On Jake’s last day in the 1950’s, a blonde femme fatale/movie starlet offers him a deal that lands him in hot water. Here’s the first chapter.
Let me know what you think, ya mugs. When I’m done working on Jake’s report, I’ll have it up on Wattpad and later on popculturemysteries.com
All Day Sucker – Chapter One
May 31, 1954
I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face and on the last day I can recall from the 1950’s there wasn’t an exception.
Alana Harris. What…a…woman. Whenever I spy my eyes toward a dame like Alana then peep at an old bag lady who collects cans on the street corner with her stolen shopping cart, I wonder how its possible that both creatures are labeled as females. I’m not trying to be politically incorrect as I know that sort of talk will get a fella drawn and quartered these days. All I’m trying to say is that Alana’s beauty was at such a high level that she defied any form of scientific nomenclature. She was a member of a species of one and what I wouldn’t give to classify her genus.
She was a blonde, as all the femme fatales typically are. I don’t know what it is about yellow hair that can turn even the brightest fella into a chuckling chowderhead. Someone ought to commission a study on that one. She had a set of curves, the kind you’d need a high performance Italian race car to drive around and a pair of lips so luscious you didn’t know whether to kiss them or frame them and hang them on a wall. Hers belonged in the Smithsonian.
There Alana was, right in front of me on the big screen, her enchanting assets so enormous that it felt like I could crawl up in her bosom and take a nap. I’m not talking about resting my head there. I’m saying the screen at the Montoya Theater was so big it looked like an actual me could fit between those casabas and go to sleep forever. Talk about the sweet life.
The flick was Love Is Not Enough. What an understatement. Folks dug it back then. It was a decent picture but it never generated any long lasting oomph. I doubt any of you mugs have ever heard of it, and I’m not trying to be one of of those dirty hipsters by saying that.
“Johnny!” Alana said, only in this flick she wasn’t Alana. She was Maggie, an ordinary housewife with a big secret. Alana as a housewife. Yeah right. If that broad ever touched a vacuum cleaner one day in her life then I’m Mickey Rooney.
“Johnny, whatsamatter? Don’t you love me no more?!”
Zip Rogers. As a certain cartoon rabbit would say, “what a maroon.” Most actors were charming and handsome but this fella was as plug ugly as they come. Yet somehow, he always got cast opposite the most alluring chickadees. I swear, that dim bulb must have had pictures of studio executives in compromising positions with barnyard animals or something.
Zip was Johnny in this film. For some reason, every male lead was named Johnny. Writers had a very limited frame of reference for names at the time.
“Love you?” Zip/Johnny asked. “Why, I can’t even stand the sight of you, you shameless, four flushing, two timing Jezebel!”
The theater was cold. I needed a little sip of the old Irish courage to warm me up. Luckily, I never went anywhere without my own supply. I reached into my trench coat, withdrew my flask and treated myself to a nice long pull.
Tsk. Tsk. The old broad behind me was flabbergasted.
“How dare you?!” she asked.
I turned around and offered her the flask.
“Sorry sweetheart. I didn’t know you wanted some.”
I might as well have asked her to make whoopee with the look she shot me. Not that there was any chance of that happening. I wouldn’t have touched her with your finger, Jack.
“Why, I never!”
“Well maybe you should, lady,” I said. “It might lighten your disposition.”
I returned my eyes to the screen. Zip/Johnny and Alana/Maggie gazing deeply into each others’ eyes.
“You don’t understand what’s going on, Johnny,” Alana/Maggie said. “I know it looks bad but I swear I never did anything wrong. I would never hurt you, my love.”
I took another swig. I felt a finger poke me in the shoulder.
“Sir!” the old bag behind me said. “Put that away! This is a respectable establishment.”
“I doubt it, Grandma,” I replied as I pointed at the screen. “If it was, they wouldn’t be showing this stinker.”
Some degenerate in the back got all heated. “HEY! SHUT YOUR FACE, MAC! I’M TRYING TO WATCH A PICTURE SHOW HERE!”
“AHH, GO SOAK YOUR HEAD YA MOOK YA!” was my earnest reply. The Irish courage medicine was kicking in.
“The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker?” Zip/Johnny asked Alana/Maggie. “What about the podiatrist? Was he for ‘us’ too?”
Alana/Maggie bit her lip and turned away dramatically, unable to face her accuser. “That one was…an accident.”
“An accident my eye,” Zip/Johnny said as he put his hand on Alana/Maggie’s chin and gently pushed her face towards his. “Now you see here, doll. You and I are calling it quits. It’s Oversville, baby. Population: You. We’re through, even. This screwy fling we’ve got going on is done and I don’t wanna hear another word about it, see?”
I took another sip. That old broad was birddogging me but good.
“Disgraceful,” she said. She tugged on the shoulder of the old man next to her. “Reginald! Reginald, do something about this brute at once!”
By the looks of Reginald, he’d been henpecked till there wasn’t much left. He was all skin and bones, nothing but a few tufts of gray hair on his head. A good, swift breeze could have knocked that old bastard over.
“Tell you what, Reggie baby,” I said. “Let’s ditch this witch and you and I will go get us some real lookers. Whaddya say?”
Reggie shrugged his shoulders and mulled it over. That came to an end when his wife whacked him a good one with her purse. She landed a good one too. Made a big “thunk” sound. Oh boy, if looks could kill old Reggie would have been a goner.
“Right away dear,” Reggie said with a resignation of defeat. Slowly, he rose to his knees and walked away.
“Lady, what’s your problem?” I asked.
“You should not be consuming illicit beverages in a public place,” the old bag said, huffily.
“Illicit beverages?” I asked. “It’s just a little bit of the old Red Eye, darlin.’”
That big mouthed lug in the back was at it again. “SHUT YER TRAP OR I’LL COME DOWN THERE AND SHUT IT FOR YA!”
“AWW, YOU AND WHAT ARMY?!” I hollered back.
Everything got quiet for awhile. Zip/Johnny had a black velvet bag in his hand. He opened it up, turned it over and dumped out some shiny hot rocks. Rubies. Sapphires. Diamonds. All kinds of bling. That’s a word you kids use, isn’t it?
“Do you deny that you stole the Duchess’ jewels?!” Johnny/Zip asked.
“Answer me!” Johnny/Zip said.
Tears streamed from Maggie/Alana’s eyes. Actresses who can cry on cue are a hot commodity in Tinseltown. Always be wary of a broad who can turn the waterworks on and off at the drop of the hat. They won’t think twice about using that power on you.
“I do deny it! I do!” she cried. “A thousand times I do!”
“Then how did they get in your purse?” Johnny/Zip said.
Johnny/Zip stroked his hand through his hair, then grabbed the gal by the shoulders.
“Baby,” he said. “If you can look me in the eye right here, right now and promise me that you’re a one woman man from here on out then I can forget the past…”
“No you can’t,” I thought to myself. “Get outta showbiz, ya’ cheap hack, I’m not convinced at all.”
“I promise Johnny, oh I swear I do,” Alana/Lorna said.
“Good,” the so-called leading man said. “Now, just explain to me how those jewels ended up in your purse and we can put this whole mess behind us. We’ll run away and live happily ever after with a nice house, two kids, a picket fence and a car in the garage.”
“You can’t…or you…won’t?”
“Both,” Alana/Maggie said. “Please Johnny, just trust me.”
“I can forgive your dalliances, Maggie,” Zip/Johnny said. “But I could never marry a wanton criminal…”
Another hand on my shoulder. It belonged to a pimply faced usher. Couldn’t of been more than sixteen.
“Sir,” he said in a squeaky voice. “I have to ask you to live.”
“As soon as the show’s over, Jack,” I said. “I paid my dough like everybody else.”
“SHUT THAT DIRTY SO AND SO UP!” the big mouth in the back shouted.
“AWW, YOU’RE ALL WET!” I yelled back. Nothing like a good 1950’s insult.
“Please sir,” the usher said. “Alcohol isn’t allowed here.”
Here’s where I have to tell you that I’m not very pleasant when I’m drunk and I’m drunk most of the time ergo, I’m generally not a very pleasant person whatsoever.
“Why not?” I asked. “Last I checked this is America, son. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running the show, not some lousy unwashed Stalinist Trotskyite commie. If a fella can’t enjoy a pull of the old Red Eye without a federal case being made out of it then we might as well lock the doors and turn the keys over to the pinkos lickity split and call it a night.”
The kid was baffled. “I…I don’t know sir but please leave. My manager says I have to call the cops if you don’t.”
“Call ‘em, kid,” I said. “This is about democracy now. What I do, I do for America.”
The usher stormed off. The emotional temperature in the room was definitely changing for the worse. The theater was full of hard working decent folk, people just trying to escape their hum drum lives for a couple of hours only to have it all spoiled by a drunk. That’s how they saw it anyway. I still blame that old bag.
Back to the movie.
“Maggie,” Zip/Johnny said. “Surely you realize that if the jewels were in your purse and you refuse to tell me who stole them then the only logical conclusion I can make is that you…”
“I’ve told you I didn’t take them!” Alana/Maggie interrupted. “If you love me then that should be good enough for you.”
With a great flourish, Zip/Johnny spun around and snapped his fingers. A contingent of coppers walked through the door.
And what a coincidence, a gaggle of coppers strolled down the aisle of the theater at the exact same time.
“Please Johnny, please!” shouted Alana/Maggie as she was put into cuffs. “Don’t let them take me away! DON’T YOU LOVE ME?”
“I’m sorry kid, but,” Zip/Johnny said. “Love is not enough.”
“BAH HA HA!” I laughed like an idiot. “He said the name of the movie!”
I knew all of the officers who came to collect me. Before I went out on my own as a private dick, I served with them on the LAPD. There was Renault. Simmons. Clement. The sergeant leading them was that Irish prick Declan O’Connell.
Oh, I apologize, 3.5 readers. I’m from the 1950’s and I’m working on my political correctness and cultural sensitivity skills so I can make a go of it in your time. What I meant to say was “O’Connell, that prick of Irish descent, but I’m not trying to say he was a prick due to his Irish ancestry but rather, he’d of been a prick no matter what country his parents hailed from.”
Red hair. Red beard. The man was practically a damn red haired werewolf he was so hairy.
“Shite, it’s you,” O’Connell said. Some people said “shite” back then. Folks from the old country, mostly.
“Howdy, Declan,” I said.
“Hello Dash,” O’Connell said. “Got a complaint of some horse’s arse ruining the picture show. Public drunkeness to boot.”
The exasperated crowd gave up on the movie. Everyone was watching me now.
“That’s terrible,” I said. “As a taxpayer, I demand you find that rapscallion posthaste.”
“Are you really gonna make us drag you outta here, boyo?” O’Connell asked.
O’Connell nodded at his men.
“You can’t do this!” I shouted. “This is America! This is no way to treat a war hero!!!”
“War heroes are a dime a dozen around here, Dash,” O’Connell said. “Let’s go.”
Simmons grabbed my left arm, Clement my right. They lifted me up but I didn’t budge. Renault and O’Connell each grabbed a leg. Everyone in my row got up and moved to make way for the cops as they carried me out.
I screamed like a babbling idiot. “This is the work of the commies, I tell ya’! They’re coming and they’re just as scummy as the Nazis! When a man can’t even sneak a little bit of the good stuff without some old battle axe calling the brute squad then we’re all living in a police state!!!”
“Nothing more to see here, folks!” O’Connell said. “Enjoy the rest of your show.”
They carried me up the aisle. Everyone clapped and cheered.
Unfortunately for them, I’d seen that movie before. It wasn’t like today, where people have thousands of movies at their fingertips. Back then, you went to the picture house and saw either the first picture, the second picture or once in awhile, the third picture.
“IT WAS HER TWIN SISTER ALL ALONG!!!” I hollered. “SHE SLEPT WITH ALL THOSE MEN! SHE STOLE THE DUCHESS’ JEWELS! MAGGIE WAS JUST TAKING THE RAP BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T WANT HER SISTER TO WIND UP IN THE SLAMMER!”
The audience let loose with a resounding “BOOOO!!!” then pelted me with popcorn boxes and candy wrappers.
“You always had a way with people, Dash,” O’Connell said.
“I try,” I replied.
“WAIT!” the big mouth in the back yelled.
“WHAT?!” I screamed as my head just barely avoided slapping into each step as the cops drew closer to the door.
“WHAT ABOUT THE PODIATRIST?!” the big mouth screamed.
“IT WAS DARK AND HE PRETENDED TO BE JOHNNY!” I screamed back. “IT REALLY WAS AN ACCIDENT! NOT HER FAULT AT ALL!”
Another “Booo!” from the audience as the fuzz carried me out the door. They walked through the lobby, lugging me all the way.
“You know Dash, I don’t blame you for hitting the sauce after what you did but do it at home, all right? I don’t feel like dragging your fat arse all over creation again.”
“Does everyone hate me?” I inquired.
“Of course,” Dashing said. “You got a bunch of your former fellow officers killed and a bunch more are headed to the stoney lonesome on corruption charges. But at least you get to be the big man that took Mugsy McGillicuddy down. Was it worth losing every friend on the force you ever had?”
“I haven’t decided yet,” I said as I looked up at the fellas carrying me. “But then again I never had much use for friends anyway. Do you hate me too, O’Connell?”
“Not as such but my goal in life has always been to keep my head down and my nose out of places it doesn’t belong, lad,” O’Connell said. “I wish you’d done the same.”
“But I made LA better, didn’t I?” I asked.
“Sure,” O’Connell said. “For about five minutes…until the next snake in the grass rears its ugly head to service the public’s illegal addictions.”
“You have that little faith in people?” I asked.
“You don’t?” O’Connell answered.
The boys took me outside. It was warm, but not stifling. There was a nice breeze in the air.
“Ready, boyo?” O’Connell asked.
“Ready when you are, ya’ Irish prick,” I said.
Don’t be scandalized, 3.5 readers. Back then, O’Connell would have been completely befuddled had I said, “Ready when you are, you prick who happens to be Irish though your Irish ancestry is not the direct cause of your prickosity.”
The boys swung me back and forth like I was lying in an imaginary hammock then let me loose on the third swing, sending me sailing through the air only to land six feet away on the pavement.
“AND STAY OUT!” O’Connell shouted.
Don’t worry about me. My face broke my fall. I wasn’t using it for much anyway.