Gumshoe Felix Driscoll
returns to P&D in...



Murder's Accomplice


A 6-Chapter Shamus Shocker!

by Darryl Crawford
About the author

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Episode 6: Fade to Black


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I'D PUT THE FIRST JOKER DOWN with a quick combination when the second one raked the barrel of his revolver across the side of my head.  Blood streamed down my face.  I started to fall but with great effort remained upright.

Bobby pushed past me and out the door, with his gun.  I'd taken the precaution of unloading it before presenting it to him but I couldn't let him get away with state's evidence.  The goon raised his gun for a second swipe at my cranium and I caught him a good one in the midriff with my fist.

Vomit spewed from his mouth as he bent double and danced a painful little jig but kept his pins under him.  I had no more time to fool with him so I grabbed a fistful of .32 from under my left armpit.  He'd pulled his iron first so, as far as I was concerned, fair's fair.  None too gently I put a goose egg on his skull.

He hit the carpet like a sack of cement.  The first goon I'd punched tried to stagger to his feet but I pressed the snout of the .32 against his forehead.  I reached inside his coat and relieved him of his revolver.  As I tucked it in my waistband I wagged my gun in admonishment at him: "Stay put, tough guy."

I snatched his partner's pistol off the floor, then chased after Bobby.  As I ran I threw that gun into the first trashcan I came to, the one by the flirtatious receptionist's desk.  I removed the revolver from my waistband because it interfered with my running and ran with a gun in each hand.

Bobby had a big head start on me.  As I slammed through the glass front doors of the office, I saw him two football field lengths ahead of me, making for the parking lot.  If he lit out in his Rolls I might never catch him.

I knew yelling at him wouldn't make him stop; also robbing me of precious breath I needed for our little sprint.  Blood got into my left eye from the nick above my temple; I figured I had a concussion but forced myself to pick up the pace.

When Bobby reached his car, he raised his unloaded gun and pulled the trigger several times before realizing his folly.  Hurling the gun at me he began fumbling with his car keys.  The murder weapon skittered past me on the asphalt, Bobby missed by a mile.  While he tried to open the driver's door of the Rolls I closed the distance between us.  I hoped he'd flood the damn thing trying to start it in his haste but no such luck.  The engine roared to life.

With fifty yards to go, I reholstered my .32, went down on one knee and took aim with the long-barreled revolver.  Never for an instant was Bobby my target; I wanted to puncture the tires.  By the time I'd spent all six shots, I had flattened both of them on the passenger side.  That didn't stop Bobby.  He steered the car right at me and gave it the gas.  Straight towards me the Rolls shot like a rocket.

I stood like a deer frozen in headlights.  At the last minute I flung the empty revolver like a knife at the windshield before I jumped out of the path of danger.  Something told me as I rolled painfully across the hard ground that Bobby swerved to avoid hitting me at the last minute.  The tires squealed and the engine revved before a mighty tearing of metal reached my ears.  The car had crashed into one of the light poles in the parking lot.  The pole tilted precariously but the light still shone, illuminating Bobby's desperate face as he bailed out of the car.

He scurried toward the huge cinderblock edifice.

"Damn it, Bobby," I howled at the top of my voice as I struggled back to my feet.

He ran and I ran and I didn't feel much like running just then.  I wanted to just sit down and have a nice peaceful heart attack.  On I went though.  Our footfalls on the asphalt echoed in the night.  The double doors of the soundstage building swung open spilling light and people into the parking lot.  Bobby pushed past the onlookers and vanished from sight inside.

The Silver Cinema contract players apparently recognized one of the studio's producers and moved to thwart my pursuit.  Without missing a step I reached into my jacket.  It's amazing what miracles a madman with blood smeared on his face, shouting and waving a handgun, can perform.  The employees parted like the Red Sea.

Unchallenged I passed through the doors into the cavernous building.  I glanced from side to side looking for Bobby.  Except for one brightly-lighted section where a late scene was being shot the rest of the place stood in total darkness.  I'd been in that building once or twice before and knew a manmade catacomb of cameras and stage sets lay ahead of me.  Bobby, of course, was nowhere to be seen.

Heading back to the double doors, I found the electrical junction boxes and systematically threw levers until the whole joint was floodlit.  One burly character in overalls looked like he intended to undo my handiwork until I gave him one of my meaner looks.

"I'm gonna call the cops, fella," he threatened.

"Don't just stand around jabbering, do it," I urged.  That shut him up.  I asked him, "Is there any back way out of here?"

He saw I had put my automatic away.  After hesitating a moment, he shook his head: "It's all locked up tight as a drum except for these doors here."  He jerked a thumb behind him at the entrance Bobby and I had used.

"What's this all about?" demanded several of the cast and crew.

"Don't let Bobby Glide leave this building," I ordered.

"Why?" they clamored.

"Police business," I said and left it at that.  "Somebody call the law if you haven't already."

As I stalked back into the bowels of the building I heard much mumbling and grumbling.  Over my shoulder I barked, "And leave those goddam lights on!"

I started searching for Bobby.  It didn't take long to find him.  He shouted my name and it bounced off the high cinderblock walls and among the scenery flats.  "Up here," he bawled.

Twenty-five feet above me he perched on a scaffold loaded with coils of black cable and crowded with stage lights.  "Get down from there," I called to him.

"Never happen," he shouted back with glee.

"You're drunk," I said.

"I can hold my liquor!"

"Yeah, I can tell, you crazy ape!"  Iron rungs set evenly apart in the wall led up to the scaffolding.  I approached them never taking my eyes off Bobby.

"I'm gonna jump if you act like you're gonna climb up here."

I stopped in my tracks, "What the hell for?  With your clout in this town you won't serve a day behind bars."

"I'll still be charged with attempted murder!"

"Your old buddy Felix isn't going to press charges.  Come on down here."

"It won't stop Robin's hotshot lawyer from dragging my ass into court and ruining my reputation."

"Climb down and let's talk it over over a glass of Scotch."

"You said I was drunk!"

"Falling from your chair to the floor won't kill you," I shouted, "the one from that height will.  Come back down, I'll help you."

As I took a step toward the rungs in the wall Bobby screamed, "I'll jump, I swear to God, Felix, I will jump."

"It's not worth it, Bobby.  Climb back down.  Please!"

"Life ain't worth living without Alena, amigo."

I screamed, "No!" as he dove head first off the scaffolding into the concrete floor.  His body made a sickening crunch as it struck.  Cast and crew flowed by me in morbid fascination.  I turned away in shock.  I had no need to see for myself, I knew that fall crushed the life out of my friend.  I didn't want my last memory of Bobby to be that of his broken body.

I have very little recollection of wandering in a daze through the soundstages and across the way back into what used to be Bobby's office.  No sign of the goons.  No sign of anybody.  I sank into the swivel chair and upended the bottle of Scotch still on the desktop, concussion or not.  I set it down empty.

The phone rang.  I looked at my watch.  Ten to ten.  It seemed a lot later at night than that.  The ringing hurt my head so I picked up the phone.

"Hello," I said.

"Bobby?" asked a woman's voice.

"Is this Alena Dell?" I asked.

"Yes.  Who is this?"

"An old schoolmate of yours," I said quietly, "Felix."

"Felix Driscoll?"

"Yes."

"How are you?"

After a long pause I told Alena it had been one of the longest and worst days of my life.  I didn't tell her I had lost two friends: first Robin, if ever she had been a friend; and then Bobby, who definitely qualified as one.  His missing me with the Rolls proved it to me.

"I'm sorry to hear that, but is Bobby there, Felix?"

I swallowed, I couldn't answer her.  My reflection in the movie poster above the sideboard looked like hell.  I dug around in my jacket for a handkerchief, dabbed at the dried blood on my face.

"Let me talk to Bobby," said Alena.  "I need to speak to him."

"Aren't you and he on the outs?"

"Something happened, Felix, just today.  Something happened to change my mind."

"What happened?" I asked, my voice a whisper, although I well knew what had happened and what she'd seen at the house over in Pasadena.

"Where's Bobby?  I want to tell him personally," she purred into the phone.  "Felix?  Felix, are you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm still here, Melissa."

Alena laughed shortly, "Nobody calls me that anymore, not even my mother.  Listen, Felix, please put Bobby on."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"He's . . . he's . . ." the words stuck in my throat.

"He's what, Felix?"

"Bobby's across the street," I managed.

"Have him call me when he gets back, would you?"

"Is there any message you want to leave?"  I marshaled all the strength remaining in me to keep my voice from shaking.

"I called to tell him I'm sorry.  And that I love him."

"You love him?"

"Of course, silly.  But keep my change of heart a secret.  We've been quarreling and I want to tell him myself.  Okay?  It'll be our little secret, just between us, Felix.  Okay?  Are you there, Felix?  Felix!"

 "Yeah," I finally said, "our little secret."

I hung up.

Sat there staring at my reflection in the poster.

For the longest time I didn't notice that I was crying.

The End.

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Back to Episode 5 : Close on Bobby



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Murder's Accomplice is copyright by Darryl Crawford. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)