I really need a break from W.S. You would think she runs my life. This is why I’m not married. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. It’s bad enough that I have to do an interview a day for the Murder We Write Blog Tour during the holiday season, but now I’m interviewing hoods. I’m an award-winning reporter. I don’t interview street thugs. The interview I wanted was Junior Bender. I hear through my sources that he is a great private investigator like yours truly but also a high-end burglar. Now he would make a great story. Junior is a reoccurring character in several of Tim Hallinan’s books including the recently released LITTLE ELVISES. Here comes my interview now. Don’t tell him I’m less than happy. I am a professional after all.
Louie, so glad you could join me today. I understand that people call you Louie the Lost. Can you tell me why?
Well, then. After a short-lived life of crime, you have become an information broker, right? How do you collect that information?
Louie: Look, I'm gonna start by offering you some advice, okay? First, you wanna open easy, let a guy get comfortable. Second, do your homework. I didn't have no “short-lived career.” I was the getaway driver du jour for probably more years than since you started to shave, if you ever did, and I'd still be a wheelman if my GPS unit hadn't missed Inglewood and put me in Compton, two million in diamonds in the trunk of a brand-new Cadillac, three jacked-up white crooks in the front, and half the black people in Los Angeles staring in through the windows. So, yeah, after that they started to call me Louie the Lost, and, the offers kinda stopped coming. I even got an agent for a while, but agents don't do nothing for you and then they want ten percent of nothing.
And I ain't no information broker. Information brokers in my neighborhood got the lifespan of a fruit fly. But if I were an information broker, I'd have started by keeping my eyes and ears open and I'da found stuff out, same way I found out that I'm your second choice. I'da read your introductory paragraph. See, it's amazing how much stuff people say, that they don't think anybody will hear.
But it's okay. I'm sure Junior had a perfectly good reason for sticking me out here in public, not even my face blurred out or anything. And when we're finished here, he and I are gonna talk about it for a while.
Is collecting information dangerous? I know on occasion my name has graced a hit list or two. What are some of the scrapes you have found yourself in?
Louie: Crossing the street is dangerous. Going to the library is dangerous. These days, you get a jaywalking ticket, the cop writes it on some kinda electric screen thingie and pushes a button and the ticket goes up into the sky and comes down in a computer that's got in it everything you done wrong since you were three and you peed in your father's shoes for yelling at your mom. Everything's dangerous.
But here's a clue, okay? What's dangerous isn't how you get the information, it's who you tell it to --
Say if a reporter like myself came to you looking for some information, would you provide it? What would the cost be?
Louie:--for example, you don't tell it to reporters, because most reporters are weenies. Nothing personal, just like I'm not taking it personal that I'm not the guy you really wanted to talk to.
Tell me about you and Junior Bender?
Louie: I feel like Marilyn Monroe's first husband. Nobody wants to know nothing about me. Okay, Junior's a burglar. I'll be nice and say he's an ace burglar, what with he's never been caught. I don't know many guys who been at it so long without getting caught. So anyway, I watched him from a distance for a while and used him as a test. In my line—I mean, the line you mistakenly think I'm in—you need trackers sometimes. And trackers need to be tested. So before I really knew Junior, I'd test my trackers on him—see if they could follow him for five or six hours without getting caught. Two did okay, and the third led him right back to me.
So after he put down the gun, we had the kinda talk the White House would call “a free and frank exchange of views,” and after he left, I said to my wife, Alice, I said, “So? Whaddya think?” and Alice said he was okay. Alice always knows. So, yeah, we're friends now. The tracker's working in a bowling alley now.
You and Junior seem to be pretty good friends. Think you could convince Junior to a tell-all exposé about jewel thieves?
Louie: Not a chance. But I might get him to talk about the night him and Annette “Ladyfingers” Haskell accidentally hit the same house at the same time and Junior took one look at her and said, “Ladies first,” and eight hours later, they wound up in Vegas together. That was after Junior's divorce, of course. He never ran around on Kathy, not ever.
Louie it has been very educational having you here. I hate to admit it but W.S. does have some good ideas on her own without my help. I can’t wait to read all about your next escapade in LITTLE ELVISES. Where can I find that?
Louie: You can get it on Amazon and on the other one, the one with the fancy-shmancy and sign—Barnes & Noble, that's it—for $2.99. Or I can get you a used one for $1.75, but don't tell Junior.
Great. Thanks. And I may call you for a favor. I have this story I’m working that deals with real estate fraud and may need to know where a couple of bodies are buried.
Louie: Sure. We'll swap. You tell me what you know, and I'll give it my best consideration.
Thanks Louie. We’ll talk. As for you reading this. Yes I mean you! Don’t forget to leave a comment or two to be entered in a drawing for Mitch Malone autographed book. It could be valuable. Winners to be drawn in just a couple of days so don’t wait.
Timothy Hallinan has lived, on and off, in Southeast Asia for more than 25 years. He wrote songs and sang in a rock band while in college, and many of his songs were recorded by by well-known artists who included the platinum-selling group Bread. He began writing books while enjoying a successful career in the television industry. Over the past fourteen years he has been responsible for a number of well-reviewed novels and a nonfiction book on Charles Dickens. For years he has taught a course on “Finishing the Novel” with remarkable results – more than half his students complete their first novel and go on to a second, and several have been, or are about to be, published. Tim currently maintains a house in Santa Monica, California, and apartments in Bangkok, Thailand; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He is lucky enough to be married to Munyin Choy-Hallinan.