“…a beautiful doll had come and gone.”
Tony Resolvo – Private Ojo
She turned and left, her high heels calling me a heel all the way down the stairs. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to think. Was I losing a well-off client or a bien loca?
I spent the next week thinking of her. But it went from wondering about a questionable client now gone to wondering about what a beautiful doll had come and gone. The only other person to visit me was George Itazmo, detective, Los Angeles Police and former partner of mine. George was one of those personas Jung referred to as petrified pillars of the past. George will be trying to solve a crime his last day, his last moment on earth with no change in method or approach.
“You’ll be crying to come back soon,” he said as he sat on the same chair the angel had occupied. He didn’t fill it nearly as well. Still, I listened to what he had to say. “You gave up a pension for this?”
He waved his hand around the room, his face frozen in a tragic grimace, much like the mask of Melpomene, the Greek Muse of tragedy as he tossed his Fedora on my desk as if to emphasize my sad state.
“It takes a while to get rolling. Word of mouth, you know.”
“Word of mouth is that you soon will be begging to be reinstated.”
“No, I like being free.”
“Free? Looks like you’re a slave. To poverty,” he said, now looking around the office just like…then it hit me like a sack of frijoles to the head. I didn’t know the dazzling woman’s name. I have to ask for names. Names are important in my business.
“I didn’t get her name,” I cried to the world, which happened to be represented by police detective George I. at the moment.
“Who is that?” he asked, ever the detective.
“My first client.”
“You have one?”
“Can you blame me?”
“Did her husband get himself lost and now she wants you to bring him back hog tied?”
“Her daughter ran away con un mariachi sin vergüenza?”
“She is a missing person but can’t remember who she belongs to?”
“To whom she belongs. No.”
“She found a man’s cold body in her bedroom and wants you to justify it being in her bedroom?”
“Close. She doesn’t want to be a cold body in her bedroom.”
George looked at me and I could hear the rusty tornillos turning in his head, rusted from all that Kentucky bourbon he had downed over the years. Then the light turned on in his alcohol-soaked head.
“You mean, someone tried to kill her?”
“No. He just whispered in one of her pretty ears that he would love to do that.”
“I have to get back. Still trying to nail a bartender and his pal who pushed some wanna-be-actress over a cliff at the end of Franklin in Hollywood. All because she didn’t want to do a romantic scene with one of them in the back seat of a car. But first, I’m going to get me a big ham sandwich at the Grand Central Market. Come along, I’ll buy.” He said this while again examining my surroundings.
“Thanks but I have to find clients. Tell you what, once I’m on my feet, we’ll go get some Barbacoa at the Azteca Restaurant on Main Street. It’s been a couple of years since I been there. And I’ll buy.”
He got up, paused then he looked at me with what looked like disenchantment. He then put on his Fedora and headed for the door then turned for a postscript.
He left without telling me why.
So, here I was once more alone with my problema. Should I treat this spooky woman as a victim or vampire? I needed a drink. I put on my own Fedora, grabbed my coat and headed for the door. Standing there as if materializing upon demand was the victim. Or vampire.
She, framed by the doorway again, looked at me with a smirk. Ordinarily, smirks count a lot from a wonderful-looking gal, but at the moment, I got nervous. Her smirk shot out from under another wide-brimmed hat, this one pink.
“You’re back,” I croaked in uncertain complaint.
“I came back to see if you wanted me.”
She said this while repeating her walk toward me wherein she unloaded all her sex had to offer in a walk. Her hips moved from north to south and back, while the black dress she had on was doing a dance of its own.
“It’s not a question of possessing,” I said in a fatherly tone, “it’s a question if I can help you.”
“Sure you can. Someone from long ago has come back and for some silly reason is trying to kill me.”
She stared at me as if expecting an answer quickly and expecting it to be the right one. I was at a loss. Then it hit me like the sweet aroma of a Banana Daiquiri. I could just tell her my fees, ask her name, address and anything else that came to mind. That would call her bluff. I put on my own smirk before I spoke then I proceeded to do so.
“By the way, what is your name?”
“Carmen Fiolencia,” she shot back without hesitation.
“Oh, yeah?” I said with a frown, wondering if it was her name or one she had just pulled out of the city air.
“What’s wrong with it? You don’t seem to like it.”
“I think it’s a swell name, but—“
She laid her purse on my desk with a thud and sat down empathically on my one client chair. I accepted her challenge and sat with a firm thump on my own chair. She pulled out a utility bill and handed it to me. It reflected her name and her address on Lorena Street. She then pulled out her driver’s license which also reflected the same name and address. I tried to look at the birth date but she pulled it away before I could. None of these documents had her photograph so I could not match her face to any of them.
The brim of her pink hat now shadowed her eyes but their brilliance shot out like two rounds from a .38 Special.
Okay,” I said, trying to regain control, “there is the question of money.”
“Money?” she said as if it were a new concept she had to familiarize herself with. The two blazing bolts from under her hat went dark. I assumed she had her eyes down in shame for being broke. I began to feel sorry for her, thinking of a way to tell her that she would have to move to another part of the planet to avoid being murdered, which would be cheaper than hiring me.
For Installment 1, click: Tommy-WhisperofDeath
Tommy Villalobos, an inveterate serial thriller writer, regales us with another of his novel affairs, set as usual in Los Angeles and its environs, filled with characters larger and funnier than life drawn from the streets and callejones of the City of Angels (and Devils). His first of five novels, Lipstick con Chorizo, was serialized in Somos en escrito ala Carlos Dickens. He lives incognito in northern Califas.
A Whisper of death in the night
A killer from the grave
An excerpt from Tony Resolvo, Private Ojo, a novel in the making
By Tommy Villalobos
“Hello,” she said, while, at the same time, tapping on the door jamb of my office, the door being open. It was 2 pm. It was September. It was hot. L.A. hot. East L.A. caliente.
My office was located on the second floor of a timeworn building on First and Boyle. Someone said it was built in1889. Creaky floors agreed. I had a corner office in the round corner of the building. Could I have a corner office in a round part of a building? I’m not a philosopher and flunked Geometry in high school. So, I can’t say.
Getting back, when I say “She,” I mean SHE. Before me stood a gorgeous female I suspected of being an angel who had made a wrong turn in heaven and ended up in East Los Angeles, circa 1940.
I was still staring in wonderment, when she said “Hello” again.
“How are you?” I asked the rhetorical question knowing there was only one answer, “Fine.”
“Awful,” she said, disagreeing.
I asked her for confirmation, allowing for temporary mood swings.
“I have a serious problem.”
“Come in, I solve serious problems,” I said. “I’m a private detective.”
“I know, I saw your sign downstairs. ‘Tony R., Private Detective.’ What does the ‘R’ stand for?”
“Resolvo,” I said quickly, displaying my quick reflexes. I had been in business three weeks, and I was grasping at what would be my first client.
She floated toward my desk. Her dress whispered, her hips sang. Her lips were a red torch of invitation while her hair flowed down in a cascade of raven splendor from under her white, wide-brimmed hat. The sound of her high heels on the wood flooring resonated in my head, telling me that they were holding a woman who, at will, could make any man with half a heartbeat whimper.
She stood before my desk and looked at me as if she were the Queen of Sheba and I was a busboy at one of her lesser banquets, set to tell me to jump this way or that way. With tongue shooting out like a lizard waiting to snatch a passing fly, I hung on her next words like that busboy.
“Aren’t you supposed to ask me to sit or something?”
I saw that I had no chair in front of my desk. I looked at my bare office and saw a wooden folding chair in the corner, on loan from my mother. I scrambled around the desk and retrieved it, unfolding it next to her, dust flying. I wiped the chair with the sleeve of my wrinkled white dress shirt.
“Sit,” I said, pointing to the chair, making sure she knew where.
She responded like a well-trained terrier and sat. I returned to my chair.
“What brings you to my office?” I said.
She looked at me as if I had no notion of the concept, “office.” Then she composed herself.
“A certain someone is trying to kill me.”
Her beautiful brown eyes were now widened for emphasis. Her full, red lips were pursed, joined in the emphasis. Her face was not smiling. This was no chiste. This was serious. I put on my most professional face and used my most elevated voice.
“Joe Fluiz,” she said casually as if he was a mutual friend.
“Should I know him?”
“No. He’s dead. Been that way for a while.”
I put chin to chest. I was confused. Even dubious. Then, again, she dressed well and maybe could pay well. I was getting hungry for decent comida. Another question from me to her was in order.
“How long has he been dead?”
“About a hundred and sixty years.”
I stared at her. Then I stared at the dirty window. Then I stared at her. Then I stared at the far wall. Then the worn wooden floor. Then landed on her again.
“Are you sure?”
“Sure as shootin’.”
“Why are you so sure? I mean, did he come to your door and tell you politely that he was no longer with us?”
“Better than that. The person whispered it into my ear. It was at night. I was in bed and I heard breathing in the dark. Actually, it was more like wheezing. I sat up and that is when the whispers came.”
I repeated my staring routine from above with one alteration. I additionally stared at my phone. I might have to call someone to pick up her up, as dazzling as her looks were, and have her rushed to a proper lugar. One for crazy people. I coughed the insincere but polite cough then sought clarification.
“Exactly what did this dead person whisper to you?”
“That I was going to die.”
“Just came out and told you?”
“Yes. He was very direct.”
“He said that he had been dead for a hundred and sixty years, and was going to kill me. He then said that I didn’t have all that much time.”
“How much time did he give you?”
“Didn’t say. Just said I didn’t have that much time. Your place is run down,” she added as an afterthought.
“Didn’t you ask him to be more specific?”
“You didn’t ask him why he held this grudge against you all this time?”
“Didn’t have a chance. He disappeared.”
“In a puff of smoke?”
“How’d you know? Has he visited you?”
I then let out a shallow laugh to lighten the mood.
At this point in our relationship, I wanted to tell her she was a loony, a genuine loca, but my professionalism kept me in check. I again studied her beauty. It was still dazzling. I now hoped that this was a clever joke. You know, a nutty friend of mine who thought this would be a fun thing to do, send a doll who was off her cebolla to a rookie private detective and see him get confused and think of another line of work, like being a lechero.
I was waiting for her punchline, or maybe that friend to come charging in the room, pointing at me, guffawing all the while. Then I considered. Someone who was talking like her usually had a frazzled appearance topped by pelo shooting in all directions while sitting on a park bench speaking to the wind. She did not fit the mold.
She got up and now she stared, her stare focused on me.
“I was set to pay you good money for a little work. But you seem to question my circumstances.” I wanted to tell her what I was questioning was her sanity. She then stared around my bare office.
Being a professional detective, I understood her drift. She could improve my lot. A lot.
To be continued