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April 30, 1940 <> Spicer Investigations, Hollywood

It was hot in Hollywood and I was dog-tired after an entire day hunting a little man who wasn't there. All I wanted was to put my feet up and drink a tall shot from the new bottle of White Horse in my desk drawer.


I parked on Highland alongside the First National Bank Building and hiked up to the second floor. For some reason it felt more like all twelve floors.


At the top of the stairs, I took a few steps and stopped dead in my tracks. My tired brain was trying to tell me something. For a change, I listened to it.


The hallway outside my office is supposed to smell like an overflowing ashtray in a musty attic. It smelled like that, all right, but there was something else mixed in—something like gardenias. It's the sort of flowery scent that makes guys look around for the blonde wearing it.

I knew better. There was no blonde, just the punk I spent the whole damn day hunting. He thought the scent made him more loveable. It didn't.

It seemed he was waiting for me in my own office while I traipsed all over Hollywood looking for him. It was, however, damned unlikely he was there to turn himself in for killing an elderly oil tycoon who had the bad luck to catch the punk burglarizing his house.

Of course the cops were also looking for the punk because this was a high-jingo murder. The press was all over it so LAPD homicide was actually putting some effort into the case. Still, the old guy's family wanted the job done right, so they hired me to find the killer. Well, I found him, or he found me, depending on your point of view. Odds were twenty-to-one the punk was there to discourage me from trying to take him in.

Since there was only one way in or out of my office and I knew the punk was in there, however, the odds were now six, two and even on my side of the tote board. All I had to do was explain that to the punk.

Standing to one side of my outer office door so my silhouette didn't show on the frosted glass that said, "Jonathon A. Spicer Investigation Agency," I studied the situation. While doing so, I noticed the gold paint on my middle initial was chipped.

Actually, I was stalling more than studying. The situation didn't warrant much study. One look at the light through the frosted glass told me the inner office door was open.  If the guy was sitting at my desk, he had a clear shot at me as I came through the hall door.

Since my only option was to come through that door, I stopped stalling and did what I had to do. I kicked the damned door just to the right of the knob so hard it slammed open with enough force to shatter its frosted window. I didn't have to worry about the chip in my middle initial anymore.

Now a whole lot of stuff was happening. For one, I was diving head first through the inner office door. For another, the punk was firing a Howitzer at me. Well, maybe it was only a Colt .45 caliber revolver, but it looked like a damned cannon from my point of view.


As I hoped, though, the punk made a fatal mistake when the door crashed in. Being a little guy, he stood up behind my desk before he started shooting. That was fatal for two reasons: it gained me an extra few seconds and gave me a target I could hit from the floor in front of my desk.

While he was shooting enormous holes in the air with his great big Colt, I put two .38 caliber slugs into his chest. He went down like a sack of dirty laundry. That was it. Go on home folks, there's nothing more to see.

Later, when Renner from homicide arrived and the coroner's guys left with the punk, I opened my window to get some air. Somewhere out there a jukebox was playing Benny Goodman's Don't Be That Way.


Detective Renner was feeling philosophical. Joining me at the window, he said, "It just ain't fair a punk like that murders an upstanding citizen and we only get to kill him once."

Renner's philosophy didn't deserve a response, but I felt generous and gave him one. "Renner, who the hell says life's gotta be fair? The only place where good guys always win is in the movies. Maybe that's why people pony up a quarter to watch a couple of hours of bad acting. Maybe they just want to spend a little time in a world where the good guys come out on top for a change.

"In real life the punks have the upper hand. Mugs like you and me; we do the best we can to even the score and sometimes we get lucky. The rest of the time we just gotta take it and like it."

THE END

Story and design © Steve Eitzen
Header graphic & HPO logo © HPO Productions
First National Bank and Hollywood Boulevard Images © Water and Power Associates
Colt revolver image modified from a public domain photograph
White Horse bottle © The Whiskey Exchange
All rights reserved by copyright owners

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, locations, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

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