Archer Takes Aim

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


A two chapter short story, about 5,000 words, seems to be touched by dime-novel detective vibe and island ghost legends. It is a murder mystery that might have gotten side-tracked, just a little.

Submitted: February 20, 2018

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Submitted: February 20, 2018

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Beauregard Samland Archer. Really?

Beauregard's Mother was born in New Orleans and when she started blossoming she took to reading those dime-store novels; you know the ones I mean.

After a couple of years her tastes matured and she soon discovered that there was so much more to choose from in the public library, such as "Gone with the Wind" and "The Grapes of Wrath." 

So you see, that is the reason for a southern name like Beauregard.

Now where was I? --- I yes!

 

Beau feels that he was destined to be a Flatfoot, a Gumshoe, a detective for hire. He has always been extra good at finding stuff.

When Beau first discovered comic books with detective stories in them, well, Superman and The Hulk were history.

Beau could not get enough of Boston Blackey, Dick Tracy, and the like. And when he saw his first Sherlock Holmes movie, he was hooked.

I guess Beau was right because he turned out to be one of the best. He is the kind of private dick that everyone goes to when they have run out of options.

He has the nose of a bloodhound, or so I've been told, and the instincts of a mystic. He finds clues cop miss and evidence in places no-one would think of looking. And the most unlikely suspects are usually the ones he looks at the hardest.

But Beau won't work for just anyone. No sir! He is very selective about his clients.

His actions have been called discriminatory by some that just don't understand. You see? Beau takes only clients that can afford to shell out the Green, the Yenom, the Capital that is needed to get the job done. And if they don't have a wad of Jefferson's in their hot little hands, well then, he ain't available.

Archer & Associates is the moniker that is on Beau's office door. Yet the word (Associates) is a puzzle to anyone who knows him; Beau always works alone.

Beau does have partners on occasion, but only when he fells like dancing. The ladies in the Clubs call him Beau-dee, and the ones that know him even better, well, they call on him when he's home; if you get my drift.

Off of the dance-floor this detective isn't always a smooth-talking, up-town, kind of guy. He can be crude, rude, and tough as nails. And over the years Beau has developed a reputation and because of that reputation he ends up with the kinds of cases that other dicks just can't handle. And those facts bring us to the story that I'm about to tell.

***

It was a rainy Saturday and Beau was in his dimly lit office wolfing down a Hoagie and a beer.

These sandwiches are part of Beau's regular diet and if you tasted one you would understand why.

There is a Mom and Pop Deli around the corner and each one of Momma T's sandwiches have been touched by the angels, or so I been told. The testament to that fact might be the line of people that crowd the deli's doorway from the time it opens until well past the lunch hour; Beau has his delivered.

Anyway, the good detective was right in the middle of typing a report when he suddenly felt someone watching him. At the same time the smell of a woman's perfume overcame the smell of the Hoagie's enticing aroma.

Beau looked up and saw a fashion-model gorgeous woman standing in his office doorway. The look of this dark-skinned woman in a red leather raincoat slapped Beau right up side the head. He sat speechless.

"I'm sorry, Detective Archer?" the woman half-whispered with a breath-filled voice. "Your secretary wasn't in the reception room so I just came straight to you. I hope that's alright."

After a moment's hesitation Beau managed to reply, "Come on in and pull up a chair, I'll be with you in two-shakes of a (???); of a (???)."

The woman finished his sentence, "Two shakes of a lamb's tail, Mr. Archer."

Beau popped the last bite of the Hoagie into his mouth and after a couple of swigs from his beer he inquired, "Can I get you some water, coffee, or maybe something a little stronger?"

Beau's eyes were still glued to this black swan as he watched her glide effortlessly across the room. "Geez," Beau thought, "this Babe must have been born in Stiletto-heals."

As the woman began to take off her raincoat Beau quickly moved to retrieve it.

"Here, let me take you, that coat," he managed to say.

And after vigorously shaking the rain from the coat he tried to hang it on a slightly tilted coat-rack that precariously stood in the corner. After the third attempt he finely succeeded.

After the coat was securely hung, Beau noticed the rain being blown against a nearby arched window and the movement of a reflective silhouette on the glass caught his attention. The detective could see that it was the woman's silhouette forming a "Van Gogh" original across the surface of the glass.

"Stunning," he thought, "simply stunning.

The window was the only natural light source in the room and it covered two-thirds of the wall. Aside from the art-deco light fixtures, the window's design was the only redeeming quality left in this 90 year old office space.

As Beau turned in the direction of the woman he was slapped again by the sight of her in a knit, peach-colored, cocktail dress. The knit was spaced in an obvious effort to teased the viewer and prompt them to ask the question, "Is there any clothing underneath that dress?

Beau had no time to decide, instead he tried to compose himself by repeating his previous question regarding getting her some refreshment.

The woman seated herself with the same fluid-like motion she employed when she first walked across the room. And as she did so she uttered the words, "No thank you, I'm not thirsty.

But I am hungry, detective, hungry for information and that's why I'm here."

"What sort of information, Mrs., ah Ms? I'm sorry, I'm afraid you're name has slipped my mind," Beau replied."

The woman smiled, ever so slightly, then remarked, "Perhaps I haven't done enough to make a lasting impression, --- Detective."

Beau stammered for a moment but failed to find words.

The woman smiled as she placed a tic-tac on her tongue. Then she playfully said in a very southern sounding Louisiana accent, "The truth is, --- my dear Beauregard, I have not divulged my name to you. But I shall, my dear detective, I certainly shall.

I am Samantha Chumash. I was the wife of C. J. Chumash, the mystery writer.

And as for the information that I require, I need conclusive evidence and the identity of the person, or persons, who killed my husband. --- It is as simple as that.

The police know that he was shot because there was a hole in his neck that passed through his wind pipe; the poor dear drowned in his own blood."

Samantha hesitated momentarily, it was obvious that she was trying very hard to ward off a tearful outburst.

When she finally did continue speaking the tone of her voice had changed. She sounded much more somber when saying, "The police admitted that they do not have any evidence, no bullet, no bullet casings, nothing. Therefore, they do not have a suspect.

It has been well over a year sense his death and I just received this letter; (Samantha took a folded paper from her handbag and handed it to Beau.).

Beau quickly scanned the contents of the letter and remarked, "Apparently the police on the island of Bilawayo have closed the case and placed it in their Cold Case File. They still consider it a homicide even without sufficient evidence. That's not right!"

Samantha remarked, "That is exactly what I thought, so I hired a detective that lives on the island's west side. Then I hired a mystic who lives about three miles from the hut. But after two months and $5,000 out of my bank account, they have come up with only hearsay information and dead-end leads. Neither of which will convince my husband's lawyer to turn over his estate to me."

"Beau managed to ask, "Are you running out of funds, Mrs, Chumash?"

She softly laughed and replied, "Not at all, God knows I don't need the money. I inherited a trust from my grandparents that is more than enough to keeps me happy. I just don't trust my husband's lawyer and I never have. There is just something about his beady little eyes."

"Really, beady eyes?" Beau questioned.

"I know it sounds silly," Samantha replied, "but his eyes are too close together and that gives me the willies."

Beau broke this chain of thought by suddenly asking, "Are you still a suspect?" 

"A person of interest was the title they gave me," she replied as anger overcame her. Her whisper-soft voice disappeared and a harsh shrill stated, "But that is ridiculous! I was on our yacht and it was anchored a quarter-mile off shore!

Everyone who even knew my husband was on board the yacht that night. We were all together, my sister, her husband, the chief, and the yacht's three person crew."

Samantha began to cry and the detective gave her a tissue box that was located on his desk.

"Not to worry, Mrs. Chumash. The police are just following procedure and I'm not accusing you.

It is standard practice to rule out the most likely suspects first, if that is possible, and spouses are always considered "Persons of Interest" in cases such as this. Even if you were not on the island doesn't mean you were not responsible for the death; as far as the police are concerned.

I, on the other hand, view things differently. The very fact that you are here seeking my help tells me you are not a likely suspect. After all, what murderer would hire a detective to find evidence that could put them in jail?"

"Thank you," Samantha softly replied.

Then as she dabbed more tears from her piercing brown eyes, she stated, "This whole ordeal has me on the edge of a nervous breakdown and is aggravating a condition that I already have."

At that moment Samantha took a bottle of pills from her purse and said, "I will take you up on that offer of water now, it is time for my medication."

As Beau gave her the glass of water he could see the pill bottle clearly. "Are you Epileptic?" he questioned in a concerned manner.

She coyly smiled and replied, "Oh, no. I take these for a nerve condition; they help to dim the pain. The condition flairs up in stressful times like these."

"Well that really sucks?" Beauregard replied, trying but failing miserably at sounding sympathetic.

Beau sat back down and put his feet up, then he stated, "If you are up to it, why don't you start at the beginning and fill me in on everything that led up to you and your husband going to the island. I especially want to know why your husband was alone at the hut."

"My husband told me that he often stayed in the hut to have a secluded place to write, then he eventually bought the hut and the land around it. It was a tax-lean or estate sale, I'm not sure which.

My husband, C. J., said that he wrote some of his best works there. But who knows?

The first I heard of the hut was a year after we were married, he wanted to take me there for a romantic second honeymoon; but that didn't happen. We were in the hut for about five minutes when Allowishous came out of hiding; Allowishous is the hut's resident Rat. At least, Allowishous is what my husband named the rat.

I had not had time to unpack, which was a good thing because I was not about to stay, let alone sleep, in a rat infested place like that. So back to the dingy I went and I didn't get out of it until we got back to the Yacht.

That happened about four years ago and I haven't been back to that hut sense.

Anyway, this year C. J. said that he needed some writing time at the hut. And it just so happened that I had a little yacht trip to Monaco on my mind, so we combined them into one trip. My sister, Colette, and her husband, Chad, went as well. It was great!

A one week stay in Monaco was extended because we made some new friends. They invited us to some parties and a beautiful wedding.

After about three weeks in Monaco we were off to C. J.'s magic writing place.

When we dropped anchor at Mahayana Chad took C. J. ashore in the dingy. Chad is a back to nature kind of guy and wanted to check out the hut and the surrounding landscape.

When sundown approached Chad came back to the Yacht for the night, saying C. J. had asked him to return with the dingy in the morning. Apparently C. J. wanted all of us to have breakfast together.

C. J. stayed at the hut to see if he could find an ending to his book; I guess he was stumped.

The next morning Chad took the dingy to fetch C. J., but when he arrived my husband was dead. Chad called the local police soon afterward and they arrived a few moments later."

The detective sat up and leaned forward in his seat, resting his arms on the desk-top, that is when he asked, "Was there a weapon aboard the Yacht?"

Samantha changed position in the leather chair, appearing to be somewhat uncomfortable, then stated, "Yes, it was a weapon the Yacht Captain keeps locked away. He told my husband that it was for shark problems and other emergencies. I think it was a small caliber handgun, but I'm really not sure. The police took possession of it soon after they searched the Yacht."

"And they found no other weapons?" Beau questioned.

"Not that I know of," Samantha replied. My husband hated guns and didn't want them around. He was the one that told the Captain to find somewhere to lock the gun away; he didn't want it easily available."

"Your brother in-law, did he and your husband get along well?" the detective asked as he opened another beer.

"Oh God yes," Samantha replied with a laugh, "from the moment they first met it was like they were brothers or something."

"What about your sister? Was there any friction there?" Beau questioned.

Samantha frowned and then replied, "Look, they had their differences but nothing that ever provoked anger or hate. Their disagreements were all about politics and nothing else. Besides, my sister couldn't hurt a fly even in the heat of anger."

Beau took another swig of beer and sat back in his chair; his movements caused the springs underneath the chair to make an annoying sound.

Samantha cringed at the sound and stated, "Your springs need some lubrication detective."

Beau thought for a moment and replied, "I kind of like it like that, Mrs. Chumash. This chair is very comfortable to me so I don't dare do anything that might change that. I just leave well-enough alone."

She smiled a sleigh little smile and took a drink from her bottled water.

Well, it just so happened that the good detective had not had a vacation in four years, he also had no cases waiting in the wings; so Beau was inclined to accept the job.

"Some time on the sand and in the surf would do me a world of good," thought Beau. Hell, it sure couldn't hurt!"

***

Beau told Mrs. Chumash the terms, "I need one grand up front, plus enough cash to book round-trip passage to Mahayana; I'd say another grand should do it.

If I crack the case then my fee is five grand a week for as long as it takes to wrap up all the lose ends.

But if I can't find any worthwhile evidence in two weeks then I'll call it quits and I'm off the clock; you won't owe me another cent. How's that?"

Without a word said Samantha gave Beau her cell number and handed him her credit card. Once dated and signed the contract was set.

 

It had stopped raining outside so Samantha didn't bother putting her coat back on. She just draped it over her arm, gave Beau a wink, and floated out of the office.

 

Part II

On the Island with a Rat

 

After one commercial jet flight and a prop-driven connecter, Beau found himself standing near a by-winged aircraft. This plane was the only fast means of transport to Mahayana. The alternative was a two hour ride on a island-hopper ferry.

The plane was so old that Beau was sure the pilot would be an eccentric, Want To Be, WW-I pilot. And of course, Beau conjured up pictures in his mind of Peter Sellers wearing a cracking and crinkled leather jacket, a leather skull-cap in about the same condition, with chin strap un-loosed. He also saw a kitted scarf around the pilot's neck with one end trailing down. And last but not least, the pilot was wearing googly-goggles.

Beau was wrong about the kitted scarf, it was woven.

Once on the island Beau thought that he had made arrangements to rent a car from the advertised agent in the very small town of Miluwana. Unfortunately, the one car that the agent had advertised for rent had a blown head gasket and would be out of order until a head-gasket kit arrived; that would be in a month or so.

After some asking around Beau found all was not lost. The local garage just so happened to have a motorcycle that they could let him rent for $20 a week. But they told Beau that he must return it by the end of the month because the owner would return from a business trip by then and would want the bike back; the owner had left it at the garage for it's regularly scheduled service. --- Beau agreed and gave them a $40 deposit.

It is a good thing Beau travels lite, a rolling carry-on bag and his laptop. But Beau needed a few essentials at the hut, like beer and some groceries.

Samantha had told Beau that there was a working frig, electric lights, and a camp-stove.

So Beau bought food and paid to have a local deliver the rest tomorrow.

As for a six-pack of beer, a large bag of chips, a can of barbequed beans, and two cans of Vienna sausages, they were going with Beau.

The garage mechanics managed to come up with a carrying solution for beau's ride to the hut; some elastic cords did the trick.

So down the dirt road Beau went with a six-pack of beer strapped to his back. The can of beans and the two cans of sausages were tucked into a plastic bag and tied to the handlebars. And the chips were pinned to his jacket with safety pins.

As far as the carry-on and lap-top were concerned, they were strapped precariously a-top the back finder's Buddy-seat, shifting from side to side with every bump.

 

The hut was drafty due to the fact that the only door and the two windows were open. Well the door was open, but as for the windows, there were no windows. There was some shutter-like boards that Beau could shut if it got too windy.

The temperature was in the low seventies so Beau wasn't too concerned about the breeze coming through the windows, but he did shut the door hoping to keep local critters out.

Beau checked the frig and found that it had been turned off. He turned the temperature dial to eight, ten being coldest, and put the beer inside.

After an hour of cleaning what little furniture the place had inside and testing the hammock for stability, Beau place his lap-top on the only table in the place and plugged it in; the lights in the hut quickly dimmed, but soon returned to their previous glory of about 60 watts.

Next came the testing of the camp-stove and to Beau's amazement --- it worked great.

So Beau tore the label off of the opened can of beans and set the can on the fire to warm up. Meanwhile, he opened a can of sausages and the chips, munching all the while.

In a cubby Beau found tea-bags in a sealed box and a large plastic zip-lock bag stuffed full of plastic utensils. There was some salt, pepper, ketchup, and salsa packets too.

As Beau finished off the beans, and all but one sausage, he noticed a very large rat watching him from a rafter.

"You must be Allowishous," Beau exclaimed rather loudly and in a jokingly manner. "I am Beauregard Samland Archer, but you may call me Beau. I am a detective for hire and I am at your service."

The rat's only movements seemed to be the occasional sniffing of the air; which gave Beau an idea.

"Would you like to partake of my humble offerings?" Beau asked. "I have one Vienna sausage left and, let me see, three and one half Nacho chips left in the bag."

With that said, Beau removed the Vienna sausage from the can and placed it and the three and one half Nacho chips neatly on a the flattened chip bag. After that Beau placed everything on the table and went to the hammock to relax and observe.

It wasn't long before Allowishous made his way to the table and started munching on the chips. He finished off the chips but hesitated when it came to the sausage. The rat just sat there looking at Beau as if he was waiting for something.

"What's the matter, don't you like Vienna sausages?" Beau asked jokingly.

"Oh, --- I like them just fine," Allowishous stated, "But Caspar always served everything with salsa. I like salsa."

Beau was caught off guard by this talking rat. Such a thing had never crossed his logical mind and was not expected by any stretch of his imagination. Eventually Beau responded by saying, "I could put salsa on it if you'd like that."

Allowishous replied, "Oh --- would you? That would be great if you could!"

So Beau got out of the hammock and retrieved a salsa packet, then he asked, "Do you want it on the sausage or next to it?"

"You can just dump it on there," said the rat, "I'm not fussy when it comes to salsa, more is better."

So after the dumping Beau returned to the hammock and as soon as he was there he asked, "I have a question for you Allowishous."

Allowishous cut Beau off by saying, "I already know what you are going to ask, everyone I talk to always asks the same question. You want to know how I am able to talk. Well, here is the story in a nut-shell.

I am the Aumakua, that means ghosts who did not go to Po, the land of King Milu. My spirit, in the form of a ghost, remained in the land of the living to help guard my former family, and to protect their possessions from thieves; they were the builder's of this hut and many others.

For more than a hundred years I watched after the living, saving them and their possessions from many hazards. But then came a great quaking of the island and a wave came soon afterward. Everyone of my living family were washed out to sea; they all died that day.

Even the huts that they had built and their domestic animals were gone. Everything was destroyed, all except for this hut."

Beau expressed his condolences to Allowishous, but still had a question. "If your family has now gone to Po, why are you still here?"

"I do not know," Allowishous replied, "soon after their spirits departed my ghost image was shed and my spirit was drawn to the nearest living creature, which was this rat. I have been trapped here ever sense.

"Are you happy here or would you rather join your family?" Beau inquired, in a hesitant manner.

"My spirits cries from lonesomeness," Allowishous softly replied.

 

A time of silence occurred in which both human and rat seemed to be reflecting. Then Beau broke the silence by asking, "Who is Caspar?"

Allowishous had returned to his last bite of sausage and after a brief swallow he replied, "Caspar, --- you know, the guy who writes books. I helped him with some of the books endings. Caspar said that I had a different viewpoint of the world than people do."

Beau thought for a moment and asked, "You do mean C. J. Chumash, the man who died in this hut?"

"Sure," Allowishous replied, "Caspar Jebadiah Chumash."

Beau now knew why C. J. used C. J. as a author's name. And Beau also realized that he might have an eyewitness to the writer's murder. "Did you see who shot C. J., I mean Caspar?" Beau questioned.

Allowishous responded with a question of confusion. "Shot? Are you talking about guns?"

"Sure," Beau stated, "the man was shot to death. Right?"

Allowishous started laughing!

"Why are you laughing? Did I say something funny?" Beau questioned.

"Who told you Caspar was shot? Is that what the police said?" Allowishous asked while still producing something a-kin to a chuckle.

Beau replied, "That is what is in the police report. Why?"

Allowishous chuckled again and replied, "The police came to this hut and looked at Caspar's body for awhile. Soon afterward they had tied string everywhere, and the strings were going every which-way. They even had a line of string going from the far wall, straight out the window to a stick stuck in the sand. But not one of them ever looked up, or in the bloody sand beneath the hammock!

At the time I thought that they had all gone mad so I exited the hut and climbed a tree for safety. I came back after they were gone."

Beau looked puzzled and replied, "What you have just said doesn't explain why you don't think Caspar was shot to death."

Allowishous replied, "Look in the sand right neath the hammock, and dig around in the thickest part of the dried blood, then will know why I'm laughing."

Being the perpetual puzzle solver, and always curious, Beau started sifting and digging. It wasn't long before he found a blackish-gray rock that was slightly larger than a musket-ball.

Beau stood up, held the rock up to the light and said, "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle, it is a meteorite!"

In a fit of inspiration Beau went outside and looked at the hut's roof. In the dark of the moonless night Beau could see light coming from the roof. Yes, right above the hammock area a beam of light was seen exiting the palm branches that covered the roof.

"Well, if that don't beat all," Beau stated, "death by meteorite."

***

 

The next morning Beau called the local police and told them what he had discovered. And after spending an hour with them at the hut, they came to the same conclusion that Beau did, "death by meteorite."

Beau had time to kill, now that the case was solved.

It was a much needed time for doing nothing but exploring the island and having fun getting to know the locals, via the rented motorcycle. 

There was time for swimming, surfing, fishing, but not for shaving; no, not for shaving.

And then there was the time spent with Beau's new friend, the spirit-rat. Who, in his former human form was a tribal chief with six wives, 14 children,  27 grandchildren, and who knows how many offspring came after he died. The sad part was that they were all waiting for him in Po, a place he could not enter.

C. J., during his stays on the island got to know the rat very well. The name C. J. gave him was a play on the rat's hopes; which was (all are wishes) (Allowishous) upon the stars.

 

Beau's vacation time was the two weeks that it took for him to receive a revised and updated police report with the official cause of death noted as "Accidental, from natural causes".

Strangely enough, Beau was not mentioned in the revised report.

After a brief conversation with Beau the police were kind enough to fax a copy of the report, with an addendum concerning a certain private detective, to C. J. Chumash's lawyer; and to Samantha Chumash herself.

Well, Beau typed up his final report and attached it to his Billing Statement while he and Allowishous dined on chips and Beau's "almost famous" fish tacos. Yes, there was plenty of salsa to go around.

Then with fond wishes and heartfelt goodbyes said, Beau loaded up the motorcycle.

Beau had asked Allowishous to come out to the motorcycle so he could give him a parting gift. And once they were at the motorcycle Beau told Allowishous to stay right there, Beau said that he had forgotten something in the hut.

Moments later the hut erupted in flames.

As Beau came running out of the hut Allowishous look startled and very confused. That is when he said, "What have you done to my home?!?"

Beau quickly replied, "If I am right, and as soon as this hut is gone, you will be released from your obligations in this world; it is the last of your families possessions. Your spirit will leave the rat and you will follow your family to Po, the land of King Milu. But if I am wrong, my friend, then I will build you a new hut to live in, even better than the last."

With that said Beau reached down and lifted Allowishous up and placed him on the motorcycle seat, then together, the two friends watched the hut burn.

 

Some time later Beau felt a warmness flow over him and he looked down to see a lifeless body lying on the motorcycle seat. A body soon to be buried in the ashes of the hut.

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

02-20-2018


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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