فصل 04

مجموعه: کارآگاه لنی ساموئل / کتاب: فیلم در لوس آنجلس / فصل 4

فصل 04

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER FOUR

Crazy Ellen’s

I knocked on Mike Devine’s bedroom door.

‘It’s Lenny Samuel,’ I called through the door. ‘I’m leaving now, Mr Devine. There’s one of my business cards on the table in the living-room. You can send me the two hundred and fifty dollars later.’

Mike muttered something inside the bedroom. I didn’t understand what he said. I left the apartment, got the Chrysler from the garage, and drove home. After a couple of hours’ sleep, a hot shower and some clean clothes, I was a new man. I drove downtown to my office building, parked the car, and went into Crazy Ellen’s.

Crazy Ellen’s is a bar, and a cafe, and a diner, and a meeting place. It’s next to the building where my office is, on West Beaumont Drive. Don’t ask me where the name of the bar came from. The owner of Crazy Ellen’s isn’t a mad woman called Ellen, or even a sane woman called Ellen. The owner is a man - an old Greek called Costas. I’ve known him for more years than I want to remember. I go to his bar a lot. People know that if I’m not in my office, I’ll probably be at Crazy Ellen’s.

‘Hi, Len!’ Costas shouted as I came in. It was shortly after nine o clock and the place was empty. ‘Hey, you look tired. Didn’t you sleep?’

‘Hi, Costas,’ I said taking a seat at the bar. ‘I’m OK. Give me some black coffee, some orange juice and a couple of fried eggs, please.

I ate my breakfast and I chatted to Costas about baseball. Then I went to my office - two rooms on the fourth floor of an old building. On the floor of the waiting room, there was a pile of mail. I stepped over it and went through to my private room. There’s not a lot to see - a desk, a couple of chairs, a grey filing cabinet, a window with a broken blind. I blew the dust off my chair and sat down at the desk.

The red light on the answerphone told me that some phone messages were waiting for me. I pressed the PLAY MESSAGES button. There were two messages.

The first message was from a man who didn’t give his name. The message was short and simple. ‘If you know what’s good for you, Samuel, you’ll take a holiday,’ the voice said. ‘Next time, it won’t be just a little knock on the head.’

Interesting! This was a warning. And it was connected with Mike Devine in some way. But who was warning me? I didn’t recognize the voice, and the caller hadn’t left a number for me to phone.

But I knew the second caller as soon as he started to speak. It was a man called Rik. Rik Roma and I were old friends.

‘Hi, Len, how are things?’ Rik said. ‘Listen, I may have a job for you. Can you meet me for lunch today? Give me a call.’ And he left a phone number for me to call.

Rik’s full name is Ricardo and he is Italian-American. His family came from Sicily in the 1930s. Rik and I worked together in the L.A.R.D. - the Los Angeles Police Department. My family is Hispanic - my full name is Leonardo, though people always call me Len or Lenny. My family came to the US from Puerto Rico. So Rik and I had something we could talk about.

Rik and I left the L.A.P.D. at about the same time. Rik went to work as a security man at a big movie studio in Hollywood. I became a private eye. Rik had done very well over the years. He had been very successful in his work and he was now Head of Security at Magic Movie Productions. He always had new cars, and he lived in a luxury house in the hills, with two swimming pools. Me - well, I’ve got an old car, a small apartment, and a little wooden cabin in the hills. You can guess how well I’ve done.

I called Rik and we arranged to meet at Gate Four of the Magic Movie Productions studios at one o’clock. I spent the rest of the morning at the gym in the basement of my office building. Then I had a quick shower and drove across town to the studios.

Rik was standing outside Gate Four. Rik is tall and thin with a high forehead and short black hair. He has deep brown eyes. When he looks at you, you think he is looking through you.

I got out of my car, and Rik put his arm around my shoulder. Then he led me through the gate, showing his security pass to the guard.

‘You have to show a pass!’ I laughed.

‘Sure, Len, the security’s real tight here,’ Rik replied.

We had lunch in the studio commissary - the movie studios’ name for a restaurant - with fifteen nuns, twenty Japanese warriors, fifty English peasants, several princesses and a giant.

‘We’re making a fantasy movie in Studio Twelve,’ Rik explained. ‘These are the extras - they walk on and off the set but they don’t have speaking parts. The stars and the other actors have their own private dining-rooms. They don’t eat at the commissary.’

‘So what other movies are being made here at the moment?’ I asked. I have always been fascinated by movie-making since I was a child. I was really interested.

Rik laughed. ‘We don’t make very many movies here at the studios any more. Most of the studio area is used for tourism. We get lots of tourist groups visiting Hollywood. They come in to see the old sets - the sets of movies we made in the past. But now, most of our movies are made on location often in other countries. For example, many of the best people for special effects’ are in England, so we often work there. And we shoot scenes’ all over the world. Sometimes we do part of a movie here and then go on location for the rest of it.’

I was disappointed. I’d been hoping to see a movie being made. I told Rik this.

He smiled. ‘I’ll see what I can do,’ he said. ‘I’ll try to arrange something after lunch. But before we eat, I want to ask you a question. Are you busy at the moment, or would you like to do a job for us? Something a little unusual?’

I didn’t need time to think. ‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I’m pretty busy, but I guess I could do something for you.’

Rik laughed. ‘You always were a bad liar! This is what it’s about.’

He took a photograph out of his pocket and passed it over to me.

‘Do you recognize her?’

Gail Lane was smiling at me from the photograph. ‘Yes,’ I replied. ‘I spoke to her this morning!’

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