***The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin, Private Investigator – The Wind
As readers know Tyrone Fallon, the son of the late famous Southern California private operative, Michael Philip Marlin (Tyrone used his mother’s maiden name for obvious reasons), and private eye in his own right told my old friend Peter Paul Markin’s friend Joshua Lawrence Breslin some stories that his illustrious father told him. Here’s one such story although not about himself but about an operative for the largest detective agency on the West Coast, John “Stubs” Lane. (Stubs nick-named for a habit picked while sitting alone endlessly in cold cars driving cold coffee and picking out cigarette stubs from the ashtray after the deck ran out). Marlin let Stubs tell it in his own voice and I will do so here.
From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-with kudos to Raymond Chandler
Sure I have been around the block, around the block of life, but also around the block of seeing stuff that is sometimes better left unremembered if not creating some vague sense of unease about my fellow man. Yeah, I am a detective, an operative if you don’t want an argument, no, not the kind that snoops looking into bedroom windows or stand outside the door of illicit hotel rooms listening for that sound, the sound, coming from within that meant a big payday for me in some divorce case (and no, not like some shamuses, I would not have lingered to hear the thrashing and grunts, no need to hear groans since I would have known the silky sheets were being messed up). And also not the kind that chases down some missing person who wants to stay missing, missing from some overbearing husband or wife. Although I have done my share of those cases, more than my share.
What I do is try to come in, paid by private parties to do so, and find out why somebody is embezzling the company, why the books don’t match up, why some guy committed a felony of some sort against my client, and sometimes why somebody got killed, got murdered doing something. Yeah, the cops, the public cops do okay most of the time if the whole thing is laid out for them like a guy shoots another guy and runs to the stationhouse to turn himself in pronto. That is they solve if they are not busy cadging coffee and crullers, shaking down the owner, or giving some poor sap who just blew into town the third degree for half the crimes committed over the past six years. For the more complicated stuff. the stuff that doesn’t make sense, they fumble the ball and let it die in some cold file. Me, I go at it tooth and nail. Go at it like in the Galton case, a case of murder straight out.
It did not start out that way. It started out as a case of trying to find who in the company, the Galton Company, was leaking information, sensitive information, about some formulas the company was developing to make heat-resistant shields for aircraft. Like a lot of industries the competition to grab the first patent or copyright to anything like that was worth millions, millions in government business or private later when things were regulated. So old man Galton, or rather his right hand man Jenness, called me in to see what was happening right under their noses.
Now when information, important information, gets leaked it is either a disgruntled, slighted employee nursing some grudge or a guy who is deep in hock, probably over some dame and her wanting habits, and would sell out his own mother to get out from under. Especially if a wanting habits dame is involved. So the first place I looked was through the employee records. Nothing. Then I nosed around the place, it wasn’t large, maybe a couple of hundred employees, to see who knew about anybody who had been spending big dough, or complaining about not enough dough, or grousing about his honey. Pay dirt.
Or almost pay dirt. One of the engineers, a young guy from Cal Tech, was always fretting about the wanting habits of his girlfriend, some wannabe starlet that he had picked up in some gin mill on Hollywood Boulevard and had gone nuts over like some guys will, although not always in Hollywood. But here is the hell of it before I could nail this guy down somebody shot him in a back alley behind the Hi-Lo Club over in El Segundo, shot him dead with two right where it hurts the most. The girlfriend did not know anything, the cops did their usual ho-hum felony robbery theory and let it slide. Me I had to double back on the thing. Something, didn’t make sense. A guy, a normal guy, with dough in his pocket when searched, got scratched for no reason just when I am honing in on him.
And that is where the whole thing came together. Seems that Jenness, that right hand man of Galton’s, was nursing both a grudge against old man Galton for not letting him take over day to day operations of the plants and had a secret honey, unknown to his wife secret, over in Malibu who was churning up expenses faster than he could steal the secrets. The engineer ran into the couple one day at the Santa Monica Pier and put two and two together. He became expendable, very expendable since the woman Jenness was with was not his wife whom he had met at Christmas party one year. They hung Jenness, hung him high up in the Q a while back. Watch out for those strange Pacific winds if you are ever out this way, and remember what happened to poor Jenness when you are here, okay.