Monday, December 9, 2013

Frank Hawthorn Is Blindsided by James M. Copeland @jamesmcopeland


Frank Hawthorn’s schedule was full, but he decided to plan ahead for the seminar anyway. He called the number listed in the Memphis Tribune and listened while the phone system made connections.

“Good morning. Initial Investments, how may I help you?”

Hum, Frank thought, she sounds good. He never had been married and at present didn’t even have a steady girlfriend.

“Good morning yourself, I’m Frank Hawthorn. I read the article concerning the seminar, and I sure need to know how to make more money.”

“We aim to please, sir! The tickets are twenty-five dollars. Do you want to put that on your credit card, or will you pay at the door?”

“Whoa! Now I know who’s making money in this situation. Multiply that twenty-five dollars by the number of seats in the room, and you’ve got a pretty good sum already in the coffers.”

“But, sir, there are expense. We’ll be serving a catered dinner. We’ll even serve your choice of red or white wine with the meal, and of course there’s dessert and coffee.”

“Oh, I see. Maybe that’s not so bad. I guess I can splurge and have dinner with you. Can I have dinner with you?”

“Well, sir, I appreciate your offer, but I’ll be working that night. I’ll see you though. How did you say you wanted to pay for the ticket?”

“Oh, I’ll pay at the door.”

“That’ll be fine, sir. Now let me get your full name again, and your occupation as well.”

Frank gave her the details she needed. He asked for her personal number, but she wasn’t game.

After taking care of business that day, he went home to his apartment, found some left over cheese and macaroni in the fridge for dinner, and watched a little television before bed.

The next day didn’t present any problems he couldn’t handle, so he packed it in early to get ready for the seminar. Luck was on his side for the occasion. He had a clean suit in the closet that hadn’t even had the plastic wrapper taken off.

He figured he was a handsome man when he was dressed right, but a bear if he hadn’t shaved. His hair was dark, quite long normally; in fact, one of his quirks with the barber was to give him a haircut that appeared to have been given the week before. With his love of coffee and donuts, he had a time keeping his weight down to the fighting weight he liked, which was 170 pounds. He could carry the weight without any problem because of his height. He liked to look down on the girls he dated from his nearly six-foot position.

When he felt like he’d done the best with what he had to work with, he walked down the stairs to his parking place. The 1965 Mustang convertible had been his pet ever since he brought it home when he left the police force. He thought he would be traveling a great deal, and a good car was essential. It was one of the best ones built in 1965. It had all the bells and whistles available at that time. He wouldn’t have been able to afford it had it not been a used car. Someone with more money than brains had probably purchased it thinking it would ride real smooth, but had been dissatisfied and traded it for a Lincoln Town Car.

When he got to the hotel where the seminar was being held, he followed the signs on the easels to the designated conference room. The gal with the pretty-sounding voice was taking up the money for the tickets, and he was extremely relieved she hadn’t taken him up on his offer. His first thoughts had been she looks like the county’s local mud-rail fence. After parting with the twenty-five-dollar entrance fee, she gave him his table number and a sticker with his name and occupation on it.

He found the table with his number and a seat facing the speaker’s podium. There were already four people there at the eight-place rounded table, and he introduced himself. There was some guy already sitting at the table named Smith.  Probably an alias.  Two guys were named Fisher, and another was Jones.

Frank sat down next to the younger Fisher, who gave a firm handshake and said hello. To Frank he seemed preoccupied, but with his first observation he recognized the difference in the material of suits the young man and his father had on versus his. Frank surmised the cost was about ten to one. Shortly, he wondered why they were there if they could buy suits like they had on.

The lady taking up the money at the front door was at the head table rapping on a glass to get the attendees attention.

When the dull roar settled down, she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, our speaker will be coming in a little late. We’ll go ahead and serve the meal now. Thank you for your patience.”

With the thoughts about quality differences earlier, Frank directed his question toward the expensive suits, asked, “What kind of business are you fellows in?”

Milford Fisher stated, “My dad built a grain business. He owns the Fisher Granary company. I’m the president of the company.”

“Is that your business up and down the Mississippi?”

“Yeah, that’s it. You may have gone past the local unit. It’s down on the river docks.”

“I remember seeing it once when I went down to the river bar and grill to follow a client. It’s off to the left as you make the turn going to—I believe the name of it is The Landing—just off the highway, isn’t it?”

“You got it right. You can’t miss those twin silos!”

A waiter distributed salads for everyone at the table along with two bowls of dressing. Frank took the one nearest him and dipped what he wanted and sat it down to his left.

After everyone was served and munching on their salad, the young Fisher asked.

“Mr. Hawthorn, I see your name tag states that you are a private investigator. What’s the name of your agency?”

“The Hawthorn Detective Agency.”

“Seems like I’ve seen your place before; is it downtown near the courthouse?”

“I wish! No, I’m off the beaten path in an upstairs office several blocks from downtown. There is an agency down there where you’re talking about, but I think they only deal with cheating husbands or active wives. My work is mostly with crime situations.  Although I’m in between cases at the moment. That’s the reason I was free for the visit here tonight.”

“Maybe we’ll learn something tonight . . . hopefully,” the elder Fisher said.

Frank was beginning to feel the program was a waste of time, however. The speaker was well dressed and proved the point of the advertised statement about the seminars by collecting the twenty-five dollars at the door. He was very plain in his approach. He said, “The first thing you have to do to make money . . . is to have some!”

After a few minutes of the presentation, Frank decided he had made a bad choice unless he could count the dinner, which wasn’t bad. He slipped quietly out the side door. True, he didn’t have a great deal of money at the present moment, but he knew why. When he and Lieutenant Troy Spiegel started out as police officers on their beat, they were dealing with public riff-raff in circumstances that included stealing money. Their superiors felt like they did a good job at the petty stuff and were boosted to detective positions in an unusual amount of time. Frank wouldn’t say that some of the other officers let some things slide—they had just been there and grown up with some of the small-time crooks and didn’t want to start anything that would upset the families who lived there.

He and Troy were both outstanding in their work. It didn’t matter to them if the kid was going to grow up to be a crook; he needed to change right then. Better to nip it in the bud. After Troy and Frank were made detective, they had the opportunity to mentally grow in their pursuit of criminals. They got the big guys, even some white-collar criminals. One such bust included many people involved in a crooked scheme to bilk people out of their money. They actually thought the police chief was a good guy, one of the best in blue! They wondered what made a man do that. Nobody liked the district attorney, not even the guys who were dealing with him in the scam of a lifetime. As far as they were concerned, the judges on the bench were a higher caliber of person and would never lie to anyone, let alone a victim of a crime. But then, the criminal was the victim. It took a long time getting all the dope on the guys. Frank and Troy didn’t dare let the scam out until they had all the “i”-s dotted, and the “t”-s crossed; too much of a chance they would be behind bars unless they had the goods on the schemers. When this happened, they were both brought into the limelight. Troy got promoted to precinct commander, and Frank decided to go into private detective investigation. Now he had to wait on someone who wanted the bad guy caught and would pay him for the job. He still liked the work. He just didn’t enjoy the irregular money as much as he did when the city was paying his salary on a regular basis. Thank goodness, he had taken on some cases that paid extremely well and had money stashed in the bank. He had thought of adding a receptionist, and moving to a better location, maybe even buying a house. He’d get to that later he figured!



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Genre - Crime Mystery

Rating – PG

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