Doorway Down (short story) - eBook

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In 1920 New York, private investigator Mathew Richmond is hired by the beautiful Clara Ashley, an actress on the verge of becoming a big star. But the case she brings him isn't just a career-breaker; it's a soul-taker.

Mathew must find a private film that could end Clara's career, while fending off the criminals of the street who are trying to stop him.

Will Mathew be able to find the film before it's too late?

Will Clara be able to avoid a career-ending scandal? 

Find out in this noir meets Lovecraft thriller.

If you enjoyed books like Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep or Stephen King's The Dark Tower, you'll love Doorway Down. Buy now before the price changes!

She was someone important despite appearing so young. Not a politician or leader. Maybe a celebrity. It was the way she carried her delicate 5-foot frame in her gray suit and ankle-length skirt. Something respectable and sweet even though she had those dangerous curves. She was used to showing off, to making a good impression.

“Mr. Matthew Richmond?” her high voice asked. Not little girl high but helium high. It sliced down my spine. The girl could definitely not act for the stage unless it was a children's show.

“Yes, Ms. Ashley,” I said, rising to shake her hand over my chipped wood desk. My office on 23rd Street was not in the best building. Never was. Being a shamus was hard work. The hardest part was finding it. But with my ways, and the lengths I went to for the client, it got me good word to keep my head above the water. Plus, offering cheaper rates than companies like Pinkerton helped. “Please, have a seat.”

We both sat down. The Venetian blinds shadowed me out but illuminated her fine form. I had no problem with that. I wasn’t a looker. Just an average Joe about six-feet tall with a slim build and a few scars on my face from the Great War. But none of that bothered Clara Ashley as she crossed her legs and patted her long, dark hair pulled back into a braid. She flashed a fragile smile and took a deep breath.

“Don’t be nervous, Ms. Ashley. I won’t bite you. I’m here for you.”

She smiled wider.

“Yes, of course. That’s reassuring,” she said. “Please excuse my demeanor.”

“What is it that I can do for you?”

“I would like to hire you to find something for me,” she said, studying the unicorn ring on her middle finger.

That was different. Usually, women sought me out to help them gather evidence for their divorce process. Pictures or documents involving their husband with another woman, or another man. All for the sake of the woman’s financial security but I knew it was mostly for the satisfaction of revenge.

“Sounds fine.” I leaned back on my wooden chair, making the hinges squeak. “What is it you want me to find?”

“A film. A 16mm film.”

“I see. A film that you’re in?” I asked.

Her face blushed. She frowned. Definitely embarrassment.

“Yes,” she said, still not able to look into my eyes. “I’ve been in over fifty films so far, yet this one could hurt me.”

“Really? You’re in moving pictures?”

“You don’t recognize me?” she asked. I shook my head. She giggled and finally met my bright eyes. “Of course you don’t. Even if you have seen my movies you probably wouldn’t recognize me since I’m not wearing all that make-up.”

“I don’t go to the picture house,” I said. “I prefer my entertainment live.”

“Sometimes I do, too,” she said. “Anyway, on the screen, I use the name Clara Ash. It shouldn’t sound familiar to you.” It didn’t. “I never headlined but I’ve been in many supporting roles. Mostly I’ve done shorts and two-reelers but some features. I’ve worked with Lloyd, Chaplin, Browning, Valentino, Crawford, Chaney, and even in England with this new director Hitchcock. I was always the friend to the female lead or the little sister to the male lead. At my age, they love to put me in younger roles. ”

“I can understand that,” I said. “You appear fifteen.”

“I’m eighteen. Anyway, I finished a feature called Lady Luck with MGM. My first lead. And not as a girlfriend. Not as someone who supports the leading male. I am starring and with a story. Although it is a comedy, it challenged my range. I’m proud of my work in it. Everyone involved believes it will be a hit and that we could make a series out of it. Like what Chaplin accomplished with the Tramp.”

“I know who Chaplin is but I never saw his films.”

“But you understand how important this is for me?”

“I do,” I said. “But is this big film Lady Luck the one you want me to retrieve for you? If so, then you don’t need a private detective, you need a lawyer. And a lot of cash.”

Her eyes strayed away. She frowned.

“No,” she whispered. “The film I want you to find is a two-reeler called The Doorway. It is a private film that was shot at a party.”

“And you’re in it,” I said.

“Unfortunately. Along with others. Others a regular film-goer would recognize if we were all dressed.”

My own film ran through my mind. A dirty film involving my new client. Her naked and performing well with male actors. I bit the sides of my lips to keep from leering at her. Glad that I was sitting down with the desk blocking my lap.

“And if anyone saw this film, your new career in this potential comedic film series could be in danger,” I said.

“Yes. The embarrassment would end me.”

“I understand,” I said.

“Can you help me, Mr. Richmond?

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Doorway Down (short story) - eBook

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