Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Devil at Dusk - Installment Number Twelve

1950's Film Noir, Female investigators, short stories
Photo by: Dave Haworth: davesphotoexploration.wordpress.com

Hello again and welcome all to Installment number twelve of: Devil at Dusk!

The next day I went to the office in the afternoon, it was Wednesday. I brought the notes in from the most recent murder and put them in the appropriate file. Bet was in the office, she said she had gotten a call from a Mrs. Clara Rothschild; she is an elderly widow that lives at the top of the hill in a giant mansion on Willow Street. She said she was in need of an investigator, she believed that one of her employees there at the mansion was stealing from her. Bet handed me a slip of paper with Mrs.Clara Rothschild’s number on it. I gave her a call and set up an appointment to speak with her on Thursday. In the mean time I asked Bet how she was doing, she said pretty good. She had just been busy organizing the files in the filing cabinet.  I dropped off my notes in the file folder then I told Bet I was going to head over to speak to the sheriff. I gave her a hug good bye and told her to have a good day.

Next I walked over to the Sheriff’s Office, I checked in with Sheriff Holifield, I asked him if they found anything new. The Sheriff said no however he did inform her that he was in the process of hiring another assistant deputy sheriff because they had been spread a little thin lately with just the three of them. Not only did they have the sheriff’s office, they had the jail there too. He said he had just started doing interviews that morning, so far he got one out of the way, then he had two more the next day and another on Friday. I wished him the best of luck and told him to have a very good day. I went home to take a nap because I was heading over to Ling’s to have dinner and then to hang out in the bar. I was hoping that Lenny would show up, if so that would be the last and final investigation on him.

When I got to my cottage I tucked myself into my bed and napped for a few hours. I woke up and got ready to go to Ling’s. I went and borrowed another one of JT’s vehicles, this time it was a modest sedan. I left the cottage a little bit after 6pm and headed over to Ling’s. When I got there I went in to the restaurant and there was a sign that said please wait to be seated, in a few moments the hostess came to seat me. She seated me at a table by the window; I looked around to see who all was here. There was a family of four in a booth, a couple in a booth and a single man at a table. I did not see Lenny yet, a few minutes went by and then speak of the devil (well in this case it was think of the devil, I guess) Lenny comes through the door. He waves hello to the hostess and says hi Mihn how have you been doing? Mihn replies that she has been doing really well and thank you so much for asking Mr. Boggs. She seats Lenny at a table across the building from me. After a short bit the waitress comes out and takes my order. The hostess makes some more small talk with Lenny and then says Loretta (the waitress) will be right out. My food arrives in a timely manner and it was delicious! Now I was starting to see why this place was so popular, the staff was very friendly without being overly friendly (they did not dote upon the restaurant costumers as much as they did in the lounge) but they were very efficient. The service was prompt and the food very good, I was impressed. Lenny made some more small talk with the waitress. I finished up my meal, paid and then I made my way to the lounge.

I sat at the bar, the bar tender asked me, what would ya like ma'am? I told him that he could get me a scotch on the rocks please. I looked around and the place was starting to fill up. I noticed the cocktail waitresses flirting and doting upon the patrons again. I told the bar tender I had just eaten next door and I had a great meal. I told him this place was different than most, usually at a restaurant or diner there seems to be at least one thing missing for example they may have great service but bad food or vice versa but this place had it all. Then I mentioned in other lounges the cocktail waitresses were not as friendly, these girls catered to their customers every whim it seemed. I also made a point to tell him, I had driven by here on several occasions and every time they were busy, they seemed to be doing a land office business!

The bartender then introduces himself as Bernie and I tell him my name is Brooksie. He then thanks me for noticing that it is quite the business. He tells me it is a great place to work and that he loves working for Mama Ling. Ah ha, the business is owned by a female and here I had assumed it was run by a man. I tell him Mama Ling is a very smart business woman! He tells me she came over to the states from Hong Kong in 1934, she lived on the east coast for a few years and then traveled down south and ended up here and opened this restaurant and lounge in 1938. Prior to 1934 when she lived in Hong Kong, she ran a brothel (for close to 20 years) which was where she learned her business acumen. That also explained why the waitresses were so friendly because obviously Mama Ling trained them to be that way to help garner business. Then Bernie the bartender added - just so you know even though Ms. Ling used to run a brothel in Hong Kong - that does not mean there is any funny business going on here. She does not allow anything at all like that here. Then he asked me if I would like to meet Mama Ling? I said why yes, I would love to. Bernie tells me she comes in occasionally but for the most part she just lets her staff run the place. He goes in the back and brings out Mama Ling; Mama Ling must have been close to being about 60 years old but did not look a day over 30! Out from behind the door comes this tiny, beautiful, well dressed lady with a face like a china doll. Bernie introduces us to one another; she says to me, you do not sound like you are from these parts. You sound like you are from Chicago; I told her yes that she is indeed correct. She said she spent several months in Chicago right after she lived in New York and New Jersey for a while. She explained that when she came to the states she arrived in New York, lived there for a while and then moved on to New Jersey. She really did not like either city, then she spent time in Chicago and that was not for her either. So she made her way south until she landed here.

Then she asks me if I am just passing through and I tell her no that I just moved here. Now she is really curious (because Laurel is a hole in the wall kind of town in the middle of now where) and I tell her that I was JT’s god daughter and that I inherited the cottage and have since moved in it after he had passed away. She then made a tsking sound and said the death of JT was such a shame and it was a very sad day when he died. I wholeheartedly agreed with her, JT was one of my best friends and was like an uncle to me, I had explained to her. She tells me she is deeply sorry for my loss and bowed her head for a few minutes. She then tells me it was so wonderful to meet me and that she has things to get back to doing in the backroom. She then tells me to stop by any time and to ask for her again when I come back, so she and I can chat a little bit more next time. Mama Ling mentions that she is not here on a regular basis but she does pop in from time to time. I thanked her so much for coming out to meet me and saying hello.

After that I watched Lenny and the others play pool, while I enjoyed my Scotch. I took in the whole scene, this time I was on the inside rather than the outside looking in. I watched the cocktail waitresses flit and flirt about. I thought about Mama Ling running a brothel in Hong Kong for many years and then coming to the states and opening up a successful business here. There was no Mr. Ling ever mentioned, I was beginning to wonder if there is a Mr. Ling. I proceeded to ask Bernie if there was a Mr. Ling, he said as long as he has known Mama Ling, he has never known of there being a Mr. Ling. Bernie tells me he has been working here ever since Mama Ling opened the place. I thought to myself, Mama Ling is just one of those strong women that has been able to do it on her own. That is pretty rare these days.

By the end of the night I had learned a lot about this particular business establishment and got to meet some new people. I also had come to the conclusion that Mr. Leonard Boggs was not cheating on his wife. I would write the report regarding Lenny tomorrow, right after meeting with Mrs. Rothschild. Then I would be in touch with Mrs. Boggs to let her know my findings and to give her a copy of the report.

To be continued…..

Well that concludes another installment of: Devil at Dusk. Stay tuned next week for another segment of our story! 

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