Authors: Bob Moats
Tags: #Mystery: Thriller - Senior Sleuth
|Bob Moats - Jim Richards 01-03 - 3 for Murder Box Set|
|Bob Moats (2013)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Thriller - Senior Sleuth|
3 for Murder
Richards Murder Novels Box Set
The first three
e-books of the series.
This box set is licensed for your personal use only. The e-books may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
No part of this box set may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
This is a work of pure fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For information and address:
Magic 1 Productions
P.O. Box 524, Fraser MI 48026-0524
by Bob Moats
Turning 40 and then 50 years old didn’t really bother me, but turning 60 was something I just couldn’t accept. I ignored it the day it happened, or tried my best to do so despite my family and friend’s attempts to make sure I didn’t forget. Damn them.
I was now one month past 60, and it still bothered me. The only good thing about it, I was one year and eleven months closer to social security.
I grumbled around my tiny room tapping the keyboards on my computers, bringing them out of sleep mode, and wishing I had something better to do with my life.
Actually, anything at all would have been better since I was now doing nothing in the present time of my life. I was recently unemployed due to the stupidity of my former employers, and the state unemployment agency decided I didn’t qualify for benefits. Maybe it’s the fact that I had quit my job because I really hated it; possibly that was the reason I was denied compensation. I wrote a nice letter in response to their request for more info. I explained that my former employers were jerks, and they were just abusing my good nature and forcing me to abuse my car in the duty of my job.
I had spent the last two years as a security guard driving my car around a large suburban Detroit Cadillac dealership on the midnight shift from 7 P.M. until 6 A.M. the next morning, guarding car tires that were the main goal for addicts and the poor to steal. They would steal them right off the cars. I was a good little trooper and managed to stop two attempts at theft, being told by my employer that I would get a whole twenty dollars as a reward, which I never did receive. Not the first lie they told.
My computers finally winked to life and I hooked the laptop to the internet dial-up connection. I checked my email which usually consisted of spam and a number of forwarded jokes, dirty pictures and chain letters from Buck, my former co-worker and the only friend I have. I would delete the spam and the chain letters, then read the jokes, admire the nubile naked bodies of the women in the pictures from Buck, trying to remember the last sex I had about 12 years ago. It was fading from my memory banks, now a wistful image that I could no longer enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I have occasional sex, just not with another human being.
Buck was another guard that I worked with, and he was not a person that thieves would want to have facing them down. Buck was a big, mustachioed biker who carried a nickel-plated .38 in his belt. We were not supposed to carry, but he’d rather be caught with it than without it. Me, I just refused to get out of my car if confronted by criminals. Ok, I’m a coward.
Buck was also a big teddy bear with a soft spot for others. He cared, a rare commodity in people now days. He would fuss over my problems and occasionally buy me a 30 pack of beer in exchange for loaning him my DVD collection of movies. Buck was the only friend I had other than my computers.
I looked up at the wall clock. It was just now 7:45 in the evening, and all was quiet in the house. My parents were in bed. They usually were in bed by at least 6:30. My dad was a stroke victim and my mom was his caregiver. I helped Mom with things she couldn’t handle like getting my dad into bed, doing the shopping and odd jobs around the house. It was an arrangement that suited my mom. It cut into my privacy though.
Tonight my email contained the usual crap along with Buck’s stuff, but one letter caught my eye. The sender was “[email protected]” and the subject said in big letters: “JAMES, PLEASE HELP!” I knew a Dee Wittenfield in elementary school, and she always called me James. Actually, I had a huge crush on Dee, and we even went steady for about a month before the school district broke into smaller divisions and she was sent to a different school. I went to the download on my mail program and recovered the letter. It read:
James, I know it’s been years since we’ve seen each other, but I talked to Joyce Harper and she said she heard you were working for a detective company. I got your email address off the alumni website, and I don’t know who to turn to but I’m afraid for my life. I can’t call the police, and I thought you might help me. If you could call me, I’m at 555-3682. I can’t even go out of my apartment. Please call, Dee
I printed out the letter and read it again.
I pulled my trusty Palm Treo cell phone out of my pocket and dialed the number. It rang about four times, then a male voice answered.
“May I speak with Dee, please?”
“I’m a friend of hers from high school. Can I talk to her please?”
“I’m afraid she can’t come to the phone.” He paused. “She was murdered earlier today.”
Hearing those words sent a shuddering chill through my body.
The voice on the phone asked, “Who are you again?”
I didn’t know what to say. “I’m a friend from high school,” I blurted out.
“You said that already, but who are you?” he demanded.
“Well, who’s asking?” I demanded back.
“Detective Sergeant Will Trapper, Clinton Township Police. Now, you wanna answer my question?”
“Oh.” My mind was blank. “Uh, my name is Jim Richards. I knew Dee from high school.”
“Yeah, I got that much already. When was the last time you saw Miss Wittenfield?”
“I guess it’s been over 40 years.” My brain tried to do the math, but I just rounded it off.
“You called now after 40 years? Why?”
“She sent me an email today to call her.”
There was a silence for a beat, then he asked, “What did the email say?”
I read it to him from the printout. He was silent again.
“That’s all she said?”
I assured him that was it. “What happened to her, may I ask?”
“We’re investigating, that’s all I can say right now. Wittenfield said in her email that you were with a detective company. Who do you work for?”
“Oh, it’s actually a security company. I was a guard. They had a contract with Dooley Cadillac on Eight Mile, and I worked there 4 nights a week watching the cars. I’m not working for them at the moment. I quit.”
“Why’d you quit?”
“Long story, be happy to tell you about it sometime, unless you got about 20 minutes now to hear me rant about my former employers.” He let it go.
He asked how I could be reached, I told him and he said I’d probably be called in to answer some more questions. I don’t know what more I could have told him, other than Dee and I went steady for about a month 40 years ago. I hoped that wasn’t grounds for suspicion.
I hung up the phone in a daze. A girl I had a super crush on years ago had been murdered, and she wanted me to help her. I sat there for a long while, my mind just numb.
I knew Buck was working the midnight shift tonight at the dealership, so I called him. He and I spoke to each other just about every night on the phone, but since I quit working there our calls only happened when he was working. I didn’t want to bother him at home.
“Hey, Jimmy, wass up?” His voice was smooth with a touch of southern in it. I never did ask him about that.
“Well, I’ve got a mystery on my hands.”
“Talk to me, man, I’m intrigued.” I could hear his smile through the phone.
I told him about the email and the phone call. I read the letter to him, and he was quiet for a bit.
“Wow, a murder mystery. When you gonna start investigating?” The smile came again.
“Buck, she was a long ago love in my life, and now her life is gone. I’m at a loss as to how to feel or what I should do about it.”
“Well, she thought you could help her, maybe you should.” Buck has this outlook on life to seize the day and damn the torpedoes.
I loved good crime/mystery stories, and I own over a hundred e-books that I read on my Palm TX when I have some free time. I read just about every Alex Cross book by James Patterson, and I was up to my 20th “in Death” book by Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb about the futuristic police detective, Eve Dallas. My other crime heroes were Spenser, Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone in separate books by Robert B. Parker, and lately Travis McGee by John D. MacDonald. The thought of being a P.I. intrigued me.
“Ok, so where do we start?” I posed the question.
“Whoa, you offering me a job as junior detective?” he kidded.
I ignored him and studied the email printout.
“You know, she mentions a mutual friend, Joyce Harper, in her email. Maybe she would know what Dee was afraid of,” I commented.
Buck was excited. “When do we start, Kemosabe?”
“I’m not the Lone Ranger, Buck. I’d rather be Spenser.” Buck had no idea who I was talking about. “Remember ‘Spenser for Hire,’ 80’s TV show with the late Robert Urich?”
“Oh yeah, and the “Hawk” was his sidekick, one big mean mother fricker. Spen-sahh.”
“Yeah, that one.” I had to relate Hawk with Buck, now my sidekick in crime solving. I smiled at the “Spen-sahh” reference which was the name Hawk often had called Spenser on the show.
“Ok, so how do you find this Harper woman?” Buck queried.
“Well, for the last 5 years I have been the web guy for my high school alumni website, and I have seen her name on the alumni board. I could go there, get her email address, and contact her that way. Or do a Google search for her. Either way, this town is small enough I can locate her.”
“So go look her up and talk to her, man.” Caught up in the flow, his excitement came through the phone.
“I’ll see what I can do tomorrow to locate her. But tonight I have to get through the fact I lost an old friend, and not to old age.”
“Hey, buddy, I understand. I’ve lost a few friends over the years,” he said quietly. Buck was a biker, and I knew he lost some friends he knew due to careless and often drunk drivers on the roads. People in cars don’t watch out for those smaller vehicles on two wheels.
“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll call you tomorrow night and let you know what happens.”
“Well, good night, buddy. You need me, just call! Don’t get yourself murdered.” He grinned through the phone.
“Not about to. Take care.”
I hung up and sat back in my rickety desk chair. It made its annoying squeal that I often worried would wake my parents. I listened and heard nothing. I probably could oil the damn thing, but that would have meant doing physical labor. I wasn’t up to it anymore.
I went to my computer’s keyboard, brought up Google, and typed in Dee Wittenfield. It came up with just over one million hits, which was a bit of a lie since Google looks for every instance of the name “Dee” and every instance of “Wittenfield.” That can cover every Dee online, from Dee Wallace-Stone to Dee Dee Myers. My Dee Wittenfield was not to be found even after I searched through about ten pages. I knew then she wasn’t a person to be found on the web. I tried Joyce Harper, and she came up on the first page with her real estate agency. I added the address and phone number to my Palm Treo and put my computers back to sleep for the night. I wasn’t in any mood now to be looking for more free software to download and pack into my already bloated computer.
I turned off the desk lamp and was left with all the tiny LED lights from numerous computer accessories that made my room look like the starry night sky. I sat still in my aging chair and just took in the lights.
My mind wandered back to a day on the school bus when I passed Dee a note asking if she wanted to go steady with me. I watched her reading the note, and she looked up and smiled, nodding a yes to my note. I was in heaven, but fate took us apart when she was bussed off to a new school in the district just a few weeks later. We lost touch, and then when we all joined back into the big high school, I was afraid to approach her, so I lost her again though she was still close by. She was a beauty, and after graduation I often wondered what had happened to her. Now I knew, and even though I never saw her all these years, I still remembered her as a young beauty.