فصل 13

مجموعه: کارآگاه لنی ساموئل / کتاب: فیلم در لوس آنجلس / فصل 13

فصل 13

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Miss Sullivan and Mr X

I took a cab to 9002, Hollywood Boulevard. The doorman with the moustache recognized me, and he called Mike Devine to tell him I was on my way up to Apartment 501. Mike was waiting by the elevator and led me into his living-room. He looked tired and worried.

‘What can I do for you, Mike?’ I asked as I sat on a white sofa.

‘Why didn’t you call me back before?’ Mike Devine asked angrily.

I smiled. ‘Firstly, because I was in Argentina. And secondly, because I’m still waiting for you to pay me two hundred and fifty dollars,’ I replied.

‘Oh, I’m sorry. I guess I forget about that,’ Mike said and took out a chequebook. He quickly wrote a cheque and gave it to me.

‘Is this a good cheque?’ I asked, waving it in the air. ‘Will your bank pay me the money?’

‘Of course it’s a good cheque!’ Mike said angrily. ‘What do you mean, Samuel? What do you know?’

‘You told me you were in big trouble. And I heard a story that it was money trouble,’ I said. ‘So I wondered if there was any money in your bank to pay this cheque.’

Mike Devine put his hands over his face. ‘You’re right,’ he said in a dull voice. ‘I’m broke - I haven’t got a cent. But that’s not all. I’m in worse trouble than that.’

‘Do you want to tell me about it?’ I asked and I sat back on the sofa.

Mike began to speak. It was a long story, and Toni Trenton had told me some of it already. Mike had borrowed money from everyone he knew. Then, a week before, he had had a visitor.

‘It was the day after you brought me home from the Purple Palace,’ Mike explained. ‘In the afternoon, the doorman called to say there was a woman to see me. A woman called Miss Mary Sullivan. I didn’t recognize the name, but I have a lot of friends -‘ He waved his hand in the air. ‘Anyway, the woman came up here and I asked her what she wanted.’

‘What did she look like?’ I asked.

‘Mid-thirties, nice clothes, short brown hair. She talked in a very polite and formal way,’ Mike replied. ‘But what she said really frightened me.

‘She said that she represented a powerful person,’ he went on. ‘She called this person Mr X - she wouldn’t give me his real name. She said that Mr X had bought most of my debts. He had paid the people I had borrowed money from, so now I owed the money to him. Over eight hundred thousand dollars, she said.’

‘Wow!’ I said, ‘that’s a lot of money.’

‘And Mr X wanted his money now, the woman told me,’ Mike continued. ‘I explained that I couldn’t pay. Even this apartment is owned by my father. Then Miss Sullivan said that there was another way for me to pay off the debt. I had to leave L.A. at once and promise never to see Gail Lane again. If I kept my promise for a year, Mr X would forget about the debt.’

‘And what did you say?’ I asked.

‘What could I say?’ Mike Devine replied. ‘I agreed to go Miss Sullivan gave me seventy-two hours to leave L.A.’

‘But you’re still here, Mike,’ I said.

Mike Devine started to cry. ‘Yes, I can’t go. I can’t live without Gail. I love her, even if she doesn’t love me. And all my friends are here in L.A. I don’t know where to go.’

‘Have you heard from Miss Sullivan again?’ I asked.

‘Yes, the day before yesterday,’ Mike replied. ‘That’s why I called you. She told me that I had broken our agreement by not leaving. I asked for more time and she gave me until tomorrow morning. She said that I had to call her tomorrow evening, from somewhere a long way from L.A.’

‘Did she say what would happen if you didn’t leave LA?’ I asked.

‘Yes, she said that I had cheated people and told lies to get money from them. She said I would go to prison.’ Mike Devine stopped. Then after a while he spoke again, slowly and sadly. ‘All my life I’ve had everything I’ve wanted,’ he said. ‘If I went to prison, I would have nothing. My father won’t help me. He says that prison would be good for me. But he’s wrong! I would die if I went to prison. You’ve got to help me, Samuel. What can I do?’

I smiled. ‘Well I don’t have eight hundred thousand dollars to lend you,’ I said. ‘My advice is to do what Mr X wants.’

‘But I’m broke. I don’t have any money at all. I can’t afford to stay anywhere,’ Mike replied.

‘Well, I’ve got a cabin up in the hills, at a place called Crystal Lake,’ I said. ‘It’s a long way from L.A. I suggest you go there now and do what Miss Sullivan told you to do. Call her tomorrow evening and give her the number of the cabin. She will call you back. Then she’ll know that you’ve really left L.A. And I’ll try to find out who Mary Sullivan is, and who her boss, Mr X, is. Give me her phone number.’

Mike gave me the number, and I told him how to find Crystal Lake. I gave him the name of a farmer there who kept a key to my cabin. I hadn’t been up to Crystal Lake for many months. It was a place I used to go to when I wanted to do some fishing. Over the years, I had caught a lot of fish in the lake near the cabin.

‘I don’t know how to thank you,’ Mike Devine said. ‘You must think I’m a bad person.’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘you certainly are in lots of trouble. I’m not going to be able to help you much after today. I’m going to Europe soon. But I’ll do what I can. Enjoy yourself at Crystal Lake - try to catch some big fish!’

When I got back to my office, I rang my friend Hank. Hank works for the phone company.

‘This is Len,’ I said. ‘Can you give me some help, Hank? Will you check this phone number on your computer? I want to know whose number it is.’

I gave Hank the number Mary Sullivan had given Mike. Then I waited while he checked his computer.

‘I’ve got it,’ Hank said, a minute later. ‘It’s the private office of Senator Theo Z. Democrates. I have an address for the office.’

I noted down the address and I thanked Hank. This was interesting news! Theo Democrates was the senator Toni had told me about - the man who might have been involved with Gail.

I put down the phone and it started to ring almost immediately. I answered it. It was Rik.

‘Lenny, hi, how are things?’

‘Rik! Has something happened to Gail?’ I asked.

‘No, don’t worry,’ Rik said quickly. ‘The movie’s going well now, and we’re getting ready to leave for Istanbul the day after tomorrow. I want you to join us there. That’s why I’m calling you. I’ve spoken to Mr Frank about you. Go to the Magic Movie Productions studios now. Go to the main office. Mr Frank’s secretary will give you an envelope. In it, you’ll find an air ticket and some instructions. A make-up artist and someone from the costume department are already in Istanbul, and they will know what to do with you.’

‘But Rik,’ I said. I was puzzled. ‘What do you mean? Why do I need to see costume and make-up people? I’m not an actor.

‘You’re going to be Brent Foster’s double!’ Rik replied. ‘You look and sound a lot like him. When you’re made up, people will think you are him!’

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