Another Sam Something Mystery

It was the kind of a night sumo wrestlers stayed home and knitted tea cozies. I was gazing out the window at sheets of rain when a lone figure made a mad dash across the street. The next thing I knew someone was pounding on the door.

"Careful," I yelled, "they just put the new glass in."

The figure turned out to be shapely, blonde, and dripping wet, mostly from her own tears. "I'm scared," she blubbered. "I need help. Say you'll help me."

"You'll help me," I joked, then offered her a cigarette. "It'll be five hundred, sister. In cash. If you've got the money, Sam can help you."

"I've got the money."

"Good." I lit her cigarette and she started puffing away furiously. If I've seen one of these dames I've seen a thousand—taken for a ride, then left on the side of the road after they've served their purpose. It's a good thing Sam treats me with respect.

By the way, the name's Margo. I work for Sam Something. In case you hadn't heard, Sam Something's the best damn private eye in San Francisco. It's for damn sure he's the only one who's deaf, dumb, and blind. And it's for extra damn sure he's the only one who's deaf, dumb, blind, and invisible. At least the only one I know of. Let's get back to our drenched damsel in distress.

"What's your name, blondie?"

"Lucille Trevallion."

"Not Trevallion as in… Trevor Trevallion?"

"Yes. Trevor Trevallion was my husband."

It was becoming clearer now. Trevor Trevallion was an heir to the sizable Trevallion fortune, some eight hundred million dollars worth. But Trevallion had a penchant for the good life. A little too good. He got mixed up with the wrong people. You can visit him now—if you've got one of those diving bells.

She started to sit in the chair behind the desk but bounced up, startled. "Not there, that's where Sam's sitting." A little shaken, she took a seat by the window.

"Okay, start from the beginning, sister, and level with Sam or he can't help you." She took a deep breath and turned, hesitantly, in Sam's direction.

"Three years ago I was working in a downtown department store selling men's cologne and other luxury grooming items. One day this handsome young man walked in and…."

I half-listened as she went on and on about her tempestuous love affair with one of the world's most eligible bachelors; how she thought she was set for life when—whammo—she caught him with another dame and the rest, as they say, is history. I didn't have to listen, I'd heard it so many times before.

"… and that's all I know."

She stopped sobbing, and I stopped laughing—on the inside. I was about to give her Sam's boilerplate special—no phone calls, no leaving the house, no spicy foods—when the door flew open and a couple of dimwitted gunsels right out of a Raymond Chandler novel burst in and drew their iron.

"What's this about, boys?" I asked, as if I didn't know.

"The dame comes with us," said the slightly smarter one.

"The dame goes nowhere," I explained. "And put down the squirt guns before Sam gets annoyed."

"Sam? Sam who?"

"Sam Something."

"Sam who?"

"Sam Something."

The slightly dumber one was getting angry.

"Let's take 'em all with us."

Just then the phone rang.

"Answer it," the less-dumb one said, using his snub-nosed Mauser as a pointer. I picked up. It was Sam's old partner, Barney Malone. Barney got out of the business when he met a bullet with his name on it—that's when he changed his name to Eddie Lamparski.

"I can't talk now. A couple of your boys are trying to convince me to take a little trip with them. And I'm just not in the traveling mood, you know what I mean?"

"Give me that," the barely conscious one said as he grabbed the phone. "Who is this?" he growled. "Who?"

Lamparski played along with my little game. In fact, he must have done a pretty good imitation of a gangster because the guy's face turned white as a sheet.

"Uh, yes, boss, I mean no…" He started to stammer and shake. I practically had to hold the phone for him.

"No, no, I won't." He hung up, looked at his dumbfounded partner—a redundancy if there ever was one—and signalled that they should depart at once. Which they did.

The trembling Trevallion woman was speechless, and working on my last cigarette.

"You better leave," I advised, "before more mugs show up."

"I'll need a cab. I have no cash, at least with me. I was going to pay you—I mean Sam—by check."

"Tell you what, we'll drive you home. You can get the cash and pay Sam then."

"Uh, sure." She didn't sound so sure, and I wasn't so sure Sam would get paid, but then he always had a soft spot for blondes.

"Come on, we'll take Sam's car."

Outside, the rain had been replaced by a cold, damp wind. This town could get pretty chilly when it wanted to. I started up the old Packard and headed for 975 Clay, the address she gave me. I let her share the back seat with Sam, although she didn't realize it at first and damn near jumped out the window when she did. A real ball of nerves this one.

We pulled up in front of an apartment building in the tony Nob Hill district. The place reeked of money. Blondie got out and told the doorman, a dead ringer for Erich von Stroheim, to let us park in front of the entrance. He agreed, reluctantly, and she ran inside. Sam and I waited, keeping an eye on von Stroheim. I didn't exactly trust the guy, and the more time that passed the less I was able to look away, for fear he'd pull out a machine gun and fill us full of lead, or make us move the car. But he just glared.

Meanwhile, in the rear view mirror I noticed our old friends, the idiot and the savant, clumsily approaching. They opened the rear door and slid inside, thinking I didn't notice them. And then, in perfect syncopation, each pulled out their gats and uttered the old saw, "Don't move."

"Well, hello, boys. Didn't think I'd see you two again. How's the thug business?"

"Very funny. Start the car."

"We're not going anywhere until Sam gets his money."


"That's right."

"Sam who?"

"Sam Something."


At that moment the goons' heads suddenly met, producing a sound not unlike that of two empty coconuts, and they both slumped over, falling out of the car and onto the sidewalk.

"Nice work, Sam," I thought. Just then the Trevallion dame appeared. She was surprised to see us.

"Got that stack of lettuce, sister?" I asked.

"No. Something better," she replied, pulling a snazzy-looking .38 automatic out of her purse and pointing it in our direction.

"We're going for a drive," she announced, "and this time I'm doing the driving." She gestured for me to get in the back, which I did, and she got in front.

Suddenly the car started—it lurched forward, away from the curb. "What's going on?" she shrieked, thrown back into her seat. We pulled out into traffic and she nearly came out of her skin. "Who's driving?"

"Sam is, I think, and don't worry, he's a good driver. He's just a little rusty." We went over a curb and into an alley.

"Stop the car!"

"Why don't you explain what's going on," I suggested, "and then we'll see about stopping the car."

"I don't know anything," she said, knowingly. Sam started to gun it, knocking over a succession of garbage cans, just like in the movies. I kept after her.

"Come on, sister, that's not true. You were trying to get rid of Sam, weren't you? You hired Heckle and Jeckle to take him for a midnight swim. The whole thing was a ruse to cover your tracks. Admit it."


"So who put you up to it, blondie?" We got on the always dangerous coast highway.

"Stop the car!" she shouted as we moved into the fast lane—headed in the wrong direction.

"I can't," I said, as we swerved around a truck, "unless you talk."

"All right—it was Eddie's idea."


"Eddie Lamparski. He's always been jealous of Sam and his reputation."

"And where do you come in? What was all that stuff about Trevallion?"

"Trevor owed Lamparski millions. Eddie decided to pay him a visit, but he picked a bad time, when Trevor was in the middle of—aaaah!" We bounced off the shoulder and back into oncoming traffic.

"The middle of what?"

"I'd rather not—aaaaaah!" This time we went off the road and crashed through a retaining fence, rolling down a steep embankment and coming to a stop a few feet from the beach. I was knocked unconscious and by the time I came to she was gone, but I could hear her screaming.

"Let go of me! Let go of me!"

I ran over to a rocky area just below the highway. There she was, struggling to free herself from something, probably Sam, who had grabbed her leg and was hanging on for dear life. Like I said, he always had a weakness for blondes.

"Let go I say!" She freed herself momentarily and started to make a run for it but did a complete flip, landing with a thud, face down in the sand. Then I heard a car door close.

"Nice work, Something," a voice said. I turned to see Eddie Lamparski, the barrel of his Luger pointed in the vicinity of where Sam might be. "But you're a little late."

"How's that?" I asked, trying to buy time.

"Simple," he said. "I've got a boat waiting out there loaded down with enough of the Trevallion fortune for me to retire to South America, which I plan to do once Something's out of the picture. And you too, sweetheart."

"Thanks, Eddie, but Sam's too smart for you. Always was. In fact, for all you know he could be standing behind you right now."

Lamparski spun around, but even if Sam weren't invisible it would be hard to see him on such a dark night.

"Give it up, Eddie," I said. "You'll never get away with it. And what if you do make it out to the boat? Trevallion's heirs will hunt you down. That's a lot of money."

"I'll take my chances. Now, if you'll just go over there by the lady in the sand we'll make this look like your typical case of jealousy and revenge."

Lamparski took one step and then a shot rang out, and he fell to the ground.

"Lucille!" Like a ghost, Trevor Trevallion appeared from out of the darkness and ran over to his widow. She looked up at him and damn near fainted away again.

"Trevor? I thought—" He put his hand over her mouth.

"Quiet. I'll explain everything in time, but we should get out of here before Lamparski's boys show up." He lifted his wife off the beach and started up the embankment.

"Hold it," I said. "Aren't you forgetting something? A little matter of five C notes."

Trevallion laughed and kept on going, another reminder that the rich are different than the rest of us—they're greedier. But then he stumbled over some unseen object—Sam, I suspect—and both of them went tumbling down the cliff to the shore below. Before they could recover I had the presence of mind to remove five hundred smackers from Trevallion's wallet. After all, he and the dame would go back to their life of luxury, but Sam needed the moolah just to get his old Packard towed off the beach. Life's not fair.

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