The caught, p.1
The Caught, p.1
Other New Adult and Children’s books by Jon Jacks
The Boy in White Linen – The Rules – Chapter One – The Changes – Sleeping Ugly
The Barking Detective Agency – The Healing – The Lost Fairy Tale
A Horse for a Kingdom – Charity – The Most Beautiful Things – The Last Train
The Dream Swallowers – Nyx; Granddaughter of the Night – Jonah and the Alligator
Glastonbury Sirens – Dr Jekyll’s Maid – The 500-Year Circus
P – The Endless Game – DoriaN A – Wyrd Girl – The Wicker Slippers
Heartache High (Vol I) – Heartache High: The Primer (Vol II) – Heartache High: The Wakening (Vol III)
Miss Terry Charm, Merry Kris Mouse & The Silver Egg – Seecrets – The Cull – Dragonsapien
Text copyright© 2012 Jon Jacks
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‘Hi, is Marilyn home please?’
Can’t say I recognise the weird guy who’s answered the door. Face like he’s clamping his pen between his butt cheeks.
I hadn’t expected anyone else to be here this late.
She’d sent me away when I’d called earlier. Said she was sorry.
She was taking an important call, but she’d have something for me if I called back after nine. (Okay, so I was way over half-an-hour late.)
Just a little something for me, as usual. My allowance for mowing the grass, removing the weeds. All that dumb stuff.
Way I see it, I reckon she’s paying me as a kind of personal favour, on account of Mom ain’t working for her no more.
I ain’t so dumb I ain’t noticed she’s already got regular gardeners doing that kinda thing for her.
‘She was expecting me,’ I say, seeing as how jerk-features ain’t bothered speaking yet.
You’d think he’d be a bit more polite, seeing as how he’d kept me waiting. No one had been in a rush to answer the door, far as I could see.
I’d rung a number of times, got no answer for my trouble. So, as you do, I’d taken to peering in through the windows.
Not because I’m that type of creepy guy, understand? Just to make sure she was all right.
I’d seen some shadowy shapes moving around in there. Trying to duck out of sight too, you ask me.
So I’d rung again, and again, shouting out her name. ‘Marilyn! Miss Monroe! Are you okay Marilyn?’
Five years later, the door’s finally opened by this jerk.
Type I’d seen hovering round the President that time Mom snuck me in the back of a Peter Lawford party. (Mom has to clean plenty of houses to make ends meet). Suits way too tight. These guys standing around like they’ve got ironing boards shoved up their ass. Chins and foreheads like someone’s carved them with blunt chisels.
Where the hell had this jerk been all this time?
I’ve been calling, shouting, ringing the goddamn bell. And here he is still acting like I ain’t even visible.
‘I work here,’ I say
‘Any kid could say that.’
Wow, the jerk can actually speak!
He says it like emotions don’t exist for him. Like he’s reading it from a card. Talks like he ain’t used to moving or don’t like moving his mouth too much.
‘She’s always being pestered by nosy kids. Beat it jerk wad.’
‘Miss Monroe knows me. I do odd jobs for her. She owes me fifty cents.’
The man stares down his nose at me.
He reaches into his pants pocket, fiddling around for some loose change. As I’d figured, the tight-cut don’t make this too easy. Looks like he’s having to readjust his family jewels.
Jerk-face finally flicks a dollar at me.
I catch it.
His face still ain’t risking breaking into a smile.
‘That’s next week taken care of as well kid. Now, as I said, beat it!’
I go back next morning anyways.
Hoping I can clean out the pool. Maybe get a swim for my troubles afterwards. My threadbare trunks shoved in my coat pocket, just in case.
She don’t seem to swim herself, Marilyn. But she don’t mind others using her pool.
But I can’t get anywhere near the house this time.
There are police cars everywhere, like this is the new LAPD parking lot.
A number of other cars too. Jerks from the press swarming around like someone’s injected wasp venom in their brains. The police holding them back, closing the gates, keeping them away.
The jerks are drawing on their cigarettes like it’s oxygen, a light mist of smoke swirling about them.
‘What’s going on?’ I grab hold of a guy who looks like he should be upping his vitamin intake.
‘It’s Marilyn,’ he bubbles, almost ready to break into tears. ‘Ain’t you heard kid? She finally got round to topping herself!’
‘My journey ends here.’
That’s what it says on the doorstep tiles. Only it’s in Mexican, natch, on account of the house looking like a hacienda. ‘Cursum Perficio.’
Marilyn told me what it meant.
Now I ain’t saying she meant it like she was gonna commit suicide, got me?
She meant it like this was now her home. The place where she felt she finally belonged.
See, we talked a lot, me and Marilyn. Like we were best friends, sometimes.
Like she was a little girl once again, just gossiping and giggling on the doorstep.
Like we were going out together.
She used to have a dog that would walk along to school with her, you know that? ‘Tippy’ she called it. Black and white.
Given to her by her foster father, Albert something or other. Some dumb-ass neighbour shot it – the dog, not her foster father.
Can’t help wondering, though, if it ain’t been a damn sight better for her if it had been Albert, know what I mean?
Neighbour said the dog had been rolling around in his garden – like that’s a major crime, yeah?
Even then she was dreaming of becoming a movie star. Sure, she knew all the little girls out there were dreaming just the same thing.
‘I was the one dreaming hardest Jack,’ she told me.
She still thought about that, still talked about it. Like she was still dreaming and it ain’t ever really come true, despite her dreaming the hardest.
She was like that sometimes, see?
Like I said; like she was a little girl again.
The little girl abandoned by a mom and pop who’d gone a bit loopy, you ask me. A little girl who, like me, was always being dragged from place to place.
Like she was just something you loaded up on the removal van.
Least I’ve got Mom, I suppose. Not that I see too much of her, what with all the work and all.
For Marilyn, it was foster home after foster home. Having to get to know a whole new set of people each time, knowing you’d be leaving ’em again some point soon.
Moving on, putting that life and those people behind you.
You ain’t to go getting too attached, that was the message.
Start preparing now, figuring out how you’re gonna fit in with the next family. Figuring out when it’s best to start packing your bags. Nothing’s permanent.
They ain’t ever gonna really care for you after all. That was the other message.
‘Fifty seven places – I’ve lived in fifty seven places Jack!’ she once said to me. ‘Can you imagine that? I’ve counted them all.’
Was that kinda life ever gonna really end for Marilyn?
Abused, pimped (oh sure, I know the meaning of pimped – Marilyn told me, see?), fed with drugs by people supposed to help her. Insulted, used, thrown away.
Sure, then they’d try make it up to her, see? By giving her little gifts. Just like she was still that little girl, eager to please, easily bought off.
Take her present dog, Maf. Tiny, white – a French poodle.
You know why it’s called Maf? Because Frank gave it her. Frank Sinatra, the singer. He gave it her when they went out with each other for a while.
Maf’s short for ‘Mafia’, see?
She weren’t as dumb as they make out.
She used to let Maf sleep on a white beaver coat that must’ve cost a fortune. Another present, this one from Arthur Miller, her last husband.
Some time after Joe DiMaggio, she told me.
You’ve gotta be kidding me, I’d said.
She’d laugh, because she knew Maf sleeping on the coat would upset him.
Bobby Vinton is playing on a jukebox in a nearby bar.
Roses Are Red, My Love.
I used to think it was a soppy song, know what I mean?
But now I know what he’s getting at.
Those words say it all, don’t they?
Satin pillows to cry on; yeah.
He steps out in front of me before I know anybody’s even there.
Like a wall suddenly appearing in front of you. Only a wall that moves every time you try stepping round it.
‘What’d you see last night boy?’ he says.
No introduction. No explanation of why he’s blocking my way. Just ‘What’d you see last night boy?’
I squint up at him, like I want him to know I’m pissed; him just jumping out in front of me like that.
See, I know who’s asking.
It’s one of those jerks who knock around protecting the Kennedys.
Taking themselves oh-so-seriously as they get out of cars, walk along kerbs, hang around on corners. Heads quickly looking this way and that, bodies otherwise almost as still as a corpse. All movement restricted to whatever will get them to wherever they’re headed.
Suits like they’d bought them as a job lot. Ties too, and shirts.
My uncle, he used to be a tailor before the mob made it too expensive for him. He’d tell them straight; ‘Suits that tight, they’ll have you walking round like you’re too mean to use Ex-Lax.’
This guy’s inside-leg measurement is way too tight.
‘What’s your name boy?’
He says it like he can only just get the words past his teeth. These guys, well, they ain’t capable of showing any emotion. Unless you’re counting different levels of nastiness.
‘As I said, what’s yours?’
He produces a small identification wallet. Flicks it open in front of me, flicking it shut before I get to read his name.
There’s a big ‘i’ on the card; ain’t no time to see much else.
‘Jack,’ I say. ‘My name’s Jack – like the President.’
‘He’s called John. Jack to his friends. “Sir” to people like you. Ain’t anyone got around to teaching you you say “sir” whenever you’re addressing an adult?’
‘No. My Mom, she ain’t partial to being called “sir”.’
He keeps his face expression free.
‘Leroyson? There ain’t no one by that name working up Monroe’s place.’
‘Mom went back to her own name when Pop left. Moorhead.’
‘Jack Moorhead. That checks. Leroyson your pop’s name, huh?’
‘Kinda. Mom never lets on his real name. He was called Leroy. And I’m his son. Leroyson.’
‘On account of you miss him, right?’ He says it like I’m a cry-baby.
‘On account of Mom embarrasses me.’
‘Well listen Jack; I want you to tell me exactly what you saw last night. You were at the house, nine forty, right?’
‘Sometime about quarter till ten, yeah.’ I nod
‘I just told you boy; nine forty. What you see?’
‘Guy like you. Came to the door. Guy who’s never laughed, I figure.’
‘Defending our country’s a serious business sonny. It’s thanks to people like me other schmucks like you get the time to laugh.’
Hey, I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve just managed to get this guy to frown. Oh, wow, and here comes a sneer too.
‘You’ve got it wrong anyway wise guy. The guy who answered the door was that limey actor, Peter Lawford.’
‘Nope, that weren’t no Peter Lawford. As I said, he looked like you.’
‘Looked like me? You saying I’ve got a twin I ain’t knowing about boy? Sure it ain’t just that anyone in a smart suit looks the same to someone like you?’
I look him up and down, like I’m considering what he just said.
‘Like those stiffs you see lined up in store windows?’ I say. ‘Yeah, could be I do reckon they all look the same. But Lawford, I’ve seen him afore; and that guy weren’t no Peter Lawford.’
‘It was ten o’clock boy–’
He ignores me. Just looks at me with eyes that feel like they’re piercing your skull.
‘It was getting dark. You were mistaken. See the thing is, I don’t even have to go telling you he was there. But as you were there, I’m trying to be open and honest with you.’
‘He didn’t sound like no limey.’
‘What’s a limey sound like to you, Mr Anthropologist?’
‘Like he’s got a mouthful of glass. Speaking real careful so he ain’t gonna go slicing his tongue.’
‘That’s him. That’s Peter Lawford.’
I shrug, like he’s won. Like I care. I just can’t be bothered talking to this mulehead much longer.
He makes out I agree with him that the jerk at the door was this limey Lawford, saying, ‘So what’d he say?’
‘You don’t know? You don’t know what one of your own guys said?’
There, I couldn’t resist bringing it up again, could I?
‘Ain’t I already told you kid? He wasn’t one of our guys. He was that limey, Lawford. But I know precisely what he said boy. I wanna hear how you heard it. That’s all.’
‘He said Marilyn was busy.’
‘Marilyn? Not “Miss Monroe”? What else he say?’
‘He flicked me a coin. Told me not to bother calling back.’
‘Beat it. He said, “Beat it!” Not, “Don’t bother calling back.”’
‘Same thing.’ I shrug.
‘It ain’t the same thing at all kid. Not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination. He said, “Beat it!” Got that?’
‘That’s it? That’s all you saw?’
‘What else was there to see?’
‘Nothing; as you say boy, nothing. Anybody ask, that’s the way I want you to keep it, right? Fact is, any nosy reporter asks, you weren’t there at around ten.’
He pauses, waiting for me to say, ‘Nine forty.’ His eyes tell me not to.
‘You left after seven, and never came back. Right?’
‘Why should I lie? Mom taught me I ain’t ever to lie.’
It’s a lie, natch. But I reckon that’s the sort of thing he wants to hear.
‘So she taught you something then? She also teach you love of your country?’
I give a nod and a shrug. Can’t say I’m too sure Mom would know where the country ended and started if you ever put a map down in front of her.
‘This is a matter of national security son. You understand that; national security?’
‘Something about making it all safe for schmucks like me to laugh?’
‘You’ve got a mouth on you sonny.’
He slaps me hard across the face.
So hard he nearly knocks me to the ground.
This is the moment when you’re actually fighting yourself inside.
Do you take it, try and look like it ain’t hurting? Or do you look cowed, stay down? Don’t put yourself up for another slap?
This guy knows what’s going on inside too; you can see it in his eyes, the way he’s waiting to see what my reaction will be.
I give him the blank face. Boy, I gotta admit, it takes a lotta control.
‘Thing is, in the great scheme of things you don’t mean jack, Jack. Got that?’
I’ve got to admit I almost say ‘Sir!’ But I keep my mouth shut for once.
‘Ain’t anybody ever told you to listen to your betters and do as they say?’
‘Nope; ain’t ever had much of a learning.’
‘Well your learning’s gonna have to improve leaps and bounds pretty quick kid. Otherwise, it just might be there ain’t gonna be many more years ahead of you to catch up? Comprende?
He raises a hand in the air, clicking his fingers.
With his other hand he slaps me hard across the mouth again.
‘Wise up kid!’
Jesus! Who is this guy? I’ve had kicks to the head that hurt less!
I can feel the tears welling up in the bottom of my eyelids. I hold them back. Grimace as if I’m angry, rather than having trouble trying to hide that I’m hurt.
I’ve got enough sense, too, to know there are times when it’s best not to fight back.
Bide your time, that’s my motto. There’s always gonna be a time when they’re vulnerable. They can pay for insulting you then.
A black sedan screeches to a halt alongside us, the rear door already swinging open.
The guy steps to one side, slips in the back. The sedan speeds off.
I rub my smarting chin.
Damn, that hurt!
I’ve flicked a switchblade for less.
I head back to Marilyn’s house, having wandered around for a while.
Trying to get my thoughts together, unsure what else to do.
I still ain’t getting past either the police or the press.
Like they really care. Like they have a right to keep me out.
They’ll go back home tonight, tell their wives how they were the ones attending Marilyn Monroe’s suicide.
Like they were some kind of big hero.
Or they’ll be writing up some horsesh– for their papers, making out they know all the answers, all the details.
They know sh–.
The gates open for a minute, letting some guys out. All dressed like they’re ready for some dream date.
The Caught by Jon Jacks / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on15 votes