Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2017

Archive for the category “Crime”

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Conclusion

 

Things were going sour. Guns were out and something ugly was bound to happen. I left my observation post and quickly headed back toward the door. I drew my .38 and checked the wheel for a full load.

Inside the door it was dark, but there was light pouring out at the end of the hallway. I tried to get closer as quickly and quietly as I could. I didn’t see the toolbox on the floor until I kicked it. Before I got my footing Regis was standing two feet in front of me with the dirty semi-automatic pointed at my forehead.

“Well, look who’s here? C’mon, Mr. Private Eye, and join the party.”

He marched me the rest of the way down the hall and into the light.

“Forty Ounce” looked at me, but spoke to Sunny Boggs.

“I thought I told you to come alone? Can’t you follow a simple command?”

“I didn’t know he was here. I swear it. I fired him.” Her voice sounded panicky. Instead of being the hero here I was the fifth wheel, and I was flat now that Regis had my .38 in his left hand. “Forty Ounce” looked at me like I had just ruined his day. Well, mine wasn’t going too great either.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “Randall The Candle”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015

Randall The Candle

candleIN 1997 THERE WAS AN EPISODE of “Law And Order” (An American Cops and Robbers TV show set in New York City) that had a character, an arsonist, who went by the moniker of “Randall the Candle.”

Cut to 2015 in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Change the battery in your smoke alarm.”) and a conversation with one of the “Usual Suspects” during services at the Chapel of St. Arbucks.

The “Suspect” – a former resident of New York City and the son of an NYPD Detective and I were discussing the recent fire at a café across the street from St. Arbucks that destroyed the place within 24 hours of their “Grand Opening.” He hinted that it looked a little suspicious and that maybe “Randall the Candle” was in town.

Egads!

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Four

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Four

It was a little after 8 AM when the phone finally rang and woke me. It’s never good news at 8 AM. It was Regis alright and he told me that “Forty Ounce” said “No” to me bringing the money for the dog. It had to be The Lady – alone – or the dog was history.

There was no way I was going to go along with that, but I had no choice but to agree to tell “The Lady.” She would go along with any of their cockeyed plans if she thought it would get her dog back. She was the Perfect Victim.

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Three

 

“Well, Mr. Detective Man, I hear you’ve been looking for me. Curious about a dog, are we? You look more like a Poodle man to me rather than a Doberman sort.”

I explained to him that I was just a man doing a job and that the only dogs I liked were running at the Greyhound track. He laughed and pushed an envelope across the bar to me.

Inside the envelope was a small photograph. It looked more like a photo of a photo, but it was clear enough. It was a picture of a Doberman. Whether it was “Peaches” or not I couldn’t tell, but the collar on the dog was a match for the one in the picture Sunny Boggs showed me over beer and cookies. No dognapper is going to go to the trouble of making a copy of the collar. This must be a picture of “Peaches.”

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Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Two

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part Two

 

The address was in a part of town where I didn’t go very often. I’m just not comfortable going places where there are steel security gates and armed guards. I’m never quite certain if they are there to keep people out or in.

When I pulled my car up to their Checkpoint Charlie a uniformed guard carrying a clipboard stepped out of a little stucco shelter. She was a real beauty. She looked like her last job had been as a guard in a women’s prison. She jotted down my plate number and mimed for me to roll down my window. I bet myself a beer that she had an accent.

“Guten Abend, Sir.” I won myself a beer.

When I told her who I was there to see and showed her my I.D. she gave me a half-hearted salute and waved me through. I bet myself another beer that I could have gotten a full salute, complete with a heel click, if I’d been driving a Mercedes.

If there was ever a job that I’d never hire myself out for, no matter how hungry I got, it would be to act as somebody’s butler. I don’t do well taking orders from anyone. That’s part of why I’m no longer a cop or married. So when a guy in a monkey suit answered the front door I just knew that it wasn’t his door. And he knew that I knew it. Neither of us looked all that comfortable.

I told him I was there to see his lady boss. I don’t think he liked the way I said that, but he was a good little flunky and let me in. The redhead with all the money and the legs was in the room the butler called “The Library.” There were a lot of books in there, but I wasn’t there to read. Looking at me, Sunny Boggs told her flunky to fetch us a couple of drinks. Hers came in a crystal glass. Mine came in a mug. By the way she spoke to him, “Judah,” she called him; I could tell she probably liked her dogs better.

She took a polite sip of her whatever it was and asked me for an update on my search for “Peaches.” I still had foam on my lip.

“Have you found him yet? “ She asked me that less than eight hours after walking into my office. ‘Impatient little checkbook,’ I thought.

“Why haven’t you found him? You’ve had all day. Who took him? Where is my ‘Peaches?’?”

Four questions in less than five seconds. The more time I was spending with her the more I was imagining impolite things. I answered her questions in reverse order. Three “I don’t knows,” and one plain “No,” and then I took a long, slow pull on my beer. She didn’t seem to like my answers.

“That’s not acceptable. People said you were a good detective. I’m beginning to harbor some doubts about that.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud at her attitude. While she steamed I turned to Judah, the butler, and asked him for another beer. He grinned and gave me a thumbs up as he started for the door.

“I’m sorry if I was short with you. Please forgive me,” she said with half a cup of artificial sweetener all over it and then snapped at Judah to bring back some cookies along with my beer. She turned it off and on like a hot water tap.

I put down my mug and then gave her a real update for her four hundred dollars. I told her what information I had bought from my new friend at the Dog Pound. She didn’t like it when I advised her that if she hadn’t gotten a ransom note by now chances are she never would – that whoever snatched her dog wanted the dog and not her money. Facts are facts. Reality is reality – and they are both subject to change.

The way she reacted you would have thought I’d said that her “Peaches” had been taken to Tijuana, painted with zebra stripes and was now part of a nasty nightclub act. I didn’t really know. It could be, I suppose.

“I want you to keep looking. I don’t care what it costs. I want my ‘Peaches’ home with me. I need him.”

The drive back to my side of town was uncomfortable. The $500 in cash that she handed me made my wallet feel like I had a box turtle in my pants pocket.

I went back to my office. The IRS audit was tomorrow and I had to get my paperwork together. “Peaches” could wait. He could have been out there having the time of his life; running until he dropped, chasing Chihuahuas, and making puppies. I figured a couple of days being a Dog and not just an ornament wouldn’t hurt him. And if I wasn’t ready for my audit I might be out there hanging with “Peaches.”

***

“Thank you for coming in today so we can go over some of your previous tax returns.” Like I had a choice.  I nodded, but kept my mouth shut.

“I hope that you’ve brought in the records that we requested.” I nodded again.

“I see that you have two shopping bags with you. What’s in them?

I explained that the bags were my records. He nodded. I gave him the five cent tour. Each bag held six months worth of last year’s paperwork. The farther back in the year you want to go, the deeper into the bag you go. Simple, right?

The IRS guy didn’t nod that time.

“What about your records for the rest of the seven years we asked you to bring? I nodded. I invited him down to my car to help me carry up the rest of the shopping bags.

The audit went better than I had expected. Twenty minutes and I was out of there.

***

I suppose I could have taken a short vacation to Vegas and report back that I wasn’t any closer to finding her evil looking mutt, but I am plagued with some inconvenient scruples. That dog might be anywhere, Tijuana or the Vatican, but unless he could learn to dial a telephone and call me, I doubted that I’d ever locate him.

I was able to pay a few more bills and square my tab with two of my favorite pubs. I had realistic priorities.

The morning after my meet and eat with Sunny Boggs I got a call, a message really, from the creep at the Dog Pound. He had something to show me, he said. That could be good or it could be taking me down the wrong street altogether.

As it turned out it was a little bit of both.

I drove back by the Pound. The lovely Regis was on duty behind the reception desk.

“I been askin’ around about your missing Dobey, but subtle like and I met a guy who knew a guy.”

I offered him a couple of smokes – one for now, one for later, and he began to fill in the blanks.

“I told a few people about you looking for a snatched Dobey and they pointed me to “Forty Ounce.” Why, I don’t know. I don’t know him. He don’t know me. The guy told me to ‘Let the nosy detective know.’ That’s you, right? Then he gives me a fifty dollar bill. He called it a ‘finder’s fee.’ Go figure, I ain’t found nothing other than him.”

Regis, the retired dognapper, working at the pound, had given me a bit of a name to follow up on. “Forty Ounce” was all the man was known by and he hung out at a joint on the edge of downtown – an area filled with transient hotels, hard drinking bars, and very few straight answers. And he, it seemed, had “Peaches.”

“Forty Ounce” was not an easy person to locate. He liked to move from barstool to barstool and when I did finally sit down next to him I realized that I’d seen him three times already. I was looking for him, but he had been watching me.

“Well, Mr. Detective Man, I hear you’ve been looking for me. Curious about a dog, are we? You look more like a Poodle man to me rather than a Doberman sort.”

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part One

Fiction Saturday – “Peaches” – Part One

A Short Story 

PEACHES

 

This morning I was swearing to myself that I would never tell anyone about this. It all made me sort of ashamed, professionally, but a man’s gotta eat and the Power Company doesn’t care about my pride – professional or otherwise.

So, I’ll tell you, but keep what I say close to your vest. I don’t want the competition or the Law to hear about this. OK?

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Today Is For Remembering

TODAY IS JUNE THE 6TH, A TUESDAY. It may be just one more day out of the 365 we will experience this year, but it also has some significance for me.

Being of a certain age this date is a reminder of a major event during WW II.

June, 6, 1944 was also known as “D – Day.” It marked the Allied invasion of the European continent leading to the defeat and destruction of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe. That all came to a conclusion a little more than one year prior to my birth in July 1946.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… THE CONCLUSION

Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… THE CONCLUSION

 

Chapter Thirty-Nine

 

The sunset over Lake Pend’Oreille was a soft orange color, going to red. It promised calm waters and good sailing come morning. A few lights were beginning to switch on in the houses near the waterline. The smells of wood smoke and family suppers being cooked mixed and drifted over the lakeshore.

There were few tourists left with the holiday season approaching. Only those people who were planning to winter over remained. For them, this part of Idaho was home. It was a place where your thoughts, your opinions and your past were your own business and nobody else’s.

On a quiet, tree-lined street, a few blocks up from the small business district, a young boy on a bicycle pedaled along the leaf-strewn sidewalk. He passed the white frame house with the steeply pitched roof and lobbed a rolled-up newspaper onto the front porch.

The screen door opened and a woman wearing khakis and a wool shirt stepped out. The air was cool, yet inviting. The first hard frost was still a week or two away in this part of the state. She sat down on the top step and unfolded the Sandpoint Mountain Tribune.

In the remaining light of the autumn day, she took her time reading the front page and then turned to the national news section. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked at the photograph in the center of the page. She had seen that picture before. Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she read the accompanying story.

“U.S. Calls Off Womanhunt”

 

“Department of Justice and DEA officials announced today that they were calling off their nationwide search for Beverly Deltino, the fugitive wife of New York crime figure, Dominic Deltino. FBI Regional Director Morris Bland said that Mrs. Deltino, who was wanted in connection with the death of an undercover DEA operative, was herself, deceased. ‘We are satisfied that she was killed while attempting to flee the country, in a shootout at the U.S. – Mexican border, near Tijuana. We are no longer looking for Mrs. Deltino and we consider her case closed.’

“It was also announced that Mrs. Deltino’s husband, a suspect in a number of underworld enterprises himself, was also deceased, apparently, by his own hand.”

The woman stood up and crossed the porch toward the door. She opened it and walked into the rented house, wiping a tear from her eye. She cleared her throat before calling out.

“Davis, let’s eat out tonight.”

 

A Bag Of Cheetos And The Yakuza

AS IF THE INTERNET WASN’T SILLY ENOUGH with Facebook, Kitten pictures by the ton, people posting snapshots of whatever they’re eating, and Down the Hall …Scratch that last one.

With all of that other stuff we now have to deal with something called “Ransomware.”

Ransomware is described in the Media as a virus that can infect your computer, locking up access to your files. The solution is to pay a “Ransom” to the perpetrators who will then unlock your computer. Nice, huh?

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 38 Continued

Fiction Saturday

“Dominic, killing us won’t solve anything,” said Laura. “What’s done is done. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know that Graciella was the law. I ran away from you because I wasn’t going to take you beating up on me anymore. If I’d wanted you dead all I had to do was ask my father and you’d have disappeared.”

“Yeah, well, I’m sorry about hitting you, Beverly. You know something, Bette? Beverly here has a mean one-two punch. She knocked out a tooth of mine once. See, back here.” Dominic opened his mouth and pointed to a gap in his teeth with the barrel of his gun.

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Looking Back 

Throwback Thursday

1I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.

I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

This is not our first time in Ireland and the Irish are friendly, helpful, and very understanding of our American quirks and I try to do the same with their idiosyncrasies and ideas.

3

Famine Museum and Cafe

One of the most traumatic and history changing times in this nation’s life were the years of the Great Famine. Just before the potato blight destroyed the economic and social structure of Ireland for the first time in the 1840s the population was over 8 million people. A million people starved to death, another million fled to other countries, the U.S. taking in huge numbers. Even today, 175 years after the first famine hit, the population of Ireland has not recovered – sitting at about 6.5 million souls.

The reason for this short history lesson is that the other day my wife, the lovely and ever on top of her history, Dawn, and I visited the National Museum of The Great Famine. It is located in Strokestown on the grounds of the former British Lord who had his plantation and large numbers of sharecroppers and land lessees. When those Irish workers were unable to turn a profit for the Lord or pay their rents to him he evicted them, destroyed the shacks where they slept and left them adrift in the midst of the road. With others, he sold them (there is no other word) onto emigrant “Coffin Ships” bound for American shores.

So – today 135 years since the last total crop failure – the Famine is a sensitive issue.

And that is where My Observation enters –

There we were at The Nation Great Famine Museum and taking all of this in about starvation and cruelty, and what did we do?4

We sat down with a seriously overloaded plate, filled to overflowing, with turkey with bacon, carrots and three scoops of potatoes with gravy. There was enough for at least two people on my plate alone.

I just found this lunch, and the idea of a café at all, as a part of the Great Famine Museum, to be in questionable taste (no pun intended), and ironic to the Nth degree. But who am I to argue – it is their country and their history.

The turkey was excellent, by the way.

My last observation is not nearly as important, except on an intimately personal level.

5I have noticed that the Irish are really into conservation, making things have multiple uses, and recycling. I’m cool with that, but I think they may have stepped over the line when you have Irish toilet paper that can also find service in the woodworking shop as the business end of your belt sander.

Belt_sander

Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter38

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 38

 

A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.

Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.

They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.

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Fear Not!

I GET A LOT OF EMAIL EVERYDAY. Very little of it is worth the electrons it’s written with. A good portion of it all comes from people trying to sell me something; Sunglasses, Art of questionable quality, Books (lots of books), and classes and seminars. I guess that means that they feel I am in desperate need of education – a point hard to dispute.

I also receive a bunch of things about writing; classes, communities, and handy dandy tools to transform me into the next big whatever.  I already have the tools – a pen, paper, and coffee that have catapulted me to the bottom rung of the ladder of commercial success.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 37 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 37 Continued

As they passed it, they both looked over into the alcove. The dead man seemed so very small. Davis walked over and pulled the pistol from Lizard Boy’s waistband and started to stick it in his belt. Laura stopped him and held out her hand. He passed it to her. They left the bundle of cash locked in the dead man’s hand.

It was only another fifty feet before they saw a set of steps rising toward a carpet-covered door.

They slowly climbed the steps and listened. They couldn’t hear anything coming from the other side.

“Well, if nothing else, we have the element of surprise,” whispered Davis. He reached for the knob.

“We hope,” said Laura and pulled his hand back from the door. She would go first. The Mexican’s pistol pointed up. 

“Let’s go, my dear,” she said. They both took a deep breath of the warm and stale air.

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Throwback Thursday from May 2015 – “Remember – You Called Me”

Throwback Thursday

Not againWE HAVE PUT our home phone number on those “No-Call” lists for years, but it doesn’t seem to work. We still get several calls a week from organizations begging for money, “Canadian pharmacies” selling pills, and a variety of computer scams both foreign and domestic.  Since they called me I consider them fair game for a little verbal knee to the groin retaliation.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to yank their telephonic chains. Feel free to use any of them or simply use them as inspiration to create your own.

Let The Games Begin!!

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 37

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Seven

 

       Lizard Boy smiled as Laura and Davis walked over to the metal storage shed.

“Things are better at the border. They’re opening up again,” he said to them in his usual staccato style.

A small, stocky man with strong Mayan facial features, held open the door to the shed and motioned them all inside. His face exhibited several prison tattoos. He was bare-chested and wearing a leather vest. His coppery skin showed a number of scars. He had a large knife sheathed on his belt and over his shoulder was slung an AK-47, the Third World’s weapon of choice. In his left hand, he held a fresh caramel Frappuccino.

“I’m glad you liked my coffees,” he said. “Just like I used to make at Starbucks. Good, huh? Well, bien viaje, amigos.”

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Rooty, Tooty, Point And Shooty

NAME THREE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS:

1) Sky Diving

2) Space Travel

3) Breakfast

The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.

About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 36

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Six

 

warehouses“It’s at number 162, Tomás. Drive past it and let us out down the block,” said Laura, scanning the fronts of the small warehouses and workshops.

The cab slowed while Tomás craned his neck out the window looking for the address.

“There it is, Señorita. That’s it, with all the doors.”

The structure at 162 Avenida de Negocios was unlike anything Laura or Davis had ever seen before. It was built entirely out of garage doors.

“What the hell is that?” she asked.

Tomás smiled. “We Mexicans can be very resourceful. There are a quite a few buildings like this in Tijuana. They are made out of recycled garage doors from LA and San Diego. A few Mexican entrepreneurs have been importing them by the truckload. Actually, there is a whole neighborhood near here made of doors. Very clever, no?” He steered the cab over to the curb about fifty yards past the all-door structure.

“Well, Tomás,” said Laura. “Thank you for your tour of Tijuana and for your help. Bless you.”

“My pleasure, my friends. I wish you both good luck.”

Davis patted Tomás’ shoulder.

“Bless you twice, Tomás.”

Laura and Davis stepped out of the taxi onto the empty sidewalk. The cab turned at the next corner and was gone.

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Dear Me !

I HAVE NEVER WRITTEN A LETTER TO DEAR ABBY or to whoever it is who is actually doing the column now that the original Abby is among the Dearly Departed.

Just like everyone else, I’ve had personal problems to deal with, but when I have a question 90% of the people I know are lined up to give me “The Answer.” The other 10 % are usually the cause of my problem.

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