Lenny is a movie fan who wants to be a private eye. He’s unsure how he’s going to make the transition from part-time mortuary attendant to the status of his hero Philip Marlowe. Anything is possible in the US of A, he thinks.
On the evening of March 26th 1959 a cadaver under a white sheet on a gurney is wheeled into the San Diego mortuary.
Who’s this? Lenny asks the ambulance driver.
Some rich guy from La Jolla called Raymond Chandler – ever heard of him?
You kidding? Lenny folds back the sheet. Jeez, man, you sure are dead. Lenny turns and opens one of the freezer cabinets.
My, oh my, A male voice says, I thought I was sleeping the big sleep.
Terrified, Lenny spins around and sees an elderly man wearing a collar and tie, a light linen suit, brown loafers and spectacles sitting on the edge of the gurney.
Jeez, who the fuck are you? Lenny gasps.
Language, young man! That thing, next to me, is Raymond Chandler. To our surprise, I’m his ghost.
You were the writer who created Philip Marlowe.
The Big Sleep is the very best movie ever.
Thank you, Lenny. The book is mine. William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay.
Why not you?
Hollywood, my boy. Too much unsavoury stuff in the book – they had to soften it up. You read it?
No, I just seen the movie, maybe twenty times.
I want to be a private eye like Philip Marlowe.
Crime is real, fiction isn’t.
Yeah, sure, but how do I become a private eye?
Chandler laughs. Get an office, get a suit, a hat and buy a gun.
That’s the hard part.
Will you help me?
The morgue supervisor enters. Who were you talking to?
I was just thinking out loud, Lenny says and sees Chandler laughing.
Get the stiff in the drawer and then get outta here. The door slams behind him.
Well, now, Chandler says, It appears that only you can see me.
I got an office. Wanna take a look?
Lenny and Chandler walk down a dark corridor towards an office door. Neon lights flash through the office door’s pebbled glass window on which is written ‘Lenny Marlowe Investigations’.
Chandler laughs. If this was a movie a lone saxophone would be wailing in the background.
They go in. Shadows cast by the neon lights fall across battered filing cabinets and a shabby desk on which sits an aged, dusty Remington typewriter loaded with a blank sheet of paper. Clouds of dust rise as the typewriter keys type, Sure I can help.
How did you do that? Lenny asks.
Lenny is asleep in the office wearing a smart suit and a hat tipped over his eyes.
Wakey, wakey, Chandler says, shaking Lenny. Your first client is here.
What do I do?
Act serious. Listen. Takes notes. I’ll tell you what to do, Chandler says. Let’s have some fun.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2021
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.