Volume 3, Number 6
The Green Book
Jake took a long drag on his cigarette and squinted through the haze in
his unkempt office. His head hurt and he needed a shave, but that was
the least of his problems. No, the big dilemma was the incessant ringing
of the phone. He touched his ears to make sure they weren't bleeding and
let the damn thing ring. He knew it wasn't a job, it was never a job. It
was probably those thugs from the collection agency after the money he
owed them. They were in for a disappointment on that score though, since
he hadn't had a case in over two months, money and was pretty scarce, to
put it mildly.
"It wasn't supposed to be this way," thought Jake as he rummaged around
his desk drawer for the pint of scotch that he knew was there somewhere.
He had saved for years so that he could quit his job and start his own
detective agency. "Just like in the movies," he laughed at his own naivete
under his breath. "The hardboiled private eye with a heart of gold and
a .38 special," he found the scotch and took a long draw, "Yeah, me and
He chuckled at that thought in spite of himself. He remembered spending
all his free time as a kid watching old movies and reading Chandler books.
That was where he had learned what it meant to be a man. He didn't learn
it from his parents or school, but from the late late show on Saturday
nights and a parade of hardcase cinema detectives. That was when he knew
what he was going to do with his life, certainly not in school when he
excelled in computers. No, he had always known that someday he would be
a private dick.
He had done everything by the book, going to school and getting his
license as the state required. Then he apprenticed with a crazy old coot
who taught him the things that school didn't cover. It took a guy that
had been in the game a few years to show you which finger caused the
most intense pain upon being broken, or how to throw a punch without
busting every bone in your hand (a roll of quarters was the key). Then
he had hung out his shingle and waited for the beautiful, breathless
damsels in distress to come for his help. Just like Bogie.
Unfortunately for Jake, the silicon valley had precious few damsels in
distress. Those that were around tended to go for the big computerized
outfits, not to a novice private eye laughingly named Jake Morrison.
All Jake could get were overweight dowagers who wanted evidence of their
husbands' philandering for divorce court. He had spent more time in the
bushes with his special lowlight camera than he cared to admit even to
himself. Certainly more than any sane man with a Ph.D. in Computer Science
ever had. Finally he quit taking those "bedroom jobs" altogether, choosing
what little dignity he had left over regular rent payments. That left the
problem of paying the rent and the utilities and his ever expanding tab
at the Towne Club. Which was why he was sitting in his darkened, unheated
office at 8:30 in the morning getting seriously drunk before he closed
up shop for good. "Well at least I'll have a nice big cubicle," Jake
thought, and he laughed out loud at such a frightening concept.
Just then a woman burst through the door, disheveled and in tears, a cheap
briefcase hanging from her shoulder in lieu of a purse. Jake started at
the interruption and spilled the last of the scotch down his chest. The
woman looked him up and down as though he were a science project with
just the hint of a crinkle of her nose. Jake rose and introduced himself
and watched the woman continue to study him in some detail. "Great,"
Jake muttered to himself, "The first decent looking woman I've seen in
months and she's mentally disturbed." As if reading his mind, the woman
dropped her gaze and gathered herself. "My name is Megan Connally and I
just saw a man murdered on the Lightrail." She said with amazing composure.
"Oh yeah, she's crazy," thought Jake, "This is just what I need this
morning, a crazy woman who just saw her invisible friend die." He looked
up and noticed the woman was staring at him again. He finally realized
that she was waiting for a reply. He decided that he might as well play
along with her fantasy. In another week he would be a computer drone
anyway, he might as well get something for his trouble.
"Miss Connally, it is Miss, isn't it?" Jake said in his best private eye
voice, "If you just saw a man murdered shouldn't you be talking to the
"I have talked to the police," she replied evenly, "But there was
something about this man that makes me want to know more than they
would be willing to tell me."
"Such as?" Jake asked.
"Such as why the briefcase he was carrying was stolen, and why the
police became so agitated when I mentioned it to them."
Jake found himself becoming far more interested than he cared to in her
story. This was crazy, a beautiful woman, a man murdered on a train for
a mysterious briefcase and a drunken private eye named Jake Morrison?
This was beyond the pale, Jake was ready to throw her out and call up
his old boss when she said something that made all the craziness fall
away. Upon hearing those words, Jake knew that he was in this one till
To be continued...