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An old man juggles his final wishes including romance, revenge and a reversal of fortune for people whose lives he has all but destroyed. At the same time, a group of ex-cops juggle retirement with a dogged sense of justice. And bridging the two is Acey Tapp, a private investigator.
When paths cross and clues surface with a regularity that is anything but chance, the match is on. Playing the roles of King, Bishop and Pawn are a rusty gun, an orphan key and handwritten note cards.
Tony’s Tavern. Dark, moody outpost. A way station for a few drinks and a different kind of connection and camaraderie. Only tonight, something more in tune with work had brought me here.
I stepped in and let the pub’s door do its slow-moan-close.
Patch was behind the bar shining up a mug.
“When are you going to oil those hinges?” I asked, parking my butt on an old, worn stool.
“Why would I do that? It’s part of the atmosphere. Besides, it tells me when someone’s coming or going.” He set a bottle of Miller on the counter and shoved it my way.
“This guy still here?” I asked.
“Sort of here? What’s he got? One foot in an alternate universe?”
“If that’s your take on being smashed, then yes.”
I turned. Didn’t need a calculator to add up the clientele—barely needed one hand.
“Which of the few?” I asked.
“The old man. And I can do without the sarcasm.”
“Which old man? From what I can see, they all fit that category.”
“I hope you didn’t get me here to listen to the blubbering regrets of some drunk.”
“Hey, he wants to hire a PI and he’s got a wad. Besides, I thought you were hurting for business.”
I smiled at Patch. “Didn’t know you took the agency’s fiscal health so much to heart.”
“And I didn’t know you were so indifferent about finding work.” Patch wiped the counter with a stained gray towel.
“Does he know the agency only takes cases dealing with missing persons?” I asked.
Patch nodded and kept wiping the counter. Eyes down, attention any which way but toward me.
“Did he pay you to call me, get me down here?” I watched my long-time buddy weigh his response. He was obviously debating between the comfort of a lie and the sharp edge of the truth. Don’t know why he bothered. A lie wasn’t likely to get past the forty odd years we’d known each other.
“How much?” I finally asked.
“He gave me a hundred, all right?”
“Really? A hundred. You must have done a good job of selling me.”
“Yeah, and it wasn’t easy. Had to make up a lot of stuff.” Patch smiled, which was always an interesting event since he only had one eye to telegraph amusement. Sort of like trying to grin with half a face.
“What’s your sugar-daddy’s name?” I asked.
“Sometimes you are such a jerk, Acey.”
“At least I have it down to ‘sometimes’.”
“Well, I resent your implication.”
“Enough to give up the hundred?”
He pulled a single bill from his pants’ pocket and slapped it on the table. I reached for it; he snatched it up.
“You had me worried,” I said. “Thought maybe you’d grown some morals.” I pointed at the beer. “Take that out of the hundred. And getting back to this potential client, what’s his name?”
“I don’t ask for names, just orders and payment. Besides, why should I do the prep work for your cases?”
I picked up my beer and headed for the back booth. It was too dark to be sure, but I had the impression my approach had triggered the old man’s flight or fight response. When I saw his hand bolt from the table to his belt, I pulled up short.
“The bartender tells me you’re looking to hire a PI,” I said.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Tapp. Acey Tapp.”
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 ePress
No. of Pages: 376
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