The fluorescent light outside his office continuously glowed on and off; this made the damp, dark and dirty staircase outside his office look creepy.
An indistinct picture of him was projected on the outside glass part of the door, with a glass in his hand and his hat on; this looked like a detective movie in the cinema and the letters on the top of the glass, which indicated his name, “Detective Philip Marlowe”, looked like the name of the movie.
The study lamp was the only light on, inside his office. The dim light barely lit the desk in front of him. This was enough to show the piles of paper work mounted on each other in front of him, the ashtrays full of half smoked cigars and cups of coffee, which he had drunk to keep him awake, as long, as possible through the night. The many coffee stains on the desk, looked like fresh wounds which appeared almost on every part of the desk that wasn’t occupied, by books, papers, coffee cups or the brown worn phone.
Police sirens were heard so often; the cars always seemed to pass under the window of his office. The flashing blue and red lights shined through the window and on the walls; this made the broken wallpaper and the baldly painted paint on the walls look like creatures crawling up the walls.
The humid, dark room, looked liked no other private detective’s office; if one would have seen it, in the state it was in, one would certainly conclude this was no good detective’s office, but they would be wrong, as detective Marlowe was damn good at what he did.
It was eleven o’clock in the night and as usual detective Marlowe had stayed over in the office to finish off the case he was working on, he preferred to stay in his office and get on with the work that he loved. There was not anyone waiting for him at home anyway, as a result, sometimes he even worked till he fell asleep on his desk.
He was drinking another cup of coffee and stretching, while looking at his desk and the amount of work that he had to go through, suddenly his eyes fell on the part of the desk where his wife’s picture used to stand. This made him think back to five years ago, when his wife and he were still living together. He envied the way he used to live but suddenly he remembered the terrible affaire his wife had had. This really affected him in a big way, that incident made him distrust anyone everyone around him, as the closest person to him had betrayed him; this had made him become a loner. He thought back about the days, when he had someone to go home to…
The phone suddenly started to ring.
This made him snap out of his daydreaming and brought him back to his senses. “Not another damn case” he whispered to himself. He had already enough cases to go through to last him a good couple of months.
The persistent phone still continued to ring.
He still wasn’t sure whether to answer it or not. “It would most certainly be another case,” he thought, as no friends or family had contacted him since he had become isolated from them all, five years ago.
The phoned seemed determined not to stop ringing, unless it was picked up.
He still tried to ignore it but he couldn’t; seeing that he could not do anything with the phone ringing in his head, he picked it up, hoping that it was not another case.
“Detective Marlowe?” the distressed feminine voice asked.
“Hello?” the caller said demanding a response back.
The voice was familiar to his ears and her sound attracted him. He felt like wanting to stand there all night and listen to her speak.
“Mr Marlowe are you there? I need your help,” she said anxiously.
She sounded quite distressed and upset, this made him come to his senses; it appeared she was in need of his help. “Yes, madam. It is I” replied detective Marlowe.
“I need to speak to you about an important matter” she told him.
“Well, I am all yours,” said Marlowe enthusiastically. He didn’t know why, but the voice had given him energy all of a sudden. He wanted to help the caller, even though he didn’t know who she was, he wanted to meet her.
“I cannot explain over the” she explained. “I’ll have to tell you in person. Can you meet me now?”
“OK” he said. She had asked to meet him in a bar that wasn’t more than fifteen minutes away from his office.
“I will be there as soon as I can” detective Marlowe told her. Who is she and why all of a sudden do I have this urge to meet her? he thought to himself; but there was no time to stay and think, he decided, so he put his long brown overcoat on took his pistol from the top drawer of his desk and secured it in the back of his jeans and was on his way towards the bar in no time.
It was raining steadily. The rain had soaked the ground and the smell of the damp soil seemed like a cheep perfume the neighbourhood was wearing. The police sirens were still heard. Puddles of water in the road, which was blocked by a massive log of wood, reflected the moonlight and provided some light for the hoboes that were trying to get some sleep, under the abandoned buildings on the wet stone-pavement.
While walking in the road under the rain and looking at the rough neighbourhood he thought about the voice he heard on the phone and again he thought to himself, where have I heard that voice before? He did not have many friends so it could not have been a friend that sounded like that, suddenly he remembered, now he realised why he had become so attracted to the familiar voice. The voice was very similar to his wife’s voice, Julia, who he had spent ten years of his life with.
Everything was going really well in his life when he had his wife, by his side and he loved the way he used to live with Julia. This was of course until five years ago: one day after work, he had got back from his office and was looking forward to having dinner with his wife, but, this time was like no other time, she was not there, neither was her car or any of her belongings, the only thing she had left behind was a letter she had written to him, in which she had explained she was in love with someone else, she had explained that she chose the other man over him. This was very disturbing news for him, he felt like being betrayed by the closest person to him.
He looked at the sign at the top of the building it read in black letters, “T e C conut” it was meant to read “The Coconut”. The old building looked grey under the moonlight, the bar didn’t look like an remarkable place, the windows were blocked with wooden boards while the roof was partly caved in, the two plants hanging off where the sign of the bar was looked pale and dead, a picture of ruins, which was expected with the bar being in that neighbourhood.
When he entered the bar he started to look around to find the person who had phoned him. Most of the chairs were on top of the table apart from a few that people occupied them; there were only a few people in the bar. The lighting in the room was not that impressive; the hundred-watt lamp was hardly enough to light the room properly. The carpet on the floor was not dirt-free and the smell of the humid carpet mixed with alcohol give anyone a headache. The wallpaper on the walls was in a very bad state. The rain started to pour down more heavily now and the sound of the water leaking into the pan at the back of the room and the sound of the raindrops hitting the roof was the music on in the bar.
At the back of the room in the corner, detective Marlowe saw a lady in a red coat with a black umbrella, by her side, she didn’t look from this neighbourhood so he thought that is the person, who, he is looking for.
“Excuse me Madam, were you looking for detective Philip Marlowe?” he asked gently.
“Hello detective, yes it was I, who phoned you” she replied relaxingly. She seemed more relaxed and relieved now that she had seen him. “I am sorry I dragged you down here I know you have work to do”
“That’s quite alright, now are you going to tell what was so important that I had to come all the way down here?” detective Marlowe said softly while getting the chair off the table and sat in front of her.
“My name is Sarah Jones. I have been living with my husband who you might remember, David Jones, for three years now.” She explained.
“Oh yes I remember him well. He employed me to investigate a private matter for him about a year ago… please carry on” he added.
“I think he is seeing someone else. I think he is having an affair,” she sobbed.
He knew what she was going through, he could understand the pain she was feeling, he could sympathise with her, he had once gone through the same thing. “Are you sure? What gives you the idea that he is having an affair?” he asked sympathetically.
“It all started a few months ago, he was coming home late at night when he was supposed to be home early. His excuse was that he was staying at working and doing overtime because we needed the money for the house we were planning to buy together. He started to get phone calls to his mobile, which he could not answer in front of me and had to go out of the room before answering them. Also we have been getting phone calls from a lady called Elizabeth, the weird thing is, I have never seen my husband with this lady and I know all of my husband’s friend’s and family.” She described.
“Don’t be upset, this doesn’t mean anything. You could be worrying too much.” He comforted her.
“Oh, but you don’t understand. My husband seems to be ignoring me lately and he seems reluctant to talk to me. He only started to become like this a few months ago when he was coming home late and receiving those phone calls.” She described.
“Do not upset yourself too much, I am sure it is not like that, he is probably so worked up and tired at work that he is exhausted, by the time he gets home.” He told her hoping he was right.
“You do not need to comfort me. I want to know for sure if he is seeing some one else, will you please investigate this matter for me? I will pay for anything you need. I want to find out, whether my husband is having an affair.” She said.
“I have a lot of cases to go through,” he thought to himself, but he wanted to help Mrs Jones, as he had once experienced the same thing and knew how hard it was for her. He looked at her face and the look he saw on her face was that of a distressful woman who seemed helpless, he felt sorry, he wanted to say yes, but he still was not sure. “Mrs Jones, but why have you chosen me?” he asked courteously.
“The reason is that you have worked with my husband before you know what he is like and you know more than any other detective about my husband.” She explained persuasively. At this moment Mrs Jones’s cell phone started to ring. “Oh no, it is my husband, he must not find out I am here, for he will go mad” she said addressing him. “Hello dear,” she answered the phone. “I am just visiting a friend I am on my way back,” she told him. “Oh no, it is all right dear, I don’t need a lift, you just relax till I get back” she said hoping he would listen. “Ok dear, see you in a bit” she said finally. “Will you please do this for me? I have not got time, I have to get back to him before he gets suspicious” she said looking at him.
He was going to say no but then he thought about how upset she would get as she had travelled all the way down there to see him and to ask him to help her. The hard thing was he could not say the word, ‘No’ to her face, as he had once been in a same position as her, he didn’t think he’d be able to deny her his assistance to put her mind at rest by finding out, whether her husband was having an affair. He finally decided to say yes to her, “Ok, Mrs Jones. I will investigate this matter for you and will get to the bottom of this, but in the mean time don’t be so upset as you might be making a mistake about the whole thing” he explained.
“Oh, thank you so much. I have to go now before my husband gets upset, you don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you again” she said delightfully and left the bar.