|"A Long Hard Haul" |
The Recording Script
SCENE I. Office
| Written and directed by Tony Pagel. Produced by Christopher Bahn.|
Episode 24 (1997 Edition) of the radiodrama series Where Threads Come Loose
Originally broadcast on KUOM-AM May 1995.
Ashe: Christopher Bahn
Jimmy, Van Der Hoel: Tony Pagel
Tony's twisted take on hardboiled detective fiction, riffing especially on the Humphrey Bogart film version of "The Maltese Falcon."
Ashe: There was a fleabag band playing an off-key version of the 1812 Overture in my skull. I lifted my head from the desktop and the band played on. My stomach was churning like a front load washer so I poured a shot of Old Mockingbird down to it. It didn't thank me. I groaned and put my tired dogs up on the desk, tilting my hat over my eyes against the sun spearing through the blinds.
My name is Winston Ashe and I'm a private investigator. I walk the streets, talk to the right people and find out what needs to be found. It's a tough racket, but it's better than being on the force. I'd done it for longer than I cared to remember and a few slow weeks in the snoop business beats it by a country mile. I was just waking up from another evening of hand on glass combat and it looked like the whiskey had won again. The band was just tuning up for another go when a shadow behind the pebbled glass of my office door knocked. (EFX:door knock)
I looked at the winking bird on the bottle on top of my desk. "Should I answer it," I asked. The bird didn't answer, so I put the bottle in a drawer and called out that the door was open. The doorknob turned and the door swung open gently to reveal the first pleasant surprise in many moons.
There was a woman standing against the hallway light, and what a woman! She was ten feet of female packed into about five foot six. As she walked into the my office, she threw me more curves than the entire Dodgers pitching staff. She shimmied her way over to my desk:
Pamela: Are you Winston Ashe?
Ashe: No, my name is Meerschaum Palooka. The name on the door is to confuse the enemy.
Pamela: But, I was told I could find Winston Ashe the private investigator here.
Ashe: Her lower lip trembled like a fat man on a diving board. "Sorry, Miss. I was just ribbing you, I tend to do that sometimes. I'm Ashe. Who sent you here and why?"
Pamela: A friend of mine was a former client of yours, Mr. Ashe. He said that you were honest and could do just about anything. He spoke very highly of you.
Ashe: And just who is this anonymous patron?
Pamela: Mr. Hamilton Greene.
Ashe: I remembered Greene. He was a second-rate gambler from the West side that managed to get some of Blinky Mason's mob after him. I helped him hide out near the waterfront while I tried to negotiate with Mason. The head-to-head didn't pan out, but Mason was offed a few days later anyway. Greene hadn't been able to thank me enough, but the thousand bucks went a long way toward it.
Ashe: "I'm flattered that Mr. Greene remembers me. Now what exactly can I do for you?"
Pamela: I was hoping you'd help me find someone.
Ashe: Any someone or a particular someone?
Pamela: It's my brother, Mr. Ashe. He disappeared a week ago and I am at my wit's end.
Ashe: She worked the doohickey on her purse closed and fished around inside. She pulled out a photograph from inside and handed it over to me.
Pamela: This is Mickey. It was taken about two years ago, but he still looks very much the same.
Ashe: The joe in the picture was your average mug. He looked a lot like his sister except for the obvious fact that he wasn't a woman and the shifty look to his eyes. I got enough of a look to remember him and then laid the picture on my desk. "So that's Mickey. Good looking kid. Now you I don't know from Eve..."
Pamela: I'm so sorry. I was in such a hurry to show you the picture that I forgot to introduce myself. Pamela Lyman.
Ashe: She stretched out her hand and I shook it lightly. "Well, Mrs. Lyman..."
Ashe: "Okay then, Miss Lyman. I don't know what to tell you, but I don't usually take private work."
Pamela: But...you must, you simply must. I don't have anywhere else to turn.
Ashe: Now I'm the furthest thing from a sucker, but at that moment I felt like I should be unwrapped and licked all day. "Now don't fly apart on me. I have been known to make exceptions. Why don't you have a seat and tell me about it." (EFX: Chair scrape)
Pamela: My brother was always the black sheep of the family. He was always getting into trouble as a boy and hanging out with unsavory elements. He was passed over for a position in the family firm, but I doubt he would have taken it had it been proffered.
Ashe: Skip the history lesson, Miss Lyman, and cut to the chase.
Pamela: Well you don't have to be so abrupt. I was getting to the matter at hand. Mickey had been involved in some shady business of late...
Ashe: What kind of business?
Pamela: I can't say exactly, but he kept late hours and never explained what he did.
Ashe: (sigh) So what you're saying is is that you suspect he was running with a rough crowd and doing some night business but you don't know what it could be.
Pamela: You make it sound like I am blowing this all out of proportion.
Ashe: Blow what out of proportion? You haven't told me anything useful yet.
Pamela: Well I would if you would just sit there and listen without flapping your gums!
Ashe: I looked at her differently then. Up until that little outburst she was a vanilla cookie. But her cracking wise with me made her a bit more interesting and maybe worth some effort. "I'm dreadfully sorry, Miss Lyman. Please continue."
Pamela: All right then. As I said, Mickey was doing some business with some sort of criminals. I know this because he sent a note to my apartment about a week and a half ago.
Ashe: Do you have the note?
Pamela: No. I'm afraid it got lost when my cleaning service fixed up the apartment
Ashe: What was the gist of the note?
Pamela: Mickey had said that he was on to something which would set him up for life. He said that he would call me when it was set, but he never did. I think something terrible has happened to him.
Ashe: I was beginning to get the feeling that she was hiding something from me, maybe a whole lot of somethings. But that's the way it always is with clients. She had given me the basic lowdown. It was part of my job to flesh out the details as I plowed on through. "Well Miss Lyman, my basic fee is two hundred a day plus expenses. I don't run up a big tab on the expenses end, so don't worry about that. For the two hundred, I hunt down leads, make the rounds and in the best scenario, produce your brother."
Pamela: Hamilton said that your prices was high, but that you were the best for the money. (pause) Alright, Mr. Ashe, I would like to hire your services for one week. If you don't find Mickey by then, I guess I'll just have to expect the worst. How much of a retainer do you require?
Ashe: "Four hundred. The rest of the money is due when I produce either a person or a corpse." Her face clouded over and I knew that I had played it a touch too hard-boiled for her. But the business often requires the hard stuff. She reopened the doohickey on her purse and pulled out a manilla envelope. She counted out four cs and pushed them across the table toward me. I scooped up the bills and put them in a desk drawer where they made a nice green nest for the Old Mockingbird. "Okay, Miss Lyman, do you know of anyone who associated with Mickey? Anyone at all?"
Pamela: There is one that he mentioned in his infrequent letters. His name is Jimmy Delgato. I don't know where you can find him, but Mickey often frequented a saloon downtown called The Jumping Jack. Maybe you can find Mr. Delgato there.
Ashe: "Did you ever think of going there yourself?" She blushed again.
Pamela: From what I've heard of the Jumping Jack, it's not a place for a lady.
Ashe: She was right on that one. You couldn't throw a brick in that place without hitting a wise guy or thug. "Then that's where I'll start looking. May I have your phone number, Miss Lyman?"
Pamela: Why would you want that?
Ashe: "Don't get skittish on me, I'll be needing it if and when I find your brother." This time the red went all the way from her hair down the front of her dress.
Pamela: Oh. Let me write it down for you.
Ashe: She pulled out a pad and pen from her purse and scribbled the numbers down. She handed it to me and stood up.
Pamela: You'll let me know as soon as you find anything, won't you?
Ashe: You can count on it Miss Lyman.
Pamela: Please. Call me Pam.
Ashe: And with that she sashayed out of my office and into the great unknown. I leaned back again in the chair and sighed. It looked like another long week for Mr. Winston Ashe.
SCENE II. On the Road, In the Bar.
Ashe: I gathered up some equipment and left a half hour later for my car. It was parked in back of the building in a spot marked "Edmund Witherspoon". I had been parking there for five years and Eddie had never made a flap about it. In fact, no one knew who Eddie was. I figured it was just as well. I walked over to the car. It was a 1946 Ford coupe, light gray. I opened the door and leaned in. Everything was just as I had left it, which was saying a lot for the city. I opened the glove box and checked the .38 I had stashed in there along with my license papers. I swung into the front seat and motored downtown.
I had some knowledge of Mr. Delgato, although I hadn't let on to Miss Lyman. He was a mediocre yegg who worked off and on in the area. There were rumors that he had some oomph behind him, but listening to rumors can sometimes be detrimental to your health. I knew him well enough to pick him out of a crowd, but beyond that he was just another flake in a snowstorm of petty crime. I drove through the midday traffic and reached the Jumping Jack, parking the car in an alley behind the bar.
The bar was mostly empty, but you couldn't tell from the smoke. It wasn't but a few minutes after midday, but the professional rummies were practicing their art with a vengeance. They were lined up at the main drag with their scotches, not looking, not talking, just singing love songs to their glasses. If I didn't mind my p's and q's, I'd be joining them real soon. I turned my attention from the drunks and scanned the room for Delgado. I knew him a bit, as I said, and I guessed he'd be somewhere in the back of the room where the shadows tend to congregate.
I didn't see him at first, although I saw enough cell fodder to fill San Quentin. But I finally spotted his froggy phiz at a round table over by the kitchen. I ambled my way over, and Jimmy didn't seem to notice me until I was right on top of him.
Jimmy: (in the voice of Peter Lorre) Well look what the cat dragged in.
Ashe: That's your problem, Jimmy. You're using lines that died before Vaudeville did. You're so snappy they might have to make you into a pair of pants.
Jimmy: Very amusing, Ashe. But I'm having a pain right now and I think it is somehow related to your presence. So if you don't mind, please go far away from here.
Ashe: I'd like nothing better than to take to the air, Jimmy, but I need to talk to you. Mind if I sit down?
Jimmy: Yes I do, Ashe, but am I correct in assuming that you will not leave if I ask?
Ashe: You would be.
Jimmy: So be it, then. Pull up a chair and make it short. I have business to conduct in a few minutes.
Ashe: I'll make it quick. I'm looking for someone.
Jimmy: Do I look like the FBI? Why don't you go talk with J. Edward?
Ashe: He isn't talking to me since I insulted his dress. I have reason to believe that you might have some bearing on this particular man.
Jimmy: I know many things, but not so many that I'd tell you any, shamus.
Ashe: Delgato, for all his tough-guy ways, was really a sob sister. I could tell that if I was to lean on him, he'd collapse like a house of cards. "Maybe you'll change your mind after a drink." I have it from someone who knows that you did business with Mickey Lyman."
Jimmy: I can't say that I remember the name.
Ashe: He said that he didn't, but there was a flash in his beady eyes that said different. I figured that it wouldn't make any difference, but I put the picture in front of him anyway. "This is Lyman. Maybe you've got over that amnesia now?" Delgato gave the photo the eyeball without a flinch, but sweat was starting to form on his bulging forehead.
Jimmy: As I said before, I have never met this man. And I would appreciate it if you were to go away and leave me in peace.
Ashe: I decided playtime was over. "Listen you mug, I haven't got the time or the patience to play your little cat and mouse game. Either you start coughing up some answers or I'm going to see if your head makes a decent nutcracker, get me?"
Jimmy: And let me warn you, Mr. Tough Guy. I have many friends in this city, friends who would not take kindly to your attacking me. I have told you that I do not know the man in your picture. Now I have no more time to waste on your pathetic carcass. Begone.
Ashe: The barmaid chose this moment to come over for my order.
Barmaid: What'll it be?
Ashe: "Scotch and soda, and a bowl of peanuts in the shell. I like to break them open, don't I, Jimmy?" Jimmy was looking a little worse for wear. The barmaid sauntered back over to the bar.
Jimmy: Now wait just a minute, Ashe. There's no need to be hasty. I might have just remembered the face in the picture, but if it is who I think it is, you're not going to want to know about him.
Ashe: Try me, Delgato. You'd be surprised just how curious I can be.
Jimmy: This Lyman character had been making trouble around town. It seems he wanted to operate independently of the local syndicates in the area of, shall I say, recreational pharmaceuticals.
Ashe: "Tell me more, Jimmy. I'm finding this story very interesting." Before Jimmy could get rolling again, the barmaid came back with my glass and a bowl of peanuts in the shell. "I'll take that, doll. You can put the nuts over by my friend there." As she put my drink on a coaster by me and the bowl in front of now fish-white Jimmy, I glommed a look at the clock over my shoulder. It was almost half past. I needed to pick up the pace. When I turned back to Jimmy, he had gotten some color back in his cheeks and was patting his coat pocket. I guessed he was packing a rod, but he didn't have the connections to cover a bar shoot-em-up. So I relaxed and took a big slug of my scotch. "Go on, Jimmy. You were saying?"
Jimmy: I was saying that Lyman was hustling all over town, trying to get a share whenever he could. He was making a real nuisance of himself, so I was sent to do something about it.
Ashe: "And just who is your juice, Jimmy? Who's bankrolling this little expedition?"
Jimmy: I'm afraid I can't tell you that, and in fact, I think I've said just about enough to the likes of you, Ashe.
Ashe: "Oh yeah? Do I have to remind you about my talents as a nutcracker. I..." That was when the room started to spin a little bit. I grabbed the edge of the table and gritted my teeth.
Jimmy: Oh I haven't forgotten about it, Ashe. But it seems you forgot to never turn your back on an enemy. I think you need to take a little nap, don't you?"
Ashe: I tried to come back with something snappy, but my tongue had turned to a mess of cotton batting. I think I managed to blurt out something like "Blurgh," but then again, maybe I didn't. Jimmy was having a grand old time though.
Jimmy: Now maybe I will have a chance to teach you some manners while you're out. Yes, I think that is just what I'll do. (laughs in the Lorre way).
Ashe: The floor looked so nice, I thought I might just have to meet it face to face. (EFX: loud whump).
SCENE III. Alley
Ashe: When I woke up, the sun was shining full in my face. I sat up and found myself in the alley behind the bar. My head was still whirling around like a broken carousel. When I tried to stand, there was a familiar, unpleasant grinding sensation in my ribcage. Apparently, Jimmy had been introducing his shoes to it. I'd have to remember it. Jimmy didn't know Mickey Lyman, but he did have some knowledge of Mickey Finn.
Even though my chest was screaming at me, I managed to totter to my feet. I checked my watch and found that it was close to four. I felt through my pockets, but there wasn't anything missing. Jimmy must have just wanted to throw a scare into me and get the hell away.
I was out of leads and I needed to get back to my office and check out the damage. I stumbled toward my car when two bulky gentlemen stepped out from the shadows of the alley.
Lucky: (in the voice of Jimmy Cagney) Excuse me, friend. Do you mind if we have a word with you?
Knuckles: (in the voice of Edgar G. Robinson) Yeah, we just need a moment of your time.
Ashe: "Listen fellas, if this was any other time, you could have all the moments you wanted, but right now I have a pressing appointment with a bottle so if you'll please excuse me..."
Lucky: I don't think you get my drift, friend. Does he, Knuckles?
Knuckles: No, Lucky. I don't think he does.
Lucky: Perhaps we might enlighten him. Are you Winston Ashe, friend?
Ashe: "I have the unfortunate honor of bearing that name, yes."
Lucky: See Knuckles? He does have the capacity to learn. Isn't that wonderful?
Knuckles: Yeah, he's much smarter than he looks.
Ashe: These two had a regular line of snappy patter. It was obvious that they had done this sort of thing before. "Okay fellas, why don't you give me the skinny and let me be on my way."
Lucky: Did you get that, Knuckles? He wants some information. Isn't that nice.
Lucky: Okay peeper, here's the message, said simply enough so that even a washed up cop like yourself can understand. Drop the Lyman case, quick like.
Ashe: "And why would I want to do that?"
Knuckles: Let's just say that things could get mighty unpleasant for a bum who don't.
Lucky: Accidental things could befall this man. It would be in his own self interest to collect the money for the case and then come up empty.
Ashe: "Now you boys wouldn't want me to be dishonest, would you?"
Lucky: Now don't make it sound like that, friend. We're just a couple of good samaritans spreading the word.
Knuckles: And the word is: stay away from the Lyman skirt and her punk brother if you know what's good for you.
Ashe: "I'm touched, boys. I'm really touched that two complete strangers would take a moment of their time to advise one such as myself."
Lucky: We're just like that, friend. We like to keep things running smooth everywhere we go.
Ashe: "Maybe you'd like to clue me in on who wants me to keep away from Miss Lyman?
Lucky: You make it sound like we have some sort of hidden agenda, friend. We would never accept money to give out pieces of advice.
Knuckles: Yeah, that's right, you mug.
Ashe: "Okay boys. I think we've danced around this long enough. Why don't you spill just who wants me to keep mum and why."
Lucky: Maybe you're right. Maybe there's been too much talk already. What do you think, Knuckles?
Knuckles: Yeah, I think you're right Lucky. We could talk till we're blue in the face and it won't get through to this shamus.
Lucky: Now Knuckles, try and control that temper of yours. We wouldn't want to do anything we'll regret later.
Knuckles: I'm trying, Lucky, but I don't think this peeper got the message.
Ashe: "Now let's not be hasty, boys. I got you. I should stay away from Miss Lyman and forget all about her brother."
Lucky: Well you said that very well, friend. Almost word for word. But how do we know that you'll remember once we're gone. Maybe you're just being polite to us. Knuckles?
Knuckles: I think we need to give him a memento. I think a little treat will keep it fresh in his mind.
Ashe: They stepped in close and let me have a hard shot right to the breadbasket. On top of the ribbing I got from Jimmy, the pain was too much. I folded like an accordion at a Polish wedding. I dropped to the ground and started to black out. But I managed to hear them talking.
Lucky: I can't believe it only took one punch. I knew this flatfoot was soft, but this I can hardly believe.
Knuckles: I don't know. Maybe we should give him a couple more while he's out, just to be sure.
Lucky: No, we've wasted enough time on him as it is. Mr. Van der Hoel is gonna want our report right away. I think our friend here got the message. Let's get out of here.
Ashe: I heard them walk out to the end of the alley and get into a car. Then I tried to straighten up but my body, which already had a list of complaints about me a mile long, finally called a general strike. I went beddy-bye for the second time that day.
SCENE IV. Same Alley, Roadway.
Ashe: When I pried my eyes open this time, it was getting dark. My trusty watch had broken when I'd fallen, and it was stuck at 4:17. It was obviously later than that. I pulled myself over to the car and got into the front seat. I checked the glove box and the license and the gun were still there. I started it up and drove out into the early evening traffic. I needed to get back to my place and put my sorry self back together.
SCENE V. Office.
Ashe: I let myself in and sat down behind the desk. I took off my hat and threw it into the corner of the room. I opened up the drawer and took out the bottle with the wise little bird on it. It seemed to twitter at me drunkenly when I unscrewed the cap.
Someone wanted me off the case, but not so bad that he'd bumped me off. Lucky and Knuckles were just a warning. The name they had dropped in the alley sounded very familiar, as if I had heard it a lot lately. I took a swig of Old Mockingbird and checked the stack of yellowing newspapers next to my desk. I finally hit paydirt about fifteen papers, one and a half pints and two hours later.
Van der Hoel was some big shot who had come into town recently. He was some sort of magnate with a freighter company out east and he was mentioned a few times in the business section. For some reason, this businessman wanted me not to look into the whereabouts of Lyman. I had just folded up the section to drop them back into their stack when the phone rang. (EFX:phone ring)
Ashe: "This is Ashe, speak your piece."
Pamela: Hello, Mister Ashe? This is Pamela Lyman."
Ashe: Oh, Miss Lyman. I was going to call you about your brother, but I've had a very busy day."
Pamela: You didn't find him, did you?
Ashe: No, I didn't. But I picked up a few leads that might...
Pamela: Mr. Ashe? I'm sorry to interrupt, but you don't need to worry about those leads.
Ashe: Oh? And why is that?
Pamela: Well...I...I don't need you to look for Mickey anymore. I've decided that he's a big boy and that when he wants to get in touch with me he will.
Ashe: This was starting to smell bad. Like a load of yesterdays salmon. "Are you sure about that Miss Lyman? I've already put some effort into the case and if you'd..."
Pamela: No, no that's quite alright. My mind is made up. You may keep the retainer as payment for your services, and thank you for all your work.
Ashe: "Miss Lyman, is there someone in the room with you?" (pause)
Pamela: Why, no Mr. Ashe.
Ashe: There was a note in her voice that I didn't like. "Miss Lyman. Pam. If there's someone in the room with you, say 'that sounds reasonable' ".
Pamela: That sounds reasonable.
Ashe: "Pam, did this person tell you to call me and make me drop the case?"
Ashe: "Okay Pam, here's what you do. When I'm done giving you these instructions, go and tell the guy that's there with you that I bought your story and that I'm not going to try and find your brother. Then when he's gone, sit tight and wait for me to call. Can you do that?"
Ashe: "Okay. The last thing you need to say is that our business is concluded."
Pamela: Our business is concluded, Mr. Ashe.
Ashe: Good. I'll talk to you later.
Pamela: Good bye, Mr. Ashe.
Ashe: I hung up the phone and put the bottle back in the drawer. This simple search job was getting a little too complicated. I needed to get some answers and I only had one lead to go on. I picked up the phone again and dialed information.
SCENE V. Showdown.
Ashe: It took a little doing, but I somehow managed to get Van der Hoel's address from information. He lived in a ritzy section pretty far from downtown. I hopped in my car and headed out. I picked up a tail almost as soon as I left my block. He were good, but I've been dodging tails for more years than I could remember. I lost him by the time I got out towards the suburbs. I was almost to the neighborhood, when my shadow caught up with me. He pulled up so close to my bumper that I could have pressed my coat between us. Then it turned out that he had a pal in the passenger seat. When the partner leaned out the window, it was my old pal Lucky. He had a cannon-sized piece pointed right out at me.
His first shot blew out my back windshield and covered the back of my head with little chunks of class. It also grazed my shoulder. I pulled a hard right on reflex and brought the car over a curb. They were too close to stop and shot right past me. As they got ready for a U-turn up ahead, I grabbed the gun from the glove box and hoofed it. I pressed my hand against my shoulder and it came back bloody. It looked like play time was over.
I beat it through the maze of yards and fences, and the Bobbsey Twins couldn't get a bead on me. I stopped for a minute to tie the sash from my coat around my shoulder to slow the bleeding and then kept on going. It was time for me to get some answers.
SCENE VI. Van der Hoel's House.
Ashe: It was a bit of a hike to the address, but I got there. It was a sprawling, mock-Tudor monstrosity and an iron gate at the driveway. Even though it was now night, the gate was wide open. I staggered up the driveway. The adrenalin from my chase was starting to wear off and my ribs and shoulder were telling me that I was a very inconsiderate host. I couldn't have cared less.
The front door was a huge slab of oak. I used the door knocker, but no one came. Then I banged on it, letting my fists in on the general complaint of my body. It must have been Jeeves' night off, because the door stayed shut. I tried the door and found it open. That should have been the tip-off, but I was in a lot of pain. I just waltzed in, gun drawn.
The foyer was huge and the floor was marble. It echoed my footsteps as I walked in. The place seemed deserted, but someone was home. (EFX: typewriter. Note: the typing never stops for as long as there is something going on). I heard something that sounded like a typewriter going crazy, and I followed the sounds toward a staircase just off the hallway. It sounded as if someone was taking dictation from a speed-freak. At the top of the stairs, I paused. The typing was coming from a closed door at the end of the hall. Whoever was writing in that room would probably not be too keen on me just coming in, as if I was late for dinner. With my hand on the doorknob, I found that I didn't care what he or she thought. I had had enough. I barged in to see a fat man in a white linen suit sitting in front of a typewriter.
Van der Hoel: (in the voice of Sydney Greenstreet) Ah, Mr. Ashe. It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, sir. I have been expecting you for some time now.
Ashe: This one threw me for a loop. "I hate to show up late for a party, but I've been having a very bad day."
Van der Hoel: (laughs) Ah yes, the famous Ashe wit. I must say, sir, you have exceeded my most hopeful expectations.
Ashe: "I'm glad to be of service. But I didn't stop in for tea and crumpets, Van der Hoel. I want some answers and I would prefer to have them now."
Van der Hoel: You are a corker, sir. A true pip. Answers you desire and answers you shall have, all in good time.
Ashe: "I think that since I have the gun, that good time would be right now. And stop typing and look at me. At least have the manners to tell me man-to-man."
Van der Hoel: I regret to inform you, sir, that as much as I would like to, I cannot stop typing, even for one moment. It has everything to do with those answers which you so forcefully demand. But if you would take a seat, I shall reveal whatever you wish.
Ashe: He was going to pull a fast one on me, I could feel it. It was only a matter of time before he let fly.
Van der Hoel: I assure you, sir, that I have no intention of playing you false. Now if you would please have a seat.
Van der Hoel: What was this guy, some kind of mind-reader?
Van der Hoel: No, sir. I am not some sort of mentalist. There is a reasonable and simple explanation for everything. Now do sit down.
Ashe: I shook my head and pulled up a chair. "Okay, Van der Hoel, I'll do it. But remember that I have you covered, so no funny stuff." I sat down and looked into his fleshy face for some sort of clue.
Van der Hoel: Oh, I don't like that "fleshy face" line. I will have to emend that later. But now on to business. Let me begin the explanation by telling you what has happened to you in the last hour.
Ashe: "As long as it ties up all nice and neat at the end, you can give me the history of the Roman Empire."
Van der Hoel: Roman Empire. Yes, that has a nice sound to it. As I was saying. You were driving your coupe to visit me about the alleged hostage situation of Miss Pamela Lyman, in addition to query me about two hooligans who accosted you on my behalf. Then the same hooligans fired on you, grazing your shoulder and wrecking the auto. You lost them in the neighborhood and came here to see me. Is that correct?
Ashe: He was a cagy one, this Van der Hoel. I don't know how he knew what he knew, but I knew enough to let him keep talking. He was a blowhard, and blowhards always blow a little too much if you give them room.
Van der Hoel: Blowhard?! Oh that simply will not do, sir! You're dialogue is getting out of hand. I shall have to have my secretary revise this whole scene.
Ashe: "Alright, blimpy. I've had just about enough. So you know all about how I got blasted at on the way here. Okay, so let me in on the secret, and keep on talking. I'm not leaving until I hear what I want to hear."
Van der Hoel: Blimpy! That is the last straw! I shall have to rewrite this entire section at this rate.
Ashe: "What are you talking about? What's all this rewrite jazz?"
Van der Hoel: One moment sir, I need to make an adjustment.
Ashe: I settled down then and thought I would give him my full attention. After all, what did I have to lose at that point?
Van der Hoel: There, that's much better. Now I'm going to fill in all the details, sir, and then perhaps we will reach and understanding.
I am a very wealthy man, as you know. I have more leisure time than the normal man. I have tried my hand at any number of hobbies over the years: model trains, boats in a bottle, horse breeding. But I have never found any happiness in these occupations.
That, sir, is what this typewriter is for. I chose, after a discussion with an author friend of mine, to try my hand at the art of writing. My early attempts were rather meager, I must admit. But then I picked up some works by Mr. Chandler and Mr. Hammett, and I had found my niche, as it were. I sat down at this typewriter to turn out a piece of noire to rival these greats.
Ashe: "Well this has been a nice little trip down memory lane, Porky. But you still haven't given me anything to go on."
Van der Hoel: Sir, you are an impertinent whelp and I am sorry I ever created you in the first place!
Ashe: "Created me? What kind of crazy..." Then it hit me.
Van der Hoel: Yes indeed it hit you, you mangy cur. Your entire existence is based solely on my efforts. I made you out of the creative ether just this morning. Your every move, thought and decision is mine to command.
Ashe: This guy was out of his rocker so far that he had landed on the fireplace. I wasn't going to let his mumbo jumbo give me the willies. "So what you're saying, Tubby, is that I was just made up by you tapping out some words on a sheet of paper?"
Van der Hoel: That is entirely correct. And I cannot say that I am well satisfied. You are not only hackneyed, but thoroughly incorrigible as well. These last pages have been completely beyond my control. But I shall correct them as soon as possible.
Ashe: "So all the hell I've been through today, the shootings, the beatings, the drugs have all been some sort of twisted fairy tale with you as Mother Goose?"
Van der Hoel: In essence, yes. The only reason we are having this conversation right now is common vanity. I could not help but include myself as the power behind the throne in my book. I feel every author does the same thing, even if it is subtle. If I hadn't succumbed to this urge for participation, you would never have found out your true origin.
Ashe: This flake took the cake, the plate the cake was on...hell, he took the entire pastry cart. His nutty notions were starting to annoy me.
Van der Hoel: I have had just about enough of this ad libbing of yours. I don't know how you're doing it, but stop imprinting your desires in my story. I will not brook open defiance, sir.
Ashe: That did it. I've never been partial to bigwigs throwing their weight around. That's why I left the force all those years ago, and that's why I do the work I do. If Herr Hindenburg over there wanted me to knuckle under and play nice, he had another thing coming.
Van der Hoel: What are you doing, sir? I warn you, I am not a man to be trifled with.
Ashe: "You could have fooled me. Just who has the gun here?"
Van der Hoel: I...I...
Ashe: "What's to stop me from pulling this trigger and tying up this case here and now?"
Van der Hoel: Sir, that would be a most tragic mistake. If you were to kill me, you yourself would die.
Ashe: He sounded like he really believed what he was saying. But then, all crazy people do.
Van der Hoel: Sir...Sir!
Ashe: I thought about all the hell I had survived that day. I thought about Pamela and Knuckles and Jimmy and Lucky and the whole stupid mess. I could end it all.
Van der Hoel: No! Don't...
Ashe: I tightened my finger on the trigger. Tub-of-guts sat there and sweated, his eyes widening. I took aim for his chest and let him have it. (EFX:gun shot)
Van der Hoel: Arrrgh! I...(EFX: he falls forward and hits a random number of keys)