Posted in A Miles Mitchell Story, Outrageous Lies and Tales

The Faux Surveillance Case, A Miles Mitchell Mystery

Wooden Raft 3D Model $29 - .c4d .max .ma .obj .fbx - Free3D

I was in my office, leaning back in my chair shooting wads of paper at my wastebasket contemplating my choices of taking a nap or if I should switch over to wasting paper with aeronautical endeavors, aka paper airplanes.

My life can be so stressful sometimes.

My parchment predicament was put off by a knock on the door. Not having a gorgeous blonde secretary or even a front desk to seat her at I simply yelled. “It’s open.”

I watched the lady enter making judgements about her, fifties, economically well off, some sort of professional’s wife, but clearly on vacation right now and a big Disney fan from her clothing, she was not wearing ears of anything but the clothing was right out of Bay View Gifts, expensive but very Disney right down to the handbag.

“Are you Miles Mitchell?”

“Yes I am.”

“You are the private detective that specializes in case at Walt Di”

I held up my hand and interrupted her. “I handle all types of cases, all over the Greater Orlando area.”

“Oh, I see.” She said a bit confused and unsure of where to go now. I motioned for her to seat in the chair across from me she took it.

“Now what can I do to assist you Mrs.?” I said noticing the wedding ring next to the large diamond ring next to it. The wedding ring was old the diamond ring new, I was guessing a thirty-year anniversary present.

“Mrs. Shultz, Sharon Shultz. Well it’s my husband.”

I opened my big fat mouth sticking my size ten and half’s in up to the laces. “You think that he is having an affair.”

An angry glare crossed her face and I immediately knew I was being stupid. “Oh no not anything like that, Howard would never.”

I mumbled out an apology then motioned for her to continue. Mrs. Shultz did so, her annoyance fading quickly. “My husband is a good man, a loving man, we share so many interests, but unfortunately he does not share my one of my biggest, Disney.”

I nodded thoughtfully.

“Howard has been a great provider, so much that we are DVC members and have been for about seven years.”

I nodded again showing I understood. Disney Vacation Club, or DVC as it is commonly called, is a time share. You own part of a Disney hotel and can vacation in it once a year, that is the simple version.

Mrs. Shultz was warming up now and I let her go with just the occasional nod from me. “Howard has come on most every trip, with me and the children, and even after the children were gone he paid for my twin sister and I to visit,” there was a brief moment of sadness that crossed her face at this. “Howard has attended all the shows and backstage tours with me. He never complains, he never says no, he even in his own way enjoys it to a degree. Although he takes a lot of naps and reads a lot by the pool when I am off trading pins.”

“He sounds like a real good guy.”

“He is.”  Sharon Shultz said. “A wonderful man, a good father and a great husband, thru good times and bad.” The bit of a sadness came back again but it passed quickly.

“So why do you want to hire me? Most people only hire a private investigator when there is a problem.”  I asked while leaning back in my chair steepling my hands.

“Well I had an idea, it came to me as I was helping Howard download his books onto his new Kindle, he reads spy novels, Vince Flynn, Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor. He is a voracious reader, sometimes on a vacation he will read two or three of them.

“Okay?”  I said questioningly.

“I would like you, to set it up so he could experience a spy story on Disney property.”

I nodded and thought about it. Disney did not care that I worked on property, I never interfered with their business and as far as I could tell they never interfered with mine. They allowed unofficial scavenger hunts if they were not disruptive and what Mrs. Shultz was asking would not be disruptive except maybe to Howard’s reading schedule.

“Would Howard like that kind of thing?”

“I don’t see why not; he loves going to escape rooms and we have been to several dinner party murder mysteries we even hosted one in our house.”

I nodded, it sounded like Howard might enjoy this. “Okay I think we might be able to work something out.”  For the next two hours we worked out the major plot points, Mrs. Shultz paid for my next 10 days without batting an eye.  I told her there might be a few extra expenses due to me having to compensate some other people for their time and she approved a figure I could spend, billing her later. Mrs. Shultz left happy, I was left with a lot of work to do and a lot of meetings to set up with errands to run. Hopefully, some of my buddies would help me out.

The next day I was hanging out in the lobby of the Boardwalk Resort sitting on a couch waiting for my client and her husband. Normally when doing surveillance, the acquisition of the target is the hardest part, you may know where they live but you don’t know when they are leaving or which direction they will go once they leave.  Then you are never quite sure you have the right person, the target as it is, unless you have a darn good picture, a solid  description and a unhindered view of them in five seconds before they climb into their car and drive away.

But not this time, I had a great series of photographs of Mr. Shultz, and thanks to his wife I knew exactly where and when he would be so I could start tailing him. Heck thanks to Mrs. Shultz I knew where he would be for all meals for the next ten days. These first two days of the little game we had set up was about setting the tone. The tone was to make him notice me, getting him in the mood for playing a spy.

There was no way he was going to miss me, I was wearing the loudest Hawaiian shirt I could find, bright pink with neon green flowers and aqua blue leaves. I was also wearing a Detroit Tigers hat. Mr. Shultz’s favorite team according to the misses.  To complete my ensemble, I wore the typical tan cargo shorts and athletic walking shoes. I wanted Howard to notice me, multiple times throughout the day and in those clothes, it would be hard to miss me.

The plan was working just as I planned Howard noticed my ball cap, most people look for things they like, he liked the Tigers so he would most likely see the hat.

I had done my research on the Shultz’s and Howard in particular.  The man was an insurance salesman, and not the typical sell you the Car, Home and Life. Howard sold insurance policies on businesses, so if your business burned down, Howard’s company would pay. But Howard did not even sell to businesses directly he sold bundled packages to banks who insisted whoever took a loan out have some sort of insurance on their property. I fell asleep three times trying to understand his business. I did not expect Howard to be the most observant person on the planet. But two days of following him in this outrageous shirt I was sure he would notice me at least once or twice.

The plan was when he mentioned the strange man in the loud shirt seemed to be following him to his wife, she would let him know about the spy mystery he was part of and then we could get into the plan of counter surveillance, dead drops and mysterious meetings with clandestine figures. These first two days were meant to make him get into the idea before he knew there was a game to be played.

The first day I held back, never closer than fifty yards, sometimes I would be waiting in the vicinity of the exit of a show or shop.  The next day  I moved in closer, sometimes I would be leaving a restaurant when they were coming in or across the way in a store when he was browsing, and on the afternoon of the second day I was directly across from him at the pool so when he looked up from his book there I would be. 

It was kind of fun.  Normally I try not to be seen when doing surveillance, now I was trying to be noticed, just not too much, it was a nice change of pace.

It was on this second day of pseudo surveillance that I noticed something, or more importantly, someone. Mrs. Shultz had walked Howard down to the pool and kissed him before leaving to do some shopping and I had noticed a woman, wearing muted colors standing near the gate of the pool. She was not coming in or waiting for someone, she looked like someone who was tailing someone. When Mrs. Shultz came back after several hours there was the same woman, neither coming nor going, just sort of in the area.

When Mrs. Shultz came back it was my cue to leave.  Howard had definitely noted me, I caught him staring at me several times, I could see he had questions about me but like most sane people he could not bring himself to think he was being followed in addition most people are too polite to just come over to ask me a perfect stranger a the question, “Are you following me.” Mostly because they also do not want to be perceived as being a nut.

I knew my mission was complete because as soon as I walked by him and his wife sat down, I heard the phrase I knew was coming. “Did you see that guy that just walked by?”

I turned the corner out of view and took off the stupid shirt, fished out a plain t shirt, another pair of sunglasses this time with red frames and mirrored lenses out of my bag. I left by a back gate and circled around the pool out of sight.  I had some time to kill before the next step in the spy show was set in motion and I was a little curious about the woman who seemed to be following Mrs. Shultz. I kicked my surveillance mode into covert gear and began watching the muted tone lady.

She was watching someone in the pool, I even figured out from her angle of observation it was someone on the same side of the pool as the Shultz’s. Luckily, I knew where the happy couple were eating at tonight, so I pulled back and waited and watched.

Right on time, the lovely couple left their room and strolled to the Katsura Grill, in the Japanese pavilion in Epcot. I hung back, not keeping the couple in view I wanted to see if the lady in muted tones was tailing them. I did not have long to wait, the lady in muted tones came along keeping them in view and she was joined by a tall young man who while too old to be her son, was too young to be a romantic partner. I watched them, they hung back enough, and I did not see any communication devices, so they were not working with anyone else. They passed thru Disney Security with no hold ups, so they were not carrying any weapons which is good to know. Then they planted themselves outside the Japanese restaurant.  Meanwhile I had gotten a text from Mrs. Shultz to start phase 2 of our little drama for her husband. The envelope.

I gave the plain large envelop to the maître-de and asked him to give it to Howard. Inside the envelope were detailed instructions for a covert meeting with one of my friends at the lighthouse across from the Boardwalk at precisely twenty-two hundred hours tonight. I added the military time for realism and I even threw in a sign and countersign phase for a Cold War feel just like in the movies. There my friend would hand him a briefcase full of more of the story we had set up for him, including clues as to who and where to deliver the briefcase to the next day.

But now I had a new wrinkle in the story. Who were these people and why did they seem to be conducting surveillance on this nice couple from Louisiana?

I got a text from Mrs. Shultz, Howard loved it. I watched the two watching the door and when the couple left the restaurant, they followed them, this time closer as it was getting darker and the crowds were getting heavier due to the firework show coming up.  When Howard left Sharon to go to his meeting with my friend, I knew then that they were not following Howard but Sharon. I was not needed for the meeting with Howard, but now I wanted to know why someone was following my client, a housewife who was president of the local PTA.

I watched from a safe distance, they never lost sight of Sharon, and I never lost sight of them. They followed her back to the hotel and when she entered for the night, they terminated their surveillance. I followed them to their car, I did not get the whole plate number but I did see it was a local one, they also had a save the manatees sticker and organ donation sticker on the bumper. I did not have my car handy otherwise I would have continued to follow them, but I knew the Shultz’s schedule tomorrow so I would be there early to see if the tail returned.

I did not sleep very good that night, wondering what I had missed about the Shultz’s in my background check, something personal I guessed, maybe Mrs. Shultz was not as nice as she seemed on the surface. Although I would have bet my favorite rubber ducky that she was exactly what she seemed, a devoted happy wife with a Disney obsession.

So why was someone following her.

The next day I was up early, at least early for me, the game play with Mr. Schultz was not due to kick off until one o’clock but I knew they were going to breakfast at the Magic Kingdom at ten.  To get there they would have to catch a bus in front of their hotel, I planned on seeing if the tail was back in place and hopefully tail them for the rest of the day to see what the strange couple was up to.

I got a good parking spot early on and waited. I only waited an hour till the same car entered the parking lot and they parked only two rows away from me. They seemed to be having an argument of some type and it finally ended when the young man, in his twenties got out of the car and went to the lobby, I imagined to try and acquire the Shultz’s as they left the hotel. Meanwhile the lady stayed in her car with the engine running. From where I was sitting, I got a fairly good view of her and what she did next sort of surprised me, she started crying.  They type of crying you do after a long time, one of frustration and sadness.

I was confused and continued watching. It was not long before the Shultz’s appeared and I watched them waiting and the tall lanky kid boarded the bus right behind them.  Then crying woman followed in her car.  

Now tailing a Disney bus is not too hard, but they can also go places an automobile cannot, like into certain restricted lanes and turnoffs.

Clearly this lady did not know this as she followed the bus into the turnoff for the Magic Kingdom and was promptly chased out by Security.  I parked and was waiting when the Shultz’s made it thru Security, with Howard carrying the spy game briefcase. Howard had figured out the meeting with my friend Daniel Dewey was to take place on Tom Sawyer Island so he would head there right after breakfast. I watched them go up Main Street, USA with the tall lanky fellow, in a Lakeland Flying Tigers ballcap shadowing. Poorly I might add, at one point he bumped into them and said sorry. Now some suspicious person might have thought he did this on purpose, lifting a wallet or something, I could tell from his expression and personal experience it was totally accidental, the kid was horrified that he had blown it.

The Shultz’s had brunch, I kept watch outside, as did the tall lanky guy. In a little while he was joined by the crying woman. There was something different about her now, as though the crying had changed something, given her a new purpose.

Soon the Shultzs were on the move again.  I knew that they had early dinner reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern where the couple would meet and compare notes about what I had set up for Howard. Now I had a part to play, I threw back on the Hawaiian shirt and Detroit Tigers hat and began tailing Howard again, he spotted me just as I missed the raft to Tom’s Sawyer Island where he was scheduled to meet my friend Daniel Dewey.

Daniel is my oldest friend, and probably knows more about the Disney Parks and the Disney Company then maybe anyone else on Earth. He is a trust fund guy who still lives with his grandparents so any money he makes from trading in information on the web simply is spending money or to finance his trips to other Disney Parks around the world. His task today was to accept the briefcase from Howard and send him out to find a my friend Clarissa dressed in a leopard print dress that evening, that person would then provide a clue to a hidden object which Howard would retrieve then return to Daniel at a time to be named later.


I of course was playing the counter spy in this scenario and would stop at nothing to prevent Howard completing his mission.

This was going to be tricky to carry off but what made it even trickier was the real-life surveillance of Sharon Shultz and the strange couple that were following her.

I made an appearance on Tom Sawyer island and pseudo chased Howard thru the Injun Joe’s cave, just in time for him to hop on the ferry boat taking him away while I stood on the dock shaking my fist, metaphorically of course.

But once Howard was away and I presume looking for my other friend Clarisse who would not be on a bridge to be found until 6 pm. I turned my attention back to The Pair.  Luckily, I had Sharon’s number and contacted her to update her on Howard’s progress and discovered she was in Main Street, USA.
Now some people do not consider Main Street to be its own land mostly because it has no rides, but there they would be wrong. It has rides, they are just not big and splashy. First off you have the Train Station which circles the park, then you have the Main Street Vehicles which only travel the street when the crowds are light.

I was back in covert mode and found the tailing couple easily. They were still nearby, but as they watched Sharon, I could not see any malice in them just something I would consider reluctance, maybe. I needed to know who these people where and what the connection or relation was to Sharon Shultz. 

So, I did something I had not done for years, I lifted the kid’s wallet a skill from a misspent youth. I took a quick peak at his driver’s license then put it back hoping no one saw me.  I called Millie, my girlfriend, and to run the information including the full license plate number.

Let me just say something about Millie, she is probably my greatest asset, a fantastic sounding board and a great researcher. She called me back within fifteen minutes and told me what I needed to know. They were an Aunt Nancy and Nephew Gary Foley, who lived in the same house in Kissimmee. Millie would have done more but she had a diner to run and an order of hamburger meat was just delivered.

But the names and addresses were a great start and more than I needed.

I went to one of my favorite places to do research. The Celebration library which had all the internet I needed, which was more than my office at the moment as I had not paid the bill in two months. It was either that or the brakes on my car. I chose stopping in traffic, safety first.

When Howard was scheduled meet with my friend Clarissa on the bridge between France and England in EPCOT. I planned on being nearby, but I was going to have a discussion with the Foleys. Howards meeting went off without a hitch getting his next clue.  Sharon was looking on from where I placed her and the Foleys where exactly where I thought they would be. I came up behind them and then I texted Sharon to mov into the little English park area where Mary Poppins hangs out. Sharon moved, I moved right behind the Foleys. Just as they entered the park, I tapped both on the shoulder, I was that close.

“Hi there Nancy and Gary, can I have a word with you two?”

The startled look on their faces was all I needed.  They were not hardened criminals or even soft criminals, in fact I had a rather good idea what they wanted to Mrs. Sharon Shultz, PTA President, wife to Howard and the surviving twin sister of Sheri Benoit.

That afternoon I discovered Gary was a fairly good baseball player, playing for the local minor league team the Lakeland Flying Tigers, that was until he was in an accident, an accident that resulted in him needing a cornea transplant. 

At the same time Sharon and Sheri were making one of their frequent trips to Florida and Sheri passed away due to an undiagnosed brain aneurism.  Sharon following her sisters wishes made a complete organ donation including eye tissue. The next year Gary was back at third base, with a respectable batting average of three fifty.

I motioned for the two to sit down at a nearby bench and we talked. We talked about gratitude and recovery time and how they had uncovered who the Shultz’s were and how they knew they would be here.  I nodded, there were some strict rules about transplant receivers contacting the family of the deceased donor. I am not always the hugest fan of rules.

The next day I arranged a meeting, it kind of ruined the game, as I would not be the “mysterious chasing stranger” any longer in the scenario but I figured that I should be there in person for the meet up. There were a lot of tears, everyone shed some, maybe even a hard-boiled private investigator.

Howard was happy with how the who thing turned out.  He was pleased that I was able to not only keep his game going, but that I was looking out for his wife at the same time. A nice bonus let me catch up on my internet bill. To keep my karma good, I donated to the Orange County library.

Howard’s Adventure
Howard Shultz was minding his own business on vacation when he was caught up in a dangerous case of mistaken identity. Receiving a briefcase from a stranger near a lighthouse he pieces together he must delivers it to the man in a white suit on an island all the while being pursued by a man in a very loud Hawaiian shirt. The white suited man instructs him to meet up with an exotic lady on a bridge and she would tell him the hiding spot of the thumb drive containing the missing defense plans. After recovering the thumb drive Howard returns the plans to the man in the white suit on a ferry boat crossing a lagoon.

Other Miles Mitchell Cases:

The Missing Train

The Walkaway Case

The Case of the Missing Mementos

The Missing Heiress 

The Road to A Wedding Case

Posted in Quotes

Hysteria

Elia Kazan.JPG

Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.    Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (born Elias Kazantzoglou );  September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history”

Posted in A Miles Mitchell Story

The Case of the Missing Heir, A Miles Mitchell Mystery

See the source image

Rain pounded against my window, but it would clear up in a minute and the humidity would be higher than a Russian sauna. I was on my second glass of whiskey, contemplating how long I could sleep at my office before the landlord got wise that my office was now a residence. I could not make my apartment rent for the third month in row and there was a suspicious red envelop on my front door which I had avoided like a sinner avoids church. That is when she walked through my door. She was a brunette with long legs and a face that would have made John Smith question his love for the beautiful Disney Pocahontas. My front door was open, and she sauntered in like she owned the place. For an hour of staring into those big brown eyes I might have given her the keys.

Are you Miles Mitchell, the private investigator?” she asked in voice that could easily be confused for an angel, but gave the hint of knowledge that would make a demon blush.

That’s what it says on the door, but my friends just call me Mitch” She smiled with ruby red lips but not with her eyes. “Have a seat, Mrs.?”

She sat down in the seat in front of my desk with the smooth motion of a ballet dancer. I envied the arms of the chair as she placed her dainty hands on them.

It’s Miss Fowler. Miss Felicity Fowler. I understand you specialize in cases concerning people involved with Disney World.”

I chuckled. “Specialize might be too strong a word, but I’ve had some success in Walt’s backyard.”

She nodded thoughtfully. “I want you to find someone, my younger sister, Fiona.”

I nodded and she continued. “She came down here for an Internship, but she had been talking about taking a job with Disney afterward.”

And now?”

The internship was over five weeks ago and she has not called or communicated with anyone in the family since. It’s very important that I contact her soon, as our mother is a very sick woman and wants to see her.” Her voice had the telltale quiver that comes right before a crying jag, so I grabbed a box of tissues from my drawer walked around the desk and offered her one. I did not return to my seat but leaned against the leading edge of my desk till she got herself under control.

You say she has not communicated with anyone in your family. How about her friends, have they heard from her?”

Felicity looked up with a sad look on her face. “Fiona and I are not what you call close. She was away at school for the last four years and we’ve drifted even further apart. I don’t know any of her friends and she has not used any of her credit cards, I had our accountant check.”

I nodded knowingly. Not that I ever had an accountant; I had taken my tax returns to H&R Block last year and they felt such pity for me they took up a collection in their local office.

The police, Orange County Sheriff’s Department?” I asked, though I knew the answer before she gave it.

She waved her finely manicured hand dismissively. “They said that since no foul play was suspected, and it was not a crime for a girl to not call her family it was not their concern.”

Do you have her local address, where she was staying?”

Felicity pulled out a small notebook from her purse and handed it to me, gently brushing her fingers, which were warm to the touch, against me in the process. “Your hands are very cold Mitch,” she said.

Well you know what the say, cold hands, warm heart,” I said, smiling. I took a few minutes looking over the notebook. It was all laid out for me there: Fiona’s information, the accountant’s name and number. It even listed the kid’s shoe size, a narrow size five. I was not sure how that would help, but you never know when even the most seemingly meaningless details may prove themselves crucial. I looked up from the notebook, quoted my billing price and my initial retainer, and she agreed to it without batting a pretty little eyelash, taking five crisp one hundred dollar bills out of her purse. She got up to leave and I saw her to the door of my meager little office.

I am staying at the Gaylord Hotel. Do you know it?”

I nodded. I knew it. I had been in there a couple of months ago simply to use the bathroom and I swear security followed me around like they knew I was up to no good. They were technically right; I was a looking for a boss who had stepped out with his secretary, but the staff at that fancy hotel had no way of knowing that. “Please if you have any questions or you make any progress, please do not hesitate to drop by.”

I informed her I would be by with regular updates. She shook my hand in that fantastic ladylike way where I was unsure if I should shake her hand or kiss it. I stuck with the shake and she turned, walking away in that red dress which made me glad I was a man.

After the elevator door was closed, I walked to the hallway window that looked out onto the parking lot just in time to see a large flunky shut the door to a black town car, undoubtedly with Miss Felicity Fowler in the back.

An hour later, I was on the case; that is, after a quick trip downstairs for some Indian food. The smell had been tantalizing me for a couple of days and having my office above it was torture when all I had was two lonely George Washingtons in my money clip. But now fortified with savory Mango Chicken Curry, I dug into the case. I did the easy stuff first: phone calls and computer checks. Miss Fowler was correct Fiona had not been active on social media in about four weeks though; that was when she stopped posting on twitter and Instagram. I made a few phone calls to the boys in blue, old friends whom I owed a thousand favors to, and found that there were no cases involving her, and no reports filed with her name in them either. I thought about that. No reports… Felicity had said she talked to someone. Usually they at least put the name in their database. Maybe it was nothing, slow paperwork, lazy civil servants.

Nothing I did was ever easy, and this case was not turning into the exception to the rule. I knew checking out her housing when she was a Disney Intern was pointless. That place had both tight security and high turnover; even if I was able to get in, all they would tell me is she had moved out, and I already knew that. So, I decided to head to a place I thought someone might have a personal relationship with her.

The Magic Kingdom, Walt’s bigger version of Disneyland copied and expanded in a Florida swamp. I had a lifetime pass, through no effort of my own, unless you call being born an accomplishment and where I was born was my mother’s call. Mom as far as I can tell was always a bit strange, doing crazy things and not caring what anyone thought. She had been pregnant with me, her one and only child, and she decided she wanted to give birth at the Happiest Place on Earth, so when her contractions started she hopped in her car, and even though it was closing time she somehow snuck down into the tunnels where she waited till the park was empty of guests. She then emerged, and by the time maintenance heard her giving birth, it was too late and I was born in Fantasyland right in the Teacups Ride. Which teacup, I am not sure of because she tells me a different color every time.

My story might have just been an interesting side note in the history books, but Disney had a new CEO who was visiting the parks for the first time and he made a big deal of it and bequeathed to me a permanent lifetime pass. Not many people recalled the story any longer, and for that I was grateful. There had only been one media reprisal of the story, and that was when I turned ten and there was a lavish birthday party at Pirates of the Caribbean, my favorite ride, with accompanying pictures.

I can’t give the pass away and I sure as heck can’t sell it, so I use it when I am working, like today. I arrived at the Ticketing and Transportation Center, parked my car in Hook and walked with the rest of the guests to the screening area. I went through the no bag line and did not see anyone in blues that I knew so I took the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Happiest Place on Earth.

I walked Main Street USA to the last place Ms. Fowler had worked. I surveilled the store for a while, occasionally looking at the faces of the cast members. When she was active on social media, Ms. Fowler had taken pictures of her friends working in the Emporium and posted them online. It was then that I got a shock; there was Ms. Fiona Fowler, helping restock a display of stuffed animals. I watched her for a bit, made a pass checking out her name tag. The name tag read Chris from Orlando. I chuckled; it was a Cast joke. If you forgot your name tag, managers had a bunch of spares in their desk drawer, all Chris, a nice non gender specific name, and everyone that worked here at Disney technically lived in the Orlando area.

Despite the name tag I was sure that this was the younger Ms. Fowler; she matched the photographs perfectly, right down to the costume she was wearing.

I looked at my watch and hoped she would take her lunch soon or maybe she would get work so we could talk.

Hi Ms. Fowler, you don’t know me but.”

In that split second I said her name I saw several looks cross her young face, the first shock, then anger, and finally resignation, as if she knew this was something unpleasant, she was going to have to deal with. She held up a hand to stop me. “My stepsister sent you, didn’t she?”

Stepsister? Yes, she is worried about you?”

This was met with a quick snort, one that I am sure she had used before when talking about her sister. “No, what dear stepsister Felicity,” she said the words stepsister like it was a curse word, “wants is my money and my approval for the sale of my father’s company.”

She also said your mother is sick.”

Again, a quick snort. “What my stepmother is sick about is not taking the company jet to Paris but having to fly first class commercial. Do you want to see her protesting texts where she pled with me to be irresponsible with the company funds and use the jet for her personal travel?”

I was about to ask her if we could talk somewhere when Fiona beat me to the punch. “I get off in thirty minutes. Gaston’s at two?”

I agreed and killed the next thirty minutes navigating around the castle and crowds via Liberty Square, I avoided the Teacups whenever I could, not for the reason you would think though. I was walking by the ride one time and a queasy teenager came off the ride and created a code V right on my shoes. The stain left behind showed he had been eating a lot of cotton candy.

At Gaston’s, I grabbed a very expensive Coke, took a booth in the back, and waited. With ten minutes to spare the younger Ms. Fowler showed up, sans costume and in street clothes. We talked for the next fifteen minutes, and she told me of her father, his company, and his 2nd marriage which came with a new stepsister, Felicity. She explained that her control of both the company and the family fortune was not contested and she had no intention of turning control of the company over to either her gold-digging stepmother or her minion Felicity. Fiona did not beg, nor did she attempt to pay me off; she simply asked that I do not report my findings to her sister. When I was non-committal about what I was going to do, Fiona gave me a phone number to text and tell her my decision. I promised her I would.

I got back to my car via the ferry boat, walking to the top deck for the most air flow to clear my head. By the time I got back to my 1996 Buick station wagon I had come to a decision. I had taken Felicity’s coin to do a job, I had done the job, and she would get her information, or at least what I had gathered so far.

I navigated to the Gaylord Hotel and smirked at the on-duty security manager when he pointedly asked what my business was. When I mentioned my client was waiting for a report in a suite upstairs, he nodded curtly with his eyes pointed towards the elevator. I was not happy that the job was over so soon, but hey, maybe something else would pop up to keep the wolves at bay.

Knocking on the door I heard a bit of shuffling in the room and the beautiful Ms. Fowler answered the door. I followed her into the room, glad she was still wearing the red dress. She sat in the living area of the suite and asked me to do the same.

I did not expect you so soon Mr. Mitchell.”

Remember. you can call me Mitch.”

Of course, Mitch. I hope you have good news.”

I looked into those beautiful brown eyes and realized that hopeful look she had in her eyes currently might be greed and wondered if they would be so beautiful when I told her I was dropping the case. “I found your stepsister.” At the words stepsister the eyes opened a little wider. I was not sure if it was anger or surprise, but I continued. “She’s fine. She’s now working full time for Disney in retail, but,” that one word ‘but’ confirmed my earlier suspicion that that look was greed, “she does not want to have any contact with you except through her attorneys.” Felicity’s lips said a word that would never be said in a Disney movie and she stood. I stood as well.

I am taking it you no longer wish to work for me,” she said in a hostile tone.

No, nothing more to report.” I was about to turn when I saw her eyes flick to something over my shoulder, and that is when the lights went out.

If you have ever woken up after being knocked unconscious, let me tell you, I do not recommend it, but it is better than not waking up at all. Luckily, I had some experience with it and wisely stayed very still while keeping my eyes closed. There were two voices in the room with me. The one was Felicity and the other was a man with a heavy New Jersey accent with the warmness of a gravel truck barreling down a mountain road with bad brakes. He sounded like the kind of a guy who would cold cock a guy from behind.

That was stupid,’ Felicity said.

He knows where she is and now, and now she knows we are looking for her,” Gravel truck replied.

And how was clubbing him in the head going to fix our situation?”

I can make him tell us what else he knows,” Gravel truck said, his voice coming from somewhere above me. I decided at that point to remain ‘unconscious’ because it was hard to question a sleeping person.

And when we get what we want from him?”

I get him out of the hotel. The security manager is one of my guys from back in the day so there’s nothing stopping us from making sure this private eye becomes gator food.” There was some movement around the room. “Time to wake this bum up.”

I thought quickly about my options and moaned when I had made my plan.

I think he is coming around,” Felicity said.

I risked opening my eyes, knowing the pain it was going to cause. Sure enough, pain shot thru my eyes directly into my skull and I let out another moan, but I was rewarded with seeing the legs of the man coming towards me. I know my next move would have to work otherwise I was going to end up in the belly of a gator, so I did what came naturally; something I had been suppressing since I came to. I created my own code V all over the man’s shoes.

Son of a.”

That is gross,” Felicity said from across the room.

I agreed with her; my lunch of curry and now digestive juices was now all over this guy dress shoes. Luckily this distracted him and I moved quickly but painfully, desperately kicking and knocking him down. I got extremely lucky and he fell, head hitting the edge of the coffee table. I hoped he would get a concussion and a headache like the one I was going to be fighting. I stood over him, waiting for him to get up, but he did not but he was breathing. Felicity ran out the door. I was in no shape to give chase, but found my phone and dialed 911.

Six hours later I was back in my office with a bottle of aspirin and an ice pack. Felicity had gotten away, but the cops were looking for her. It seems there was a warrant out her and Gravel truck up north, something about counterfeit Disney memorabilia. Gravel Truck was now sitting in the Orange County Jail but Felicity had gotten away. There was talk of a reward, but I was not counting on it.

The phone began ringing and I cursed the noise, but picked it up anyways.

Hello, Mr. Mitchell?” the voice on the other end said.

This is Miles.”

This is Fiona. I understand that my sister is on the run again?”

Yeah but her partner was arrested.”

I also heard you were injured was that because you did not tell them where I was?”

Just a little, but it’s no big deal in the greater scheme of things.”

Thank you anyways.” There was a pause. “The real reason I called was I wanted to know if you were available to work for a friend of mine. They want to hire you to find something that was stolen from them, are you available?”

My ears perked up. “A job, sure I’m available.” I smiled even though it hurt. Maybe I would be able to afford another bag of ice.

Other Miles Mitchell Mysteries:

The Walkaway Case

The 2nd Miles Mitchell Mystery, The Case of the Missing Mementos

The Lost Train

The Road to a Wedding Case

The Faux Surveillance Case.

Posted in Outrageous Lies and Tales

Forty Feet Below

Image result for wooden block and tackle outside

Forty Feet Below

He had been both lucky and cursed the day of the crash.  The ship had buried itself so deep on this small remote island that none of the natives noticed it.  It had taken him a long time to dig his own way out from the wreckage, luck because he should have been dead.  Cursed because with each clump of dirt he moved the certainty that the ship would never leave this planet grew. His wonderful organic ship was dead but the prisoner it was transporting was not.  The prisoner he left exactly where it was, deep in the ground secure in the stasis chamber.

He looked toward the sky knowing that is where rescue should have come from, but after a hundred or so revolutions  around  this star he knew it would  not be coming.  He still had an oath to live up to and keeping the prisoner secure thus keeping this planet safe and by extension the rest of the galaxy from the monster’s rampage was how he would fulfill his oath.

This place was cold and strange and if he disliked it then the prisoner would hate it.  Of course the prisoner hated everything.  That hate had fueled  a wide swath of killing and destruction across the galaxy before he had been captured.  After it had been determined that the creature could not be reasoned with or changed a prison had been constructed for this prisoner, balanced on the event horizon of a collapsing star making escape impossible.  It was on the way to this specially constructed prison that the crash has happened.

He had worked hard to blend in with the new local population and bought supplies and materials with scavenged parts of his ship and with those crude tools he had further entombed the prisoner, even harnessing the ocean in this simple one person penal institution. He patted the bare earth one more time with his shovel, the prisoner was as secure as he could make it.  The monster was so deep now no sane creature would ever dig here without a good reason.  He had even harnessed the cold, salty ocean in a manner to keep the prisoner deep underground.

He looked up at the final tool that was to be removed to erase all evidence of his efforts here.  A primitive block and tackle that he had been using to place the final barriers in place, obstructing access to the vault he had constructed below.  He had to make one more trip back to the mainland to retrieve the beacon he would place high in the tree.  The last remnant of his ship, would be a safeguard to warn other travelers what was buried below, in addition it would send out a harmless tone that would make this weirdly uncomfortable to the local sentient life forms.  Once the organic beacon was in place he would take the pulley system down.  The beacon would be come part of the tree and eventually part of the island itself, giving a steady warning to stay away from this place.

 

“Did you hear about the accident in Chester?” Daniel McGinnis said pulling on the oars.

“You mean the one with that old man getting killed when that freight wagon broke loose.”

“Yeah they said he was crushed flat and there is not enough left to bury.”  Vaughn said jumping into the conversation.

“Didn’t he live out this way somewhere?”

“No one seemed to know much about him, he was crazy hermit.”  Smith added.

The three boys stopped their conversation as they landed on the shore and McGinnis lead them to what he wanted to show them.  He had convinced them to bring along the shovels but he had not told them why.  “There it is.”  He said pointing to the branch.

“Strange place for a block and tackle.”  Vaughn stated and Smith nodded in agreement.

“And look underneath it.” McGinnis said excitedly standing directly underneath the block and tackle.

Vaughn and Smith looked down to where their friend was standing.  The soil was soft as though the ground had recently been filled in.   “I think we have found Captain Kidd’s buried treasure.” McGinnis said pointing down with his shovel.

Smith and Vaughn looked around as if saying the pirate’s name would make him appear.

McGinnis looked at his friends.  “Can you think of another reason anyone would be out here digging on Oak Island.”

 

A story I wrote a couple of months ago and submitted to a writing contest.  Today I was notified it was not chosen, so I can release it to my dear readers.