For Tuyet, Katrina, KaSandra, and Luc
THE GUMSHOE DIARIES:
Los Angeles, California…December 1, 2009…1:15pm
Meeting the Bishop of Los Angeles left me with a splitting headache and feeling a tad guilty for some reason? The man just gave me the heebie-jeebies, I can’t explain it but the only Holiness I felt from His Holiness was Holy crap! Be that as it may I left him with assurances that I'd get right on the job and explained to His Eminence that I’d return the signed contract as soon as Father Donahue delivered it to my flat at the Alexandria. Well to be honest I didn't exactly get right on the job. I made a little detour to one of my favorite watering holes, my home away from home if you will, Casey's Irish Cottage over on S. Grand. A shot and a pint or two seemed like a good way to christen this temporary arrangement between me and the church. Not exactly a blessing but as close to one as I’ll ever get I expect. As soon as I arrived I ordered myself a Scot's meat pie, a bowl of Mulligatawny, and my libations, then went about mulling over what few facts I had on this case. I didn't have all that much, not even a hunch yet, so it was a short think for me.
It was too early to take out my trusty steno pad and work up the 3 w's (what I know, what I think I know, what I want to know). So right after lunch I thought I’d run over to the LA Times to chat with an occasionally accurate and always hungry source, one Bradley P. Tremain. The ‘P’ was for Patrick but given his enormous physical dimensions it might as well have stood for ‘Pastry’. I made a mental note to stop by Winchell's on the way over for a dozen glazed crullers, the little butterball was a well-known donut junkie. Besides, my old mother always said that when you visit with your hat in your hand always bring a gift, it makes the groveling less demeaning. Smart old gal she was, my mother. Even if she was a bit of a mensch with an addiction to nagging me about every little thing. I expect that’s the way with all mothers to one degree or another, am I right?
LA Times…December 1, 2009…2:00pm
The drive from Casey’s to the LA Times building on West 1st Street was atypically uncongested, a lucky break for a change and I hoped that the trend continued. Lo and behold it did when I scored a parking space out front with a broken meter. I decided to go for the trifecta and see if I could bypass the aggravation of dealing with security at the front desk. So I called Bradley and asked him to waddle down and meet me in the lobby. He would get me past the goons in the rent-a-cop uniforms after he collected his tribute of glazed confections. You know what, the rent-a-cop reference isn’t fair. These guys were actually pretty professional. Guess I'm still at war the LAPD given our bitter personal history. Well, that combined with the liquid lunch I just finished at Casey's. I tend to get bitter and reflective when I'm juiced, blame my Irish roots.
I got out of my car and walked up the street to one of the few working telephone booths in the city. I fed the old fashioned bandit four quarters to get a dial tone, what a rip off. But since I hate cell phones, preferring my right to privacy over 24/7 access to yours truly, I put up with the inconvenience and avoided this part of the 21st century. Small price to pay for anonymity I guess. The phone rang and Bradley answered on the second ring.
“Times, Tremain here,” he said in a bored tone. He wasn’t bored actually, it was his multitasking voice. My round friend was always juggling two or three tasks at a time.
“Hey Limey, you got a minute for a countryman?” I asked.
“You’re Irish Whitey. What do ya want, make it quick ya mick, I’m busy,” he answered insultingly.
“I see. Well are you too busy for a dozen crullers from Angels?” I asked.
“I just had lunch,” he replied.
“When did that ever keep you from carbs from heaven?”
“Touche, bring on up,”
“Ahhh, why don’t you come down and we’ll walk up the street to get you some coffee to wash these down with.”
“You're still afraid of Ms. Coulet aren’t you.”
“You know it brother! That French witch hates my guts.”
Dominique Coulet was the city desk editor at the LA Times and one cold fish on top of that. We had a history of butting heads and I had raided her stable of staff writers more often than she was comfortable with over the years. It didn’t help that she also blamed me for the recent death of a mutual friend. She and Lu Rong were very close and his murder had hit her pretty hard. It didn’t matter that I had helped to make sure that his murderer got his just desserts, specifically half a dozen 9mm rounds at close range. As far as Ms. Coulet was concerned Lu’s fate was attributed to the low company he kept, namely me. More on that later.
“I don’t blame you, she’s a scary bitch. I’ll be right down,” Bradley said hanging up before I could concur.
Five minutes later Bradley Tremain walked out into the sunlight and spotted me sitting at a bus stop with his glazed nosh on the bench beside me. He made a beeline for me, grabbed the white paper bag pulled out the first of twelve donuts devouring it before even saying how do you do. I marveled at the speed with which someone his size and shape moved when properly motivated. He sat beside me and licked the icing from his fingers before acknowledging my presence.
“You look good Whitey, what’s your secret?” he asked making small talk.
“Booze,” I replied.
“Of course. So, what can I do for you?”
“I need some G2 on the suicide at the Egyptian Theater, the young mother and child at the premier of that crusading padre, Father Quinn,” I answered.
“Nasty business, I remember that night,” Bradley recalled.
“You were there?”
“Yeah, I was covering the event.”
“You saw it happen?”
“I saw it all dude, it wasn’t pretty,” he said shaking his head.
“How close were you,” I asked.
“Put it this way, the girl ran right past me. I could have stopped her if I knew what she was going to do.”
“Not your fault Brad.”
“I know, but still,” he replied as he pulled out donut number two.
“So what’s your angle? Who are you working for?” Bradley asked as he wolfed down the cruller.
“”Can’t say just yet but I promise you’ll get the story if there is one when I’m done,” I answered.
“How do you know I can help?”
“I don’t, but let me pick your brain for now and then maybe you can be my eyes and ears on the inside while I work this case. I expect that the Mayor’s office will be looking for headlines while LAPD sorts out the details. I’ll want to know what both of them are doing before the rest of the city reads about it.”
“That might be difficult, you know that His Honor and the dragon lady are tight,” said Bradley, referring to the Mayor and Dominique Coulet.
“So I heard. And I didn’t say this was gonna be easy.”
“So what do you want to know?”
“Let’s go get that coffee and put our heads together. I expect you know more than you realize,” I said slapping him on the shoulder and standing.
“What? You mean walk?” Bradley protested.
“Starbucks is only a block away!”
“Yeah, so? Come on man hail a cab will ya, it’s hot out and I don’t want to work up a sweat
I rolled my eyes, helped him up from the bench and whistled loudly at the line of cabs across the street, “Oh brother, TAXI…”