Sunday, January 26, 2014

***The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin, Private Investigator – Out In The Slumming Mean Streets


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-with kudos to Raymond Chandler

Those who have been following this series about the exploits of the famous Ocean City (located just south of Los Angeles then now incorporated into the county) private detective Michael Philip Marlin (hereafter just Marlin the way everybody when he became famous after the Galton case out on the coast) and his contemporaries in the private detection business like Freddy Vance, Charles Nicolas (okay, okay Clara too), Sam Archer, Miles Spade, Johnny Spain, know that he related many of these stories to his son, Tyrone Fallon, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Tyrone later, in the 1970s, related these stories to the journalist who uncovered the relationship , Joshua Lawrence Breslin, a friend of my boyhood friend, Peter Paul Markin, who in turn related them to me over several weeks in the late 1980s. Despite that circuitous route I believe that I have been faithful to what Marlin presented to his son. In any case I take full responsibility for what follows.        
Yeah, you know all the names of the streets, Hollywood and Vine, Sunset Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo Drive, and twenty others, streets where the American dream, celluloid version, was to come true for sweet sixteens from Omaha, Cincinnati, and, hell, Greenwood down in Mississippi too. All the towns where girls had dreams, Lana Turner dreams, meaning every town (and for black Mississippi girls Lena Horne stormy weather dreams).  Guys, hulks too from Toledo, Scranton and Biloxi. Every color, every sex, every religion, including those without, getting hopes up high as the sky after landing at the bus station over on Vine (or maybe some hitchhike highway let-off point if he or she was in a hurry for fame and didn’t have the bus or train fare) Hoping beyond hope that if they sat at just the right drugstore soda fountain at just the right time they would be “discovered.” Problem, was, is, that the dream was fit to size for only a small number of those hordes who bussed in from Lansing, Yonker, and Portland (east or west take your pick), Clarksdale too. And that is where the knight in shining armor, the old wind-mill chaser, the old Los Angeles fixture private eye, Michael Philip Marlin, came in, came in to try and save one such weary traveler cold before the lights went out. Before she turned up in some party-girl whorehouse, some private “blue” movie, or dead because returning home to some white picket fence dream was not an option after tinsel-town.   

Just in case you don’t know, private cops, more so than the public ones with their petty cash for their bevy of snitches on the payroll, depend on information from lots of places, have favors done for them from lots of people, with or without information. That is what caused our Marlin to be out in the mean streets of Hollywood one night in 1940. Seems that a guy, a guy, Mike Davis, who ran the Dee-Drop Inn Diner over on Noon Street in the fair city of angels had done Marlin a few good turns and so he asked Marlin to look into a cold case, a case of a young black woman, Milly Jones, from back home down in the Delta who, stardust in her eyes, wound up face down in a forsaken ravine with about seven slashes across her body. Not a pretty sight.  (A cold case for the public police is one where they are clueless on how to solve it without having to leave their desks and dump it before it even has time to get looked at, most cases as it turned out.)
So Marlin asked around and got nowhere, got nowhere from the cops, from anybody who knew the girl, Nada. Nada, until he accidently witnessed a strange scene just off of Knight Street where a young black women, Terry Blake, appeared to have been set up by somebody because when she went to out on the street to meet a man in a Cadillac, maybe a john, maybe a go-for, half of the Hollywood Precinct came out of the woodwork. On a hunch Marlin swooped her up before she open the door to the vehicle. A good hunch too because she was just a pigeon in the play. Naturally when money is involved (as Marlin found out later she was supposed to pick up a cool fifty K from the man in the Caddy), and not just money, the fingers of Tripper Lamb had to be all over the deal. Tripper used his Club Capri over on Sunset Boulevard as a front for all his illegal operations; drugs, women, booze, numbers, and a special service for whatever Hollywood big-shot wanted, anything.

And that anything is how Terry almost got set-up for a five to ten count. Terry fresh off the buses from down in Greenwood, Mississippi needed a job and a place. Now she was good- looking and so one of Tripper’s gang who kept an eye out for such talent swooped in on her with talk of meeting Hollywood stars, parties, maybe even a part in a movie. Terry said, well, that was what she was here for and so started her career as a “hostess” in Tripper’s club. And to show her appreciation Tripper asked her, pretty please asked her to do this little, little favor of picking up that bag of dough. The set-up part though was Tripper feeling some heat from the cops who were feeling the heat from the tax-paying citizens of Los Angeles using Terry to pay off old debts to the cops by giving them an easy collar and plenty of ink about busting that damn money laundering ring stuff that had half the town nervous about the next shoot-out.
Terry, once Marlin found out what the hell had come down, was mad as hell. And Marlin sensing a roll in the hay if he helped out gathered in Terry’s anger. Gathered it too because no way, no way in hell was Tripper Lamb going to let some hick from wherever she was from bust up his operations and had one of his gunsels, Big Nig, assigned to shut her up, shut her up permanently, and he almost did except Marlin coming up the street and noticing a flash car that did not belong on the edges of from hunger Flatley Street when the stardust came off from those who were thrown back on the heap after having their minute in the sun got the drop on the big guy (and he really was big, black, about six -five and two- fifty).

After that it was strictly war between one Michael Philip Marlin and one Tripper Lamb. Naturally Tripper came up short. Came up two Marlin slugs short when he tried to personally waylay him out by the Club Deluxe (where he had an undisclosed part interest). As it turned out Marlin didn’t get that couple of rolls in the hay with Terry before he put her back on the bus to Greenwood but that was the breaks. Put her on that bus though to get her far away from the means streets where she could not survive. 

No comments:

Post a Comment