The One Shot Killed Him - Part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
When Rick Dickson is called out to the estate of a rich Industrialist to uncover a blackmail plot, Rick finds himself hip deep in blackmail, murder and dangerous women. Formerly Titled: The One Shot

Submitted: June 09, 2014

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Submitted: June 09, 2014

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The One Shot That Killed Him
 
 
 
The late 1940’s
 
 
As I drive up the private road, I can see that this is definitely the rich side of town. There are no sidewalks to speak of and most of the large homes on the street are pushed back and walled off by large gates and even larger stone walls, it has a cold feel to it that says if you don't live here, you have no business being here. But I do have business here; I’m on my way to an afternoon meeting with an Alexander Giovanni at his estate “Luna Rossa.” They call him the ‘Professor,' a nickname he had picked up during the war, because of several inventions he had developed for our side, which turned the tide of the war in our favor. I follow the curve of the road to the right, passing a plumber’s van parked under a shade tree and pull into the driveway of 326 Luna Rossa Road. I get out of my Buick Eight and walk up to the black iron gates and look through them to the main house that is a good 200 yards away. There is no one visible outside of the house and the place looks almost deserted, as the grounds appear to be in desperate need of tending. I step away from the gate and spot a buzzer to my left, on the wall that one side of the gate is hinged to. I walk over and press it; I hear a slight electronic squeal from a horn speaker mounted at the top of the wall.

(Yes?) A voice questions.

“I’m Richard Dickson; I have an appointment to see Mr. Giovanni.”  I answer back.

(Of course, drive up to the house.)

“Is somebody going to let me in?” I ask.

I can hear the sound of a motor kick on and I step back as I watch the gates swing open. I can see they are on some sort of chain pulley system, allowing them to be operated remotely. Fancy set up, definitely a rich man's home; I climb back into my car and drive up to the house. I park, and walk up the stone steps to the doors; I was going to knock, but the right side door opens before my knuckles hit the oak frame. A thin man, dressed in a formal butler’s suit and black tie with silver hair is standing in the doorway, he takes a moment to size me up before speaking.

“Mr. Dickson, this way.”

I follow him into the foyer and we stop in the center of the room by a circular wooden table of polished mahogany.

“Wait here and I will announce you to the Professor.” The man says, as he turns and walks off into another room opposite from where I’m standing.

For a large house, it's unusually warm, so I take my fedora off and loosen my tie as I walk around the foyer, admiring the paintings hanging and the handcrafted wood paneling on the walls. I notice a silver platter on the table holding several letters and my fingers can't seem to help themselves as they poke through them. I see a few correspondences, but the bulk appeared to be bills from creditors.

“You're a big one.” A voice calls out.

I turn and look to the staircase and see a leggy brunette, wearing cream-colored thigh high shorts and a matching blouse coming down the stairs. She looks like she’s dressed for the tennis courts but her soft sole slip-ons are wrong for that activity and the long stemmed cocktail glass in her hand is definitely not a tennis racket.

“I’m actually the runt of my litter.” I tell her.

She walks up to me, finishing the last of her cocktail and tries to place the glass on the circular table but misses it by half an inch and the glass shatters on the floor and she accidentally tries following it but I catch her in my arms.

“A gentleman too.” She smiles.

“I tried to be.”

I look up and see the silver haired man standing in the doorway, staring at us. I placed the young lady back on her feet and she taps my cheek with her finger and smiles again.

“You’re cute.” She says.

“So you tell me.” I smile back.

She turns to the silver haired man and says; “Be a dear Caruthers and clean that up.”

“Yes, Ms. Andrea.” Caruthers answers back.

Andrea smiles at me again and then walks off down the hallway.

“The Professor will see you in his study.” Caruthers instructs as he extends his left arm out to another doorway on my right.

I pick up my hat and start to walk in the direction that Caruthers is gesturing to and he joins me so that he can open the doors to the study for me. I enter and see two walls of bookcases that are filled from floor to ceiling with books and another wall covered in plaques of awards and various degrees from many prestigious universities here and abroad, Caruthers closes the doors behind me and I just stand there, taking it all in. The doors open again and the Professor enters the room.

“Mr. Dickson I presume.” The Professor says, in a light southern drawl.

“Mr. Giovanni.”

“Please Sir have a seat, take a load off.” The Professor says, gesturing to one of the leather chairs placed by the window.
I sit down and he takes the chair opposite mine. The Professor is attired in a pair of white boots, white slacks and matching gold trim waistcoat. He's wearing a string tie around the neck of his white shirt, with a ruby clasp pushed up to his collar. He reaches into the drawer of the stand under the window and pulls out a small velvet bag and opens it, before offering it to me.

“Chewing tobacco?” The Professor offers.

“No thanks, I don’t chew…” I decline.

“Neither do I, it's a filthy habit.” The Professor tosses the bag back in the drawer and shuts it.

The Professor looks up and sees Caruthers is still standing at the doorway.

“Caruthers, still lurking about? Fetch us two mint juleps, extra mint in mine; you know how I like it.”

“Yes, Professor.” Caruthers steps out of the room, closing the doors behind him.

“Caruthers is clingy but a good man, I swear I’d be lost as a pig going to church on Sunday without him.”

I had no response for that.

“I appreciate you taking time to meet with me, the D.A. says you’re a regular daisy.” The Professor smiles.

“That’s high praise indeed.” I answer back.

“So you're a shamus. Tell me Sir; what detecting have you done on me?” The Professor asks in a sly tone.

“Well not a whole lot; I know you're an expatriate from Italy-“

“Ah, southern Italy.” The Professor corrects me, with his southern drawl intact.

“Southern Italy, you worked for our government during the war, had a few lucrative contracts with the Brass in Washington, met the wealthy socialite Lillian Spencer-Chadwick and after a world wind romance, you too married and moved into this estate you call Luna Rossa which I believe means ‘Scarlet Moon.'” I pause to see if I've given him enough information.

“Please Sir continue.” He smiles like a Cheshire cat.

“Your wife died in a tragic yachting accident three years ago and you continue to live here on your estate with your daughters-“

“Ah, stepdaughters.” He corrects me again.

“Yes stepdaughters, Lauren and Andrea. That's all I know.” I finish.

“Splendid Sir, splendid. Judging from the mess in the foyer, I believe you’ve met Andrea. She’s become a bit of a wild child since her beloved mother’s passing.” The Professor bows his head in a moment of silence. “She’s rarely at home these days. Always out at some club or dance hall, she runs with a dubious crowd if you catch my meaning.” The Professor frowns.

“I noticed; you might try to keep that one on a tighter leash. What about your other stepdaughter, Lauren?” I question.

“Oh. Lauren is much more practical although she has her own proclivities. I don't have to worry about her; except for maybe the knife she'll plunge in my back one day.”

“So I take it she wasn't too happy with you marrying her mother.”

“No I'm afraid I was a hard sell to her, like whiskey at a Baptist revival.”

Ok, now I think he’s just making this stuff up.

“I see you are quite good. Now let me tell you what I sleuthed about you…”

This should prove interesting; “Please.”

“You fought in the war, was wounded in battle, while saving several of your platoon mates. Honorable discharge from the Army went to work for the police department and eventually ended up at the District Attorney's Office as an investigator. After a few years there, you left under questionable circumstances and started your own detective agency with a fellow Army veteran, Will Owens. If I may be so bold as to ask; what was the nature of your departure from the District Attorney’s Office?”

I stare at the Professor in an effort to convey my dis-interest in this line of questioning. He’s stares back at me with a meandering smile and I give in.

“Let’s just say it was a disagreement between my fist and someone’s face.”

“I was right! You are a daisy and just the right sort for this work.”

“And what is the job?” I ask.

“Straight to the point, I like that. As my Big Daddy always said; a man who can put his finger on the prize hog, is a man that is going places!”

What? Again, I had nothing.

The doors open and Caruthers enters, carrying a tray with two tall glasses on it. He hands the Professor a glass and turns to give me mine. I can see by the color, the Professor’s has an extra shot of Bourbon in his mint julep. Caruthers leaves quietly, closing the doors behind him.

“It’s like this, I’ve developing something that will revolutionize the world. Now the horse has gotten out of the barn and the carpetbaggers have been beating a pathway to my door, trying to get in on it. Now I’ve been turning these scaly wags away like a horse's tail swatting flies but things have been turning ugly of late and I've been receiving threats to ‘go along, to get along,’ if you know what I mean.”

I didn’t.

“At first these threats were directed solely at me, but now they're threatening my stepdaughters and I just won't stand for that, I won't have it I tell you!” The Professor spits out, before taking a slow sip to cool down.

“And what did the police have to say about it; you did report it didn't you?”

“Oh, the police are about as useful as a pair of shoes on a corpse at a funeral, sure they look good, but that’s all they’re going to do. They tell me without something specific to go on, they can’t do anything. They are certainly no daisy’s!”

“It sounds like you need a bodyguard and that’s not the kind of work I do.”

“You’re right Sir and I do have a bodyguard; wait strike that. He’s more than just a hired hand; he’s become like a son to me. He’s gone missing and it’s not like him to just disappear without a word, he was trying to get to the bottom of these threats and I want you to find out what he found out but mostly I want you to find him. You may just find out who the scaly wags are behind these threats in the process.”

“What’s your man’s name?”

“It’s a small world after all and getting smaller every day. Shaw; Eddie Shaw, I think you two might know each other.” The Professor slowly turns his eyes away from me and takes another sip of his julep.

I feel the blood leaving my face, but I try to keep my poker face on as I take a big gulp of my julep.

“I take it, it was your fist on his face? Now I know he was the one to force you out of the D.A.’s office, he told me everything including his nefarious activities back then. He’s sorry about what he did and he’s a changed man now; he spoke highly of you and always said that you are the kind of man who’ll do the right thing, no matter what. What did he call it? Oh yes ‘straight arrow.’ That’s what I need now, is a straight arrow; I’ll pay double your usual rate if you take the job.” The Professor offered.

Double! For 50 Dollars a day, I’m feeling straighter by the minute. “Ok, I’ll poke around and see what I can find out. It may take a little time.”

“Oh, that’s fine now, I seldom go out anymore as I have a lab here in the basement where I do most of my work and I’m close, real close to finishing this new thing. So I shall await your reply, Sir.” The Professor smiles.

I set my glass down on the stand, as the Professor pulls a slip of paper out of his waistcoat and hands it to me.

“I trust this will be enough to get you started.” The Professor says.

I unfold the paper and see it's a check with a lot of zeros on it. I try not to smile.

“This is more than enough, thank you. Mr. Giovanni.”

“Please, call me Professor; everyone else does.” The Professor smiles, as he takes another sip of his mint julep. He takes out another slip of paper from his pocket and gives it to me. “This is Shaw’s address in the city, I have never had the pleasure of visiting there but I’ve called several times and there’s never been an answer.”

“I’ll check it out.” I put my hat on and let myself out of the study. I almost make it to the front doors when Caruthers catches me.

“Excuse me Mr. Dickson, Ms. Chadwick would like to have a word with you in her room.” Caruthers tells me.

I sharpen my eyes on him and ask; “Andrea?”

“No, Ms. Lauren Chadwick.” Caruthers answers.

“Lauren? How’d she know I was here?”

“I believe she saw you drive up to the house from her window.” Caruthers suggests.

This should also prove interesting. “Sure, why not. Lead on, McDuff.”
Caruthers doesn’t respond. He has a better poker face than I do. He turns and starts up the stairs and I follow, at the top of the stairs he leads me to a room at the end of the hall and knocks on the door.

“Ms. Lauren, I have Mr. Dickson here to see you.” Caruthers says through the door.

(Come in.) The voice on the other side answers.

Caruthers opens the door; I remove my hat and walk in.
 
*
 
Ms. Lauren Chadwick’s room is her bedroom and the room is bigger than my office; there are a few paintings hanging on the walls, some pictures of Lauren with her Mother Lillian Spencer-Chadwick standing on the deck of a yacht and another at a shooting range, as well as a full-length mirror on a floor stand, a large vanity table in the corner and an even larger bed opposite to where I’m standing. I don’t see anyone in the room, however Caruthers closes the door behind me, leaving me alone.

“Be right with you, Mr. Dickson. Have a seat.” A voice calls out from behind a tall three-panel screen in the corner.

I look around; the only chair in the room is at the table and it doesn’t look like it will support me. “I’ll stand if it’s all the same to you.”

“Suit yourself.” Ms. Lauren says, stepping out from behind the panel.

Lauren is wearing a black couture dress and is fastening a satin sash to the side of it as she approaches me in a slow walk like a cat. Her feet are bare, so she’s not making any noise as she moves across the carpet; her long, raven locks are draped over her left shoulder and her eyes are smoldering. This dame is got ‘class’ written all over her.

“You must forgive me; I was changing to leave for errands, but I didn’t want to miss you. You don’t care if we talk while I finish dressing do you?” She says, turning her face up to mine.

“I don’t mind at all.” I smile.

“Good.” She veers towards her table and picks up a pack of Chesterfields.

“Cigarette?”

“No thanks; I don’t smoke.”

“Neither do I.” She tosses the pack back on the tabletop.

Lauren smiles and walks over to her bed and sits down, she picks up a pair of silk stockings laying on the bed and starts to slip them on. I see by the way she’s taking her time; she’s putting on a show for my benefit so I decide to enjoy the performance.

“I’m happy you were able to see me.” She says.

“Well, I was in the neighborhood.” I reply.

“So Alex hired you?”

“If I’m working for your Stepfather, you know I can’t say.”

“So I’ll take that as a ‘yes.'”

I didn’t say anything.

“Well at least you seem to be better than the last one he hired.”

Eddie Shaw, I thought to myself. Not getting a response from me, Lauren stands and slips her silky toes into a pair of black high heels and returns to her vanity table, where she pours two glasses of aged whiskey. She holds a glass out to me and to be polite I take it.

“I would like to hire you too, Mr. Dickson. I want to know what Alex is up to.”

“Call me Rick and that would be a conflict and a breach of confidentiality.”

“Well, aren’t you the straight arrow.” Lauren smiles, before downing her glass; there’s something about a girl who can handle her liquor that always gets me.

“That’s what they tell me.”

“Look Rick, I’m sure Alex told you there’s no love-loss between us. I know he married my Mother for her money, but did he tell you that he killed her?” Lauren says sharply.

“I’m afraid that never came up. What do you mean, killed her; she died in a boating accident?” I question.

“That’s what he would have everyone believe, but my Mother was an expert sailor, there’s no way she would have just fallen overboard and drowned. Not they way he tells it and they were the only two people on the boat that night.”
I can see where this is going, so I stop it. “But you don’t have any proof do you?”

She shakes her head no.

“And the police didn’t find anything either and the medical examiner ruled it an accidental drowning.” I added.

Lauren’s head drops as she places her glass on her table and then turns to face me.

“I may not have the evidence yet but I know he’s guilty, don’t ask me how, I just know and I will prove it. I don’t want whatever he’s doing now to drag my sister and I down with him! That’s why I want to hire you to let me know what Alex is up to; all you have to do is tell me what you tell him. Easy.”

She leans into me dangerously close; her perfume is filling my nostrils with a sweet, spicy aroma and I can feel her warm breath on my neck.

“I can make it worth your while.” She whispers to me.

I spot her hand picking up something from off the table and my hand moves to intercept hers. I see it’s another check with a lot of zeros on it. I smile and look back at her.

“Sorry Sugar; it’s like you said. Straight arrow.”

Slowly I place my glass in her hand holding the check and ease them both back to her tabletop. Her eyes shoot daggers at me, as she steps back and raises her other hand to slap me, but I intercept that one too.

“Sorry lady, I haven’t been slapped since I came out of my mother’s womb.” I tell her.

“Get out!” She shouts at me.

“Thanks for the drink. Ms. Chadwick.” I nod as I turn and put on my hat and walk out of her bedroom.

This time I make it to the front doors without being stopped; I get in my car drive down to the gates, which opens up so I don’t have to slow down. Back to the office, I need to fill Will in.
 
*
 
I walk into the lobby of the building where our office is located and pass Bucky at the Information counter, on my way to the elevators.

“How’s your little sister, Bucky?” I call out a pleasantry to the redheaded, pimple-faced kid.

“Golly she's swell, thanks for asking Mr. Dickson.” The kid answers back, all grins.

I step into the elevator and turn around to press the button for my floor while nodding to Bucky as the doors close. I get off on my floor, walk down the hall and enter the offices of Dickson & Stasenka Detective Agency. Anita is sitting at her desk and Will is leaning on the corner of it talking to her in a low voice.

“Please Babe, this will be the last time. You have a unique way with it that doesn’t feel the same when I do it.” Will tells her.
Anita turns her eyes at him and stares, as if she’s annoyed with his proposition, but the smile followed by a grin, say otherwise.

“Do I need to step out and come back in?” I say, breaking up the moment.

Now the look Anita gives me is one of true annoyance and she stands up from her desk and walks into our private office. Will and I follow her in while admiring the way her red wool one-piece sleeveless dress, with a wide black belt pulled around her waist hugs her body. She walks over to Will's desk and picks up a letter opener laying on it. She takes the letter opener and slips it into the lock of the center drawer of Will's desk and gently finesses the lock with one hand and drawer with the other, allowing it to be opened. She tosses the letter opener on the desktop and reaches into a drawer.

“If I said it once, I've said it three times. If you are going to keep all this hardware in your drawer, the drawer’s going to get jammed every time!” Anita snaps, she takes out two of Will’s guns, several clips and loose shells, placing them on his desktop. She cuts a path between the two of us, pausing for a brief moment to belittle me with her eyes.

“You look nice today.” I offer. I realized my mistake as soon as the words come out of my mouth, so I decide to quit while I’m behind.

She doesn't look back, she just sighs and closes the door behind her.

“Thanks Babe!” Will calls out and then turns his focus to me. “Somebody's in the doghouse.”

“I'll make it up to her later, right now we’ve got a situation.”

“So we're on with Giovanni?” Will confirms.

“Yes, somebody's making threats against his family and his bodyguard has gone missing. He'd like us to get to the bottom of the threats and is man's disappearance.” I tell Will.

“Really? Who's his man, that's missing?"

“Eddie Shaw.”

“Shaw! Isn't he the one who got you kicked out of the D.A.’s office?”

I nod yes.

“And you still took the case? You got a pair on you, partner I’ll tell you that. Some might say you've got-“

“Stones? I know, but it's strange seems like Eddie had praised me to the Professor before he disappeared. The Professor threw me a line about Shaw changing his ways, but I'm not buying it. I want to find out what his angle is in all this.”

“So where do you want to start?”

“Well, I’m going to pay my old friend a visit and I thought you could keep an eye on the Giovanni estate.” I suggest.

“Stake out?” Will says, less than excited about the idea.

“The Professor’s got a couple of stepdaughters that you’ll need to keep an eye on is well.” I add.

“Stepdaughters huh? Well, I guess a little observation wouldn't be a bad thing.” Will says, coming around to my way of thinking.

“I thought you might say that but watch out, they’re both a hand full and might bite if provoked.”
Will smiles and points his finger like a mock gun at me and winks.
 
*
 
We both leave the office at the same time but drive off in different directions, it takes me about 30 minutes to get to the address that the professor had given me to Eddie Shaw's apartment. I park across the street and cut through a traffic of cars to get to the front door of the building. I’m able to fake my way into the lobby of the building by pressing doorbells on the apartment registry, I’ve found that there's always somebody expecting someone or something to arrive and will buzz someone in without thinking twice. I stop at a row of mailboxes and check the names, and see Eddie Shaw’s mailbox is labeled 408. The mailbox looks full, I thought about opening it but I heard someone calling down from one of the other floors asking, “Who’s there?” So I choose to take the stairs up to the fourth floor instead. While on the third floor stairwell, I pass a striking woman dressed in a dark blue skirt and matching four-buttoned waistcoat with long sleeves going down to her wrists. She was carrying a small clutch bag under her arm and her black hat had one side of the brim pulled down, as if to shield her eyes but we made eye contact anyway and she smiles at me as we pass each other on the steps.

On the fourth floor I walk down the hallway and stop at room 408, I tilt my fedora back so I can place my ear against the door. It’s quiet, so I knock twice but no answer. I reach into my inside coat pocket and pull out my lock pick kit and use it on the door to let myself in.

I close the door behind me and pan the room with my eyes, there is obviously no maid service here, the place looks a mess and it looks like nobody has been here in days. I walk into the kitchen area to look around; there isn't any food to speak of in the refrigerator, just a few cans of beer. In the sink, there are a couple of glasses that, smell like liquor and one has a smudged lipstick mark on it. I walk back to the bedroom and find a closet and drawers still have Shaw's clothes in them, if he left town, he didn't pack anything. On the nightstand by the bed there are two or three matchbooks, all from the same place ‘O’Keeffe’s on the Waterfront,' perhaps a favorite hangout? I hear noises coming from the front door and I go back into the living room. Someone is coming in and it sounds like there’s more than one, so I decide it would be wise for me to not be here when they come in. I climb out through the window and onto the fire escape where I stay to see who’s opening the door.

Two men dressed in the same dark suits, ties and hats come into the room and neither one of them was Eddie Shaw. I choose not to stick around to find out who they are so I start down the fire escape; I’m almost to the street when one of them sticks his head out the window and calls to his partner. I hop off the ladder and onto the ground; I turn to head out of the back alley before those two goons can box me in, but the lady who I had passed in the stairwell is standing in front of me smiling. I spot the gun in her hand and she waves to the men in Shaw’s apartment to come down.

She stares back at me and says; “Don't try any funny moves, it would be a shame to have to shoot you.”

“Then I'll try not to disappoint you.” I tell her, raising my hands in surrender.

“Smart move.”

In two minutes, her boys are in the alley; one of them pats me down and reaches into the inside of my coat and pulls Stella out of her holster and hands her over to the woman.
“Impressive, good stopping power but you won’t be needing it.” She says to me, handing my gun back to one of her men. She gestures me out of the alley with her goons on either side of me.
They walk me out and over to a black sedan parked on the corner, one of her men tries to force me into the car with an arm lock but I wasn’t playing along and resist his efforts.

“Stand down, Jones.” The woman orders, him.

Jones releases my arm and I turn to the woman and look her over again; something’s fishy here. These aren’t the kind of gangsters I usually come across.

“Mr. Dickson, if you please.” She says gesturing to the back seat.

She knows my name, definitely fishy. “Well, since you asked so nicely.”

I give her man a grin and climb into the back of the car and she follows me in. Her man tries to join us, but she puts a hand out to stop him.

“We’ll be fine, Jones.” She closes the door on him and then turns her intentions to me.

“You’ve got them well trained and that grab your man tried on me isn’t your standard strong arm move. I’m guessing some kind of military training, so you know my name, how’s about yours?” I demand.

She pauses a moment and then reaches into her clutch bag and pulls out an ID and shows it to me. I look it over, I’ve never heard of this agency before. She puts the ID away.

“I’ve never heard of that agency, which branch of the government is it?” I ask.

The lady smiles and remains silent.

“Okay, so what's the government's interest in Eddie Shaw, Ms.…”

“Chen, Amy Chen. We're not interested in Eddie Shaw, we’re interested in his and your employer Professor Alexander Giovanni.”

Oh, she’s good; she already has Intel on me and I’ve been on the case for less than 24 hours.

“And what does that have to do with me?”

“We know Giovanni has hired you to look into some threats being made against him and the disappearance of his man, Shaw.”

I say nothing, so she continues.

“We know no one has seen Shaw in the last 72 hours.”

“That still doesn’t tell me what your interest is in this matter?”

“We have no interest, officially. Unofficially we have made investments in what the Professor is working on, although he hasn’t been forthcoming of late. Thru some back channel chatter, we have learned there are foreign powers also interested in what he’s developing.”

“I get it, Uncle Sam doesn’t want the Professor’s discovery going to the Russians.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny that.” Amy says, smugly.

“So what do you want from me?” I ask.

“Nothing, you can continue doing what you were doing, just do it somewhere else and stay out of our way.” Amy takes a sharp tone with me. “But, if you should find out anything I would consider it a courtesy to let me know, first.”

“Doesn’t anybody understand client confidentiality?”

“The security of the nation trumps client confidentiality.”

“And I assume if I don't play along you'll make it tough for me?”

Amy leans her head into me and says; “You have no idea.”

She leans back and smiles.

“So let's be friends, the kind of friends that only see each other during the holidays.”

“Okay, friend. I’ll look for the Fruit Cake in the mail.” I grin.

Amy pulls a business card out of her bag and hands it to me.

“Just in case you have something to share. We’re done here; Jones will return your gun to you. Have a good day, Mr. Dickson.” Amy knocks on the door and her man, Jones opens it.

“Oh, I'm sure I will.”

I climb out of the car and put my hand out to Jones and he hands me Stella. I slide her back into her holster and head back to my car.
 
*
 
It's late into the night and Professor Giovanni is still in his basement lab, working. He's at his table looking into a microscope and taking copious notes on a notepad beside him. There are several beakers, boiling over Bunsen burner's and the air in the lab is a little thick with fumes. He looks up when he hears a noise and says, “Who's there? Is that you Caruthers lurking about, come out of the shadows where I can see you. Come on now, stop acting like Casper the Ghost and step out where I can set my eyes on you!”

The only thing the Professor sees coming out of the shadow is the barrel of a gun aimed directly at him.

“Why you’re no daisy, you’re no daisy at all!”

One shot rings out, followed by an explosive fire that engulfs the room in seconds.
 
*
 
Will Owens adjusts his seat, while sitting in his Desoto; he's parked across the street from the entrance to the Luna Rossa estate. He's been there for several hours now, but not much is been happening, in fact, it's been pretty quiet. He changes the station on his car radio, in hopes of finding some more music to keep them awake. He tunes into his favorite station ‘WKK 98.9’ and hits the jackpot with ‘In the Blue of Evening’ by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra. He tilts his fedora forward over his eyes and leans back in his seat to close his eyes and let the music sweep over him but the sounds of sirens coming up the road, breaks the mood. He looks over the dashboard and sees a fire truck, being followed by an ambulance speed past him and turn into the driveway of the Luna Rossa estate.

“What the hell?” Will says, as he looks in his side view mirror, watching the fire truck and ambulance drive through the gates and onto the property.

Quickly, Will starts the engine of his car up and circles around to follow the other vehicles onto the estate. He stops a few yards back from the ambulance and gets out of his car and rushes up to the house. Firemen rush into the house, as smoke starts to billow out of the front doors. A couple of firemen bring a soot covered Lauren out of the house, coughing, followed by Caruthers as more firemen enter the house, carrying axes and dragging hoses behind them.

“Andrea, where’s Andrea! Is she still inside? Someone has to get her out!” Lauren starts shouting.

“No ma’am; Ms. Andrea went out earlier and hasn’t returned home as of yet.” Caruthers tries to reassure her.

Lauren nods and looks back at the house, watching the smoke still flowing out of the front doors. 5 or 10 minutes pass, before a fireman comes out and signals for a stretcher from the ambulance to be brought in. Will moves in a little closer when the Fire Chief comes out to speak to Lauren.

“Ms. Chadwick. It looks like the fire started in the basement, some kind of laboratory down there with a lot of flammable chemicals; we were able to contain the fire and put it out before it spread to the rest of the house. You might be able to fix the basement and you are going to have some smoke damage to deal with but I'm afraid I have some bad news for you.” The Fire Chief tells her.

She stares at him, fearing the worst.

“We found a body in the basement and we think it’s your father, Mr. Giovanni.” The Fire Chief says.

“Stepfather.” She mumbles.

“Excuse me? Well, the body’s pretty badly burned, the medical examiner will have to make the final identification and we found this on the body.”

The fire Chief hands her a charred ruby clasp.

“This is his favorite neck tie clasp, he always wore it. It was a gift from my Mother.” Lauren tells the Chief.

At that moment the ambulance attendants’ wheel out a stretcher with a body strapped to it, covered with a sheet. Everyone watches as they pass by and place the body in the back of the ambulance and close the door.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” The Fire Chief adds, before going back into the house.

“Who are you?” Lauren asks, noticing Will for the first time.

“Will Owens; I work with Richard Dickson.” He tells her.

“Another detective? Well as you see, your employer is dead. You and your partner no longer have any business here, so get off my property!”

“Sorry.” Will says, backing away.

He starts walking back to his car but spots a man, dressed in a dark suit standing by the gates; Will starts to move towards him and the man starts to back away and darts around the corner of the wall. Will, pulls out his gun and runs down to the gate and around the corner and almost gets hit by a shot but he ducks back to the side and the bullet misses his head but a piece of the Stonewall where a bullet hits splinters and hits Will in the forehead knocking him down. Somebody’s banging a drum on his head, but the pounding dies down, when Will’s focus starts to come back. Will manages to get a couple of shots off at the Plumber’s van before it speeds off and around the curve. He gets up and runs back to his car to try to give chase, but the ambulance is pulling out, and blocks his way so there is no way he can follow the van.

 

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