How About a Free Chapter? – Pt. 4

I’m just free-wheelin’ with these FREE chapters, aren’t I??  Well, you can thank me by buying the book by clicking on the icon below to be directed to Amazon.  But I guess you can read Chapter 4 first…

 

Chapter Four

“Lunch with Loonies”

After meeting with Dayl and Marlena Cavanaugh—client du jour—I headed back to my own office to make some calls and do some research.  Of course, I was badgered by Dayl the whole way back to my own personal space.  She had felt the need to follow at my heels and tell me what a “Pissy Patty” I was in the mornings.  The lecture didn’t end until I had put two inches of hardwood between us.  Even after closing the door in her face I could still make out Dayl’s voice grating at me from the hallway.  You’d think after seven years of working together, Dayl would know my schedule always had Attitude Problem penciled in during the morning hours.  She had to be slow in the head.  Had to be.

Like most mornings at the office, mine started out with quite a negative attitude.  To be honest about the matter, I’m not a pleasant person before noon.  Sometimes you might actually choose giving a suppository to a rabid bear over attempting to talk to me before noon.  This might lead you to believe that I hate the daylight hours, especially the early ones.  But you’d have me all wrong if you believed that.  I’m actually a Morning Person.  There’s nothing I love more than getting up with the sun, cooking breakfast, having coffee, reading the paper and taking a long leisurely shower to get ready for my day.  It’s a ritual I enjoy immensely.  However, I prefer to do it in absolute silence.

Around my house it’s quite uncommon that I get to enjoy my ritual, however.  Between Ossie and Ollie getting up and making noise, Amada coming in for the day and the phone ringing off the hook, I’m usually screwed.  I glue my happy face on at the house around the kids and Amada.  But as soon as the front door shuts behind me, my negative attitude settles in for a few hours.

My mornings are the one part of my day that I want absolutely no distractions or interference. If such a situation occurs, the previously mentioned disposition comes about. It’s not my fault.  I think it’s hereditary. Actually, my morning ritual is my way of centering myself and preparing myself for a hectic day.  In the Private Eye business, it’s a wonderful idea to have such a ritual.  Some people get ready for their day at work by slamming coffee while cussing elderly ladies in rush hour traffic.  I chose the peaceful approach of calm movements and silence before getting into the car.  Call me crazy.

I found my own office quite the sanctuary.  It was the one place in the whole building—besides the Janitor’s Closet—that I could be alone and not annoyed.  My office was done in a Moroccan theme—like Dayl’s—that I believed made it feel inviting, warm and put the clients at ease.  Regardless of what Dayl liked to tell people, she had decorated the rest of the business to coordinate with my office.  She would tell anyone that would listen that she had decorated the office after some amazing, divine vision, but I knew better.  The only way she could call her vision divine was if she thought of me as God.  She was an Interior Design Plagiarist.  But I was fine with it.

Upon walking into my office, a person would feel transported to a simpler and more relaxed place and time.  The large hand-carved wooden desk would have been oppressive in most offices, but in mine, it simply made a statement.  All of my office supplies, such as my in and out boxes, my stapler, file cabinet, pencil and pen holders and, well, anything you could think of, was carved out of wood as well.  If it weren’t for the laptop sitting on my desk, everything would have screamed Marrakesh.  Lining one wall were towering bookshelves made of dark wood as well, and they were absolutely crammed with books upon books.  Call me a Bookworm.  I don’t care.  I take it as the compliment it should be.

There were two hand-carved dark wood chairs with soft, jewel toned cushions in front of the desk, but most of my clients chose to sit in the corner.  Situated in one corner of the room was a squat, round table also wooden and hand-carved.  Around the table were pillows and cushions and everything comfy looking.  Upon the table was a Hookah—for decoration only, I swear—and a Moroccan Tea Set.  Everyone seemed more willing to talk business and give me the exact information I wanted when they were sitting among the pillows sipping tea.  Throw in a handful of hanging Moroccan lamps in all shades, thick, rich draperies over the windows, and Egyptian Musk incense and you’ve got my office.  Even my personal bathroom had Moroccan tiles.  I tried not to advertise that fact, though.  It was bad enough that I had to share my office with clients from time to time; I absolutely refused to share my bathroom.  We have public restrooms for the clients.

I live by a very strict rule of “everyone sucks but me,” as you might have noticed.  Of course, that was pretty much during the mornings.  By noon, after a half-dozen cups of white coffee, I was a much more pleasant, agreeable person.  By noon, you might even find me dancing to pop hits on top of the reception area coffee table with Geoff.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but you’d definitely find me more agreeable to sharing my personal bathroom with a client.

Regardless of my disposition in the mornings, it was always the time of day that I found myself starting on a new case.  Clients were hardly lenient enough to let me out of work due to something such as a bad mood—especially the mayor.  The mutilated cow was on his turf and though he wasn’t quite the client on this case per say, he would still impose himself.  The police force being what they were, would not hesitate to let him.  So, to avoid any and all calls the mayor might place to me, I decided my best course of action was to work on the possible suspects in the mutilated cow business.  However, my gut told me that eventually I’d be talking to the mayor.

Even though I didn’t truly believe that the mutilated cow had anything to do with the occult—or any paranormal creature, for that matter—I started to work on research.  I pulled a half dozen books off of the top shelf of the bookcase near the door of my office.  All of the titles mentioned either “monsters” or “creatures.”  The only way to eliminate anything paranormal was to round up the possible suspects and cross them off one by one.  It was the first rule of investigative work.  Figure out what’s possible, and then figure out how that particular thing is not possible.  It’s the only way to be sure that you’ve considered every possible suspect, motive or scenario.  Boring but true, folks.  As I slowly began to leaf through the books, some small, some imposing, I pushed the button on my phone to ring Geoff.

“Yo, male boss.”

Geoff’s voice came through tinny but clear.  And quite irritating, might I add.

“I need the phone number for the pathologist that’s doing the necropsy on the mutilated cow from this morning, Geoff.”  I began.

“Mutilated cow??”

            “Yes.”  I nodded as if I were on a video phone.  “I need to know the name and phone number of the pathologist doing the necropsy.”

“Someone chopped up a cow??”

            “Yes.”  I sighed.  “So…”

“Who would do that?  Good God!  That poor cow!  Why would someone chop up a cow???”

            “They do it every day to make steaks, Geoff.”  I stated irritably.  “I just need the pathologist’s name and number, Geoff.”

“I bet it was aliens, boss dude.”  Geoff gave his professional opinion, totally disregarding my irritation with him.  “The Enquirer says they take the eyes out of cows and they…”

I could hear ABBA playing in the background.

“Geoff.”  I stopped him.  “Do I just need to call Lieutenant Dan Wilson and get the information myself and leave you to your pop classics?”

“No, no, no, I can do it.  I’ll call ‘im, boss dude.”  Geoff couldn’t tell an insult from a compliment, obviously.  I could hear him thrashing around for something.  “Okay, what’s the number?”

“Look it up, for God’s sake!”  I growled over the speaker.  “It’s in your Rolodex!  Ya’ know the thing on your desk that you like to use to act out The Price Is Right??  It has the number for Lieutenant Dan Wilson in it!”

“Oh, yeah.”  Geoff had yet to take offense.  “Under the L’s or the D’s?”

“The W’s, Geoff.  His last name is Wilson.”

“Yeah, but what if I filed it under L for ‘Lieutenant’ for some reason??”

And so, the conversation went for a few more minutes.  After finally hammering out the details of how to call Lieutenant Dan into Geoff’s head for the fiftieth time, I pushed the call button again.  My hands were shaking and my face was surely red, but I had accomplished something worthy of an award.  I had taught a chimp to use a Rolodex.  I was seriously considering buying Geoff an iPhone for business use.  Then he could just tell the phone whom he was trying to call and the phone would do it for him.

As soon as I got over my irritation at Geoff, I returned to the books laid out on my desk before me.  Research is a strong suit of mine, but I’m still more of a doer than a wait-and-see’er.  However, I knew that asking my assistant to actually assist me in doing research was fruitless, thus I set out about the task before me.  Mentally, I could list at least a dozen paranormal culprits that could be capable of mutilating a cow in the way we had witnessed.  However, capability and probability do not always go hand in hand in the paranormal world.  Some of the scariest creatures with the longest, sharpest claws could be the gentlest creatures you could ever encounter.  Just like humans, I guess.  Or most of us would like to think, anyway.

My mind ran the gamut from Chupacabras—though they preferred goat victims—to Goblins to Redcaps to Trolls.  Even something like an Elemental could’ve been pissed off enough to take out a cow, given the proper circumstance.  Of course, the chance of something as ancient as an Elemental showing itself just to butcher a cow was highly unlikely.  Elementals usually didn’t show themselves unless an epic battle was underway.  That or they were making a run to Starbucks.  Don’t laugh.  Water spirits are notorious in the paranormal community for their proclivity for caffeine.  Just keep ‘em away from Red Bull.  That’s a bad day waiting to happen.

From the first book all I could determine was that an Elemental was most definitely not the culprit.  The next four books were much easier to navigate.  They were significantly smaller than the first book, so that would probably explain the brevity of my work.  The sixth book, however, took a bit more time than I had intended.  By the time I had gotten through the first few sections, I was contemplating buzzing Geoff again and asking him to order lunch.  The very thought of asking him to do anything more than dancing on the coffee table whilst listening to cheesy music made my head hurt.

It suddenly dawned on me that even though asking Geoff to order lunch was a bad idea, he hadn’t buzzed me back to let me know what Lieutenant Dan had told him.  It was just at lunch time, so I had been flipping through the books for over two hours.  How had I let the time get away from me?  I hadn’t accomplished hardly anything—save deciding that an Elemental hadn’t butchered the cow in question.  Just as I was reaching to buzz Geoff for more information about the pathologist doing the necropsy, Dayl opened my office door and strolled in.

“Own the place, do ya’?”  I actually smiled.

Obviously, the coffee had kicked in and it was at least noon.

“What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.”  She quipped as she shook a large paper bag at me.

The bag bore the name of a tasty Salvadoran restaurant that was one of our personal favorites.  My stomach growled and my mouth began to water.

“Forgiven.”  I nodded.

“I got you some pork pupusas and pickled cabbage.”  She ignored my statement as she sat down in one of the chairs in front of my desk and began opening the bag.

“And?”

“Yes, your highness.”  She rolled her eyes but didn’t look up.  “I got you plenty of hot sauce.”

“Truly forgiven.”  I chuckled.

“Got the same for me.”  Dayl began passing out the food, much to my stomach’s pleasure.

For the next few moments we concentrated solely on opening food containers and opening plastic sleeves of disposable utensils.  As soon as I had taken a huge bite of my first pupusa, my mood improved even more.

“Oh.”  Dayl reached into her pocket and pulled out a small piece of yellow paper.  “I stole this from Geoff’s desk while he was distracted by Donna Summer.”

I accepted the paper with a knowing roll of my eyes and immediately realized it was the name of the pathologist doing the necropsy on the dead cow. Geoff had scribbled:

 

North Central Texas Animal Sciences Lab

            Rusty Graham

            (903) 555-6894

 

“Rusty Graham?”  I shrugged.

“I’ve never heard of him either.”  Dayl replied before shoving a forkful of cabbage into her mouth.  “But apparently he’s been around awhile—pretty respected guy from what Lieutenant Dan said when I called him.”

“Okay.”  I sighed as I attacked my food again.  “Haven’t found out anything about what might have killed the damned thing, though.”

“Didn’t figure you would this early.”  She shrugged and jabbed her fork into another pile of cabbage.  “Ya’ know, I realize you don’t like it when I do this…”

I swallowed quickly so that I could interrupt.

“But you’re going to tell me that I need to hurry so that the mayor doesn’t keep calling and Lieutenant Dan will get the bill paid and…”

“No, no, no.”  She shook her head with a small smile.  “Wrong thing.”

“Oh.”  I frowned, and then realized what she was getting at.  “Had another feeling, eh?”

“Yeah.”  Dayl gave a concerned look, though I wasn’t sure if she was concerned about the questionable pieces of meat in her food, or a feeling she was having.  “I was just sitting in my office, ya’ know?”

“And?”  I sat back, away from my food, giving Dayl my full attention and my jaws a rest.

“I just got the overwhelming feeling that something is really wrong.”  She shrugged, sitting back and away from her food for the moment as well.  “I know it probably is nothing, but sometimes…”

Dayl was a touch psychic, if you’re willing to believe it.  I, for one, am.  I had witnessed the accuracy of Dayl’s feelings many of times and she always proved to be at least partially right.  In the past, Dayl had had feelings about events ranging from the mundane to the murderous.  Needless to say, she was invaluable in the Private Investigation business.  Where I was known as the more logical, traditional investigator, we could usually depend upon Dayl’s intuition.  Together, we made a lethal combination.  She pointed the way, and I slapped the pieces of the puzzles together.  Not that I wasn’t useful in magickal ways, but Dayl had me beat when it came to Psychic Intuition.

“Any idea what the feeling is about?”  I asked, reaching for my food again, staying in my reclined position to eat.

“Not sure.”  Dayl shivered, shaking off the blanket that was her feeling.

“You’ll figure it out.”  I winked at her.

She smiled mischievously at me from across the desk as she took up her own pupusa.

“Of course I will.  You wouldn’t last two seconds in this business if I weren’t here to point you in the right direction.”

“That-a girl.”  I laughed.

“So,” She asked nonchalantly as she dug into her food once again, “what are your ideas?”

“Call the pathologist for some info, do more research and…go from there.”

“Sounds like you have things under control.”

“Always.”  I replied.

 

Until next time…

You can find chapter 1 here chapter 2 here and chapter 3 here.

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