فصل 19

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فصل 19

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CHAPTER NINETEEN

Hollywood Again

The Turkish Air Force Chinook did not carry the Mustang very far. It carried the car carefully to the road near the bridge entrance. First the front wheels touched the ground, then the back wheels were gently lowered. Two policemen quickly removed the chains from the hook, and the helicopter flew away.

‘What a pity the flight was so short,’ Gail said. ‘I wanted to see Istanbul from the air.’

Sergeant Kamal was waiting for us when we got out of the car.

‘You’re wonderful,’ Gail said to him. ‘You saved our lives. I don’t know how to thank you.’

Sergeant Kamal smiled. ‘The two men who were chasing you in the Mercedes were Americans,’ he said. ‘But they weren’t members of your movie crew. I’ve been talking to your director, Miss Chapman, at Topkapi Palace. The two men who should have been in the car have been found near the Imperial Gate. They were unconscious. They had both been hit on the head and tied up. But they are OK now. The men who chased you are being questioned at Police Headquarters, so we’ll soon know who they are working for.’

The sergeant took us back to the movie set in a police car. Carla Chapman was waiting for us.

‘Are you both OK?’ she asked. ‘We were so worried! You drove away from the palace so fast. It must have been terrifying!’

Gail told Carla about our adventure on the Galata Bridge and about the helicopter. Carla was shocked when she heard about the danger to the star of her movie.

‘Still, there’s one good thing,’ Carla said with a smile. ‘We got some really good shots of the car chase before you got too far from the cameras. What a pity we couldn’t shoot you on the bridge!’

It wasn’t possible to shoot any more scenes that day, so we all went back to the hotel. So there were still two more days of shooting to be done before we all went back to Hollywood. I wasn’t needed as Brent’s double any longer, but I had to go on being Alan Davies, of course. I went to watch the shooting on both days. I had plenty of time to think about Gail’s problems.

On the second day, I made two decisions. The first was to go on using my Brent Foster clothes and make-up for a few days after we returned to L.A. The second was to send a fax to Homer Frank from Brent, asking for an appointment to see him.

‘We’ll go and see Frank together,’ I explained to Gail, ‘and we’ll find out what he really knows about these threats. But I’ll go as Brent, not as myself!’

So the morning after the long flight back from Istanbul, Gail and I drove to Gate Four of the Magic Movie Productions studios in Hollywood. Gail was looking beautiful, and I was still pretending to be Brent Foster. I was ‘wired for sound’. I had a microphone hidden in my clothes. It would transmit to a tape recorder in my car. Every word that anyone near me said would be recorded.

The security guards at the gate took one look at us and let us through. We were big stars! We didn’t have to wait at the entrance to the administration building either. We were taken straight into Homer Frank’s huge office.

‘Gail!’ Frank said. ‘It’s good to see you! I was only expecting Brent. It’s a real surprise to see you too!’

It was to be a morning of surprises. The real Brent Foster got a surprise too, though I only heard about it the next day. He also came to the studios that morning. But the security guards stopped him at the gate. They wouldn’t let him in. They had already seen me go in with Gail, so they thought Brent was someone pretending to be Brent Foster.

We got several surprises too. Our first surprise came a few minutes after we had sat down in the leather chairs in Frank’s office. The office door opened, and Frank’s secretary came in with his hands above his head. He was followed by Annie and Arabella with their hands above their heads. They were followed by two short men in long black jackets, carrying long black guns. And they were followed by a slim man in his fifties with shiny black hair. He was wearing a beautiful suit.

I looked at Gail.

‘I told Arabella and Annie we’d be here,’ she said quietly. ‘You can guess who the others are.’

Vincent Calab, the man in the beautiful suit, stopped in surprise when he saw Gail. Then he walked over to her, took her hand, and kissed it.

‘What the hell is going on?’ Homer Frank asked in a high, frightened voice. ‘Who are you? We’ve never met.’

‘I’m sorry, sir,’ the secretary said. ‘This man told me that you were expecting him. I knew you weren’t and I told him you were busy, but he wouldn’t listen to me.’

‘That’s right - that’s how I am,’ Calab said with a thin, nasty smile. ‘I never listen to anyone. I give the orders. All I wanted was a little help from Gail here. Gail, who I helped so much in the past.’

The gangster’s voice rose suddenly from a whisper to a scream. ‘And what did she say to me? “No”, is what she said. Was I going to take that? No, I wasn’t!’

He looked around the room wildly.

Gail said to him. ‘Why have you been trying to kill me, Vincent?’

‘You know why,’ Calab replied. ‘You’re still alive, though. You’re still alive because of a private eye. A private eye who I’m still trying to find.’

Then Calab turned to me.

‘Mr Foster. I’m pleased to meet you, sir.’

I didn’t say anything. Calab didn’t know that the private eye had driven Gail’s car as Brent’s double. Now, like Homer Frank, he thought I really was Brent. But I was worried about Calab. He was very dangerous. One minute he was calm and sane, the next minute he was a madman.

‘You say that we’ve never met,’ Calab said to Homer Frank. ‘And that is true. But you’ve taken a lot of my money, haven’t you? I’ve invested over one billion dollars in your stupid little studios. I’m the person who’s been paying your bills. And now, you have a movie that’s going to be a big success, I expected to get all my money back. I’ve asked for it. But you tell me that you won’t give my money back. You say that there’s no evidence that I gave you any money.’

Calab’s voice had been calm and quiet while he spoke to the chief executive. But now it rose to a scream again.

‘No! Of course there isn’t any evidence. That was our arrangement. There musn’t be any evidence! I gave you the dirty money so you could give it back to me clean.’

Then the gangster was calm again.

‘So, you refuse to give me my money?’ he said. ‘Very well, I’ll make sure that Death Behind the Door is never finished. With Gail Lane dead, your studio will have no future. If you don’t agree to pay me the money now, I will kill your star!’

‘Just wait a minute,’ I said quickly. I was angry and I forgot to speak like Brent Foster. ‘I’m only a stupid actor, and there are some things that I don’t understand. Let’s start with Josie - why did you injure her?’

‘We wanted to frighten Miss Lane,’ Calab replied. ‘That was a good way to do it.’

‘And the stone ball in the cemetery in Buenos Aires?’ I asked. ‘Was that one of your tricks too?’

‘Yes, that was a good trick, wasn’t it?’ Calab smiled. ‘One of my men hid in the cemetery overnight. He was painted white, and when you all arrived, he stood on the roof with the stone ball. But we were still only trying to frighten Miss Lane. The ball would have missed her.’

‘Well, I know you weren’t just trying to frighten Gail in Istanbul,’ I said, ‘because I was in the car with her. Your men were trying to kill us.’

Calab smiled his thin smile again. ‘Enough of your stupid questions!’ he shouted. ‘Of course I wanted to kill her. With Miss Lane dead, the movie couldn’t be finished.’

‘Hey, boss,’ one of the gunmen said to Calab. ‘There’s something wrong here. I go to the movies a lot and I’ve seen all of Brent Foster’s movies. This guy looks like Brent, but he doesn’t talk like him. Are you sure he’s really Foster?’

Calab walked up to me and looked closely at my face. Then he quickly pulled off the layer of latex, and scratched away some of my make-up with his fingernails.

‘So,’ Calab said. He was pleased. His voice was quiet but very dangerous. ‘We’ve found the private eye now.’ He turned to Frank. ‘Will you pay me my money?’

Homer Frank shook his head.

Calab turned to his men. ‘OK, shoot Miss Lane,’ he screamed.

Then lots of things happened very quickly. Arabella and Annie were flying through the air at the two heavies with guns. The women kicked the guns from the heavies’ hands. At the same moment, I jumped forward at Calab. But suddenly, there was a small gun in his hand.

I grabbed Calab’s arm as he fired the gun. The bullet missed me but I heard a scream from the other side of the room. I pushed Calab’s arm behind his back. He was a strong man, and he fought wildly, like an animal.

I looked over Calab’s shoulder. ‘In here, Lieutenant,’ I shouted.

It was an old trick, but the gangster was so angry that he fell for it. As he looked round, I kicked his legs and let go of his arm. As he fell, I kicked him hard on the side of his head.

I picked up Calab’s gun and looked around. Arabella and Annie had won their fight with the two heavies and had taken their guns. Gail and the secretary were OK, but there was blood on Homer Frank’s shoulder. Calab’s bullet had hit him. He was in a lot of pain, but he would live!

I walked over to the desk and picked up the phone.

‘Get me the L.A.P.D.,’ I said. ‘I want to speak to Lieutenant Dickinson.’

Gail and I spent the rest of the day at the studios with Dickinson. I told him about my hidden microphone. The lieutenant listened to the tape recording of what had happened in Frank’s office.

‘What do you think will happen to Homer, and Vincent and his men?’ Gail asked me as we finally left the office.

‘Vincent Calab will get himself a good lawyer, but his words are on the tape,’ I replied. ‘And his words on the tape will send him to jail. It’ll probably take months to find out if Homer Frank has really been laundering Calab’s money.’

Soon, I said goodbye as Gail drove off with Arabella and Annie. I went to try and find Rik. My job was over and I wanted to get paid before everyone knew about Frank and Calab. However, Rik wasn’t in his office. I waited for an hour. Then I left the studios and drove back to my own office.

The red light on my answerphone told me that I had some messages. There were two calls for me. I pressed the button and listened to the first one. It was Gail.

‘Lenny, when I got home there was a letter for me. A letter about the photos. Please call me as soon as you can.’

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