Read David Bishop - Matt Kile 04 - Find My Little Sister Online

Authors: David Bishop

Tags: #Mystery: Historical - Romance - Hollywood 1938

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BOOK: David Bishop - Matt Kile 04 - Find My Little Sister
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Callie
had continuously shaken her head as I tossed out the various blemishes on human behavior.

“No, Mr. Kile. M
y sister is wild about men. Not crazy wild. She likes dangerous ones. She drinks, but has no problem with it. When she goes into the various backrooms to gamble it’s because the man she is with wants her on his arm.”

“You said Frances is twenty-two, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know
that when we find her, assuming we do, we can’t force her to do or not to do anything. Within the law, she’s free to be with whomever she chooses and to act as she wishes, the same as you and me.”

“Of
course. Mostly my father and I just need to know she’s all right… . At the very least, that she’s alive. Sure, Daddy and I hope to make her see the bad end she could be heading for. Please help me find her. That’s first.”

I nodded.
“Anything else?”

“Nothing which comes to mind. If I think of more, may I call you?” I nodded
and gave her my card I reserve for friends apart from business. It carried my phone here at the office and at home, but no address. “Oh, she has a young cat, name of Puss. I think Puss is as worried as I am. The cat keeps waiting at the points in the house where she would frequently encounter Frances. The rest of the time Puss wanders around looking in rooms, out the window, seems to be searching. Sometimes Puss just looks at me, like I should know. Maybe I should, but I don’t. Father and I are in the same boat as Puss the cat.”

“What else?”

“Your fee.” She again reached into her purse. “I can pay you—”

I put up my hand.

She stopped speaking. Her mouth open just enough to show the coloring of her tongue, teasing the edge of her teeth. She moved her lips as if she might say something, but did not.

“Callie, I don’t need your money. I make a good living
, quite a good living actually. I’m alone. I don’t need it.”

“Then why
are you offering your help?”

“Let
me give it to you straight. You know I’m attracted to you. You knew that before you came to see me. This will give us a chance to get to know each other. I wish it were under better circumstances, but nonetheless it will. No obligations on your part. I’m not talking about you compromising yourself. I’m talking about an opportunity to know you. Whether anything more than that occurs will be up to you.”

“I take it your interest must be purely physical? I mean, you don’t know me.”

“I observe people for a living. I know more than you might think. But tell me more about yourself.”

“Where should I start? What do you w
ant to know?”

“In the newspaper business, we have a saying, “Sum it up.”

She looked down a moment or two, then up and directly at me. “I’m a simple girl, really. I like to cook and care for people I love. I’m easily distracted by stimulating book covers, chocolate, kittens, warm cookies, and trains. I particularly like trains when I’m on them with people I love.”


Summed up better than some reporters I know. Now, let’s get back to what we were discussing. If you don’t develop an interest in me, I’ll still help you. That’s no conditions here, okay?”

“Okay, Mr. Kile.”

“Matt.”

“Okay, Matt. Thank you.
I want to go with you while you look for Frances.”

“You work?

“For
Daddy. I’ve already cleared it with him. He wanted to go, but he knows he’d be recognized by some of the men you’ll see and they’d clam up.”


I agree about your father, but your coming along is not a good idea either. The places … the people I’ll be talking with.”

“I want everything done to find Frances that can be
done. I’ll recognize some of the people Frances knows. This will make it harder for those people to stonewall you. If we actually see Frances, I’ll recognize her no matter how she’s done up. You may not, given that the picture you have isn’t how she always looks, particularly when she dolls herself up to go out.


If you get talking to someone for your column who you think isn’t opening up because of my being there, give me the high sign. I’ll go to the powder room and then wait for you by the door. It’s also possible some of your sources may see you differently if you show up with what they might call a doll on your arm. I’ll try to dress the part… . Look, if we find her … when we find her, I’ll be the best person to reason with her. Daddy issues orders. Frances and I talk … some anyway… . Please.”

“We’ll try it. See how it goes. But I’ll pull the plug if I think you’re cramping my style. Agreed?”

“Agreed, Matt.”

Chapter Six

 

 

Over the next two nights,
Callie and I hit a few clubs. And, like she had said, she dressed for the part. Each night her outfit pulled off a perfect marriage of sexy and classy—not an easy achievement. There was no smuttiness in the woman. Not in public anyway. In private I didn’t know, but hoped to find out. To my way of thinking, during intimate private times there is no such thing as indecent. My concerns about taking her along while I hit the spots soon disappeared. I was noticed more often than usual. Lots of men and even a few women, who usually hung back and nodded or smiled, now came over to say hello and be introduced. The accompanying conversation let me pick up a few morsels for my column. Callie was good for my business as well as my ego.

We neither found Frances nor anyone who knew where she was. A few
mentioned having seen her last night or last week. No one remembered exactly where. The people had been club hopping with drinks at each stop. The particular club where they had seen Frances lost in their floating memories. Two of the women said Frances had been with a gorgeous guy, well dressed, with an air of keep-your-distance. No one who saw her had spoken to her. The two women had no clue as to the identity of the gorgeous guy. However they made noises and wiggles like they wish they had.

The first night I noticed a man in one of the early clubs
where we stopped. I saw him again in the last nightspot we hit. The sound his shoe taps made against the hard surface flooring first drew my attention. I saw him twice more during our second night of clubbing. He stayed at a distance. Sometimes he sat alone at a table in the corner. Other times at the bar when it provided a mirror in which he could see our table. The tell was his eyes. He didn’t look around. He just watched us. I didn’t mention him to Callie.

In part, we spent
those evenings getting better acquainted. I didn’t push it. Still, we had clearly started the process of knowing one another. We seemed to be hitting it off, but we kept the focus on finding her little sister. We showed the picture around and got a lot of comments. “She’s a Hot Toddie.” Another said, “I love her lamps.” A third said, “She’s a real sweet patootie.” All slang of the day for a good looking dish. The Hot Toddie had been what the recently murdered actress Thelma Todd had been called. Several commented on her unusual red hair. The women mentioned her skin and the distant look in her eyes.

The
“sweet patootie” comment had been made by a guy I knew as Raker, a recently retired croupier from one of Mickey Cohen’s illegal casinos.

“I heard some dame named Frances was
Johnny Breeze’s current moll.” Raker had lowered his voice when he said Johnny Breeze, as if Breeze’s name traveled on some private sinister whisper. “But I never laid eyes on her.” Raker went on to say he had no clue where to find them. “You know Breeze,” he added after a minute. “He moves around like his name. In his business he avoids being predictable. He don’t stay at no club more than an hour, if that long.”

When Raker left, Callie asked me what business Johnny Breeze was in.

“He’s a gunsel, freelance. He’s reputed to have done jobs for Ben Siegel, Bugsy, as he’s called by some when he isn’t around. And Mickey Cohen, Siegel’s second in command who maintains some rackets independent of Siegel. Raker’s mother is Sicilian so he has loose connections with Dragna and some of the eastern crime families. Siegel and Cohen are both Jewish. Breeze has a rep for getting it done and is paid well for doing it.”

“Why don’t the police arrest
this Johnny Breeze?”

“You’ve got a lot to learn about this town, Callie. Ask your father. City Hall and the police department are in tight with the mobs. I even heard a story I could never corroborate that Johnny Breeze
bumped off a guy for one of our former Chiefs of Police. You got a taste of the connection when the police sloughed off the missing person’s report you filed on Frances.”

“Did you print it?
The killing for the chief of police, I mean.”

“Not without corroboration. Until
I get that, it’s one man’s word against another. That makes it little more than a rumor and that was not the kind of story I felt comfortable reporting as a rumor. Maybe someday I’ll get that confirmation and I’ll run it then.”

 

New York D.A. Thomas Dewey holds a Warrant for Ben Siegel. Our D.A. Buron Fitts is Cooperating.

 

Yesterday, L.A authorities, in cooperation with the New York district attorney, raided the Beverly Hills home of the flamboyant Benjamin Siegel. Siegel was not at home. Later, Ben Siegel called the L.A. papers to say, “Hey, if New York D.A. Tom Dewey wants me I’m right in his back yard, New York.”

Early this morning I was tipped that Ben Siegel and a friend, the Countess di Frasso left for Rome and the home of the Countess’s husband.
Siegel left Mickey Cohen, his protégé, in charge of his various L.A. business operations which some call rackets. The tip included that Siegel might meet up with his childhood pal, the actor George Raft before heading back to the States.

Mickey Cohen is on the rise after gobbling up all that Siegel could teach him. The lessons included things as varied
as dressing better, including wearing some cashmere. Mickey, who never graduated from elementary school, has hired a tutor to teach him how to speak correctly. He also put on an accountant and my sources report that he’s going to start paying his taxes, including filings for back years. It would be fascinating to know which business activities he will use to cover his ill-gotten gains, or if he’ll just underreport. The Mickster is said to change his suits two or three times a day, wash his hands several times every hour, and eat ice cream and pastry with every meal. Now, I ask you: if that ain’t Hollywoodesque what is? Mickey Mouse and Mickey Cohen, two very different fellas, are both a part of our Hollywood scene.

I
expect as L.A. continues to grow, Mickey Cohen will continue to grow with it. That is, unless rival mobsters stunt his growth. Me, I’m betting on the Mickster.

Of a more local nature, the town drums
beat about a soon to be released investigative report that links former Mayor Frank Shaw with the underworld, and purports to link the mayor’s brother with the sale of dozens of city jobs. Whose investigation and what links I’ll report in future columns as I dig out the details.

Today’s entertainment tip: last night I saw a private screening of
You Can’t Take it With You
, a light entertaining movie by Director Frank Capra, starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, and Lionel Barrymore. Don’t miss this one.

Under the THINGS YOU OUGHT TO KNOW column: The Hollywoodland sign on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills
, placed there to advertise the housing development, has finally had its burnt out lights replaced and is back in working order: First Holly lights, then wood, then land. After that the entire Hollywoodland is lit until the next cycle begins. Some day when the development is sold out, they should drop the word
land
from the sign and use it to promote Hollywood.

 

Good night Mr. and Mrs. Los Angeles and the gambling ships at sea… . Good Luck, Suckers.

Matt Kile

 

* * *

 

The next evening when
Callie and I were coming out of the Mocombo we saw Mickey Cohen stepping out of a car in front of the swank club. He never got through the front door. LAPD Detective John Donahoe stepped in front of Cohen and put handcuffs on him. The cops also arrested another man who had been with Cohen.

I d
on’t know for what Donahoe was pinching Cohen. I do know that for some time Donahoe has believed Cohen to be the man behind the string of armed robberies which have occurred along the Wilshire corridor over the past two years. Whether his arrest last night was related to that belief remains part of the mystery.

“Who
was the other man, the real tall one they arrested along with Mr. Cohen?” Callie asked.

“High-Pockets Harry. He runs errands for the Mickster. Opens doors. Gets him ice cream. High-Pockets is no gangster, more a guy who likes to hang around gangsters, feeds on the excitement. In return for being able to hang around Cohen, Pockets runs errands, and angles now and again to pick up a left over doll or a horse tip.”

“Why do they call him High-Pockets?”


You saw him. The man’s about six-foot-ten. When he stands next to the five-foot-five Cohen, Harry’s pants pockets line up with Mickey’s shirt pockets. Some refer to them as Mutt and Jeff, only Mr. Cohen doesn’t like the reference to himself as Mutt.”

Callie laughed
; I mixed some of my laughs in with some of hers. She took my hand in hers and we walked toward my car.

 

* * *

 

It was nearly two-thirty by the time I dropped Callie at her place and headed for my own. I would have slept at the office, but Callie’s bungalow was closer to my rented house than to my office.

As I turned left off
Melrose onto a side street a car coming the other way turned right, squeezing alongside me as we both made our turns into the same lane. It seemed odd given the light traffic. We were the only two cars within sight. That seemed too much of a coincidence. It was.

I jerked the wheel hard to the left just as
a Tommy gun, often called a Chicago typewriter, typed a row of its letters across the passenger side door and window of my Franklin. I couldn’t recognize any specific letters, but I could read the message: stop doing something. I just had no idea what that something was. Delving into the Raymond bombing? Asking about Johnny Breeze? Referring to Mickey Cohen in the same sentence as Mickey Mouse? Trying to find Frances Hampton?

Turning
sharply away from the spray of bullets, I hit a fire hydrant. The shooting, the crash and the water fountain from the hydrant woke up a lot of folks who started streaming out the doors of the nearby boarding houses. All the commotion caused the car carrying the shooter, who had started to back up toward where my 1930 Franklin Airman had been harpooned by the hydrant, to speed off. The shooter’s car had held two people. It had to. A person alone couldn’t steer tight around the corner while using the Tommy gun at the same time.

A moment later, a second car pulled to the curb. The driver, a big man, started toward me
, his head down enough that the brim of his hat appeared to touch his dark, pinstriped suit. I wished I was still on the force, or at least had my stainless Thompson .45 caliber, nested under my left arm.

BOOK: David Bishop - Matt Kile 04 - Find My Little Sister
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