Friday, July 31, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 41

"Can we say the necklace is a non-issue at this point?"

"No. If it's a stolen item it has to be returned to the original owner." Tom looked at me, frowning. "What have you left out of the story? And don't lie to me."

I grimaced. "If I tell you…"

"If you don't, I'm out of here. I'll have people at the Royal Oaks in the morning and we'll move in and arrest everyone for dealing in stolen goods. That includes you."

I gave that some serious thought. "I'll tell you, but no names."

His eyebrows rose, then he agreed, adding, "For now."

I nodded. "All right. I know someone who is going to retrieve the book from Eber. The trade-off is this person gets the necklace in exchange."

"I don't like it," Tom said tightly.

"That's the way it is. The book is too valuable. Much more so than the necklace."

"You trust this person to actually do the trade?"

"Yeah, I do."


I shrugged. "Just a feeling. Sure, he could keep the book, but for some reason he seems to want the necklace and he can't get to it—given where it is. I wonder…" I had a thought. Off the wall, but.

"Go on."

"Maybe what Eber told Williams was the truth. The necklace really does belong to him. But… he needed more money than he could get by selling it so he comes up with a way to use it to get his hands on something much more valuable."

"Could be," Tom said thoughtfully. "Leave the necklace with Philips, steal the book, and threaten to call us if Philips reports the theft. Except… he realizes he's missing one important thing—the papers on the book. He can't sell it without them."

"He should have stuck with selling the necklace for what he could get. Now he's in trouble up to his pearly-whites."

"Presuming I can get enough information to prove he's behind the theft," Tom replied. "With your person relieving him of the book, the only way we'll have proof is if Eber actually shows up for the exchange in person—and if you and Philips can get him to say something that implicates him in the crime."

"We might," I said pensively, "be able to force the issue. When he calls Philips tomorrow with the number of the apartment he's using for the exchange then… Yeah, Philips tells him no exchange unless he shows up in person and he hints broadly that he's real sure he knows who Eber is, so he'll know if he sends a ringer."

"That could work. Let's hope Eber doesn't realize the book is gone."

"I think my… friend… knows what he's doing so that shouldn't be a problem."

"You better hope so. Okay, against my better judgment I'll help you with this. It'll take some planning. We have to figure Eber's going to have someone on Philips from the moment he leaves his home tomorrow morning. The same with you since you've been in on this from the beginning."

"If you can give me another hour of your time, I'll call Philips and get him over here. That way the three of us can put together something that'll work."

"Do it." He smiled sourly. "It's not like I didn't have anything else planned for my day off."

I called.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 40

There was one final item on my to-do list now. How to handle the meeting with Eber tomorrow. I had an idea. One that was only marginally less crazy than my going to Caiazzo for help. The question was, would Detective Tom Sharp go for it. Only one way to find out, presuming I could get in touch with him.

I called the precinct and found out—not unexpectedly—that he was off today. It took a lot of fast talking but I eventually convinced the dispatcher to get in touch with him and give him a message.

Now it was wait and hope he returned my call. I tried to kill the time by working on background checks again for my client, but found I was too distracted to pay attention to what I was doing.

Half an hour later my phone finally rang.

"This better be damned important," Tom said as soon as I answered.

"I could use your help, in an official capacity, to catch a thief and a blackmailer."

"Presumably that's one person."

"Huh? Oh, Yeah."

"Okay, tell me what's going on. No promises I can help."

"I know." Once again I laid out the basics of what was happening, leaving Caiazzo out of the picture. By now I could have told the story in my sleep. 

All he said when I finished was, "Where are you?" I told him and he said he'd be over in fifteen minutes. He made it in fourteen.

Once we were settled in my office he asked, "Why didn't you tell me any of this when you wanted to know about Williams?"

"At that point I had no idea who was behind everything. I wasn't even certain Williams was still alive."

He nodded. "Given what you told me, I can see why. Still, you should have come to me a lot sooner."

"Yeah. Sorry." I smiled placatingly. "At least I finally have. Now I need your help so you can arrest Eber."

"You know there's a good chance he won't be at the exchange in person."

"Yeah. I'd say that's fifty/fifty. He needs to know that the provenance papers are the real ones. That says he will be there to be certain Philips doesn't try to pull a fast one. On the other hand he's not stupid. He might think we'll try something to trap him, in which case he'll send an agent."

"Yep. When and where is the exchange taking place?"

"Ten tomorrow morning at River Oaks."

"Apartment number?"

"Hell. Hang on. Philips never said." I called him and found out that he didn't know. "In that case," I told him, "I suspect you'll get a call to tell you, after you've been to the bank. He doesn't want us to be able to bug the room or what have you."

"I heard," Tom said after I hung up. "I'm sure you're right. That won't stop us from wiring Philips."

"And me. I plan on being there too, as his bodyguard. That is why he hired me in the first place."

"Because of the necklace?" he asked. I nodded. Then he said, "About that, where is it now? At the bank with the papers?"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 39

The address Caiazzo had written on the business card belonged to a small building in the warehouse district of the city. That didn't mean it was rundown. Far from it. It housed an Italian restaurant on the ground floor—one I'd heard of. It was supposed to have very good food. From what I could tell at first glance, I figured the two upper stories probably held small businesses.  

When I entered the restaurant the host immediately greeted me, saying my table was ready. Caiazzo must have described me to him, or at least my clothes. I was decided underdressed for this place. I followed him to a room in the back of the restaurant that held one, lone table. Two men sat at it. They stood when I entered and I heard the host leave, closing the door as he did.

"If you don't mind," one man said politely. I knew what he wanted and spread my arms so he could search me. He even ran a scanner over me, checking for bugs. When he finished he pointed to a chair at the table. I sat—waiting.

Caiazzo came in two minutes later, joining me at the table while the men took positions on either side of the door.

"I take it the rumors about you are correct," I said by way of opening the conversation.

"Let's just say I have a knack for acquiring goods in which other people are interested."

"That works." I rested my elbows on the table, my chin on my folded hands. I didn't feel as casual as that might indicate but it was part of the game that needed to be played out. "If I wanted the book I told you about, you might be able to get it for me?"

"Possibly. For a price."

Now came the cost and I wondered if Philips would be willing, or even able, to pay it. "How much?"

"No money. Just the necklace."

I'll admit that surprised me. He was offering a quid pro quo, the necklace for the book, even though the book was worth twice as much. In this case however, unlike with Eber, there was no threat attached. "May I make a call?"

He nodded, handing me his phone. Not that I didn't have one of my own, but it was turned off as a precaution and I got that he knew his was safe. Mine might not be. I called Philips. He answered hesitantly. Unsurprising since I'm sure Caiazzo's information was blocked.

"It's me. Walt."

"Oh. And?"

"I have a friend who says he can get the item you're interested in but he requires the other item in exchange for his services."

Thankfully Philips was smart enough to get what I was hinting at without saying anything to give it away. "You know I can't get the item he wants until tomorrow morning."

"Understood. Hang on a minute." I covered the phone to tell Caiazzo, "The necklace is in his safety deposit box. He can't get to it until the bank opens tomorrow."

"Tell him I'll have someone meet him there. If he has the necklace, and I'm certain you wouldn't be lying to me about it, we'll do a straight across trade and then, if he's smart, he'll leave the book there, where it's safe."

I relayed what Caiazzo had said. Philips was more than happy to give his permission to proceed.

"It's a go," I told Caiazzo, handing back his phone.

"Excellent." He beckoned to one of the men and when he came over, Caiazzo gave him—whispering—what I presumed were probably instructions on who should take care of obtaining the book from Eber. After the man left the room, my thought was confirmed.

"Two of my people will deal with the acquisition once I've spoken with them in person."

That was obviously my cue to leave, since I was certain he didn't want me to know who they were. I stood, thanked him, and asked when I could expect to hear from him. He suggested, chuckling, that I might want to give him my number so that he could call, which I did.

Then I left, praying his people actually could get their hands on the book. Otherwise I was back to square one.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 38

"If Mr Philips does what Eber wants, Eber's home free," I said. "He'll have legal, and I'm using the term very loosely, possession of the Hammett and there's nothing Phillips can do about it."

"Other than reporting the theft to the police."

"At which point, Eber tells the cops about the necklace."

"How would he explain…?" Caiazzo paused, looking thoughtful, then nodded. "All he has to say to them is, this Ms Dixon told him her boyfriend had stolen it from…whomever…and taken it to Mr Philips. Probably because Philips was his…his fence."

"Something like that."

"Eber could claim when he found that out, he went to Philips with the information and Philips gave him the book to keep him from going to the police."

"I hadn't gotten that far in my thinking, but I suspect you're right. It sounds like something Eber would come up with."

Caiazzo leaned back in his chair, looking hard at me. "All of this is very interesting, not to say appalling, but why come to me?"

"Because if Eber were to…misplace…the book, and the necklace turned up somewhere only he has access to…" I paused, wondering how he'd take what I was inferring without my coming right out and saying it.

Caiazzo cocked his head, staring at me. "Interesting plan. That still begs the question. Why come to me?"

"Okay, cards on the table. If I'm wrong, feel free to say so."

He broke in, smiled tightly. "I suspect you're going to mention the malicious rumors going around in certain quarters that I have a"—he spread his hands—"very profitable sideline."

"I was."

"Even if they were true, which of course I'd never admit to, why would I help you out?"

I smiled. "From the goodness of your heart?"

He laughed heartily. "I have a heart?"

Sobering, I replied, "I hope so."

"Mr Murphy, you are presuming too much. I feel sorry for Mr Philips. I understand that he's in an untenable position and stands to lose a great deal. But there is nothing I can do to help you."

"Well, it was worth a try. Sorry for taking up your time." Standing, I left it at that. He held up one hand to stop me then took a business card from the holder on his desk. Turning it over, he wrote something on the back before handing it to me. There was an address and a time—one pm. I nodded.

"It was nice to make your acquaintance," Caiazzo said, ending our meeting.

"Yours as well," I replied and left.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Out today! 'You Do What You Have to Do'

You Do What You Have to Do

When a one-night stand turns bad and someone shoots the other man involved, Micky Payne ends up with the man's wallet--a wallet two prostitution gangs want to get their hands on.
Robin Sutton comes to the rescue, saving Micky from being captured after Micky has gone into hiding. Robin--working for a private group bent on stopping criminals--is undercover in one of the gangs as the leader's boy-toy. He offers Micky a safe place to hide out--Robin's well-secured home.
Soon they team up to destroy the two gangs. In the process, Micky learns Robin's mantra--You do what you have to--is indeed true if they are going to survive...and learn to love each other in the process.


Excerpt - Rated R

"Very nice," the man--he'd told Micky his name was John--said, his gaze raking over Micky's naked body. John was sprawled on the bed, his cock standing at attention as if waiting to be worshiped.

Micky was not at all averse to doing just that, so he crawled onto the bed, ending up between John's legs. "Condom?" Micky asked. Seconds later, John handed him one. Micky sheathed John's impressive cock before taking it into his mouth. He'd been told by several men he was very good at giving head and set out to prove it--sucking, licking and swallowing until John was moaning deeply and thrusting, fucking Micky's mouth. 

Micky pulled away finally, not wanting things to end too quickly. After all, he had needs of his own. He wanted John screwing him until they both came. 

John obviously got the message. He sat up, taking a container of lube from the nightstand drawer. "On your knees, hands on the headboard," he ordered. 

Micky quickly complied, glancing over his shoulder to watch John lube three fingers and his sheathed cock. When John pushed one finger through Micky's tight ring of muscle, Micky winced at the brief, sharp ache. Then John's finger found Micky's gland and all was forgiven as John stroked it, flooding Micky with waves of need. Even the intrusion of a second then a third finger, stretching his entrance painfully, didn't override the pleasure John was engendering in him.

Too soon, in Micky's estimation, John removed his fingers. Gripping Micky's hips, he pushed his thick cock into Micky's channel. Micky yelped and for a second tried to pull away from the intrusion.

"Easy now," John murmured, rubbing Micky's back until he relaxed. Then John thrust in farther, inch by inch, obviously not wanting to hurt Micky more than was necessary. Soon John's cock was fully engulfed.

Micky squeezed his eyes shut, riding the pain, waiting for the pleasure. That came soon enough as John began to fuck him. Each thrust was harder and faster, but the man obviously knew what he was doing, being certain to brush over Micky's gland every time. Soon Micky was pushing back, taking John's cock in all the way. They found their rhythm and pleasure became ecstasy. At least for Micky, and from the groans he heard, he presumed for John as well.

Many minutes later, despite his best efforts to keep things going, Micky's balls tightened, his channel clenched and he came, spewing cum across the sheets while he shouted in pure delight as his orgasm flooded through him. He was only aware that John had come soon afterward when the man collapsed across Micky's back, sending them both prone onto the bed.

"Not bad. Not bad at all," John said a bit later, pulling out. He ruffled Micky's hair then got up, going into the bathroom. Micky heard water running and soon John was back, saying, as he picked up his jeans, "Your turn. There's a clean washcloth and towel on the rack by the sink."

Micky nodded, easing off the sticky sheets, realizing his chest was equally as gummy. He went into the bathroom, closing the door, and took his time washing up and taking a leak. He was about to return to the bedroom when he thought he heard a door open. He frowned, wondering if John had forgotten to tell him something. Like he had a housemate--or live-in lover.

This could be real awkward if that's the case.

Micky waited, hoping whoever was there would leave. Then there were two sharp reports. At first Micky thought it was a car backfiring. For a moment there was silence, then a door slammed, followed quickly by a groan and the sound--if Micky didn't miss his guess--of a window opening. Cautiously he opened the bathroom door, wondering what was going on.

It took him only a second to realize it hadn't been backfires that he'd heard. There was a large, reddish stain on the bed sheets and a trail of what he knew had to be blood leading to the window. The sill was bloody, and when Micky crept over and peered out, he saw more blood on the ground beneath him, but no sign of John.

Shaking like a leaf, Micky backed away, turning to look at the closed bedroom door. What if the guy comes back? What if he knew I was here and comes back to shoot me as well? No. If he'd known, he'd have tried to kill me then and there. Right?

Convincing himself that was true, Micky quickly gathered up his clothes and began to dress. As he did, he noticed something lying on the floor just under the armchair where John's clothes had ended up when he'd undressed, less than an hour earlier. Now, all that was on the chair was a shirt. John's shoes were still next to the dresser where he'd kicked them off. More curious than frightened at the moment, Micky picked up the object. It was a wallet. John's wallet, he was certain. He opened it and stared at the driver's license behind the plastic window. The face was John's. The name wasn't.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 37

Endless Reads was busy. Not terribly surprising on a Sunday I figured. I knew Caiazzo was there because I'd called first. I hadn't spoken to him personally but one of the clerks said he always came in on the weekends. "He's that kind of boss. Hands-on," were the clerk's exact words.

There was an information desk on the ground floor. I waited until the woman manning it finished with a customer then asked her where I could find Caiazzo. She said she didn't know for certain but probably in his office or… She shrugged.

Big help. I headed up to the third floor and the employees' area I'd seen on my last visit. Ignoring the 'Employees Only' sign on the door, I went in. A man—obviously on his break since he was at a table eating a sandwich while he read—asked if he could help me. I told him I had an appointment with Caiazzo and a clerk downstairs had sent me up here. A lie, but he didn't know that. He pointed to a door at the rear of the room and went back to his book.

When I knocked, someone called out "It's open" so I went in.

I recognized Caiazzo, although his hair was a little grayer than it had been in the picture I'd seen of him. He obviously had no clue who I was and his look said as much.

"Can I help you?" he asked, viewing me warily. Given that I was still wearing the jeans and T-shirt I'd had on for my visit to Williams I wasn't too surprised at that.

"Perhaps." I introduced myself. "I have a problem."

"With an order or one of my people?"

"No. May I?" I nodded to the chair by his desk.

"Be my guest." I had the feeling he didn't really mean it, but I sat anyway. "Now tell me what your problem is," he said when I had.

"I'm looking for a book."

"Did you check at one of the information desks downstairs? I'm sure they could have helped you."

"It's a very rare book. One that someone told me you were interested in—although I've since found out they were lying."

That piqued his interest, as I'd meant it to. "Explain, please."

So I did, starting with the first attack and the goons dropping his name, and then going on from there. It was the CliffsNotes version but it covered the major details. At one point he asked me to describe the necklace. By the time I finished he was scowling angrily.

"I know who Mr Eber is," he said tightly. It was apparent he had no fond feelings for the man. "I can't say I'm surprised he wanted to get his hands on the Hammett. He's an avid collector. But to go to such extremes… Why didn't he just make a damned offer for it?"

"It's a bit expensive," I pointed out dryly.

"Not for a book like that. Still”—he paused, his lips quirking up in a malicious grin—”I have heard he's been having cash-flow problems." He tapped a finger on the desk then asked, "Why come to me with this? Other than that you thought for a while I was behind what's going on."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 36

Williams frowned. "I met a woman at a bar, little over a week ago. She called herself Belle, no last name. Slender. Long blonde hair."

"Probably the same woman," I replied. "And?"

"And I haven't seen her since. What did she want you to do?"

"Find you. She claimed she was your girlfriend."

"Well she's not. Like I said, I only met her once. That's it." He smiled slightly. "We didn't even go home together. Why would she want you to find me? I haven't been hiding. Running scared, yeah, but not hiding."

"Right now, I have my suspicions why she came to me, but that's neither here nor there. I saw her later at an art gallery owned by one James Eber." I watched his face when I said Eber's name. I knew he knew the man, but I wanted to see if he'd admit it, or if his expression would give away that it was Eber who was behind everything that had happened.

"She knows Mr Eber?" His shock wasn't feigned as far as I could tell.

"Looks like. She and he were having a very serious discussion from what little I saw. Then she left. Fast."

"So he set her on me," Williams spat out.

"From where I'm sitting, I'd say that a given. Did she have anything to do with your deciding to help Mr Eber with the necklace?"

"No," he replied before he realized what he'd said. "Okay, now you know. Please don't…" He looked despairingly at me.

"I won't let him know you said anything. All I wanted from you was verification I'm on the right track."

"Well you got that, didn't you? Are you going to stop whatever he's doing?"

"I'm going to do my damnedest. As for you…" I thought about it for a minute. "Let me make a quick phone call. I think I can find a safe place for you to stay if you're willing to pack up and come with me."

"You think I need one?" he replied in dismay.

"Let's just say there's no sense in taking chances. Go pack."

He nodded, hurrying away, with a swift glance over his shoulder before he went into what I presume was his bedroom. I called a friend, another PI, who I hoped would be willing to put Williams up for a couple of days. We did this for each other on occasion when the situation warranted. He was agreeable, so I told him we'd be there within the hour.

We actually made it in thirty-five minutes, despite my taking evasive moves to be certain we weren't being followed. I introduced Williams to Carl Daniels and then took off. My next stop—the office.

The first thing I did when I got there was call Philips to let him know that Williams had confirmed he had been working for Eber.

"And without my beating him up," I added with a small laugh.

"Well I should hope not," Philips responded, chuckling. "Have you come up with a plan for tomorrow?"

"Nope. When I do you'll be the first to know." We left it at that and hung up.

Now all I had to do was actually devise said plan. Knowing for sure it was Eber behind everything helped, but it didn't put me any closer to getting the book back from him.

I paced the office, stopped to look out the window, paced again. If I knew where he had the book… Yeah, like I had the skills to steal it back even if I did.

Then it hit me. It was a wild idea. So off the wall I wondered if this whole case had driven me around the bend. Still…

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 35

Sunday began as every Sunday should, with Ricky and me making love—followed by a good breakfast. Should being the operative word there. We do try but sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe there really is something to be said for his moving into my place, safety issues or not. Oh well, now was not the time for me to be debating that with myself. I had a man to chase down. I dropped Ricky off at his place, kissed him heartily, and headed to the last known address for Hugh Williams.

It turned out to be a very small house on a street filled with very small houses. Probably, I figured, left over from the building boom after World War Two. Yeah, they were that old. His place was well kept up, the lawn mowed, the paint intact. Parking on the street, I studied the windows, looking for any signs of life. I saw movement, a shadow briefly crossing the closed shades, got out of the car, walked up to the front door and knocked. Moments later the door opened. A man I recognized as Williams stood there, looking questioningly at me.

"I'm here to sell you an insurance policy," I said.

"On a Sunday morning?" Then he apparently took in that I was wearing jeans and a tight T-shirt that accented my muscles. Backing away, he tried to shut the door. I put my size twelve, booted foot out to stop him.

"Yeah, on a Sunday. I think you might be interested in it. You talk to me and I'll insure that you won't be busted for the theft of a certain valuable necklace."

He visibly paled. "I don't know what you're talking about," he blustered.

"Yeah you do, Mr Williams." I wrapped my hand around the edge of the door. "Now we can talk here, or you can invite me in and we can do it more civilly."

"Inside," he replied in a dispirited tone of voice.

I followed him into a decently furnished living room, taking a seat on the sofa. He settled on the armchair opposite me, perching on the edge, his hands tightly gripped together as he stared at me.

"Now as I was saying, I want to discuss the necklace and why you left it with Mr Philips. Or, more to the point, who hired you to do that."

"I wasn't hired, I was…" He snapped his mouth closed.

"Inveigled into doing it? Are you the one who stole it in the first place?"

"No!" He shook his head wildly. "I… he…"

"Yes?" I said when he stopped talking.

"He said it had belonged to his grandmother and he needed money but he didn't want anyone to know because it could be bad for his business so he told me to take it to Things Past and sell it, but the man said I needed provenance papers and… and…" He wound down at that point.

"You left it with him. Was that what you were told to do?"

Williams nodded miserably. "He… the man who sent me… said that would happen, until the guy at the antiques store could have it appraised."

"Who was this man?"

"I can't tell you. He… something went wrong I guess. He said if I told anyone, then he'd say I stole the necklace. I have a record and…" He spread his hands.

"You were caught between a rock and a hard place."

"Yeah." He sighed deeply. "It didn't take me long to figure out something wasn't right when the man told me he didn't have the papers the guy at the store…umm…"

"Mr Philips," I put in.

"Yeah him. Philips. Anyway, when Mr… when the man said he didn't have the papers Philips asked for, I knew I'd been set up and I told him I wanted out. He just laughed. I've been waiting for… for someone like you to come after me. Someone who worked for Philips. Once he figured out I wasn't bringing back the papers."

I nodded. "Okay, next question. Who's Ms Dixon?"


"Annabelle Dixon, or as she called herself when she hired me, Anna Bell."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 34

Philips bristled, then smiled. "Okay, I'll admit that was a bit much. But still, I'd rather not think of you physically hurting someone to get information."

"I never do. It's not my thing. As Ricky pointed out, I'm intimidating and I use that, but only as a threat, nothing more."

"Good." Philips checked the time and asked, "Is there anything more we need to talk about?"

"Only how we're going to handle the exchange. Of course it won't really be an exchange, since he's asked for the papers, meaning he has no intention of giving back the book. They, either Eber or Caiazzo, know I'm working for you. So I'll come with you to the meeting. It wouldn't surprise me if at least one of the goons will be with the guy, whether it's Eber, Caiazzo, or an agent."

"Do you really think it will be an agent or, what did you call it, a ringer?"

"I think it's possible. Whichever man is behind this, I'm sure he'd rather not be directly associated with what's tantamount to grand theft and blackmail. On the other hand, he might want to be there in person to be certain you bring the real provenance papers. Either man would know what he's looking at. An agent might not, if he's just an employee standing in for his boss."

"So I give him the papers and the necklace and that's it." Phillips said angrily. "Win-win for him and I'm left with nothing."

"No. One way or another we're going to stop him. I just have to figure out how. The first step to doing that is, as I said, having a nice long chat with Williams. Luckily, tomorrow's Sunday so he should be at home if I get there early enough."

"You'll call me as soon as you have?"

"Of course. What I find out will determine what happens next."

"All right. I really should get home now. My wife knows I'll be late but…"

Ricky chuckled. "There's 'late', and there's so late she starts worrying." He shot me a look when he said that—which I ignored.

Philips thanked Ricky for dinner then headed for the door. I wondered how long it would take him to realize his car was still in the restaurant parking lot. It took all of two seconds. He asked, a bit sheepishly, if I'd mind driving him there. I told him "Not at all," and promised Ricky I'd be back soon.

Ricky insisted on coming along. "We should stop at your place, to see if it's been searched too," he said by way of explanation.

He had a good point. I hadn't actually been home since—hell—since before I'd been attacked the second time. 

We dropped Philips off, but not until I'd driven around the block a couple of times to be certain no one was watching his car. From there, Ricky and I went on to my house. There was no sign anyone had been inside, although I was well aware a good B&E guy wouldn't leave any evidence unless, as with my office, he wanted me to know he'd been there.

When we finished going through the house, the stress I'd been under for the last couple of days finally hit full force. The wound in my arm began to ache, something I realized it had been doing for the last couple of hours, although I'd managed to ignore it. Ricky, being the loving, caring man that he is, figured out what was happening and told me in no uncertain terms I was to go to bed.

"Here, not at my place," he said as an apparent afterthought. "You don't need to aggravate your arm any more than you have already by driving me home."

I managed a smile. "Meaning you're staying here?"

He chuckled. "That would be the logical conclusion. So, to bed with you."

I did as he ordered after popping three ibuprofen, hoping that they'd ease the pain and let me sleep. They helped. His being in bed with me, his arms wrapped comfortingly around me, finished the job.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 33

Philips looked over my shoulder and commented, "He doesn't look the least bit familiar."

"To me either," I told him. "Knowing what the two of them look like will, however, let us know if a ringer is sent to make the exchange."

"If that happens," Ricky said, "you'll still be in the dark about which one's behind what's going on."

"I know. Guess I'll have to follow them when they leave."

"They'll be expecting that."

I smirked. "And I always like to live up to people's expectations."

"Walt," Ricky grumbled, "this is not a laughing matter."

"I know." I shut down the computer then leaned back, looking at Philips and Ricky. "I have a little over twenty-four hours to narrow it down to one of them. The question is how. If it's Eber, and at the moment I think he's the more logical candidate since both Williams and Ms Dixon are connected to him”—I paused as a plan slowly formed in my head.

"What?" Ricky asked when I didn't continue.

"If it is him, that means Williams is alive and kicking. I just have to do what Ms Dixon hired me for. Find him. And then get him to admit Eber had him deliver the necklace." I booted up the computer again and went online to a website I often used when searching for missing persons. It had a sophisticated search engine that allowed me to input a name and presumed location and come up with any felons matching that. From there I could narrow it down, since I knew Williams criminal history.

Ricky leaned over my shoulder, watching. "I wonder if you'd find me in there."

I looked up at him, shaking my head. "You were only a suspect in the embezzlement. That doesn't rate you a listing."

"Whew," he replied in relief.

The results came up just then. There were two Hugh Williams with felony convictions in the city. That surprised me slightly since the name wasn't exactly common. It was easy to narrow it down to which one I wanted however since Williams number two had been convicted of grand theft auto.

My Hugh Williams was listed at an address in one of the lower middle-class areas of the city. It also gave his place of employment. Ms Dixon had lied about that, unsurprisingly. Williams worked for a roofing company. A bit of a comedown from what he'd done prior to his arrest and conviction.

I studied the mug shot that accompanied his information. It might or might not have been the same guy in the blurry picture Ms Dixon had shown me. So I asked Philips if it was of the man who'd given him the necklace.

He studied it for a minute and nodded. "Other than the hair. His was darker. But everything else matches, including the ears." 

"Good. I think I'll pay Mr Williams a visit tomorrow morning," I said.

"What if he denies everything?" Philips asked.

"He probably will, but I'm good at reading people. In my business I have to be. Unless he's a consummate liar I'll pick up on things and play it from there."

"Walt does have the intimidation factor going for him," Ricky said, chuckling. "Not that he'd strong-arm Williams," he quickly added when Philips frowned.

"I would hope not." Philips looked hard at me. "You, of all people, should know what that's like and avoid it."

"Yes, daddy."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 32

"Walt," Ricky said, "where do you think the necklace comes into this?"

"If I had to guess, I'd say it was the bait. Give it to Bailey, without the provenance papers, knowing he'd probably do exactly what he did, put it away until Mr Williams returned with them."

"Which wasn't happening because he was just the… messenger so to speak," Ricky said.

"Bingo. And"—I drummed my fingers on the arm of the sofa—"Yeah. Best guess is he's working for Eber since they know each other, and he owed Eber for standing up for him in court."

"Where does Ms Dixon fit in? Other than that she claims she's William's girlfriend."

"She was probably casing out my office and what sort of security I have. Whichever man it is who wants the book, he had to be certain I wasn't holding the necklace for Bailey. He couldn't use it to blackmail him into giving up the provenance papers for the book if he didn't have it in the first place."

"Okay, that makes sense. But why steal the book when they couldn't… Oh."

"Yeah. Bailey, how often do you actually check the books you keep in that bookcase?"

"To be honest, only when I'm looking for a specific one to show a potential buyer," Philips said.

"So if the Hammett was missing, you might not notice, if the thief made certain not to leave an empty space."

"Probably not. What are you thinking?"

"A competent thief could disarm the security on the bookcase and get into it fairly easily, given a bit of time. You said the office is never locked during business hours. The same scenario we talked about so your office could be bugged holds true for stealing the book. Keep you busy helping a someone, while his, or her, partner goes into your office and steals the book. Unfortunately for them, you don't keep the provenance papers with the books." 

"Good God, no. That would really be asking for trouble," Philips said adamantly.

"Exactly. The thief takes the book back to his boss, who realizes it does him no good without the papers. So he comes up with a plan to get them. He sends Williams to you with the necklace, knowing he can then blackmail you to get the papers, because the necklace is stolen property. But he also decides it's worth finding out if the papers are in the safe so he sets up the break-in.' 

"Covering all bases," Ricky said, "and if he gets lucky and they are in the safe then he's home free and there's no chance someone will discover he's behind the theft of the book."

"Yep. But he didn't get lucky, so he carries through with his original plan."

"That scenario works for either suspect, Eber or Caiazzo."

"It does. We won't know for certain which one it is until the exchange takes place."

"What if the man sends someone else instead of coming himself?" Philips asked.

"I know what Eber looks like," I replied. "Caiazzo, however…" I went over to Ricky's computer, which was sitting on the desk in a corner of the living room. An online search for Caiazzo's name brought up several pages of information, mostly about his bookstore. There were only a few pictures of him. Most of them were candid photos from social events with the names of the people listed below them. In the majority of them he was in profile or half-turned away from the camera, talking to someone. I finally found a publicity photo from the opening of his bookstore after it had moved from its original location five years ago. It showed a man in his early fifties with dark hair, graying at the temples, and regular if not particularly handsome features. Pretty much an ordinary business man, in a suit and tie. Judging from the people standing around him, he was of average height.