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An Evening for Trench Coat and Tuxedo. A Hollywood Russell Case File

27 Jun

June 27, 2012

It was not his finest moment.

Hollywood Russell had been hired by a tired-looking housewife to trail her husband. She was sure he was cheating on her. Judging from her baggy eyes and stained housedress Hollywood inwardly cheered the husband on. He didn’t like divorce cases, as this one would surely be, but they were the bread and butter of private detectives. For every interesting case that you hear about in the papers there was a month’s worth of trailing cheating husbands or convincing deadbeats to pay off their gambling debts. But the money was good, if not great, and the detective was once again behind on his rent, and everything else, so he took the case. He took a large retainer and told the woman he’d get back to her in a week or so even though he knew he’d have the case wrapped up by that evening or the next. The money was good, after all.

It was raining that night. Hollywood was standing on the street corner outside the Pierre Hotel. There are two essential items in every P.I.’s wardrobe; a trench coat and a tuxedo, and Hollywood was wearing them both. The night before he had followed the husband to the hotel and waited outside for three hours until the man left and Hollywood followed him home. It was ridiculously easy. The husband had made no attempt to hide where he was going. He was either confident or stupid, in Hollywood’s estimation. But tonight, after a short wait, Hollywood planned to enter the hotel and spend some time in the lounge, drinking expensive bourbon on his client’s expense account and keeping an eye on the elevators to see who his target was meeting.

He walked through the lobby and checked his coat, making a mental note to put the tip on his expense report. Hollywood entered the lounge and took a seat at the bar. He’d have preferred a booth but the bar had a better view of the hotel elevators. Another thing it had was a view of the bartender. It was the husband.

After a few minutes of chit chat and a few more shots thrown back, Hollywood had the whole story. There was no other woman, no habit to feed, gambling debts to pay off before a few fingers got broken. Just a man who loved his wife and was working some short shifts to earn some extra money so he could surprise his wife with a down payment on a house.

Hollywood waited a week for appearances sake and called the wife into his office. His bill was padded outrageously but the woman paid it without a glance. All she wanted to know was if her husband was cheating on her. Hollywood happily informed her that her husband was loyal and faithful.

“Damn,” the woman said, and walked out the door without another word.

Three days later the papers said that she killed her husband with three bullets to the back of the head.

Hollywood’s rent was already paid for the next month.

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