Raymond Chandler writes about the Pharmaceutical Litigation Consultant
The following story hit me right in the gut, but I didn't choke. See, I knew how to handle this kind of situation. I wouldn't suppress it. No, siree. Not the damsel in this tale, nor anything else. I knew my enemies would find the buried corpses and use the grisly facts to make my life miserable. So I decided to blow this tale wide open before they got to me. Here it is all laid out, as told by my friend Giles aka Raymond Chandler:
It all started that night in my office. There I was sitting in the dark, leaning back in my chair, my legs propped up on the desk. If there was one thing better than having a phone that never rang, it was having two phones that never rang.
The smoke from the cigarettes was floating around my head and the whiskey was tasting better with each swallow. On the radio Sinatra was crooning "I've Got The World On A String.'' Yeah!
I hadn't had a case in weeks and I was seriously thinking about getting a new line of work. Being a pharmaceutical litigation consultant just wasn't paying the bills.
I like the good things in life. Like liquor, women, reading, chess and working alone. I’m educated enough to speak English if I’m required to. I used to work for the Big P, but was fired for insubordination, thus starting a cliche that still hasn't run out of steam. But I'm all done with hating them. It's all washed out of me. I hate pharmaceutical companies hard, but I don't hate them very long. How many ex-marketing VPs are there out there that have become litigation consultants? Not many.
I needed a drink. I needed a lot of life insurance. I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and an overdraft.
So here I am in 2008. I've turned fifty and what do I have to show for it? A second floor office (that doubles as my abode since I was booted out of my apartment) above a two-bit saloon in downtown Peapack NJ that serves watered down drinks and has a neon sign that is driving me wacky. A '05 Lincoln Continental that I bought with my last pay check pay from the Big P in 2005. A black suit with two pair of pants, and a broken computer from one of the many working overs it’s taken since I became a Hard Boiled Blogger.
Yeah, I've got the world on a string all right...
Then came the knock at the door.
I could see through the frosted window on the door into the lighted hallway that it was a dame. And boy, what a dame! The outline of her body looked like an hourglass with a head on it.
"Come in,'' I said. As she started into the room I reached for the desk lamp.
"No,'' she drawls in a Mae West voice, "I prefer the dark side.''
As she walked closer to me I could see her face, lit by the flashing neon light shining through the window. She had long brown hair that hung to her shoulders. Her green eyes sparkled from the flashing light. Her full lips were covered with ruby red lipstick, smiling a smile that hit me smack in the libido. She must have greased up real good to fit into that dress.
"Are you the one they call, ‘the Doc’?'' she purred, interrupting my inventory of her.
"Yeah,'' I replied. I felt like that wolf in those Tex Avery cartoons, with my tongue hanging to the floor and my eyes popped out of my head a foot. "Have a seat,'' I managed to say.
"No thank you, I prefer to stand. My name is Linda. But you can call me Mrs. Robinson. Tell me Doc, just what do you want most out of life?'' she asked.
I was in luck. Philosophy was my long suite. "A thousand a day, plus expenses,'' I told her.
Without batting an eye, she reached into her big black purse and pulled out a big wedge of smackers. She then threw it on the desk in front of me. "Ten days, in advance,'' she said.
Well, here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. I just love it when women talk dirty. And this broad spoke my language.
"So, what's the case?'' I asked.
"You are,'' she said.
“Case solved,” I replied. "That'll only cost you five thousand bucks.''
"No,'' she said, "you don't understand. My clients are a little concerned about your Chinese friend. They want you to call her off.''
I only had one Chinese-sounding friend. A little lady called Qui Tam. And I wasn’t about to sell her down the Suwannee, even for the Abe Lincoln picture collection that was lying on my desk right now.
“So just who are your clients?” I asked. I was getting wary of this dame. She was the kind who lied just to keep in practice.
“Is that any of your business?” she replied sweetly, her smile playing a rumba on my nether regions.
”I could make it my business,” I replied.
”I could make your business mine” she countered.
”Oh, you wouldn't like it,” I told her. “The pay's too small.”
Sure, the dame was sharp, but not sharp enough to cut the baloney. I knew I could end up making small talk all evening if I wasn’t careful. Talking to her was like trying to open a sardine can after you’d broke off the metal lip.
“So what’s a smart dame like you doing working for a bunch of crooks like the Big P?” I asked, hoping to make some headway.
She smiled. It hit me in the hip pocket. “It's a long story and it’s not pretty,” she replied.
”I got lots of time and I'm not squeamish,” I shrugged.
Mrs Robinson sighed. My heart played hoopla in my chest. “Why do you bother with Qui Tam?” she pleaded. You know she’s no good for you.” She gestured to the greenbacks on my desk. “Why not take the money and give up on her? Why do you have to go on?”
It was a good question, and one that I’d often asked on those long lonely nights when sleep itself seems like a dream too good to be true.
“Because too many people have told me to stop,” I replied. “Trouble is, I'm a romantic at heart, see? I hear voices crying in the night and I go to see what's the matter. I know I don't make a dime that way. There’s no percentage in it at all. But it’s just something I do.”
It was all beginning to make sense, in a screwy sort of a way. I get dragged in and get money shoved at me. I get pushed out and get money shoved at me. Everybody pushes me in, everybody pushes me out. Nobody wants me to DO anything. Okay, put a check in the mail. I cost a lot not to do anything. I get restless. Throw in a trip to Mexico.
“I hadn't supposed there were enough whistleblowers these days to make litigation consultancy very attractive to a man like you.” she sneered.
”I stir up trouble on the side.”
“You know, I think you're nuts. You go barging around without a very clear idea of what you're doing. Everybody bats you down, smacks you over the head, fills you full of stuff and you keep right on hitting between tackle and end. I don't think you even know which SIDE you're on.”
”I don't know which side anybody's on. I don't even know who's playing today. I had more careers than you’ve had lovers, sweetheart, and they’ve gone just the same way. Don’t try and ask me why.”
“I'm afraid I don't like your manners.”
“Yeah, I've had complaints about them, but they keep getting worse. I grieve over them on long winter evenings.”
Mrs. Robinson finally turned off the megawatt smile. My libido breathed easy.
“I think we’re done talking, Doc,” she said. "I'm at the Courtyard Marriot, Basking Ridge, New Jersey, room 108. Let me know if you change your mind."
She turned and walked out of the office. "I'll be waiting," she purred.
I couldn't keep my eyes off her swaying hips as she walked towards the stairway and disappeared down the steps. The smell of her perfume lingered on after she left. I could hear the radio again now that she was gone, although it was playing the whole time she was here, Eddie Fisher was singing "I'm Walking Behind You," and in my mind I was walking behind Mrs. Robinson.
I got up and looked out the window just in time to see her getting into a big red Caddy. Holding the door for her was the biggest guy in the world, at least 6'6" and 400 pounds. As she was getting into the car, she glanced up at me with a look that could melt your heart.
"Tiny" also looked up at me. His stare could have melted iron. As they drove away, I couldn't get her out of my head.
But I couldn’t give up on Qui Tam. She was all I had lived for these past two years. I had put in too much to get out. It was a matter of pride. But pride doesn’t pay the rent. I walked over to the coach and laid down. I tried to get some shut-eye but all I could do was think of Mrs. Robinson. And her client’s money.
Posted by Pharma Giles