Loonies in Hollywood
CHAPTER THREE EVELEEN
Somehow Eveleen managed to get me to our bed. When I laid down the room began spinning like I was
on a raft in a stormy sea, waves going up and down, the raft going round and round. I felt I was getting
seasick, but in a hazy, morning reflection, brought on by soberness, it was not seasickness, but a gin
swoon that caused this sailor‘s stomach to liberate a heave ho. Eveleen cleaned up the mess and I owe her
I don’t drink often, usually socially, and pace myself when I do in order to prevent myself from getting in
this condition, which is a numbing, head splitting hangover.
I was seated at the breakfast table facing a plate of ham and eggs that normally I would devour, but this
morning looked like sea flotsam. But Eveleen made them with her heart in the right place, so down the
hatch it will go.
She deserved an answer, always does, and I always give her one and it is always the truth.
“So I ran into Jack and Rena at a gin joint and I got looser than I expected.”
“You’re a bad boy mister,” Eveleen said, and not in a playful tone.
I met Eveleen when she was a struggling twenty year old actress in New York. Thinking it was not going
to work out, believing I had no future in baseball, and being young and dumb, I returned to the family farm
in Minnesota. When I came out here she was still a struggling actress, but doing better than she had in New
York. She worked with the Keystone Kops, with Chaplin, and with Fatty Arbuckle, but she could also do
drama. She never got starring roles, but always a good part.
“I have an idea,” I said. “You finished that adventure picture the other day and since you are currently
waiting for the next job, why don’t you help me on a special assignment?”
“Like what? What’s so special?”
“Okay, here is the deal. We have to keep this as quiet as possible. Lips sealed. Just between the two of
us. Got it?”
She drew out a slow and breathlessly sexy, “ooooohhhh. What’s the big secret?”
“I suppose you heard Bill Taylor was murdered yesterday.”
“Yeah. Neva called yesterday. She told me about it. It’s just horrid. She wants to talk with you by the
Neva was actress Neva Gerber, a woman Bill was once engaged to. Eveleen co-starred with Neva in
“The Screaming Shadow” a couple of years ago.
“Well, first things first. A studio executive-and I won’t say who in order to protect him-wants me to
investigate Bill’s murder. I don’t know why, he just wants me to. So you can help. We can investigate
together. What do you think?”
The sunlight coming through the kitchen window looked like a spotlight on her long red hair. Her green
eyes, dazzling and large, were glistening as she sat straight up, and leaning over the table towards me with
a big smile said, “I get to play detective. I love it. Where do we start? With Neva? What about that Sands
character, the one who stole from Bill? Maybe the butler did it. What was his name Sneevy? Keevy?”
“Peavy. But hold on. Remember this is not a role you are playing; you’re not playing a copper. We don’t
want to be too obvious. Just talk to friends, see what we can learn. I have a police contact, Tom Ziegler, and
I think we need to call him today.
“Oh I can handle it Chet. Don’t worry about it. I will play it cool in the pool. I am going to get out of this
robe and get dressed. You need to freshen up by the way. You smell like a hangover.”
Pleased with myself by getting Eveleen’s mind off my gin swoon, I finished my breakfast, even more
pleased I didn’t get sick, and called Tom while Eveleen dressed.
“Any new leads Tom?”
“Yeah. They’re looking at Edwin Sands, that guy who worked for Taylor-last year I think it was-and stole
clothes, jewelry, money, and also forged checks while Taylor was in Europe. Someone saw him in town the
day before the murder.
“What do you mean ‘they’re looking?’ aren’t you on the case?”
“Nope. Woolwine himself picked Detective King to handle the case.”
“Who is Woolwine?’
“Christ Chet, don’t you read the papers, follow what goes on in our lovely community?”
“Yeah I read the papers. Sports and comics. You mean there is more than that?”
“Woolwine is the district attorney you illiterate. He has put himself in the forefront of the investigation.
Interesting, especially as he is in the middle of a tough case.”
“What kind of case?”
“Not one you would find in the comic strips. He is currently trying Madalynne Obenchain, a high society
beauty for murder, but it is not going well, and since you are not so well read, I will fill you in about juries. If
a high society dame is on trial, there must be a few women like her- in the same club so to speak- as jury
members. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the law. A jury of your peers you see. Anyway that makes it hard to get
a conviction against a woman, especially murder.”
Eveleen, dressed and ready to go, sits down next to me and slowly blows into my ear. She really has
“Do you think King will talk to me?”
“No. But I’ll keep my ears open. Let you know what I find out. I’ll call you tonight.”
After I hung up, Eveleen put her arms around me, looked into my eyes, and then gave me a long
passionate kiss. It was the kind of kiss that usually leads to taking off our clothes, but as she just got
dressed, I knew that was not going to happen. When she let me come up for air, she said, “Next time you
take a gin bath, make sure I’m in the same tub. I want to be there to tell you when to stop.”
“I’ll never drink without you.”
“Oh piffle wiffle. I know you mean that, but I also know you won’t, but do make the effort at keeping me
in your thoughts when you drink, so at least guilt will make you stop while you can still walk. Now that you’re
off the phone clean yourself up. You stink.”
Having a revived sweetly smell I filled Eveleen in on my conversation with Tom while we drove over to
Alvarado. I was hoping the MacLean’s were home, Edna Purviance as well. They were Bills friends but I
knew them well enough to drop by. I wanted to get a clearer picture of when shots were heard.
Eveleen wanted to know about the crime scene, so I told her who was there, all the comings and
goings, Mary’s melodramatic performance, and the position of the body.
“That’s odd,” she said. “Lying flat and straight with his arms close to his sides. I wonder if he was
positioned that way. I think the killer may be a woman.”
“Only one arm was lying straight by his side, the other sort of sticking out like he was pointing. And what
makes you think it was a woman? ”
“Because the killer cares about him. It’s like the killer wanted him to be comfortable, at rest, be at
peace. Maybe it was an accident and in remorse, to atone for her killing him, she made him comfortable. Oh,
I don’t know, it just seems like something a loving woman would do, not a man. He was lying so straight and
all- like being posed. Didn’t you say something about the chair being over the lower parts of his legs?”
“Yeah, that’s where the chair was.” As I said this I turned the corner and I noticed that a car which had
turned the last two times I turned was still behind me.
Eveleen focused on her theory, continued, “You know it is like after she made him comfortable, she
placed the chair over his legs, sat down, maybe to make sure he looked peaceful, maybe to grieve, to pay
her respects, to say her farewell.”
“Do you think the police will buy your theory?”
“Piffle wiffle! There’s not much difference between them and Sennett’s
I tuned onto Alvarado and pulled over. “Evy sweets, watch the driver in the car coming by.”
The car drove past and I could tell it was a woman, but I didn’t recognize her. “Do you know who she
is?” I asked.
“The driver? She looked familiar, but I can’t place her. I swear I know her though. Why?”
“Because she was following us for the past few miles.”
“She’s the killer then, Chet. She’s following us to see where we’re going and what we’re learning.”
“Very astute Miss Watson. Only problem I see, assuming the killer was a woman, is that she, or he, has
no idea we are investigating the murder, thus there is no reason for anyone to follow us.”
“Oh you just want to spoil the fun Sherlock. Except, you said she was following us, so if she was, the
question is why and of course who . . . but I know her profile. I’ll think of it. Anyway we’re here, so let’s go
see if the MacLean’s are home.”
Seated around the dining room table having coffee were Doug and Faith Maclean, Edna Purviance, and
George Hopkins, Bill’s art director. Neither Eveleen nor I drink coffee, our taste buds objecting to the
muck; nor did we sample the pastries and muffins before us, as Eveleen was watching her figure, which I
enjoyed watching myself, and since I had just ate, food was far from my mind.
It was rather awkward and quiet with George being especially morose. I wanted to ask some questions,
but was unsure how to ask without seeming like a cop.
“Any word on the funeral, where it will be held?” It was all I could think of.
“I haven’t heard a thing,” said Faith. “I don’t even know who’s in charge of it.”
“We have other concerns Chet,” said Doug. “The police are going to talk to us again about the gunshots
and at first we thought-or rather Faith thought- it was around nine, but now it seems, by that I mean, it was
more likely around eight.”
“We have to get our story right,” Faith interjected. “You hear noises every day; for all we knew it might
have been car backfire. Not an uncommon sound around here. Just a common day with common noises. No
reason to pay special attention, you know. But our maid Christine helped. She heard the killer-at least we
think it was the killer-outside the window, near the garage. The police found cigarette butts there, so we
think those were the killers. Funny thing is they were Bill’s brand.”
“How does Christine fit in?” I asked.
“She was paying more attention to the time. I know that I heard something that sounded like a gunshot
at about eight or so and thought to look out our door. I saw a man on Bill’s porch, just standing there. He
went to the door, looked to be saying something, then calmly walked away and as he turned to walk back
between the units, back where the cigarette butts were found, he nodded and smiled at me. I figured it
must have been a car backfire, because everything seemed normal. The man was very composed, calm as
could be. Anyway Christine said that was just after eight. If I were casting for a burglar he would be the one.
He had on one of those plaid caps and I think a muffler around his neck.”
“So we have a composed looking cat burglar.” I said.
“I came home about midnight,” said Edna. “I was going to stop in and talk to Bill as his lights were on. I
actually started towards his porch, then thought, oh hell, he’s probably working and I am tired, so I just
went to bed.”
I looked at Faith and said, “Mabel Normand was at Bill’s that night. She said she left at 7:45, so if you
heard the gunshot just after eight and saw who might have been the killer, that does not leave much time
for the murder.”
Eveleen said, “He must have been waiting for Mabel to leave, smoking cigarettes; nervous and edgy,
then saw them go, so he went inside the house and waited for Bill to come back?”
“What about Peavy? Wasn’t he there?’ asked Doug.
“According to Mabel, he left at 7:30.” I answered.
Christine, the MacLean’s maid, came in and asked if anything else was needed. There wasn’t but Faith
asked Christine to tell us what she heard from that night.
“Well, I was in the kitchen and I heard a man- I could tell by the sound of the shoes- walk from the
corner and stop by the fence in the alley, most likely between the garage and Mr. Jesserun’s apartment.
You see, I was serving dinner, one course at a time, so was there in the kitchen waiting, and when I heard
Mrs. MacLean ring the bell I heard him move around, I came in the dining room here and then back to the
kitchen when I heard the man walking. When I was in the dining room clearing off the tablecloth is when I
heard the shot. I didn’t know it was a shot then, just a pop you know, like a car. But know I know I heard a
“Thank you Christine, you may go now.”
“I think it was a woman who killed him.” George made the remark, taking off his glasses and rubbing the
bridge of his nose. It was the first words I heard from him since I got here.
“I think it is a woman too” agreed Eveleen.
George was quiet for a moment, then put his glasses back on and said, “I think it’s that Minter bitch. She
is such a pretentious phony. Bill was always respectful, being the father figure, but he told me Mary
professed his love for him on more than one occasion, sometimes in petulant moods of childish behavior,
like starting to remove all her clothes, threatening to scream rape, other overacted melodramatic ploys. Bill
was tired of it. She’s a liar, a smug, snotty little brat, and her acting is second rate.”
“But if it was Mary then why didn’t I see her after I heard the gunshot? All I saw was a man on his porch.
It’s obvious you don’t like dear little Mary, but that doesn’t mean she killed him,” said Faith.
“Oh I don’t know. Maybe she killed him and left and by the time you opened the door; you saw her
chauffeur. He was just checking to see if everything was okay, then he ducked away and drove her home.”
“George, honey, stick to art direction. You do that with great artistry, you’re one of the best, truly. But
writing movie scenarios is not your gift. Your storyline is just too unbelievable. Doug and I think highly of
you, we all loved Bill, but lets not jump to wild speculation,” said Faith.
“If you believe it was a woman George, than how do you account,” I asked, “for Faith seeing an
unknown man leaving the scene at the time it seems Bill was murdered? It may not have been her chauffer
“Well, for one, we do not know at this time exactly when he was murdered, we are speculating the time.
It could have been car backfire that was heard. The man may have been a friend of Bill’s and Bill was alive
at that time. That would explain why the man leaving was nonchalant. Then Mary came later in the night and
killed him. That is a possibility. Or let us say Bill was killed at around 8:00. If Mary did the deed, maybe she
went out to her car before Faith came to the door, and the man leaving was her limo driver who was
shutting Bill’s door. Or maybe he killed Bill out of. . . oh, I don’t know, but I think Mary had something to do
“It is apparent that we can do a lot of guesswork, trying to make our favorite suspect fit into the facts, or
alter the facts somewhat do fit our scenario,” said Eveleen, “and I guess we can’t help ourselves. Just a
thought, but I don’t suppose anyone here would like to confess. After all, if someone here committed the
murder, you don’t have far to go to escape being noticed.”
Eveleen received not a confession, but cold stares from the collective neighbors of Bill. I would have
stared, but knew better. It was quiet enough to hear a ghost walk into the room.
With a lull in the conversation, Eveleen and I excused ourselves, leaving mournful souls with spirited
minds to further conjecture, theorize, and guess about who killed Bill. It is too easy to say that picture
people would naturally try to come up with a plausible story, but the truth is everyone loves a mystery, and
everyone wants to solve it. My guess is that the longer the case drags out, the more theories would come
into play. I hoped the killer would soon be found so we can get on with the rest of our lives.
I wasn’t sure where to go next. I had to see Mary, find out where she was when Bill was murdered;
check in with Ziegler to see what he had learned, but I felt a little gin would smooth out the afternoon and
made the suggestion to Eveleen.
As I started the car and drove off into traffic Eveleen said in her firm, this is not open to discussion tone
of voice, “Not a chance mister. This is a working day. And I know you are about to say something about the
hair of the dog who bit you, but that is not a tune I am dancing to. I am thinking we should talk to Clancy.”
“Clancy? What for?”
“Because she goes everywhere, sees everybody, and knows everything that goes on. She knew the
truth about Arbuckle’s party in Frisco before everyone was trying to bury old Fatty.”
Eveleen was right about Clancy. She was born on the first day of the new century and was only twenty-
two, but as the daughter of one of the wealthiest bankers in California a lot of doors opened for her and
Clancy was as far from shy as earth from the moon, so she burst through those opened doors with her
hyperactive personality in full throttle. You couldn’t keep up with Clancy. She was like a vampire, only she
didn’t drain your blood, she drained your energy.
She had modeled in New York when still a teenager, was a great beauty with curly blond hair, large
bright blue eyes, and occasionally tried acting for something to do, which is how Eveleen met her last year
when they were in a badly made western.
“Let’s see Mary first,” I said, “I’m anxious to talk with her after what George said.”
“Oh, we can talk with Mary later. Clancy first and Mary just before dinner.”
“By the way, I hate to bring this up, but why did you suggest that one of the delightful people that we
just left was the killer?”
“Oh Chet, I did not make that suggestion, I just asked if anyone wanted to confess. I wanted to see the
reaction I would get. You never know, I thought I should prod them a bit, see if I got anything. The killer
could be anyone you know, even one of those delightful people we chatted with.”
I was about to counter her argument when I noticed that the car that followed us to Alvarado was once
again behind us. I turned right at the next corner and she turned with us.
“Let me give you directions to Clancy’s.”
“Forget Clancy. That car is behind us again.” Eveleen turned and looked. “I can’t tell who it is. Pull over
and see what happens.”
“What if George was right and the killer was a woman and we know the driver of that car is a woman and
maybe she has a gun and will kill us.”
“Oh God Chet, now you’re sounding like me.”
“We’ll pull over another day when we know more. I am going to the police station to see Ziegler. When
she catches on where we are going she’ll drive off.”
This in fact, is what she did about two blocks from the precinct. But after talking to Ziegler, it looked like
the killer was not a woman, but a man, and a man soon to be caught, a man that Clancy was sure to know