HERE’S SOMETHING THAT STARTED AS AN EXPERIMENT AND HAS NOW BECOME SOMETHING A BIT MORE SERIOUS. IT’S MY HOMAGE TO HARDBOILED/NOIR WITH A TRIBUTE TO JOHN D. MACDONALD ESPECIALLY IN THE TITLE.
I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG IT WILL BE, BUT I’LL KEEP ON WRITING TIL THE END 😀
THREE PANEL PAGE: The scene is a run down block of offices at night, the windows are grimy and some are smashed. The block is three storeys high and a city block in length. There are some lights on in random offices and the front door to the building is ajar, where once a security-guard/receptionist sat is now piled high with papers and fliers. The streets are shiny with a recent rainfall and the water and puddles reflect the orange glow of the sodium streetlights. The street is deserted and there is trash being blown around. The three panels are the space on the left-hand side of the page is taken up with one long panel and there are two smaller panels dropped in on the right-hand side of the page.
P1: Here we have the long panel NO PANEL BORDERS ON THIS ONE. It is outside the building which we can see stretching into the distance, we are in a long shot and slightly elevated, we can see the door and a street lamp directly outside the entrance to the building. There is no step up to the building, the door opens straight out onto the sidewalk. We see a man in silhouette standing with in the halo of the streetlight, he is a lone figure in this circle of light he is with his back to us and appears to be wearing a long coat, think of that classic image from “The Exorcist”, but he isn’t carrying a briefcase, though we can see that he is smoking a cigarette because the smoke is curling up around his head.
IT WAS A STINKING NIGHT WHEN I GOT THE CALL, IT WAS A DAME CRYING HYSTERICALLY. SHE SAID THAT SHE’D GOT MY NUMBER FROM THE JACKET POCKET OF A DEAD MAN.
P2: Here we see into the entrance-way of the building, the front desk is on our left as we walk in, the doors are made of aluminium and glass and open inwards. Only one is open as the other seems to be stuck. The front desk is piled high with old newspapers and fliers, they cover the waist high desk, an air of abandonment exudes from this entrance-way, semi-derelict and dirty, which extends into (out of?) the whole building. We can see a set of stairs in front of us leading up and a single elevator is on our left which is standing open. There is a board on the wall above and behind the desk. It was once used to say which offices were on which floor, now it just spells out “ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE”. This might be ironic, it might not.
SHE SAID THAT SHE WANTED ME TO GET RIGHT ON OVER TO THE TAFT BUILDING ON 8TH AND KENNEDY. I KNEW THE BUILDING–I’D ONCE THOUGH OF RENTING OFFICE SPACE THERE.
P3: We are looking in on the hall again, but this time we are looking at FRANK HOWARD(our protagonist)we can see him clearer now, he is indeed wearing a trench-coat and he has short-cropped dark hair. He is about 6 feet tall and his face looks like it’s seen a few sights in its life. He has a cigarette dangling from his mouth and his hands are thrust into his coat pockets, he is looking into the open elevator as if contemplating whether to use it or not, we can see that it will be not because the control panel inside is broken and hanging out on its wires.
I WANTED AN OFFICE ON THE SECOND FLOOR, LEFT BACK. I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO USE THE STAIRS.
A SIX PANEL PAGE 2,2 AND 2: POV FRANK in each of these panels we see FRANK’s shoes as he’s walking up the stairs. The stairs are of scuffed and cracked linoleum with those aluminum strips on the front part of each riser. FRANK’S shoes are brogues made of some darkish leather, they are pretty clean for someone who spends his time on the streets.
P1: He begins to ascend.
I NEVER SHOULDA COME RUNNIN’– IT’S GONNA BE THE WORST FOR ME, BUT I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A SUCKER FOR A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS.
P2: We can see a bit of the wall on FRANK’s right.
SHE SAID THAT BOBBIE HAD BEEN MURDERED, HE’D CALLED HER TO MEET HIM AT HIS OFFICE AND WHEN SHE ARRIVED HE WAS LYING ON THE FLOOR WITH A .38 SIZED HOLE IN HIS CHEST.
P3: Now we can see a bit of wall on FRANK’s left to show that he has turned the corner.
BOBBIE WAS BOBBIE JOE LONG MY OLD PARTNER FROM BACK ON THE FORCE. HE TOOK THE GRAFT AND I DIDN’T–BUT WE WAS TARRED WITH THE SAME BRUSH SO WE BOTH TOOK THE FALL. FUCKIN’ I.A. BITCHES!
P4: We are now looking straight ahead as we exit the stairs. There’s a long dark corridor before us and a collection of 8 doors on either side of the corridor, those old kind with the solid bottoms and glass tops, they are distinguished by the weak light coming from the street. But about halfway down the corridor on the left hand side we can see an office door ajar with light spilling out into the corridor.
I GOT MY PRIVATE DICK LICENSE ABOUT A YEAR AFTER WE’D BEEN RAIL-ROADED OFF THE FORCE. BOBBIE’D GOTTEN HIS ABOUT 6 MONTHS AFTER THAT. I DON’T KNOW IF HE WAS TRYIN’ TO IMPRESS ME OR NOT–I JUST SHRUGGED MY SHOULDERS AND SCOUTED AROUND FOR WORK
P5: We are now closer to the open door which has ROBERT J. LONG -PRIVATE INQUIRY AGENT- embossed on the glass of the door, we can see through the opening a bookcase filled with books an a coffee machine on top of the case, there’s a hint of a coat hung on a peg beside the door.
I KEPT MY BEEZER CLEAN AND OUT OF THE COPS’ WAY. MOSTLY TAILING GINKS ON THE AWAY DAY FROM THEIR FRAUS, OR THE OCCASIONAL BIT OF INSIDER DEALING.
P6: FRANK has now pushed the door open with his left hand, we see his hand and his forearm as he pushes it open, we can see that he has on the coat, there’s a jacket sleeve and shirt sleeve. He has a watch on his left wrist and it shows the time as 10 to 11. We see the room, it’s crowded with stuff, the bookcase on the right and a filing cabinet, there’s an overturned chair in front of the desk which has an office chair behind it, the blinds over the windows are venetian and half pulled, on the sills of the window ( there are 2) are piled papers and files, there’s a statue of Mickey Mouse incongruously on the end of the sill of the left hand window. In front of the desk, is BOBBIE sprawled out on his back with a look of suprise on his face, he is wearing a suit and tie(which is skewwhiff)and a big bloody mass where his chest should be. On the left hand wall is a map of the city, under this is a coffee table hard up against the wall and on the coffee table is a collection of liquor bottles and glasses, also an ice-bucket. The Desk takes up almost half the room, its a big oak monster there’s a telephone on the bottom left hand corner, an old type dial model. there are papers scattered over the desk, sitting in the chair behind the desk and drinking something, whiskey, there’s a bottle of Cutty Sark on the table before her(half gone)and smoking a cigarette is BOBBIE’s girl, she’s sitting so we don’t really know how tall she is, but she probably be 5’8″ in her heels. She is a stunner, a passing resemblence to BARBARA STANWYCK, with full lips, she is wearing a 50s style suit for women and a little pill-box hat sits atop her curled blond hair. there is a small veil over her eyes, her mascara has run and there’s a look of fright on her face, but the shock that she had phoned FRANK with has now all but disappeared. There’s an old style table lamp on the front right hand corner of the desk , this gives the only light in the room.
MEET WANETA HOYT, ALL ROUND GOOD GIRL, NICE PAIR OF GAMS BUT THE MORALS OF A CAT IN HEAT. SHE USED TO BE A SONGBIRD OVER AT JOE JOHNSTONES PLACE–BUT I’D HEARD THAT SHE AND BOBBIE’D BEEN RUNNING IN HIGHER CIRCLES.
4 PANEL PAGE: PANEL 1 TAKES UP HALF THE PAGE, PANELS 2 & 3 ARE DROPPED IN THE MIDDLE TIER PERHAPS COVERING A LITTLE OF PANEL 1 AND PANEL 4 IS ACROSS THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.
P1: This is from inside the office, we are looking from a low perspective at FRANK who is in the doorway his hand still holding the door. We can see that he is indeed wearing a suit and tie, there’s a look of mild shock on his face, we see all the detail on the wall with the bookcase, the corridor behind FRANK is a black hole, on our right we see that there is another bookcase this one has some houseplants on top and there are more files rather than books stuffed into the bookcase.. BOBBIE’s body is stretched out to our left, we can’t see his head but his bloody chest is evident (GORE!GORE!GORE!), the overturned chair at his feet. the dark bulk of the desk is also on our left now. The light source is still the lamp and it lights mostly FRANK from front on.
FRANK: (JESUS WEPT WANETA! WHAT THE FUCK WENT DOWN HERE?)
P2: Now we cut to WANETA, upper body and head, seated behind the desk it’s straight on and her head is partly in shadow from the lamp, she is holding the tumbler of whiskey in her left hand and bringing up the cigarette to her mouth with her right, her eyes are squinting a little from the smoke.
WANETA: (IF I KNEW THAT YOU BOOB, I WOULDN’A CALLED YOU NOW, WOULD I?)
P3: A side on perspective from the waist up for FRANK and the shoulders up for WANETA. FRANK has come a little more into the office though he hasn’t come all the way to the desk because of the body…obviously. He points angrily at WANETA
FRANK: (WHO YOU CALLIN’ A BOOB YA DIP-HEADED FRAIL? YOU WERE QUICK ENOUGH TO CALL MY NUMBER WHEN THE KETCHUP WAS SMEARED OVER THIS JOINT!)
WANETA: (‘COS BOBBIE ALWAYS SAID YOU WAS A PEEPER WHO WEREN’T NO SKID ROGUE. COULD GET THE SUGAR ON WHATEVER DIRTY DEAL OR BADGER GAME WAS GOIN’ DOWN!)
P4: This is a long shot from the side, wide angle. We can see them both and the body, we see WANETA seated behind the desk and FRANK has now dropped his hand and is looking down at his old partner. It would be nice to have the body in a stronger light, echoing that of the halo of light back on PAGE 1:PANEL1, With WANETA and FRANK only dully illuminated from the desk lamp. We can see that WANETA certainly does have a nice set of ‘gams’ and she is wearing dark stockings and dark high-heeled shoes. she is a little raised from the chair and leaning a bit forward.
WANETA: (I NEED A BODY TO TRUST RIGHT NOW FRANK, YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW DEEP AND HOW HIGH THIS GOES. AND I’M SCARED THAT I’M THE NEXT ON THE BUTTON MAN’S LIST. THAT’S WHY I DIN’T CALL THE COPS. THEY’RE IN THIS RIGHT UP TO THEIR SCHNOZZLES!)
FRANK: (YEAH, I’M SORRY, BUT WHY CALL ME? I WASN’T BESTEST OF FRIENDS WITH YOUR CAT.)
I KNEW I SHOULDA GONE TO TOLEDO THAT DAY, LIKE I WAS GONNA.
A 5 PANEL PAGE SET IN THE OFFICE SO THE SET UP SHOULD BE THE SAME. THE FIRST 4 PANELS IN THE TRADITIONAL SET UP BUT PANEL 5 WILL TAKE UP THE BOTTOM TIER OF THE PAGE. IF THIS COULD BE A BORDER-LESS PANEL AND THE REST OF THE PANEL COULD BLEED UP AND BE BACKGROUND FOR THE OTHER 4 PANELS.
P1: FRANK is moving around the office putting things into some kind of order.
I TOLD HER THAT I’D TAKE CARE OF IT, TO GET BACK TO HER PLACE AND WAIT FOR MY PHONE CALL, I ALSO ASKED HER WHAT SHE HAD TOUCHED, “JUST THE SCOTCH AND THE DESK. I SUPPOSE ON THE DOOR WHEN I CAME IN, ,BUT THAT’S ALL I REMEMBER.”
P2: FRANK is cleaning the whiskey tumbler with his handkerchief, he is standing at the right-hand side of the desk as we are looking from the door in.
“DON’T FORGET FRANK, THERE’S HIGHBINDERS AND DIRTY LAW MIXED UP IN THIS,” SHE THREW OVER HER SHOULDER AS SHE SWUNG OUT THE DOOR.
P3: FRANK is behind the desk slinging the cigarette butts and ash that WANETA had left in the ashtray out the window.
I CALLED IN THE INCIDENT TO THE 6TH PRECINCT, WHOSE MANOR BOBBIE’S OFFICE WAS IN. DETECTIVE HARVEY CARIGNAN AT THE 6TH WAS AN OLD THORN IN MY SIDE, BUT AS FAR AS I KNEW HE WASN’T A GRIFTER AND I COULD TRUST HIM TO PLAY IT STRAIGHT.
P4: FRANK is now sat behind the desk, his tie is askew and he is putting the telephone back in its cradle.
BOBBIE HAD ALWAYS BEEN ONE FOR THE BANGTAILS, THAT’S WHAT GOT HIM IN TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE, TAKING GRAFT TO PAY OF HIS DEBTS ON THE PONIES.
BUT I HAD A FEELING THAT THIS WAS MORE THAN A FEW BAD DEBTS, THOUGH I KNEW OF A FEW GUNSELS THAT WOULD HAVE A BODY ZOTZED FOR LITTLE OR NO REASON.
P5: FRANK is sat at the desk his arms folded before him as he’s looking into the “camera” with a very threatening look on his face. Lips pursed into a thin white line, deep Vs between his brows as his thick eyebrows are drawn down into the centre and a cigarette clasped angrily in the corner of his mouth, its smoke creating a miasma around his head.
AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGEMENT I HAD NOW BEEN DRAWN INTO A MESS THAT WAS NONE OF MY MAKING, IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME–SOUNDS LIKE THE STORY OF MY LIFE.
A 4 PANEL PAGE: Once again in BOBBIE’s office but now the office is full of uniformed police officers(3 in all) and a short round, balding fat man chomping on an unlit cigar, this is DETECTIVE HARVEY CARIGNAN. He sports a thin moustache over his lip and his suit is cheap and rumpled ( think of Jon Polito in The Big Lebowski, but set in the 40s)he has a sour look on his face, there is also a man from the M.E.’s office, he is a small, thin man wearing big horn-rimmed spectacles, a check sport coat and a bow tie, he has a straw trilby with a dark band around iton his head and he has a massive old time camera around his neck.There seems to be more light in the room.
P1: We are looking from the side on at a slightly elevated angle. DETECTIVE CARIGNAN and FRANK are in the bottom right hand corner of the room a window at FRANK’s back, CARIGNAN is in front of him scowling up on him, the cigar angrily chomped in his mouth, his arms on his hips his hands in pudgy little fists, hiking up his suit jacket which has been thrust back because of his hands on his hips.
CARIGNAN AND I WENT WAY BACK. HE WAS A “BY-THE-BOOK” KINDA GUY AND I’D ALWAYS BEEN MORE RELAXED IN MY ATTITUDE TO PAPERWORK. I THINK THE WORD ‘SLOPPY‘ WAS BANDIED ABOUT THE SQUAD ROOM.
HARVEY: (OK FRANK, WHY’D YOU DO IT?)
FRANK: (C’MON HARVE, YOU AND ME BOTH KNOW THAT I WOULDN’A CALLED YOU IF I’D DONE THIS.)
P2: We’ve swung round now the angle is over FRANK’s shoulder (maybe we can see his right ear and a bit of his right shoulder)looking down on CARIGNAN. In the background we can see the M.E. leaning down towards the body ready to take another picture from another angle, the uniforms have spread out a bit and are searching the office for clues. The door to the office is ajar and we can see two ambulance men in whites, having a cigarette and they have a stretcher between them leaning against the opposite wall of the corridor, which is no longer dark as the lights have been switched on. CARIGNAN is furious, his face is screwed up with anger and he’s taken the cigar out of his mouth and is waving his hands around with the cigar in his left hand between the first and second fingers There could be a little spit and sweat flying here to denote that he’s a fat little fucker and they always sweat and that he’s spitting mad.
HE HATED IT WHEN I CALLED HIM HARVE, I THINK HE WOULD’VE PREFERRED ‘DETECTIVE CARIGNAN’ OR EVEN BETTER ‘SIR’. BUT I LIKED TO WIND THE LITTLE FUCKER UP–WHICH WAS PROBABLY NOT A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME.
CARIGNAN: (LISTEN WISE ASS! I GOT A DIRTY EX-COP SITTIN’ IN THE OFFICE OF ANOTHER DIRTY EX-COP WHO HAPPENS TO HAVE A NEW .38-SIZED HOLE WHERE HIS LUNGS USED TA BE!)
SEE–I TOLDCHYA. BUT I COULDN’T HELP MYSELF. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT THIS EGG THAT’D ALWAYS RUBBED ME UP THE WRONG WAY.
P3: This is roughly from the same angle, the uniforms have changed position, because they are still searching the office, one of them is bending down to look at the books in the bookcase, the M.E. has now straightened up and is fiddling with the camera. CARIGNAN’s face has now turned towards the body a little to indicate who he is speaking about.
I THOUGHT THAT LITTLE DIPLOMACY WAS NOW IN ORDER, THESE FLAPPING LIPS O’ MINE HAD GOT ME IN ENOUGH TROUBLE TODAY AS IT WAS.
FRANK: (LOOK DETECTIVE. YOU’RE TOOTING THE WRONG RINGER HERE. I CAME BY ON A SOCIAL VISIT AND WHEN I WALKED IN THERE WAS BOBBIE STRETCHED ON THE FLOOR– I WAS AS SHOCKED AS YOU.)
CARIGNAN: (WHO SEZ I’M SHOCKED? IN FACT I THINK THIS IS ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF TOO LATE!)
HE WAS A “BY-THE-BOOK KINDA GUY” ALRIGHT–AND HE HATED DIRTY COPS. I COULD SEE THAT HE WASN’T GOING TO WASTE MUCH TIME ON THIS CASE.
P4: The same angle again, but CARIGNAN is now looking back at FRANK and the uniforms have moved again, the one by the bookcase is now crouched down pulling something from between the bookcase and the filing cabinet. The other two uniforms are spread out around the office. The M.E. is now looking across at FRANK and CARIGNAN, his mouth open and speaking.
M.E.: (CAN I ASK MY MEN TO COME IN AND TAKE THE BODY,NOW DETECTIVE? I HAVE EVERYTHING I NEED.)
CARIGNAN: (YEAH, YEAH DOC. WHATEVER. YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO DUST FOR PRINTS WHEN WE’VE CLEARED OUT.)
CROUCHING COPPER: (DETECTIVE. I THINK I’VE FOUND SOMETHING HERE.)
A FOUR PANEL PAGE: This is still in the office.
P1: A full body shot of the young Uniform crouching by the filing cabinet, “we” are at floor level looking up from inside the office looking toward the door. He is reaching into the gap between the filing cabinet and the bookcase and he’s pulling out a manila file.We can see a name on the file-tab HERB BAUMEISTER. Behind him we can see the 2 ambulance men coming into the office carrying the stretcher to take away the body.
SHIT! WHY HADN’T I SEEN THAT?
MURPHY’S LAW I SUPPOSE. I JUST HOPE IT’S NOTHING IMPORTANT. BUT IT PROBABLY IS.
P2: We are now back up and the policeman is handing the file to CARIGNAN. We can see behind them the ambulancemen bending down to put the body onto the stretcher.
CARIGNAN: (WHO THE FUCK IS HERB BAUMEISTER?!)
POLICEMAN: (BEATS ME BOSS, BUT THERE’S NOTHING IN THE FILE. COULD BE IT JUST FELL DOWN THERE.)
BAUMEISTER.BAUMEISTER. WHERE HAD I HEARD THAT NAME BEFORE?
COP(OP): (LOO! THE SLUG’S GONE RIGHT THROUGH THE WALL AND INTO THE OFFICE NEXT DOOR. JEEZ, THESE OFFICES AIN’T BUILT OF NOTHIN’)
P3: We have swung round a bit now so we have the M.E. the 2 ambulance men and the other two uniforms in the picture. We are looking from FRANK’s POV. The cop who had spoken off panel is at the blood spatter on the wall, the M.E. Is standing mid-way between FRANK and the COP at the spatter and the 2 ambulancemen are now up and carry the body out on the stretcher, they are between FRANK and the M.E.
CARIGNAN(OP): (IF I WANTED YOUR OPINIONS ON THE ARCHITECTURE I’D ASK FOR ‘EM. NOW GET THE FUCK DOWNSTAIRS WITH THE BODY.)
I LOOKED AT BOBBIE’S BLOOD SPATTERED UP THE WALL LIKE A LITTLE RED SUN. POOR BASTARD!
P4: Now we’ve swung back to FRANK and CARIGNAN and pulled back so we get to see both men talking to each other,we are looking from the perspective of about where the head of BOBBIE’S body was. We can just see the back of the second ambulanceman walking out thedoor carrying his end of the stretcher. The cop who found the file is standing behind CARIGNAN.
CARIGNAN: (DON’T GET NO IDEAS ABOUT LEAVIN’ TOWN ANYTIME SOON HOWARD. I WANT YOU WHERE I CAN GET MY HANDS ON YOU.)
FRANK: (NO PROBLEM, LOO. I GOT NO TRAVEL PLANS.)
ANYWAY, I NEEDED TO FIND OUT WHO THIS BAUMEISTER CAT WAS. I WAS GETTIN’ AN ITCH AT THE BACK OF MY MEMORY AND I’D HAVE TO SCRATCH THAT SUCKER.
BESIDES — I HAD SOMETHING OF AN ADVANTAGE OVER THE COPS. I HAD A PLACE WHERE BOBBIE HAD BEEN HANGING OUT LATELY.