Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 10

I checked with Chelsea when I got back, to be sure I didn't have anything I had to take care of, then went into my office. I needed to do some serious thinking before I went back to Things Past.

The first, big question—beyond the fact the goons had thought I had the necklace when they attacked me—was how they knew the mysterious man had taken it to Philips in the first place.

If someone had followed him, why didn't they just take it before he got that far? To me that said he hadn't been followed. Ergo, he'd taken it without the owner knowing until too late. The owner or someone else. Someone who had no more right to it than the man who brought it to Philips did.

"Damn. Stupid," I muttered, meaning me.

I booted up my computer and did what Philips should have done—and maybe had for all I knew—when he first came into possession of the necklace. I went to the two major stolen jewelry sites to see if it was listed on one or both of them.

I found a couple whose written descriptions sort of matched, but when I looked at the images, they weren't the necklace in question. So perhaps, if it was stolen, the owner didn't report it? That could mean several things. He'd gotten it illegally. He didn't know it was missing until just before mystery man took it to Philips. Or… Hell at this point I had no clue what the 'or' could be. But I intended to find out why and how the man had gotten his hands on it.

"Mr Philips, please," I said when someone answered the phone at Things Past. When Phillips got on the line I told him, "One thing I should have asked you, and didn't. What did the man who brought in the necklace look like? I know you said he was well-dressed and thirty-something but I need more of a description."

"He was… maybe five-ten, five-eleven. Dark brown hair, fairly well cut." He paused. "I think blue eyes but I wouldn't swear to it. Average face, dark eyebrows, oh yeah, and his ears stuck out a bit. Not pitcher handles, but not close to his head."

"By well-dressed you mean a suit?"

"No. Slacks and a dress shirt." Again he paused and I could picture him closing his eyes, trying to remember anything else. "One thing. The shirt collar was open and I saw a gold chain. There was something hanging from it. As best as I can recall it was square, gold too, and imprinted with a design. Something circular. Sorry, that's the best I can do."

"Anything helps. Thanks. I'll let you get back to work."

After we hung up, I kicked back in my chair, staring off into space. Before I could do more than wonder how to find the man, Chelsea told me Ricky was on the phone.

"You up for a late lunch?" he asked.

I chuckled. "You want to be sure I'm really in one piece?"

"Well… that too. But mainly I'm hungry and want some company. Your name came to mind."

"Uh-huh. It had better be the only name that came to mind," I replied, laughing. "Yeah, sure. Where?"

He suggested our favorite diner—which was close to my office—and ten minutes later I slid in beside him in a back booth. He looked me over, said, "Yeah, you're no beauty right now," and kissed me.

"I never am," I replied after returning the kiss. "But yeah, I'm a bit worse for wear at the moment."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 9

I have a friend of sorts who owns a cab. For a not so nominal fee, he was letting me borrow it for the job. A minute after I parked the cab in front of Things Past, Mr Philips came out of the store. He spotted me and seconds later got into the back seat. The only indication he had the necklace was a slight bulge in his suit coat pocket.

"Where to?" I asked.

"First National."

With a nod, after pretending to turn on the meter, I pulled out into traffic. "What did you tell your employees?"

"Exactly what we planned. I'm going to a preview of some items which are being offered at an estate sale. As I told you, I do it often enough they're used to it."

"Good." I kept my eyes open for any sign we were being followed as I made several unnecessary turns on our way to his bank. Unless I'm slipping, and I'm not, no one was the least bit interested in us.

Twenty minutes later, the necklace was residing in Philips' safety deposit box. I'd had him show it to me before he put it in there. It was impressive I guess, if you're into that sort of thing. I could see some high-class lady wearing it to the opera or a fancy shindig. 

"Now what happens?" Philips asked once we were back in the cab.

"You do whatever you normally do until this afternoon when I show up to—as far as anyone knows—pick up the necklace to take to the appraiser."

He nodded. "I'm still not sure I like the idea you're setting yourself up to be attacked again."

I glanced at him in the rearview mirror. "It's part of what I do, and this time I'll be ready if anything happens. If whoever's behind this is smart, and I'm real sure they are, they'll call the appraiser to be certain he got the necklace before making a decision to break in and retrieve it. When they find out he didn't… Well things could get real interesting."

"I wish to hell I'd told that man I wasn't interested in the damned thing."

I smiled wryly. "Then I might be doing this for some other antiques dealer."

"I suppose. Or the people behind this would have successfully broken into their place and have it already."

"True." We were at the store now, so he got out after acting as if he'd paid me. "I'll see you this afternoon," I told him. He nodded and I took off.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 8

"From what you said, you did get it appraised."

"Yes. I had the man I usually use come to the store. In his estimation, on preliminary examination, the necklace is worth at a bare minimum twenty-five thousand dollars."

I whistled. "For one damned piece of jewelry?"

Philips chuckled. "Yes. It was designed by Charles Jacqueau for Cartier."

"Okay. Cartier I've heard of, but not Jacqueau."

"He worked at Cartier. Some call him 'the Picasso of jewelry design'."

"No wonder someone wants it. Or wants it back, if the man who brought it to you stole it in the first place."

"My thoughts exactly."

"How long has Hawley worked for you?"

Philips paused momentarily. "Three and a half years."

"And until now there's never been a break-in?"

"There have been some attempts, but that's to be expected. This is the first time someone's managed to breach our security."

"What do you know about him? If someone approached him, offering him a sizable amount of cash, would he be willing to reveal where the necklace was and that you had—supposedly at least—engaged my services?"

"Good Lord I would hope not! Believe me; I had him checked out before I hired him. He came with sterling recommendations."

"And yet, as far as you're aware, he's the only one of your employees who knew you were apparently planning on sending the necklace to your appraiser for a more thorough examination."

"Yes." Philips sighed deeply. "I hate to think he's somehow involved in this."

"Well short of your office being bugged and someone overhearing your conversation with him, it seems to be the only solution why those men thought I had the necklace."

"Would that be possible?" Philips asked hopefully.

"Bugging your office? Presumably. Could someone posing as a customer get in there? Did anyone claiming to be from your security company come by to check the system?"

"No, as far as the security company. I don't keep my office locked during business hours, so I suppose it's possible someone could have gone in there, but they'd have been taking a chance. I'm in and out of it on a regular basis."

"All it would take is one person keeping you busy while their partner planted a couple of bugs."

"True, I guess." Philips frowned deeply. "One thing bothers me."

I chuckled. "Only one?"

He smiled a bit before saying, "Why would the men who attacked you think you had the necklace? I hadn't hired you yet."

I'd like to say that had occurred to me as well. But it hadn't. Nothing like a client who's smarter than I am.

"Now that is a good question. They definitely thought you'd given it to me for safe keeping—to use their words." I rapped a knuckle on my chin. "That sort of lets Hawley off the hook. As far as he knew, you were going to hire me to take the necklace to the appraiser, nothing more, meaning I'd be coming by the store today to pick it up."

Philips looked relieved. Unsurprising, since having a bent employee wasn't something any businessman wanted to deal with. Still…

"The same holds true for your office being bugged. The listener would assume I'd show up today to get it. Okay, for the moment this speculation is getting us nowhere. That they thought I had stashed it somewhere is a given. I'll worry about why later. Do you still want to hire me to escort you to the bank?"

"Definitely. The sooner the better. I want the necklace out of my store."

"Then this is how we'll do it."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 7

Leaning back, I steepled my fingers, saying, "Details, please."

"All right. To begin with, you need to know that I own an antiques store—Things Past. We deal primarily in furniture, tableware and objet d'art from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, we also have a small selection of rare and first-edition books, and carry some antique jewelry. We acquire the books and jewelry primarily as a part of lots purchased at estate sales."

I nodded, commenting, "All valuable, I presume." My thoughts immediately went to what Officer Parker had told me about Caiazzo, and the rumor that he ran a sophisticated theft ring. I wondered if he specialized in the sorts of things Philips carried, specifically jewelry or art objects.

"Not all, but most. Some command quite high prices."

"So where does this necklace someone thinks you gave me to take to the appraiser come in?"

He took a deep breath. "A man came into the store approximately a week ago. Now just so you know, I'm very careful about what I buy, especially if I don't know the seller. Items have to come with provenance papers to prove the ownership is legitimate."

"In other words you want to be certain something isn't stolen."

"Precisely. Taking stolen items could ruin me. Back to what I was telling you. This man came into the store. He appeared to be in his thirties and was well-dressed. He had a cardboard box with him which he set down on the counter. Inside was a smaller, jeweler's box, well wrapped in layers of tissue paper. He dispensed with the paper and opened the box. It contained a necklace which appeared to be platinum over white gold, filigreed, with inset diamonds and pearls. From my initial examination—if it was real and not a good copy—it dated from around nineteen-fifteen."

"Did he have provenance papers for it?"

"No. Of course that immediately made me wary. When I asked, he said he hadn't remembered to bring them with him when he got the necklace from his safety deposit box." Philips frowned, staring off into space momentarily. "I told him I was interested, but only if he brought in the papers. I also explained to him I would need to get the necklace appraised before I could give him a price."

"How did he react to that?" I asked.

"He seemed very relieved and told me that as long as I had a safe where I could store it, he was willing to leave the necklace with me so that I could take it to an appraiser. He also promised he'd bring the papers in the next day."

"Did he?"

"No. He left the store and that was the last I saw of him. At the moment, the box is locked in my private safe in my office. Despite what I told Hawley, what I want to do is hire you to guard me while I move it to the safety deposit box at my bank."

"Why? Okay, the guarding part I get, but why move it?"

"As I told you, something happened. Someone broke into the store. They weren't able to breach the safe—although it was obvious they tried to. The thing is, they only tried the one in my office, not the larger one behind the counter where we put small valuables after we lock up for the night."

"Interesting. It certainly sounds as if the necklace was the target. You called the cops?"

"The security company did, before contacting me. The police did what they do, searched for evidence, and came up empty-handed." Philips looked squarely at me. "I'm presuming that somehow the person who broke in knew the man had left the necklace in my care, and they want it."

"I agree. Did you tell your business manager about the necklace?"

"Hawley? Yes. I also told him—a couple of day before the break-in—that I hadn't put it in our stock safe. At that point it wasn't ours, and wouldn't be until the owner returned with the provenance papers, and I determined a fair price to offer him for it. So it was, as I said, stored in my private safe."

Friday, May 22, 2015

'Death, Love and Wednesdays' has arrived!

Death, Love and Wednesdays

When his sister, Carrie, is murdered, bookshop owner Myles Foster gains custody of her precocious five-year-old son, Simon. He also has to deal with the reappearance of his ex-lover, Zayne, a private detective. While trying to come to grips with both, another woman is murdered.
Myles--with the help of Mazie, Simon's babysitter--learns to adjust to having a child in his life. Having Zayne back in his world is more problematic, since Zayne left Myles for a younger man. Slowly, but surely, Zayne tries to break down the walls between them as they attempt to figure out why Carrie was murdered and pass on their ideas to the detective in charge of the case.
Can the murderer be stopped before he kills again? And, more importantly, will Myles be able to cope not only with caring for Simon, but also learning to trust that Zayne might truly love him?


"You want me to do what?" Myles looked at his sister as if she'd lost her mind.

"It's only for a couple of hours. I have another job interview and I can't bring Simon with me. Please?" Carrie gazed hopefully at her older brother.

"What did I do to deserve this?" he grumbled.

"You agreed to be his in loco parentis in case of emergencies. Which"--she waggled a finger at him--"this is."

"More like you twisted my arm, just as you're doing now." Myles looked around his used bookshop, wondering how he could keep Simon entertained while the boy was there. He loved his nephew. He really did. But the kid was almost five and a very smart and energetic boy. "All right, I'll do it. Just don't take forever if you can help it."

"Thank you!" Carrie hugged him tightly. "I won't. I promise. I'll bring Simon over at one. Okay?"


Carrie kissed his cheek before hurrying out of the shop.

For the next two hours, between helping customers, Myles tried to figure out what to do with Simon. Set him down in the kids' book section and tell him to read? That would last all of half an hour before he gets restless. Give him the feather duster and set him to work? He chuckled at that idea. I'd have the cleanest bottom bookshelves in the city--and the dustiest kid. Oh well, I'll come up with something.

Then he had an idea. During a brief lull he dashed up to his apartment above the shop. Looking wildly around, he finally spotted the tablet he'd bought to give Simon on his birthday. "I guess you're getting it early," he murmured, taking it back down to the shop and stashing it behind the counter. One problem solved.

At exactly one on the dot, Carrie appeared with Simon in tow. The boy bounced over to say "Hi, Uncle Myles. Can I play upstairs?"

"Nope," Myles told him, ruffling Simon's blond hair. "You're staying down here where I can keep an eye on you."

"Okay. Can I read?"

"Help yourself. You know where the kids' books are."

"Can I get one from there?" Simon pointed to the aisle of shelves that had nature books, on the other side of the shop from the children's section.

"Simon," Carrie admonished, "do as your uncle says."

Heaving a sigh, Simon wandered away in the right direction.

"I should be back by three," Carrie told her brother. "Three thirty at the latest. Thanks again for doing this." Before Myles could reply, she was gone, waving back at him over her shoulder.

Almost before the door closed behind her it opened again, admitting a tall, dark-haired man just a bit older than Myles' age of thirty-two. Myles knew that because he knew the man. Zayne had shared the apartment with Myles for three years before suddenly moving out last December to take up residence with a newer--and younger--lover.

"To what do I owe this honor?" Myles asked scathingly, going behind the counter.

Zayne shrugged. "I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd say hello."

"Well you have. Now leave."

"I think I'll look around first. I need something to read." Zayne sauntered off, heading to the mystery and true crime section. That didn't surprise Myles in the least--both that Zayne had ignored his request or about Zayne's taste in reading material. Zayne was a private detective and often bought books related, however tangentially, to his business. "Gotta keep up with things," had been his excuse when he'd been living with Myles. From the number of research books on the subject Zayne had owned, Myles figured it was the truth.

"Uncle Myles?" Simon appeared in front of the counter. "I'm bored."

"How can you...?" Myles didn't bother to finish his question. Instead he said, "Would this help?" as he handed Simon the box with the tablet.

Simon broke into a huge grin. "For me?"

"No. For the kid who lives down the block. Yes, it's for you. It's an early birthday present."

"Oh boy! Thank you!" Simon carefully took the tablet out of the box and pushed the "On" button. When nothing happened, he handed it back, saying disappointedly, "It doesn't work."

"I think the battery needs to be charged." Myles took the cord from the box. "So, settle down here," he said, pointing to the chair behind the counter, "I'll plug it in then you can explore what you can do with it."

With Simon happily ensconced in the chair, Myles got back to business, helping a woman who was looking for books about the history of the city. As they passed the aisle with the crime books, Myles noted Zayne was sitting on one of the stepstools, his nose buried in, from what Myles could see of the cover, a true crime story. For a moment, Myles flashed back to when they had been together. Things were good--for a while. I wish I knew what changed. He smiled dryly. Well I do know. He didn't want to believe he was getting older. He thought he could stay young if he hooked up with a kid barely out of college. I wonder how that's worked out. Myles might have wondered, but no way in hell was he going to ask.

The shop got busy, somewhat to Myles' surprise since it was a Wednesday afternoon. Therefore, he didn't realize what time it was until nearly three thirty. I hope the fact Carrie's running a bit late means she got hired. His sister was a single mom who had lost her previous position two months earlier due to downsizing. For a while she had looked on it as a blessing in disguise. She'd saved enough money to pay her expenses and so was able to stay home with Simon through the rest of the summer before he started kindergarten. Now, with that about to happen, she had been job hunting. Myles knew she'd already had a few interviews, but she'd managed to find a babysitter for Simon so she could go to them--until today.

Simon had been fairly quiet but now he set the tablet down on the chair and came over to Myles, asking, "When's Mommy going to come get me?"

"I was wondering that myself. I bet she's on her way right now."

"Good, because I'm hungry." Simon looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter. "It's snack time."

"You can tell time already?"

Myles spun around, surprised to see that Zayne was still in the shop.

"Uh-huh. I have forever," Simon replied to Zayne's question.

"Smart kid. Do you remember me?"

"Yep. You used to live here then you left. Mommy said you were a real...a bad word I'm not supposed to say."

"Oh boy," Myles muttered.

Zayne seemed to find that more amusing than offensive, as he put two books down on the counter. "I'll take these."

"It took you almost three hours to decide? And why are you here and not working?"

"I took the day off since I just wrapped up a couple of jobs and wasn't in the mood to do background checks for one of my clients. This is a nice, relaxing way to...relax. Is that allowed?"

"It's your life so it's your choice." Myles rang up the books and took Zayne's credit card to pay for them. Then, against his better judgment, Myles said, "I'm surprised you didn't spend the day with what's-his-name."

"Kind of hard to do since David and I broke it off. He decided he wanted to be with someone who didn't work odd hours." Zayne smiled wryly. "And he found someone to fit the bill. He liked going out nights and with me...that wasn't always possible, as you well know."

"Very well," Myles replied, taking another look at the clock. Where the hell are you, Carrie?

Walt Murphy – PI – 6

Mr Philips appeared on the dot of ten. When Chelsea escorted him to my office, he stood hesitantly in the doorway as if it was the entrance to a trap. I estimated he was older than my thirty by at least ten years. He looked like a businessman in the suit and tie he was wearing. Conjecture at this point of course.

"Come in and have a seat," I said.

With a sharp nod, he came over to take the chair beside my desk. All the time he was staring at my face. I knew the scar could be off-putting to some people, but not as much as it seemed to be to him. Then I remembered the bruising from last night's encounter and smiled wryly. "It's not as bad as it looks."

"It makes you look…tough. That's encouraging." His voice was low and cultured.

I chuckled. "Encouraging is good. Would you like something to drink? Coffee, water?" When he declined I moved on to the pertinent question, "Why you think you need a bodyguard, Mr Philips?"

"I'm in possession of an item that it seems someone would like to get their hands on."

A strangely formal way for him to put it, but I got idea. Then, as implausible as it seemed at the moment, the coin dropped. "Does the B in your name stand for Bailey?"

"Yes. How did you know?" he asked in obvious surprise.

"I had a run-in with some men last night. They said I was holding something for…well they said 'Bailey'. I presumed that was a last name. They wanted their property—as they put it—back."

"And they did that to you?" he replied in dismay, gesturing to my face.

I nodded. "They were rather insistent that I tell them where it was. Luckily the cops showed up before things got worse." I studied him when something occurred to me. "Presuming it was you they were talking about, and logically it has to be given your original statement, how did they associate me with you? At that point we hadn't met—or even talked."

His thought for a minute then his expression darkened angrily. "Hawley."

"Who would be?"

"My business manager. He's the only one I said anything to about wanting to hire a bodyguard. He came into my office yesterday morning, just as I was checking out ads online. When he asked, I told him I'd decided to hire someone to take a valuable necklace to my appraiser, since he wanted to study it more thoroughly than he could on site. I said you offered that service and I was about to call you."

I gave him a dry look, muttering "Thanks."

"I certainly didn't expect that to happen to you," he replied with a mixture of asperity and dismay. "Hawley accepted my reasoning for needing a guard—rather than taking it myself, which was my regular process—because, well…of what had happened the previous night."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 5

Next on my agenda—after telling Mr Carmichael I'd be watching his business again tonight, since there had been no action there the last two nights—was to return the calls from the two potential clients.

The first man was the new owner of a small insurance company. He wanted to hire me on an as-needed basis when he thought a client was being less than honest about how their injuries were impacting their lives. We discussed my fees, he agreed to them, and I promised to email him an e-contract to sign. I gave Chelsea the pertinent information she needed and she said she'd get the contract out to him within the hour.

Then I called the second person. The name on the message slip was B. D. Phillips. No business noted, just their asking me to call and a phone number. That probably meant what they needed from me was personal. Hopefully he, or she, Chelsea hadn't indicated which, wasn't a jealous spouse wanting me to spy on their significant other. I had to be really hurting for cash to do that, and thankfully that hadn't been the case in well over a year. 

When my call was answered, a man said, "This is Mr Philips. Thank you for calling me back Mr Murphy." The joys of Caller ID. Not that I cared since this was a business call.

"How can I help you, Mr Philips?"

"I understand from your online ad that you do bodyguard work."

"I do. Would this be business related or personal?"

"I…" There was a long pause before he asked, "May I make an appointment. I'd rather discuss this in person."

"Of course. Why didn't you say you wanted one in your voicemail message?" He'd left the message at eight last night according to Chelsea's notation.

"I wasn't certain I was going to go through with this at that point. Or more that I'd need a bodyguard."

That tweaked my interest. Whatever his problem was, it had to have become more pressing within the last twelve hours. I checked my schedule then told him, "I can see you in an hour, if that works for you."

"It does. Thank you."

After hanging up, I stepped into the waiting area to let Chelsea know I was expecting a visitor, and when. Then I set to work doing background checks for a regular client until Mr Philips showed up.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 4

Yeah, he knows about the stakeout. Ricky knows about everything I get involved in. It's part of what makes our relationship work. No secrets. The only bone of contention, as far as he's concerned, is that we're not living together. Not that I don't want us to, but I'm nothing if not a realist. If we did, it could put him in someone's sights if they came gunning for me. He understands, but it doesn't mean he likes it.

I chuckled. "Up to a point before the shit hit the fan, as it were."

"Uh-oh. Now what?"

"It seems someone thinks I have something that belongs to them, and they weren't taking no for an answer when I told them I didn't have a clue what they were talking about."

"Damn. How bad is the damage?"

See, Ricky knows me real well so the question was a given. He's not too happy about the fact I get hurt sometimes. But that's only to be expected. Both getting hurt and his not liking it.

"Could be worse. Sore gut, sore ribs, a few bruises and contusions."

"Walt, bruises and contusions mean the same thing." He had to point that out, being the more anal—and erudite—of the two of us.

"Yeah, well… Anyway, I'm alive and not in the hospital, so all's good."

He snorted. "Define 'good'. You really don't know what it is they're looking for?"

"Not clue one. All I know for sure is their boss apparently runs a theft ring. A good one from what Parker said."

"How'd he get involved?"

"He and his partner turned up just in time to keep me from being turned into hamburger." When he asked, I filled him in on the details.

"What am I going to do with you?" Ricky said when I finished. "No, don't answer that. I have the feeling you're not up for it at the moment."

Since it was Ricky I was talking to, I almost told him he was so wrong, but decided not to play into his double entendre. "Yeah, right now I have to figure out why they think I have this—whatever it is."

"They didn’t give you any hints?"

"Nope. Other than the fact someone named Bailey supposedly gave it to me for safe keeping."

"You don’t have a client by that name I take it."

"Come on, Ricky. If I did, then I'd know what the thing is. And before you ask, no one's given me anything to hold for them."

"Do you think the guys who attacked you believe you?"

"Has hell frozen over?"

"Not last time I checked," he replied with a laugh. "So how are you going to stop them from coming after you again?"

I sighed. "When I figure it out, I'll let you know."

"Thought you'd say that. Are you coming over tonight or are you going to be staking out the business again?"

"Yeah, on the stakeout," I replied. "But tonight I'll be armed and dangerous."

"How about keeping a low profile, be alert and stay out of alleys."

"That too."

We talked a bit longer before he said he'd better get back to his spreadsheets. Damned if he didn't sound excited about the idea. But then he is an accountant. We finished the conversation with 'Love you' and hung up.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 3

I woke up feeling like I'd been on the losing end of a battle with Godzilla. On top of that, I had a vague hangover, undoubtedly due to the two Scotches I'd downed before passing out. Great sleep aid when someone's made a punching bag out of you.

I made it to the bathroom and showered before checking out the damage in the mirror. One fat lip. Check. Lovely skin tones on my face and gut. Check. Sore shoulders and ribs. Check. But I was alive and that's what counted.

Now all I had to do was make certain I stayed that way. That meant figuring out just what Mr Caiazzo thought someone had given me that he wanted back. Doing so required my getting dressed and going to work.

An hour later, wearing jeans and a decent shirt, I walked into the waiting area of my palatial—yeah I'm being sarcastic—two-and-a-half room office suite. Chelsea, my secretary/receptionist and all around factotum—in other words my aforementioned girl-Friday—took one look at me and asked, "What meat grinder did you run into? You look like hell." Yeah, lots of sympathy there.

I told her what happened, garnering a "How often do you have to be told to stay out of dark alleys?" Then, with a bit more concern she asked, "How bad do you feel? I've got a bottle of ibuprofen."

"Been there, done that, only with aspirin. Coffee would be good though."

"Brewed and ready. Go sit down and I'll bring you a cup."

Another reason I like her. She didn't just point to the coffeemaker, expecting me to get it myself. Well, this time anyway.

I settled down in my nice, padded desk chair with no small bit relief. Yeah, I felt better than I had when I woke up, but there's better and there's 'I'm ready to take on the world'. I was just better. When Chelsea brought my coffee, putting it down on the edge of the large, antique oak desk, I thanked her. Then she handed me some phone messages, for which I—reluctantly—thanked her again.

"Not to worry, Walt, there's nothing earth-shattering in them. A couple of people interested in hiring you, and Mr Carmichael wanting to know when he'll get his report," she told me before going back to the waiting area.

Carmichael was the man whose building I'd been staking out before my unfortunate encounter with the goons. So I figured I'd better let him know that, so far, I had no new information for him.  Just as I was about to pick up the phone to do so, Chelsea called out, "Ricky's on line one."  

"Morning, lover," Ricky said the moment I answered.

Okay, before your eyebrows hit the ceiling, yeah, we're lovers. Have been for the past several years. Just because I'm a rough, tough PI doesn't mean I have to follow all the stereotypes. I never spent my time hitting up nubile young women in bars after I'd finished work for the day. And the same goes for nubile young men—presuming you can use that word in relation to the males of the species.

I met Ricky Hayes when he hired me to help prove he was not the one embezzling funds from the firm where he worked as an accountant. We put our heads together, came up with a plan and found the real crook. In the process we discovered we had more in common than just keeping him out of prison. Now he's my accountant—on a very personal level.

"Morning, babe," I replied, smiling. Even on the worst of days, all it took was talking to him to make things better. Sappy? Yeah. True. You better believe it.

"Missed you last night," he told me. "How did the stake-out go? Boring as usual?"

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 2

"Well?" Officer Parker asked.

"I'm okay, all things considered."

"Uh-huh. Your funeral if you're wrong. Who were those men and what did they want so badly they attacked you?"

"No clue on both questions. They did mention a name. Mr Caiazzo. Seems I have something he wants."

"Caiazzo? Owns the bookstore at Fifth and Main?"

"You're asking me? I have no idea."

"If it is, you have a problem. The store's rumored to be a front for his other business."

"Let me guess. With a name like Caiazzo he's into drugs or gambling or guns, and probably connected."

Officer Parker chuckled dryly. "Now that's being prejudicial. He's not into any of those and he's not Mafia. Although we haven't been able to prove it, we're very certain he runs a sophisticated theft ring."

I leaned against the alley wall as I thought about that—trying to appear casual. My body was not happy that I wasn't at home, lying down with a glass of scotch in one hand after popping a few aspirin to kill the pain.

"So," I finally said, "the thing he thinks someone gave me probably relates to that. Be nice if the goons had been a bit more forthcoming on exactly what it is."

Just then his partner hollered that they had a call on a disturbance at a bar a couple of blocks away. Officer Parker headed back to the car but not before he warned me to be careful. "Get back on the street and call a cab. You're in no shape to drive."

I did as he suggested. Well part one. No way was I cabbing it home, not matter how bad I felt. Besides which, I wanted to see if my attackers showed their ugly faces again. They obviously—okay make that presumably—knew who I was. I seriously doubted it was a case of mistaken identity. I'm pretty recognizable due to the scar that runs from my left eyebrow down to my cheekbone. A memento of a misspent youth. 

FYI, my name's Walt Murphy and as I said, I'm a PI. Run my own business with the help of my gorgeous girl-Friday. Okay, so she's not gorgeous. That only happens in movies. But she's not bad on the eyes and she knows what she's doing, which is what counts. I've got a decent reputation for getting the job done, whether it's surveillance like I was doing tonight, doing background checks, locating missing people, etc, etc.

So as I was saying, I followed Officer Parker's suggestion and got out of the alley. I would have gone back to what I'd been doing, while keeping my eyes open for the goon squad in the process, but my body was yelling 'Scotch and aspirin' and I'm not one to ignore such orders. So, cautiously and moving real slow—because fast was not an alternative at that point—I made it back to my car. No sign of my unfriendly inquisitors, but I decided until I found out what was going on I wasn't leaving the house again unless I was carrying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 1

"Fuck you." Spitting out blood, I glared at my assailants, or at least the two I could see.

The scrawny one backhanded me again and there wasn't a damned thing I could do about it. My arms were twisted behind my back by the biggest bruiser this side of the WWF. I'm no small fry at six-two and two-twenty but he made me look… well small.

"Mr Caiazzo is very interested in locating the property. Word has it you know where it is," my third assailant said, a grim smile on his lips.

"Yeah? Well since you haven't told me what this 'property' is, I'm afraid I can't help you." That earned me a punch to the gut.

They'd caught me when I stepped into an alley to take a piss. Dumb of me? Yeah. But a guy's gotta so what a guy's gotta do. I'd been staking out a business, trying to discover which of the owner's employees had been doing a little midnight pilfering of small electronics. Nature called. I answered. The goons caught me with my pants down. Okay, not literally but…

"The item was given to you by Bailey for safe keeping," number three barked out.

"Name doesn't ring any bells." That was the truth. I'd never to the best of my recollection met a Mr Bailey. To say the least of him—or anyone else—giving me something to safeguard.

Things were on their way to getting a lot worse, starting with the bruiser pulling my arms up so hard I thought they'd pop out of their sockets. Then the alley lit up as a patrol car pulled into it, spotlight glaring on the four of us.

The bruiser dropped me, the scrawny one landed a kick to my ribs, and the one who'd been asking the questions said, laughing maliciously, "We'll be in touch." Then they took off as if the hounds of hell, or to be more accurate, the cops were after them.

In point of fact, the cops stayed where they were. One officer got out, coming to kneel by me.

"Not again, Walt," he muttered.

"Hey, Officer Parker," I managed to reply, trying not to move too fast as I sat up. "What do you mean, again? It's been eight months since someone decided to use me as a punching bag."

"Seven," he said with a small grin. "But who's counting? Do you want a ride to the hospital or are you going to tough it out?" Parker and I had been friends of a sort for a long time, despite what some would call our conflicting occupations. He's a cop, obviously. I'm a private investigator. He's helped me out a time or three and vice versa.

"Help me up and I'll let you know," I replied.

He did and I discovered a lot of aches and pains I hadn't had fifteen minutes ago. But I figured I'd live. The ribs hurt but I knew from past experience they were only bruised. My gut? I wouldn't be doing sit-ups any time soon but I'd survive.