The 1960’s were a historic era of cultural and political upheaval worldwide, and Los Angeles along with San Francisco were at the west coast epicenters.
The 1970s amped the Vibe; from the grit of L.A, and glitz of Hollywood, to the sunny beach-lined communities north and south of the Los Angeles International Airport.
There was a thriving evolution of new ways to live, to expand one’s mind, and new ways to do business. And one of the rising big businesses was within the Drug Culture.
The times were ripe for anyone to grab the reins and take hold of whatever they could. All ideas, trends, and concepts if not new, were brought forward from the past to be celebrated. With these near daily new enterprises and concepts came great ideas implemented for the good and some for the bad.
William Trent, a young private investigator, maintains his office and living space above the garages of an adjacent apartment building in the “Ghost Town” area of Venice, California. The rickety, but sturdy stairs to Will’s office were open for anyone who needed his services.
Will was experienced in both deductive reasoning and altered states of consciousness. He had taken nearly every drug, hallucinogen, and psychotropic known, and used those experience’s benefits to become successful enough to hold down his own one man investigation business.
There was much to be said for certain stoners’ abilities to use their clouded stoned appearance to actually gain detailed insight on those who momentarily let their guard down due to thinking that they were dealing with just another stoned Hippie.
Tonight’s 1973 Episode: “Missing”
It was Sunday July 22, 1973, William Trent, the Stoned Private Eye, had just seen Robin Trower rip-up the Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip with psychedelic hard rock blues; a much anticipated and rewarding experience and performance.
On his way back home, Will was rockin’ to “Twice Removed From Yesterday”, Trower’s debut album on his car’s cassette deck and thought he’d stop by to see a friend, a night owl that he knew would be up and about late at night.
He turned onto his friend’s street, parked, went up to the door and knocked. There was no answer so he knocked again. This time he could hear someone come to the door.
From Behind The Door: “Go away, I’m calling the police.”
Will didn’t recognize the voice.
Will: “Rob Edwards, I’m looking for Robert Edwards.”
From Behind The Door: “Go away, there’s no one here by that name.”
Will scanned the area and did not see Rob’s car. He got in his car and left for the nearest phone booth. He called his friend, but the phone just rang, no one picked up.
Will was getting a very odd vibe. Something was wrong, he hadn’t seen his friend in a couple months, but if he had moved he would have let Will know. He made a couple calls to mutual friends and other than being rudely awakened agreed that they hadn’t seen or heard from him lately either.
Keeping in touch with friends whose lives took them to places near and far became the fabric of life where relationships naturally grew further apart as everyone’s lives evolved. People made attempts but the vibe was rarely the same.
So as he drove home, still listening to Trower, he wondered about time, and then of what could have happened to his friend. If he truly no longer lived there, then where did he go?
All of the usual reasons for missing persons did not apply to Rob. Many people disappeared during the ‘60s and the ‘70s, voluntarily, but it was called “dropping-out” and usually was done with a lucid mind. Will realized that this could be his Occam’s razor; the answer with the least assumptions. His friend just dropped-out. Still, there must have been a catalyst for him to drop-out, some event or situation that triggered his “missing”. That was the mystery.
It didn’t matter because he would return tomorrow and get some answers, his missing friend, Rob Edwards, was now his new client.
The next morning Will drove back to Rob’s house and again knocked on the door, several moments later a female teen opened the door.
Will: ”Yes, Hello, my name is William Trent and I’m looking for my friend, he lives here, Robert Edwards?”
The Female Teen: “Sorry, no one by that name lives here.” And as she starts to close the door Will puts his boot out to stop the door.
Will: “How long have you lived here?”
The Female Teen keeps pressure on the door: “A couple months.” “I’m calling the cops, Mom!”
Will removes his boot and the door shuts.
As Will walks to his car he searches his memory of the last time he saw Rob, it was here at his house about two months ago, only now he realizes that it had been longer. For the first time Will noticed how the days and weeks really seemed to go by quicker, they just peeled-off. Will thought maybe this awareness of time just came with age; when you’re young everything takes forever, when you get older days just fly by.
He remembers them hangin’ out late at night smokin’ weed and drinkin’ a couple beers, laughin’ and listening to Rock with the TV on but with the volume off when Rob got a phone call and took it in private in another room.
Will remembers that Rob’s demeanor wasn’t the same after he hung up the phone and rejoined Will. Even though Will picked up on Rob’s vibe, it could have been anything for any reason and in a few minutes Rob was enthusiastically recalling tales when he and Will were kids.
Rob did construction, Will knew of some of his crew, but but not enough to get in touch with any of them. There was one guy though, Gary, that Will met a couple times over at Rob’s. He had dropped Rob off at Gary’s place before and remembered where it was.
Will pulled up, parked, went up to Gary’s door, knocked, and a woman answered.
Will: “Hello, my name is William Trent and I’m looking for Gary.”
The woman looked at him and began to cry. Her husband came to the door, and as he comforted her he said: “Our son died, were you a friend?”
Will said yes and offered condolences.
Will: “I’ve been out of town, when did this happen?”
Man: “A little over two months ago, he was in a car accident, up on Mulholland.”
Will heard all he needed to know, but he casually asked the name of the construction company where their son Gary worked so he could talk to his friends, the Man told him A-1 Construction. Will once again offered his condolences and left.
If a friend, a co-worker of Rob’s died approximately two months ago, and Rob disappeared two months ago, then there was a definite connection, and Will didn’t like it; that meant Gary didn’t have an accident, he was murdered. They both knew or were witness to something and Rob “dropped-out”, not of his own volition, but for his life.
Since the only connection was A-1 Construction, Will pulled up to their offices in Culver City near the M.G.M Studios and went in as if looking for work.
There was no one there of authority to answer his questions only a secretary. Acting depressed about the job situation he asked her if she could at least tell him A-1’s active sites, she saw no harm in that, and gave him three addresses. He thanked her and left.
At the first site an apartment building was under construction, at the second they were remodeling a major department store, and the third was where Will knew he had something. The third was chain link fenced-off with artist renderings of the finished multi-use buildings in Santa Monica with ground level retail, second floor professional, and third floor residential, but all that was accomplished so far was a massive excavated hole for underground parking.
Will looked at the venture, there were many hands that were greased to get this project through, even if done legally, and if done illegally, was that knowledge worth murder?
Just then a lone construction worker walked within Will’s earshot.
Will, wanting to get a reaction: “Excuse me, I’m looking for Rob Edwards, have you seen him lately?”
That worker didn’t even want to acknowledge Will. This was just more confirmation he was on the right site and that there was something bad going on. The worker was scared, he surely knew of Gary’s demise and of Rob’s disappearance, and didn’t want to be next.
That morning in his hurry to leave to get answers, Will skipped his morning bowl and was feelin’ it. He went back to his parked car, packed a bowl, lit it, and took a long soothing and refreshing inhale and held it until there was hardly any smoke from the exhale.
He sat there looking at the building site and the billboard rendering of the finished project.
There are as many reasons to get rid of someone as there are people, but when it centers around construction the field narrows to corruption in the form of pay-offs, cooked books, “overlooked” regulations, ignored code violations, and bribes; and since this was a multi-million dollar venture that would guarantee huge amounts of income over the years, there would be no qualms of an “accidental” death of anyone who may threaten it.
As far as he knew his friend could be dead before he had a chance to drop-out.
Either way, Will didn’t need to be connected, there was evil afoot, and it was at the top of A-1 Construction. He didn’t have time for research; cases like this move fast and get buried with time. He needed to act.
Will went back to the A-1 Construction offices and asked the secretary for an employment form or any Carpenter’s Union pamphlets. As she got the papers he surreptitiously scanned desks, the walls, anything that could be of use, it was within that time that Will saw a framed photo of the owner, Daniel Jones, and three other men posing at a golf course, their names were printed at the bottom, Will recognized one of them as Henry Johnson.
Will had recently helped put away Johnson, who as Master Zorn, leader of the Disciples of the Eternal Adept Deities cult, was in jail awaiting his upcoming trial for kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, torture, and the list went on. The fact that he was friends or business associates with Daniel Jones told Will the kind of guy he was up against.
Will to the secretary: “I went to all three sites and didn’t see Mr. Jones, is he on site today?”
Will noticed a tell by the secretary’s unknowing quick glance of her eyes toward a closed office door.
Secretary: ”Uh, no, I mean I don’t know where he is right now, you must’ve missed him between sites.”
Will knows that he’s in his office: “Alright, well I’ll fill this out and return tomorrow, maybe better luck then.”
Will leaves, gets in his car and waits for Daniel Jones to leave, and then he follows him.
Jones drives a land yacht and parks it on a side street off Washington Boulevard in front of a warehouse and goes inside.
Will parks his car, and heads for the warehouse. As he crosses in front of Jones’ car he notices a severe scrape along the right front bumper and part of the upper right quarter panel. The scrapes were consistent with a side-swipe from forcing someone off the road.
Will’s “connection” was like a refined instinct, there were times when his trust in his connection was a matter of life and death and it never failed him, like right now he knew that Daniel Jones ran Gary off Mulholland to his death, but the question was why? What did Gary and Rob find out about that was deadly?
Will peeked through a dirty warehouse window and saw a couple goons, and someone, a man, tied up in a chair with Jones questioning him.
Will couldn’t make out the face for the dirt on the window and the fact that Jones was blocking most of his view, but as Jones moved to the side Will realized that it wasn’t what Rob and Gary saw or heard, it was what they knew, for there was Rob; he’d been beaten, badly. Since he was still alive meant that he knew as soon as he told Jones what he wanted to hear he would be conveniently found dead somewhere for some reason.
Will was relieved to see that Rob was still alive, but he was vengeful, he wanted to bust in there and do some damage. He was outnumbered and surely they had guns, but he had an idea.
Will went to Jones’ car, the door was unlocked, he leaned in and hot-wired it, got behind the wheel, and revved the shit out of it, and took off straight to the local Culver City police station.
The raucous noise alerted Jones, who told one of the goons to go check it out.
Goon One opens the door to see Will drive off.
Goon One runs back inside: “Someone stole your car!”
Daniel Jones: “WHAT?”
At the local police station Will explains to the Captain that the damage to the land yacht’s front end will match Gary’s car’s rear-end scrapes, and that Daniel Jones was a killer and a kidnapper.
They already saw that Gary’s car appeared to have the marks of a car that was possibly run off the road, but the marks could have been from the crashes it took down the ravine, and the police had no one to tie it to, or motive, until now.
Had this come from anyone else there would have been a lot of questions, but the Captain had heard good things about Will over the years and with his recent involvement with the Henry Johnson case.
Will knew it was a long shot that they would still be there, but noted the cars’ licenses on the street and gave them to the Captain, surely one was the Goon’s and the Captain put out an APB on the three cars and radioed all squad cars in the area.
Will considered that Daniel Jones would not kill Rob as common sense dictated that he was now a person of interest, however he may feel that one more murder at this point wouldn’t matter, and it would be one less to testify if caught and tried.
Then again this guy was big biz, he’d get a fallguy to take his place behind the wheel up on Mulholland and wouldn’t need any more blood on his hands.
A squad car took Will back to his car.
Will got a weird vibe back at that warehouse and waited for the squad car to leave to checkout the warehouse.
In Daniel Jones’ hurry to leave they left the door unlocked. Will entered but stayed in the shadows. As he moved around mentally scanning the interior the could hear a muffled voice coming from a big chest. Will grabbed a piece of rebar pried open the chest and not knowing who or what was inside kicked it over while brandishing the rebar like a bo staff. It was Rob bound and gagged.
Will freed him: “Rob, let’s go, we need to get you fixed up and . . . ” Will was getting a weird vibe again. Weird for Will was a distorted unknown vibe. Most vibes were definable; a weird vibe isn’t, Will did not want to know the answer.
Will: “Rob, let’s go, c’mon.”
Rob had been beaten and didn’t look good, but none of Will’s prodding would get him to go.
When Rob turned to face Will he was foaming, then blood filled his mouth and came dripping out and with wild eyes he staggered toward Will with twitching outstretched arms: “Will . . . help me!”
It was all Will could do but to watch his friend die before he hit the ground.
Will pulled his friend over onto some mats and covered him with a rug.
That was it, this wasn’t about fucking construction it was about trafficking drugs; cocaine for sure, with heroin on the side. Rob was given a Speedball overdose.
Will had to tame his rage and focus on the mission: take down the killer Daniel Jones.
He pulled out his silver capsule of a righteous blend of cocaine and his own personal ingredient, snorted the contents in each nostril from each end, and let the kick reverberate throughout his body.
The heat was on Jones, so a legitimate sea cruise on his yacht wouldn’t cause suspicion.
Will deduced this by another photo on the office wall of him in front of his yacht, “the Stud”, docked at the Marina.
Will sped from Culver City straight out to the Marina. Out of his car, he raced to the docks, the slip was empty, “the Stud” was motoring out of the Marina and out to sea.
Will took off on foot after the yacht.
Right next to, and parallel to the Marina’s outlet was Ballona Creek; as a teen Will used to jump off the Ballona Creek Bridge, it was exhilarating, and so was the running jump from the Googie style restaurant roof’s overhang right onto the yacht.
Will landed with such force on the yacht’s canvas-covered lounge area that instead of bouncing him out into the water like a trampoline he split the sun-baked canvas wide open. But just enough to provide a decent landing in the aft deck lounge area.
Before he knew it he had two crewmen goons and Daniel Jones to deal with. That was fine.
Daniel Jones was no wimp, he had been in construction his whole life and had the muscular build and presence of a leader. But he was a bad man. An evil man. A killer.
Will: “So it’s drug trafficking. Construction just not cuttin’ it?”
Daniel Jones: “I don’t know who you are but my crewmen will see you off.”
Will waits until they both have hold of his arms and just as they all three walk to the edge Will pushes off and up and does a high school gym class back flip twisting their grips loose as he lands behind them in a crouched position then springs back up and pushes them off balance into the water.
Will turns to Jones.
Daniel Jones: “What is this with you?”
Will: “Rob Edwards, he was a friend, a good friend.”
Daniel Jones: “Punk ass kid, you’re all punk ass kids.”
(Will was pushing thirty, oh, that’s right everything is relative.)
Daniel Jones pulls a gun: “I had a nice operation until that punk ass kid Gary. And then your “good friend”. Punks threatening my operation. They had to go, just like you.”
Jones points his gun at Will.
Will bets that being a dark night, on a moving yacht, if he zig-zagged, and dove off into the water, he just might make it, and as bullets whizzed by, he did.
Swimming deep underwater, and away from further gunfire, Will surfaced to see the police helicopter’s searchlights on the sea yacht, and two Harbor Patrol boats coming into view.
One of the Harbor Patrol ordered Jones’ yacht to cut the engines, the Patrol boarded, and arrested Jones and his crew. The other Harbor Patrol pulled Will up out of the water.
Spirituality and Karma have their limits, for as cold as Will was he was still burning with vengeful rage that he could not have exacted some real life pain into that bad guy – the crippling and painful for life kind. The kind that reminds, every minute of every day, why that pain is there. That kind of pain.
Copyright 2018 00individual TLL
Written spontaneously over a few hours during July 1 – July 3, 2018 with only The Stoned Private Eye, The 1970s, Missing, and a Noir Vibe as inspiration.