Authors: Cliff Roberts
A Carpelli Adventure
Sequel To The Bestselling Thriller Fatal Mistake
Copyright © 2016 Outlaws Publishing LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Cover Design by Outlaws Publishing LLC
Published by 2016 Gumshoe Publishing
MY THANKS AND GRADITUDE
TO MY WIFE DONNA, ALWAYS THERE ENCOURAGING ME. I COULDN’T DO THIS WITHOUT HER SUPPORT.
TO THE DESIGN TEAM, THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT COVER.
TO NICK WALE, THE BEST BOOK MARKETER IN THE BUSINESS, BAR NONE
QUOTES BY CLIFF ROBERTS
It doesn’t matter if you fail little or fail big, they are both failure! So go all out and dream big, because who ever heard of someone wanting to succeed in a little way!
To be successful in life you must do things you think you cannot!
Great writers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion! Write what you’re passionate about.
Everyone is a writer. We write the story of our lives through living it every day. What kind of story are you writing?
What’s in a name? I think it was Shakespeare who said something like this, “A rose by any other name would smell but as sweet.” I personally go by lots of names, each chosen at random and each as meaningless, as the one before it. I choose to be a man of mystery.
I am also a small business man. I have only one employee, me, and I work for cash. No checks or credit deals and no refunds. I work freelance for a lot of different people, some good and some not so good. I try not to let my personal judgment interfere with my income, but nobody’s perfect. I find things or lose things as required. I solve mysteries or sometimes I create them. I’m paid very well for my efforts but you wouldn’t know it to look at me. I keep a low profile. I also like to keep busy so I take some rather mundane jobs from time to time. I’ll follow husbands/boyfriends or wives/girlfriends as they sneak around cheating, I shadow business partners on supposed business trips to exotic vacation resorts; I deliver messages and sometimes the delivery process, leaves a mark.
On a few, rare occasions, I’ve even helped a few people, all bad of course, take dirt naps, to sleep with the fishes, cash in their chips, start a new life as fertilizer, meet Jesus, meet Satan, buy the farm, move on to their next reincarnation, take a permanent vacation, catch the last train to nowhere, start pushing up daisies, say high to Jimmy Hoffa by becoming a pillar in the community, or canceling their bucket list. Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands, of euphemisms to describe dying. As human’s we simply don’t want to accept that all of us, each and every one of us, will die someday. So we try to colorize our language, in an effort to make dying not sound so bad, so final.
In another lifetime, I was a cop, but I got too greedy and too cocky for my own good. When I caught my superiors with their hand in the cookie jar, instead of turning them in, which would have been the smart thing to do, I joined in. How was I to know, they were being watched by the Feds, who promptly rounded us all up. I got lucky though, I had evidence the Feds didn’t have and needed badly. The smoking gun as they say, so I got a deal, well sort of. The deal was turnover everything I had, testify against my superiors and quit the force. It wasn’t a great deal, but I took it over jail time and a record. I’m not proud of what I did, but it is so hard, not to grab for the gold ring, when fate dangles it in front you.
Of course, every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say. You’ll find ‘They’, play a big part in my life. They always seem to have something to say about whatever challenge it is I’m going through. Anyway, the silver lining in getting caught was that I was now a known entity. I had street credits and I was popular with the wrong people for the right price.
I started out just keeping tabs on guys. I then moved up to finding out all there was to know about someone. Then, I was asked to start tracking down the deadbeats, making collections, and delivering messages that left marks. I then moved up to handling critical issues, like making key pieces of evidence disappear or helping witnesses see the light by taking the money and forgetting all about whatever it was they thought they saw or by convincing them to suddenly move to another state, without leaving a forwarding address.
Along the way, I’d pick up extra cash by having enlightening conversations with wayward boyfriends or husbands, you know the kind. They like to beat up their women or cheat on them or both and the local cops aren’t up to the task of explaining to them, they have to stop. I’ve even occasionally enlightened a few law enforcement types to the error of their ways by delivering a come to Jesus sermon with the help of a Billy club or a baseball bat. Hey, I ain’t no super hero and I sure as hell don’t know enough karate to kick half the world’s ass. I don’t fight fair and I don’t play by any rules except one, I win. In my line of work, it’s either him or me. You either win or you’re dead last. My name is Carpelli, John Carpelli. Believe me when I tell you; you don’t want to get to know me, on a professional level.
It took six months to recover from my near death experience involving a mob boss named Anthony Connors and his fear of loose ends. I got three rounds to the chest that night, two at medium range from an assault rifle and one a ricochet from a machine pistol. If I hadn’t taken the precaution of wearing an extra plate of Kevlar in my bullet proof vest, I’d have bought the farm. As it was, I had five cracked ribs, two broken ribs and a bruised spleen. As soon as I was patched up enough to move about, I headed south to hide out and heal up.
The reason I had to run away and hide out, was because I’d made a mistake. Mistakes just aren’t allowed in my job. Plus, I further endeared myself to the crime boss by virtue of trying to warn the police about the probability of the lethality of the attack that might be headed their way. Either I wasn’t very convincing or they were too arrogant to heed my warning. Whichever it was, it led to the death of five police officers, three hit men and the person they were charged with protecting, Tyler Stone. Tyler Stone was a husband with a real strong desire to bury the past. He’d have gotten away with it, if I hadn’t got involved.
I did manage to save the life of the lead detective though, like I always say, there is a silver lining in every cloud. Well that, and I got a two million dollar bonus from Jackson Bender, Counselor at Law and my quasi-employer to start over someplace out of Anthony Conners reach. Bender escaped into witness protection and the last I heard, he was in Vermont, writing novels under an assumed named and using a stand in, who looks nothing like him, for pictures and personal appearances. I chose to just move to another state and start over.
I’d placed an ad in the personals of the local paper in my new town yesterday and I was hoping the phone would begin ringing right away, I was getting really bored. In the past the ad usually generated business right away, but this time it hadn’t generated anything. I find it interesting how so many people feel, actually know it deep down in their bones, their spouse or lover is cheating on them but they have to see proof of it before they can break it off. In my experience, if they’ve reached the point, they want someone like me to catch their significant other in the act, they should have broken it off long ago. They know it’s over, they just can’t bring themselves to believe it. There’s just something about getting indisputable proof of the other person’s unfaithfulness that gives them closure or vindication, I guess. I mean it’s okay by me, if they want to waste a grand or two getting a few pictures that they will more than likely set fire to or tear to shreds, but I draw the line when they ask me to kill their ex-dream lover.
I have though been known to deliver a stern warning to a husband or two, about the virtues of remaining faithful to the wife and their four children. I point out the cost of Child Support, losing all of his savings, investments and income. Plus, having to find a new place to live at half his former standard of living. If logic doesn’t persuade him, I try putting the fear of God into him. I point out that I won’t enjoy making him experience drinking his meals through a straw for the next six months, but I will, if he doesn’t get his head out of his ass. Most of the time, that’s enough, but occasionally there is that one guy who thinks he too tough or too cool, for some old fart like me to be of any trouble and he lashes out. That’s why I carry a gun and a Taser. Like I said, I ain’t no super hero and I don’t fight fair or by any rules but one, I win.
Leaving the newspaper crumpled on the table, I decided I‘d try to generate some business by stopping by a few attorney’s offices and letting them know I was available. My specialty was loosely defined as investigative work. It was a euphuism for tracking down anything or anyone who didn’t want to be found. It also included collecting whatever they needed collected or delivering messages that might get the messenger shot. Typically it wasn’t something the usual legal collection agencies were equipped to handle
The first few attorneys took my number but didn’t act as though they’d call it anytime soon. I typically like to focus my efforts on divorce, tax and corporate attorneys, but slip and fall attorneys were usually good for a few jobs now and then, as well. So I left my number with a few of them.
It was mid-afternoon when I stopped to get a drink in a downtown watering hole that had a steady stream of suits going in and coming out. That and the fact it was two blocks from the court was a dead giveaway, this was a lawyer’s bar.
I wasn’t wearing a suit. I was wearing a pair of brown slacks, a light tan golf shirt, light brown sport coat and black tennis shoes. Not exactly GQ, more like Good Will castoffs but I went in anyways and found a seat at the bar. The bartender was friendly enough but he barely spent enough time with me to deliver my beer while constantly doting on the guys in the suits. That was fine by me, as I was content to just sit and drink a few beers after having walked all over downtown Knoxville.
Despite it being mid-afternoon, the place was nearly full. The only open seats were two at the far end of the bar. I sat down on the stool on the very end, leaving a stool between me and the next guy over. While I drank my beer, I was busy plotting out a flyer on a napkin which I intended to send to all the attorneys in the Greater Knoxville Area. I had just finished putting my number on the napkin when this guy sat down on the stool next to me. He was wearing a very expensive looking suit and was busy talking on his cell phone. He didn’t sound too happy.
“What? Are you kidding me? He got shot in a bar fight over some broad he was trying to pick up? Drunk? Gee, you think? Is he going to live? Shit, that leaves me in a real bind. No, I’ll get back to you.” The guy closed his phone and tucked it in his pocket, then stared at the bar top for a moment before raising his hand haling the bartender.
When the bartender arrived he ordered a double Manhattan then stared at a spot on the ceiling while waiting for his drink. I wasn’t trying to be noisy, mind you, it was just that he was quite loud and after hearing only one side of the conversation, I was curious.
“I didn’t mean to overhear your conversation but I did and I was wondering if he was a close friend?” I asked, just trying to be friendly.
“Huh?” he replied as he turned towards me. He’d obviously been lost in thought.
“The guy shot, in the bar, was he a close friend?” I asked a little differently.
The guy stared at me for moment and then stated, “No, he was more of a business associate. Why? What’s it matter to you?” His reply was short and to the point. I liked that in people.
“It doesn’t, I’m sorry, I just over heard you on the phone and I became curious. I’ll leave you alone.” I backed off from striking up a conversation after having observed him looking down his nose at me. That told me he was one of those people, the kind who thinks a law degree and an expensive suit made you more important than everyone else.
The bartender dropped off his drink, asked if it was on the tab and the guy nodded. He then took a huge gulp and from the look on his face, he enjoyed the burn all the way down. He then set the glass down, pulled his blackberry from his inside suit coat pocket and began scrolling as if looking for something.
After a minute or so, he turned towards me and asked, what I believe was a rhetorical question.
“You ever wish people would just be honest when advertising?”
“All the time,” I stated, agreeing with him to see where the conversation went.
“It just pisses me off when they lie about their skill level or don’t provide enough information, so you can comfortably pick the right contractor. I hate wasting all the time it takes to interview people. Most of the time, after interviewing several of them I still don’t have enough information to pick one. It just ends up a crap shoot.” He bitched as he took another big swig of his drink and held it up for the bartender to see it was empty. The bartender nodded and round two was on its way.
“Yeah, I try not to bother with reading advertising. It’s just an accepted form of lying and there’s typically too much of that already,” I shared.
“Huh? Oh yeah, I get you. Must be really difficult not being able to trust people.” The guy stated.
“Yeah it is, but it comes with the job. It’s kind of like the one President who kept saying, ‘Trust, but Verify’.” I thought that was an impressive line to drop on a complete stranger and he must have thought so too, because he warmed up right away.
“So you in law enforcement?” He asked with an inquisitive look on his face.
“Somewhere in another life time but not anymore, you?” I asked although I’d already pegged him as an attorney.
“In a roundabout way. I’m an attorney.” He stated as he glanced around the bar. “In fact, most of the guys in here are attorneys. Most have a practice where they advertise for clients, they handle slip and falls, car crashes, product liability, maybe a real estate transaction or two, all pretty much pedestrian stuff. I, on the other hand, have a few steady clients who provide retainers along with my hourly rate and that’s all I need. I handle research and development issues as well the occasional court appearance.” He shared though his description was sort of vague.
“You sound like the last guy I worked for. He called himself a problem solver and I was his industrial strength degreaser. I investigated things and solved issues to his client’s satisfaction.” I shared with him, my own cryptic answer.
“Investigated things? Where did you do that and what type of things did you investigate?” he inquired.
“It was up north and I investigated whatever, wherever, whenever and whoever, I was asked to investigate.”
“So you’re a private investigator. So did the attorney handle divorces or corporate?”
“I’m not a legal investigator and he had a much more colorful clientele than that. Any divorce investigations, I did on my own just to keep from getting bored, between assignments.”
“So what’s your name?” He asked.
“Whatever it needs to be, at the time I need it.” I responded curtly.
“You’re a man of mystery?” He stated and then asked. “Did I ask you if you were a cop?”
“Yeah, you did and no, I’m not. I was, in another life but I’ve reformed.” I informed him.
“I see. So why’d you quit being a cop?” He inquired as the bartender put his second Manhattan down in from of him.
“I don’t know you well enough to share the whole story but suffice to say, I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar and they decided I couldn’t be part of their team anymore.”
“That’s not a lot to go on,” he replied.
“No, not too much, but more than enough to get the gist of the matter.” I curtly informed him.
“You said your last employer was up north, care to elaborate?”
“Witness protection is involved with the other players, I opted to provide my own protection plan, rather than become a tethered bird for the Feds. Anything I tell you, might place my ex-employer in jeopardy and that would not be something I’d care to see happen, so no, I wouldn’t care to elaborate. He was good to me.”
“So you’re saying, out of loyalty you can’t divulge who you worked for before. How touching.” He gave me sarcasms. Maybe I wasn’t going to like this guy after all.
“It is what it is. So what did your associate do for you?” I queried trying to change the subject.
“If I told you, I’ve have to kill you,” he quipped trying to be a smart ass.
“You could try,” I stated just loud enough for him to hear as I finished my drink. I waited a moment for his retort, but he didn’t make any snappy comeback.
“Well, got to go.” I said and slid off the bar stool. “Oh hey, here’s a flyer for my company. You might want to give me a try, if something comes up where you could use an investigator who doesn’t follow the rules and gets results.” I handed him the napkin I’d been doodling on, which was essentially just my name and phone number with the words, ‘Quiet Investigations and other problem resolutions’.
As I started to walk away the guy cleared his throat and said, “Hey, hold on a moment.” He then tossed back the remainder of his second Manhattan, slipped off his stool and walked off towards the door. As he crossed the bar to the front door he was checking out the room for anyone watching him or me. “Let’s take a walk shall we?” He stated as he reached the door and glanced back one more time.
We turned left and walked south towards Union Ave. He was silent until we reached Union. Then, just as I was about to ask what’s up, he held up his hand, cutting off conversation and we kept on walking. It wasn’t until we had crossed the street and turned left towards Gay Street, that he started talking.
“Okay, I like you, plus I’m in a bit of a fix. Here’s my card. I’m Edward Holston, Attorney at Law and like your former employer, I work for some colorful people. I have a job I need done a.s.a.p. Are you interested?” he asked, as we continued to walk towards Gay Street.
“You haven’t told me what the job is yet,” I responded, “but I’m interested.”
“Good, now what’s your real name?” He pretty much demanded.
“John Carpelli. Like the flyer says.” The guy pulled the crumpled napkin from his pocket and opened it, then stuffed it back in his pocket. “The attorney I worked for was a guy named Jackson Bender. I worked for him almost exclusively, for twelve years. I draw the line at whacking people, especially if the person to be whacked is me or a close friend. I don’t, sort of as a rule, ask what anyone has done to warrant my attention, but I do need as much information as you have on the person, if I’m to solve the issue. I’ll expect to be provided things like their name, address, cell phone, make and model of car, who their close friends are, if they have a job. If they belong to anything, like clubs, bowling leagues, golf clubs, or the Shriners, if there are children living with them, exactly what information I’m expected to deliver or get, whether the message needs to be delivered in such a way as to leave a mark or leaves them guessing as to how your client came across it. I also need to know what the time frame is for the completion of the task.” I took a breath and continued.