Chapter 1: One Hour Fast and Some Place To Be.....
“Life...... It isn’t going to work, taking for granted things one dime at a time….. It’ll only work, if you take things one day at a time…..”
The grandfather clock, it had been set one hour ahead. The- clock’s owner hurried, on a rushed exit from his time of rest; situation demanding, he catch that one flight before the last…..
On the way to the Airport; a fatal crash…... Failing brakes, a- locked wheel; and barely any evidence to be found….. Was this really an accident, or a case of cold, calculating murder?
Here, on this day; at this location, I can honestly say: wrong place, wrong time…..
“Your father, did he have any enemies; of relative concern? Being a police officer for so long, he must have picked up- one or two!”
“….. My father, he told you nothing?”
“Yeah..... Unfortunately, our conversation it was a little short…. He, was calling on me; to act as escort to the Airport….. All he said, was that he was concerned over his safety…..”
“….. You think, maybe- a police slaying?”
“….. Thought, did cross my mind…..”
“…….. He was a forty- five year veteran of the force, detective Marlowe…….. He had numerous enemies; if you want to count all of his arrests…..”
“Any strange visitors, or phone calls; any threatening letters?”
“….. Nothing, that I am aware of.....”
“….. You seem a little edgy? Try to relax, this is all part of the job you know?”
“….. May I make a drink?”
“……. I have a better idea…… Why don’t I make one for the both of us. It looks as if I’m going to be here for a while…..”
“Thank you detective; it will calm my nerves…..”
“Not many people know this, but tending bar is an art; that is deserving of a detective’s talents…..
Researching the best mixtures of the most popular liquors, locating award winning recipes; and even observing skilled talents, in the practices of their learned experience…..
Let’s just see here….. Scotch okay? I’d have to admit, it’s been a few days since I had me a good stiff drink…..”
“You’ve read my mind detective Marlowe….. Scotch, it is just what I need…..”
“….. Two- scotches, on the rocks; coming right up.....”
“….. Please, straight no ice for me?”
Marlowe looked upon the grieving woman curiously; as he- prepared the drinks. Two clean glasses, one with ice; one without.
Twenty year old 1930 Bell’s Royal Reserve; one of the better known brands of scotch whiskey. This alone- it was a flag of questionable sincerity.
For Marlowe, he is an advent drinker; and a connoisseur of fine liquors. In his experience; he has found: most grieving woman, have a tendency to water down their drinks- a few cubes of ice; to chill the liquor, and to slowly lower the proofing of the alcohol content.
These days, the woman; they are growing to be more instinctive and aggressive; not so much do they immediately fall to tears of grieving; or of regret.
Marlowe, he was now considering the possibility, that this- young attractive brunette; that will now gain a good portion of her fathers’ inheritance, may be his first suspect; perhaps- not directly, but a suspect nevertheless.
“What can you tell me of Mister J’s associations? Even a little bit may help…..”
Thirty one year old Patricia Jameson took a quick sip of her drink, the proofing of the whiskey’s alcoholic content, not drawing on any- an expected reaction. Phillip Marlowe, noticed immediately the woman may very well be a comparison drinker. But, this fact; it was also cause for concern.
Normally, a rational individual; on hearing of the recent death of a family member, especially that of a parent; would be a little more remorseful, not nervous.
Marlowe, he now felt this brunette beauty had something to hide.
“Father, he pretty much kept to himself. His partner, Roger Sampson; he was about his only real association….. Mother, she died three years ago; and his brother, he is in lock-up for a few cases of armed robbery…..”
“What about here, on the estate? How many individuals have been here regularly in the past two weeks?”
“….. Well, there is myself; and my brother Richard….. My brother, he maintains father’s fleet of automobiles….. Richard, he has had issues Marlowe; but he is a good person…..”
“Right..... Did Richard, ever have reason to hate his father?”
“….. Richard, he acted as many sons do, toward- their fathers Mister Marlowe. He was respectful when it was demanded of him to be, and was a little rebellious; when he had the free time of need….. For many days, he has been unable to find work….. Father needed a mechanic he could trust…..”
“….. Your mother, she died in a car accident; didn’t she?”
“….. Yes Mister Marlowe..... Similar circumstances too, I am afraid…..”
“What about Jameson’s staff?”
“Father, he has a personal steward; as well as an in- home physician, and a gardener…. We contract out for security…..”
“…..Yes- Mister Marlowe.....”
“….. Nothing wrong there.....’’
“….. The staff, and my brother Mister Marlowe? Would you like to speak to them now?”
“….. Yes..... I will have a few more questions for you later.....”
“….. I’ll have them assemble immediately....”
The family and staff of old man Jameson, no surprise- to Phillip Marlowe; they were all uncomfortable around the detective, to say the least.
Difficult to tell, why so many people; have reason to feel they need to have so much to hide…. The younger brother, to Patricia Jameson; and the only three current members of old man Jameson’s- personal staff; they were overly- anxious, and acted as if; they had somewhere else to be, that was of- greater importance….. It’s never easy, when everybody you see can be a suspect of a detective’s suspicions…..
“….. The original car, checked over by Jameson’s security? It, was traded out for one that had been hastily looked- over?”
“What was the mechanical trouble with the first automobile?”
“….. Engine failure..... We couldn’t, get the car up and running; the time we had….. Father, he was in a hurry…..”
“Yeah..... That’s a good possibility.....”
“…. Tell me Richard? How frequently do you schedule routine maintenance for Mister Jameson’s automobiles?”
Richard Jameson, he scowled hard on the detective’s probing question. The thoughts of being treated as a suspect, it did not settle all that well with the young twenty- one year old man of a mechanic.
“….. Twelve cars..... One time, per month.....”
“….. Twelve cars, one time- per month? Sounds reasonable- to me..... That there’s, a real heavy work load….. Do you work alone, or do you have help?”
“….. I work alone..... Nobody touches father’s cars, but me!”
“….. Right..... That truth, actually does not look; all that good- on you, or on your skills as being a mechanic! Old man Jameson’s car accident being caused by critical brake failure…..”
Richard Jameson, turned fast from the detective; the young man biting his tongue. Phillip Marlowe made a mental notation of his attitude toward private civilian authority. His reaction to Marlowe’s lawful authority, as being common place; for many an individual that are found to be frequently getting themselves into trouble with the law.
“I am, assuming that you kept timed, and accurately dated- records of each inspection; and of each operation, that has been performed on each vehicle…..”
“Yes! Of course I do! I am paid as a mechanic, by my fathers’ partner….. It was his way of keeping him safe; where he would not have to be here!”
“….... Why don’t you run along now; and gather those records for me..... It should give you some time to cool off.....”
(The boy- he left mumbling something beneath his breath…... I kept my own opinion of his undisciplined attitude to myself, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me to eliminate the boy from being the primary suspect…..)
Phillip Marlowe now turned his attentions to the house steward.
“….. You, you’re the steward of the Jameson’s home?”
“Yes, I am.....”
“I didn’t get your name.....”
“Patrick, Patrick Wallace Stone- sir.....”
“….. Stone. Eh?”
“Any relation to Douglas Stone; of the corporation operating under the same name?”
“….. Yes- sir..... Douglas Stone, he is my father…..”
“…… Interesting….. As the steward for the Jameson house, what is it; that you do here Mister Stone?”
“….. I prepare meals, I place and answer calls for Mister Jameson’s business operations, and I walk regular security checks throughout the evening…..”
“….. Security checks? Why, with guards on duty; would you need to do this? Has there been a lack of commitment from the contracted security team?”
“….. No- sir..... It was on a personal request from Mister Jameson….. We have known each other for many years….. Jameson told me it made him feel better…..”
“….. Old friend of the family?”
“….. I’ll need a list of any other living relatives, and known associates; that may have been responsible for Jameson’s death; if you would be so kind Mister Stone?”
“Yes- sir..... I’ll have a list for you, in about twenty minutes…..”
Marlowe was now left with the gardener and the on site health care professional.
“….. You both were hired by Jameson the same time, is that correct?”
“….. Yes it is.....”
“Do you know each other?”
“I am Susan, and this is Brandon….. We are sister and brother…..”
“….. Last name?”
“….. McGee? Kids of Joseph H McGee; the billionaire industrialist?”
“….. Yes sir.....”
Marlowe looked on Brandon McGee; questioningly, the- similar aged man; allowing his sister to speak for both.
“……. Sure seems awkward; the two of you working for an executive- that is in fact a direct opposition, to your father’s interests…..”
“We’ve been disowned..... We made a unified decision, to stay out of his business affairs.....”
“Very wise decision..... Well, right now; I have no further questions for the two of you….. Good to have met you both…..”
“….. Mister Marlowe?”
“Yes Mister Stone?”
“Here are the mechanical maintenance schedule records, and the current listings of Mister Jameson’s relatives and known associates…..”
“….. The boy, he afraid to deliver the documents himself?”
“….. He has- issues…..”
“Yes, a great many of them too; from what I hear…..”
“Yes- sir..... Will that be all?”
“I’ll talk to the security personnel, and any other of Jameson’s relatives and associates; in the morning.....”
“I could put you up for the night; in one of our spare rooms, if you would like Mister Marlowe?”
“…… Awfully kind of you Mister Stone; but I feel, that would be a little inappropriate, and there are a few other details I need to look into…..”
“Understood- sir..... Please, call me Patrick?”
“Well now..... That I can do….. Call me Marlowe, but only when you need to call on me Patrick..... No offense; but by the differences in our ages; I should be calling you sir.....”
“Very- good Mister Marlowe….. Until tomorrow then?”
Phillip Marlowe walked slowly from the Jameson house; an urge to look back on to the house, revealing an individual that had not been introduced to him; somebody of a youthful age retreated back into their bedroom from their view point; at one of the upper level windows. This event, no big surprise for a detective of his experience.