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The Whiffenpoof Man
An Acey Tapp Mystery

S.E. Schenkel
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After orchestrating the capture of a man trafficking in children, Acey Tapp and Megan Bork travel to the backwoods of Pennsylvania to visit the haunts of a long-dead serial kidnapper. They search for clues that would allow one of his now aging victims to finally reunite with his family after an absence of seven decades. Only in stirring up the past they appear to have awakened a dormant menace.

The monitor showed rain pounding dark storefronts. I tapped a combination of keys and zoomed in on the corner pub. An overhead light cast a yellow smear inside the pub’s recessed entrance.

“Having fun?” asked Webb, from his side of the booth.

I turned the laptop in his direction, with the screen now on a close-up of a brass door handle. I punched more keys and zeroed in on the head of a screw. “That’s one powerful camera we got.”

Webb stood. “It’s time.”

“Don’t go and get drunk on me,” I said.

“You okay with what we’re about to do?” he asked.

“Sort of.”

“If I was younger, I’d trade places.”

“Can’t let you have all the fun,” I said.

Webb smiled, only other thoughts seemed to seep in and spoil the effect. Old demons alive and kicking.

I said, “Get out of here, or we’ll miss our chance.”

“You see me exit, we abort.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“At any time. Even after we’re both inside. I leave, you leave.”

“I know, Webb.”

“Once you’ve made contact, we’re committed. We won’t have a second chance.”

“I know that, too.”

I thumbed him toward the front of the van. He reached the cab and ducked. Don’t know why, as short as he was, he could cruise the length of our home on wheels and still not connect with the ceiling. Me, I had to do the monkey walk to keep from being clobbered.

The van door slammed. Using the keyboard to adjust the camera, I watched Webb cross the street. For all appearances, just a short skinny nobody off to quench a thirst. The rain had stopped. At least we had that in our favor. Webb reached the bar and disappeared.

I maneuvered the camera skyward and got a view of one gray-black mess of clouds. I tooled around looking for a star, grateful to the client who’d provided the camera and gave a new meaning to “private eye”. His way of thanking us for doing what the police couldn’t--find his son. He even paid for the installation of a false roof on the van, and one-way glass, and tracks that allowed the camera to move in any direction.

Nine-forty p.m. Almost time. I aimed the camera at the store fronts, switched on the video recorder in the cabinet overhead, and then trudged to the rear of the van to get my jacket. The spread on the bed was wrinkled from Webb’s recent nap. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately--napping, recovering from something or other. Forty winks were turning into four times forty, and whatever malady was in season, he got.

Even his enthusiasm for the job seemed to have taken on the vitality of a corpse.

I smiled, recalling a recent rare few days when he turned super-sleuth. Looking for a song, of all things, one he’d heard on the radio. In a way, I was sorry he’d found a copy of it on cassette. Because now he was playing it nonstop. I mean, how many times do you need to hear about little lambs that had lost their way? To quote the song, baa-baa-baa was right. Or rather ba-humbug. I needed to buy Webb a pair of headphones so he could keep his listening pleasures private.

Putting on my sport jacket, I glanced at the toy truck on the small stand nearby. The thing that Webb never left home without. He’d probably had it from childhood, judging from its antique appearance. The engine was shaped like a radiator turned sideways. The tires were skinny and white and between them stretched running boards that arched up to form fenders. Webb kept his pills in the truck’s bed. Trinkets of youth and old age keeping company.

My head low, I scooted down the narrow aisle and exited from the passenger door. I locked up, and in imitation of Webb, patted Charlie’s metal flank for good luck. Charlie being the name we gave our van. Webb’s way of honoring Charlie McMunn, deceased founder of our little detective agency, and Webb’s savior, mentor and surrogate parent.

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.

Fiction Books :: Mystery & Detective Books :: General Books

ISBN: 159705965X
ISBN(13-digit): 9781597059657
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 346
Paper Weight (lb): 14.6

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