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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

July 24, 2008

A Spike Slammer Mystery

I was sitting in my office on Sunset, flipping cards into a fedora and killing off my second bottle of Jim Beam. I hadn't had a case in two weeks and Lola had expensive tastes in eateries. Just then there was a knock on the door. Hesitant, quick, the knock of a sap who was in over his head and needed pulling out from the deep end, although I only did mouth to mouth with dames. I slipped my .45 out of its holster and put it under the Racing Form. "The doorknob ain't gonna twist itself, bright eyes." I said. "Come on in."

A tall, thin man with a beak like a buzzard and a freshly shaved
head came in. I could tell he wasn't from around here, only because he
didn't have anything nasty covering his shoes.

"Good Morning, Mr. Slammer" he said in a thick German accent. I parted the blinds and glanced out. "If you say so. What can I do for you, Fritz?"

Hans. Hans Zaftig, late of Munich."

I was less than impressed. "What brings you to L.A.? Looking
for a jeweled falcon?

The reference went right over his melon. "Nein, uh, no. Nothing of the sort. May I sit?" I nodded and poured a shot. "Drink"?

"No, thank you. Ten is a bit early in the morning for me, but don't let me stop you."

I didn't need permission from Erich von Stroheim to drink in my own office but I let it go. I belted down the booze and got down to business. "What's burning your schnitzel, Klaus?"

"I need to find a man. A fellow German who owes me money."

"It must be a load of Deutchmarks to make you follow him all
the way to L.A."

I never liked doing business with krauts, especially since that
incident in Bonn. I showed him the foot long scar on my thigh. It was
easy enough, I already had my pants down and wasn't about to pull them
up for some goose stepper. "I picked this up the last time I trusted a
German." I didn't go into detail, but it was a case I had a while ago that started in Zurich. I followed a fraulein named Hildegarde all the way to Bonn. She looked innocent enough, but backed into a corner she made Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS look like Heidi. Long story short, I gave her an Eva Braun facial with my .45, which pretty much ended the case.

"So, what makes you think this mook is in tinseltown?"

"Let me start at the beginning. I'm a diamond merchant. High end stones for only the finest jewelers in Europe."

"I'm losing interest, Adolf. Get to the point."

"I met a man named Schlapp on the Schmutzigstrasse who said he had some fine stones from South Africa. The sort of diamonds that have no papers, if you follow me."

"I know about you krauts and your papers. Go on." I poured another shot.

"I brought a substantial amount of money to a cafe in Misthaufen to complete the transaction. When Schlapp didn't show I became nervous and left. No sooner did I reach my car when I was struck from behind and rendered unconscious. When I awoke the money was gone.

I nodded. The 'old lure the mark to a public place, stand him up and when he's alone douse his lights with a pipe'. I've had to use that one on clients who'd rather cough up blood than cough up my fee. Either way works for me.

Zaftig continued. "I made some inquiries and apparently Schlapp had pulled the same trick on some others in my profession. He knew, of course, that we couldn't go to the police."

"So the Gestapo couldn't help you. Why L.A.?

"I did some research and heard of a similar crime taking place here. A few discreet inquiries lead me to believe that it was Schlapp."

"Sounds interesting. Okay, I'll look into it. But I get paid in cash, U.S. greenbacks, not hot rocks, savvy, Heinrich?"

"Ja, yes, I understand."

"And I do it my way. I don't follow orders."

He slipped a billfold from his jacket pocket and pulled out five crisp hundreds. "Here is what I know. Schlapp was seen in the jeweler's district. He's a stout man with a slight limp, a Prussian accent and a polished bearing, not at all like a common verbrecher, criminal, ja?"

I picked up the bills and his calling card. "I'll let you know what I find out. You won't be upset if I have to do a little arm twisting, will you?"

"Do what is necessary, Mr. Slammer. You'll be handsomely

Next: Blood Diamonds

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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
. .
Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11