Writing killed Remy St. James. Many people could argue that point but for all their denials, it is as true as anything else in this world. Granted, the act itself didn’t do it; unlike his wit, his prose was no where near that sharp.
Some might have an argument for placing blame on Remy’s new wife, but, as the detectives working the case were in the habit of telling anyone who would listen, the local criminalists had yet to thoroughly consider all the things that needed consideration.
The consideration should begin with the fact that his new found fame gained Remy a bit of a reputation over the course of the last few months of his miserable life. His writing could explain why he was suddenly a hit with the ladies. Remy was relatively plain and he wasn’t particularly well versed in the art of seduction but he was able to bed more than a few women who were clearly out of his league, possibly not even playing the same sport. Along with those few dispossessed women who might hold a grudge, there were a few men who might not have taken kindly to his new found sway with their wives.
His wife had recently made aware of this due to a few lipstick stained shirts and more than a few numbers scrawled on the inside of matchbook covers. While it was hard to miss bright red lipstick on a dead white shirt, matchbooks might not have been noticed if not for the fact that Remy didn’t smoke.
Jimmy Swing knew about as much about Remy St. James as the hundred or so odd people gathered here today. Like them, Swing was on the street level rooms of the St. James estate high above the unwashed masses of San Francisco’s North Beach. Unlike them, he was here on a mission of self-perservation, which had always been job number one for Swing.
Swing was a “go to” guy the likes of which hadn’t been seen much in the course of the last few decades. He was a man who got things done, some unsavory, most lucrative, and all illegal which is saying something of a man who stayed a few steps shy of legitmate for most of his life.
Against his better judgement he had agreed to help Remy with a problem and now, with Remy dead and his task complete, there was an issue of whether or not his name would be connected to the recently deceased Mr. St. James.
“I can’t believe it. A tragedy really,” said a rather stiff looking woman at Swing’s elbow.
“Remy. So young, so talented, so abruptly taken from us,” she offered.
“Yeah, crying shame,” Swing left her eyeing the second floor apartments where he hoped to find Remy’s office.
Of course a second story job wouldn’t be the most prudent thing Swing could do during a wake but then again, prudence and Swing weren’t exactly on speaking terms.
He put down his glass, a gin and tonic he’d been nursing for the last hour and made his way through the crowd toward the stairs leading up to the upper floors.
At the top of the stair case he looked back down at the throng who had come to pay respects to a man few if any of them knew very well outside of his brief literary career. He hurried down the corridor and away from the muted sounds of Remy’s false friends.
Down the hallway Swing entered the first room on the left and found himself looking at over three dozen paintings, some of them portraits, all of them aged in a way that spoke of money and lots of it. A single couch sat in the center of the room, surrounded by a museum quality gallery of dead faces. He wondered who spent time seated on that couch.
Closing the door he made his way further down the hall. The next door, on the left this time, was a neatly appointed room with various awards on the walls. Bingo.
The tell-tale signs of a writer in residence where scattered around the room like the bones of prey in a lair. Here a half empty bottle of whiskey and their a half-eaten sandwich. While research notes lay in bundles around the desk, the desktop itself was nearly empty. Only the typewriter, a classic Royal standard, and the finished copy lay side by side on the otherwise pristine desktop.
Swing surveyed the grounds and wondered how he would find what he was looking for. It dawned on Swing for the first time that finding a specific typewritten page in a writer’s room might prove difficult if not impossible.
Just seven days ago Remy had come to Swing for information. The information wasn’t easily obtained but you didn’t need someone like Swing to get it. Any P.I. worth his gumshoes could probably get it without much trouble and for far less than the amount Swing would charge for the same service. Every the boy scout, at least in his own mind, Swing told Remy as much. Remy was insistent that it be Swing who obtained the information and pass it along only to him. If Swing could do that, it would be worth the extra expense. Of course, this was all before he actually obtained the information.