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A hobo turns up dead in a bin. Among the gawkers is Acey Albert Tapp, a jobless man facing the death of his mother. Acey finds employment with an aging PI. He takes on a case involving a local woman gone missing for five decades, and again crosses paths with the deceased drifter. Only this time the sighting is in an old photo showing the hobo and the missing woman as teenage sweethearts.
Coached by his mentor and boss, and despite a series of seemingly unrelated personal tragedies, Acey delves deeper into the woman’s movement prior to her disappearance. What follows is a roller-coaster ride for Acey, his boss and a killer determined to keep secret his involvement in multiple murders.
Something was up. You don’t send a platoon of county vehicles to a resale shop to catch the specials. I held the scene in my side mirror, fought with my conscience for all of a second, then tooled an abrupt right, turned down an alley, and parked in the back lot of a furniture store. I was maybe forty feet from the action. I killed the engine, lit a cigarette, and watched from the comfort of my Chevy van.
Ground zero was a bin. A big metal box with a pull-down chute. Its opened double doors exposed a mound of clothing and something heavy on top. Cadaver, I guessed. The granddaddy of discards. Some guy was up on a ladder clicking a camera, while the lab-coat twins stood by with their black cases waiting their turn.
People were spilling from shops and cars, and deputies were scurrying to keep them away. Above a feed shop across the street a man straddled the sill of a second story window aiming a camcorder. Probably hoped to tape the cops kicking the corpse.
Gravel crunched on my left. An obese woman wobbled by, hauling a huge purse and a lamp shade. She gave me one of those looks meant for hooligans. I blew her a kiss in a cloud of smoke. She glanced toward the officers, then back at me, and upped her gait.
With the crowd now blocking my view and my demons in need of a playground, I got out and followed the lady. She stopped at the edge of the throng. I eased up close, my chin an inch from her bouffant of blond curls. She turned into my armpit, gave me a belligerent glare, then wiggled out and around and over to another spot. She looked back. I winked. Acey, the agitator, that’s me.
I turned my attention to the bin. The cops were lifting the body out feet first and with one hairy, tattooed arm hanging down. An old coat covered the face and torso. The poor stiff had lost his shoes and his purple socks had more holes than fabric. Little guy. Old, too, judging from the colony of liver spots on the back of his hand.
They bagged the body, zipped it in, heaved it up onto a stretcher and headed for the coroner’s--Oh, shit. The lamp-shade lady was parked next to a deputy and pointing in my direction. No doubt spouting a theory about perps returning to the scene of their crime.
The coroner’s van sped off. People began to scatter. I stood my ground and waited. Sheriff Whitcomb was headed my way. We locked eyeballs.
“Mr. Tapp, isn’t it?” he asked.
I nodded, surprised he knew my name.
“Seems you riled some feathers,” he said.
“What are you doing here?”
“Don’t happen to know the deceased, do you?”
“Is that a trick question, Sheriff?”
“Why do you say that?”
“They brought him out with his face covered. And I haven’t yet learned to recognize a man by his brand of socks.”
“I hear your ma’s not well,” said the sheriff.
I didn’t answer.
“I say that in sympathy.” The man made a small adjustment to the fit of his amber shades.
“She’s doing better,” I lied.
“You still living in that flat above the barber shop?”
I nodded. Damn, the man was a walking file.
“I should take you back to the station. Show the lady I take tips seriously.” He smiled and winked.
“Is that what she is, a lady?” I answered, winking back.
Mysteries have always captivated me. Any kind. Mysteries of faith, creation, people. The mystery of an empty house, trap door. A neighbor’s weirdness. But I didn’t start writing mysteries until two events collided: a power outage and working under the dictatorship of the manager of a grocery store. The outage and its subsequent boredom handed me pen and paper, and my boss supplied the drive to write a story titled - “Murder in the Meat Department”. From that day until now, writing has been right up there with oxygen and chocolate.
Numerically, I’m grandmother to eight, stepmother to four, and sibling to five. I was a member of a missionary group (aka nun) for seventeen years, worked for ten of those years in Africa, have been married for over thirty years. And if you can’t figure out my age from that, you and I have equally appalling math skills.
As for my personality, what I feel, think, value... You’ll find clues to that in my mysteries.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 282
Paper Weight (lb): 12.0
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