Short Story 18d of …


blog post
This is part four of the 18th in this series of those not accepted by journals for publication.


Sham

Part Four

C-gibs showed no overt signs of recognition when I walked up the stadium stairs next to “the Hatfield and McCoy” and took a seat on the aisle two rows above where they turned to sit. She and her ‘body part Phillip’ took their seats in near silence. I moved down one row so I could hear their conversation if any. The camera wasn’t the attention getter I thought it would be – the stands were full of parents with equipment some of which made mine look like C&W amateur night with $10 guitars.

There was a tap, tap, tap, from the overhead speakers and a man wearing a black robe and multiple sashes spoke from behind a school-colors podium, “Welcome parents, honored guests, staff and graduates. I’m Superintendent Yamaha.”

He continued after introducing each of the people seated on the platform, “The Chowder River High School Brass Band will accompany the class to their seats with its rendition of the traditional procession Pomp and Circumstance. If you look to my right, CRHS Vice Principal Ibanez will release students four abreast from the home team locker area. Post ceremony event locations are on the back of your programs. Please stand to honor their accomplishment as they pass in front of you.”

Melissa didn’t enter the field and her name wasn’t called. When C-gibs and her former rushed out before the recessional, I suspected the daughter’s not showing was something significant. I had no idea how to find out if Melissa had been dropped by the school or if she’d just taken off.

I recognized Ibanez from her part in the ceremony and thought I had an answer to my question. I did a bold-face, saying, “I didn’t see my niece Melissa Gibson in the procession and didn’t hear her name announced. Did she perhaps get her diploma under her birth name Gretsch?”

“Can’t discuss that,” she said, “but the rest of your family is talking to security in room S31 down the hall to the right.”

The VP left and had conversations with several as I moved like a slug after morning lunch to where she’d directed me. I could only imagine the atmosphere in the room where combatants were seeking the same answers from campus security. Two regular officers passed me in the hall and knocked on the door. I left knowing I’d just have to wait for C-gibs to make contact.

After two days, I didn’t know anything except what was in a news article about the girl being missing. Considering that the family would be involved in a search, I didn’t expect an immediate call from C-gibs. Two days later, I sent her an E-mail asking if I could help with the search in any way. She didn’t respond to a text either. The micro-brew pub crowd talked about the incident for two more days of IPAs and burgers then I heard no more.

I wondered if Sam Spade, Mike Hammer, and Philip Marlowe, were more than the imaginations of Hammett, Spillane, and Chandler when the authors let them solve their first real cases. Whatever the shamus’s experiences before going private, has escaped my memory if it was ever mentioned at all in any episode. Like I said before this was just my second paying venture.

A noise in the office woke me with a start. My mind flipped. Wonder if someone tougher than I will beat me up and like one of the book PIs, I’d recover fully in an hour or so. I reached to the nightstand for my heater, gat, roscoe – I hadn’t yet decided what to call the 5-round snub-nose .38 revolver I’d picked up the day my PI license was approved. I’d already called the Walther CCP 9mm Roscoe, so that was out until I got rid of it. (My usual carry is a Glock 19, but I wanted something a little smaller. Nah! I just liked the idea of having more than one heater.)

The creek of the floor where I stepped echoed like a 100 ft. fir crashing in the forest – well, I thought it did. I heard my apartment/office door close and footsteps on the stairs as I slipped past the dividing screen in my boxers.

My alarm system should have worked. If I had been more careful reading the instructions, I would have known it could be disabled remotely. But it was tied to my phone and laptop. Well, my being too loose on passwords was probably an issue, but how could my simple IamPIcaf3# be used by someone else.

-end of part four-


As my octogenarianism continues, my mind wanders as I wonder.
Or could it be that my mind wonders as I wander?
It is a fact that I have opinions – or is it?