Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Out In The 1950s Film Noir Night – With Ray Milland’s “The Big Clock” In Mind

George Stroud was ready for the big step-off, the big jolt, ready as he was ever going to be, but still he had questions, questions that needed answers in his head before they pulled the switch at midnight. He had half-convinced himself that he hadn’t done the deed, hadn’t murdered Pauline, the boss’s, ah, paramour, his twist, in a drunken rage when she said she would not leave the boss, leave her meal ticket for him and an uncertain future, a future clouded by whether or not he, George, would, or would not, leave his wife, child, and home or just continue their dalliance on the sly.
Strangely the boss, Earl Jackson , the head of Jackson Publications where George had headed the crime magazine division, the most profitable division of his empire, still clueless about the extent of his affair with Pauline, had footed the bill for all his legal expenses, and had assigned his top aide, Steve, Steve Eagan to move heaven and earth to find any way to get George free. But the boss, a big hulky, brooding man, was quirky that way, all fire and brimstone, hate and hurt, one minute and then an angel mover of heaven and earth the next minute. Steve too, although he was strictly the boss’s yes man. Maybe if the boss had known the full details of his relationship with Pauline, no, if Earl had known that information, he would have already been long gone instead of four years later waiting here in this clammy cell to either step-off or grab a reprieve from the governor, courtesy of the boss’s efforts.

There was nothing George could do about that though so he stewed some more about that night, the night he killed Pauline. A lot of it was fuzzy, fuzzy in the old drunken way fuzzy (and some reefer added in cadged from Jimmy the copy boy who had some good connections). He had, as always, met Pauline at Vinnie’s, the routine pretty pat by then, just sidling up to the bar and kind of acting surprised to see each other for public consumption, then a few drinks (and an outside tour to do the joint), a couple of laughs, a couple of dances, then hit a few more spots, more secluded spots, and then back to her place. He remembered grabbing that foolish clock at Murphy’s Pub, the place where the Broadway swells hung out, and where there was a sign on the door that said “time does not enter here” and that had gotten him started about the clocks, and getting rid of them. Funny they never found that damn clock, the murder weapon, when they searched Pauline’s apartment for clues although he swore he had brought it in the apartment with him. That might have helped his case. They claimed he had dumped it somewhere before he passed out. They had met Steve, Steve Eagan, at Murphy’s and he seemed to be unhappy with Pauline about something, probably her being seen in public with someone other than the boss although she was known around town to gather guys for a fun night, strictly for kicks, when the boss was in his cups. As they left Steve said he would walk out with them, although he still seemed mad at Pauline for something after that had had words off to the side while he was getting her coat from hat-check.
Coming off the elevator to Pauline’s apartment he noticed, half-noticed realty, a guy, a blur mainly but a heavy set from his shadow walking up the stairs, he vaguely sensed that he knew the guy, or something, maybe the boss but he had an airtight alibi provided by Steve, but could never provide more information than that when they asked him if he had seen anybody in the building that night when he was desperate for alibis. Once in Pauline’s apartment he started to drink again, lit up another joint, and, as happened more often than not then especially when he was in his cups the subject of her dumping the boss came up, they argued about it, heatedly argued about it, she asking when he would leave his wife which always infuriated him and that was the last he remembered as he went out cold. The next thing he knew was several hours later some cop was rousting him off the floor, Pauline about ten feet away, was face down, dead, very dead. Steve was telling the cop that the boss usually had him look in on Pauline after a night out and that was how he had found the crime scene. He had telephoned the boss who was not in, then the police, and waited. In the meantime the boss had sent word to him that George was to have all the legal help he needed. And he did get that help…

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