The Morals and Mysteries of Max Monroe P.I. by Rip William by Rip William - Read Online

Book Preview

The Morals and Mysteries of Max Monroe P.I. - Rip William

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

The Morals and Mysteries of Max Monroe ~

P.I.

A Collection of Stories

by

Rip William

Copyright © 2011

All Rights Reserved

To Moucellan & Panisse

From ~

The Morals and Mysteries of Max Monroe -

Private Eye

Tuesday on my Mind

She was everything her voice promised, though perhaps a little shorter than I expected, coming in at only about one hundred and sixty five centimeters in heels. There was an impish air about her aided by two big blue eyes in a triangular face, and a generous mouth that looked ready to smile. Her face was porcelain white in contrast to her jet-black hair, which was cut short in an old-fashioned pageboy style. Apart from the obvious fact she was thin you couldn’t get any impression of her figure as she was completely buttoned up in a buff coloured trench coat, the kind favoured by people in my line of work. A red and white scarf knotted around her throat was the only visible piece of underclothing. The coat stopped at the knees and a pair of expensive looking patent leather boots carried on from there. I put her as young as nineteen, believing it was simply the act of sophistication she assumed that made her appear older.

Sitting primly on the chair in front of my desk she placed a stylish looking handbag on her knees, and I was glad to notice it didn’t have the obvious trademarks of one those expensive mass-exclusive brands like Chanel or D&G, which the rich and moneyed middle classes so admired.

To date she’d not spoken a word. When I'd opened the pebbled glass door to my office – recently repainted with the legend Max Monroe ~ Investigations - all I’d gotten as she entered was a simple nod in acknowledgement. So, with a view to getting the conversation going, I reminded her that when we’d spoken on the phone earlier that morning she’d not given a name.

No names! It’s a straight forward job I want performed, came the reply, peremptory in manner. And while I resisted the urge to smile my guest proceeded to open her handbag and take out an envelope.

Look, I like intrigue as much as the next person, but let’s be serious, just for a moment.

Her response was a blank, expressionless face, as she slid the envelope over to my side of the desk, so adding an edge to my voice, I demanded, I need a name.

It got a raised eyebrow and the hint of a smile, which I returned with a sour look, shamefully aware of the fact that if she weren’t so alluring I’d have thrown her out by now.

I want you to follow a man, pictures and some details are in that envelope. Give me a complete account of his movements and habits. Everything he does from the moment he wakes in the morning till he goes to sleep at night. For example, the names of people he sleeps with, the food he eats, the friends that he visits, the places he goes, every little thing.

Despite myself, I picked up the envelope and opened it. In addition to a typewritten note, and couple of snapshots of a tough looking character, vaguely familiar, there was a wad of cash; twenty dollar notes. I left them alone and scanned the letter; it jogged my memory of the thug in the photographs. I put everything back the way it had been and pushed the envelope a little back towards her side, saying as I did, I also presume you’ve no intention of explaining to me what all this is about?

She shook her pretty head, You’re to be extremely careful to avoid attention; he’s not to suspect a thing. I’ve enclosed a thousand dollars for what, I think, is called a retainer. Then standing and placing her handbag on the seat behind her, added, Plus there’s this.

Turning towards me my guest started undoing the buttons on her coat and I was suddenly all too aware of her intentions. It was the sort of thing I thought only happened in cheap airport novels.

Hang on! I cried, holding up a hand, but the next thing I knew the coat was undone and she was sliding it off her shoulders. Underneath she was as naked, and as white, as a Greek statue. She let the coat fall to the floor behind her and just stood, a mischievous smile, as ancient as the dawn of civilisation, curling on her face.

I’m not normally lost for words but on this occasion I just sat, probably with a stupid expression on my face, mute. She came around to my side of the desk, saying, When I return for the information you’ve collected, if it’s satisfactory, then you can look forward to playing some more.

Regaining some of my composure, I got my chin back to its normal position and started yelling some sort of protest, ‘unethical’ the only word I can recall, as it made her laugh. As she had managed to clamber onto my knee, any resistance I had left evaporated.

The little minx was no novice to the ways of sexual pleasure.

Later as she reclined in the customer’s chair smoking a cigarette, her booted feet on my desk, the little scarf around her neck her only clothing, I checked the money in the envelope. There was a thousand dollars. Looking over at her, still annoyed with myself for being so easily seduced, I grumbled, Luring me into acts of wanton sex isn’t going to pay the cost of what you’re asking. And what you’re asking is not going to come cheap.

Her languid and sated look changed to a smile. You have a funny way of speaking for a gumshoe, sort of theatrical. In fact you’re nothing like what I’d expected, and that’s a relief. Then straightening up and adopting a more serious tone, she added, The sex was not meant to cover the fee, but a token of good faith, given my desire for secrecy. Money is not an issue, how much do you need?

A flash of anger at the circumstances I found myself in took hold, but passed almost as quickly, leaving me with the realisation, that, short of murder, I’d probably do anything she asked. It wasn’t the sex; there was a far more weird and complicated set of emotions at work here, and hence a lot more disturbing.  

Sighing like a beaten man, I replied, To do the type of job you said you wanted will be an around the clock task, and need at least a five man team, plus me to direct. There won’t be any change from five grand a week, and that’s mate’s rates, believe me. It didn’t seem to startle her and she assured me she could return in an hour with enough cash to cover the first week’s activity.

I’ll happily accept a cheque. I didn’t expect it to work and it got what it deserved.

Max, we’ll get along fine if you don’t treat me as a fool.

Acknowledging her point with a nod, I told her, in a relaxed and friendly tone, There's no rush for the dough. Then in another attempt at trying to make the situation a little more professional, I asked, I wouldn’t want to think I was aiding and abetting in anything criminal?

As she buttoned her coat she assured me not to worry, and repeated her offer to return a little later with the money. I told her it could wait; giving me the opportunity to still back out should common sense suddenly prevail. Then I began explaining how I’d handle matters. She cut me off saying, Max, do things how you want. I trust you.

Then we just looked at each other, and she smiled her first natural smile, and I realised again how beautiful she really was.

How about lunch? Her smile stayed but a melancholy look appeared as well, while she shook her head, saying, I’ll meet you here, and only here, but I’ll phone daily for news.

Acknowledging her words with a slight movement of the head, silence once more filled the room, her blank expression slowly returning. There were a million things I wanted to say and ask, but I was peculiarly quiet. She looked away and walked to the door, where, she stopped and turned, a playful look coming back onto her face.

I could dress as a school girl next time if you like?

I prefer girl scouts.

We both laughed, and then she was gone.

______

For what seemed like a long time I just sat and thought, replaying all of what just occurred over in my mind, but it didn’t help me make any more sense of things. Shrugging, I got on the phone to a police sergeant I knew well.

Maggie, it's Max.

Max, I hate you! You’ve been avoiding me.

It was true.

It’s nothing personal, Maggie,’ I lied, I’ve been avoiding everybody, of late. Can I ask a favour?"

Maggie was a married woman with whom I’d been having an affair; it wasn’t meant to become a regular thing but it had started to get that way, and I wanted it to stop. Her marriage wasn’t over, it could be salvaged, and as far as I was concerned consensual sex was the limit to our relationship.

Even as a young kid my good looks and desire to dress individually brought me attention, but it didn’t make me vain or popular. I found it confusing, the petty jealousies that seemed to rage around me were unsettling, turning me solitary and, when necessary, into a fighter. Though I discovered over time humour often dissolved unpleasant situations. In adolescence the strong sexual urges I had for the opposite sex were often reciprocated, however, having already developed the desire for independence, my relationships were brief. In adulthood I’ve adopted the philosophy of the free spirit, but I’m not indiscriminate, no matter how much I’ve had to drink; so there is always something besides simple sexual attraction to all the women I get involved with.

Maggie, aware of my often taciturn nature, listened to what I wanted and said something about putting a dossier together and maybe coming over to my place later that evening. I used the case as an excuse, and begged her to have a quick look in the computer for me now, and grudgingly she obliged.

Max, this guy is one bad motherfucker. If you can get something on him hon you’d make many a friend here in the force, Maggie said, as her eyes no doubt scanned the screen in front of her. She worked in police administration, high up in policy, and was obviously no longer up to date on our organised crime figures.

I got her to give me the address they had on record for George Wetters, the man I’d been hired to watch, before getting a rundown on his criminal activities; aware too few had been proved to the satisfaction of the courts. As Maggie read down the long list of drug related offences and standover charges, pack-rape of a young woman was mentioned. I got her to stop and give me some details.

Five years ago a seventeen-year-old female had been lured to a party and raped by four men and one woman. The victim, April Karlstom, reported the crime and charges were laid, but before the matter got to court she committed suicide, and the case for the prosecution folded.

Talk to Martin Carmichael at CID. He’ll have all the lowdown on this sleazebag, Maggie concluded, and then, a little hesitantly, asked, So, Max, are we ever going to get together again? Lacking conviction I told her we would, and she sighed, saying, Am I too old Max? Is that it?

It made me think guiltily back to my client, and how young she obviously was.

Don’t say things like that, Maggie, and don’t even think it. You’re beautiful and always will be. I’m not deluded and nor should you by mainstream focus on youth and beauty. As for my current frame of mind, I just wish I could explain in some way, but I can’t. I’m sorry.

My rant and flimsy justification didn’t ease her disappointment any, and when we parted I felt the friendship was on uncertain ground.

Martin Carmichael was someone I knew well enough, and what I knew told me he might want to co-operate. I left a message for him to call, not being able get him to answer mine.

Then I rang Phil Dood. If I ever wanted a partner it would be him, Dood was the best man in the business of tailing, and even the police would hire his services on occasion. He was also one of the smarter operatives. Phil said he was busy on a job at present but give him ten and he’d see what he could do. While I waited for the call I got onto the computer and searched the newspaper archives I subscribed to for information on the rape of one April Karlstom. It had got some press in the dailies, but not a lot.

Five years ago, however, we still had a weekend rag dedicated to the seamy side of life, and the incident got a good run with them. While vilifying George Wetters on the one hand, on the other, it also played him up as a likable rogue. As for any facts about the actual rape, there were none. What it did have though was a picture of April Karlstom arm in arm with a slightly younger girl. Her name was Tuesday Karlstom, and she was my client.

It wasn’t difficult to guess what she was up to – revenge of some sort. Though it's illegal, popular culture, in the form of entertainment, promotes the lone vigilante, encouraging the mentality it’s what the bastards deserve. The amusement factor of course makes a clear definitive line for the punters, so as not get them confused or worry their consciences in any way. One side is bad as bad can be, while the other are good souls, even if sometimes a little rough around the edges. George Wetters, it would seem, could fit pretty easily into the first category, but I don’t like this kind of story.

With Phil’s help I put a team together who were to meet at my office at six that evening. In the meantime Dood went to check out Wetters' home.

Phil, I know I don’t need to say this, but be extra discreet.

You don’t! Listen, Wetters has a lot of enemies, in fact only Bin Laden these days is more disliked. I could think of at least half a dozen people who would pay good money to have him bumped off. I’ll be keeping extra careful so as not to get in the way of any stray bullets.

I gave a distracted laugh, then surprised Phil, and myself, by blurting, Our job is just to collect information, we haven’t sunk to killing people for a living, as yet.  

I wasn’t offerin! Phil after a pause retorted, unimpressed, and then hung up.  

At around five that afternoon Carmichael phoned. He was in a jolly mood and I wondered if perhaps he’d been at the desk bottle. When we got past the wisecracking he asked, without disguising his curiosity, how he could help.

It’s to do with an old case; the rape of April Karlstom.

At the mention of the name Carmichael gave a grunt of surprise. Shit, that case is older and staler, Monroe, than the gags at our Christmas party. He remembered it though, and that was a good sign, so I kept quiet, not even a polite chuckle at the lame joke, and waited while he thought.

A cunt called George Wetters was the ringmaster, and while I’d love to see him go down for something he did more than win the lotto, it ain’t gonna be on this one, mate. It was a one word against another situation, as the bimbo took several days before she came in and reported what had happened …

I’m also very interested in George Wetters, I said, more to fill the silence that had followed when he’d trailed off, wary, I imagined, in thought.

Yeah? And what angle are you coming from there?

Client wants the lowdown on Wetters and is prepared to spend some dough on having us watch him for a while. Then I added, With a view, of course, to getting some dirt on him that might stick, hoping the lie might get him on side.

"So why ask about the rape of April Karlstrom?’

Curiosity.

He thought before replying. Look, I can only imagine it’s the sister, what was her name, January or something, that's hired you to look into all this? I didn’t say anything, so after a pause he went on, I remember the rape case, though I wasn’t actually in charge of it. And Max, while I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, and all that, the girl, April, well, she was pretty kooky, and rumoured to be a little sex-crazed. You know about the father.

Nope.

Well, at the time all this happened the father had died - heart attack while in bed with two young women. He was an old, middle European geezer, who passed himself of as some sort of aristocrat; Count something or rather. He had the sort of dough that royal families once had. His reputation for sexual cavorting made Casanova’s life seem tame. He left his daughters with a couple of billion dollars to play with.

What about the mother?

I can’t remember, but she didn’t figure. Could have been dead already, anyway I doubt daddy and mummy had any conventional relationship happenin.

Let’s hear about the rape.

"April Karlstrom was seventeen at the time of the crime, and wild as her old man. She’d already been booked for cocaine possession, but with the help of a fancy lawyer had gotten off the charge. Anyway, she claimed Wetters lured her to a party with the promise of a house full of celebs, but it turned out it was just him, his wife, and a couple of goons. All of which, according to April, proceeded to pack rape her.

"But as the victim didn’t report the crime for a couple days after the incident, and had, in between time, had sex with other people, the chances of a conviction weren’t great."

But you believed her?

"She gave a good account of what happened, and when Wetters' mob were questioned there were enough inconsistencies in their stories for the matter to be taken seriously. Plus there were plenty of rumours floating about that George and his wife got a kick out of this sort of shit, though no one had come forward before April, or since.

"We might have got somewhere with the facts as they were, but the problem was with that family, the defence lawyer was gonna have a field day. The sister, Tuesday, that’s her fucking name, Jesus, Monroe. She was only sixteen at the time and yet dating some black rapper who performed hardcore sexed-up filth. Anyway I take you know what happened before we got the thing to court?"

I told him I did, and we were both fell silent, lost in thought, before I said, Well, thanks Marty for all that, and what about Wetters, want to help?

Carmichael thought some more before answering. Max, we’ve been keeping tabs on this guy off and on for years, he’s a careful bastard. Still, if someone wants to spend some capital on trying to pin something on Wetters, I might be able to help. Does the expense account run to lunch?

‘Sure, if it’s somewhere cheap. He laughed at that, and replied, Look, meet me at Silvies tomorrow twelve o’clock, and I might have something for you."

Then Carmichael hung up before I could protest about the choice of venue. Silvies is a strip joint, bar and restaurant that is far from cheap. There’s a twenty-five dollar surcharge just for the floorshow. The rotten food and drink is shamelessly overpriced. The young women that take your order and serve your food are made to dress in slinky see-through negligees, and you’re expected to tip them generously, despite the fact they generally get things all wrong and are as awkward with the plates as children. I reckoned I’d be lucky if I got change from five hundred dollars. Well, Tuesday had said money was not an issue.

______

My new employees all arrived on time and I had booze for those who drank and soft drink for the teetotalers, which, despite the clichéd reputation, many PI’s are, for sensible reasons. I had mixed myself a dry martini, gin of course, with a twist of lemon.

Phil got proceedings rolling by relating his afternoon's adventure to us all.

Max said he wasn’t sure if the home address we had for Wetters was still current so I went to check. It looked ugly enough to be his joint. But to make sure I strolled over the road to a quaint little house and knocked on the door. To my enormous surprise a brassy lady, say forty, with her tits hanging out and face to scare little children answers. I say I’m Joe Moon and I’m installing a new alarm system in Mr Wetters' home across the way that might interfere with her garden sprinkler system, so I’m here to let her know.

We all laughed, and Phil carried on. "’We haven’t got no sprinkler system,’ she whines with a boozy voice. Then adds, ‘And anyway, there’s a drought on and only people like Mr Wetters can afford to water his gardens.’ I nod sympathetically, and having got what I want to know I go to leave, however she stops me flat by saying, ‘Why didn’t my husband tell you? I thought Steve looked after all that kind of shit for George, anyway?’

"Quick as a flash I say, ‘You Steve’s wife? He lives here?’ She nods, looking confused, then it changes to bitter as she says, ‘Well, I guess given the fact he only ever comes home to change his clothes that reek of cheap perfume, you wouldn’t know.’ I give her a sorry nod and then a sort of pitiful look as I pleaded, ‘Keep mum love, will ya? Steve’ll think I’m a right dick if he learns I been here.’ The dragon nods, buts she's thinking and brightens with an idea, ‘You wanna come in for a cup of tea?’

Pretending to be interested I moan, ‘Next time, they’re all waiting for me.’ And with a schoolgirl's smile she replies, ‘Anytime, and bring some friends, as many as you like. I’m not fussy.’ So I quip, ‘How about I bring the local football team?’ And my friends, the look on her ugly mug is a face that’s in heaven.

Laughter filled the room and I joined in. Phil told a good story, but I found the situation more depressing than amusing. The other operatives present were everyday men apt to feel uneasy around my uncharacteristic looks and dress, and so I presumed Dood thought a boys' locker room type tale would help them to relax. It worked, and they all started talking at once about similar type incidents; it took me a little while to bring the meeting to order so we can get back down to business.

Phil and I had already discussed matters and agreed on a plan of action. A sewerage entrance was more or less out front of Wetters' house and we had decided to set up shop there, dressed as municipal council workers. Though the house was huge, and on a fair sized bit of land, it only had one entrance and exit for automobiles, and we decided to assume, given he was meant to be afeared for his life, our man would only come and go by car. The first crew, dressed appropriately, were to be at the site by the crack of dawn and to ensure the electronic equipment required was carefully hidden inside the workmen’s tent. With the aid of a carefully drawn whiteboard we discussed channels of communication, and various responses to situations before letting the men go.

When they were gone Phil and I got things together for the job we had still to do that night - the firing of a dart from an air gun into a tree that stood close to one of Wetters' front rooms. The dart would contain a listening device. These chips were pretty sophisticated little things and should pick up something of what was being said inside the house. We’d have to wait till next morning, when the men set up the receiver, to see how effective it was. We went out to eat beforehand.

What’s the matter Max? You’re not worried about what we’re going to do later, are you?

After rolling my eyes at Phil’s comment I decided to tell him about our client, the reason I was distracted from his prattle. I started with my seduction.

When he stopped laughing Phil asked, You're saying that this girl came prepared to fuck whoever it was that was sittin’ in your chair, just to make sure she’d get her way?

Can’t say I’ve given that much thought, but it’s a possibility. She may, though, have checked me out beforehand.

Gee how I wish sometimes I was Max Monroe!

You wouldn’t like it, pal, anymore than I did. I’ve been compromised.

Phil gave a bitter snort. Well, what do you want me to say? If you’re pissed off with yourself for what happened that’s your beef, mate. I just wish some young piece of fluff would take her clothes of for me every now and then as a token of good faith.

People like you always say that but if did happen you’d not respond, your conscience wouldn’t let you. You couldn’t face Edith if you did.

He gave a resentful look that told me I was right, and then got serious. Max, we’re private detectives and we’re often paid to do jobs no questions asked, so don’t beat yourself up over what happened.

I told him the rest of the story.

Shit, makes me sick at times the world we live in, Phil spat, while shaking his head in disgust. Then looking over at me, asked curiously, Why has it taken her so long to do something about it all?

If you’re asking me why the client has only just decided to go seeking some kind of revenge, aren’t you forgetting I’m not even meant to know who she is? And what she’s planning to do with the information we gather bothers me more than surrendering my principles.

He pursed his lips in thought this time before saying, "Well, if later on the client gets a gunman