"The Littlest Client" drabbles by Christopher

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 85

The Littlest Client #85

Harrigan came past me and up the stairs. "Are you Barbara?"

She nodded.

"Is there some place we can speak for a few moments. I have some questions for you."

"Yes, just let me grab my robe," she said, heading back to her room. Harrigan and I stood there until she came back with a white terry bathrobe on. She went past us down the stairs and said, "Follow me."

The old bat started flapping her wings, "Barbara, what is the meaning of this?"

"It's okay, Miss Lewis. They just have some questions for me."

We went into the study...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 84

The Littlest Client #84

Harrigan said, "I'm Detective Harrigan of the Los Angeles Police Department, ma'am. We understand it's late but it's very important that we speak to Barbara immediately.”

Barbara appeared at the top of the stairs in a sheer nightgown. The light from her room behind her was silhouetting her body. Her figure was even better than I thought.

"What's going on?" Barbara asked.

I pushed past the old bat and started up the stairs.

"Barbara, we really need to talk to you."

"Well!" the old bat squawked as Harrigan came past her.

"Randolph! Freeze right where you're at."

I stopped moving...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 83

The Littlest Client #83

Harrigan knocked louder and we heard a commotion from inside. After another minute the door finally swung open. An old lady with a net over her blue hair said, "What is the meaning of this? It's after midnight!"

Harrigan said, "Sorry to disturb you, ma'am."

"I should hope so," she snapped back. "This is a children's home. They need their rest and so do I!"

"Ma'am, is Barbara here?" I asked and Harrigan shot me a look to indicate I was once again usurping his authority.

"She's asleep," she said. "Now I demand to know who you two gentlemen are..."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 82

The Littlest Client #82

Harrigan knocked on the door and asked, "What's the woman's name that runs this place?"

"Barbara," I said.

"Barbara what?"

"I don't know her last name."

Harrigan looked at me, "How could you not know her last name?"

"We're not dating, Harrigan. I only ever met her once in my office and she didn't tell me her last name."

"I can't believe you wouldn't get your client's last name."

"She isn't my client, Katie is. And her last name is Dolan, by the way."

"Yeah, I kinda figured that considering the fact her father is Max Dolan," he said sarcastically...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 81

The Littlest Client #81

We got to Willowbrook about half past midnight and pulled through the gates of the Willowbrook Children's Home. I guess that sounded better than orphanage.

It was dark out but I could see the structure was a giant, two-story brick building, and it was creepy as hell in the dark. I hoped it looked a little more inviting to children during the day.

We got to the door and Harrigan said, "Let me handle this."

"Have I ever usurped your authority, Harrigan?" I asked with a smile.

"When have you ever not usurped my authority, Randolph?" Harrigan asked back...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 80

The Littlest Client #80

"Jim, listen," I said, "if you were right about Barbara then she knows how to get in touch with Dolan. If you were wrong about her, then she and Katie could be in danger. People are being murdered over whatever the hell this is. It can't wait until tomorrow."

He shook his head as we got to the car, "When are you getting your car out of the shop, Randolph?"

"In the morning. Then you won't have to be chauffeuring me around any more," I said.

"Hallelujah," Harrigan said as we got into the car and headed toward the orphanage...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 79

The Littlest Client #79

"Man," Harrigan said as we walked out into the cool night, "I'm beat. You want me to drop you off at home?"

"No, I need you to take me to the orphanage," I said.

"Tonight? Randolph, I've been up since 5 am this morning. It's midnight and I have to be back on the job at 6 am in the morning. Do the math. I don't have much time to sleep as it is."

"Then let me drop you off and use this car."

He shook his head, "This car isn't mine. It belongs to the city of Los Angeles."

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 78

The Littlest Client #78

"Lemme guess," I said. "The car was reported stolen earlier this afternoon."

"Nobody likes a smart ass, Jake," Harrigan said as he brushed past me heading back to the apartment.

Harrigan was my ride, and getting a cab this late was almost impossible, so I sat in the corner of Rucksack's apartment, waiting. Seeing these guys have to go over this crime scene again and again was just further proof that I made the right decision in not becoming a cop. Too much procedural minutiae.

The lab boys were done by midnight and Harrigan and I got ready to leave...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 77

The Littlest Client #77

I answered it, "Yeah. No, he's in the apartment. Who is this? Oh hey, Sgt. Draper. It's Jake Randolph. Yeah, I'm involved in this one too."

Harrigan came out of the apartment and snatched the receiver out of my hand.

"They're there to work, Randolph, not chit chat with you."

"Harrigan here," he said. There was a pause and then I saw the look on his face which meant only one thing: the car was stolen and would provide no help to us.

"Okay. No, that's all. Yeah, I got it. Thanks," he said as he slammed the receiver down...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 76

The Littlest Client #76

"Okay," Harrigan said, "we got an APB out on Dolan. They're running the plate now. They'll call back in a minute. Wait here, willya?"

I nodded as Harrigan went back into the apartment. I was thinking now that he was right about Barbara. I needed to get to the orphanage and talk to her. I didn't want to disrupt the kids in the middle of the night but it couldn't wait until in the morning.

Besides, if it wasn't her then that meant she and Katie could be in danger.

The payphone rang and scared the hell out of me...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 75

The Littlest Client #75

I went back to the lobby. The janitor was still in there mopping. How dirty was that floor?

"Whuz all the fuss about?" he asked.

"Rucksack is dead," I said as I walked past. I heard the janitor under his breath say, "Don' surprise me none, no sir."

When I got back up to Rucksack's apartment Harrigan was already on the payphone in the hall.

"Yeah, get 'em out here. Boys from the crime lab, everyone. And get an all points bulletin out for Max Dolan. Wanted for suspicion of murder. Yeah."

He hung the phone up and turned around...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 74

The Littlest Client #74

Harrigan came out onto the balcony and yelled, "You okay, Randolph?"

I looked up. "Yeah," I yelled, "He took off. I got his plate, though."

"What is it?" Harrigan asked as he pulled a pencil and pad from his coat pocket.

"4X4422!" I yelled. "Brown Plymouth De Luxe! Looked like a '49!"

Some guy on the second floor opened his window and yelled, "Hey, shaddup out there, will ya! I'm trying to listen to the radio!"

I yelled back, "Hey! You want me to climb up there and shove that radio down your throat, asshole?!"

He quickly closed the window...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 73

The Littlest Client #73

I climbed quickly out of the dumpster as the man got into the car. I ran toward it but he rolled the window down and fired at me as he drove away. I hit the asphalt and rolled as yet another hot piece of lead decided that tonight wasn't my night to go and zoomed past me.

The car's tires screeched as the man drove off into the otherwise quiet L.A. night. I got the license plate number but didn't know how much help that would be.

I saw the man. He was older, but it was definitely Max Dolan...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 72

The Littlest Client #72

The gunman jumped off the fire escape and down into an open dumpster, then rolled over the top of it and fell onto the street. He must've hurt his leg in the fall. I went down the ladders until I got to the bottom and then repeated the gunman's actions, jumping into the dumpster below.

The pungent smell almost knocked me out. I peeked over the edge of the dumpster and saw the man limping as he moved toward a nearby car. He turned and fired again and I ducked my head down, hearing the bullet whiz dangerously close by...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 71

The Littlest Client #71

The assailant turned and fired at the door. I ducked my head back and heard the slug burying into the plaster wall. I looked back and saw he was out on the fire escape so I came into the room. Rucksack was lying on his back on the floor with blood still coming out of the hole between his eyes.

I went out the window. The gunman was already down to the bottom fire escape, but the ladder was locked.

He looked back up at me and fired. The bullet ricocheted off of the metal handrail in front of me...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 70

The Littlest Client #70

I let Harrigan take the lead as I was quite sure this was about to be declared a crime scene. It was just a feeling in my gut.

He quickly scanned the room and we entered. He saw the broken coffee table and said, "Must've been a struggle."

I shook my head, "No, that happened when I was here."

Harrigan chuckled, "Why doesn't that surprise me?"

We heard a commotion coming from the bedroom in the back and rushed to the door. I peeked my head in and saw someone trying to get through the window to the fire escape...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 69

The Littlest Client #69

I nodded and he said, "Tell 'im to turn his radio down. He must be listnin' to Dragnet. I could hear da gunfire all da way down here."

"How long ago did you hear the shots?" Harrigan asked.

"Not mo' than a minit ago," he responded.

Harrigan was looking for an elevator.

"They don't have one," I said as I pointed to the stairs.

We took them two at a time and got to Rucksack's floor. I led Harrigan to the apartment.

"The door is ajar," Harrigan said as he pulled his service revolver.

I pulled my pistol and waited...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 68

The Littlest Client #68

"But," I said, trying to figure the whole mess out, "if he did know Barbara why couldn't he contact her when he was safely away and get her to bring his daughter to him?"

"Maybe there's some other reason why he's keeping his daughter in that orphanage," Harrigan said.

"Like what?" I asked.

Harrigan didn't respond. We pulled up in front of Rucksack's apartment. He parked the car by the curb in front of the building.

We got out and walked up the concrete sidewalk. The janitor was still in the lobby mopping.

"You coming for Rucksack again?" he asked...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 67

The Littlest Client #67

"But that doesn't explain murder, does it? Unless she called Dolan and he...," I let it trail off.

Harrigan nodded. He was way ahead of me.

"And he," Harrigan said, "came back and started bumping off anyone who might be able to lead you to him."

"But why wouldn't he just try to kill me? After all, those guys used to be his friends."

"Used to be is the operative phrase, Jake. He double-crossed them. And you said that Gallagher tortured the other three beyond belief until he was satisfied they were telling the truth."

He had a point...

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Jake Randolph in "The Littlest Client" Pt. 66

The Littlest Client #66

We were almost to Ricky Rucksack's apartment in Encino when Harrigan began to break it down.

"Isn't it possible that Dolan knew this Barbara and he dropped his kid off there when he blew town and gave her a few of the jewels to keep his daughter's whereabouts a secret? And maybe she's known how to get in touch with him all along? And maybe she called him when she found out his little girl had hired you to find him?"

"That's a lot of maybes, Jim."

"You got any other ideas? I'm willing to hear them."

I didn't, actually...