Read David Bishop - Matt Kile 04 - Find My Little Sister Online
Authors: David Bishop
Tags: #Mystery: Historical - Romance - Hollywood 1938
Mickey Cohen called me an okay guy and walked me to his door. “Come back anytime.”
“Mickey, before I leave. Can I ask you one more thin
He scrunched up his mouth
There was that word again.
I showed him the picture of Callie’s sister, Frances. “You know this girl?”
He took a minute.
“She’s a looker. Nice curly red hair. You don’t see many dolls wear it long and curly. He looked a second time. Nah. I never seen her. You want I should keep this picture? Ask around? My boys can find her.”
“Not yet, Mickey. Maybe I’ll need you
r help, but I don’t want to trouble you unless I keep striking out. Thanks for the interview.”
“As a further sho
w of good faith, here’s a little something you might want.”
hands me a piece of paper. I unfold it to see the familiar address for the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. The hotel, one of the swankiest in Hollywood, was financed in part with money from big-name movie stars, including Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. The Blossom Room in the Roosevelt had hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. No name accompanied the address.
ed at Cohen with a question mark on my face.
“Might be a fellow living there you been asking about.”
He wouldn’t be using that name. He also goes by Tommy Rocco.”
“Be careful, Kile. He’s a mechanic, an independent. A good one when a good one’s needed. He’s long on talent, but short on conscience. The Breeze knows where a lot of bodies are buried. He’s buried ‘em, or so I’ve been told. I also heard there are people who are beginning to see Breeze as a liability. Him having all that knowledge given the attention he’s drawing around town. Attention you’re mostly bringing his way. Watch yourself. On a practical note, in return I gotta ask ya to deliver my invite to your pal Tony Cornero before you visit that address. Agreed?”
You wouldn’t want Breeze taking me out before I get a chance to talk with Tony.” Mickey shrugged as if the point had been obvious. It had. I slipped the paper in my shirt pocket. “Seems I owe you that much, will do, thanks.”
Mickey extended his hand. “
You’re a straight up guy, Kile. I like we’re on a first name basis: Matt and Mickey, well, the Mickster. You got me pegged pal. I sure like to mix things up.” He laughed again at my made-up moniker for him, so I did, too. “Let me know if you need my help with the broad.”
Frances was sitting on the couch in her slip
. An electric fan on high faced her from the coffee table. The fan blew her red hair hanging in ringlets, while also tunneling under her slip.
The word on the street is your sister’s out looking for you. She’s got that columnist Matt Kile helping her.”
“She won’t find us,
but if she does I’ll tell her to get lost. This is the life I want. You’re my man, Johnny. We got the dough to do what we want. Get what we want. We answer to nobody.”
“Did you destroy all the pictures of you, like I told ya?”
Johnny Breeze came over to sit next to her. Close enough to enjoy some of the output from the fan.
“Don’t make our lives out to be too glamorous, Doll. We’re living in a hotel under phony names. Sleeping with one eye open, loaded guns on the table. How long can a classy dame like you be satisfied with this kinda life?”
“We’re young. We can do it long enough to pile up all the money we’ll ever need. It’s
exciting. Not taking guff off anybody, rubbing out only those who deserve it.”
“I started doing this work ten years before I met you.
We sometimes rub out those who deserve it, but always those we’re paid to eliminate. The excitement’s all gone. Now it’s just a job, like any job. Only if you make mistakes, you get buried rather than fired. No friends. Oh, sure, drinking and laughing friends, but nobody you can trust. Nobody you can turn your back on.”
“What do you want, Johnny? Whatever
’s right for you is okay by me, honey.” She scooted her slip up to let the air from the fan dance across the white skin above the tops of her nylons. “Imagine you have a magic wand,” she said, “like that Houdini fella. What life would you make for us?”
“I’d be standing in the garden,
Dollface, working the ground with a hoe. You’d be inside preparing our meal, holding our child. I would toil in obscurity, alone, apart from all this.” Johnny arched his hand as if what he had just said referred to the entire city, maybe the state, even the country. “Away from all this ugliness, all I’ve come to know about the true way of things.”
s we will forever be known for, my love,” Frances said. “If we want the big paydays we’ve got to take the downside that comes with it. Still, where does it all end?”
“In death, Frances
, in death or our withdrawal from it one day before it consumes us.”
“When we’ve stockpiled
enough money let’s just fade from sight. Slip out of town and disappear. Gee Johnny,” Frances said, her dark eyes staring into his. “Do you think we could do that?” She tucked her arms under and around his.
’ll need to be ruthless and wise.” Johnny put his hand on her now cool white flesh, easing his fingers under the strap that held her nylon to her garter belt. “Until then we could live a little less lavishly and save more. Get to that day sooner.”
We could charge more, honey,” Johnny said. “That would get us there a whole lot sooner.”
We could stay in less expensive hotels. Do less clubbing. Buy fewer clothes.”
We deserve to have fun along the way, don’t we, Baby? It’ll all come out in the end. So what if we need to take on a few more jobs before we cash out. The people we take out would only be taken out by someone else anyway. It’s not like we’re deciding who dies. Whether we or someone else pulls the trigger, the targets will still go down. So what the hell, let’s make something off what’s inevitable anyway.”
Johnny ran his fingers up under the garter belt. Then he stopped.
“Time to go to work, Doll, I gotta plan. We have a job tomorrow night. A small gang’s running unauthorized poker games.”
“Unauthorized? Whadaya mean, baby?”
“Most of this town belongs to either Siegel, well, Siegel and Cohen, or to Dragna. No angles are played without their blessing. In return for their blessing and protection from a raid, they get a cut. These yokels have been refusing to pay that split.”
“How’d you learn of it and what’s it to you anyway?”
“I bought a lead on where the game’ll be tomorrow night, and arranged a job with Cohen for the one who tipped me. My inside man’ll be there. He’ll watch the door to be sure someone unexpected doesn’t drop in. I need to case the place and the roads nearby. I’ll be back in about two hours.”
What can I do?”
Nothing tonight. Tomorrow, like always, I’ll carry the trench coat broom. You carry the two handguns and carefully put a shot in the middle of the forehead of each one I put down. I won’t have time to give any of them a second spray until I’ve covered ‘em all. With you handling that I won’t worry that one’ll get off the deck or fire from the floor if the Tommy didn’t finish him.”
“How many we
Six, maybe seven. Don’t worry your pretty little head. I’ve handled that many before. I’ve also got plugged twice by one I only wounded. So, I need to count on ya, honey.”
You can, Johnny. I’ll hold up my end.”
“Two hours, doll.” Johnny went over and opened the room door. After he stepped into the hallway he turned back toward her.
Frances followed him and draped herself against the end of the door, a leg on each side. “After you finish casing, bring home some ice cream will ya? It’s hotter than hell. Maybe I’ll let you lick some off me.”
“What’d’ya mean, maybe?”
Frances was still laughing when Johnny walked out. Then she locked the door. After crossing the room she pulled down the blinds of the window which looked out over the street to the side of the hotel. The disadvantages of her life with Johnny Breeze included aliases for hotel rooms and keeping the shades drawn most of the time.
* * *
I started the next morning without specific plans to see Callie. I spent an hour or so clacking the keys on my typewriter while monkeying with the column I had roughed out yesterday. Then I left my bungalow in the Los Feliz area over near Griffith Park in the hilly Hollywood district of L.A. I had been asked to come to the office of Los Angeles District Attorney Buron Fitts, a polite way of being summoned. This stuff was the essence of writing a column. Without invites to sit down with the men in power, I was left listening for rumors and reporting what seemed straight.
Before leaving my place I turned off the water that had been providing a pick-me-up for the Octopus and King Palm trees that grew in my front yard.
Being a reporter and having the curiosity that goes with the job I wondered what the city’s top lawyer wanted. We had never talked one-on-one, although I had tossed questions his way and observed him and his doing while covering the city.
I approached the receptionist, which took about twenty-five steps after I
went through the door with the bright gold-leaf lettering that read, The Office of Los Angeles District Attorney, Buron Fitts.
’s Matt Kile,” I said to a smartly dressed woman with a perfect hairdo and perfect makeup. “I was asked to meet with the D.A. at ten-thirty this morning.”
Mr. Kile. He is expecting you, right through those double doors.”
, classy-like with her entire hand, not just a finger. Only the best work for the D.A.
I recognized you,” she said, “and let Mr. Fitts know you had arrived. May I say I love your column and your radio show?”
“As often as you’d like.”
She lowered her long eyelashes which were also perfect, each separated with no clumping. Like most of the snappy women of the day, she wore perfume, a pleasant fragrance. Our eyes met. I smiled. Then, not wanting to keep the D.A. waiting, I walked away from Ms. Perfect.
Proceeding toward what appeared to be hand-carved doors, I passed a dowdy, thickset woman dressed in a brown tweed suit buttoned up to her neck. I didn’t recall her name and had never met her, but I imagined her to be the politically sure-footed woman rumored to be the D.A.’s campaign brains.
Just before entering the Fitts’s inner sanctum, I looked back at Miss Perfect. She had swiveled her chair around to face me from across the room, her legs crossed, her shoulders back. She had nice gams and, with her shoulders back a lot more that looked nice, a fine female package filling out the space below her perfect smile. If it were not for my optimism about Callie I would have asked Miss Perfect to accompany me somewhere in the not too distant future. She seemed quite personable, and the way she sat and smiled suggested she would accept such an invitation.
When I stepped inside, t
he district attorney immediately rose and headed toward me. His respectful treatment made me feel a little like, “Lunch has arrived,” and I was on the plate.
“Mr. Kile, I’m pleased we’ve finally met
one on one. I’ve admired your work in your column. You tell it like it is without punching below the belt. I also took the liberty of going through your file from when you were an L.A. detective. Access to anything in the city is one of the perks of being D.A. Your service was during a period when being an honest detective was rare. I suspect that played into your decision to become a columnist.
“You say that like the days of crooked detectives are over. What about Eddie Kynette? Not to mention others.”
“Now, let’s keep it nice, Mr. Kile. I wanted us to meet. I think there are a couple things we might talk about.”
This is your meeting Mr. D.
so start off when you’re ready.”
“First off, there’s coffee on the side table. Feel free to help yourself at any time. I’m going to get some now.” He got up and
went over, talking on the way. I settled into one of two high-backed leather chairs that faced his large, handcrafted wooden desk.
Actually, the first item is the attack allegedly carried out on Harry Raymond by detective Eddie Kynette. My sources tell me that Kynette made the attack on Mr. Raymond on his own.”
“I suspect your sources are not reliable, sir.”
“You and the rest of the press should follow that story wherever it goes. And anything said by me on that subject can be used. Is there anything further you would like to take this opportunity to ask me?”
, other than that the attack on Raymond was moronic. I have no doubt you would have taken steps to prevent that attack had you known of it. However, I do not extend that comment beyond you and your office. Factions within the police department have long been known for rationalizing actions outside the bounds of their authority, not to mention beyond the law or their brains. You spoke of a couple of things, sir. That there were a couple things we could talk about?”
The second is not for publication. You may elect to do as I will ask or blow it off, but it is said off the record. Agreed?”
“Off the record gives me nothing I can write—that’s how I make my living.”
“I understand. Still, this is off the record or you won’t know about it anyway. Off the record, okay?”
“I want to candidly share something about your friend, Tony Cornero, and his newly launched gambling ship. I believe he has named it the S.S. Rex. Is that correct?”
“Far as I know
it is, sir. We’re friends, not business associates or partners.”
“Still, you are one of the few he listens to and trusts.”
“If I may stop you, sir. That is true because he knows I don’t do anyone else’s bidding.”
“I respect that, Mr. Kile. Still, you are someone through whom I can get a confidential message. Are you not?”
The D.A.’s eyes grew slightly larger when he said something of which he was unsure. The gamblers call it a
. An unplanned act which tips your hand, revealing something you’d rather not have revealed.
,” I answered. “If you’re speaking of me carrying your water to Tony, I’ll listen. If I do carry it, I will do so confidentially. If I don’t, this conversation never occurred.”