Saturday 27 October 2018

Episode 4 - A Tap on the Shoulder

Jennifer Jones was feeling particularly satisfied with herself because she had finally made up her mind to do something about a problem that had been nagging at her.
Whilst there was no actual proof that her husband was having an affair, and the few times she had tried to follow him, he had managed to finally elude her, making him look guilty.
And, she had seen him at the office with that over-familiar office manager, Miriam Whats-her-name, but then, she was like that with her husband Al’s brother, Joseph, who was a womanizer.
She had tried other Private Detective’s but they had reported back that he was not having an affair, but she didn’t believe them.  It wouldn’t surprise her if he had paid them off.  So, what she needed was a fresh face.
A morning’s investigation had led her to Harry Walthenson.  She had visited the office, spoken to Ellen, his personal assistant, or whatever she was, and after a quick look at the office, came away knowing she had found the right person.
Speaking briefly on the phone to him confirmed her assumptions, she would not have to try too hard to impress upon him the urgency of her requirements, and he was eager, perhaps overeager, to please.  He was so nervous he had forgotten to ask for a description.  Good thing then she knew who she was looking for.
She looked at her watch.  Yes, she thought, perfect timing.  Plenty of people and confusion, just what was needed for her first meeting.

Rush Hour.
Harry realized quickly he would not be able to find his own mother in this crowd.  How was he to recognize the woman he was supposed to meet when all he had to identify her was her voice?
He stood near the requested exit, trying to look like he wasn’t loitering, a security guard giving him a second glance, just in case he was up to no good.  Post 9/11 New York, the police were still checking everyone ‘just in case there is trouble’.
He moved to the other side of the entrance and tried to look like someone looking for a friend.
A tap on the shoulder. 
He jumped, not knowing what to expect.  It was not the diligent security guard, but the owner of the husky voice.
“Are you Harry Walthenson, Private Detective?”
His reply, not quite able to sound as professional as he wanted to, was, “Yes, I am.”
“Let’s go for a walk.”
He tried to walk with her but ended up following one step behind.  The perfume trail was unmistakable.  A hint of musk.  The hair, fake blonde, perhaps a wig.  Her age; old enough to know better, but young enough not to care.
What was that saying, he thought.
Yes, he was about to leap from the frying pan into the fire.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Sunday 21 October 2018

Episode 3 - The Mysterious Caller

Harry was late, as he always was when he had to be somewhere at a particular time, scurrying along 42nd street, muttering to himself, Sam Spade would never be doing errands for his mother!
Go find your Uncle John and steer him in the right direction.  You know what he's like in large spaces like Grand Central Station.
He did, his uncle was easily confused, and the last time, Harry found him with the police who thought he was acting suspiciously.  Rather than a terrorist, his uncle was more like the absent-minded professor.
His mother had told her brother when to wait until Harry arrived, and, breathing heavily and sweating profusely from hurrying, arrived to find no uncle.
Why didn't that surprise him?
Harry searched frantically in all directions, looking for the familiar bowler hat, a quirk, his mother said, acquired after living in London for 20 years, but now totally out of place in America.
And had his thoughts, and search, interrupted by a rather distinctive ringtone from a phone on the other side of the partition, followed by the man being called repeating, very clearly, a place and a time three times.
It was the exact same moment when his uncle wandered into sight, looking completely lost and Harry had no time to see who the man was, or think about what the call may have meant.  Like most things, he stored the information away to process at a later time.
After getting his uncle to the right train, and he was making his way to Central Park, his phone rang.
It was not Ellen.
It was a 'Private Number'.  Perhaps, at last, a real case.
"Looking for a job?"  A woman’s voice, age indeterminate, husky, breathless.
It had his attention from the first word.  Then he had to spoil it.  "Depends."
Silence on the other end of the line.  Had he destroyed the moment?
"Yes or no?"  It was the sexiest version of a simple question he’d ever heard.
He was almost tongue-tied.  His face was going red.  He tried not to sound eager, waiting a few seconds before answering,   "Yes."
"Meet me at the East 42nd Street and Vanderbilt exit.”
The line went dead.
“Yes,” he muttered under his breath.  A sinister woman, an assignation, and a job.
Until the euphoria wore off and he realized he had no idea of how to recognize the woman he was meeting.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

A moments consideration on where to go next

It seems to be the ploy of many TV series to open with a life-threatening scene and just when they have you by the lapels of your coat, up comes '3 hours earlier'!

Episode 1 and 2 is much the same as a 'Prologue' in a book, and probably will in the novelized version.

And, for the time being, will be the opening gambit for this serialization.

Now we go back, to where Harry's problems began.

Also like some TV series, there is another thread of a story running in conjunction with the main story, and will eventually serve as a lead into Harry's second case.

Episode 3 will be available soon.

Friday 19 October 2018

Episode 2 - Life was so much simpler then

It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of bankers, dry, dusty men who had been in the business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, 'Why don't you start a bank?" when asked what he could do for the great man.
He didn't think Washington meant it literally, but the Walthensen's then as now was not shy of taking advice.
Except, of course, when it came to Harry himself.
He was, His father once said, the exception to every rule.  Harry guessed he was talking about the fact Harry wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty banker.  Just the clothes were enough to turn him off the profession.
So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.
There's a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you're interested.
So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, 'Harold Walthenson, Private Detective'.
There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn't see his business plan as something sinister.  Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.
She'd seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.
Of course not, Harry didn't smoke.
Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no 'real' cases, nothing but missing cats, and other miscellaneous items.  What he really wanted was a missing person.  Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.
Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor.  The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.
Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him.  No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.
Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry's end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Thursday 18 October 2018

Harry's first case, episode by episode

This is an ad-hoc story written on the fly, episode by episode (basically about a chapter in content), and in the original version, I had no real idea where it would go beyond each episode. 

Installments may appear several times a week, or basically when I get the time or a crazy new idea.

Of course, you, the readers can make suggestions and I will if possible incorporate them in the final version of the book.

In the end, everyone who has contributed, subscribed, or left a constructive comment will get a free copy of the published eBook.

The first episode is already available, the next will appear in a day or so.

Happy reading!

Episode 1 - The Wrong Place, the Wrong Time

When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he came to the conclusion that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn't important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what?  Doug the 'destroyer', Doug the 'dangerous', Doug the 'deadly'; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he'd made a mistake.  A very big. and costly, mistake.  Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn't help himself and instead of minding his own business, listened to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place.  The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and the nature of the conversation cryptic, but there was definitely criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether or not he should go.  Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime.  Instead, he had willing gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry's fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it.  The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament.  He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence.  It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It had obviously been the right place and the right time.

But he was definitely in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018