Watching Marilyn, p.19Jack Chapman
Keats lit a Marlboro and leant back to throw the dead match through the open window of my office into the warm night. "You seen Guppy?"
"Much as they'd let me."
"He doing okay?"
"He's in a coma in Oregon. How much worse can it get?"
"That much alcohol in his bloodstream, they wouldn’t need sterilise the surgeon's instruments."
"How’d you know how drunk he was?"
"Had the State Troopers' report faxed down."
"You’re really taking an interest."
"Like I said, he was one of ours."
"It’s not often you meet people who really care. No other reason, Lieutenant?"
"How's his wife and kid?"
"She didn't want to quit the boy's bedside. I had to leave her up there when I drove back."
I stretched and yawned. "It was a long drive, Lieutenant, and it's getting late. I could do with going to bed sometime."
"They lost her guts," Keats said to change the subject.
"Noguchi the pathologist doing the autopsy. Takes out her liver, stomach and intestines. Requests the Path Lab at UCLA do a barbiturates assay. Next day he rings the lab asks where his report is. They’d confirmed Nembutal and Chloral Hydrate in the blood tests but how it’s spread around her internal organs is gonna help him say how long before death she took the stuff. There’d been no undigested pills found in the stomach. How it got into her system was a question. 'What organs?' the Lab asks. Everyone starts looking."
Keats waited for me to prompt him but I wasn’t going to expend more effort than necessary.
"Somewhere between departments in the hospital Marilyn Monroe’s internal organs have disappeared," he explained.
"Disappeared?" I said.
"They don’t disappear. They don’t ever get mislaid. This is a hospital it happened in. It has procedures. They do this all the time. I mean they’re organs. Stuff like that doesn't disappear. Someone stole them."
"What was that name?"
"The autopsy was performed by Dr. Tsunetomi Noguchi, he’s their top man. Whatever went wrong it wasn’t his fault."
He dropped a folded set of stapled papers he'd taken from inside his jacket onto my desk where I ignored it.
"Top man or I heard the most junior guy in the department, depends who you talk to I guess."
"You already know all this?"
"I asked around some. Being a pathologist isn't an easy job. Cutting up bodies, all of them dead, some smelling worse than you can imagine. Most people wouldn’t make it a first career choice compared to say baseball star. What I'm saying, in the medical hierarchy, a pathologist is the kind of doctor they don't let close to patients still fit enough to complain."
"You're questioning his competence?"
"Every day doctors with live patients get sued. They cut off the wrong leg, diagnose a virus when it’s a brain tumour, prescribe overdoses, these things happen all the time, read the newspapers. They get it wrong. It’s what makes Lourdes thrive. So this doctor's clients don't object much but he’s not the Pope, he’s not infallible. I don't know this guy. Maybe his problem is dirty fingernails and that's why he isn’t a gynaecologist. Or maybe like the poet said there are more things in heaven and the human gut than this guy's dreamt about. She'd taken pills for years. Who's to say she wasn't so habituated they shoot straight through her stomach no trace? I’m just supposing the options."
"According to reliable sources she was so habituated it could take five sleeping pills to put her out. The fatal dose is only seven. That would make an accident easy. The problem is if you believe the blood analysis she took three times the fatal dose. If she was eating all those pills her heart would stop and digestion would shut down with most of them still left in the stomach."
"Well, that does make it unfortunate her stomach disappearing from the toxicology laboratory. Coincidentally a laboratory in the UCLA School of Medicine where Doctor Greenson is an eminent member of faculty. Something to think about, Lieutenant. You planning to question anyone?"
"You know how investigations proceed. Or maybe you don't being just an amateur pain in the butt. Mostly it'll be paperwork. Collating reports. Sifting through a mountain of incomplete and conflicting evidence trying to make some sense of it."
Keats reached inside his jacket and dropped another folded photocopy onto my desk between the whisky glasses.
"Like the report of the first officer to arrive at the scene after Dr Engelberg phoned in the death. Looking around the house he conscientiously notes domestic minutiae such as the housekeeper Mrs Eunice Murray doing the household laundry. She has the washing machine and dryer on the go both together. Could be what's in the washer is already a second load with the first one drying. Difficult for the officer to conduct an official interview in the circumstances but Mrs Murray informed him that soon as she discovered her employer was dead she packed her suitcase then decided to do Miss Monroe's laundry."
"And that would be around 4-30 to 5 am?"
Keats shrugged. He looked precariously half way between disillusion and indifference. Something had happened to make him stop believing what he did mattered much, but there was still some needle of suppressed anger digging in him.
I took pity on us both and got the bourbon bottle from the bottom drawer and poured a glass each. While he took a slug I said "Eunice sounds a real gem. Hell, with that dedication if she's looking for a new job she can come keep house for me. Long as she don't make too much noise working through the night. Easy to see why no one at LAPD thinks they were disposing of evidence in the early hours."
"It’s unfortunate the officer was distracted from further questioning by a need to intervene and stop the workman who arrived to fix the window that Greenson broke. On the possibility the broken window might be material evidence to what had happened."
"They rang the window guy before they rang the police?"
"Yeah, well it seems first of all they'd rung the Studio to get their instructions how to take things forward."
"Let me guess. Lane Sickert at the Studio? Head of Fox Security?"
"Do you know all this already or am I still telling you?"
"No, Lieutenant. You were telling me this was a tragic suicide."
"That's right. That's official. She was depressed about being fired from her last film. There were possibly financial problems going by the state of her house, and her a woman accustomed to lavish suites at the Beverly Hills Hotel."
"She'd been rehired."
"Plus the failure of her romantic relationships, the marriages, the affairs. Marilyn consumed a lethal dose of sleeping pills with the intention of ending her own life."
"So why are you dumping file papers on my desk?"
"It's just paperwork, Frank. Nothing to get excited about." He dropped another photocopy on my desk. "Like the speeding report filed by a Beverly Hills traffic cop that evening. The officer stopped a Mercedes going east on Olympic Boulevard just before midnight. Used his discretion and didn't issue a ticket because the occupants were Peter Lawford and Attorney General Robert Kennedy."
"Was Kennedy with Monroe that night, Lieutenant?"
"Not according to Lawford who was beside him all evening at the party the Lawfords were having at their beach residence." Keats dropped another sheet of paper on the pile. "Neighbours complained to the Santa Monica police about the helicopter that touched down on the shore around 2 am Sunday blowing sand into their swimming pools. Police Department did a routine check on the charter log. Lawford hired it to fly Robert Kennedy back to San Francisco."
"Sounds like a quick getaway."
"Precipitous travel ain't illegal in the United States."
"Just a coincidence he left your jurisdiction between Marilyn dying around 11-30 p.m. and it being reported to the cops after 3 am."
"Only no one's admitting they knew. But it ain't your case anymore Lieutenant. I told you they would take it away from you. The shadows are moving in. That's why you're carelessly dropping this litter on my desk."
"I give up on things easy. It’s waste paper. Take my advice and throw it in the trash. They’re burying her tomorrow." Keats stood up and left.
Watching Marilyn by Jack Chapman / Mystery & Detective have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on16 votes