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Herewith follows an excerpt from my novel: Winging It: Don Garcia, Private Investigator
I’d given it all I had. It was the first time in 7 years that I’d struggled so much with a case, and it frustrated the hell out of me. I was 45 years old, going grey and my buttons frequently popped off my shirts, I needed this case to work out. My ex-wife would laugh her head off if she saw me now. We had parted ways amicably, but it all boiled down to the fact that I was too involved in my work. We didn’t have kids, so we thought it best to call it a day. Maybe I should’ve worked a little less. Maybe this is punishment. Screw it, I thought, I’ll just leave it for a while. I lit a cigarette. My office stank of stale cigarette smoke, but I didn’t like opening the windows. I could hear the busy urban life buzzing outside; the wheels of industry and commerce turning. The cows led to the slaughterhouse. I didn’t want to hear it. It made me want to gag. I shut the blinds and thought back to two weeks earlier when all this madness started…
The phone rang.
“Donny Garcia, private investigator, at your service.”
There was faint breathing on the other end, but I could hear it.
“Hello? Please speak up I haven’t got all day.”
The breathing became a rasping, wheezing sound.
“19 Belmont Terrace.” The person choked out. “Hurry….”
The sound of a venomous, spluttering coughing fit bombarded my ear, and then the line went dead. Damn it all, I’d better get over there. I got in my hatchback and drove at a reasonable speed. I drove fast but not so fast as to draw attention. I arrived at the address. The place was a mansion. Probably some rich guy stepped on someone’s toes climbing the ladder again, I thought.
I walked to the door, opened it, and walked slowly over the threshold. A man lay against the back of a sofa holding his gut, bleeding onto the carpet; A Persian rug, such a shame. I liked Persian rugs, wouldn’t mind one of my own. The smell in the room was unbearable; the guy must have soiled himself or something. He began convulsing and now not only did I have the audio version of the coughing fit, but the disgusting live imagery to go with it. Spectacular. Phenomenal. Anyway, I called the emergency services, not expecting a speedy response but what the heck. The man’s convulsing had stopped and he seemed like he was going to speak. Suddenly, a man appeared in the doorway holding the biggest fucking gun I’d ever laid eyes upon. He was going to shoot, no doubts about that. I instinctively knew to jump for cover, and did so. Being in my 40’s and nursing a beer-belly it turned out a poor decision. I dived over the couch in true action hero style, even briefly assuming a Superman pose. As the bullets rained down in a raucous onslaught of cacophony, I hit the coffee table and it buckled under my weight. Shards of wood and dust flew through the air. Jolts of pain went through me. I cursed God and man alike in agony and quickly rolled around to make sure I was out of danger. I peeked over the couch. Nothing. The guy with the mini-gun was gone, the wheezing guy was even more fucked, well now he was dead so we could argue whether he was better off. Why is it called a mini-gun if it’s so huge? Someone was in a joking mood when they named it. I searched his pockets, his wallet had an ID card, revealing him to be one James Burly, apparently a professor of sorts. It also contained a note, the words ‘William De Rue, Museum of Antiquities‘ scribbled onto it. I guess that would be my next lead. The cops arrived along with the emergency services. Finding me full of dust and my hair in a state they immediately suspected me. After being momentarily cuffed and about to be read my rights the local Sherriff arrived. We went back, so he told his men to let me loose. Skip ahead. I told them what happened and got the hell out of there.
Next day; I woke up feeling shitty and a little stiff from the coffee table incident. I decided it was time to investigate these two guys; James Burly and William De Rue. It seemed the best course of action to speak to someone who was still alive, so I took some painkillers, brushed my teeth and got into my car. The museum wasn’t that far off. I arrived and parked. As I got out it seemed like it would rain. I rolled up the windows just in case. I strolled in and went up to the reception desk. A vision of a woman perked her head up. “May I help you, Sir?”
“You may indeed. I’m looking for one William De Rue. I believe he works here?”
“There is only one of him. Yes, he does work here. His office is down that corridor, third door on the left.”
“You have the most amazing eyes.”
She continued with whatever she was doing prior to me arriving, I took that as the end of that conversation. I followed her directions and found the office. I knocked. A small, fidgety man opened the door. “Hello, are you looking for someone?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact I am looking for William De Rue. I was told that this was his office? Would you be him?”
“Why, yes , I would, and what can I do for you? I don’t often receive visits, is this of an academic nature?”
He seemed awfully tense.
“Mr De Rue, My name is Donny Garcia, I’m a Private Investigator. I was contacted recently by a man who instructed me to hurry to 19 Belmont Terrace. Well, yesterday, in fact, and upon arriving I found this man to be bleeding to death. Shortly afterwards a man with what appeared to be a mini-gun entered the room and fired maybe 4000 bullets into the man. I was lucky and got out the way. I found this note in his wallet. It’s the only clue I have right now. I thought it might lead me to a new case.”
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Poor Winston. He was on the trail of an archeological find of grand proportions. I don’t rightly know exactly what it was, he used to just arrive and show me what he’d got. Possibly he fancied himself quite the Indiana Jones. That being said, Indiana Jones is fiction and well Winston is now dead.”
“Uh..Yes, I had noticed that. In any case, do you know why he ended up dead? And I thought his name was James Burly?”
He seemed deep in thought for a moment.
“His name was Winston Hill, and his job was to procure items of value for the museum. Sometimes, Winston would pursue items that were worth millions, and sometimes, well, let’s just say the item was in the hands of a very disagreeable person. Say, a crime lord. I recall one name that he spoke of before. He’d had problems getting him to give back an Egyptian scepter, from a pharaoh’s vault. Eventually things got straightened out, though I never found out how. But then recently Winston told me that this man wasn’t happy with the arrangement. I thought that he usually encountered problems of this nature and thought nothing of it. Oh, and yes James Burly was a fictional name he used while on the ‘hunt’, as he called it.”
Well, if he doesn’t take over the funding for this case I may as well write it off, I thought.
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr De Rue, but in the interests of justice and in the interests of my business, I need to know from you whether you want to know what happened to your friend, or if I should go play bingo for the money I spent on gas.”
He didn’t take long to respond
“Mr Garcia, please find out what happened to Winston. I will take over the funding, it may be that he stumbled onto something of unimaginable worth, and it cost him his life. Perhaps if we recover it, it will not have been in vain.”
Excellent, things are looking up, I told myself. “Agreed, although by we you mean I. I’ll recover the item and give it to you, and then you’ll pay me, because well that’s how business works. Now… What’s the name of this crime guy, and what can you tell me about him?”
“Well, as I said, he is a very disagreeable man. His names Bobby Luke Limar, he owns a series of hotels and restaurants. All blood-money I’m sure, Winston said he hadn’t gotten to where he is the honest way. Anything you try dig up on him ends up clean though. So I wouldn’t advise breaking the door down and throwing accusations around”, he paused. “Mr Garcia..”
“Call me Don.” I fumbled for a cigarette, lit it and let him continue.
“Very well, Mr Don, please don’t die while working on this case, I understand this man is extremely dangerous and would hate for another death to occur in the name of archeology.”
Geez. Its just Don. No ‘Mr’, just Don.
“Not to worry, Will, I mean to make a habit of living. I’ll keep you in the loop, as far as loops go. And don’t push me for information and reports. I’ll call you when I call you, understand?”
“Understood, Mr Don. I won’t keep you. Good luck”, We shook hands.
The door closed as I left his office, and I knew it was time. I stopped at the nearest bar, sat down at a secluded table, and let things brew in my mind.