"The Littlest Client" drabbles by Christopher

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 25

The Littlest Client #25

"Now," Harrigan said, "let's go see if those dull, constricted police officers have managed to dig up any info about your client's missing father."

The waitress brought us our bill and we paid it, leaving a nice little tip on the table for her.

We got back to the precinct in the late afternoon. Harrigan got the info from R&I. There didn't seem to be much to it.

"Well," he said, "we have two Max Dolans in our records. One is an old man who was involved in a traffic accident last year. Too old to be your man, though."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 24

The Littlest Client #24

"Police work has its moments. You sure don't mind using information gathered by the police force when you need it," Harrigan said, seeming a little miffed.

"I wasn't criticizing the police, Harrigan. It's just not something I could do day in and day out. You know I'm right. Hell, I was barely able to get through the war without being imprisoned for insubordination. If I hadn't been good at what I did I would've been."

"Yeah, you really rubbed some of those C.O.'s the wrong way!"

"Yeah, I seemed to fight with them as much as I did the Krauts."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 23

The Littlest Client #23

Harrigan looked at me, "What the hell does that mean?"

I swallowed the last of my Coca-Cola and set the glass down on the table.

"I don't think I've even admitted this to myself, but I never felt more alive than I did when we were going through the war, despite the horrible things we saw and did. Any time we got into a firefight the adrenaline rush literally felt like a high. I knew when we got back I had to do something to try and match that high. Police work seemed too constricting and dull for me."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 22

The Littlest Client #22

Harrigan chuckled, "Did I really say that?"

"Yeah, and that's something I'd like to know. Why do we do that?"

Now it was Harrigan's turn, "Do what?"

"Bust each other's chops all the time. Why can't we just be friends like normal people?"

"We are friends, Jake. But I doubt either of us will ever be normal!"

"You really want to know why I'm a private detective?"

He stabbed the last of his beefsteak with his fork and popped it in his mouth, nodding as he chewed.

I looked him in the eyes, "Because, dear friend, I'm chasing a high."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 21

The Littlest Client #21

"I just never understood why you didn't want to go to the police academy with me. It would've been just like the Army," Harrigan said.

"Exactly!" I exclaimed. "I spent three-and-a-half years in a rigid hierarchy and I didn't want to do the same damned thing when I got back to civilization. And if you'll recall, Harrigan, we had that conversation in this very diner when we got back from Germany. When I said I was going to be a detective you said I would make a good private dick because I was already a public one!"

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 20

The Littlest Client #20

We sat eating in relative silence. The diner was mostly empty of customers. The waitress was running a cloth down the bar as she sang under her breath. I didn't know the song.

We were almost finished eating when Harrigan looked at me and asked, "Why do you do this, Jake?"

"Why do I do what?" I asked.

"This detective business. Risk your life all the time and for what?"

"You risk yours, don't you? I guess you think being a cop that works for the city is somehow more noble than being a private detective?"

"No," Harrigan said softly...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 19

The Littlest Client #19

The food at the Bluebird was a crime against humanity but for some reason Harrigan loved eating there. At least it held a little bit of sentimental value, as it was the first place we ate at after we got back from the war. I didn't think anything would make me pine for Army rations but the Bluebird managed the impossible.

Harrigan ordered beefsteak with potatoes, macaroni and cheese and a glass of iced tea. I ordered the one thing they served that hadn't yet given me a severe case of food poisoning: cheeseburger, French fries and a Coca-Cola...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 18

The Littlest Client #18

The Records & Information department of the L.A.P.D. would certainly save me some legwork.

"His name is Max Dolan. I'm afraid that's the only info I have," I said truthfully.

Harrigan spoke to someone on the phone briefly and then hung up.

"They'll have it ready soon," he said. "You want to grab some lunch in the meantime?"

I couldn't remember the last time Harrigan suggested we spend time together. It was getting kinda bizarre.

"Sure," I said, knowing where he'd say we should eat. The Bluebird Diner.

"Let's go to the Bluebird, huh?" he asked.

He's way too predictable...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 17

The Littlest Client #17

"Well, I thought I'd go see my friend at the Times and go down to their morgue and look through all the old editions of the paper from seven years ago and see what I come up with," I said, knowing what was coming next.

"It'll take a month of Sundays to go through that many papers, Randolph," Harrigan said. I'd been on the wrong tack with him all these years. But, I also knew Harrigan was smart enough not to fall for this twice.

"Tell me his name. We'll run him through R&I," Harrigan said, rising from his chair...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 16

The Littlest Client #16

"Yeah, a missing persons case. Little orphan girl came to my office and wanted me to find her father," I said as I turned back toward the door.

"Wait!" Harrigan yelled. "You got any leads?"

"Not many. Just his name and a photograph. He dropped his little girl off at the orphanage seven years ago and told them if he didn't get away they were going to kill them both."

"Who's they?"

"Well, that's the question to answer, isn't it?" I said.

"What's your next move?" Harrigan asked. He had never been this interested in one of my cases before...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 15

The Littlest Client #15

"I'm sorry, Jake. You have to admit that's what you're usually here for."

I nodded, "True. I'm not trying to use our friendship, Jim. It's just sometimes I need help and you're the only one who can give it to me."

He smiled. I was going to make him want to help me find Max Dolan.

"So, how about 6 am on Saturday?" I asked.

"Great," Harrigan replied. "Meet me at the marina. We'll take the boat out."

"Alright. See you then," I said, getting up to leave.

"Wait," Harrigan said, "so...you working on a case right now?"

Got him...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 14

The Littlest Client #14

"It's good to see you too, Harrigan," I said as I sat down in the chair in front of his desk.

"Randolph, the only time I ever see you is when you need information about some dumb ass case you're working on. Now, what's on the agenda today?"

I smiled, "You know what your trouble is, Harrigan? You're too cynical. I came by to see if you wanted to go fishing Saturday. But since all you want to do is berate me I'll go by myself."

Harrigan looked sheepish, which didn't happen often.

"Really?" he asked softly.

"Really," I said.

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 13

The Littlest Client #13

I paid the cab driver and went into the precinct. I knew where Harrigan's office was so I headed straight there. No one batted an eye, as everyone on the force knew me. Harrigan spotted me through the window in his office, and although I couldn't hear the words he was saying I could read his lips. You'd think he didn't like me or something.

I barely got through the door before Harrigan yelled, "I gave blood last week and I don't want any Girl Scout cookies and I'm not a Jehovah's Witness and I don't want any damned encyclopedias!"

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 12

The Littlest Client #12

As I slid into the cab and told the driver where I wanted to go I noticed someone had left the morning paper on the seat. And since I hate small talk with cabbies I picked it up and pretended to be reading it.

The headline for February 27, 1951 was "22nd Amendment Ratified By States," and the article said that the amendment passed by Congress on March 21, 1947, which limited a US president to two four-year terms, had now been ratified by the states.

I skimmed over the rest of the paper until we reached the precinct...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 11

The Littlest Client #11

I told Barbara I would be in touch with her at the orphanage in a day or two. I had only a couple of ways to track down this guy. One was to pay a visit to my old buddy Jim Harrigan, a cop that I went through the war with. I called to see if he was at the precinct and he was, so I left my office and hailed a taxi cab. My car was in the shop getting the brakes repaired after they had mysteriously and suddenly stopped working during my last case.

But that's another story...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 10

The Littlest Client #10

"I don't want that either," I said, picking up the dollar off of my desk. "But I owe her at least a dollar's worth of work."

Barbara smiled. She was a plain woman with straight brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses. But she had a nice figure. And that smile. Oh boy, that smile.

I gave her a pen and asked her to write down the address and phone number of the orphanage on the back of Max Dolan's picture.

"Jake, this is a fool's errand," she said.

"Maybe," I said, grinning, "but I'm just fool enough to try it."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 9

The Littlest Client #9

"Did anyone talk to him or was it drop and dash?"

She nodded, "I talked to him. He said he had to leave her there or they would both be killed, but wouldn't say why or how."

"What about her mother?" I asked.

"That was the only other thing he said, that her mother died during childbirth."

"Do you know his first name, at least?"

"Yeah, Max. Max Dolan. Look, Jake, I don't think you should give Katie false hope."

I shook my head, "There's no such thing as false hope, Barbara."

"I just don't want her to get hurt."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 8

The Littlest Client #8

"Katie, go join the other kids in the lobby. I'll be out there as soon as I'm finished talking with Mr. Randolph."

Katie nodded and ran to the door, then turned around and waved at me and said, "Goodbye, Mr. Randolpe!"

I smiled, "Goodbye, Katie. I'll be in touch."

I turned to Barbara, "Well, Miss...?"

"Just call me Barbara, Mr. Randolph."

"Then call me Jake. Tell me, do you know anything about Katie's father?"

"Not much," she said. "He brought her to the orphanage in the middle of the night when she was only two. And he left her there."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 7

The Littlest Client #7

"But," I said as I looked down at Katie, "how about you put that dollar back in your pocket, huh?"

Katie shook her head, "Nope. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

I looked at Barbara and we both smiled. If I couldn't find her father I was seriously contemplating taking her myself.

"Katie, can I keep this picture?"

She shook her head, "No, that one's special. I have this smaller picture of Daddy. Will it do?"

She handed it to me. I studied it.

It would be just as hard to find this guy with either photo...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 6

The Littlest Client #6

"You scared me to death!" the woman said as she hugged Katie to her. She then stood to her feet and looked at me.

"I'm so sorry, Mr...?"

"Randolpe," I said and Katie giggled. I winked at her.

The woman smiled and said, "I thought it was Randolph."

I returned the smile, "It is."

"I'm hiring him, Miss Barbara. To find Daddy," Katie said and Miss Barbara frowned.

"Katie, you should not be bothering this man."

"She isn't bothering me. We were just working out my employment details."

"You mean?" Barbara asked.

"She just hired me to find her father."