Monday, March 28, 2011

Excerpt from VANISHED...a new Work In Progress featuring PI Blake Tanner

  “Blake Tanner, I presume?” asked the old gray haired guy in the Armani suit.

  Setting his drink down on the glass top table in front of him,  Mister Armani rose from his chair. The old man oozed money, because who in his right mind went to a ball game in an Armani suit.

   “Yes, Sir,” I answered, engaging our host in a surprisingly firm handshake.

   “And who might this be?” he inquired, immediately turning his attention to Mandy.

   “Mandy Parker,” she replied, as Armani took her hand in his.

   “A pleasure, my dear,” he replied back and kissed her hand. This old bird was smooth and had a way with the women. He had Mandy was in the palm of his hand.

   “I’m Malcolm McDonald,” he said, finally turning his attention back to me, “I’m glad you decided to come. Sit down, please.” He motioned to a nearby glass top table but I took a seat at the bar instead.

   A crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd drew Mandy to window of the Sky Box as a Stallions’ batter launched a long fly ball to left field. The low groan of the crowd told me it was just a long, loud out, but it was enough to persuade Mandy to find a seat at the window.

   “It’s her first game,” I informed McDonald.

   “Baseball does bring out the child in all of us, doesn’t it? Would you like a drink, Mister Tanner?

   “Jack Black, on the rocks, would be fine.” I figured I might as well drink good since it was on his tab.

   McDonald motioned with his head and the goon in the dark glasses moved behind the bar and fixed my drink. After putting it on the bar in front of me, he returned to his post by the door. “Now, shall we cut to the chase, Mister Tanner? I would like to hire you to find the murderer of my son, Jason.”

   Jason McDonald had been a prominent lawyer who vanished a couple of years ago while on a business trip. They never did find out what happened to him. He had been making noise about running for office and cleaning up the city, so I had my own opinion about his demise.

   “What makes you think it was murder?” I inquired.

   McDonald retrieved his drink from the glass top table and sat down next to me at the bar, putting his drink on one of the coasters. “My son was going to run for State’s Attorney and threatened to clean up the corruption in the city. He left a little late for a business trip and said he would spend the night in Hadley, then go on in the morning. He never made it to his meeting. I went to Hadley, but nobody could recall seeing him. The only hotel in town had no record of him ever being there. What would you call it, Mister Tanner?”

   McDonald reached into his suit coat and pulled out a banded stack of fifty-dollar bills, tossing them on the bar in front of me. “Five thousand dollars, Mister Tanner, a retainer for your services, with ten thousand more to follow when you bring me the name or names of my son’s killer.”

   I looked at the stack of fifties in front of me. This old bird was serious and willing to pay for what he wanted. I reached for the banded stack of bills and he slapped his hand down on top of mine.

   “The names come to me and only me. I’ll deal with them myself. Is that understood?” The look in McDonald’s eyes told me he was not a man to be crossed. In his younger days, he must have been a man to stand aside for.

   “Whatever you say, Mister McDonald.” He removed his hand from the top of mine and I slid the banded money into my inside jacket pocket.

   “Since we have a working agreement, I think we can dispense with the formalities, Blake,” said McDonald, losing the intense look in his eyes.

   “It’s going to get rough when I start pulling skeletons from their closets,” I informed my new employer.

   Malcolm McDonald stirred the martini in front of him and took a sip. “Is that a problem?”

   I shook my head. “That’s when I do my best work.”

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