By Carroll M. Jones
When money goes missing from his firm, stockbroker Mike Wolfe, despite his innocence, is convicted of embezzlement. After his release from prison, Mike is determined to set the record straight. Then a man from Mike's old firm is brutally murdered and he finds himself, once again, suspect number one. A great read!
ISBN 1-59431-126-9 Mystery/ Thriller
Cover Art/Maggie Dix
Also avaailable in RTF and HTML formats
July 4th, 1986
Dave Lovett, with only minutes to live, was thinking he would not like to be caught dead in a place like this.
The forty-one year old was a stock agent during the day, and a transporter of drugs at night. And the place he didn’t want to get caught dead in was the Naval Shipyards at Long Beach, California, the very place he was driving into in the middle of a dark night.
Under normal circumstances he would not have thought the shipyards oppressive at all, but tonight they were dark, completely abandoned, eerie, quiet …spooky.
He had scouted the area earlier, seen no one, and was all right with that, but now the fog was drifting in, sweeping across the road in front of him like smoke from some forest fire.
Leaning forward and squinting, he slowed the Mercedes to a crawl, barely managing to keep the white shoulder line in view.
A few months earlier Dave Lovett would not have risked any involvement with drugs. He was a cautious man, a simple stock accountant, for Pete’s sake, not at all interested in the danger associated with any covert activities. He had been almost content with what he could steal from trusting clients. But all that had changed when his clients began dropping him and he was forced to actually put the customer’s interest over his own, cutting his take down to a minimum.
Then, one night during a poker game in Las Vegas, he’d met a dentist from Philadelphia with the perfect setup. No money exchanges, just transportation and delivery.
No money, no risk.
All he had to do was find someone dependable to take the merchandise North, and Dave had found the perfect mule.
The fog thickened, rolling in now like dust clouds billowing up from an implosion he’d seen once in Vegas. Dave reached frantically for the half-used roll of TUMS. Driving in fog always gave him heartburn.
He pulled the Mercedes up at the appointed meeting place, still minutes ahead of the scheduled time.
Sporadic bursts of fireworks resounded through the night from across the bay, and multicolored lights flashed briefly through the misty heavens.
He parked on the outside rim of light coming from a single lamppost, the light not more than an orange glow, and exited the car. He was a man of medium build and height, dressed in a sharkskin suit, charcoal in color, with a soft aqua tie he had worn to a pre-fireworks dinner.
Dave checked his watch. One minute past midnight. He thought briefly of Rose, then bitterly of the way she’d left him. “Bitch,” he said to himself. “She’ll never see a dime of this.” The air was heavy with the smell of oil, and damp, and cold.
“Come on. Come on,” he said impatiently.
Fearful the salty fog acid might damage his new wax job, he pulled a handkerchief from a breast pocket and began to wipe the top of his car. He soon gave up, tossed the soiled cloth aside, turned to hold his watch up in the dim light, and squinted at the time.
Then he heard the soft purring sound of the motorcycle approach, heard the purr change to a small muffling halt, and he reached into the car for the kilo of Columbia’s finest.
He popped another Tums into his mouth, and quickly reassured himself this was the beginning of a very safe and profitable distribution. There would be no money transfer, merely the passing on of merchandise, for which he would be rewarded handsomely.
He belched a small hot breath, quickly reminding himself of all the precautions he’d taken.
The would-be “mule” approached dressed in black leathers with something across one shoulder. As he emerged from the darkness and into the circle of light, Dave became aware of the black grease-paint on his face, that thing on his shoulder being a sledge hammer, and a feeling of fear swept over him, swelling as the mall was pitched to the ground at his feet.
“What the—” Dave began, then stopped as he felt the point of a knife at his throat.
Moments later, sensing the life blood draining from him, he became faintly aware of a pinging noise echoing in his brain. He had felt little since the first burning pain of the knife slashing across his throat, only a sense of helplessness as darkness came and went. He opened glazed eyes with an effort to see the dark figure swinging the sledgehammer in high arcs and bringing it down swiftly on his Mercedes. All the windows were smashed, as was the hood, and now the pinging was against the doors. Unable to breathe and too weak to try, he tried desperately to sort things out. His eyes growing evermore tired, focused and set on the tattered remains of his sharkskin suit, now ripped to shreds and strewn on the ground before him. The rags were splattered with blood, his blood, blood that still spilled down his throat and out numerous openings in his chest, running down the length of his belly. His last thoughts were words he couldn’t manage to utter out loud.Oh shit. Oh shi—
Some fifteen minutes or so later, on the beach a few hundred yards down from the Queen Mary, where a party was still in progress, a motorcycle hummed softly off the road and down to the rocks in the darkness. A figure in black leathers stumbled frantically to the waters edge, fell to his hands and knees, and regurgitated profusely onto the wet sand. He grabbed his stomach and retched a noisy yell, emptying his insides until only a dry cough issued forth. He crawled toward the incoming rollers, took mouthfuls of the salty brine and spit it back into the outgoing tide.
Soon he arose and went back across the sand, then returned carrying a long handled sledge and a wax covered package. He dropped the package on the sand, and slung the sledge hard out to sea. Dropping to the ground on one knee, he pulled a knife from his leather boot and stabbed the package repeatedly, then rising, tossed it into the water as well. Next he held the stiletto blade to the light, examined it, then began cleaning blood from it by sticking it alternately into the wet sand first, then into the water to rinse it, and again into the sand, pausing occasionally to hold it up to the light.
One down, he thought, two to go. But he didn’t last long enough. It was too fast. He didn’t last long enough to see anything. Next time…next time I’ll use a surgical tool, maybe a scalpel…”
Tracy Allen brushed a water glass from her night stand when answering the phone. She snapped the light on, squinted at her watch, and managed, “Hello.”
“Good. You’re awake. There’s been a murder down at Pier Four in Long Beach. Thought you’d like to know. They just reported it ten minutes ago, so you’d best get in high gear if you’re going to be first.”
“A murder! A shooting, or what?”
“Don’t know. They just said it was a messy one, okay?”
“Yeah. Sure,” Tracey said. “Thanks, Joe.”
“Forget it. But this makes us even, right?”
“Right,” agreed Tracy. She hung up, pulled on a pair of jeans and a heavy sweatshirt, grabbed a bag containing her cameras and a new zoom lens that was still a virgin, and left. She was there in less than twenty minutes. Moments later she was escorted to the Lakewood Sheriff’s department for struggling with a lady officer while being forcibly removed from the crime scene.