Authors: Marja McGraw
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Vintage Restaurant - Los Angeles
|Marja McGraw - Bogey Man 01 - Bogey Nights|
|Bogey Man Mysteries |
|Marja McGraw (2011)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Cozy - Vintage Restaurant - Los Angeles|
Mystery: Cozy - Vintage Restaurant - Los Angelesttt
BOGEY NIGHTS, A Bogey Man Mystery, Copyright 2011, 2014, by Marja McGraw. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews. For information, contact Marja McGraw at
First Edition, March, 2011
Second Edition, May, 2014
Cover by Marja McGraw
Silhouette by Andy Kohut
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
In memory of Scott LaMonda, who left us too early and who knew that a joyful, gentle spirit and a sense of humor would keep life interesting.
he far off cry of the sirens turned into a frantic wail as they neared
Good Joe’s Honky Tonk
, sending a chill down my spine and panic rising up through my throat. It seemed like the fire trucks were taking forever, although it had probably only been five minutes. Sometimes Los Angeles is a difficult place to move around in for emergency vehicles.
I watched the flames creep across the roof and around the building
. With an audible
, the restaurant had become engulfed, and I watched in shock as the flames took on an evil and destructive life of their own.
I turned to my husband, Chris
. He was tending to a cut on the arm of one of our waitresses, Marilyn Monroe, who quietly cried. Myrna Loy sat beside Marilyn and held her hand. My mind had taken a brief hiatus, and I couldn’t think of these women’s real names.
I counted my blessings that the fire had been detected early enough for everyone to get out of the building
. Customers were walking around as though in a daze, and some were crying like Marilyn. Others had jumped in their cars and left.
I took a deep
, shaky breath and surveyed my surroundings to see who needed help. Turns out it’s a bad idea to take a deep breath near a smoky, burning building. I choked and coughed until my throat felt raw. Chris, now done with Marilyn, handed me a bottle of water. I didn’t ask where it came from, but took deep chugs hoping it would sooth my throat. It did, a little.
– or maybe ran, I’m not sure – to customers to be sure they weren’t injured. Looking at the Reservation Book I’d grabbed when I ran out of the building, I tried to figure out if anyone was missing. It was difficult because I didn’t know how many people had left.
Members of the band were helping out wherever they could
. Miraculously, everyone was okay. Scared, but okay. One woman mentioned her purse and said she’d sue if someone found it and stole her identity. I looked into her eyes and saw that they were red and glassy. Her voice sounded more shocky than angry. One of the band members assured her that there was no purse left to steal. It was ashes, along with all of their musical instruments. The woman opened her mouth, but closed it when she glanced at the building. Another woman had fallen and skinned her knee, but said she could live with a scraped knee.
Turning to Chris, I asked
, “Where are Sherlock and Watson? Are they still inside?” My voice had arisen several octaves and I began to shake at the thought of my two friends possibly stuck in the burning building.
Chris took a step
toward me. “I’ve got to go get – ”
“You can’t,” I cried
. “Not even for them. Don’t go back inside the restaurant!”
We turned toward the building
. I had tears running down my cheeks and Chris put his arm around me.
“We can’t leave them in there
, Pamela,” he said. With that he let go of me and ran toward the restaurant.
Fire trucks pulled up and men began climbing down and preparing to fight the fire.
I grabbed the arm of one of the firefighters. He tried to shake me off but I clung to him relentlessly. “My husband went back to the building,” I said, still crying. “Please stop him.”
“What’d he do a fool thin
g like that for?” he asked, leaving me and running after Chris.
“To find our dogs,” I said to no one
. With my thumbs under my chin and my hands together as if in prayer, I covered the lower half of my face. This particular Thursday night wasn’t ending well. Marilyn and Myrna walked over and stood beside me, and Myrna patted my back. Their names suddenly came to me. Phyllis and Gloria.
I faced the building without really seeing what was going on
. Chris reached the doors and I closed my eyes. “Please God…,” I whispered, not able to finish the thought.
Phyllis said excitedly. There was a tone of awe in her voice as she pointed toward the front doors.
My eyes popped open.
A small crowd had begun to gather in front of me and I pushed people out of my way to see what was happening. What I saw caused fresh tears and brought a burst of energy. I ran forward before anyone could stop me.
Chris, Sherlock and Watson were pulling someone out of the burning building
. Each dog had hold of the shoulders of someone’s shirt, and Chris was trying to get a grip on the man. I couldn’t see who it was. The fireman ran up and each of the men got hold of the man’s arms and pulled him out. The dogs seemed to realize that they were no longer needed and let go. Seeing me, they came running, whining and doing a doggie dance. Talk about an adrenalin rush! Both the dogs
I patted each of their heads absentmindedly
, watching Chris and the fireman. “Good babies,” I said. Their tails lashed out like whips.
Sherlock began barking and his dancing became more agitated
. Watson joined him as she watched Chris coming toward us.
inside the building?” I asked, running up to Chris as he approached. I checked him over for burns or any other kind of damage.
Luis, and he said he’s sure everyone else got out safely. He was checking for stragglers. He tripped and fell over something and became disoriented, and the dogs grabbed him and began pulling. The EMTs are treating him for smoke inhalation, but he should be okay.”
Chris and I each grabbed the collar of a dog and held them close, taking no chances on them going back to
ward the fire. Chris was breathing hard.
“Maybe you need to see the EMTs, too,” I
There was a loud rumble and crash as part of the roof caved in
. I noticed people in the vicinity take several steps back as cinders flew in every direction. My eyes were burning from the smoke, but I couldn’t take them away from what had been a dream for Chris and me. We’d created a restaurant with a 1940s theme, and included a dance floor and a band that played Big Band music. The bartenders and waitresses either resembled actors and actresses from that era or at least dressed the part. It had been a hit with the Los Angeles crowd. A place to get away from today’s rush and problems, and relax. And now it was burning to the ground.
Chris looked into my eyes
. “Pamela, I’m so sorry.”
t wasn’t your fault. There’s nothing to be sorry for, Chris. I’m just so glad everyone got out!” I started to cry again. I didn’t know if it was over the crushed dream, or because of relief that we were all safe – maybe it was both. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hands and they came away an ash color.
A fireman came over to talk to
us and asked a lot of questions while the others brought the flames to their knees. It was a long time before the fire was completely out and we didn’t arrive home until the early morning hours. I’d called my babysitter, Constance Hargood, on someone’s borrowed cell phone and asked her to spend the night, telling her that we had an emergency, but that we were okay.
Arriving home, we headed straight for the kitchen where I put on a pot of coffee for Chris. “You let the dogs outside to do their business and I’ll go check on Mikey.” Chris was beginning to love my son as though he was his own. Mikey’s father had died of cancer only two years after we were married. I spent the first year of our marriage pregnant, and the second caring for my baby and my dying husband. He hadn’t had life insurance, and I’d spent the next couple of years working multiple jobs to support Mikey and me.
was sleeping soundly. I wanted to hug him and make him feel secure. Realizing I was the one who needed a security blanket, I left him alone.
Returning to the kitchen,
I glanced at my husband who’s a dead ringer for Humphrey Bogart, and remembered how happy we’d been just a few hours earlier.
Chris turned to me and put his arm around my shoulders again
. “Don’t worry, dollface, the brains in this outfit, namely me, will be in like Flynn as soon as the insurance pays off.” He pulled off the vest he’d been wearing and draped it over the kitchen chair. Chris always dressed like an old-time private investigator when we were at the restaurant. I didn’t see his suit jacket or his fedora. I’d have to ask him about that later. He loved that hat.
I loved it when Chris took on his Bogey persona, but this wasn’t the time. I noticed that under the soot and dirt on his face were worry lines. He didn’t look as if he was feeling as confident as he tried to sound.
“How do you know the insurance will cover this?” I asked.
“They’re going to have to lump it because you know this had to be an accident. No one set the fire, babe.”
“The investigator said it looked like a grease fire. I’m supposed to call him later and he’ll give me more information.”
I poured him a cup of coffee and opened the fridge to get myself some iced tea.
“Everything okay with Ace?” Chris asked. He’d begun to call Mikey Ace not long after we married, and for some reason the nickname had been the start of the bond between the man and child.
“He’s sleeping like a seven-year-old baby
. I could never let him hear me say that or he’d pitch a fit. He so wants to be grown up.”
I set my iced tea on the table before I let Sherlock and Watson in
. I gave them an extra hug. “You’re my good babies,” I said. “You probably saved a man’s life tonight.” I tossed them each a treat, and then a second one for good measure. My Labrador Retrievers were heroes, even though they were only a year and a half old. They’d need baths later because they stunk like smoke. But, then, so did Chris and I.
Sitting down at the table, I asked, “So what are we going to do now?”
“Like I said, we’ll rise up and start again. I’ve been eying a place not far from here. It would be the perfect place to give the business another try.” He glanced at me and then picked up his coffee cup. “It needs some work. We couldn’t open up right away.”
can get another waitressing job. After all, that’s what I was doing when I met you,” I said. “I still remember the first time you came to the diner. You in your P.I. outfit and fedora with all the ladies drooling over you.”
“You’re not going back to work, Pamela
,” he said, ignoring my comment. “I’ve got plenty saved from when I worked for the post office, and we’ll be receiving an insurance check.” He was using his no-nonsense tone of voice, which he didn’t do often. At least, not as Chris. When he was emulating Bogey, I heard that voice often.
“What?” Chris asked.
“It just dawned on me that I have two husbands
. You and the Bogey Man.”
Chris yawned, not caring about being two people.
“So tell me about this place you want to look into,” I said.
It’s an old building and it’ll need to be remodeled. It’s solid – well-built – and it’s for sale. It’s just a thought, anyway. We’ve got enough problems on our hands right now without worrying about the new location. I’ll tell you more later. We need to shower and see if we can get some sleep right now.”
“Okay, but I just had a random thought
. Neither of us was all that happy with the name of the restaurant. When we reopen, let’s rename it.”
. We’ll give it some thought.”
Chris came around the table and
took hold of my hands. He pulled me up and into his arms and we clung together, and I felt the tightness in my chest slip away.
We never had really liked the
the building we were in. There had been one problem after the other, partly due to an unlikable landlord who charged exorbitant rent, and partly because of constant repairs to the place, done by us and not the landlord. The business was retro, but the building wasn’t, and it hadn’t been well-built. We couldn’t possibly have any more problems with the new location than we’d had with the burned out building.