It was scorching hot, cloud-free day, September in Los Angeles. The air was as clear as it gets and the view from my office was obscured only by the smoke I was blowing. Hollywood was full of white buildings, grey streets, and billboards advertising films, television shows, and computers. Dusk was out there and ready tio take over, but Day was holding on. Out there lurked a man who had stolen something from me. Problem was, I didn’t know who he was, and I didn’t know what he’d stolen.
A couple of months back I’d taken a case from a certain Mr. Del Walthupp, a wealthy industrialist with two on-the-side girlfriends and a scheming wife he thought was planning to kill him. He though right and turned up dead the day after paying me. Actually, he didn’t so much as pay me as thrust a briefcase into my hands and told me to take good care of it. As he did that, his eyes sparkled and I instantly understood that what was in the case wasn’t cash money but something far more interesting and important.
But now it was out there, stolen right from my office, meaning it had to be someone I knew, or someone connected to Walthupp. Losing something known creates a painful void, but losing something unknown lights a fire of regret and longing tempered by suspicion and doubt.
When you’re a black private dick whose also a sex machine, life can get complicated on the quick, what with mysteries, ladies, and random-ass shit coming into life all the time.
I lit another smooth fattie and leaned back in my chair. I needed a breakthrough, something to get my mind working again. There was an album that had been on my mind, Rogue Wave. I put it on the turntable and cranked it up.
My scene was changed completely, as California melodies blew through the room like offshore breezes. This was soft stuff, but not weak. This was romance in indie-rock form, but not ironic and pathetic, just cool. The album has a lot of acoustic stuff, but also rocks out on occasion and has a good rhythmic sense throughout with great drumming and simple yet moving bass. The whole scene reminded me that I was in California, land of the Pacific, the palm trees, the grass lawns, the swimming pools, the longing, the regret, the painfully beautiful sunsets… I was lost in thought and entangled in the beauty of the music. The sun set behind me, the record was over and was skipping along on the turntable.
There was a huge world out there, full of pain and hope, what did one little suitcase matter to me? Why focus on one mystery when my entire life was impossible to understand?
I leaned back in my chair and put the needle on the record again.