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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Robert Helliger

Private Detective Jack Donovan enters the art world as he tries to untangle an art swap that occurred 50 years ago. Will Jack figure out what happened? What danger is ahead for him?

The artwork for the cover is one my dad did back in the late 60's and is the basis for this mystery. This part of the artwork was on the phonebook back in 1970 which is mentioned in the story.


By Brian Lee Clements 


Jack Donovan has had quite a few adventures over the last few years.  Two years ago, he lost his hearing due to a car bombing and had an adventure in Florida barely escaping Hurricane Michael, went back to Florida to find the bomber, separated his shoulder twice, fought a man in the hospital, found a body under his patio and then was held captive by a mental patient for two days.  And that was just in the past two years.


Well, It’s been about a month since Jack Donovan escaped from that mental patient from South Dakota and who then claimed to be his wife.  He used his deafness and his police intuition to his advantage...again. 


He’s been recovering pretty well and this morning got his wife, Kate, off to work pretty easily.  His daughter, Samatha, was always a different story.


That morning, he was really having a difficult time getting that girl off to school.  Since It was tough again he had to resort to his secret weapons, The Three Musketeers: Hans, Franz and Porthos. The two Dachshunds and the German Shepherd just loved helping to get her out of bed and off to school.


With his helpers anxiously waiting behind him ready for action, Jack knocked on the door. As usual, there was no answer. He then let the three dogs loose in the room to do their job. And that was to wake up Sam.  When the door opened, they jumped on the bed and did what they love to do:  Lick!


“Dad..Guys, stop it.” Sam said ”Dad, get these mutts off me. Dad!” 


She eventually pushed them away and looked seriously at her dad, who smiled. After she got up, The Three Musketeers shook their tails as if they were proud they accomplished their mission. And within a few minutes, they were all laying on the bed with no room for Sam.


About 15 minutes later, Jack had breakfast ready for Sam which included corn flakes, toast and iced tea.  Yes, he got his daughter to become a tea drinker instead of a coffee drinker like Kate.  Sam eventually finished everything and headed off to school with her friend who picked her up every morning.


After Sam left, Jack checked his emails and saw a few cases that he was eager to work on.  At that time, he noticed a text from Kate.


“Hi babe. Did you get Sam off to school ok?”

“No real problem. The dogs helped me get her up.”

“Hopefully that will help her get up a little earlier.”

“Doubt it”

“What do you have planned for tonight?”

“Nothing yet. Just an evening with my wife. Why do you ask?

“There’s an exhibit at the Art Center that we are invited to”

“Really? What’s the exhibit?”

“It’s for an artist named Charles Clements.  There will be about twenty of his paintings showing and also a print and from what I’ve heard it’s pretty good.  His son, John will be there to host the showing and to give some history behind the paintings.”

“Might be fun. A much needed distraction for both of us. Where is the art center and what time?”

“I’ll text you the info later.”


Jack had been pretty much cooped up in the house since his last case and he was eager to work on something.  He emailed some potential clients to set up appointments for the next couple of days.


In the meantime, the dogs wanted to go out and do one of their daily runnings with the squirrels.  They haven’t caught anything yet and Jack doesn’t really think they would know what to do if they did. The romp usually lasted a couple of minutes and they would be ready for the cheese and their naps.  Porthos’ stomach was definitely a lot better with handling the cheese than it was a couple of weeks ago.


After the chores, he figured out what he would be doing later that afternoon. That is, picking out what he will be wearing that night.  Shouldn’t be hard. Blue oxford, light brown corduroy jacket, blue tactical jeans and white tennis shoes. As long as Kate doesn’t find out, he should be fine.


Kate texted Jack around 2 that afternoon with all the details.


“Hi, babe. What’s happening?”

“Kind of quiet. Just setting up some appointments for tomorrow,”

“The exhibit starts at 7 and lasts until about 10”

“Where’s it at?”

“The Art Center At Colorado College”

“What time would like me to be there?”

“A little before 7. Could you bring me something to eat?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Surprise me.”

“Remember what happened last time?”

“Yes. Please no sushi.”

“How about Raising Canes? They have pretty good chicken fingers and cole slaw”

“I didn’t know chicken had fingers.  LOL. That sounds good.” 

“Good one. I will get some for both of us. We can eat and make out in the car.”

“Only if you dress nice. See you tonight. Love 968”

“Love you too.”


Six o’clock came around and Jack was ready to leave.  Sam was spending the evening with one of her friends and the Three Musketeers were settled for the evening, ready for any squirrel or plastic bag that would come in the yard.


Jack finally went to the restaurant to pick up the food.  He decided to get a couple of chicken finger meals which also included Texas toast, coleslaw and a drink. Since he couldn’t hear, he always went inside instead of using the drive through.


The place was pretty packed as usual, but the line went pretty quickly.  It only took about three minutes to get to the register.


“Next, please,” The cashier yelled out.


And, of course, Jack wasn’t really paying attention as usual. 


“Sir, if you’re ready, come on up.”


The person behind him tapped him on the shoulder.  Jack looked at him.


“Damn it, are you deaf? The cashier is ready for you to order.” 

“Why yes I am.” Jack responded.

“I’m sorry sir.” 

“No need to apologize. A lot don’t understand deaf people.”


Jack walked up to the cashier and started his order.


“I’ll have six chicken fingers, four garlic breads and two large sweet teas.”

“Any coleslaw?”

“I’m sorry. What?”

“Coleslaw? Would you like some?”

“Yes two please, Thank you.”

“Name for the order?”


“That will be $14.25”


Jack handed her the debit card and after getting it back, he got his sweet teas and waited for his name.  Names were being called out and he had no idea whose name they were until someone tapped him on the shoulder again. It turned out to be the same person from earlier.


“Is your name Jack?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I think your name was just called.”

“Thank you.  Have a good night.”

“You too.”


Jack got his order and then headed to the car and then headed to  the Art Museum


It only took Jack fifteen minutes to get to the art museum and Kate was already there waiting and hungry.  There’s nothing worse than a hungry doctor.  Kate got out of her car and into Jack’s car and they started talking.


“What took you so long?” Kate asked.

“Traffic was slow. How long have you been waiting?”

“Just three minutes. But it seemed like an hour.”


Jack handed her the take-out bag and Kate looked to see what he got.


“Jack, what are you going to eat?”

“Ha, ha..I know you can’t eat all of that.”

“Want to bet?  How was your day?”

“It went well. It was pretty much uneventful except for the occasional squirrel or bag running across the yard and the dogs went crazy. Seeing some clients tomorrow.”

“No surgery for me today. Just caught up on some paperwork and I was called down the E.R. for a couple of hours to help out.” 


There was a couple of minutes of silence while they were wolfing down their food. Jack holds Kate’s hand while she is trying to eat. 


“Babe, I miss your voice.” Jack says,  “I wish I could hear it again.”

“I know. I pray everyday for your healing.  Anyway, you don’t have to hear me when I’m complaining.”

“That’s true, but it’s not the same.  Reading your lips while you’re complaining doesn't have the same effect. But I can tell from your eyes when you’re upset about something.”

“I guess I don’t hide it well. Hopefully, tonight will be a good distraction”

“I’m sure it will. I love art and the different types of genre it has. I hope none of it is too weird.”

“It shouldn’t be, From what I read, Clements is a traditional artist. We should be able to understand the paintings.”

“That would be nice.”

“The doors are opening so let’s get in line.”


They quickly headed to the front door arm in arm and handed their invitation to the greeter who told them where to go.  There were about one hundred patrons and guests there anxiously waiting to see the artwork.  And they were not disappointed.


John Clements and his twin sister, Julia, were there to greet and explain all of the paintings that their dad painted over the years. This included a sketch he did on the back of an envelope when he was on the USS Talladega during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War 2.


Jack and Kate started on opposite ends of the gallery and enjoyed the paintings and sketches.  One of the paintings was an abstract self portrait of the artist.  The one next to it was another self-portrait in a cowboy hat, wearing a self-made tin sheriff’s badge with a corn cob pipe. That painting was done in 1976 during the Bicentennial Celebration when he won the pipe at a costume party at church.  A lot of history and beauty in the paintings.


Jack starts talking to Julia about the paintings and sketches that were on display. 


“How long did your dad paint?” Jack asked.

“My dad painted most of his life though high school, during the war and afterwards.  He even got the chance to go to art school after the war through the V.A or something like that.  I used to sit at the kitchen table and watch him draw and paint.  It was amazing what he could do with pencils, chalk and a brush.”

“I bet you have a lot of stories to tell.”

“I do. One time, my dad was sharpening a pencil with a knife and he cut his middle finger pretty deep.  So we had to take him to the emergency room where he got some stitches and got the finger wrapped up.  It was awkward for him to drive because he couldn’t bend his finger and everyone thought he was giving them the finger.  Even the police pulled him over once.”

“That is funny. I love the stories behind the paintings.” Jack points at a different painting.  “How about this one?”

“Another time, my dad was drawing this War of 1812 painting and the crew members looked so authentic. John told dad that a couple of the sailors looked like they were the results of inbreeding. My dad got angry and almost threw it away.”

“Really? Looks like he did a great job with it.”

“I think so. These paintings along with his Eisenhower painting have been on display in the library at the V.A. retirement center in Panama City. 


While he was talking with Julia, he noticed that her brother, John, was having a heated discussion with one of the patrons.


“Julia, you may want to go help your brother.  He seems to be having a little problem with a guest”

“Excuse me.”


Jack decided to quietly follow Julia over to where her brother, John, was talking.


“John,” Julia asked, “What’s going on?”

John replied, “Mr. Ryan here wants to look at the print a little closer. I told him that it wouldn’t be appropriate in front of all these people and suggested another time”
“Oh, go ahead. I don’t see a problem with him looking at it.” 

Julia then looks at Mr. Ryan, “ What is your area of expertise, Mr. Ryan?”

Mr Ryan says, “I’m an art expert and I love to look at the techniques of the various artists and to do that, I need to get closer to the paintings.”

“I say go for it.”


While Mr. Ryan was looking at the print, Jack asked some questions about the print.

“What can you tell me about the print?”

“Well,” Julia responds, “The original painting, which my dad painted, is an artist’s rendition of the “SEALAB” program that the navy was performing back in the late 60’s. Part of the painting was on the cover of the phone book back in 1970 to commemorate the program.  That other picture hanging next to it is the cover of that phone book.  Over a hundred thousand phone books around the southeast had the cover.”

“Where’s the original?” 

“It’s hanging in one of the main buildings at the Navy Base in Panama City, Florida. Are you familiar with it?

“I grew up there. I was there right before the hurricane hit last October and also a few months ago.”

“Some of his paintings were damaged during the hurricane but thankfully we were able to salvage them.”


At that time, John comes over to talk to Julia about Mr. Ryan and his findings.


“Well John,” Julia asked, “What kind of discovery did Mr. Ryan find?”

“I’m not sure.”  John replied. “But he sure seemed interested in the print.”

“Wonder why?” Jack asked.

“I think he saw something in it that didn’t seem right.”

“Like what?” Julia asked.

“I have no idea.”


After Mr. Ryan looked at the print he came over to the three of them to tell them what he found out.


Mr Ryan started the conversation. “Where did you get this painting?”

“Painting?” John responded, “This is a print of the painting my dad did.”

“Afraid not. I can assure you. This is the original painting. How did you get it?”

“It’s been sitting in a corner of one of the bedrooms of my parent’s house for the last forty some odd years.  My dad got it as a gift from the navy after he painted it.  The original is supposed to be in Florida.”

“I’m afraid that is definitely the original.  I can tell by the texture and brush strokes. Prints are always flat with no texture.” 

“Are you saying that a copy has been on display at the Navy Base in Florida and nobody knew about it?” Jack asked.

“That’s what it looks like.  You may want to notify Navy authorities so they can find out what happened.”


Jack then handed Julia and John his business card and stepped away so they can have some privacy. After a couple of minutes, Julia waved Jack back over to them.


“Mr. Donovan?“ Julia asked, I was wondering if John and I could meet with you later on or maybe tomorrow and discuss this little incident with you?

“Sure. Whenever is convenient for you”

“Okay, I'll call you in the morning.” 

“I’m afraid you’ll have to text me. I’m totally deaf.”

“ Sorry, I didn’t know.  You can read lips pretty well.”

“Thanks. That’s what most people say. I lost my hearing a few years ago from a car bomb.”

“Wow. I’ll text you in the morning.

“I’ll be expecting it.”


John and Julia walk away while Jack started to look for Kate. About five minutes later, Jack finds her in front of a sketch of Jesus on the cross uttering his last words, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ in Hebrew.


Jack tapped Kate on the shoulder, “What do you think?”

“This is nice. A lot of good stuff. How about you?”

“I like it. I think I might have a potential client.”

“What did you do?”

“Me? Why do you always think it’s me doing something?”

“I don’t know.  Somehow you always get involved in something. Who’s the client?”

“The Clements’. It has something to do with the “Sealab” print on display. Somebody said that it is the original.”

“You’re kidding? How did that happen?”

“That’s probably what they’re going to want me to find out.”

“Will it be hard to figure out?”

“Good question,”Jack said.” If there was a crime, it probably occurred about fifty years ago.”

“If it’s true, I’m sure the Navy will be happy to get their painting back.”

“Then again, Mr. Ryan may just be running a scam.”

“Why? What’s his motive?”

“That’s a good question. Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow. Ready to head out? Almost nine o’clock.”

 “Yes, I am. I have a couple of surgeries tomorrow. One being a gallbladder.”

“Okay. Beat you home.”

“Afraid not.  You have to stop by the store and get some extra coffee for us.”

“Us? You mean Sam is now drinking coffee.”

“Yep. She is now an official coffee drinker and you are the minority in our 


“I will need to talk to that girl before she takes to the dark side.”


The next morning after Jack got Kate and Sam off to work and school, he got a text message from Julia and her text looked frantic.


“Good morning, Mr. Donovan. I need to see you as soon as possible.”

“Call me Jack. I’m free this morning. Come on by when it’s convenient.”

“I can’t. John is missing and I think I’m being watched.”

“What? Why? When did this happen?”

“Sometime last night. I received a message telling me to deliver the painting to some location. I’m not familiar with this area. But first we need to meet.”

“OK. Where?”

“Are you familiar with the Garden of The Gods park?”

“Pretty much.” 


Jack wished there was a sarcasm icon because everybody in Colorado Springs knows where that park is.


“Could you meet me at the top at a place called the Upper Trail Loop?”
“Sure. I’ll be there in an hour.”

“Make sure you’re not being followed.”



Jack said to himself, “Why all this commotion over a print?  Why the secrecy?”


Jack changed quickly into some PT (physical training) clothes and hat, got the dogs in,and then left for the park.  Since he lived only five miles away, he got there very quickly.  The longest part was walking to the area of the park where the Upper Trail Loop was,


Since all his favorite shortcuts were blocked off, it took Jack about thirty minutes to walk to the beginning of the loop. When he got to the trail, he received a text from Julia.


“I think you are being followed.  Head up the loop to the highest point.”

“Where are you?” Jack asked.

“I’ll let you know shortly.”


As Jack went up the trail, he started to run out of breath and slowed down.  When he got to the top, he stopped, took a seat and looked around to see if he noticed anybody following him.  He was about twenty feet above the trail on a small cliff.  A misstep would definitely hurt.


While sitting there, he received another text from Julia.


“It looks like you were followed.”

“Where are they? Do you know who?” 

“I can’t tell from where I’m at. They’re wearing a ball cap like yours, but theirs is blue.”

“Ok. Where would you like to meet now?”

“You’re not going to like this, but I want to meet you at the top of the…….”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Try to be here in ninety minutes. Be careful.”


Jack got out his miniature binoculars out of his pocket and looked across the way towards Manitou Springs.


“Oh, god no.” Jack said to himself, “Not the Incline.”


Jack got up and started to walk towards the trail but a man who was six feet, who was taller than Jack, blocked his way.


“Where is she?”asked the man.

“Who” Jack responds

The man grabs Jack by the collar, “You know exactly who I’m talking about. Julia Clements.”

“I don’t know where she is.”

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to throw you over the side.”


Jack looked over to his left and over the side and quickly grabbed hold of the belt of the man that was threatening him.


“What are you doing?” The man says.

“If I’m going over, then you’re going over with me. Ready?”

“You’re nuts. Let go!! The man yelled. 

“I’ve been told that before.”


Before the man could do anything, Jack tucked his head underneath the man’s arm and pushed both of them towards the cliff.


They both rolled off the edge of the cliff and they fell about ten feet onto the trail below.  Luckily for Jack, he landed on top of the guy and got the wind knocked out of him.  Jack then tried to get up, but the person quickly grabbed Jack’s pants which stopped him from leaving.


The man then got up and pushed Jack against a railing along the trail, which broke and they both started rolling down into the brush down below.  The attacker struck his head on a boulder and Jack was able to get up and run down the trail and back to his car.  This time it only took him 15 minutes.  He looked back and noticed that he wasn’t being followed by anybody. 


Being out of breath, Jack started his car and drove towards Manitou Springs and the Incline.  The drive should only had taken about 20 minutes.  Jack then decided to try to text Kate but dropped his phone, which fell underneath the passenger seat.


“Crap.” Jack said to himself.


Jack thought it would be better to wait to look for his phone so he could concentrate on getting to his destination.  Unfortunately, the speed limit in Manitou Springs is fifteen miles per hour through town and people were following the limit to the letter.  This made his travel time a lot slower.


Jack finally made his way to the incline parking area, and luckily found a parking spot in a good location and eventually located his phone. He paid for his spot, got some water and then headed toward the incline.  Before heading up, he looked up to see what was in store for him for the next forty-five minutes. He just shook his head at the up-coming challenge. 


The Manitou Incline. It’s not even one mile, but it’s 2744 steps up. More steps than the World Trade Center. However, it goes up two thousand feet within that span and it has an average grade of forty-five percent grade  Jack just hoped that he’s not in that bad of shape and can get to the top quickly before dying.


Jack started up the incline, which at first wasn’t too difficult.  He figured to count his steps and rest every 300 steps. That seemed to work pretty well until he got into the center part of the incline. There he had to stop every 50 to 100 steps.  Jack really felt this was slowing him down.


Two-thirds of the way up, Jack decided to stop at some benches along the trail at a place called the Wimp-out.  This is where people who couldn’t make it can turn around and go down a different trail.


After a five minute rest, Jack decided to head up the rest of the way. Overall, It only took Jack about 50 minutes to get to the top of the incline which was pretty good for being out of shape.  When he got there, his shirt was drenched so he decided to rest and try to enjoy the view from the top.  But he wasn’t able to enjoy it for too long.


Jack’s shoulder got tapped and when he turned around, he saw a concerned look on Juilia’s face.


“Follow me,” she said. “We’re still being followed.”

“I don’t think we have anything to worry about right now,”Jack replied.  “If they make it up here, they’re going to be just as tired as I am. Maybe more.”

“It doesn’t matter.  We need to move.”

“Let’s move a little slower and talk while we head down.  What’s happening now?”

“I talked to Naval authorities and they already had a team here from Oklahoma City.”

“Oklahoma City? You’re kidding me? The Navy has offices in Oklahoma?”

“Yea, they do.”


As Jack and Julia started walking fast towards the Barr Trail, Jack decided to send Kate a text:


“Send police to Barr Trail parking lot.  Not time to explain.”



“Who did you just text?” Julia asked.

“My wife. She’s sending the police to the parking lot.”


After they got through fifty yards of brush, they got to the tail and Julia pointed to the right and started to head in that direction.


“Let’s go this way.” Julia says.

“Not a good idea. That heads up Pikes Peak and I don’t want to go any higher than we are right now. Hopefully they’ll think we went that way anyhow”

“If you say so.”

“What’s the big deal with this painting?”

“I’m told it was worth about $50,000 and that was before my dad passed away.  The value has probably doubled since then.”

“How did your dad get the original?”

“We don’t know.  Somebody at the navy base messed up and the original somehow got mixed up with the prints.”

“Could your dad be in on it?”
“I don’t know how.  He was suffering from PTSD and was in a mental hospital in North Carolina at the time.”


Julia’s legs started cramping up on the way down and they stopped for a few minutes.  Jack rubbed her calves until the pain went away.  After five minutes, they started moving again but it was too late.  Somebody had already reached them on the trail.  It was Mr. Ryan, the one who told them about the painting. And he had a small machete that he was holding.


“Julia,” Mr. Ryan said, “I want the painting and I want it now.”

Jack responds, “What the hell are you going to do? Kill us”

“I’m holding John at the motel room and my friends are expecting me back soon. If I have to, I will kill all three of you.”

“I don’t believe you.” Julia says.


At that time, Jack makes a mad dash towards Ryan and they both fall on the narrow trail.  Ryan tried to swing the machete wildly, but Jack was able to grab the handle and throw it over the side of the trail.  Ryan kicked Jack off of him and hit Jack in the stomach. This caused Jack to lose his balance and stumbled towards the side of the trail. 


Ryan then pushed Jack over the railing but Jack grabs onto the bottom rail where he dangles and hangs on for dear life.  Ryan then set his attention to Julia who is now trying to run up the trail.  She stumbled on the rocky trail and he jumped on top of her and started to strangle her.  Fighting for her life, she feels a good size rock next to her and hits Ryan on the side of the head and knocks him out.


Fearing the worst, Julia started crying and tried to figure out what her next step should be.  When she started to leave, she heard a voice from the edge of the trail.

“Hey Julia,  I could use some help over her!”


It was Jack and he was still holding onto the railing on the side of the trail where Ryan left him.


“Jack, you’re ok. Let me help you.”

“Thanks. I thought I was a goner.”


After Julia helped Jack pulled him back on the trail,  they grabbed Ryan and headed down toward the parking lot.  It only took about fifteen minutes to get down the trail and the police and EMTs were already waiting for them.


“Why is there an ambulance here?” Julia asked.

“Probably my wife, She always thinks something is going to happen to me on my cases.”

“Does it?”

“Yea. Usually.”


Jack turned Ryan over to the police in the parking lot who charged him with assault and kidnapping for starters. They also talk with Navy investigators separately about what happened with the painting and print.


Jack and Julia head over to the ambulance and quickly get checked out.  The EMTs were concerned with the bruises on his chest and stomach so they decided to take him to the hospital to get checked out by a doctor. Julia asked to ride with him and also be checked out after being caught in the choke hold.  As they head to the hospital, Jack texted Kate to let him know about being on their way.


“Jack,”Julia asked. “What’s going to happen with Ryan?”

“Good question.  With the assault and kidnapping charges, he’ll be in jail for a long time. Both state and federal.”

“Does anybody know how all this happened?”

“I asked one of the investigators and he told me what they think happened. Yes, you actually do have the original. The fake is definitely on display in Florida. When your dad did the painting back in the late 60’s, Ryan’s dad also worked at the Navy Base in another department. He made the switch and wanted to keep the painting for himself.  But He was afraid that he might get caught, so he rolled it up and put it with all of the prints.  But he got them mixed up and wasn’t sure which one the original was.  All of the prints were eventually handed out to a lot of the people who were involved with the SEALAB program before he could find the original  Your dad was the lucky one who got the original of his own painting.”

“How about my brother” Will he be okay?”

“He’s fine. He was able to escape from his kidnappers and flagged down the police by the Interstate. They are also in custody.”


Jack’s phone vibrated and it was a text from Kate.


“Just heard. Will be expecting you again at the E.R. No new wives this time?”

“Not this time. Julia and I just need to be checked out. I’m pretty bruised up”

“Again, as usual. Let her know her brother is here. Just checked him out and he’s ok.


Jack shows Julia the last text.


“She knows and is in tears.”


“I’m in tears too.”

“Not surprised. See you when you get here.  Love 968.”


Julia asked Jack, “What does ‘Love 968’ mean?

“It’s our special code. It means ‘Love you.’  On your phone keypad, 968 corresponds with ‘you.’ We’ve been using it since I sent it by accident a few years ago.”

“That’s neat. I might start using that with my boyfriend.”


The ambulance arrived at St. Francis Medical Center and Kate was waiting for them in the Emergency Room.  When she saw him on the gurney, she just smiled and shook her head.


“We got to stop meeting like this. People are starting to talk.”

“I’ll try to make an effort.  Do I get a discount yet for coming so often?”

“I wish.  JoAnne will check in on you. I’ll look in on Julia. She’s with her brother right now.”


After being checked out, JoAnne decided to keep Jack in the hospital under observation when they found out he has a cracked and many bruised ribs.  Maybe a concussion also. Not bad for a day’s work.  Kate decided to look in on him before he is moved to a room.


“Hey, Babe.”

“Hey, how’s Julia?”

“She’ll be okay. Just a little bruising around the neck.  What in the hell happened to you today?”

“Long story. I’ll try to fill you in. I’m just glad everybody is okay

“Julia wants to talk to you real quick.  Would you like me to leave?

Jack shook his head, “No need.”

Kate then waved Julia to come into the room.


“I just wanted to say thank you for what you did for us today. You saved our lives.”

“Glad I could help.  What’s going to happen now?”

“The Navy wants their painting back so we’re going to make a trade with them.  Also, there was so much publicity that we are taking the exhibit on tour across the country including Denver. We’re really excited.  We might start selling prints of all of his paintings.”

“That’s cool.  Hopefully the originals won’t get mixed up”


Julia kissed Jack on the cheek and said her goodbye. Kate decided to lay next to Jack on the hospital bed. She then kissed him on the cheek. While laying there, she closed her eyes and said a short prayer for protection of her lifelong friend and lover. 


As they lay there. Jack wondered what would happen next. With Jack, you’ll never know.



Submitted: November 23, 2019

© Copyright 2021 Brian Lee Clements. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Robert Helliger

A gripping art themed thriller story.

Sun, November 24th, 2019 7:41am

Black Dog

The little details you used to show the bond between Jack and Kate were really nice.

Sun, November 29th, 2020 7:47am

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