the golden days

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
1950s detective action

Submitted: March 31, 2016

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Submitted: March 31, 2016

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A A A


Christian Park
2/12/16
Creative Writing
Alex Mitchell
 
The Golden Days
 
I looked down at the foam that had collected on the slightly cracked rim of my brown “World’s Best Coffee” mug. I ran my finger along the edge of the mug to collect the frothy material as my new partner in crime, Walter Hawthorne, entered my office. This was my third day with Ad Vice after being pulled up from LA Homicide a week ago. I wiped the bubbly residue onto the side of my pants and rose to meet his uneven, emotionless stare.
“Mr. Phelps! Another fine morning for catching bad guys, eh?” Walter said with false enthusiasm. 
“You’re late again, Walt,” I said, ignoring his initial greeting.
“Thought you’d get used to these sorts of things by now, kid,” he replied with a smirk.
“I take the law very seriously, Walter,” I said using, his full first name on purpose. “You should think about that sometimes,” I said. 
He responded with a laugh and a shake of his head as he escorted himself from my office. I returned my attention back to the case notes I had collected from the crime scene of a murder on 51st yesterday. It seems like bodies were piling up and there weren’t enough detectives in the city to keep track of them. My thoughts were interrupted by a call from Captain Almeyer; people who knew him well enough just call him Archie.
“Phelps! Hawthorne! Get in here!” He yelled from the frame of his door. 
None of the other detectives looked up, as they’d grown used to his usual tone of voice; screaming. I got up while straightening out the wrinkles in my jacket and strode to the door confidently. As I entered the captain’s office, I respectfully acknowledged the presence of a superior with a slight nod of the head. Soon after, Walt slunked in and hung his fedora on Archie’s oakwood hatstand he kept next to the door.
“Whaddya got for us today, Archie?” Walt said, informally.
“We’ve got a couple of dope heads who OD’d at a shady hotel called the Starlite Inn up on Long Street,” said Archie
“We’ve got better things to do than waste our time on two dead junkies” Walt complained.
“Did I ask your opinion, detective? The catch is, these two lowlifes were sloshing US army-issue morphine. That makes it a Vice case. Now beat it!” the Captain said, annoyed.
“Yes, sir,” I said.
I jogged over to my office to pick up my case book and over-the-shoulder holster which cradled a Model 1911 .45 caliber hand cannon. I grabbed my Vice jacket from the hanger around front and walked out to the parking lot where Walt’s new maroon ‘48 Hudson Commodore patiently waited. I sat down in the leather passenger seat next to Walt and threw my notebook in his glove compartment but this caused some papers in the compartment to spill out; just his home address and car registration. He hit the ignition and the car roared to life with several red lights in the dashboard and a sound from the engine similar to that of a man clearing his throat.
“Let's roust some hop heads,” Walt said. We drove a block a two before I asked,
“Nice car, Roy. Is it department issue?”
“No. This is my sled,” Walt replied with a hint of pride in his tone.
“You can’t be seen slumming it in a Nash when you’re in Vice, Cole,” he laughed.
“Meanwhile, we’ve got needle freaks kissing it goodbye all over Central Avenue,” I said, sternly.
By now we were at the crime scene. I was used to the usual frenzy; a few reporters scattered here and there capturing the moment with flashes of light, patrol officers stood guard at the yellow-painted ‘Crime Scene’ fold-up fences. The two-story complex was a faded greyish-brown concrete with one staircase and rusted railings that led to the second floor. 
“They really picked a prize shithole for our first date,” Walt joked.
I ignored his remark and continued to the sergeant who seemed to be in charge of the situation. 
“Where are they, sarge?” I asked.
“Up the stairs, detective. Round the corner and last door on the left,” he answered.
I sauntered up the stairs and passed a few dead plants left out too long without proper care. I approached the cracked, red-painted door and turned the knob to find my old partner from Homicide, Roy Carruthers, crouching over the body at the scene.
“Phelps. Small world, huh?” Roy said enthusiastically.
“I guess so,” I said with a laugh. “What’ve we got?”
“Two stiffs. Overdosed. Been dead a couple’a days,” Roy replied.
“Government issue morphine…” I said We used the same syrettes in the Pacific.”
“Negro junkies can’t handle supply this pure,” Roy said.
“You know these guys?” I asked.
“I know of them. The younger one is a two-bit horn player by the name of Cornell Tyree,” he said, with a point to the man slumped in a wooded chair by the tattered yellow couch. “The other one works in distribution,”
“Guess he started using too much of his own product,” Roy said. “I’m sure he wasn’t born that ugly,”
“His name is Lamont... Tyrone Lamont,” Walt said.
“So who is supplying these kinds of drugs?” I asked
“I guess we’re here to figure that out, Phelps,” Walt said.
 I shrugged and looked around the room. The walls were painted a light color on the bottom split by a dark brown stripe along the top. The room was an absolute pigsty. The body of Tyrone Lamont was in the chair and Cornell lay dead on the floor. I approached Tyrone to look at his body and saw he had a needle in his right hand and his left arm had a clear plastic tube wrapped just above the elbow. 
“Took his jolt and drifted off. And I suppose his friend wasn’t in any condition to notice that he had stopped breathing,” I said to myself. 
There was a popcorn cup next to him with its contents spilled about the area. There were about 5 or 6 of these same cups strewn about the room. I checked the inside pockets of his jacket and found a brown-leather wallet. I discovered some loose change, his I.D. and what looked like some sort of lottery ticket with the top ripped off. I wrote all of this down in my case notes. I picked up the popcorn cup with the “Black Caesar” symbol written on it. The Black Caesar was a small popcorn joint just across the street from here. I turned the cup over and found some tape on the bottom of the cup. The cup next to it had the same tape under the ridge of the cardboard cup.
“These clowns lived on popcorn?” Walt asked.
“Must have been messy eaters. It’s all over the floor,” I replied. 
I moved to the brown coffee table which had a mug, plate of half eaten toast, and another popcorn cup. I noticed a piece of paper under the coffee mug and slipped it out. It was just a piece of trumpet sheet music with piano accompaniment. I picked up the popcorn cup and noticed that this one felt heavier than the others. I looked inside the cup, then turned it over. Taped to the bottom of the cup, hidden by the ridge in the cup, was a syrette of military-grade morphine. 
“Looks like we found our source,” I said, holding up the cup for the coroner and my partner to see.
“The Emperor across the street seems to shift a lot of popcorn. Let’s shake him down and ask him a few questions,” Walt said.
We walked back to the car and drove up to a parking lot next to the popcorn shack. I exited the vehicle and approached the Black Caesar Food Hut.
“Help you?” said the African-American man behind the counter.
“Detectives Phelps and Hawthorne. LAPD. We’re inquiring into the deaths of-” I started.
“Hand over the popcorn numbskull, before we kick the door in!” Walt suddenly shouted.
The man got shifty eyed and started to look around his little shack. Suddenly he bolted out the door and took off down the alley separating the two brick buildings behind the food stand. I was after him in a millisecond. The man sprinted to a pipe and started to clamber up it before I caught his foot and dragged him down onto the pavement. I quickly flipped him over and put him in cuffs. I walked him back over to the shack to question him...
“What’s your name?” Walt asked, impudently.
“Morgan,” the man said, obviously uneasy.
“Half an answer is no answer to me, pal,” said Walt.
“Fleetwood Morgan,” the man said, putting extra emphasis on ‘Fleetwood’,
“Keep an eye on him, Roy, while I take a look around,” I said.
“Keep very still, Fleetwood. Don’t give me an excuse to shoot you,” Walt said as I moved to investigate the food stand. 
The first thing I saw was a large cardboard box in the corner closest to the counter. I opened it to find hundreds of popcorn cups, neatly stacked and filed in the box. But laying atop all of this, stuffed lazily in the corner of the box were about 50 syrettes of morphine. I looked across the room to see some sort of case. I flipped the two locks on the case open to find a silver trumpet with a Harmon mute stuffed in the storage compartment. I picked up the trumpet and shook it around, but heard nothing of interest. I picked up the harmon mute and peered inside the hole at the front of it. There was something lodged in the hollow space. I unscrewed the top half of the mute and discovered two lottery tickets, similar to the one I had found in the apartment. Except this one was complete. The top was entitled “Ottie’s”, with an address of 1456 Bronson Ave. Hollywood listed under it. This address seemed somehow familiar. Why can’t I remember where I’d seen that?
I searched the rest of the shack but didn’t find anything else of interest. I exited the shack to further question the suspect.
“We’re inquiring about the deaths of two men in an apartment across the street, Fleetwood. We want answers,” I said, authoritatively.
“Of course. I’ll do my best, mister,” Fleetwood said, looking shiftily between me and Walt.
“You sold the drugs to Cornell Tyree and Tyrone Lamont,” I said.
“No, I sell-... I sell fried steaks and-and-and black eyed peas!,” Fleetwood said nervously, eyes darting everywhere.
“You’re lying, Fleetwood. We know that you supplied them,” I pressed.
“I don’t know nothin’ bout no drugs. All I do is my ten here, flipping burgers,” Fleetwood said, looking at Walt in a way that looked fearful.
“Flipping burgers, and strapping jolts of morphine to the bottom of popcorn cups, Fleetwood. Now I want the truth - Who supplies these drugs?” I demanded.
“Well- um, the man is-,” Fleetwood started.
“What does it matter knowing who supplied ‘em, Walt? We’ve got our guy right here,” Walt said quickly, eyes not meeting mine. “I have a feeling this isn’t something we should’nt get into,”
“Walter, this isn’t about taking the easy way. This is about taking this dope off the streets and keeping our community safe,” I said, astounded by Walt’s previous statement.
“Cole, we need to just forget about this,” Walt said.
“This isn’t just something-” I started.
“Phelps. As the current highest ranking officer at the scene, I ORDER you to stand down, pull your head out of your ass and get a squad car down here, now!” Walt demanded, angrily.
“Yes. Sir.” I said after a long, uneasy silence. 
I approached the payphone at the street corner and requested a car to be sent down. I hung the phone up and returned to Walt and Fleetwood. We all stood in uncomfortable silence until the squad car pulled up. We loaded him in and sent him off. By now, it was late in the day and the sun was setting. We returned to Walt’s car and rode back to the station in silence. I suddenly realized where I’d seen the address on the lottery ticket. I opened the glove compartment and pulled out his home address papers….1456 Bronson Ave.?
“Find anything groundbreaking, Cole?” Walt said, suddenly.
“Walt, this is the address on-” I started, turning to look at him face to face. Only I was looking down the barrel of a .32 snub nose revolver.
“You see, Cole, there are just some things you don’t want to dig up,” Walt said. “I tried to tell you, Cole. But no! Phelps just had to keep digging deeper and deeper,”
“Well, Cole. You were bound to hit stone at some point,” 


© Copyright 2020 Christian Park. All rights reserved.

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