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dog, death, Tampa, coconuts, stage

Jack drove his black, dusty car up the tree-lined driveway to a big pink Florida-style house. The coconut palms swayed in the breeze. I wonder who gets the coconuts, he thought.

He parked his jalopy under the portico and walked up the marble steps. Nice home. Maybe thirty – forty rooms. Make a nice hotel someday.

The doorbell brought the butler, a stuffy-looking guy. His face looked familiar to Jack, probably from Rollo’s.

“Yes sir?”

“My name is Jack Hamilton. I am here on behalf of Con Life. Is Mrs. Matthews available to talk?”

“Come in, sir. I’ll find out.”

Jack stood in the cool hallway. Ah! This is nice and cool. Why do big houses always seem so pleasant?

“Madam will see you now.”

Jack followed the medium sized balding man into a very large, ornate drawing room where a woman was seated behind an antique desk. The woman was busy writing. I wonder which Louie owned the desk. The only Louie I know fences for a living.

The woman looked up, “And you are?”

“Jack Hamilton of Con Life. And you are?”

The woman’s jewels danced as she looked up. “I’m the owner of Charlotte, Mrs. Matthews.”

She stood up to shake Jack’s hand. Cold and clammy. Mrs. Matthews’ hair was dyed blond and she wore enough makeup to paint six circus clowns. Her dress, an off-white, was flimsy enough to see through.

“Sit down, Mr. Hamilton.”

“Thanks, but you can call me Jack. Everyone does.”

“Okay, Jack. What do you want?”

“I’d like information about your dog’s death.”

“Well. Charlotte was on her way to a photo shoot. When Whitebread opened the limo door, he found Charlotte lying on her side, dead.”

“Who’s Whitebread?”

“Why, my chauffer, of course.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“Sure,” she said. She rang a bell and the butler appeared. “Magus, please bring Whitebread here.”

“Yes, madam.”

Jack silently looked around the room. Mrs. Matthews went back to her writing. Soon, the door opened and a tall good-looking black man entered.

“Whitebread,” Mrs. Matthews looked up. “Tell this man about Charlotte’s death.”

“Well. Charlotte was her usual self, barking and running, full of life. I put her on the back seat of the limo, closed the door, and drove her to the photographers. Upon arriving, I opened the back door to carry her into the building.”

“I looked in and Charlotte was lying on the seat, not moving. I touched her to wake her up, but she didn’t move. I shook her but she didn’t respond. She was stone, cold dead.”

Jack spoke, “then what happened?”

“I called Mrs. Matthews and waited.”

“Waited for what?”

“For Mrs. Matthews and Charlotte’s personal veterinarian.”

“What’s his name?”

“Dr. Gosling.”

“Then . . . ?”

“Then they came and Dr. Gosling said Charlotte was dead. He took Charlotte to cremate her.”

“What did she die of?”

“He didn’t say. Any more questions?”

“Not for now.”

Whitebread and the butler, Magus, left the room.
Mrs. Matthews stopped writing and looked up. “Any thing else?”

“Yeah. Where did you get your butler?”

“Through an employment agency. Why?”

“He looks familiar. I’ve seen him before.”

“Look, Jack. I’m busy. Do you have any more questions?”

“Yes. Who else had access to Charlotte?”

“Let’s see. There’s my daughter, Jane, her husband, Reginald, and, of course, my attorney, Bernard Labos.”

“Mrs. Matthews, you look familiar. Were you ever on the stage?”

“Why yes,” she smiled. “I was an actress. My stage name was Mary St. Johns.”

“Yes,” said Jack, “Now I remember you. You were a pretty good actress. Why did you leave the stage?”

“Oh, the usual. A wealthy patron married me and I left the stage. We moved here and a year later my husband died. I was lonely so I got a dog. I found Charlotte in the city pound and fell in love with her. I didn’t know she could sing until one night, I was listening to the radio and she started singing to the music.”

“What kind of a dog was Charlotte?”

“Mixed breed, good disposition. Everybody loved her.”

“Do you know anyone who might want to hurt Charlotte?

“No. As I said, everyone loved her.”

Jack stood up. “I won’t take any more of your time. I’ll be in touch.”

“How long will this investigation take?”

“Can’t say,” replied Jack.
Published: 2009-12-19
Author: Fred Westmark

About the author or the publisher
Fred W. is a freelance writer of six film scripts, three novels, twenty-five short stories, and many blogs. He enjoys football and reading English authors. Traveling is a passion for him. He also writes articles on privacy for an Internet newsletter on

He is an avid and serious student of history. His favorite historical characters are Skooby Doo and Dr Who. Seriously, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the French and American Revolution interest him.

He teaches collegW

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