Saturday, October 31, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 38

"Hey, Ricky. Did you decide to quit your job and join the firm?" Chelsea asked with a grin when he and I walked into the waiting room of my 'palatial'—yeah sarcasm there—office suite.

"I wish," he replied. "Or not. I don't think I'm cut out for the danger involved."

She looked at both of us, one eyebrow arched. "Now what happened?"

Ricky told her while I picked up the phone messages from the corner of her desk and went into my office. There were only two. One from a regular client, the other—I sighed—from Detective Sharp. I had the distinct feeling he knew what happened last night and was planning on reading me the riot act.

I was in the middle of calling the client when Ricky came in, taking the chair by my desk. When I finished the call, he asked, "So who have you narrowed it down to?"

Since that could only mean one thing, I told him, "Carlo Donati, Frank Milano, or Ben, whose real name we don't know."

"Can you find out where Donati and Milano were last night?"

"I can call and ask, but it doesn't mean they'd tell me the truth, if it's one of them."

Ricky nodded. "Wouldn't they have to be staying somewhere in the city? It's a hell of a long ride back and forth every day for either of them, and they've—well one of them—has delivered a message three days in a row. If, of course, it wasn't a real dumb burglar last night."

"Having second thoughts about that?"

"Not really, I guess. It was too coincidental. But the cops will probably figure it was, when they stop to think about it."

"Somehow I doubt that. Detective Sharp wants me to call him."

"Oh boy."

"Yeah. Anyway, what you said makes sense, if it is one of those two. Even for Ben, if I'm right about his living close to his father. But if he's here in town, then it would be easy for him to be engineering this."

Ricky nodded. "You think he is close by?"

"I think—and it's just a feeling I got from Carlo Donati when I asked him whether his son lived around here—that he does. He hesitated before replying."

"So 'near' could mean in Carlo's town, or at least in this part of the country."

"Yeah but I'm thinking it's here. Why? No real reason, just a feeling from the way Carlo reacted to the question."

"Then he might suspect Ben killed her?"

"That, or he's so used to keeping Ben's whereabouts secret, that it's instinct to deny he's anywhere within a thousand miles of the city."

"Damn, this is so convoluted."

I chuckled. "No kidding."

"So what now?"

"I should call Sharp but I'd rather put it off for the time being. So first, I need to go have a heart-to-heart with the client I was doing the stakeout for last night. Then, I take you out to a place I know and teach you the rudiments of shooting and how to defend yourself."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 37

Lying again, but only by omission, I told the officer, "I think it has to do with a case I'm working on." I figured saying which case wouldn't be my brightest idea since Detective Sharp had warned me off of it.

"Well go in tomorrow morning and fill out a report. That way everything's on the record, just in case."

"In case the next time he does more than threaten? Yeah, probably a good idea."

With nothing much else to say—or do because the perp wouldn't have been stupid enough to leave fingerprints on the window—one of the officer's gave Ricky his card, telling him to call if he thought of anything else, and then they left.

As soon as they were gone, Ricky dropped down on the sofa, burying his face in his hands. "I was so damned scared, Walt."

I sat beside him, pulling him against my chest. "Of course you were. That's to be expected and undoubtedly just what he wanted. Hitting closer to home without actually hurting you."

"Yet," he muttered.

"Ever, if I have anything to say about it. When I get my hands on him…"

"First you have to figure out who he is." Ricky looked up at me. "Can you do that? Can the police do that?"

"Sure gonna try. Until then…"

"I am not moving out!"

"Did I say you were?"

He scowled. "No, but you were going to."

"No. What I was going to say is, I'll show you how to use a gun, and a few other tricks to defend yourself. Since he seems to be partial to knives, you'll have to learn what to do to avoid getting sliced and diced."

"Lovely image," he grumbled, but he looked a bit less afraid. "When?"

"Not tonight. I don't think you're up to it. What are the chances you can get tomorrow off?"

His lips turned up in a grin. "I think I've just gotten a deathly case of the twenty-four hour flu that's going around."

"That works."

"So who do you think the killer is?" he asked.

"How about we talk about that in the morning. Right now we both need to get some sleep. It's been a long, and for you a somewhat traumatic day."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right. After all”—he grinned again and I knew he was feeling better—"us sickies need lots of bed-time."

"Sleep time," I cautioned as we got up, heading toward the stairs.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." He winked, adding, "Don't forget the lights."

I turned them off and went upstairs, having the distinct feeling sleep would not be the first order of business. I was right.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 36

The panic in Ricky's voice instantly ramped up my fear for his safety, but I tried to sound calm as I asked, "When? And I take it they weren't successful." Even as I spoke I was turning the key in the ignition and moments later I pulled out of the lot onto the street.

"About…fifteen minutes ago," he replied shakily. "The alarm went off, which I guess chased him away. I called the cops. They're on their way."

"You stayed inside?"

"Yeah. Duh. I'm not stupid." I was glad to hear some of his feistiness returning. "Sorry," he muttered.

"Hey, not a problem. Did you get my spare gun?"

"Umm, no. Hell, I'd probably have shot my foot off, I was shaking so much."

"Did they say how long until the cops get there?" I wanted to keep him talking, figuring it might help him calm down some.

"No, but I can tell you anyway."

I heard the sound of the doorbell behind his words. "Don't open the door until you're sure they're legit."


"How do you know? You ask them to show you their badges. And use the peephole,'' I added, just be certain he got it.

"Yeah, yeah. I know. Hold on."

"Don't hang up."    

He didn't. I could hear him calling out, "I need to see your badges." Then a moment later there was the sound of the door opening. By then I was only a block away. As I turned the corner I saw a police cruiser sitting in front of the house. Pulling into the driveway, I got out of the car and went inside. I almost laughed when one of the officers spun around, his hand going to his gun.

"He lives here," Ricky practically shouted.

"Okay. Sorry." The officer relaxed, turning his attention to Ricky and the second officer.

Ricky told them—and me by extension—what had happened.

"I was upstairs, getting ready for bed, when I thought I heard a noise in the backyard. Like, umm, someone stepping off the lawn onto the gravel by the garden. The window was open is why I heard it. I peeked out from behind the curtain and didn't see anything so I figured it was probably a stray dog. Then"—he shuddered—"I got the crap scared out of me when the alarm went off. Damn that thing's loud. You should have warned me." He glared at me.

"Yeah, probably." I crossed to his side, putting one arm around him. He was shaking. I figured the adrenalin was wearing off now and I held him tightly. One of the cops looked nonplussed and I almost said, "The hell with you," restraining myself at the last second.

"Do you know where they tried to get in?" the other cop asked.

Ricky shook his head. "No way was I going to go looking. But if they were in the backyard I guess somewhere at the back of the house."

The officer nodded and he and his partner went to check.

"How are you doing?" I asked Ricky, although it was obvious he was still scared.

"I'll survive. But what if they'd ignored the alarm and still come in?"

"You tell me," I said, wanting to know what he would have done.  

"Grabbed your gun and"—he almost smiled—"tried to hit him and not my foot."

"Funny. Not." I turned him to face me, my hands on his shoulders. "The gun's a good idea, but a better one would be to lock yourself in the bedroom, call the cops, and then head for the bathroom. That way the dude would have had to get upstairs and through two doors. By then the police would have been here."

"And shoot him when he came through the bathroom door?"

"You or the cops?"

"Me. They'd be stuck outside since the door was locked, hollering on the bullhorn 'Come out with your hands in the air'."

"No, sir," one of the officers said as he returned to the living room. "We'd have broken down the door and come to your assistance."

"I guess that makes me feel a little better," Ricky replied. "Where did he try to get in?"

"One of the windows. It was raised about four inches. That's what triggered the alarm."

"Kind of stupid of him not to figure the system was armed."

"Maybe." I frowned. "Or maybe he wanted it to go off. Another message as it were."

"Message?" one of the officers asked. So I explained. Then he said, "Have you reported this?"

I shook my head, and lied through my pearly whites. "I was going to first thing in the morning."

"Good. Do you have any idea why this person is after you?"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 35

"You know I was just kidding," Ricky said when I showed up at his office carrying two bags of take-out.

"Yeah, but I'm hungry, you're probably hungry, so here I am." I set the bags down on his desk and opened mine. "Besides which, I wanted to fill you in on my meeting with Frank Milano."

I did, while we both ate. When I finished he commented, "He didn't have to tell you about seeing Ms Engel."

"I know. He did though, which keeps him on my list. After all he could be playing it safe. Tell me before I found out on my own."

"And how would you have done that?"

I grinned. "My magic eight ball? Naw, I probably wouldn't have but he doesn't know that. Some people actually have a healthy respect for a detective's abilities. Even a private investigator's."

"I have a very healthy respect for your…abilities," Ricky retorted, waggling his eyebrows.

"Why is it every time I come here you come on to me," I grumbled.

"Here, at home, every chance I get. It keeps you on your toes."

"Yeah, yeah." I crumpled my takeout bag, tossing into his wastebasket. "On that note I'd better get moving. Call me before you leave?"

He knew why I was asking and replied, "I will. And if I get home before you do I'll call to let you know I made it there in one piece."

After a nice, not too platonic kiss, I left.

I spent the afternoon doing what needed to be done for my clients. At least those things I could do during the day. I had a stakeout tonight for one of the clients I'd picked up this morning. It was sort of déjà vu from a few weeks ago, during the theft case. The client, a woman this time, was pretty sure one of her employees was making off with canned and packaged goods from the storeroom of her small mom-and-pop grocery store and wanted me to follow the guy to see if she was right, and find out what he did with the stolen property.

Ricky called at five to say he was heading home, and fifteen minutes later he called again to say he'd made it. Something I knew because I was just turning onto our street when I saw him pulling into the garage.

We ate supper, avoiding any talk about the Engel case. After all, at this point there wasn't much to talk about other than to wonder who the phantom motorcyclist was. Discussing that would only make him worry about my going on the stakeout—especially considering what happened to me during the theft case.

The woman's grocery store closed at seven—because of the neighborhood it was in, according to her. I found out what she meant when I arrived there at ten till. It wasn't that the area was bad, but it had definitely seen better days. There were a couple of bars across the street from the store, and two empty stores with grated doors and windows to keep out vandals. There were several apartment buildings that looked surprisingly well kept up, considering their apparent ages. Sort of like older men who knew better than to try to dress like teenyboppers.

I parked in the store's lot then made my way around back. It was just as she'd told me. The store took up a third of the short alley with a service entrance and a loading dock. Across from it were darkened doorways to whatever shops were on the next street. I settled in one and waited. Soon after seven, some of the employees began leaving by the back entrance. None of them was the guy I was interested in, even though my client said he always left that way. Then, ten minutes later he appeared with a backpack slung over one shoulder. He seemed oblivious to his surrounding as he hurried to the end of the alley and turned left onto the sidewalk. I stayed a few yards behind him, being careful not to be obvious.

He walked five blocks, heading into a much more rundown area, and then turned onto another street. When I got to the corner I saw him enter a ramshackle building with a sign over the door. I followed him inside and found myself in what looked like a foodbank. It walls were lined with shelves filled with non-perishable food, with more shelves going down the center of the room. He approached a table to one side of the room, set down the backpack and took out the cans and packaged goods it contained, telling the woman behind the table, "As usual, they're past their sell-by date but they're still good."

"As always, Danny" she replied with a smile. "I just wish…"

"If I told them what I'm doing they'd either fire me or have me arrested," he said quickly. "If they marked the prices down it would be one thing. Then the people who don't have much cash could afford them, but…" He sighed. "Anyway, hopefully I'll have more for you in a couple of days."

Picking up the backpack, he left. I waited until he was a good block ahead of me, debating whether to have a few words with him or not. I understood where he was coming from, but it was still theft as far as my client was concerned. Finally I decided to have a talk with her first.

Just as I got back to the car my phone vibrated. The caller ID said it was Ricky so I figured he was just checking to make sure I hadn't run into any trouble. Boy was I wrong. The second I answered he said, "Someone tried to break in here."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 34

"You never saw her again?" I asked Frank.

"I wish I could say yes to that but"—Frank's mouth tightened angrily—"I don't know if she tracked me down or if it was just as she said, a coincidence. I'm married now and my wife and I were out to dinner, celebrating her birthday. When we got up to leave saw Coleen seated at a table across the room. She looked at me then went back to reading the menu as if I was a stranger."

He paused then continued. "The next morning she called me at work. She hinted, without coming right out and saying, that if I didn't want my wife to know about our past relationship, and about my father, we should meet somewhere for lunch and a 'nice chat' as she put it. I told her to go to hell and hung up."

"What if she'd carried through with her threat?"

"Trina, that's my wife, knows all about my father. As a matter of fact we've visited him a couple of times."

"Does she know about Ms Engel?"

Frank shook his head. "That's past history. But damn it, I'd tell her before I let Coleen try to blackmail me again."

"After the phone call did you hear from Ms Engel?"

"That would have been a bit hard unless you believe in ghosts. She was murdered that night. I was shocked when I found out but I'll admit that didn't break my heart."

"Have the police contacted you about the murder?" I asked.

"No. Why would they? And more to the point, how would they even know about my past with her?"

"I found out. I'm sure they could as well."

"If they have, they must not consider me a suspect." He stared hard at me. "Do you?"

Smiling slightly I replied, "You're on my list of possibilities."

He chuckled. "Knowing her, it's probably a fairly long list."

I just shrugged before asking, "Is there anything else you can tell me about her?"

"Like who else might have wanted her dead? Not really. We never discussed who we'd known before the two of us met. Oh I pried a bit at first but she managed to deflect my questions so I dropped it. After all”—he smiled wryly—"we were in love and that's all that counted. Or so I thought until the end."

"I understand. All right, I think that's all I need to know at the moment. If you think of anything else please call me and if I have further questions I'll get in touch with you." I gave him my business card and he gave me one of his. I thanked him for his time and he left.

After that I dealt with the two new clients who had morning appointments and then I took off for lunch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 33

"Morning. How many messages so far?" I asked as I strode across the waiting area to Chelsea's desk.

"Two." She handed them to me. "And there's someone here to talk to you. He said Mr Caiazzo sent him."

I turned, finally realizing she and I weren't the only ones in the room. It only took a moment to get that it wasn't one of Caiazzo's men, since my visitor did bear a passing resemblance to Al Pacino. "Mr Milano, I presume," I said, holding out my hand.

He shook it, saying, "I am. I understand you want to talk to me?"

"Oh yeah. If you would…" I nodded toward my open office door. I followed him in and when we were both seated I said, "From what I understand, you and a Ms Coleen Engel were friends when you lived in Shreveport, Mr Milano."

He nodded. "Please, call me Frank. We were, although you don't have to be so polite about it. We were living together. Did for almost a year."

"Until you left. May I ask why?"

He leaned back, looking at me. "I presume you know who I am, and more to the point, who my father is, since you were in contact with Nicolò Caiazzo." When I nodded, he continued. "During the time I was with Coleen, my father was having problems with his… boss. He decided it would be prudent to drop out of sight for a while until things calmed down."

"Did they?"

Frank spread his hands. "More or less, eventually. My father's retired now, living out of the country. At the point when it happened however, he was in hiding. He made it a point to pay me a visit and let me know exactly what was going on."

"Ms Engel was present when this happened?"

"No, but I was foolish and in love, and I told her about it afterwards." He blew out an angry sounding breath. "Soon after that I found out just how much I really meant to her. She offered to keep my father's whereabouts a secret, for a price. I would marry her and provide for her every whim. She didn't put it exactly like that but it's what she meant."

"So you took off."

"Hell yeah."

"According to the apartment building manager, she left soon afterwards, saying she'd come into some money. From you?"

"Yes. I talked to my father, told him what had happened. Through me, he made her an offer. She'd get one lump sum and that was it. In exchange she should forget about him and me and never try to get in touch with me."

"Did she stick to the agreement?"

Frank nodded. "As far as I know she never came looking for me. I moved around a bit and then got a good job offer with a firm in Gary, managing one of their outlets. I've been there ever since."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 32

I had just finished doing the dishes, when Ricky shouted my name from the living room. My first, very panicked, thought was something had happened to him, so I was there seconds later.

He was pointing to the TV. "There's been another one."

It took a moment to realize what he meant. Then I heard the reporter saying, "…stabbed to death in a parking lot behind the Elite Gym. We take you to our Jim Haskins on the scene for the latest update."

The gym was across town from the one Ms Engel had worked for, but the details as they emerged were eerily the same. The woman had been stabbed several times, and according to the officer Mr Haskins was interviewing, she hadn't appeared to defend herself.

"At least she wasn't holding your business card," Ricky said in relief when the report was over.

"Not that they said anyway," I pointed out. "But that particular bit of information didn't make it into the stories about Ms Engel's murder either."

Ricky nodded, asking, "Does this mean the Engel killing wasn't due to her search for Ben?"

"Not necessarily. This could be a copycat, or her killer trying to muddy the waters."

He smiled weakly. "I guess I'm safe enough if he's doing that and going after women who go to or work at gyms. I don't fit either category."

"Maybe not, but don't drop your guard when you're anywhere outside of here or at work."

"I know, and I won't."

"Good, because I'll shoot you if you do and something happens to you."

"Before or after you deal with whoever was the first one to kill me?"

"Huh? Oh." I chuckled. "Yeah that was sort a stupid way to put it. But you get the picture."

"I do, and I promise I'll be real careful. You have enough going on without worrying about me."

"I always worry about you. It comes with the territory."

"I know," Ricky replied quietly. "I worry too. About you I mean." He hugged me tightly. "So be careful out there."

"Always, babe. Because I have you to come home to. So—yeah, always."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

'Dylan's Dilemma' has arrived!

Dylan's Dilemma

When Dylan Russell unintentionally kills his ex-lover, Tommy, he knows he's in trouble. Then he meets a man named Mars Marsden who offers him a solution -- join the covert organization C21. An outfit made up of good men and women who ended up on the wrong side of the law, C21 now gives these people a chance to track and punish those criminals to whom the law doesn't seem to apply. Dylan should fit right in.

After meeting Mars' handler, Dylan learns Tommy was an arms trafficker. Somewhat reluctantly, he agrees to go undercover to help bring down the rest of Tommy's gang. After this dangerous induction into his new life, Dylan is sent for training.

But Dylan is a marked man. Not only are the police looking for him, but when one of Tommy's old colleagues discovers where Dylan is being trained, things get interesting. Can he and Mars survive the jobs they're sent on? And, more importantly, can their purely sexual relationship deepen into something more before the work they do tears them apart?


    Dylan felt the alcohol hit his empty stomach and wondered if he should have gotten something to eat first. "The hell with it," he muttered under his breath, taking another drink. "If nothing else, this will help me unwind."

    He'd almost finished the drink, and was contemplating getting another, when he became aware someone was standing by the table. Glancing up, he saw a tall, raven-haired man looking at him.

    Without a by-your-leave, the man pulled out the other chair and sat. Dylan instantly flashed back to Tommy doing almost the same thing Saturday night. Scowling at the man, he said, "If you don't mind, I'm not looking for company."

    "Unfortunately for you, Mr. Russell, I am. Your company to be exact. There's something the two of us need to discuss."

    Dylan froze, wondering if the man was a cop. How else would he know Dylan's name. Still, to the best of his knowledge, a detective wouldn't approach him this way. He'd have come to Dylan's work, or his apartment. "What," Dylan asked tightly, "could I possibly have to talk about with you? I don't even know you."

    The man leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. "Thomas Samson," the man replied so softly Dylan barely heard him.

    Dylan shook his head. "Never heard of him."

    "Really? I beg to differ with you. I can explain why -- here. Or we can go somewhere more private to discuss his unfortunate demise and your part in it."

    Dylan's blood ran cold. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he barely got out, before gulping down the last of his scotch.

    The man took something from his jacket pocket, sliding it across the table to Dylan. One look and Dylan knew he was in trouble. The problem was, from whom. "How did you get this?" he asked once he could speak again.

    Rather than answering the question, the man said, "Why don't we go for a ride."

    Taking a deep breath, Dylan replied as if he really meant it, "Not until I know who I'm riding with." He knew he'd go with him, even if the man didn't reply, but he had to put up some sort of front, despite how terrified he was.

    "My name is Garret Marsden." He barely smiled as he added, "My friends call me Mars. I work for C21."

    "Never heard of it."

    "We keep a low profile." Marsden stood, giving a nod toward the back exit to the bar. "If you would, please."

    Dylan looked up at him. "Why the hell should I trust you."

    Marsden chuckled. "You probably shouldn't, but given the photo -- and I do have duplicates -- you might want to at least hear me out."

    "Damn it to hell and gone, I'm fucking sick and tired of people trying to blackmail me into doing things."

    Resting his hands on the table, Marsden stated, "That's why you killed Mr. Samson."

    Given that the photo in question showed him kneeling over Tommy, blood evident on the floor, Dylan couldn't deny what Marsden had said. With a sigh, he got up as well and followed Marsden out of the bar into the alley behind it. When they passed the bar's Dumpster, Mars said, "Give me your phone."


    "Because the cops can use it to find you."

    "Seriously?" When Mars nodded, Dylan didn't hesitate to hand it to him. Mars crushed it under his boot then tossed the pieces in the Dumpster.

    There was a half-full parking lot directly across the alley. Marsden led Dylan to ...

    "What the hell is that?"

    "A 2000 Harley Softtail," Marsden replied proudly.

    Dylan slowly walked around it, shaking his head, before looking at Marsden. "You expect me to ride on this ... thing? Is it even safe?"

    "Never ridden before?"

    "I value my life," Dylan muttered, although he had to admit the idea didn't scare him as much as might have. Maybe because I've got more to worry about than whether I'll survive until we get wherever he's taking me. And, strangely enough, I don't think it's to the closest police station. God help me if I'm wrong. Well, God help me no matter what.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 31

I made it home without any incidents. After I walked inside, it was a different story. Ricky didn't even give a kiss or a hug before he pounced. It wasn't the sort of pounce I'd have take advantage of.

"Tell me right this minute what's going on," he said, his hands on his hips as he glared at me. "And don't give me any bull about lunch with Caiazzo."

"I did have lunch with him," I protested.

"Good. Now what else happened?"

"I got another message from my friendly biker." When he cocked one eyebrow, I elucidated.

"So now he's threatening to kill you? Or me? Or even Chelsea?"

"Looks like," I agreed.

"Aren't we the lucky ones?" He tried to smile, and almost succeeded. "So we all watch our backs."

"Yeah. If I had my choice…"

"That's not happening," he said before I could finish. "You can tell Chelsea to stay home, or take a long vacation until this is over, but me… I'm going on just as always. So far he hasn't really tried to do more than scare you off."

"Which isn't working, babe. So what's to say he won't step things up a notch?"

"Nothing." He dropped down on the sofa, looking up at me, and almost smirked when he said, "Call the good detective and see if he has any spare body armor."

"Oh yeah, like that would happen." I joined him, shaking my head. "Are you sure you wouldn't like an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas?"

"Not without you. Besides, what good would it do?"

"It would give me a chance to nail whoever it is without worrying about you."

"Walt," he replied, taking my hand, "I'll be just fine. I'm not an idiot. I won't put myself in a position where I can be attacked. I keep my car in the garage when I'm home, and in the parking garage at work. I promise I won't go out for lunch." He grinned a bit. "Meaning of course that you'll have to pick something up and bring it to me every day."

I chuckled. "So I'm expendable?"

"Not even, but you're well trained, I'm not. You know what to look for. Who to look for, well more or less on the 'who'." He tapped the fingers of his free hand on his thigh then asked, "Did you get any impression of what the guy on the bike looked like?"

"Not his face, since he was wearing a helmet. Body-wise”—I closed my eyes, trying to picture him—"Relatively slender. Taller than short. I'd guess muscular. Fairly broad across the shoulders."

"Does that eliminate anyone?"

"Yeah, it does actually. Whitmore. The guy in Wyoming."

"You've met him?"

"No, but he has a couple of profile pictures on LinkedIn. He looks like what he is, a man closing in on his fifties who's spent most of his life behind a desk."

"Doesn't mean he's not fit," Ricky pointed out. "After all, I spend most of my working hours at a desk. A lot of men do and they don't go to seed as a result."

"He's hardly gone to seed, but he's got a bit of a paunch, and sloping shoulders."

"Okay, I get the point. So he's eliminated."

"I think so. That leaves Donati, Milano and Ben. Since I have no idea what Ben looks like I couldn't say if it could be him. Donati and Milano… Yeah, possible."

"Backtrack. Who's Milano?"

"I found out about him this morning. He was Ms Engel's boyfriend when she lived in Shreveport, which was after she'd split from Whitmore." I gave him all the details, ending with, "That's why I had lunch with Caiazzo. He's going to look into Frank Milano and see what he can find out. He thinks that Milano is living in Gary."

"That's not too far from here, all things considered."


"When will you hear from Caiazzo?"

"When he has something to tell me."

"That could be in five minutes or a week from now and until then you'll be chomping at the bit."

"Probably, unless I can come up with a way to draw the killer out. And not piss Sharp off in the process."

"I don't like that idea, but still I suppose it's an option."

"Don't worry. If I do come up with a plan it'll be as foolproof as possible. But for now, let's make dinner? I for one am starving."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 30

When Carlo answered his phone I asked, once we'd gotten past the formalities, "Does Ben know his mother was looking for him?"

"He does."

"How did he feel about that?"

"How do you think? He wanted nothing to do with her. Not that she… or you… could have found him in the first place."

"True. Another question, does he live around here?"

There was the briefest of pauses before he replied, "No." Enough of a pause that I had the feeling he was lying. Not that I could do a damned thing about it. If I said anything he'd just deny it, and over the phone I had no way to read his body language.

"You never did tell me his name."

Carlo chucked. "No I didn't. And why does it matter now?" Then the coin must of dropped because he said angrily, "If you think he had anything to do with Coleen's death you're out of your mind!"

"Carlo," I replied calmly, "I didn't say that, but at this point I'm looking at anyone who had anything to do with her. I suspect the cops are as well. It comes with the territory."

"Well you can count me and Ben out. End of story," he retorted before hanging up.

How to win friends and influence people. Obviously at the moment I'm not doing so well on that score. I did, however, find out one thing—I think. Ben is somewhere around here. Possibly, probably, living near his father. That would put him only a couple of hundred miles away. Not a long distance if you're bent on eliminating someone you undoubtedly hate.

So I had three probables and one possible if I counted Whitmore, although it was a long way from Wyoming to here. I could see him coming here to kill her, if he actually had a motive. But sticking around, to watch and then threaten me? I found that highly unlikely.  

I finished filling out all the information I had on my four suspects, glancing occasionally at the phone—as if looking at it would make it ring and Caiazzo would be on the other end, telling me what I needed to know about Frank Milano.

A phone did ring—my cell. It was Ricky asking if I was on the way home. A fast check of the time told me I should be. I said as much then saved the file and shut down the computer.

When I went into the waiting room, Chelsea grinned at me. "I was about to ask if you were planning on spending the night here."

"Not if I can help it." I followed her out, locking the door after setting the alarm.

When we left the building and got to the parking lot we both used, I watched as she walked to her car, to make sure she made it there safely. She caught me at it and came back, asking warily, "Is something going on I should know about."

"Yeah, maybe. I forgot to tell you about the message I got today." I explained quickly, and told her it wasn't the only one.

"First off, I should shoot you for keeping that to yourself," she said tightly. "Secondly, do you really think this… whoever it is, would come after me?"

"I'm not counting out the possibility since you work for me, so be damned careful. Still, I suspect he'd target Ricky, or more likely me. All it said was someone else would die." I smiled dryly. "I'd have liked it better if he'd said, 'or you die'."

"Which way would be more likely to get you to pull back?"

"Honestly? The idea he would target Ricky or you."

"But you're not going to," she replied, giving me a 'don't you dare' look.

"Nope. So like I said, be hyper-aware of the people around you and don't…"

"Go walking down any dark alleys. Got it." She patted my arm. "You be careful too. Okay?"

"Always." I hugged her quickly. "Now go home." I watched her, and the cars around hers, until she drove away. No one followed her, and as far as I could see no one was interested in me when I finally pulled out of the lot onto the street.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

'Reaper' has arrived!


Leading a double life can be challenging, as Reaper well knows.

Take one self-styled vigilante—Reaper. Add his alter ego, successful forty-one-year-old, investment counselor, Zack Ward. Then throw in Dallas Comstock, thirty-two, a beat cop, Zack’s lover and the only person who knows Zack is Reaper. The result is men on a mission. They protect homeless kids living on the streets while trying to find a new building for a soon-to-be demolished shelter belonging to Zack’s mentor, Brian Foster—the man who helped Zack get off the streets.

Someone seems to be kidnapping streetwise young girls. Reaper pulls together a team of street kids—Zip and his boyfriend, Colly, Raven and Sway—to stop the predator. At the same time Zack, with the help of his business clients, sets up a charity ball to raise money for the new shelter, Off-the-Street.

What happens next may strengthen Zack’s and Dallas’ love—or destroy it.