From The Pen Of Frank Jackman
…hey, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers about that Jeffers suicide/ murder, the one that happened a while back, the one where the wife, the one with the dough, big dough, backed up their Jaguar in the driveway of their country estate at about eighty miles an hour and had them tumble down the hilly embankment and done. They, the newspapers, or their reporters, or somebody got a lot of it all balled up, all balled up big time. I know, I sure in hell know, the real scoop, except the end which they, the newspapers got right. Dead right. See Frank Jeffers had been in my place, my little diner, Sammy’s, located just on the outskirts of Santa Barbara that morning when it happened.
He wanted to see what his old Bakersfield corner boy neighborhood and army buddy, me, Sam James, had to say about his predicament, about whether he should pull up stakes and leave her, leave Diane, leave Diane Tremont Jeffers and the dough and cars, or just go back and face some kind of life with her. I said from what I knew, from what I read, and from being at the trial every day until they were freed, that she was poison, poison worse than his old flame from the neighborhood, Mary, who almost got him killed when some bozo she was fresh interested in decided that he wanted her for his exclusive company and was ready to put Frank six feet under to enforce it. And Mary, well, Mary just laughed that blonde bimbo laugh of hers all thrilled and maybe turned on too that he-men were fighting over her. Naturally Frank being Frank, didn’t want to listen to my advice, a she could never stop chasing some skirt until he tumbled over, sorry Frank, but that was the deal. Let me tell you what he told me and then maybe you can see how he had to go back, go back and face the music.
He had been running, well half- running a garage, Jimmy’s Esso (his partner and a guy he also knew from the service although not a Bakersfield corner boy), just a few miles from Santa Barbra on the other side of town from here, near Route 101, when the call came in that one of the Tremont cars had blown a gasket or something and needed to be either fixed on the spot, or towed to Jimmy’s and worked on. So Frank, since he was the ace mechanic and the tow truck driver as well (Jimmy, was strictly a gas jockey, but a gas jockey who had the dough and was the brains of the operation), trudged up the hills to the Tremont Estate. A great big place, kind of secluded up a winding road, and like I said up in the hills. He got there, maybe spends an hour fixing this big old Bentley and was ready to leave when she, Diane she, came out of the house and started asking questions about cars, and stuff like that. Then she showed him her Jaguar and asked him if he could check something. Now this was no ordinary Jag, but a specially built job, build just for her. He was hooked, hooked not just on the car but her, something about her manner, her angel face manner, was intriguing , something a little different.
Maybe like with all women it was her scent, that jasmine stuff she wore, and maybe she was kind of young and fresh and naïve, see she was only twenty and that won him over. The car too, for sure. But mainly her, mainly that angel face. So he took the ticket and took the ride. He had had a tough stretch of luck with women since he got back from the service, a bunch of round heels and two, maybe three-timers, especially the last one, a blonde as usual, who took him for a ride, and then blew town with his dough, his car, and some guy named Marty. So maybe it was that Diane was a brunette and he was looking to change his luck. Maybe he should have stuck to blondes, harmless blondes who just took your dough and at least left you breathing.
This Tremont set-up by the way was all the step-mother’s dough, Dora, not hers, not hers directly. See her own mother had died young, and her father, a novelist, a big time British novelist, David Tremont, you might have read on of his books, Captain Smiley’s Revenge, or something like that, had married into the Moore fortune, stocks and bonds stuff. Diane was close, too close to the father if you know what I mean (she told Frank one night some intimate stuff about her and the father but he thought it was just so much trying to make him jealous or something, kid’s stuff) and hated the step-mother with a passion, a deadly passion as it turned out.
She kept needling Frank endlessly about how bad the step-mother was, and went on and on about it. About some wicked witch of the west idea until Frank started wising up that his sweet Diane, left to her own devices, was not above murdering old Dora. Frank, maybe a fool in love choices was no fool when it came to where he might fit in the set-up and so he decided a twenty- year old brunette was nice but not nice enough to take the big step for. And so he bowed out, or tried to, but before he could do so Diane carried out her little scheme, her little scheme of fooling around with Dora’s old Bentley steering wheel. What Diane didn’t know, couldn’t have figured on, was that the day Dora was to drive that beast, drive it accelerator pedal to the floor down that fateful embankment that her father would be in the car too.
Diane, Frank did say, was full of remorse after that happened, after the father took the big tumble and she even tried to take the rap alone for the murders. But see Frank, ace auto mechanic Frank, no dough Frank, plenty of dough Diane (left by that step-mother in her will since she didn’t trust old David to not run out and spend it foolishly), was custom-built to fit the frame for doing the deed, or helping. So Diane’s very expensive lawyer built the case to the cops, and later to the jury, that Frank was up to his neck in the thing. And the outward facts seemed to fit. The only way out as you know from the big newspaper splash at the time of those murders was that they got married, married enough, to make the whole set-up just some crime of passion, if anything. So, yah, they got off, runaway jury got off the big step-off, murder one.
Frank though had had enough; he didn’t want to be looking for angel faces behind his back for the rest of his life. He wanted to get to Mexico, get somewhere far from her. He went back to the Tremont place one night to pack his bags and give his leaving speech. Then she sprang the car, dough, and maybe sponsoring a racing team which he would lead on him (Frank was a very promising auto racer before we headed to those Pacific island s and atolls to wipe up the Japs). He said then, maybe jasmine scent said too, that he would think it over. That next morning is when he told me the skinny, and you already know my opinion. What you didn’t know, and it never came out, was that Frank bought my argument, or maybe he just added mine to his already made up mind, and was going back to tell Diane nix and he was heading south. According to Johnny, one of the house servants who overheard it all, and who told me the real story later when I went to check out what the hell happened, they had a row over him going. A big row, no holds barred. Then she offered him a ride to the bus station. The rest you do know. RIP Frank, RIP old buddy.
Labels: angel face