Jack had a second drink. “So what do you think happened?”
Beans took a tiny sip of beer, “I never heard a dog sing, but I’ve heard a fat lady sing once. What kind of songs did the dog sing?”
“I don’t know. Probably, show tunes or popular music.”
“Good. That rules out opera singers. They can be very jealous, vindictive, and very passionate. They kill you know.”
Jack told Beans about the owner and her family, hired help, and professionals.
Beans took another small sip, “My money would be on the vet.”
“Maybe, but the money goes to the owner.”
“A half mil is a lot of money. I could return to Cuba and buy dad’s old farm.”
“Beans, you are American. You were born and bred here.”
Beans silently eyed his mug of beer, “That’s true, but nobody here likes Cubans. Americans hate us.”
Jack turned around to all the regulars, “Hey. We all love Beans, don’t we?”
The crowd drunkenly yelled and stamped their feet in approval. Eddie had to stop the foot stomping because the floor boards were rotten and the floor might collapse.
“See,” said Jack smiling, “everybody likes you.”
Beans and Jack talked long into the night about the case. Beans, as usual, raised many interesting points and comments.
Jack left Rollo’s early in the morning, about three o’clock. The taxi driver propped him against the front door of his apartment. Jack woke up in his own bed with the sun shining brightly in his eyes. Jack rolled over and shut the blinds. He didn’t need to be reminded he lived in the sunshine state.
The phone rang. He reached down on the floor but the phone was buried under a pile of clothes. The phone’s ringing urged him to dig deeper and faster.
“Why aren’t you in the office? This is Lucy. Get your drunken carcass down here immediately. You have visitors.”
Somebody grabbed the phone. “Jack, this is Brogan. Get your skinny butt down here. Now!”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you when you get here.” Brogan slammed down the phone.
Damn, thought Jack. Now what have I done?
Brogan was waiting at the building entrance when Jack drove up.
“It’s about time.”
“What’s up, Brogan?”
“The dog’s vet, Dr. Gosling, is missing.”
“How do you know?”
“His wife called us. When the good doctor didn’t show up for dinner, she called his office. There was no answer. Finally, she went to his office. The office was closed. Then, she went to his favorite watering hole. No one had seen him.”
“Nobody disappears without leaving some clues. He wasn’t a suspect anyway,” said Jack.
Brogan itched his nose, “Well, something spooked him.”
“He wasn’t wanted for any reason, was he?”
“Nah. We’ll just file a missing persons report,” replied Brogan.
After two cups of black coffee at the corner diner, Jack went to see the attorney. Bernard Lobas’ office was located in a new building with an elevator that worked. Lobas was short, stocky, and wore a big handle bar mustache.
Jack didn’t like attorneys. They always spoke out of both sides of their mouths and their butt. They always, in Jack’s opinion, try to gain the upper hand. Lobas’ grip was strong.
“What can I do for you, Detective Hamilton?”
“I am not a detective. I am a representative for Con Life investigating the death of the dog named Charlotte. And call me Jack.”
“Ah, yes. The sweet, little dog who sang like an angel.”
“I never heard angels sing but I’ll take your word for it,” replied Jack. “What can you tell me about the dog’s death?”
“Nothing, really. I was in court all that day and heard about the death that night from Mrs. Matthews.”
“What kind of work did you perform for Mrs. Matthews and Charlotte?”
“Mostly contracts about appearances and shows.”
“I heard Charlotte was going to star in a Hollywood movie.”
“Yes, that’s true. However, the final terms haven’t been worked out.”
“How well did you know Dr. Gosling?”
“Not well. He specializes in wealthy clients and their pets.”
“He’s reported missing.”
“That’s strange. He seemed okay the last time I saw him.”
“When was that?”
“The day before the dog’s death. He seemed in a hurry, maybe distracted,” replied Lobas.
Jack handed the attorney his card, “Here. Call me if you remember anything else.”
The sun was near noon, the start of the heat of the day. Jack decided to call Lucy to make an appointment with Gosling’s wife.
Gosling lived in a middle class, tree lined neighborhood. All the houses were one story, built on concrete slabs. Florida homes have no basements because the water table is very high.
Mrs. Gosling was a middle aged woman with brown eyes and hair, about medium height.
“Come in, detective,” she said sweetly.
“Call me, Jack. I’m not a detective.”