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The Death of the Singing Dog - Episode One

death, detective, dog, mystery

The summer of 1935 was hot. Tampa was hot. Jack was hot. His desk was hot. His chair was hot. His clothes were hot. His skin was hot. Everything he touched was hot.

The ceiling fan pushed hot air on him. God, he thought, Tampa in August is always too hot. The mornings are hot. The afternoons are hot. The nights are hot.

He looked up at the flies lazily droning near the fan. I’ll bet they’re hot also. I must remind myself to rent an office on the ground floor with plenty of ventilation the next time.

His closet sized office had one small window which let in more hot, moist air. His secretary, Lucy, a beautiful, tall red head with dazzling green eyes, had gone down four flights of stairs to the corner diner for coffee.

The elevator was broken and the landlord wouldn’t repair the thing because he said he was waiting for another hurricane to destroy the building so he could collect the insurance.

Jack was two months behind on the rent anyway. The P.I. business had been slow recently. Pushing his fedora over his eyes Jack was going to give his body a rest from an all-nighter at Rollo’s Bar, a beach dive. Lucy entered the outer office.

“Hey, Jack, was your coffee cream and sugar or both?”

“Neither. I wanted black.”

“They didn’t have black. Cream and sugar or both.”

“I’ll take both.”

She walked into his office and placed the coffee on the desk, “Here.”

Jack looked at the coffee and then at Lucy. He raised the coffee to his lips, “Jesus, that’s hot.”

“How can you tell? Your office, Jack, is hotter than the coffee.”

Lucy sat in the only chair, reserved for Jack’s clients. Not that he had many clients, mostly divorce work and some insurance investigations.

“Any calls while I went for coffee?” she asked sipping her cream and sugar laced brew.

“Nah.” Jack winched. The coffee was too hot to drink. He would wait until the coffee reached room temperature.

Lucy looked at the middle-aged, graying, medium-sized man. “Your ‘ex’ called late yesterday when you were at your ‘Rollo’s’, your other office.”

Jack eyed Lucy suspiciously, “What did she want?”

“Nothing, but to tell you, you are three weeks late on the alimony.”

“Tell me something I don’t all ready know. My back account is smaller than this fly sitting on this paper on my desk.”

“My mother,” Lucy continued, “told me she’s kicking me out if I don’t pay her the rent soon.”

“Tell her, you’ll get your pay soon.”

“How soon, Jack? I gave up a steady paying job at Woolworth’s for this?”

“You said you wanted glamour and excitement.”

The telephone rang. Lucy walked to her desk in the waiting room and picked up the phone.

“Jack Hamilton Detective Agency.”

A pause.

Yes. He’s here.”

She held out the phone as Jack walked to her desk.

“Yah. This is Jack.”•

Jack listened for a few minutes and said, “Okay. I’ll be over right away.” He put down the telephone.

Lucy waited, “Well?”

“That was Sam Grant of Con Life. He wants me to investigate a mysterious death. The insurance company has a death claim regarding Charlotte somebody.”

“Charlotte? You mean the singing dog?”

“What dog?”

“Don’t you read the papers? Oops! I forgot you only read the funnies in the newspapers. Charlotte was or is a famous dog who sang songs. She’s been on vaudeville and rumors said the dog was going to star in a Hollywood movie.”

“Really? This case may bring me some free publicity, not to mention a pile of money.”

Jack walked down the four hot flights of stairs. His car was illegally baking in front of the building on the street. Some cop had given him another parking ticket. Entering the inferno car, he tossed the ticket on the floor on top of a hundred other tickets.

Sam Grant was sitting in an office where the temperature was decidedly cooler. Jack entered and sat in a high back wooden chair.

“Hi Jack. Coffee? Tea? Whiskey? Just kidding.”

“What’s the story, Sam?”

“Valuable dog. On the way to a photo shoot. Found dead in the back of the limo.”

“Did the dog commit suicide?”

Sam looked at Jack. One could never tell when Jack was joking.

“No. Not to my knowledge. The dog was just found dead.”

“Any coroner’s report?”

“None to my knowledge. The dog was cremated. My company had a life insurance policy on the pooch. Double, if accidental death.”

“How much?”

“Half mil.”

“Who’s the beneficiary?”

“The owner, Bonnie Mathews.”

“Do you have an address?”

“Sure. Swanky part of town. Here.” Sam handed Jack a piece of paper.

Jack didn’t care for swells. They always lied, even to themselves.
Published: 2009-12-12
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 freebooter.com.

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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