Living… in greater Los Angeles, where all leads in his latest case have lead to Culver City. It’s a town of false identities, double-crossers and crooked detectives, all set against the backdrop of Cold War paranoia. This environment takes its toll on the psyche of everyone involved. As Dr. G.E. Soberin ponders: “How civilized this earth used to be. But as the world becomes more primitive, its treasures become more fabulous. Perhaps sentiment will succeed where greed failed.”
Profession… private eye in Los Angeles. Mike mostly works on penny-ante divorce cases – a “bedroom dick,” as they’re pejoratively called. He gets dirt on one of the parties in the divorce, then uses it as leverage to get dirt on the other party. Mike gets help from his secretary Velda, who seduces the husbands until they’re ready to be pounced upon. Mike has no illusions about the seediness of his operation. But he wouldn’t mind having a crack at a genuine case for once.
Interests… following up on the hitchhiker he picked up one lonely night while in the country. He picked up an attractive woman running down the road alone, naked beneath her trenchcoat. He learned that she’d escaped from a mental institution, and soon after, both of them were attacked. After that, Mike was sure the woman, Christina, was wrapped up in something big. For now, all he has is her name, and the creeping suspicion that she’s still alive somewhere.
Relationship Status… in a complicated relationship with his secretary Velda. They work together in an intimate and ugly way. Mike makes his living from her flirting with other men. But Mike is capable of such cognitive dissonance because he’s generally too self-indulgent and self-absorbed to truly love someone. Christina had him right when she pinned him as someone who never gives, only takes.
Challenge… finding and having whatever’s in “the great whatsit” – the mysterious suitcase at the center of this case. Something very valuable is in there, something that could be worth the lives of any in its path. Velda, in all her greed, is still ambivalent about becoming one of “them”: “They are the nameless ones, who kill people for the great whatsit. Does it exist? Who cares? Everyone everywhere is so involved in a fruitless search - for what?”
Personality… a renegade and a rat. Mike has a contempt for the law. He sees no reason not to take it into his own hands. To him, this town is already a jungle anyway. All he did was pick up a girl and his life was completely uprooted. In his eyes, he deserves a piece of whatever all of this was for – whatever is in that suitcase. That, to him, is a higher kind of justice.
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