Le Votre Nuveau Lieu Redux (Blogophilia 51.13)

It’s been a wild week. A couple of weeks ago, I agreed to sell my house (really the lot) to a developer for an insane amount of money. He had been after me for years. I’d been reluctant because I’ve been here for more than 30 years and the neighborhood is so convenient. But in the last 10 years it has changed from small asbestos sided Cape Cod shacks occupied by Hippie rejects to Million Dollar McMansions with Keeping Up With the Jones’ Yuppies.

At the time my price was accepted, all my wife and I knew was roughly where we wanted to go and how much money we wanted to spend. Also, the new house needed to be all on one level because we are older with a couple medical conditions, too old to climb Jacob’s ladder.

The contract on the current house closes in mid March with a clause to allow us 30 days afterward to move. We didn’t think it would be a problem to find another house, but…

The first four we requested a showings got put under contract before we could get appointments Shrug. The market is insane, so that is to be expected. The next two were nice enough, but literally in the shade of a freeway. The next one looked good and we put in a cash offer for almost his list price. He refused because he would have to wait until the current house closed.

It turned out we dodged a bullet because next door is a large Airbnb. I found that out when I went out there to check on some things. I was met with a traffic jam that spread out all over the block. It was a large wedding with Bridesmaids all looking like Big Birds in their yellow dresses. One of those where the reception table dares you to have just one.

Would I have to put up with that every weekend? Just, no.

I think that house is still out there.

Finally, last Thursday I got a call from one of my wife’s co-workers. A relative is a real estate agent and a house came into her office that worked for us. A small white ranch house a mile from my wife’s job. The current owners had outgrown it, but had put a lot of love into the project.

We saw it Saturday and put an offer in. There were several competitors, but we won. We finished due diligence yesterday and there are a few things to clean up and we will trade the disaster of a 80s kitchen for a fully renovated open dream design. Just the thought of being able to move around without bumping into each other is heavenly. We’ll leave cookies on the island and I’ll try to take just one.

And I’ll fail. That’s what happens when you are in the clouds.

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Topic-Jonathan Harvey

Pic-Diana Jillian

Pic Guesses: Jacob’s Ladder (in blog), Dreamland (in blog) In the clouds (in blog) Pink, Comfort. Heavenly (in blog)

Valentine Day Breakfast at the Morris’ (Blogophilia 50.13)

It was such a lovely dream. The path was lined with pancakes dotted with bacon trees. The smell was wonderful and it was making her hungry. Soon she felt herself float upward toward the surface of awake. A shriek made her break the surface. Charlie was pounding on his high chair and laughing. Mommy was trying to feed him. He was probably only in his diaper because he made such a big mess.

Emily sat up. The sun sort of blinded her. She blinked a couple of times then she could see. Her room hadn’t change, but the smells from her dream were still there. Ooh, it’s Valentine’s Day. There was usually something special for breakfast on day like this. Emily popped off the bed without looking at the mirror and ran into the kitchen. Her red hair looked like she’d stuck her finger in a light socket.

Charlie saw her come in and pounded on the high chair top. His face was half covered in cereal, spilling out over his bare chest. They all looked at him, which made him get louder.

“Charlie!” Emily tried to put her hands over his mouth, but he wiggled away. “That’s too loud.”

“He’s just a baby, Emmy.” Daddy was in his chair at the end of the table in his t-shirt and pajamas. “They all do that.”

She flung her arms around him, burying her head into his neck. There was some lavender mixed with his normal smell.

“Morning, Daddy. Mmm. You smell kind of like Mommy.”

“Good Morning, Sweetheart.” He pulled her back, spread back the mass of red curls and gave her a peck on the cheek. “How’s my Valentine?”

Emily giggled and pointed to the big pink smear on his face. “Daddy, is that lipstick?”

“Yes it is, Emmy.” Mommy grinned as she put a glass of orange juice in front of her. She was still in her long t-shirt and Emmy noticed Mommy kind of smelled like him, too. “He’s my Valentine.”

Daddy’s grin was even bigger. “She beats being stationed at Minot, North Dakota.”

“Cowboy.” Mommy batted her eyes. “Are you saying I’m prettier than some cargo plane?”

Ooh, she only calls him that when she’s really mad or really mushy.

“Kathy Simpson.” Daddy mustered his most serious face. “Yes you are and a lot warmer. Coming home to you was the reason I put up with the Military.”

Mommy must have liked that because she leaned down and kissed Daddy full on the lips. Her t-shirt was loose and Emmy could almost see in. They held it for a long time. It was better than a movie scene where you could tell the two people didn’t like each other. They were feeling each other like they were something precious. They didn’t need movies. They had each other.

When they were finished, Mommy served plates piled high with a heart pancake topped with strawberries and pieces of bacon. They looked so good even Charlie reached out for one. Mommy tore one into small pieces and laid it out for him to grab.

Emily squealed. “I was had a dream where the road was pancakes and the trees were bacon.” She took a sip out of her glass. “And now I know why.”

Mommy and Daddy looked at each other. They understood.

“Emmy,” Daddy said. “Could you say the Grace for us before we eat?”

“Sure.” Emily brightened even more. She didn’t get to say it much so it was a treat. She bent her head an waited for everyone to be ready.

“Thank you, God, For the love of Mommy and Daddy, for the yummy food Mommy made, the sunny day outside, and a good day for us all. Amen.”

Charlie shreiked again but Mommy was impressed. “What do you think, Jimmy? Did she do a good job?”

“Fantastic.” Daddy agreed between bites. He dabbed his mouth with a napkin. “Kathy, did you think in your heart of hearts we’d end up with these good kids?”

She smiled. “Well, we didn’t promise ourselves a rose garden when we started, but I think we got one.” Then changing the subject slightly. “Speaking of which, I need to prune the ones out front. Emmy, would you like to help?

“Yeah.”

“Put your dish in the sink, get dressed, and pick up your room.” Mommy took a sip of her coffee. “By the time you do that, I should be ready.”

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Topic-Nina Nixon

Pic-Sallon Newlove

Pic guesses: Smear (in blog), lips (in blog), kiss (in blog), trouble, evidence, fun time, lipstick (in blog), sign of love

Dockside Cafe Part 15 (Blogophilia 49.13)

As I got out of the car, Williams spun me around. “Jim Holden, you’re under arrest for the murder of Donna Bartlett.”

The whole charade with the girl had been to draw me to a safe place to do the arrest. I didn’t feel the click of the cuffs as they went around my wrists. The Miranda speech was just so much buzz. The cruiser smelled like the last drunk they brought in. These would be the memories of tomorrow.

That was five years ago.

It was supposed to have been simple. Jerry Herrington was in a bind with The Sunset and needed it to disappear. It wasn’t a problem. The Texas LLC had been set up years before and the registration fees were up to date. The phony bill of sale and a fake destination were the easy parts. I’ve never met a marina manager who ever looked at paperwork. All they care about is having an open slip to fill at higher rent. The dealer in Florida didn’t ask questions and had the dock space to keep it out of sight.


Herrington got spooked after the body turned up and torched the boat. Honestly, I thought Jerry would just found a buyer. I knew he was the guy in the picture the local yokel had shown me. I It didn’t care whether the insurance company paid or not. I wasn’t going to get anything out of it and ratting people out wasn’t something I did.


I still don’t know how Williams figured it all out. I was about half way through the motions of tracking the boat when she called me. Herrington had called threatening to kill her if she went through with the divorce. I agreed to meet her to distract her from asking too many questions and to figure out how I needed to handle Jerry.


I knew the resort was lax on security, so when the gate being open wasn’t surprising. The only car in the lot was a Mercedes with a Georgia Bulldogs plate frame. Donna was driving and I got in the passenger seat. She had her suspicions on what happened to the boat and asked if I was in on the scam. I lied, of course, telling her I had no idea where the boat was. Her hands flitted around like a hummingbird at a feeder to find something. I saw the gun and made sure I wasn’t the target. The bullet caught the aorta and had made a huge mess.


My car must have shown up on video and I didn’t know it. I chucked everything over a bridge and drove home. When Williams asked me where I’d left the gun, I told him it was somewhere off I-85. He asked if I had anything to do with Herrington’s or Delores’ death. I said no. Herrington had never contacted me after our initial meeting about the boat.


Delores and Herrington did turn out to be a Murder-Suicide, though. Herrington was the guy in the Audi and was one of her regular customers. She caught on to the scam and the blackmail attempt didn’t go over well. Herrington did what he had to do and then realized the cops were coming after him. Whether he knew he was in the exact same place, I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.


I pled to Voluntary Manslaughter and got 15 years, 7 to serve. The D.A wanted 1st Degree, but charge reduction is why you pay the lawyers. It took the entire proceeds from the case to get what I got. A small price for some form of future outside this cell.

Aluminum skies through steel bars is my view on life now. It makes the world a little blurry. The current roomie is OK, at least for prison. There have been worse. He’s in for beating up his girlfriend. We spend most of the day bitching about women to stave off the boredom. It’s all you can do in this position.


I heard a rumor I might be going up before the Parole Board a little early because I’ve behaved myself while I’ve been in. Maybe there’s another boat out there for me. But you never get your hopes up here. Reality is too much of bitch.

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Topic-Michelle Marko King

Pic- Rebecca Revels

Pic guesses: Hummingbird (in blog) Feeder (in blog) sip, beak, breakfast, sugar, fast

Dockside Cafe Part 14 (Blogophilia 48.13)

I bring the binoculars up to my eyes, not sure what I was looking for. The slips looked like a kid put all the 1’s in the alphabet kit set side by side. Outside of a couple of big houseboats, everything else was small craft. Holidayland was a weekend retreat for city folks wanting to get their fish on.

It was a cold dark night, but the flask is keeping me warm. I’ll have the zings in the morning for sure, but that didn’t matter. Make a wish, count to three. Isn’t that what Willy Wonka used to say? Maybe you’ll win the golden ticket. Maybe not.

The call had been confusing. I asked for the woman I’d talked to earlier about the boat but was told she was no longer was working there. The guy who did answer claimed to be the owner, but the name he gave didn’t match what I had on file. In the background I could hear a girl’s voice telling him to get back to bed. When I asked if he had any information on Herrington he hung up. All I knew was the Sunset docked here and something was missing from the case.

The sound of a boat tethers could be heard over the wind. A movement near the front of the office catches my eye. A young girl with pink hair was ran down one of the gangways. She slipped into a speedboat, hiding below the gunwales out of sight. A man came out of the shadows, stopping in from of the office and looked, then walked slowly down the gangway toward the slips, looking into each boat. I couldn’t tell from the distance, but it looked like he had a gun in his hand.

Was it part of my case or not? I was too far away to recognize either one. I decided to sit tight and see if anything happens.

I wasn’t the only one waiting. As the man came to the slip where the girl was hiding, the stobe lights lit up. Hall and Forsyth County and a some unmarked cars had joined the party. The man took one look and lay flat on the gangway. Two deputies cuffed him up and drug him back towards one of the cruisers. While they were going through the search process another deputy helped the girl out of her hiding place and took her in the opposite direction.

I wait until the man was safely in the back of a car to slip down closer to the action. I wanted to hear what it was all the fuss was about. Ray Williams was off to the side talking to a Forsyth deputy, I guess to arrange for transport. He didn’t need to know I was here and started back up to the car when I overhear the girl in the boat was Delores’ kid.

Really?

The news didn’t stop me from getting out of the cold. I take another slug from the flask as I settle into the seat. I’ve had enough craziness for the night. Just as I start the car, I hear the knock on the window.

It’s Williams.

He’s got some more questions.

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Topic-David Schrader

Pic-Dahlia Ramone

Pic Guesses: Pink (in blog) witch, redhead, trouble

Dockside Cafe part 13 (Blogophilia 47.13)

I stared at the phone for a good minute soaking in the words. Could this get any weirder? A dog barking at a squirrel next to my bench brought me back to reality.

“I assume you have some questions?”

Williams’ voice was sharp. “Only one. Where were you yesterday?”

“My place, mostly.” A swan took flight across my field of vision, settling in the cold water next to a clump of trees. “Cleaning up the Bartlett file for the lawyers.”

“No side trips?”

“Not up that way.” I looked at my shoes. For some reason the cold making my feet numb. “Met one of the lawyers for lunch at Mary Mac’s to discuss the final report for Bartlett. That was at 1. I was back about 2:30 and worked until about midnight.”

“Ok.” Williams sighed. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but it was the truth. “I might need to you to come in again. I’ll let you know.”

And he was gone.

Somehow, I made it back to the apartment without throwing myself into traffic. I didn’t want to see anybody I knew, so I went in through the parking garage and not the front door. At least the visitor’s space was empty. I wouldn’t have to hear any shenanigans from across the hall.

But there was a surprise waiting for me when I got to my floor. There were police officers in the hall and yellow tape across Delores’ apartment door. How did I miss the cruisers ? Oh, yeah. I came in through the back.

What now?

One of them stops me as I approach and asks where I live. I tell him and he asked for my ID. It wasn’t an ask, really, So I hand it over. He looked at it and then disappeared with it into the apartment. He came back with a lady detective whose name I didn’t catch. We stepped down the hall a bit to talk. She asked if I had been in the building in the last hour or so. I said no, I was down at the park walking. She then asked if I knew Delores. I answered not well other than to say hello now and then, was something wrong? She confirmed there was. Delores had been found dead an hour ago.


The next hour was a wall of confusion. She asked when I saw her last. Frankly I couldn’t recall. Three days ago? Did I know any of her acquaintances? I’d never saw any, only heard. She kind of smiled at that one. Finally, the lady was satisfied I couldn’t help her and I retreated into my cave and turned on the radio.

It was bad enough Herrington had been found, but now Delores? I mean, I hardly knew the lady, but this was getting too close to home.

“…and now this geritol gem from 1981, Jenny. Whatever happened to Tommy TuTone, anyway…?”

My head started nodding.

“…867-5309…”

Who was it that used it as a ring tone. Sarah? Molly? Yeah, that’s right, Molly. And she’d answer the phone “This is Jenny!” I’m glad we never made it to bed. I would have broke the thing over her head if it had rung in the middle of it. Come to think of it, she did kind of looked like Donna Bartlett.


“…and since we are on the subject of bad 80s one hit wonders, here’s ‘One in a Million You…”

NO! I don’t want that memory rolling in my head. Last time I had heard, the dude was doing drag shows in some dive on the Southside.

Thank God there’s beer in the fridge.

I had to wonder, was any connection between Herrington and Delores? It’s too much of a coincidence they died on the same day. I look on Herrington’s data sheet to for known associates. I see an interesting one and decide to take a gamble. I pick up the phone.

“Holidayland Marina.”

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Topic-Jay Sole

Pic-Michele Marko King

Pic Guesses- Tommy Tutone (in blog), Jenny (in blog), 867-5309 (in blog), cold (in blog), seven day, forecast, weather

Dockside Cafe Part 12 (Blogophilia 46.13)

As I pass the gazebo, the swans begins to fuss, the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. I sit down and watch as the birds play in front of a family with a loaf of bread. The most bold of the birds chases a girl up the bank, hoping the something will drop. They were as bad as the bag ladies outside my building.


I had to get away from the screen, so I came down to the park. Being cold and a weekday, virtually no one was here. I pull the hood up closer as the wind picked up. Angie said I looked like a bear in the heavy coat. And the thought made me wish I was in San Juan. That I had not chickened out and put up with being the stranger in the strange land. I want empanadas, plantains, and rum. I want her curls in my face and her scent in my nose.


Marion County released the Sunset to the insurance company, the arson case had gone cold with Herrington still in the wind. The estate will get paid and that’s all the lawyer care about. Their circus, not mine. I met with them yesterday to finish up the case. Most of the money had turned up. Donna had hid it so well from Jerry she had forgot where she had put it all. There was only $50,000 left to find. There was only one question left.


Who killed her?


Williams called me in for an interview after I got back from Florida. It went for more than two hours. Like McMillan, he was fishing a dry hole. All I knew was I had met the woman once, talked on the phone with her maybe twice after that, then chased paper across the south for mythical boat given a Viking’s funeral. None of it made any sense. If Williams had any idea who might have been involved, he was keeping it close to the vest and that suited me. If I knew I would only wonder what I could have done differently to prevent it.


The swans moved across the pond toward the old clubhouse. I could make out a couple of little kids tossing stuff toward them. There was still grumbling from the flock, but for the most part everything was quiet. The sun comes out from the clouds. It feels warm and I close my eyes.


A dream born from silence flashed on my eyelids. Even though I’d never been shown the death scene, I knew where she was found and why she was left there. And who the black Audi belongs to. Curiouser and curiouser. Unlike Alice, I have the choice of the Rabbit Hole or the Looking Glass.

Ray William’s number lights up my phone screen. I know, just one more thing. I click on.


“Jim Holden.”


“Jim. Just to let you know, Jerry Herrington was found dead at Chateau Elan.”


No, I don’t. The Looking Glass has chosen me.

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Writer’s Choice Week.

Topic-Born From Silence (Courtesy of Nyla Alisia at Speakeasy Cafe)

Hard Prompt-Viking Funeral

Easy Prompt- Include a rabbit

Pic-Dave Coon

Pic guesses-Bear (in blog), Honey hunt, where is everybody?, Clear day, high ridge, bear necessities, snow on the ground.

Dockside Cafe Part 11 (Blogophilia 45.13P

The line under the picture of the current Sherriff said “To Serve Man” stood just inside the door. It a twist on the old “To protect and serve” most departments use. I look a little harder while I’m waiting in the security line. He is a clean cut, military looking guy. It makes me wonder what secrets he’s keeping.

Yeah, I’ve gotten cynical.


I had texted McMillan of my arrival. “Come on in” was the immediate replay. I sigh. I was hoping for a minute in the parking lot to collect my thoughts. I put my gun in the lockbox under the dash and head on in. As I get out of the car, I notice the sign on a post next to my car: “Directions to the Travolta Farm here!”, with a box of maps. You would think you were in L.A. or something. I guess this backwater place has to have way to fight the Holiday Blues.


I empty the pockets at security. No issues. I didn’t think there would be. A couple seconds I see McMillan. He was a dead ringer for Derek in Criminal Minds, a touch over 6 feet, cue ball head, six pack visible through the green golf shirt. The badge was on his belt and I could see where his holster would clip to his hip.


“Mr. Holden?” The voice didn’t match. It was high pitched, almost feminine with a distinctive southern lilt. He held out a beefy hand and continued the introduction. “I’m Angus McMillan. I’m glad you could come down.”


“We are happy to be of service.” The grip was softer than I expected. “My client is interested in the remains of the boat.”

“Come on back.” We walked down a row of cubicles toward a glass walled conference room. “We’ve got some questions of our own.”

The lock clicked with a swipe of his badge and he pointed me to one the side seats. A second Deputy with cat-like eyes was waiting inside. He introduced himself as George Hollings and he took the seat across from me. McMillan had the end seat. On the table a speaker sat like a large spider. Everything had to be recorded these days for posterity.

A lady stuck her head in asked me if I needed something to drink. “Black Coffee.” I responded. It appeared and McMillan pressed the record button on the speaker, With a few remarks about the interview and the players, the chess game began.

“Mr. Holden, we are investigating a incident on the 25th at Lake Orange where the burned hull of a boat, The Sunset Dream” was discovered. It is being investigated as an arson case. We understand you may have some background on the boat.” He shuffled a tablet in front of him to take notes. “How do you know the boat?”

“My client, the late Donna Bartlett hired me to track it down as part of a divorce settlement.”

“Late?” McMillan wasn’t expecting that. “When did your client pass?”

“She was found on the 16th.” McMillan scribbled down the information.

“How did she pass?”

I picked up my cup and stared at it. “The police advised me she had been shot.”

Deputy Hollings spoke up.


“Routine question. We’re you involved in her death?”


I put down my cup and said .”No, Sir.” maybe with too much earnestness. “It was a shock when I got the call.”


“Understood.” McMillan went on. “And now you are working on behalf of her estate?”


“Yes.”


The next questions involved how I originally got the case and what progress I had made in the asset search. I knew the murder was only tangential to their case and referred them to Sgt. Williams for more info.


The interview then turned to the boat. McMillan pulled out the pictures. Most of the damage was forward toward the bow like someone lit a fuel can, which I found interesting. The script “Sunset Dream” peeked out from the blackened stern.

“Mr. Holder, have you ever seen this boat?”

“Only pictures.” I looked at my empty cup. “Ms. Bartlett had told me the boat was moored at Holidayland Marina in Cumming, GA. When I went to check on it, it was gone, apparently moved a few days earlier.

Deputy Hollings asked. “Which lake is that?”

“Lanier.” I wanted more coffee. ” 40 miles north of Atlanta.”

“I remember that place.” McMillan smiled. “My Scoutmaster sponsored a trip when I was a kid. First time on a boat.”

Hollings laughed. “Now we can’t keep you off them.”

“Yep. Gotta get them fish.” McMillan rubbed his cueball head. I knew this was a tactic to get me to relax. It didn’t take long to get back to business.

“Mr. Holden, what methods did you use to track down the Sunset?”

I provided a copy of the internet contact list, including the dealer who informed me of the boat’s demise. Hollings spoke up.

“Had you done business with the dealer in Cross Creek before?”

“He’d helped me track down a couple of boats in the past.”

McMillan changed tack. “Who was the titled owner of the Sunset Dream?”

I looked at my notes. “Donna Bartlett and her estranged husband, Jerry Herrington owned it jointly. They had bought it last August.”

“Do you think it was burnt to keep it out of the divorce?”

I scratched the side of my eye. “I think it was why it was moved. Anything beyond would be a guess.”

Hollings had the next question. “What do you know about Jerry Herrington?”

“I used to work with him a long time ago as a salvage diver, but I hadn’t seen him in at least ten years. It was a surprise when i found they were married.”

“I see.” McMillan scribbled down the information. “What kind of character is Herrington?”

I shuffle in my seat a little. I don’t like being a rat. But in this case, it’s necessary.

“He’s always been shady, looking for a profitable angle.

Hollings asked the next question. “Would that include insurance fraud?”

“Yes.”

McMillan continued. “Going back to the beginning, you said you met with Ms. Bartlett on the 6th. What day was it when you went to Holidayland?

“The next day, the 7th.” I know they are fishing now. “It took a while to confirm the date the boat moved, but it left the Marina on the 4th on a trailer.”

“Would Herrington had been served with the divorce papers by then?”

I’m ready to get out of here. “Ms. Bartlett said he’d been served a day or so before our first meeting.”

Hollings looked like he’d caught a canary. “Did you have any contact with Ms. Bartlett after your first meeting?”

“Only phone and text to confirm items in the file.”

They both nodded. Suddenly, McMillan stood up.

“That’s all we need, Mr. Holden. We appreciate your time and cooperation. If you will follow me, I’ll show you out.”

I wonder if they know where Herrington is? I’d have to guess they do.

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Topic-Dahlia Ramone

Pic-Colleen Keller Bruenig

Pic guesses- Caught a canary (in blog), cat eyes (in blog), Human?, Dinner time, What’s that?, Kitty, tabby.

Dockside Cafe Part 10 (Blogophilia 44.13)

Hey, Heidy, and Howdy! It’s your old pal Harry Handy here at internet wonder WOFT, The Old Fart, spinning tunes for you geritol guys and gals…


Online radio is a wonder. Just music with only an occasional scream from the “talent”. Better than the on-air stations where its commercials 24/7. I always hated this part of I-75 when the fog would form in the fields on either side of the road. Lights flashed dimly in the distance, saying conditions were right for a complete whiteout. Singing along made for a good diversion as I drive the tree lined tunnel.


“…next up is that novelty hit from Brooklyn-“The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”…


A semi is ahead of me, trailer listing to the left. It doesn’t look like it would take much for it to go over. Bad spring or a bad load? I don’t want to find out. A glance in my sideview shows the lane is clear and I move on over. A State Trooper is doing a county fundraiser on the right shoulder. Some things never change on this road.


The dealer in Cross Creek had given me the story on the boat. Apparently, a guy about 50 with short blond hair and wore a loud Hawaiian shirt dropped by asking if he would be interested in buying . He claimed it was docked at Lake Orange and had a Florida registration. The dealer asked if there were any pictures and the guy said no. The dealer knew it was a fraud and tried to play it cool. But something spooked Hawaiian Shirt and he took off. The dealer didn’t think much more about it until the Marion County cops had called him to see if he knew anything.


“In the jungle, the mighty jungle…”


The County Mountie handling the case was named McMillan and he was originally from Atlanta. When I called to follow up on the boat, we spent a couple of minutes chitchatting. It turned out we had a couple of mutual acquaintances, but none germane to the Bartlett case. Might be worth meeting him for a beer after this case is over. He confirmed what the dealer said. Hawaiian Shirt called himself George Harvey. I smiled. A new variation on an old alias. That’d be Jerry, alright. But I didn’t say anything. After a little more talk, it was apparent I’d need to come in for an interview. I understood and cleared my calendar. Another bill for the lawyers.


“A wemoweh, a wemoweh. a wemoweh…”


I shut off the radio and and let my mind drift. I brought the case file with me. I knew the cops would be very interested in his past. There was something strange, though. Usually the scam involved scuttling the boat so it wouldn’t be found. Burning a big boat in a way that doesn’t raise suspicion is not an easy task. I imagine the Arson folks have already scoured the wreck to see where the flames started and how. There a lot places to look.
Why would he destroy the boat in the first place? It wasn’t worth much, maybe $25,000 in insurance, assuming they paid at all. Whereas the right sucker might pay double that as a floater. The only thing I could think of would have been to spite Donna, but this was several weeks after her death. I’m getting goofy.

I see the sign saying 20 miles to Valdosta, a little over half way there. Good. The gas gauge is inching toward empty and I need stretch. A billboard for a 24 hour strip bar glows eeriely out of the fog. A scantily clad girl holds a plate deep fried alligator tail in her hand beckoning the travelers to stop. Tail serving tail? I’ll pass. This case is looney enough without Crystal Amber complicating things. The only question would be would I stay the night or go on to Ocala. It didn’t matter. The meeting with McMillan wasn’t until 2 tomorrow. I had time either way.


Motel 6 has left the light on. I need some sleep.

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Topic-Tyler Myrth

Pic-Christine Wichman

Pic guesses: Editor’s Desk, tools, ready to write, Royal, Typist, Need coffee, organization

Dockside Cafe Part 9 (Blogophilia 43.13)

Gray rain was coming down in sheets and coffee is doing nothing for my sour mood. The clock shows 9:30 and I’ve been up since 5 bouncing from site to site. I want to be where it’s ten thousand degrees in the shade.


I need a break and turn on the TV and stare at the screen. A preacher in a gray silk suit is blasting the “word.”


“Glory, glory Hallelujah! The sun is shining down.”


The Suit’s message: “Sinners send tithes to multiply our mission.” You’d think they get off the platitudes and work with the Sinners themselves, like Donna, or Delores or some guy in prison. Nah. That’s too hard. Pharisees are like that. They forget the why. It’s the other guy’s problem and his money should go to better home, like me. Send the money in today.
It’s been a long time since I darkened a church door. Got tired of the corporate line of “salvation” and Sevilles, playing church for all to see. Modern Pharisees was what Angie had called them. People going through the motions and putting on a show. Yep. That had been my experience. A last piece of palace intrigue among former friends had sealed the deal. It’ll be in the distant future before I go back. Turning off the idiot box, I fill up, and go back to work.


Donna Bartlett’s lawyers had authorized continuing the asset trace for “estate” purposes. Right. As far as I knew, there was no next of kin except Jerry Herrington. Who would get the goods? Putting two plus two said they were getting pressured by the cops for information. It didn’t matter to me. To this point, they’d been prompt paying the bills.


My creditors liked that.


There had been some successes. Williams’ crime scene crew found a deposit slip in her house and they were kind enough to let me know. Cross checking showed the account was on the list Donna had given me. The slip showed only her name on it. Interesting. Was Herrington a signer on it? There was only one way to find out.


The bank was surprisingly cooperative given the circumstances. They could have told me to pound sand, but I got patched into their legal department. I explained my role in the estate proceedings and they gave me what they could. The account had a hundred large in it and it had been frozen since a week before the murder. Any further info would require a court order. I understood. The funds were placed in escrow until the case was over.


I kept digging. One of the jetskis turned up stripped north of Naked Lady Cove. The VIN on the theft report came back to one of the missing ones. You win some and you lose some. Jerry didn’t do chop shops. It was probably some meth head who needed some quick cash. I let the insurance company know. The second ski ended up being at Bartlett’s house. I guess she’d forgot it was there.


That left the big boat and a fair amount of cash.


Herrington’s credit file turned up an alias. Harvey Lloyd. I had to laugh at that one. A tribute to a dead con man by another con man. I wonder if Williams had picked up on that yet? When I ran the name two accounts turned up, both with a balance of zero. The banks this time weren’t so obliging on history. I let the lawyers know in case they wanted to pursue it further. There were a couple of more aliases on the file to run down. Maybe I’ll get lucky.


The Sunset Dream was still lost in space. A Subpoena shook loose a Bill of Sale to a company called Goode Hope LLC out of Texas the issued a few days before I was hired. The boat left Holidayland on the back of a trailer, destination unknown. A check with the State of Texas showed no registration listed under that name. That didn’t surprise me in the least. Fake corporations were common in asset switches. It made the audit trails harder to trace.


So where did it go?


An email pops up, an alert for a new listing on a Lakeview houseboat. When I pull it up, it’s not the Sunset. Not the first time and it won’t be the last.


The phone beeps, a text from a contact down in Florida. The Sunset Dream turned up in Lochloosa…as a burned hulk.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Topic-Dave Coon

Pic- Jay Sole

Pic guesses: Lost in space (in blog), Major Tom, Space Oddity, Where am I?, I got to pee, Astro, Moon Man, Planet of the Apes

J. J. Grey Lyrics “Glory, glory hallelujah. The Sun is shining down.”, “Ten thousand degrees in the shade.”

Dockside Cafe Part 8 (Blogophilia 42.13)

The car is empty as I drive by. At least I think it is. But no excuse not to be careful. I head up to the top of the deck and park next to the Corvette. It should be safe for a couple of hours, the towing company hasn’t been by in weeks.


I pop out toward the stairwell. The interior is lit with holiday light and it doesn’t bode well. The door to my floor is propped open. I quickly go to the other staircase. Illuminated by another set of light, couple was coming up the stairs, hanging off each other. I didn’t recognize them, but they seemed OK. I’ll act normal and no one will suspect a thing. A snow fox would be proud of me as make my way down. They get off at the third floor and don’t even notice I’m there. Good.


Getting out on my floor, I see two sets of shoe prints on concrete floor going up to Delores’s place, a woman’s and a man’s. She’s none of my business, but I am compelled to at least check it out. I feel a twinge of anticipation as I get closer, like when I would wake up Christmas morning hoping for a lot of presents. Would it be good, like Angie wrapped up in a bow or bad like another corpse?


My reverie is shattered by the sound of them getting on the naughty list. Mr. Audi was a bad, bad boy and Mother Delores was encouraging every bit of it. And I could tell the new toys came with batteries. They don’t need or want my input, obviously.


I’m jealous.


I listen until they finish then go in my place. The empties were where I left them. Why not? It isn’t like I have anybody to clean up after me. They sound like gunshots as they hit the bottom and I duck behind the sofa. What is it about this case making me so jumpy? Donna Bartlett didn’t give off weird vibes. She was another woman who had made bad decisions and was looking for a way out. Solving those puzzles was how I had made my living the last few years.


I flip on the laptop to take my mind off things. I pull up a video on the meaning of dreams and let it run in the background while I do the final review of the case file. Date of first contact: October 26 when she called to ask if I were available. It was a week before I could actually see her because of a couple of prior commitments. Then she’s dead less than 30 days later. Funny how all of it goes.


A passage about flying dreams enters my conscience. I used to have a lot of those when I was little, usually ending in a crash. An expert on the screen says these anticipate some tragedy that was coming, or not. I wonder if Donna dreamed?

I guess I’ll never know.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Topic-Christine Wichman

Pic-David Schrader

Pic Guesses: Snowfox (in blog), white, quiet, winter, cold, curious

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