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Saturday, May 1, 2010

( ”nobody told me there’d be days like these”…John Lennon)

Okay, technically I should have posted this page first before launching into chapter one. Chalk it up to my age and a likely case of advancing Alzhiemer's. Seriously, here is the introduction of the main character, Whitey Roode that I should have provided earlier...my bad...:)

Prologue

Los Angeles, California, 2007

What you are about to read is a testament to the proposition that life is chock full of second chances. Believe me, I should know, as I’ve personally racked up way more than my fair share of these little Godsends, ‘do over’s’ as my little brother Chuck calls ‘em. They’re not free mind you, as there tends to be a fair amount of pain associated with any new opportunity. But, the man upstairs can be a bit of a softie sometimes, especially if your ears are on and you’re open to a little friendly advice.

Richard Wallace Roode, that’s my name, technically anyway, but most people just call me Whitey, if they know what’s good for them that is! I picked up that nickname on account of the blonde mop on the top of my pointed little head. Actually I was only toe headed as a child but the name kind of stuck with me throughout the years. Besides, when I grew up the short version of Richard was Dick. Why you ask, good question and one I asked many times of mom and dad for which they never had an actual answer, unless of course you count my dad’s standard “just because” response. So Dick was a name I dodged all thru childhood. Dick Roode I don’t know, sounds more like a statement than a name, don’t ya think? For pity sake, my poor knuckles were scraped raw by the fourth grade defending my good name during recess on blacktops and playgrounds spread over five different states (we moved around a lot, my Dad was a Navy Chaplin).

I was sort of a runt as a kid, and with a name like Dick, well, let’s just say you had to toughen up PDQ (pretty darn quick)! There weren’t too many choices with a name like mine; you either went with Dick and all of its less than flattering rudiments, like to name a few, Dickey the squid, Dick-Dick ya wanna lick, Dickenstein, and my personal favorite, Count Dickula. Or, you went by Richard and get tagged as a momma’s boy for life. I would have been doomed to live my life as a perennial nerd had it not been for one of the perpetual battles with little brother Chucky. Mom had dropped us at the Encino Theater one afternoon while she and dad “went shopping” (parents must think kids are stupid), and during a double feature of “Bandelero” (the requisite weekend western) and “Bullet” my sad Dick days ended. Chuck and I had snagged two of the coveted center screen seats, 10 rows back. As usual, we were arguing over who held the large coke we shared and who held the popcorn when someone hollered from behind us.

“HEY WHITEY, MOVE YOUR FAT NOGGIN YOU TOE HEADED FREAK!”

And there it was, handed to me on a silver platter, a name that every kid in town had just heard me christened with, nice! From that day forward I would forever be known simply as Whitey and the Dick days were over! Oh I know, not the most prestigious of circumstances, but it was a good alternative to reform school, which is where I was headed with all the fighting at school. Whoever that anonymous voice was he ended my long streak of playground shiners. Which was okay with me, it was getting old holding a beef steak to my eye once a week. So, from fifth grade on I never again used my given name, except of course when dealing with Uncle Sam’s fiscal terrorist cell, the I-R-fucking-S, assholes!

My mother thinks I’m handsome, sometimes. I’m not too tall, not too short, and heavy enough to knock most people on their backsides if they came asking for it! I’m just a relatively healthy, forty-something, regular Joe. Los Angeles, California, the city of angels is home for me, and where I earn a decent living as a private investigator. That’s right, a private dick, seems like nothing ever really changes forever. It’s sometimes dangerous, but mostly routine. It pays the bills, and it beats punching a clock nine to five. I hang my hat at The Alexandria Hotel, over near 5th and Grand, a seen-better-days fleabag of a flophouse. It’s not the Ritz, but it’s close to the action and the price is right, CHEAP!

I was a damn good cop for better than twenty-two years in this city, a detective first grade for the last twelve. I had a gold shield and everything, no fooling! I had earned myself a solid reputation on the streets, and paid my dues in sweat, blood, and a broken marriage. I enjoyed the rush that comes with a job well done, and appreciated the respect of peers and superiors. Man, life was good, aces actually, right up until the day that my wife, the lovely Rhonda Roode informed me that she was changing teams. What do I mean, well; let’s just say that the monthly alimony check is made out to Ronald Roode now. That little revelation inspired me to book a two year vacation package to God knows where via ‘AIR BOOZE’. Needless to say the department wasn’t exactly supportive in my choice of therapies. So after a long string of missed counseling sessions the LAPD and Whitey Roode divorced as well.

Now, as an educated man, I do have an advanced degree in criminology, you would have thought that I would have been able to avoid such an obvious pitfall, right? Well you’d have been wrong! What the hell, I was hurt, pissed, and feeling sorry for myself, you know the drill. My mom used to say, “don’t cry over spilled milk!” It turns out that she was right, and eventually things changed, for the better sort of. I used to beat myself up over that dark period of my life, but you know what, fuck ‘em, sometimes you just need a good cry!

So, after being encouraged to leave the employ of the LAPD, two years shy of a full pension mind you, I found myself sitting at my mother’s kitchen table late one Sunday evening. We were sipping cheap scotch together, eating fish and chips reminiscing about the good old days as she called them. When, out of the blue, she smacks me with a healthy dose of Irish wisdom in her thick Gaelic brogue. It was typical of the sort of thing you would expect to hear from anyone in my family, and it went something like this, “…sonny…life’s a bitch, and then you die…” Frankly, I decided to take it as sign that things could only get better. Good words to start over on, don’t ya think? Anyways, I’m hoping it was more than just the whiskey talking; but then again my mother has always been a bit of a drama queen!

What’s this mean to all of you? Nothing I guess, just setting the mood for what you’re about to read. OK, now we’re properly introduced so let’s get to the good stuff. This case is actually pretty interesting, and it all started like this…

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