“Thanks for stopping by Mrs. Pollack,” Stan said when Lee Krasner was seated and smoking on the other side of his desk.
“I happened to be Mrs. Jackson Pollack and that’s a mouthful.” She let a jet of tobacco smoke from her Camel stream to the ceiling. “I’m a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent, so call me Lee.”
“Lee it is,” Stan said, wondering why she called herself Lee, which was more often than not a man’s name, rather than her real name. Her name was Lenore. He knew she was an artist, but not a hit artist. Making it big in a man’s world might mean you had to be a man.
Betty was at her desk, typing a letter to a client, Tracy Broadstreet, who had made it big in the city. The address was upstate. An upstate women’s prison. Racy Tracy had been one of New York City’s highest paid pornographic screenwriter producer stars.
“At the time my career was brought to a sudden and final halt in the midst of screaming sirens and shouting cops, I was pulling down anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for a few hours work. Few people know the inside of the profession as well as I do. It’s the movies, the stag shows, that bring home the bullion in the sex racket. I know for sure. I was one of the stars.”
The Duluc Detective Agency was hired to somehow prove she had been duped into prostitution and everything had gone wrong from there. Betty hadn’t been able to find any proof that Racy Tracy wasn’t the lead man in her own downfall. The letter said so. The invoice, acknowledging payment that Stan had insisted be made in advance and never be refundable under any circumstances, said they had tried.
Lee Krasner wore her hair short, banks high up her forehead, had wide set eyes, a broad nose, and full lips. Stan thought she looked like an immigrant from Russia. She was wearing black from the waist down, black flatties and loose-fitting black slacks, a silver belt, and a red v-neck shell.
“Barney hired you, is that right?” she asked.
“Why?” she asked.
“He doesn’t think the accident was an accident.”
“Jack was a time bomb. His time had come.”
“Was he suicidal?”
“Yes, but do you mean, would he ever commit suicide?”
“What’s the difference?”
“Jack was suicidal, but he would never commit suicide. He didn’t have it in him. It’s like this. He liked dancing but he didn’t know how to dance. I’m a fairly good dancer. That is to say, I can follow easily. My husband was ghastly and stepped all over me. He didn’t like being ghastly, but he would never have killed himself over it, or anything else, for that matter.”
“Was he a good driver?”
“He was careful when he was sober and more careful when he was drunk, although he drove too fast. But he was always faster hitting the brakes when he had to. He drove like a crazy man to scare himself and other people. It was a kind of joke with him.”
“The tree he hit was fairly far off the road, but there isn’t any indication he ever tried to control the car.”
“Jack wasn’t always able to control himself, but he could always control his car. It wouldn’t be like him to not slam on the brakes once he started going off the road.”
“Barnett Newman is our client, but I still want to ask if you have any objection to us keeping at it, nosing around into the circumstances. We are thinking there is something going on, that it wasn’t what it looks like.”
Lee Krasner stubbed out her cigarette and stood up.
“Just promise you’ll tell me if that floozy had anything to do with it.”