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Walter Mosley - Fearless Jones

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Walter Mosley - Fearless Jones
Fearless Jones
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“You’re a fool, Paris.” Elana Love was neither the first nor the last woman to think so or say it.

I nodded.

She backed toward the door and let herself out.

I DON’T KNOW what happened for a while after that. I suppose that Elana went to the accountants’ offices and saw the aftermath of the carnage we had witnessed. Maybe, after a day or so, she was able to speak to the principals. I doubt if that meeting did much for her wealth.

But that’s all supposition, because on the drive back to Fontanelle’s court I was stopped by the police. The uniforms detained me until two plainclothes cops arrived.

There was a portly man in a green suit with a snaky little partner who wore a houndstooth jacket and coal-gray pants.

“Paris Minton?” the snaky cop asked.

I held out my wrists and they obliged without even a kick or slap to show who was in charge.

I expected the charges to be conspiracy, theft, maybe breaking and entering, and certainly murder. And so I was surprised down at the precinct at Seventy-seventh Street to hear, “You are being held because we suspect you for the arson of your landlord’s property.”

I used my one phone call to ring Charlotte.

“They got me in the can, baby,” I told her. “But the charges are wrong, and I can prove it, I think.” I asked her to call Milo and tell him. I knew that he’d tell Fearless. That was everyone who mattered.

The county jail was full, so they transferred me to a facility down around Redondo Beach. I had a cell that looked over the ocean and chess partners that could beat me now and then.

There was even a small library. It was like visiting a spa after what I had been through.

They brought me before a public defender who told me that the owner of the store I rented caused such a stink that they were leaning on me.

“They want you on an insurance angle,” the milky-faced kid told me.

“But I didn’t have insurance,” I said.

“They think somebody hired you to set the fire,” he said.

“But how could that be?”

“It happens all the time,” he assured me.

“But, Mr. Defender. You sayin’ that the owner is puttin’ on the pressure, and so they brace me ’cause they think somebody paid me to set the fire for the insurance.”

“I don’t get your meaning,” the kid said.

I knew I was in trouble then.

He didn’t stay long. He resented having to come down to Redondo. The cops didn’t like the drive either. So between the lag in visits and the lack of interest in their own case, I spent six weeks in the can. There was some mixup in the transfer records, so even Milo couldn’t find me.

Finally I was brought back to Los Angeles for a meeting with the prosecutor. It seems that my lawyer, whose name I don’t think I ever knew, had decided I was guilty and that, because my record was clean, I could probably get some kind of reduced sentence.

The prosecutor was young too but she had a little more on the ball.

“But he doesn’t have insurance,” the chubby prosecutor said, trying to understand what she was reading while my lawyer talked deal. I remember that she wore a navy jacket and skirt with a brilliant white blouse and string tie like the cowboys wear.

“It’s the owner,” my lawyer offered as if their roles were reversed.

“But,” the prosecutor said, now talking to herself, “then why aren’t we trying him?”

My lawyer wasn’t smart enough to supply an answer.

They drove me back out to Redondo, where I sat in a cell with a man dying from TB. That was another three weeks. Then they let me go on the streets of Redondo.

“Can I have bus fare?” I asked the guard who was giving me my clothes back.

He handed me a dime.

“I have to call L.A.,” I said, thinking he’d take pity and give me enough for the station-to-station call.

He was not so inclined.

WHEN MILO ANSWERED the phone my heart sank.

“Collect call to anyone from Paris Minton,” the operator said sternly. I was hoping for Loretta to answer. She, I knew, would at least accept the call.

“Of course,” Milo said jovially.

“Do you accept the charges, sir?” the woman asked.

“Yes I do.” And then, “Paris, where are you?”


MILO CALLED FEARLESS and told him where I was. Fearless picked me up, in a brand-new Ford Crown Victoria, at the city library three hours after I called.

We had already said our hellos, and I explained the dumb charges that held me in jail.

“Why Milo take my call?” I asked Fearless. “I mean he never takes a collect call unless it’s from one’a them bounty hunters.”

“Open the glove compartment,” was Fearless’s reply.

There was a fat envelope there with my name on it. I was loathe to touch it.

“Go on,” Fearless encouraged me.

It held a thick wad of cash.

“Thirteen thousand,” Fearless said. “Plus the eight hundred from poor Wally and the five hundred I owed you for my fine.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a present from Gella Greenspan.”


“After I got to Dorthea’s I called Gella to see how she was and to tell her somethin’,” Fearless said. “But she was arrested just like you. They wanted to charge her with the murder of her husband or her auntie or both, but they couldn’t figure out how to make the charge stick and they had to let her go.”


“Yeah,” Fearless said, grinning. He was never much on sarcasm. “And then I told her what Sol said.”

“When did Sol say somethin’?”

“Oh yeah. Sol wasn’t dead when I got to the hospital. He told me about the money he stoled before he passed.”

“He told you?”

“You see, he put the money in a bank in Montreal — that’s in Canada — under Gella’s name, but he didn’t tell nobody. The account number and everything was in a picture he framed and gave her. It was a picture of Fanny laughing and wearing a green dress.”

“But, but what about the bond that Elana Love had?” I asked. “What did that have to do with it?”

“Oh yeah,” Fearless said. “Sol said that that bond was just practice.”


“Yeah. He wanted to see how to convert dollars to another country’s money. That was all it had to do with the millions.”

“I don’t get this, man. Why he wanna tell you?”

“He liked me ’cause I came with Fanny. And he wanted to make sure that Gella got the finder’s fee. So I went to her and she wanted to give the money to Israel like Sol wanted, so we went to Manly. Only they had already kicked him and his boys outta the country.”

“Say what?”

“They were over here pretendin’ to be architects or sumpin’. A rich Jewish guy friendly with the Jewish government signed their papers. He the one own that hotel they was in. Anyway the cops looked into Latham’s death and came up with Manly and his boys. But then Gella decided to go over there on her own.”

“She left the country?”

“But she give us one-half of one percent. Forty thousand dollars.”

Fearless drove along, chatting happily. He had bought his mother and sister houses, and he owned the Ford he was driving. I did the math on one-half of one percent. The solution made me sweat.

THAT WAS some months ago. The police drop by my new bookstore on Florence now and then and ask me about the old landlord and that fire. Antonio took a ninety-nine-year lease on the lot and put up a new Superette. That burned down too, under suspicious circumstances. All the suspicion was cast on me, but no one could prove it.

I still see Charlotte, and sometimes Fearless and I get together for drinks. He’s broke and needs a loan now and then, but I don’t mind.

He hasn’t gotten in any trouble, and I’m hoping that he doesn’t. But I know that if he does, I’ll have to help him, because Fearless is my friend.

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