Not a recent sample of work but a fave of mine. Full story wouldn’t fit, so please enjoy what I could get up here…
The dark-colored taxicab sat idle outside The Mocambo, one of the hotter joints on Sunset these days. Rain came and went, having given the people of L.A. a drizzling preview just prior to dusk. The driver’s brakes weren’t too good after pushing through a puddle fit for a battleship as it came up Culver at near sixty miles an hour — taxis, always in a rush for no good reason.
The back door of the car opened as a sudden crackle of lightning charged above the block letters of the Hollywoodland sign, which was only barely visible in the rear-view. A man hopped in.
“Not to sound like an Eddie G. film, but follow that car will you?”
The cabbie was immediately out of patience. There were too many Brits in L.A. now that we saved their asses, thought the driver. “I’m waitin’ for someone, fella. You’ll have to call yer–”
“Tell you what,” the dark-haired man leaned in. Yeah, he was a gem, surely got all the ladies;
black hair parted just so, square jaw plastered to the bottom of a perfectly ovalled face. Blue eyes sparkling even in the dark. Whotta jerk. He even called the driver his “good man.” This steamed him. “How about you take half this fin now, and I’ll give you the other half after.” The chap tore the fifty clean in half and held out one piece.
“After you’ve caught up with the blue Buick.” Bentley threw the half-a-fin into the driver’s seat and leaned back.
The cabbie bobbed his head left-to-right a couple of times as he weighed his choices. “Eh, Frank can get anyone to drive one o’ his drunken dames back home.” As the driver set off, he wondered if deserting one of the hottest — and toughest — singers in Hollywood was a great idea. For the fifty bucks, he was willing to not only test the waters, but swim with a few sharks if he had to.
The dark haired gentleman wasn’t exactly a friendly sort, but the fact is, he was on a job. The driver took him deeper into the night, but it wasn’t that long of a trip. Coupla’ miles later, Bentley told the driver to stop at the next light. The driver couldn’t take the idea of not knowing any longer. After he followed his passenger’s demand, he rested his arm on the back of his seat, turned and sneered, “Say, who we followin’ anyhow?”
“A woman.” Was the terse response.
“How long she been cheatin’ on ya’?”
Disinterested in talking and more interested in where the woman was going, Bentley ended the conversation. “I never said she was my wife. Quiet now.”
They both watched her enter a dilapidated hotel. Bentley cursed and the cabbie wondered what a woman dressed to the nines was doin’ in a low-rent area like this anyways.
“Thank you,” smiled Bentley. And he began to exit.
“Hey, Ruggles, aren’t ya’ forgettin’ something?”
“Ah. Apologies.” He threw the other half of the bill at the driver, not intending any offense but focusing his attention on his subject. He muttered something like “Must run” as the door shut. He pushed through the rain with his coat collar up.
“Limeys’re all the same.”
“A Corpse for a Date”
Bentley was happy to get in from the cold, but that happiness faded quickly in the dank gray lobby. The lazy hotel manager barely looked up from the newspaper as he slowly spoke through his remaining teeth. “Hold on there, Fancy Dan. You can’t go up unless you’ve got a room or you’re announced.” He turned his head up towards Bentley, a glare on his round spectacles hid both eyes.
Bentley stumbled, unsure how to respond. This wasn’t exactly the Sunset Towers.
The man looked on for a moment. He didn’t laugh but pretended to in his effort to be polite. “Heh heh, well, this may not be a hoighty-toighty place, but we got our rules.” He didn’t like the guy who walked in here like he would take over the joint. “It’s a matter of privacy.”
Bentley couldn’t do anything other than agree. “Yes,” he said in a long, drawn-out breath. “Your guests’ priv-a-see.”
Yeah, it was now official. This buck didn’t belong in the hotel. It was time to get him on the fast-track out. “No, ‘pry-vacy.’ And that’s how our guests like it. Good night.”
The man watched, expressionless, as Bentley figured out his next move.
“Might there be a phone I could use?”
“There might. But there ain’t.”
Bentley got the hint then took it with him as he rushed outside. He’d noticed earlier a booth standing alone at a nearby corner in the dampness of the night.
Huddled in the wet phone booth, Bentley dialed a Townsend-four prefix, then hit the three button. The three wasn’t working. Bentley pushed the button in harder. The tip of his finger reddened briefly. But nothing. In his mind, he sighed. He finally hung up, called for the operator. She had a sensual voice — it surprised Bentley enough that he almost forgot why he’d hit the zero button. She made him explain why he couldn’t just dial it himself, and Bentley thought about making some sexual comment that she’d probably laugh at, and, with his deep voice, probably enjoy, but he pressed on needing to reach his client as quickly as possible.
The operator connected him.
“Hullo, it’s Bentley. Well, I have tracked her to this little hotel…Hmm?…Oh, ‘The Continental.’…Oh, yes, always the sign of a…‘ritzy joint’…Pardon? Well, not just yet. I am unable to get upstairs. I’m watching the front, and a light did just come on. Coincidence or she’s entered a room solely on her own, and is not, as it turns out, meeting anyone.”
Bentley drummed his fingers on the door of the wet booth. He glanced up at the window where he’d noticed the light turn on. It was the fourth floor. Bentley realized another possibility in that light — she could have awakened someone. That is, if she had even entered that room. That is, if the woman is a cheat.
“All right, all right. Dash it all. I’ll try to get in there! The guy at the counter’s a bit of a, what’d you call me the other day? Yes…a ‘buster.’ You want to know what your woman’s up to, I know, but I’m not going to scale walls…No, not even for that much. I’ll do my best.”
Bentley’d run out of the Mocambo without his hat only because he didn’t have the time to wait and see if the coat check girl would learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time. Now he wished he’d been more patient. The trickles of rain made their way through the seams in the small roof.
Bentley re-entered the hotel, hat in hand — figuratively speaking. He umm’d once or twice in an effort to get the elder gentleman’s attention and when that didn’t work, Royce simply asked if there were any rooms. The man looked up from his paper. Bentley looked sad, desperate. He’s a good actor, ya gotta be in his line.
The man wasn’t buying it.
“Yes,” he said bored, “we’ve got some rooms.”
Bentley chewed on the inside of his cheek for a second and asked for something with a view.
“They all got views, son, depends on what it is you want to see.”
“Ah. Brilliant.” Bentley appreciated the clerk’s humor, but not half as much as he’d’ve appreciated a bolt of lightning striking through the window hitting the ill-mannered fellow. “How about something facing the street. Fourth floor or so?”
“She ain’t in there.”
So that wasn’t her light he saw go on from the view at the phone booth. “Ain’t, hm?” Bentley turned an ear towards him.
“No, the one you’re lookin’ for’s in the back of the hotel. You ain’t packing heat there are you? I don’t want a shootout.”
Bentley was caught…and stuck. He fessed up. “Uh, no, sir. It’s not like that. She’s a good woman.”
“In a bad predicament no doubt.”
“Well, that depends on her.”
The man stood and took two steps over to the wall where tiny gold hooks held room keys. He raised an eyebrow towards the customer he was certain was going to end up dead before the night was through (and the carpet cleaner not coming for another week). “Five-o-six is next door. Five-o-nine is across the hall.”
“The former will do nicely.” He reached for his billfold and squinted at the sign that was nailed into the moulding on the wall behind the counter. Printed on it in a fine serif was $4/Night, and scrawled beneath that with what could have been grease paint was Buck-fifty for hour. “Ahh, let’s say one night, and here you go.”
Bentley signed in and inquired about the smell; curtly and with no apology, it was explained that the kitchen is closed and won’t open again until eight. Bentley gritted his teeth and headed for the stairs.
“Hey, mister. No trouble. I’ll call the cops in a blink.”
“No trouble, friend.”
The man angrily went back to his paper then peeked at the registry. He whispered. “‘Emil Cardigan,’ eh?” He made a sticking noise with his tongue, adjusted his glasses and, one more time, went back to his paper.
Bentley Royce walked down the yellow hallway on the fifth floor. The lights were yellow, the paint was yellow, and, although it was hard to be certain, it looked like the carpet was probably yellow at some point. He had several choices as he approached his room. When one thought made him smile in spite of the little voice in his head, he decided he’d found his plan.
Stopping at room 508, he put his ear to the door carefully. There were two voices inside. He stepped back, rocked on his foot, tried the knob, and walked in.
The woman was leaning on the dresser. Given a start from a stranger’s entrance, she stood up straight. A large gentleman also stood up, dropping an ice pack, leaving a massive indentation in the bed where he’d been seated. “Hey, pal, who do you think you a–!!”
Bentley interrupted with numerous fake apologies. He looked at the number on the door, and held out his key explaining he simply entered the wrong room. “My head is elsewhere this evening. Terribly sorry.”
“Yeah, I’ll tell ya’ where yer head is, buddy! Come bargin’ in on folks that way!”
“Yes. Well, you really should keep this locked. I could be a masher.”
The woman approached. She was calm. Spritely. “Harry, sit. Keep that ice up; I’ll lock the door. Goodnight, Mr. . .?”
Bentley smiled. “Oh. Lockhart, Gabriel Lockhart.”
“Quite a faux paus, Mr. Lockhart. Try to be more careful from now on.”
The large man was again holding the ice to his swollen eye. “Just shut the door, Monica!”
She simpered and tickled her top lip with her tongue. “Well, goodnight.”
“Thank you, miss.” Bentley backed out as the door shut.
In his room, Bentley Royce had a swirl of thoughts. Sorting them out would take two thing he didn’t have — time and his partner:
“Hullo, Chase? It’s me. I need you to get over to The Continental…. I know the time, but I had a situation that needed aggravating.” Bentley stretched the chord to its fullest. He paced the room but not nervously. He looked more like a confident tight-rope walker. An image you could apply to him almost every day of his life.
He continued. “Does the name Harry Dunlop ring a bell? Yes. Get here ASAP.” Bentley pulled the phone away from his ear then thought he’d heard his pal Chase say something. Phone back in place he wondered, “What was that?” Bentley rolled his eyes and pinched the boney part of his nose. “Tell you whot, Chase…” Bentley’s British accent boiled like forgotten water 5 minutes after tea time. “Just get ohvah here! Five-oh-six.”
Bentley would never know the conversation that took place in the next room. If he did, a life would have been saved, and a night wouldn’t have gotten nearly as dark.
Harry complained to Monica about the case she had the neanderthalic PI working on. He poured it on thick, holding that ice pack to his brow, which was even thicker. “I tell ya’, the harder I look, the worse my eyesight gets!”
Monica wanted to know where her hardly earned inheritance was going. Her husband seemed to be spending madly. And the business — a paper company her granddaddy built from other fortunes — was suffering. She knew Dunlop would be out of place with criminals of her husband’s class. The higher the class, the lower the scum. But somehow Dunlop fell into her lap, and she thought it kismet — a pretty word for darned good luck.
She’d learn she was wrong. There’s no such thing as luck. Especially in the place they call Hollywood.
Chase showed up chewing a large sandwich. Rye seeds worked their way into his fillings, as mustard coated his upper lip. As the door opened he offered the untried half to Bentley. Bentley was not what you would call a fan of pastrami. Chase knew his pastrami. Picked it up from Canter’s, asked for a lean cut, on rye. Bentley couldn’t care less if it was on gold — he wasn’t bitin’.
Chase took his oversized overcoat off, holding the sandwich in his mouth. His hat sat on his head in that way Bentley always thought hokey — angled upwards, resting on his crown. Made him look like a newsboy, not a detective. Chase mumbled something indiscernible, removed the sandwich, and asked again. “So what’s the deal with Dunlop?”
“Not quite sure I’m certain, Chase. Only thing I’m sure of is I’m being set up. Mr. Kantrall hired me to follow his wife. Where do I catch up to her? Holed up in this place with possibly the stupidest private dick in this berg.”
“Have you learned anything?” Chase eyed the spot on the sandwich where his next bite would be taken.
“Well, I made a little visit to their room. Luckily we’d never actually met, recognized Dunlop from his picture in the paper. From that fiasco in Santa Barbara he got tangled in.” Bentley took a cigarette out from his inside pocket, and lit it before Chase could even offer a light. “I came in here, gave the wall a hug — it didn’t welcome me with open arms, but it whispered a few things in my ear.” Bentley sat down at the small and plain chair resting quietly, with its folded wood arms, next to an unassuming little table. “It told me Monica’s worried about her fortune. That’s all I could catch. But she threw the fact around so many times, you’d think it was a Frisbee.”
Chase finished off the sandwich, silently wishing he had another one while licking some excess mustard off the loose skin between his thumb and forefinger. “So, okay, she’s losing money, probably because of someone embezzling–”
“And I’m betting,” Bentley raised an eyebrow, “she knows who! What she’s got Dunlop for is to find out how.”
“And that’s what she’s got Dunlop for? Be serious. The last case Dunlop closed had his gym shorts in it.”
Bentley smiled. It’s comments like that which reminded him why he kept the spry kid around.
Chase’s forehead wrinkled. He was squeezing thoughts together, trying to make a fresh one. And it worked. “It’s Mr. Kantrall, isn’t it? The guy’s been throwing money at you left and right making sure no other case distracts you.”
“Right!” Bentley stood again. Pangs of hunger hit as he watched Chase finish off his cola. “But what’s the game? How can letting me track Monica here get Kantrall anywhere in all this? Like I said, I’m having the feeling I’m being set up, but I can’t figure out for what!”
“Yeah, Dunlop’s a dolt, but even he coulda taken some precautions.”
“Exactly. The only reason to call a client in a public place like the Mocambo is to attract attention.” He paused, pining the loss of his hat, “in front of the entire crowd.”
Bentley paced. This was Chase’s favorite part. He gets to help out here. And really help out. Not just standing around for support or as a sounding board, or as the guy who gets the sandwiches, but it’s the back-and-forth. He’s gonna get a good hold of this P.I. business, and he’s gonna find his own city, his own personal playground, and he’s gonna be the guy, the one the cops look to when something can’t get solved, the one distraught wives come to when their husband is up to no good. Yep, he’ll be a big-shot P.I.
But not yet.
Chase asked it aloud: “And why the back of the hotel?” He finally removed his hat. “In the front of the place you can see every person, every car that pulls up to this joint!” His bottle was dry. Chase wished he’d bought a second Pepsi-Cola when he picked up the sandwich. He hadn’t. “And if you’re going to pick a quiet place to talk, why a hotel? Isn’t it just a way to keep a trail, having to sign in?”
Bentley enjoyed it when the kid was on a roll. “You could sign in with a fake name, after all.”
“Hm.” Chase was stumped for the moment, Bentley was right (and he waited patiently while Chase pieced the next part together). Then he realized. “Handwriting. His handwriting is still the same. So, either way, real name or not they’d be caught.”
“Exactly.” Bentley eyed him. So, why wouldn’t they meet at a small bar? A quiet restaurant? A deserted playground? Any of those could be good for private meetings. But it was here.”
Chase wanted to get up and pace, but he figured he’d end up getting in Bentley’s way. “Why couldn’t Dunlop give her any of the info he had over the phone? If he had private information, the phone would be perfect. Then he’d be the only one who has to get some privacy…no one else would be able to hear whatever it is he had to tell her! What was important enough to call her down here?”
Chase was a skinny young fella. Happy to learn the ropes. He had a long neck which was juxtaposed on an average body. If a nebbish was a picture, it’d be Chase — but working with Bentley Royce was changing his image. Not speedy-quick, mind you, but a guy had to start somewhere.
“Not certain, Chase. Looks like it’s a waiting game for now.” Bentley cocked his head and smirked. “So let’s wait.”
For more than twenty minutes they sat in mostly silence. Waiting for something to happen. Occasionally a conversation would start then peter out. Things got terribly boring.
Chase leaned against the window. It faced the back alley. “You think this rain’ll ever stop?”
“I don’t care either way…. It’s too quiet. I’m starting to think we’ll need to do something drastic.”
“Yeah,” Chase responded distracted. “Was Dunlop wearing a dark raincoat?”
“Then maybe one of us should follow him as he jumps down the fire escape.”
Bentley put his second cigarette out using the table top and jumped up. “Follow him! I’ll go check on Mrs. Kantrall!”
Chase climbed through the window. Bentley ran into the hallway and hurriedly knocked on the door of room five-o-six. “Hullo?! Hullooo?! Ms. Kantrall? Monica?” The door stared at him blankly, but he could see right through it. Bentley knew what he was going to find on the other side, yet he had no idea what he was about to get into.
Bentley busted through the door. The lights were still on. Monica lain in bed. Bentley knew a dead body when he saw one. The pillow that muffled the gunshot was on top of her. He still should have heard it. It was Bentley’s first realization that Monica Kantrall’s beauty distracted him. The reason was simple though, she reminded Bent of his gal Madeline. Bentley gently sat down beside her and pulled the pillow off, grabbing the flowing edge, the side of the case the pillow is stuffed into. As the pillow tumbled over, and Bentley saw the empty shell of what he was certain was a woman of inner beauty, he’d noticed the pillow had a certain heft. He reached into the case and pulled out the gun.
And all at once it happened. At the door was the old man, the clerk. Behind him was Dunlop and a policeman. And there sat Bentley, holding a gun, a pillow, and a dame whose silent body held no defense for the British P.I. of Los Angeles.
“Oh my lord. He’s killed her.” The old man’s nerves were suddenly frayed, filleted, and overworked. He needed to sit. He shouted desperately, “You said you weren’t packing!”
The officer had pulled his gun, holding it steady on Bentley Royce.
Dunlop was smiling, and he was about to say, “I told you officer,” but one good thing was about to happen.
Chase’s voice echoed from down the corridor. “Get the hell outta there, Bentley!”
The cop turned his head at Bentley, and Bent realized that leaving probably wouldn’t be the wisest move.
But Chase wasn’t through being a distraction. He threw himself through the corridor, flying directly at the large man named Dunlop. As his full frame came at Dunlop from above, Chase had no idea Dunlop’s fist was the size of his entire head. But Chase’d find that out in a few seconds.
But those few seconds was all that Bentley needed. Yeah, he was right. He was being set up. And good. No way this was Dunlop’s doing. So while the officer untangled the mess that was Dunlop, Chase, and the clerk. Bentley took off out the window. The one Dunlop had escaped from before circling back. The same window he closed after doing the deed. The deed which left someone dead — Bentley’s real client. The client that had never hired him but that had needed his help far more than he realized.
Glass was everywhere.
After a swirl of concrete, big and small pieces of broken glass, and rain that didn’t seem to let up, Bentley wandered through some back streets and parking lots. The police were looking for him. He had no idea how things ended in the hallway of The Continental. Dunlop coulda just shot Chase, said it was self defense, and nobody would’ve argued. After all, Chase was the partner to the guy caught red-handed.
Bentley rested by a bright-colored car, whose front fender felt warm. It hadn’t occurred to him why. A man leaned out the window. “You’re a mess, fella. You shouldn’t be out in this storm. You okay?”
Bentley looked up surprised. The guy musta just parked Bentley decided. The warmth of the car just then registering. “Yes. Quite.”
“You need a hospital?”
“No, I need a brandy.”
“Well, that’s the second oldest joke I’ve heard tonight.”
“What was the oldest?”
He was being friendly. And he figured this poor fella, looking hurt and cold, probably just had a bad night. It was easy to be optimistic in Hollywood. But, more important, his instincts said it was okay to talk to this guy. He wasn’t a vagrant. Or some peddler who’d been beaten up over some phony goods he was trying to pass off to others for a smooth buck. This guy needed help. “Listen, you’re bleeding something awful here. Why don’t you get in?”
“Oh, thank you, no. I wouldn’t want to ruin the upholstery.”
“Eh, it’s my brother’s car. He owes me some dough; he could deduct this.”
Bentley tried to smile. The pain in his arm, and the shard of glass he hadn’t yet realized was causing it, weren’t going to let him.
The gentleman got out of his brother’s car and helped Royce up. Bentley let the guy walk him to the passenger side of the car. He got in. The guy ran back in, sat back behind the wheel. He held out his hand and introduced himself. Bentley nodded and did the same. Irving Shulman leaned in, “You attacked or something?”
Bentley decided to be honest. It’d never worked before, but what the hell, this night wasn’t going to get any worse. “Actually, I was set up for murder.” He looked at his arm. “Could I have your
hat?…or, rather, could I ruin your hat?”
“Ruin it? Jeez, if you’ve got to.” He handed his hat over, which Bentley took with the hand on his good arm. The car started up again, and they drove out.
“Well, unless you’ve got a first-aid kit in this glove box here, I have to.”
Bentley began making quick work of the hat. The man watched in disbelief.
“Aw, jeez, the ribbon’s not supposed to come off so easy!” He felt guilty for complaining (and less so for running a yellow light). The guy was bandaging himself up and all Irving could do was sit there and watch with one eye. The other was on the slicked road.
Bentley raised that almost amused eyebrow. “That’ll teach you to purchase your hat at Sears & Roebuck.”
“Heh. Yeah. I guess so. Hey, so where do you want me to take you?”
Bentley didn’t answer but instead muttered quietly. “Oh goodness. No wonder.” Bentley’s kindly stranger was about to ask him what he’d said, but then aloud Bentley asked, “Might you help me with something else just briefly?”
Irving Shulman looked over casually, comfortable with the guy who was tending to his own wounds in his brother’s car. “Sure, what is it– holy Christ! Lemme pull over!!”
Bentley nodded, in pain. “Yes, that might be best.”
On the side of Santa Monica Boulevard, the good Samaritan was transfixed. “How does someone get a shard of glass this large in their shoulder?”
“Landing wrong, I’d wager.”
Together, they eased the shard out of Bentley’s arm. The tendon it was touching let out a sigh of relief — another inch and it woulda let out more blood than either of these guys woulda known what to do with.
The ribbon from the crown of the hat was used as a bandage, and the blood slowed.
The pain was already subsiding. The blood-flow not quite as quickly, but it was getting better. Bentley sat back and breathed for a moment. He had to think about what to do next. And that little voice called to him again. It made him smile. He was in for a long couple of days, but, in the end, it’d all be worth it. He turned to his newfound ally. “How well do you know Beverly Hills?”
“You think my brother gets a car like this from being a plumber? Very well.”
They sat in the car a good quarter-mile away from Mr. Kantrall’s house. “So that’s him, our ‘pigeon,’ eh?”
The night was so quiet you could almost hear the day coming. Kantrall was standing on a balcony which sat dead center of the second floor of his stone and wood home.
Bentley thought about Irv’s question. “Hemm, actually, I’m the pigeon in this, friend.”
Irving looked at Bentley’s arm. “The bleeding stop?”
“‘Wonder what he’s waiting for out on his balcony like that.”
“A good question.” Bentley thought to himself that Kantrall could be awaiting the arrival of Dunlop, or the police. Then a car drove by, and the headlights blinked off and on like an adrift ship signaling to another. The dark sedan slowly went by the house, continuing its signal and coming towards Bentley and Irving Shulman. They ducked down as it neared. Bentley noticed that Mr. Kantrall downed the rest of his drink and walked back inside after the car passed by.
Bentley sat up first. Getting a good look at the car fading into the focal point the street converged to down the way.
Irving sat up. “So was that a signal of something? What’s it mean to switch the headlights like that?” He was like a kid in a candy store, Bentley thought. And by kid, he meant goat — because this guy was eating it all up.
“I don’t know…it’s not some sort of set code,” Bentley said, bored.
From their distance they could see the lights in Kantrall’s house being turned off.
“But you must have some idea.”
Bentley nodded, eyes squinting. “Could be unrelated, but it was probably Dunlop.” He looked at Irv, it was just an effort to be polite. “The guy who framed me.” Bentley robotically turned his head back towards the Kantrall’s place. “Signal could mean my friend’s dead…or that everything’s accomplished as it should be. Don’t quite know.”
Irving tried not to be excited by all of this. There was a guy sitting next to him bleeding, in severe pain. Someone else may be dead….For all Irv knew, this could end up like a bad day at The Shooting Range For The Blind — lots of folks, dead.
Irving tried not to be excited. “So, uh, what’s our next move, Bentley?”
Bentley explained they have no next move. He told Irving Shulman he’d done enough, and whatever he does next, Bentley said frank and in pain, would have to be on his own.
Mr. Shulman removed his jacket and shirt, figuring his undershirt would work better as a bandage. After he re-dressed himself, he did the same to Bentley’s wound. He looked up at Bentley. “Can you guess what I do for a living?” Met with silence, Irving pointed his chin at Bent. “Go ahead guess.”
Bentley searched his mind for something ordinary. “Accountant?”
Irving laughed a big silly laugh. He was tearing his undershirt, making it into a bandage. “Nothing nearly that interesting.”
“Well, then. Pharmacist?”
The undershirt was working nicely; they tossed the ruined ribbon of the hat onto the backseat floor.
“No. Worse. I manage the Los Angeles County salesforce of door to door plumber’s helpers salesmen.”
Bentley smirked. It was all clear now. This was Bentley’s worst night — well, almost — but for Irving Shulman, this was fantasy made reality. “Am I to understand I have a new partner in Irving Shulman.” Bentley’s smile faded fast when Irving pulled the bandage a tad too tight.
He loosened it quickly. Bentley was relieved.
“Think of me more as a flunky,” Irving explained, completely serious. “I’ll do whatever you need, and for free at that.”