Tag Archives: Writing

Hollywood Russell in Visons of Sugar Plums

25 Dec

NEW! December 24, 2015
Please be sure to read the notes in the comments section.

HR visions of sugar plums

Marty the bartender

“You lookin’ for Russell? Yeah, he meets lots of guys here. A lot of guys been coming around lately too. Hollywood- that’s Mr. Russell’s name, believe it? He ain’t been around much. You might catch his secretary if you show up in the morning, his office is right down the block, but you don’t look like no regular business hours kind of guy, am I right?

No, no, she’s strictly hands off, and brother, she knows how to take them off if any mook’s dumb enough to try. Anyway Mac, Hollywood’s a pal of mine, he’s bound to show up sooner or later, I’ll tell him you’re lookin’ for him. Who should I say is doin’ the lookin’

Hey, I don’t know nothin’ and I don’t want to know nothin’. That’s between you and the lamppost. I’ll pass on the message for free but you owe me for that beer.”


Tommy at the newsstand

“OK, that’s the racing form and the Daily Standard. What? The numbers? I don’t know what you’re talking about. No, no, I… maybe I did hear something a little while ago, if that was a flash of green I saw.

Hollywood Russell, the PI? Look, he doesn’t care about the numbers, doesn’t play ‘em and doesn’t give me a hard time about working them. None of his business. Straight shooter.

Yeah, fifth floor. You can see the widow right there. See? It says ‘Russell, Private Investigator” in fancy gold letters. He stops here once a day, every day. Gets his paper and sometimes a smoke. But he hasn’t been by in a few days. That just means he’s on a big case. Let me tell, you, that guy doesn’t stop until the final curtain.”


Hollywood Russell’s secretary

“Look mister, I can make an appointment for you but it won’t do you any good. He’s on an important case and it takes up all of his time.

Yeah, life or death. You know how many guys come in here with that story? Give it to me straight. Your wife cheating on you or you owe some money you can’t pay and you want Mr. Russell to make it go away?

OK, look wiseguy, if you promise to go away I’ll do you a favor. Take this card. That’s a colleague of Mr. Russell’s. What? Sheesh, that means they work together sometimes. His office is over near the bridge.

Hey, it’s up to you. There’s always the police you know…”


Mitch Baleen

“I gotta tell you my friend, you made the right choice. If Mitch Baleen can’t solve your problem there isn’t a solution. Don’t let this office fool you, I am the TOP investigator in this city. I got more ears than J Edgar Hoover. What’s the scoop?

Hollywood Russell? What are you wasting your time with him for? You got me!

Personal, huh? I get it. Means “no fee.” OK, hey, what’s with the gat? I know Hollywood but it’s not like he’s my brother. I heard there was a shootout a few days ago with the Manelli Brothers. Big car chase too. The whole lot of them ended up in the hospital. Henchley Hospital.

No, I haven’t heard from Russell. For all I know he’s in there too.

You uh, you’re not planning to make it permanent, are you?”


Beat officer

“Yes, and for the last time listen. Yes, this is a public hospital and yes, I know you say your ‘dear sainted mother’ is in here, but no, her name isn’t on any list I seen here so no, I’m not letting you out of this lobby.

Baleen? Why didn’t you tell me he sent you? Oh! On a case, undercover. I get it. Pass it on to Baleen that I helped you out, OK? His brother-in-law is the Chief.

I don’t know exactly who is in that ward, all I know is that after the Manelli Brothers shot it out with that shamus, Hollywood Russell, they shot up half of the warehouse district. Russell chased them through every back alley, dirt road, and blacktop street from Bellows to Fifth. Lord knows how many bullets ended up in any of them but the chase didn’t stop until the Manelli’s car smashed into a sedan at Freemont Avenue. Family out for a drive, poor kids.

OK, sure, yeah, down the hall and to the left, second door. That’s where the survivors are. It was really bad.”


Hollywood Russell and Sugar Plum

Sugar Plum lay in bed, asleep. Her blonde hair, normally in lazy waves, was pulled back so it didn’t fall over her forehead. There was a bandage there. The light was off in the room. Sugar Plum wasn’t awake much and I guess I’m just used to sitting in the dark. Occupational hazard, you can call it. The doctors turn it on when they come in and I shut it when they leave.

They haven’t come by much lately.

It was late enough to get me thinking about sending someone out to the cafeteria for a sandwich when I heard footsteps coming down the hall. They were soft. Not the click click of nurse’s shoes and not the measured treads of the doctor’s.

I thought I’d seen the Manelli case through to the end, but it was about to come to a conclusion.

I got up and moved to the left of the door. In a few seconds it opened and a man took a slow step inside.

I waited.

“Blondie, I don’t know where Hollywood Russell is and it don’t look like you can tell me. I’m not going to hang around so why don’t you give him this message for me?”

He raised a gun and that’s when I jumped out of the shadows. I’d tell you that I had his gun out of his hand and the rest of him on the floor in two seconds flat but that wouldn’t be true. It’s enough that I got him, and my bruises will heal.

But none of that mattered. What did matter was that when Sugar Plum woke up I was in the same place I was for the last four days, in a chair right next to her bed.

“Hollywood?” She turned her head and saw me. Her eyes were a little glassy and her smile was lopsided. I reached out and smoothed her hair.

“Hi Sugar Plum. Sleep well?”

“I had that dream again.” Then the tears began. I held her close and whispered in her ear, things that are only between me and her.

She sobbed. Looked at the hospital room, looked at me. “That terrible dream!” She sobbed some more.

The doctors say she might be in the hospital for the better part of a month. What the social workers say is worse.

I wrapped the little girl in my big arms and rocked her back and forth. I was going to be her world for a while.

After all, she’s only 8 years old and I’m all she has.




Conclusion: New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn 2014/2015

12 Jan


January 12, 2014

At this point I realized that I could have made a fortune selling hot chocolate. I had given Saarah my hat to wear, and now not only was my head freezing but also my hands since I had no gloves. So I was forced to break into the emergency kit I keep in the trunk. I took out a stained and battered Mets cap (only in an emergency would I wear a Mets cap) and a pair of work gloves which had just under the maximum number of holes allowed so I could keep calling them gloves. One more hole and they would technically just be a bunch of loosely connected threads.

Other items in my emergency kit: Flashlight with dead batteries and a funnel.

Thus fortified, we waited until 9:15 and briskly walked back to the “party,” which was now threatening to maybe, possibly, start.

The DJ equipment was set up but the only music was coming from a CD player someone put on a chair next to the DJ equipment. The carousel had still not opened and showed no indications of opening, despite the icicle-laden folks hoping in vain to get in out of the cold. However, the tent was set up and it looked like something was happening.

And it was! Yes!

Two grumpy volunteers were handing out party favors from a pair of insanely small boxes. I was worried that even this tiny crowd may not all get favors so I checked- no other boxes stashed under the table and nothing stashed in the barricaded area with the CD player. I did a quick count- about 30 people on line, about 15 huddled and shivering near the carousel, and another 20 to 30 gathering around the music area where something was clearly and absolutely not going to happen anytime soon. But don’t worry, the volunteers were strictly rationing the party supplies. Each would-be reveler got their choice of either a party hat or a noisemaker. One only. And which one you got was not up to you, it was up whichever volunteer handed you something first. So if you brought your own party hat you may wind with another party hat despite only having one head. (And no party.)

Saarah and I each got hats, which was what we wanted. We took one last loop around the place to make sure we weren’t missing anything, and believe me, we had already had the full Coney Island party experience.

Our ball drop experience ended the same way the last one I went to did, so many years ago back in the 80’s, in the words of Bobby Brown from My Prerogative, “I made this money, you didn’t. Right Ted? We outta here.” So we left. (See Part 1)

There was a steady stream of cars leaving the parking lot with us.

Coney Island, I am very disappointed in you.


The End







%d bloggers like this: