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 “Mystery”

Not Just Another Holiday

TODAY IS A SPECIAL DAY. IT IS A DAY FOR REMEMBRANCE.

Today is National Lost Sock Memorial Day.

This is a time to scratch our heads and wonder, “Where in the heck is the other sock?”

We have all spent time with our heads stuck in the dryer looking for the mate to the orphan sock we are holding in our hand. That other sock was there when we started the dryer, but now…

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 34

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

pull-molinas-bldgIn the darkroom at Ernesto Molina’s photography studio a new person was being born. Years of experience in creating false documents for many of the Earth’s most dangerous people had made Molina a very wealthy man. His home was an opulent, yet tastefully decorated, house by the ocean, near Rosarita Beach. This cheap-looking studio was a place to do his work undisturbed. He owned the building.

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Creation, Version 1.3

MY CELL PHONE WAS ACTING UP THIS MORNING. Nothing serious. It just appeared to be possessed by demons and wasn’t cooperating at all. Who knows why? So, I did what any sane person would do – I rebooted the darned thing.

Voila! It was all better – obedient, colorful, and utilitarian with no backtalk.

Don’t you wish life was like that? Your day is just not working right – the car wouldn’t start, your Boss is having another psychotic rampage, and when you get home the power is out and the cat has trashed the bathroom.

Time for a Reboot!

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 29- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

escherHorton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher.  Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators.  The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.

High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant.  It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a  six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 27- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Seven

pull-mexican-borderBoth Laura and Davis slept late the next morning. Laura had planned on a day or two of rest before crossing into Mexico.  She knew that they might need all of their strength and all of their wits.  She hadn’t come this far just to get caught or killed due to some bonehead mistake brought on by exhaustion.

She also wanted to lay low for a while to—hopefully—confuse their pursuers.  If there was no scent to follow for a couple of days they might think that Laura and Davis had already crossed into Mexico and that was that.  Or they might think that the couple had pulled a fast one on them and was heading off in another direction altogether.  Laura knew that at least for now, time was their ally.

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What’s Next ?

book1I’M GETTING TO BE A REALLY ANNOYING PERSON when I have to deal with myself. Nag. Nag. Nag. I just don’t give myself a moment’s peace. Would it hurt if I cut myself some slack?

Yes.

What is behind all of this? Lemme tell ya.

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Something To Watch Out For

tv1FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS (AT LEAST) WE’VE HAD A MAJOR CHANGE take place in our television viewing habits. I think that this change has come about because of two things; Online services such as Netflix and Hulu among a number of others have begun to air some new and very creative programming. Just about everyone else has been wallowing in a Political Stew that has been tasteless, without any real meat, and triggering my gag reflex.

So, we were faced with a choice: Enjoy some new and excellent programs or endure sphincter clenching broadcast venom.

Not a difficult decision – let someone else watch all the stuff with zombies.

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Fiction Saturday – Chapter 24 – And Pull The Hole – Continued

Fiction Saturday – Chapter 24

 

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

pull-drivingA starlit nightfall was racing across the Mojave Desert and California was disappearing into shades of gray and neon splashes.

“Davis, wake up.  I want you to take over.  I’m exhausted and I think we’ll be safer with night coming on.  We’ll switch again when we stop for gas.”

“You look drained.  Laura, we are going to make it, right?”

“We’ll make it, Davis.  Things will be fine.  Once we get to the border, we’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, beautiful, carefree, Mexico.”

They were both whistling past the graveyard and they knew it.

They had changed their path south to California Route One, the coast road.  Just north of Ventura, on the outskirts of LA, Laura pulled the car into a Shell station.

The orange floodlights washed over the concrete and the islands with the self-serve gas pumps.  Inside the station a young man with stringy hair and acne sat behind the counter reading a motorcycle magazine.

“I’ll fill it up,” said Davis.

Laura opened her door and got out.  She stretched her arms and yawned.  She looked around the brightly-lit station.

“I’m going to the bathroom.  I’ll be right back.”

She walked into the mini-mart and reemerged seconds later holding a large brass key attached to a miniature baseball bat.  She disappeared into the darkness around the side of the building.

Davis used his debit card to fill the tank of his three-year-old, white, four-door Ford Taurus.  He made a mental note that it was due for a scheduled maintenance checkup.  He topped off the tank and put the nozzle back into the pump.  It was then that he realized he was finally hungry.

He really hadn’t eaten anything since he had picked at his lunch back at the Target store in Santa Maria.  Now he wished that he had, at least, eaten his churro.  Laura had inhaled her food as if lunch was going out of style.

“Maybe she’s more used to this than me,” he thought to himself.

After replacing the gas cap and pocketing his receipt, Davis walked up to the cashier’s counter inside the station.

“Hey, good evening, Mister.  Can I help you?”  The young clerk put his magazine down on the counter.

“Hi.  I need to get something to snack on.”pull-gas-station

“We got a pretty good selection of munchies and the cold sodas and stuff are over there in the cooler.  We don’t sell beer or anything hard any more.”

“Thanks.  Soft drinks will do.”

Davis walked over to the rack.  He studied the collection of foil and paper-wrapped sweet and salty junk foods.  He picked up a small bag of chips and headed over toward the beverages.

“Hey, Mister,” the kid called out to him.

“Yes, what?”  Davis turned away from his search.

“I think you got some company outside,” said the young man, his head tilted toward the door and the gas pumps beyond.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 23 – Pull The Hole… Continued

 Fiction Saturday – Continued

Chapter Twenty-Three

 pull-clouds“Actually, Davis, using your car is a good idea.  We can avoid public transportation and no pesky rental agreements floating around.”

“See, I told you I’d come in handy.”  Davis looked out of the passenger side window at the passing California landscape.  “I wish you’d let me drive for a while, though.”

“Later tonight maybe.  I’m a better driver than you are and it helps me to relax.” Relax was something that Laura had not been able to do for a second, ever since she saw her own face staring out from page four of the San Francisco Chronicle.  “Besides, I think better while driving.  Maybe I can figure a way out of this mess for us.”

“Well, I’m a very good driver—no accidents ever, and you could use a break.”  Davis knew there was no changing her mind once it was made up, even though Laura looked like she hadn’t slept in days and her jaw was clenched tight.

Appreciating his effort to care for her, Laura smiled and gazed at him as he huddled up against the car door.  He looked lost, she thought.

“Well, dearest,” she said, “at sixteen I was picking up extra pocket money as a wheel man.  Just for kicks really.  My father never knew.  It was stupid and dangerous, but I was good at it.”

“Don’t tell me any more right now.”  He was a stranger in a strange land if ever there was one.  “I haven’t digested everything you’ve laid on me so far.”

“Okay, I understand.”

“I do have one question though,” he said.  “Why did we stop at a travel agent before we left?  A ticket for one from Miami to Detroit?”

“A little deception.  Detroit is a border town, a ten-minute walk out of the country across the river.  I bought it in my own name, of course.  It won’t fool anybody for long, especially Dominic.  But the Feds will have to check it out.  It’ll tie up a couple of their guys for a few hours and give us a little extra edge.  It’ll help our odds, maybe.”  She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders.  “Maybe not.  I don’t know.”

“What are our odds?”  He was immediately sorry that he had asked.

“We’re two snowballs and we’re driving south.”

“Oh.”

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday 

Chapter 14 – Continued

pull-coffeeThey sat there looking down at the waiter’s tip, tucked under the edge of a plate, knowing that if they got up from the table now it would be over.  The ease and promise of the evening would simply sputter out like a cheap candle.

They sipped at their cooling coffee as the waiter paced, wishing that they would leave so he could get a fresh couple in place.

After a silence, Davis mentally conceded defeat and set down his empty cup.  Laura smiled and opened the door to the future.

“You know, Davis,” she began hesitantly, “I’ve had a really nice time tonight.  I’ve needed something like this.  It’s been a long time.”  She smiled at him and meant it, really meant it.

“I’ve enjoyed it too.  I don’t want it to end, but I know it has to.  Can we do it again?” he asked.  “Can we do this again?”  He was feeling surprisingly shy.

The ball was in her court.  If she said no she would be back where she started, in her apartment and alone.  If she said “Yes”…who knows where it might take her.  But it would take her someplace.  That much was sure.

“Yes, I’d like to do it again, but next time it’s my treat.  I insist.  Fair is fair.”

Davis nodded in agreement.  “If that’s what you want, I’m okay with that.  What about lunch tomorrow?

Laura thought for a moment before speaking.  “What about breakfast?  There is a place down on Chestnut.  They make great omelets and…”

Davis interrupted her.  “I know the place.  They have some tables out on the patio? Yes, very good, super French toast too.  Breakfast tomorrow?  What time?”

Almost laughing at herself for her forwardness, she asked him, “Is seven-thirty too early?  I like the early morning on the street.”

“Seven-thirty it is.”  He was hoping for something a little bit later.  He was going to be up late tonight, working, but he smiled and agreed to meet her there.  She insisted on that condition, yet again.  “First one there chooses the table,” he added.

Outside the restaurant the sun had set and the fog was sending the temperature down.  Laura shivered as soon as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.

“Brrr.  It’s getting cold.  Laura, you’re going to freeze to death.  Here, take my jacket.”

He started to remove his sports coat in a very traditional gesture, but Laura stopped him.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine,” she said, trying not to shiver.  “I live close by.  You just go on home now and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.  Okay?”

“Are you sure?  I can walk you home.  Remember, this is a big city with some very nasty people.”  He really was concerned. And, he wanted to spend more time with her as well.

“Thank you, but I’ll be fine, really.  That’s very sweet of you.”

She leaned into him and kissed him softly on the cheek,  gently squeezing his arm. “Good night, and thank you again for the best time I’ve had in quite a while.”

With that, Laura turned and walked around the corner into the shady darkness.  The fog swirled behind her and she was gone.

Davis stood there, not really knowing what to do or how to feel.  Should I follow her and see pull-fogwhere she lives?  No, that’s stupid and juvenile, and besides she’d kill me if she caught me.  I like her.  She’s smart, a good talker – once she relaxes, and I think she likes me.

He started walking home.  It was only seven blocks.  He’d be there before he got too chilled.  He didn’t need to catch a cold or anything.  He had too much work to get done.

“Seven-thirty a.m.  Why did I agree to that?”

Laura moved quickly through the shadowy side streets back to her apartment.  On her way home she stopped several times, just to check and make sure that he wasn’t following her.

Once she was inside, with the deadbolt locked, she took a deep breath as she kicked off her shoes and sat on the end of her bed.

I like him.  He’s smart, he doesn’t talk too much, and I think he likes me.  She saw her image in the mirror on the dresser.  She thought her reflection was giving her a stern glance.

“What are you looking at?” Laura said from the bed.  “It’s just breakfast.  It doesn’t mean anything.  Nothing is going to happen.  He’s just a nice guy.  I’m not going to hide anymore, so I might as well have some company.”

 

***

The next morning came very quickly for Davis.  He had stayed up working on his client’s accounts until a little after two a.m.  Spending the evening with Laura just pushed everything back.  It was worth it, he thought.  With a few hours of sleep and a shower he’d be fine.  Why didn’t I suggest nine a.m.?

The morning was bright and sunny.  The fog held just offshore, obscuring all but the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge towers.  It left most of the bay clear with whitecaps glistening and the commuter ferry boats bouncing in the choppy water.  The large blue and gold ferries came into The City from Marin county and the East Bay communities. A steady stream of southbound cars and buses crossed the bridge, emerging from the fog and spilling onto Lombard Street on their way to downtown.  Just another work day in paradise.

Laura was up early.  Her hair took little more than a towel dry and a quick fluff.  The new look, being more casual, required less.

Anyway, this was just breakfast.

She slipped on the denim jacket, donned the floppy hat, her sunglasses and, with a sense of guilty caution, tucked the small revolver into her bag.  She felt that Davis was not a danger, but, as even he said last night, “It’s a big city with some very nasty people.”  She had already met one of them.

Taking her time and enjoying the walk, she spotted a flock of the wild parrots again, and heard the deep bellow of the foghorns from out by the Golden Gate Bridge.  She felt at ease and was looking forward to the day.  She half regretted bringing the gun.

Arriving first at the cafe gave Laura, by prior agreement, the right to pick the table. Contrary to her last visit, she chose one of the tables on the small patio.  The edge of the umbrella above the tabletop fluttered in the early morning offshore breeze.

Ordering some orange juice, she sat there, lifting her face into the sunlight rising higher over the East Bay hills.  The warmth felt comforting.  She closed her eyes and let it wash over her.  “Oh, God, this is good,” she said out loud.

“It’s fresh squeezed for every order.”

Her eyes snapped open to see the smiling young waiter standing next to the table holding a ceramic coffee pot, steam rising from the curved spout.  “Would you like some coffee?” he asked.  “We get all of our coffee from a roastery in Mill Valley.”

When her heartbeat slowed, Laura smiled back at him and lifted her china cup.  As he poured, the aroma of the strong Kenyan blend made her mouth water.

“I’ll be having a friend join me shortly.  He would love some of this.”

“Then I’ll just leave the pot for you both,” he said, and wandered away to greet some new arrivals.

pull-cafeSipping the coffee, with just a splash of cream, Laura saw a clock on the cafe wall.  It said the time was seven twenty-seven a.m.

By her second cup it was almost ten of eight and Laura was beginning to think that she had been stood up, when she saw a frantic looking man half running down the sidewalk.  He hurried up to the short wrought iron fence that bordered the patio.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry. I overslept and then I couldn’t find a clean pair of socks.”   She looked down and saw two bony ankles peeking out from under his chinos.  “I’m sorry.  I hope you didn’t think I forgot.”  He was panting.

“Take it easy, Davis,” she said, laughing at his discomposure.  “Come on in and have some coffee.”

Over Eggs Benedict and hot coffee Davis gave Laura a short primer on things to see and do in “The City.”  Some of the touristy things were worth seeing, others were not. There were some great little shops, cafes and vistas that must be explored and neighborhoods to experience.  He went on and on about the cultural glories of the Mission District and it’s “best food in town.”

She listened, enjoying his enthusiasm for his new hometown, only rarely interrupting him.

“It all sounds like so much fun, so much to see and do,” she said, “but what I wish you could really tell me is where I can buy some decent clothes.  I’m getting tired of wearing the same few things all the time.”

“Union Street,” he said, “is just a couple of short blocks from here.  Lots of nice shops.”  He pointed south toward the steep hills that set the Marina apart from the rest of The City.  “When we finish here we can stroll up there and you can check it out.  Okay?”

“Oh, that sounds good.  I really do need some new things and maybe I’ll buy you some new socks, you poor soul.”  She smiled and patted his hand as it held his coffee cup.

The waiter brought over their check and Laura handed him a crisp $100 bill.  She left him a good tip, thanking him for his attentive service.

“Now,” she said, “which way is Union Street again?”  She took his arm as they crossed Chestnut and headed south.

The shops on Union Street, a neighborhood called “Cow Hollow” from its rural origins, let Laura find the clothing and accessories that she needed to refill her closet.  It also lifted her spirits.  She didn’t feel so temporary any more.  Maybe things could work out for her here.

As they moved up the street, Davis found himself carrying shopping bags from several different stores, and loving it.  He didn’t know why, but he just did.

They stopped for a light lunch and then worked their way down the other side of the busy street, this time browsing in the overpriced art galleries and bookstores.

In the window of a real estate office, they ogled the pictures of the narrow Victorian row houses known as “Painted Ladies,” being offered for $1.7 million and a “fixer-upper” for a mere million.

“They have got to be kidding!” Laura exclaimed.

“Nope, and at that price, there’ll be a bidding war,” said Davis.  “Real estate here is insane.”

They were sitting in an ice cream parlor, enjoying a scoop of mango gelato when Laura noticed the time.  It was a little after three p.m.  They had spent the day – just spending the day together.

“Oh, Davis, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to monopolize your whole day.”pull-union-street

“Don’t be sorry.  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  Even if these bags are getting a bit heavy,” he teased.

“Oh, again, I’m sorry.  I’ve used you like a slave.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Davis answered.  “I got breakfast, and a very nice new pair of Irish woolen socks out of it.  I feel fully compensated.”

As they left the ice cream parlor Laura looked at Davis struggling with the bags and said, “This has been a wonderful day and I have you to thank for that, but let’s catch a cab from here.”  With that, she stepped to the curb and let loose with an ear-splitting whistle. Two taxis came close to colliding trying to get to the curb first.

They got into the red and white “Veteran’s Cab,” the bags piled on their laps.

“Where to, folks?” asked the cabbie.

Laura spoke first.  “Where to?  I’ll drop you.”

She was not ready to let him know where she was living.  Realizing her strategy he leaned forward and told the driver, “You can drop me on Fillmore, down by the middle school.”  He was going to stop for a drink.  The cab pulled away from the curb, into traffic.

“Laura, thank you for today.  Dinner again tonight?”

She thought for a second and then countered with, “How about breakfast again tomorrow?  I’m exhausted.  Same place, same time tomorrow morning?”

Knowing that he couldn’t push her too hard, he agreed.

“Sure, only could we make a bit later, say, nine a.m.?”  He was going to be up most of the night making up for not getting anything done today.

“All right, 9 a.m., Sleepyhead.”  The taxi pulled over at the corner of Fillmore and Chestnut.

“Thanks again for a great day.”  He leaned toward her.  She met him halfway and they kissed.  This time her fingers rested on his cheek as she found his lips.

He got out of the cab and waved as it pulled away, executing an illegal u-turn and joined the flow of traffic on Chestnut Street.

He was not much of a drinker, never was, but he stopped at the little tavern a block up Fillmore.

Sitting on the stool, nursing a light beer, he went over the day, playing back the moments.  It was a good day with her, even though there were several things that struck him as–not odd, so much as mysterious.  When Laura paid for breakfast and for her purchases on Union Street, she paid in cash.  What woman doesn’t use credit cards?  And she paid for everything with hundred-dollar bills.  He saw the dress store clerks check them with their fraud pens, so he knew they weren’t counterfeit.  But who carries that many hundred-dollar bills with them to go out to breakfast, and why did she not want him to know where she lived?  She didn’t have a wedding ring on.  He had reflexively checked for that while they were both holding onto the ice cream in the Safeway.

If he was forced to list everything he knew about her, it would be a very short list, indeed.  He took out his pen and jotted on a bar napkin.

  1. She has a New York accent, although it sounds like she’s trying to hide it.
  2. She pays for everything in cash.
  3. She is afraid of someone named Dominic.

After that…nothing you could say for sure.

Oh, yes, he thought, and added another item to the list.

  1. He was falling for her.to be continued 1

I Shouldn’t Have Done It 

crabs1I TRY TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR. I REALLY DO. I don’t complain when their dog howls at every passing siren, or when their son, who will never grow up to be a professional athlete, accidently tosses a ball over the fence into our yard.

The neighbors are younger than us so I try to not be the cliché “Grumpy Next Door Neighbor.” However, yesterday I shook the young father’s world a bit. I’m almost ashamed of myself.

Almost.

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Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

Fiction Saturday – And Pull The Hole In After You – Continued

pull dons mansionChapter Eight

Since his wife had walked out on him while he was in Philadelphia, three things had plagued the mind of Dominic Deltino:

  1. Where was she?
  2. Where was his money?
  3. What is her father thinking about all of this?

He didn’t have any answers to the first two and he was afraid that he did to the third.

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Fiction Saturday – The Henway Chronicles – Continued

noir detective officeFiction Saturday – The Henway Chronicles

 

Late at night, when the Innocents in The City were asleep in their beds, the Not-So-Innocents were busy about their monkey business. The darkened streets were a hunting ground where the unwary became prey for the waiting shadows. Places of safety were few and far between, but a light shining through the fog promised refuge and maybe a Hot Roast Beef Sandwich, au jus – “just the way you like it.”

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Fiction Saturday – “The Henway Chronicles”

noir detective officeFiction Saturday

The Henway Chronicles – Continue…

 

Wilma Van der Sluice served the best German Chocolate Cake this side of the cafeteria at the Mortuary College. When she set down her last slice in front of me both my eyes and mouth began to water.

“New perfume, Wilma?”

  “Yeah, you like it? It’s called ‘Evening in Newark.’” She waved her two too massive braids my way. My glasses began to fog up.

“Nice.” It was all I could say.

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One Disappointment After Another

Message 1I HAD THE MOST UNUSUAL THING HAPPEN TODAY. I was sitting at my super powerful wood burning computer trying to delete a few gazillion spam emails when a little blip appeared by the Facebook tab. Being the genial sort that I am, I paused in mid delete to see what was happening with the 1.6 billion people on Facebook. I said a silent prayer, hoping that it wasn’t all 1.6 billion of them wanting me to play Candy Crush with them.

Thankfully it wasn’t that. No, it was a message. A message for me? Was Zuckerberg asking me to take a few billion bucks off message 2his hands? Not that either.

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Fiction Saturday – “Bad News Travels Slow” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – The Conclusion of “Bad News Travels Slow”c91e9acb-c52d-460a-81ba-d8db2fedab4e

The three of us going out to storm Dinwiddie’s Bakery/Fortress felt like the Three Stooges hitting Omaha Beach, but we had to do something. George Sweet wouldn’t last much longer.

The only things we had in our favor were the Chief’s official car and the element of surprise. Oh, yeah – and the fact that I wanted a chance to meet up again with the goons who tossed me out onto the concrete at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

20160107_131631ANSWER: EVERYTHING.

Our car was stolen last night.

During the night some knucklehead, with a key, got into the car and took it out of our driveway. I noticed it was gone this morning at about 8:15 AM.

I called the Terre Haute Police Dept. and spent 11 minutes and 24 seconds listening to a fine man try to type my information, one finger at a time. After that I really needed my morning coffee. So, I headed to St. Arbucks for a sip and a prayer. I used the SUV that my wife, the lovely and as mystified as I, Dawn, drives.

I ordered my usual and before I could even sit down – my phone rang.

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“Bad News Travels Slow” – Continued

Fiction Saturday – “Bad News travels Slow” – ContinuedLocked-Gate

 

After listening to Mrs. Sweet finally open up and tell me what was going on with the bakery, her husband, the creep Dinwiddie, and the Police, I figured my best bet was to see if I could find the husband on my own. Talking to the Chief could wait. If I could snatch Sweet, then Dinwiddie’s whole scheme might fall apart and the Chief would be irrelevant.

I put the phone back on the cradle and grabbed my hat.

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