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Diamonds, Tampa, theft

Episode 1 – Ice

Jack needed a drink. He had been sitting in divorce court for three hours, in the heat of the day, listening to opposing attorneys argue over who got the family cat. This could go on for hours, he thought.

The woman divorcing her husband had hired Jack to investigate him. She thought he was chasing other women plus spending a lot of money on gambling because there never seemed to be enough money in the house to pay the bills.

Jack found out the man gambled a lot but won most of the time. The husband had no time for other women. But Jack also discovered the wife was a drunk who spent all the household money on booze. Thank goodness, there were no children.

The woman’s attorney had Jack attend the court session in case his testimony was needed. It wasn’t! The court was locked up in attorney arguments. Jack was tempted to leave but he stayed, in spite of the heat, because he was on the clock and getting paid. Nothing like money to quench a thirst.

Finally, the judge decided the cat would stay with the wife. The session was over. Jack walked slowly back to the office in the heat. The clock on the Court House read four o’clock. After five blocks, he entered his building and started the climb up four flights of stairs. Lucy, his beautiful, red-headed secretary, was closing the office for the day.

“Finished?” she asked.

“Yea. The cat won the case. Make sure you bill them for the four hours I sat in that hot and stuffy courtroom,” he replied. “There was more hot air coming from the attorneys than coming in from the outside.”

“Well. It’s quitting time, I’m going home. See you tomorrow.”

“Any calls?”

“Only the usual, your ex and the landlord, looking for money.”

“They can wait.”

As Lucy locked the door, the telephone rang. She quickly unlocked the door.

“I’ll take it, Lucy. Go home and enjoy the evening,” Jack said.

“Thanks, Jack.”

The telephone urged Jack to hurry and answer it.



“Yea. Who’s this?”

“It’s Sam, your friendly insurance man. You want to buy an insurance policy?”

“Sam, you know I’m so poor, I can’t afford to buy a pack of Blackjack gum. What’s up?”

“I got a job for you.”

“Now, you’re talking. What’s the case?”

“Ice, my friend. Lots of ice.”

“The chilling kind or the killing kind?”

“Unfortunately, the killing kind,” replied Sam. “Come into my office tomorrow morning at nine and I’ll give you the details.”

“Okay,” said Jack. “Tomorrow at nine o’clock.”

Jack drove home feeling pretty good. One case finished and another case begun, the life of a private detective trying to earn a living in Tampa Florida in the Great Depression. Most people stood in line for jobs and food. Jack felt lucky to be working.

At his apartment, Jack changed into his lighter clothes and took a taxi to Rollo’s. Rollo’s was famous for nothing except very cold beer and quiet drunks. The only time Rollo’s was cleaned was when a hurricane brought a storm surge which would wash the place with sea water. Nobody knew what happened to the original Rollo. He disappeared years ago and then Eddie, the current barkeep, took over.

The taxi driver warned Jack to be careful in the place he called a dive. But Jack didn’t listen, he was a regular. Eddie started to mix Jack’s drink when Jack entered the dilapidated, beach bar.

Jack sat at the end of the bar with his Cuban friend and confidant, Beans. His real name was Hercules Rodriguez but no one knew his real name except Jack. Everyone knew him as Beans, the resident barfly. His only occupation was being a barfly. Beans would sit for hours sipping on one of his two beers he drank per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Beans was brilliant. Everyone thought he was the smartest man in the world.

Jack was amazed at the scope of Beans’ knowledge and understanding.

“I hear you have a new case,” said Beans.

“But how did you know? I just got the case one hour ago,” said Jack.

“Oh,” smiled Beans. “Word gets around. Somebody stole a fabulous diamond necklace a couple of days ago. It was insured for a million dollars.”

Beans took a small sip of his beer.

“The owner is a man named Johnson Brewer. He and his wife were traveling by boat from Havana when the ice disappeared.”
“Any suspects?” asked Jack.

“Maybe, the maid.”

“The case sounds easy to solve,” replied Jack.

Beans smiled at Jack, “Nothing in life is easy, Jack.”

Jack ordered another drink, Jack Daniels, ginger ale, and lime, his favorite.

“So, who is this Johnson Brewer?”

“Rich guy. Smart! Real smart! Took his money out of the stock market before it tanked. Owns an oceanside mansion near Sarasota. Likes to play cards. His wife, Shirley, isn’t too bright. She could have lost the necklace over the side of the boat and didn’t realize she lost the ice until later.”
Published: 2010-05-02
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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