up on the second
deck.Still in one piece.The guy who owns it has paid enough to all of
us working here to make sure no one touches
it.Big bucks.Here, I’ll take you up there and show you.”
kid was more than happy for an excuse to go up and look at the car.Can’t say I blamed him.A bright red Lamborghini Contouch is modern
Italian sculpture.A Star Wars kinda looking
thing on wheels.And it says money as
well.About two hundred grand worth.
the keys for it?” I asked, holding out a hand.
here,” the kid grinned, reaching over and dropping a set into my hands.I noticed on the key chain a house key as
opened the driver’s side door and carefully looked around.Forensics would be over to give it the
detailed once over so I didn’t want to leave stray prints behind.But I did find an insurance card stuffed in a
sun screen and used a pair of tweezers to pull it out and look at it.
should sound familiar to you, you big oaf,” Frank grunted, shaking his head
sadly. “He’s big in stocks and bonds.Handling a boatload of your money for you. Has an office over on Jones
I glanced at the kid staring up at me with big eyes and a surprised face and
shrugged.I admit it.To be honest at times I forget I’ve got
money.Lots of money.I don’t handle it myself.When the inheritance came I did some
research, found four or five experts in financial planning and split the
inheritance into five equal amounts and let them handle it.Colby Winslow was one of the five.
you’re gonna have to find another money guru, pretty boy.”
looking at the hunk of Italian steel, I nodded.
here how long?”
near two weeks,” the kid said, white teeth gleaming in the twilight light of
the darkly lit parking building.“Way
too long for me to guarantee he’ll have his set of wheels when he comes
back.Already had to run off a couple of
bros’ who wanted a piece of it.”
the last time you saw him?”
“Sure.When he came in last he came in with that
woman of his.Jesus.Talk about a looker,” the kid sighed, hands
on his hips, shaking his head in quiet admiration.“Like something out of a movie, mister.Fine. Fine. Fine!”
her,” Frank said, watching the kid and almost smiling.
shit, legs about a mile long.Wearing a
tight blue number that showed every curve she had.And bubba, she had the curves.Long blond hair fell down to her waist.Maybe in her early thirties.Only thing outta place was this big loaf of
bread kinda envelope she held tightly under one arm.Like it was money itself.But hell, a woman with legs like that, she
could wear a chicken on her head and I wouldn’t give a shit!”
kid whistled softly through his teeth again and a smile played across his
young, handsome face.He was maybe
twenty at most.Just a young black kid
going to college.I spied the stack of
textbooks lying on the desk in the parking booth he occupied when we came up to
down here a lot in that car?” I asked.
clockwork on the weekends, mister.Always with a different piece of ass.Always.”
kid asked when the guy was coming to pick up his wheels.We told him it wasn’t going to happen
soon.We left the kid standing beside
the Contouch staring at us when we told him patrol car would be over soon to
tape off the parking spot and car.No
one was supposed to touch it until then.Walking back to the flop house I noticed it was a little past .It was time to go home and get some rest.So we climbed into one of my babies—a dark
green with white stripes SS 396 Camaro—lit up the engine and growled away into
Remember.Rich cop.Collects toys.In this case
American made Muscle Cars.Yeah, I know.Some collect bottle caps or barbed wire.I collect cars.Go figure.
next day we were looking through the desk of Colby Winslow’s at his
office.In the outer office two lovely
ladies, his secretaries, were crying their hearts out after hearing their boss
was dead.Between the two was an elderly
man dressed like a conservative banker.He was handing dry tissues to one girl and then to the next as
needed.His name was Konrad Bonner and
he worked for Winslow has a stock and bonds acquisition expert.The man, in his middle sixties, had been
Winslow’s first employee.Knew all of
the customers the firm serviced.Knew me
by my first name.
worry about your investments, Turner.They’re well protected and doing quite well on the market.”
huh,” I nodded, frowning as I thought about it. “Who runs this place now that
. . . for the moment, I will until we can find a buyer for the firm, I
this nest is a freaken’ cash cow,” Frank chided, looking at me and shaking his
head. “They invest money—you’re money, pretty face—and they rake a percentage
off each account.Jesus, take a look at
his list of clients.Maybe three hundred
of’em, and not a one of them worth less than a million.If he rakes in three percent off each
client’s portfolio . . .”
the older man growled, lifting a hand politely and clearing his throat, “That
would be four and a half percent charge, Detective Morales.”
my partner grunted, staring at the man in admiration. “That could be millions,
Turner.Millions in sheer profit.”
much would it cost for someone to take over the business?”I asked as I looked the office over.
ex-banker in his conservative brown suit and wire rimmed glasses mused over the
question for a moment or two and then mentioned a number.My eyes narrowed as I turned and stared at financial
genius.A thought crossed my mind.An idea . . .
at this, Turn,” Frank said behind me.Twisting around I saw him lay a big finger on a name written hastily
down in a small file book.“Kathryn
Valenski.At Europa’s.Dated exactly two weeks ago.”
was a very fancy restaurant on the north side of town.A place where you needed a reservation and a
black tie to get in.A place where the
food was excellent but about the size of a postage stamp. And usually costing a
couple of C-notes to eat there.Lightly.
is Kathryn Valenski?” I asked, turning my attention back to Bonner.“Another investor?”
of our largest,” the white haired, bespectacled man nodded, smiling. “I perhaps
should clarify that and say her father is one of our largest investors.Although her own portfolio is quite sizeable
blond hair.Quite tall.In her early thirties.Quit friendly.”
could describe her as beautiful?” I asked.
. . . my!”
Yeah.They way he said it.The layers of tone in it.Yeah.She was beautiful.Grinning, I
nodded and asked Bonner to find her address for me.And as we left the office I handed him one of
my cards and told him to give me a call later in the week.
Valenski lived in a luxury apartment, top floor, in one of her father’s
buildings down by the Little Brown River.A doorman dressed like an Italian general opened the glass doors for us
as we entered.Entering a cocoon of
wealth the building was as silent as a funeral parlor on a Wednesday afternoon
as we rode in silence up the elevator to the nineteenth floor.She met us as the doors opened and we stepped
you find them?”
what, Ms. Valenski?” I asked, the first to step out of the elevator.
just say that Kathryn Valenski lived up to her billing.Beautiful.Scratch that.Beautiful—simply
doesn’t come close for a description.Suck the air out of your lungs gorgeous would be a better description.
portfolio.The bonds!Did you find them?”
and I watched her face closely.Clearly
there was genuine worry in those dark brown eyes of hers.A look of real dread only made her look more
start from the beginning, Ms. Valenski.I’m Detective Sergeant Turner Hahn and this is my partner, Detective
Sergeant Frank Morales.We’re here
investigating the murder of Colby Winslow. We have a few . . . . “
yes, I know dammit!He’s dead.But that doesn’t mean anything to me.The one million in unsigned bonds is what I
am worried about!If dad finds out they’re
missing I will be severely pressed to pay him back.”
“Yes.Part of my inheritance,” she said, waving a
hand around impatiently before touching her lips and eyes filling with tears.
“Dad told me to take them personally down to Winslow’s office and make damn
sure they were deposited according to his instructions.So I did and Colby started to. . . well . . . . “
on you,” I said bluntly.
“Yes.In only the way he could.He was really a darling, sergeant.Kind.Generous.Handsome in an offish
way.Knew how to make a woman feel like,
he invites you to speed a weekend with him in a sleaze hole down on Fourth
said, sounding distinctly suspicious, as my eyes played across her face.“I betcha your father has a Learjet.Why not a weekend in Las
Vegas is so passé,” she answered, her voice filled
with discord. “Been there a thousand times.”
a run-down shanty flop house on Fourth was something new to you.”
She hesitated, nodded, biting on a
perfectly manicured fingernail with eyes tearing again.
I know I sound horrible!More concerned
about Dad’s money than about poor Colby getting murdered by that . . . by that
. . . woman!But he convinced me to go
with him into that part of time and walk on the fringes of darkness.To taste danger and crime at an intimate
level.I . . . I. . . god help me!I found myself hypnotized by his words.I agreed.We left his office immediately and drove down in his car.Left so fast we forgot to deposit the bonds
in his safe.He laughed, said carrying
such a large bundle of wealth around like it was a grocery sack would make the
experience more titillating!”
she asked, looking intently into both of our faces before turning and entering
her apartment, talking over her shoulder.“I need a drink.A very stiff
one.Scotch maybe.Or Jim Beam.”
had a stiff drink.Big glass.Two cubes of ice.Half full.Drank it down like a submariner straight off a six month stint at
sea.She was beautiful.Rich.Bored.And a well kept lush.Trouble quadrupled.I watched and said nothing until she had
drained the fuel tank.
the woman.Well, let me see,” she sighed,reaching up with one hand to pull on strand
of hair which had slipped across the front of her shoulder and faded off into
time. “We got there late.Maybe around
eight or nine that night.We fooled
around a little and then I got up and went to the bathroom.Hmmmm . . . I’m in there only a few moments
and then I hear this angry pounding on the apartment door and a woman screaming
furiously!I slip my clothes back on and
open the bathroom door up just enough to see what’s going on.My god!What anger she had!Absolutely
furious and waving this big knife around like a madwoman!”
poured another glass of booze.This time
topping the glass and stirring the ice around with a finger as she stared at
the dark liquid and relived that night two weeks earlier.
happened, Ms. Valenski.”
“Huh?Oh.She came in screaming and waving that knife around and demanding to know
where this bitch was he was with tonight.Wanted to know where I was, sergeant.Me!Said she was going to kill us
both.I got so frightened I . . . I
don’t mind admitting it.I pissed in my
underwear and almost fainted with terror.”
tried to stop her.Tried to stop her and
that’s when she knifed him,” Frank pitched in behind me.But the tone in his voice told me he wasn’t
buying it.Any of it.
“No.Just the opposite, dammit.He laughs.Colby just laughed at her.She’s
dancing all around him waving this big fucking knife around like some
witchdoctor and he just turns with her and laughs at her like it was some kind
of big joke!It was the most outrageous.
. . most erotic . . . sight I had ever seen!”
doesn’t kill him,” I put in, priming the pump again.
“No!Not then.Not at the moment.Instead a hand
flashes out and he slaps the knife from the woman’s hand.He grabs her and crushes her to his chest and
buries’ his lips onto hers.And that’s
when I left detectives.He turned her
away from the bathroom door and motioned me to leave and leave fast.I left.Left as fast as I could.”
forgetting the portfolio and the bonds behind,” I said.
fucking Christ, yes!Ran for my life,
dammit.Ran like a frightened little
you came back,” Frank grunted behind me.“And found?”
rolled down her perfectly formed cheeks as she played with fingernails across
her lips and nodded.God.She was good.A rich, bored, beautiful lush.But a great actress as well.Hollywood
missed out in not throwing her up on a silver screen.She was that good.
back. Found Colby dead.Blood all over him and that bloody knife
lying on the floor beside the bed.I
took the knife and I . . . I went crazy looking for the bonds.I must have torn the place to pieces looking
for them.But they were gone.Gone.”
touched the knife, leaving your fingerprints on it” I said.
nodded, watery eyes filled with fear.
you didn’t kill Colby Winslow.”
nodded again—meaning she didn’t kill Colby Winslow.
woman who came in with the knife, can you describe her?”
Tall.Thin.Flat. About thirty. Kinda of cute in a tom boyish way.An athlete.Raven black hair.She remembered
seeing her several times over the years in Colby’s office.She was sure the tom boy was another
we’ll find her,” I said, nodding and turning to leave.“But just to let you know, Ms. Valenski.Right now you’re number one on our suspect
list.If I were you I’d call daddy up
and get him to find you a good lawyer.A
team of good lawyers.”
the way down in the silence of the elevator I half turned and asked.
was a grunt.Maybe more like a hippo
“Maybe.Let’s see if we can find the knife-wielded
did.It took a few phone calls.A little footwork.Cop work is like that.Ask questions.Make some phone calls.Slide miles of leather across hard
pavement.Ask more questions.A lot more questions.Repeat the process.
name was Gail.Gail Oppenheimer.Widow of a man who became wealthy creating a
string of gym/martial arts palaces across four states.She still taught classes herself.Her specialty—fencing.Cold steel.Long blades.
colored eyes watched us with a quiet resignation registered in them.She saw us enter her place and knew instantly
who we were.Frank and I both dress in
comfortable slacks, sport coats, comfortable shoes.We wear shades.Either we’re classy thugs working for some
mobster.Or we’re cops.She chose correctly.
here to arrest me, aren’t you detective,” she whispered, looking up at me as
she sat behind a wide desk in her office.
I nodded but not sounding optimistic.“Depends on what you say.Depends
on what the evidence tells us.But you
know why we’re here.”
nodded, ran a calloused, fighter’s hand across her face and used a finger to
wipe a tear out of the corner of her eye.
have a temper, detective.One that can
sometimes get out of hand.But that
doesn’t mean I killed Colby.I couldn’t
kill him.I loved him too much.”
start from the beginning and tell us what happened that night,” I said, the two
of us standing in front of her desk with me looking the office over.
had an office with two large plate glass windows which looked out into the main
part of the dojo. As I looked two men wearing the black pajamas of karate
instructors stood side by side and watched us with silent interest.Behind her on the walls were row after row of
trophies of various sizes.And
swords.Several different lengths of
fencing foils, rapier, knives, and daggers.
chic was seriously in love with cold steel.
saw Colby leave with Kathryn Valenski that night.Saw them get into Colby’s car.I knew where they were going.To his love nest.To screw her.After he had promised me the night before we would go down there for the
weekend.I blew up.I went crazy.Followed them down there.Pounded
on the door wanting to catch them in bed.”
kill them,” Frank grunted.
know I must have screamed something like that at him.But no.I couldn’t kill Colby.Love is a
terrible mistress, gentlemen.I know of
his infidelities.I know he didn’t love
me.Sex addicts usually don’t love
anyone but themselves.But I loved him.Loved him terribly.”
you did come at him with a knife.A very
big knife,” I put in.
to scare him.Just to frighten him.Just to show him how much he meant to me!”
came the barking reply.A surprising
jolt of a woman jilted often.“Colby knew
me too well.He just laughed at me.Just laughed and took the knife out of my
hands and threw it to one side.And then
he grabbed me and took me into the bedroom.We made love that night.Several
times.All weekend.Sunday afternoon I had to leave him lying in
bed asleep.I had a major tournament to
go to and I had to leave.”
was alive when you left him,” I asked.
“Yes.Alive and sleeping like a baby.”
about the portfolio?”
portfolio?” she asked as curiosity lit up her face.“You mean that big brown bundle Kathryn
carried with her?Oh.That.I dunno.I saw it lying on the
coffee table in front of the divan when I came in.Thought nothing of it.As far as I know it was still on the coffee
table when I left.”
of the two male instructors walked away as several students entered the
dojo.The other, a tall man with big
hands and a bushy mane remained standing on a mat and watched us intently.He looked concerned.He kept reaching up and rubbing his lips in
a fitful gesture of someone really nervous about something.A gesture both Frank and I were quite used to
did you go back to the apartment?”I
asked, returning my attention by to the woman.
didn’t.The tournament went all
afternoon and late into the night.When it
was over I drove back to my place and went to bed.”
that’s the last time you saw Colby alive,” Frank asked behind me,
last time,” she nodded.
we came in here you knew why we were here.Knew who we were,” I began, my voice hard. “We’re homicide
detectives.You knew he was dead.How?”
shrugged with a smile of infinite sadness on her boyish lips.
just knew.I’ve been calling his office,
his apartment, just about every number I know trying to find him.Every day for two weeks.And then last night,for some odd reason, I drove down to the
parking garage where he always parked his Lamborghini and saw it still in the
same slot he had parked it in two weeks ago.That’s when I began to fear the worst.You two coming into the dojo confirmed it.”
nodded and glanced out the window.The
big man with the shabby mop of hair was gone.Frowning, I glanced at Frank and then looked back at Gail Oppenheimer.
anyone else know you loved Colby Winslow?Anybody here in the dojo, for instance?”
nodded with a cloud of questioning filling her eyes.
no secret. The staff and I are quite close.We share or woeful tales of our love lives almost daily here.Both Doug and Marlin—my instructors—know how
I felt for Colin.Why do you ask?”
you didn’t kill Colby Winslow and Kathryn Valenski didn’t ill Colby Winslow
then who did?Who else had a motive to
stab a man to death and steal a million dollars in bonds?’
million dollars . . . . in bonds!Oh, my
“Marlin?Big man, shaggy mop of hair, one of your
been moping around in the dojo for a week or two now.But he bought himself a brand new car.Said he paid cash for it.Said he’d won some cash on a roulette table
in a casino in Kansas City.My god.Marlin!”
about Marlin?”Frank asked irritably.
. . . Marlin has had a crush on me since the day I hired him.He thinks he’s in love with me.But I always thought it was just an
infatuation.Still, he always was
forceful in his efforts to dissuade me from getting involved with Colby.Very heatedly so sometimes.”
does Marlin live, Mrs. Oppenheimer?”
quickly wrote it down and handed us the paper.Without another word we left and climbed into the Camaro SS and left.About the time I pulled away from the curb
the cell phone buzzed loudly inside my sport coat.
this is Joe down at the morgue.Thought
you should know.The dead guy?Someone popped him in the jaw with a big hand
and big ring.Broke the jaw. Didn’t see the bruising at the crime scene
because the body was too decomposed.But
a closer look at it down here and it’s obvious as hell.I’m pretty sure it was a man who killed your
was Joe Weiser, a smart-assed, gum chewing kid for a forensics expert who
worked with the coroner down at the morgue.Kid or not Joe was damn good at his job.If he said he thought a big man with big hands was our probable killer
that’s all I needed to know.It fit.
found Marlin at his apartment hurriedly throwing clothes into a suitcase.When we walked in he glanced at a .357 magnum
lying on the bed beside the suitcase.But, glancing at us and seeing us shaking our heads and reaching for our
own iron, he decided a sudden invitation to lie on a morgue slab himself was
not the way he wanted to go down.
me tell you, friend.Money will get you
in trouble.Money and beautiful women
will kill you.And oh yeah. . . .the old
ex-banker and I got together.Seems like
now I am a part-owner in a thriving investment company.