This Show Case features seven pieces submitted in response to our thirty-sixth Writing Prompt: Just in case. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for the Show Case page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.
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by Mimi Speike
“A fine howdy-do!” Georgina is watching Bunny in her grand, four-poster bed, huddled under the intricately-worked coverlet displaying the Bear and Ragged Staff of the Earls of Warwick. Robert Dudley is a younger brother of the current Earl. The bedspread and matching drapery had been a wedding gift from him. (Her mother had added the gold-flecked ostrich feather bouquets topping the posts.) Bunny is not impressed to be sleeping under the Dudley heraldic emblem, but her mother goes into raptures over it. The descendent of vintners, allied with one of the most prestigious titles in England! The marriage has put a spring in her step, you may be sure of that.
The girl, under that august device, is cursing. Frances Walsingham never curses. The most you get from her is a mild tarnation! She’s ruining her gown, poor thing. Her hair-dress has to be a horror by now. My Lady Sidney, for once in her well-behaved life, is letting loose with her accumulated hurts. Phillip is off again, this time to Oxford, he says. With Giordano Bruno, he says.
Maggie and Cate Beale had come over from Mortlake early in the day. She’d been obliged, all afternoon, to endure their treacle-sweet conversation, indifferently cloaking their jealousy of a universally-adored cousin.
Young ladies show off their musical talent at these evenings. “We’ve prepared an entertainment for later,” they’d told her. “Would you care to hear it?”
“Not really,” she’d replied.
She’d fled their rendition of ‘Blow, Ye Winds, Blow’, but not before she’d caught one particular line. “Well-fashioned she, for earthly bliss,” Maggie had warbled in her thin soprano, her sister returning, “But for, my dear, she be not rich.” The lyric, slipped into an old lament, was meant to upset. Did it? Bunny had let it pass, not sure of the meaning. Mercifully, the girls have no intention of singing the line in front of tonight’s gathering. They’d hoped to get a rise out of, Mistress Perfect, they call her behind her back, that was all.
Her new husband, in addition to being a budding statesman and an ornament of the court, was a poet. Gentlemen, at that time, did not publish their compositions. His work did not reach a general audience until 1591, after his death. Copies were circulated in manuscript form within the family.
His major work, Astrophel and Stella,1 a sequence of one-hundred-eight sonnets, expressed the devotion of Astrophel for Stella, who was (and is) believed to have been based on Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich. Bunny has refused to read the thing, but snippets of Phillip’s much-admired verse have been quoted to her by well-meaning family members (who have steered clear of sonnet thirty-seven). But for, my dear, she be not rich. It has a familiar grace. She’s been rolling it around in her mouth all afternoon. She has her suspicions.
Bunny emerges from her bedding disheveled, though not as badly mussed as her friend had feared, and marches through the door and down the hall. “I’m going to read it,” she tells Gigi. “It’s been a storm cloud over my head too long.”
“Read what, my darling?”
“Stella, you goose!” The brandy she’s swilled has given her the courage she’s previously lacked. “It’s time I see for myself.”
Phillip’s study is piled high with books and papers. It will take some time for her to uncover the manuscript that has been carefully tucked away. To protect the precious original? To hide it? Probably both.
* * *
Bunny is leafing through the folio of sonnets. She reads the first few. “Why, they’re lovely!” she tells Gigi. “Still, there’s something unappetizing here. Mama has tried to prepare me, calls it poetical license, says it’s nothing.” She sighs. “I don’t place a lot of faith in what Mama says. Just in case it’s not nothing, in case it’s absolutely something …” She scowls. “I haven’t wanted to know. I still don’t want to know. But I’m going to find out. I can take my time. Phillip’s gone, all week. He’ll not be the wiser, unless I tell him.” She samples here, there — she’s reading with genuine enjoyment — until she lands on sonnet thirty-seven.
Towards Aurora’s court a nymph doth dwell,
Rich in all beauties which man’s eye can see;
beauties so far from reach of words,
that we abase her praise, saying she doth excel;
Rich in the treasure of deserved renown;
Rich in the riches of a royal heart;
Rich in those gifts which give the eternal crown;
who though most rich in these, and every part
which make the patents of true worldly bliss,
hath no misfortune, but that Rich she is.
Yes, she thinks. The jade is rich in many, many way. “No misfortune,” she screams, “but that Rich she is. Could he have put it any clearer? I be not she who owns my husband’s heart.”
Bunny has begun to fall in love with dashing Sir Phillip Sidney. Her mother had been right on one thing — that watching him fawned over by the leading lights of the court would demonstrate to her how fortunate she was to have him. But she doesn’t have him, not really, not judging by sonnet thirty-seven.
Over Georgina’s objection, she pours herself another brandy.
* * *
- Astrophel and Stella, a sonnet sequence by Sir Phillip Sidney, is considered the finest Elizabethan sonnet cycle after William Shakespeare’s verse.
- Phillip is telling us that the beauty to whom he’d written one-hundred-eight sonnets attesting to his devotion ‘hath no misfortune, but that (Lady) Rich she is’. No one who read Astrophel and Stella mistook his meaning. Lady Penelope Rich had been his fiancée, briefly. Her father, who had approved the match, died suddenly. The new stepfather put an end to the engagement. The Sidney family was not wealthy enough for him. Penelope was wed against her will (that’s how it went in those days, the familial alliance was all-important) to Robert Rich (and, yes, he was extremely rich), 3rd Baron Rich, later 1st Earl of Warwick.3
- Confusing! Robert Dudley is a younger brother of the current Earl of Warwick. How can Robert Rich eventually be 1st Earl of Warwick? The title lapsed (from lack of male issue) and was reinstated four times, over centuries.
The Candy Striper
by GD Deckard
Alan Smith watched the man who had been shot through the brain. The man was standing in the hall of the Intensive Care Unit drinking from the water fountain. He streamed the water with one hand and with the other he steadied himself by gripping his IV stand. Urine swished in the catheter bag hanging below his hospital gown. Bandaging had replaced his hair with an ill-fitting turban. The naturally thin man looked frail. But to the young medic, he seemed on his way to full recovery.
The shooter had been an American soldier cleaning his .45 auto in a tent at the Tân Sơn Nhất Airport. This man had been shot on arrival, while getting off the plane, and would now go home.
“At least,” Al joked, “You weren’t in ‘Nam long.”
The Mid-western face broke into a big grin. “About forty-five minutes.”
Al felt the man’s relief. Accidents could be miracles.
USAF Hospital Clark sat on an island in the South China Sea. In the mid nineteen-sixties, Clark was the first stop for tens of thousands of young men, no longer whole, flown in from the battlefields of Vietnam for treatment. Most survived. None were ever the same.
“You wouldn’t have something for pain, would you, buddy?” The lieutenant, at twenty-two, was a year older than Al but that wouldn’t last. He had done everything right. College, ROTC, leading his men into battle. When they had come under fire, the small gully ahead had seemed the right place to jump into.
No. It was too soon since his last shot. But Al nodded at the gaunt, unshaven face, “I’ll see what I can do.”
The nurses’ station, midway along the hall of rooms, was the staff’s work area. A chair and a phone on a countertop facing the elevator served as a desk. The rest of the small space was crammed with drawers, a refrigerator, a locked drug cabinet, the emergency crash cart, and patient records. Al confirmed an hour’s wait before another pain shot could be safely given.
“Well, here I am. Just in case I’m needed.”
He turned to see a Candy Striper in a brand new red and white striped dress. She stood erect, with a perky air about her. Her blond bouffant blended into her beaming face. He grinned. “What can you do?”
“Change sheets, run errands, take out the trash. Whatever I can do.” Her eyes twinkled.
She was probably eighteen? The minimum age for hospital volunteers on ICU. “Can you shave a patient?” Candy Stripers sometimes came by in the mornings to shave the men. Luckily for the already wounded men, the girls used electric razors.
She hesitated, “Sure.” She didn’t sound certain, but she was game.
“Good.” Maybe she could distract the lieutenant until he could have another pain shot. He handed her a Ronson electric from the junk drawer. “Not many girls know how to shave a man. This will impress your boyfriend.”
The girl’s smile said that she already had. “My fiancé. He’s a pilot. He’s hard to handle.”
“Hard to handle, huh,” Al chuckled. “Well, this patient has a fever and he’s in pain. Just smile and be gentle.” To her inquiring look, he added, “Internal injuries.”
The lieutenant had led his men down into the gully, sliding his ass onto a punji stick planted by the Viet Cong shooting at him. The bamboo pole, hardened by fire and holding an extremely sharp point smeared with poison and human shit, had gutted him on the inside.
She nodded confidently. They entered the room, and her eyes went to the lieutenant’s blue eyes wavering from fever. She stopped herself from stiffening and smiled encouragingly. “I’m Monica. I’m going to shave you this morning.” Her tone, firm and caring, must have come from her mother. She then reminded the lieutenant of everything important. “My fiancé is a lieutenant, too.”
The lieutenant’s gallant reply sounded raspy but sincere. “And you are as beautiful as my wife.”
“The nurse will bring you another shot in a few minutes,” Al said and left them to become acquainted.
Monica was the last person the lieutenant saw. Al heard her cry for help minutes later. A nurse rushed to the phone and called a code blue. The lieutenant had gone into cardiac arrest. Al led the young girl out of the room, but she had already seen what she would never forget.
The nurse, the crash cart with drawers of drugs, oral and nasal airways, intravenous access equipment, nasal cannulas, Ambu respirator, oxygen masks, Magill forceps, and a doctor using a defibrillator, could not bring the lieutenant back. His patrol had been out to kill those people who had planted that punji stick to protect themselves. It is necessary that men die in war. Who dies is irrelevant to the gods of war.
Monica sat at the nurses’ station watching the morgue techs wheel his body onto the elevator. She winced when the doors closed against the gurney and rebounded open. Her eyes were thoughtful, her face deeply saddened. Leaning forward on the countertop with one hand cupped under her chin, she reminded Al of a Rodin sculpture searching for understanding. “We were talking and he ….”
“You were there. That meant something to him.”
“I was there when he….”
“It was better for him that you were, Monica. Your fiancé is a lucky man.” He meant it. If she could handle this man’s death, she could handle her fiancé’s life.
Justin Kase — On the Case
by John Correll
Justin Kase, on the case, fighting injustice anywhere, anytime.
“Just in case you didn’t get that, the name’s Kase, with a K, like briefkase.”
“Briefcase is spelled with a C, Mr. Kase.”
“Not in my dictionary.”
by John Correll
John’s knife flew from his briefcase to clatter across the lobby floor. He snatched it, reaching under the usual Monday morning stampede. Unnoticed.
Unnoticed, except for the woman in the tailored gray suit he failed to avoid. She stopped.
Silken legs, a slender figure, and a smile greeted as he rose. A beautiful face without a name. But that didn’t matter. He loved her.
Almost touching, he paused. He licked his lips, returning the errant knife to his side pocket. In turn, she tossed her shoulder-length dark hair back. Questions he refused. Instead, he twisted into the crowd and fled.
He shoved against the elevator’s mirrored sidewall for shelter. Too late. She hammered behind, staying at his side to caress his jacket. Their eyes locked. But he swung away. “Why did I agree to this?” he whispered. His tall reflection scanned over an ocean of nameless associates wedged between wall-to-wall mirrors. Together they rode an illusion of space, suffocating in an infinite horde.
With her gaze lost behind mirages, John shut his eyes. Her head rested on his shoulder. He sighed, relaxing until the jolting floor woke him from tranquility. She matched his broken meditation with eager eyes echoed in a spectral distance.
Without breaking his trance, she probed the pocket of his bag. But he stopped her, tenderly locking her hand in place with his own. Her smile faded when he turned to face her.
“Marketing?” he asked.
She returned a vanished smile without nodding.
Their moment snapped as the elevator stopped on the 8th floor. “Call me L.” Her hand slid from his, and she slipped out.
Closing doors let him continue. Slow, deep breaths escaped as each worker left. Then he returned to the 5th floor. But before he got off, he noticed the label beside the number eight.
He didn’t know anyone in marketing named El.
But he knew twirling mysteries whipping around each other. Every morning, they continued their frantic dance. Each day, kiss by kiss, piecing together their separate lives. Yet, when the final twist revealed their hidden lies, he dreaded they’d search again — apart.
Three months earlier, John sat alone in the back of a nearly packed conference room listening to an HR representative, “…open your New Employee Pamphlet to page 46, so we can review some of the additional benefits.”
John cursed the light fixtures with a clenched, hissing exhale. He wasn’t technically new, having transferred from the California subsidiary for a promotion. And he didn’t actually move for the job. The constant reminders of a failed marriage made him flee San Francisco.
And Chicago wasn’t really his top choice, but when his father became ill, the decision made itself. “Cancer. Six months, tops,” the doctor said. “He’ll need help.”
John flopped his pamphlet on the empty seat just as the most-beautiful-woman-in-the-universe stepped in. His heart raced.
She studied the free chair, forcing him to look away. Then, without asking, she sat down on his pamphlet.
After a minute, she leaned against him and whispered, “Did I miss anything important?”
John shook his head. He looked at her and then away — several times. Nervously he shifted in his seat and leaned forward to face her.
“Excuse me,” he said, getting up and scooting around her.
Hope smiled, and he ran. Outside, in the deserted hallway, John rubbed his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut. Why didn’t he stay? Whisper back? What was he afraid of?
He pulled out his phone to check his empty schedule, just in case something needed his attention. Nothing.
“Coffee,” he mumbled as Hope returned. She stepped out and handed over his pamphlet.
“You forgot this. And yes, I’d love some coffee. That was horrid.”
“I was…” He caught his breath. Her glowing eyes plunged straight through him.
A few minutes later, they sat at the cafe in the lobby. John fiddled with his espresso, struggling to say something. She blew on her latte, focusing on his hands.
He fixated on his cup. “You were clever to arrive late and leave early. My name’s J…” he started, but her elegant finger squeezed his lips.
“No names. No talk of work. Nothing at all. That’s the rule. You can tell me about your childhood. Let’s say until the end of high school. Agreed?” She stirred her coffee.
John rotated his cup a full circle and turned it back. “Okay. Agreed. I see. Talking about work? Definitely tedious.”
She stopped his hand from turning his drink.
Was she crazy? “Do you address everyone with these rules?” he asked.
“That would be talking about myself after high school, wouldn’t it?” She took a sip and grimaced.
“I guess so.” He placed his hand on the table to keep it from his cup.
“Do you like this coffee?” She placed her cup on the table and pushed it away.
“Only with lots of sugar.” He nudged his cup toward hers.
“You’re the first.”
“The first coffee? Oh. Me. Why?” He brushed his hair from his eyes and marveled at her walnut-brown eyes.
“I’m — no, I can’t say that. Let’s say I’m bored.” She met his gaze. Searching.
“With work?” He offered an embarrassed, perfect smile.
“Aah.” She wagged her finger. “Remember?”
“Right.” He pursed his lips together.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” She presented her profile.
“Not from childhood. If that’s what you mean.”
“Smart ass.” Her foot tapped against his.
“Should I know you?” He leaned forward and scanned her face for memories.
“Do you like Clue-do?”
“I would remember. Uh. Clue — do? The kids’ game?”
“I love it. What if we, you and me, played a real game? Right here. In the office.”
“How real? Like murder and death, real?” He looked at her hands. Could she kill?
She leaned closer. “I’m not insane. Seriously. I mean, with clues and people in the office.”
He frowned. “You mean everyone in the office is playing? I don’t know.”
“Just you and me. We can use post-its, and the murderer and victim can be our colleagues.”
“Wouldn’t our coworkers need to know?”
“Maybe. I’m making this up. It could be a way to get to know other people we don’t normally work with.”
He leaned back. “Are you serious?”
She touched his knee. “It’s better than dating. That’s what you had in mind, isn’t it?”
John shook his head. “A nice dinner? Maybe lunch?”
Just in Case
by Perry Palin
This is not a story about how brothers Dirk and Bert, who lived in a house a mile down our country road, went camping with me at the site of the abandoned copper mine on the Little Knife River, and Dirk failed to scrub out his chili-scented frying pan and we were circled for hours in the dark by a bear who stalked the pan but was cautious of the smell of three thirteen and fourteen year old boys sweating the night out in their sleeping bags.
I will not write about the time Dirk brought his rat terrier camping on the Little Knife, and the dog spent the night running into the woods, barking wildly at who knows what, and then running back to our camp to lay down shivering between the brothers. I told Dirk that on future trips he should leave his dog at home. The dog closed that deal for good when we were pushing our bikes to the top of Sheldon Hill in the morning and the dog ran into the woods and was sprayed by a skunk.
I do not want to tell how poor the fishing was on many of these camping trips, and how Bert would bring frozen fish from home in his pack, which would thaw and leak and soften in waxed paper and never taste good, and how I would rather go hungry than bring frozen fish on a trip when we were supposed to be catching fresh trout.
I don’t feel like telling about the time we rode to the mainstem of the Knife and camped at what was a popular swimming hole for the older kids who came from town on the other side of the river, and the town boys brought beer and whiskey and one of the girls, drunk and stumbling, perceived that her swimsuit was wet when she got out of the river so she took it off.
I won’t write about any of that. Instead, I will write about the care we took to prepare and pack for successful summer overnights to the trout streams that ran through forests and fields on their way to the shore of Lake Superior.
It was the summer of 1964. We were too young to drive a car or have a driver’s license. We traveled by single speed bicycle. This limited our range to the Knife River, the Little Knife, and a few other streams that will not be named here. We were children of the working poor, with few resources. We could not mount a wagon train of equipment and gear. We didn’t own even a single pack mule, and didn’t know anyone who did. We were limited to what we could carry on our bikes and on our backs and in our hands. We didn’t take things we didn’t need.
We did not have proper packs. We owned a few soft canvas Duluth packs, with shoulder straps and tump lines, well suited for canoe travel but a poor article for a hike of any length. We pared down our equipment and supplies to save our shoulders and our backs.
We did not own a tent. We brought thin plastic ground cloths, sleeping bags, light jackets, hats or caps, a few spare clothing items, cooking gear and food, canteens of well water, mosquito repellent, and our fishing gear. In an abundance of caution, I tucked in a rain jacket on some trips and chafed under the weight of my outfit.
In the third week of August, we made camp under some tall red pines on the mainstream Knife. The river there is wide and fast. The banks below the flood line and the bottom are all rock. Some of the rocks are the size of softballs. Some are the size of bowling balls. Some are bigger. They have all been rolled around and rolled downstream by snowmelt floods. The footing is precarious but athletic teenage boys can move along the stream if they take care.
We were several miles and a few hundred feet in elevation above the shore of the lake. A stiff south wind brought an unseasonable cold as we fished our way up the river. Then it happened. Bert lost his footing in the rocks and fell into the river. The water was shallow, but he fell in full length.
By the time we got to camp, Bert’s lips were blue and he was shivering. Bert took off his soaked shoes and jeans and shirt. Dirk started a fire. I told Bert to put on his spare clothes. He didn’t have any spare clothes. He never needed them before, and he left them at home to lighten his pack. We laid out his ground cloth, unrolled his sleeping bag, and Bert got in. Dirk wrung out his brother’s wet clothes.
Dirk fashioned drying frames from sticks and set them up near the fire. He hung Bert’s clothes from the frames. I was fishing close to camp when I heard the brothers shouting. Dirk beat out the flames on half a shirt and a badly scorched pair of jeans. A conversation ensued between the brothers about whether someone who falls in the river is more or less responsible than someone who sets his brother’s only clothes afire.
I offered Bert the use of my spare jeans and jacket. He demurred and continued a loud debate with Dirk about the crime of negligent arson.
The wind died and the sun went down. We ate our dinner of canned beef stew and buttered bread. The brothers were quiet. As the moon rose Bert slept close to the fire, and Dirk rolled out his bag on the other side of camp.
Our school football practice would soon begin and our camping days and nights were over for the year. In the spring their family moved to Iowa, and I didn’t camp with Dirk and Bert again. When I camped with others or alone, I always stuffed dry clothes, heavy as they were, into my Duluth pack, just in case.
by SL Randall
Sometimes a word prompt inspires an action rather than a written piece.
‘Just in case I didn’t have something ready, I had this waiting in the wings…’
I am Phoenix
This life comes to its inevitable conclusion.
I prepare for it to pass.
My heart, broken wide open.
My finances, collapsed.
My head empties of the past.
Death is imminent.
I embrace it.
I slumber in my ashes.
The wind comes.
The ashes of old disperse.
A fledging remains.
My core, my power.
Time is meaningless,
In the void of rebirth.
My next life is founded upon,
I am made whole.
by S.T. Ranscht
Sitting at his desk in a cubicle across the lobby from the tellers, the banker nibbled on his thumbnail. For days, his thoughts had been consumed by the loan he’d authorized for an oceanfront property development plan. It had even infiltrated his dreams — nightmares, if he was honest.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? The plan isn’t exactly honest, and I know that. So what’s my liability when buyers start complaining — which I’m sure they will once they realize the “oceanfront” property is on the wet side of the high tied line. He tried not to throw up as he fought off flashing images of life as some thug’s prison bitch.
He couldn’t very well consult with the bank’s legal department and still maintain some level of plausible deniability. Would his client out his complicity? Maybe not, he decided. He was too comfortable proposing such a dubious project. And awfully confident he wouldn’t get caught.
But how can I make sure it doesn’t blow back on me when it all falls apart?
A possibility began to glimmer. Hmmm… it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s been involved in other fishy schemes. I just have to be able to prove it. He pulled out his phone, but changed his mind. No. Not on any of my devices and not here. I’ll do a search at the library during lunch.
Google, Bing, and even Craig’s List failed him. But on Nextdoor for a neighborhood not far from his own, he found a tiny classified ad claiming, “Private investigations. Discreet. Thorough. Ruthless. (Reasonably priced.) Satisfaction to be expected.” He copied the phone number on a scrap of paper and left for the only working pay phone he knew of, outside a Dollar Bin not far from the bank.
His call went to voice mail, where a male voice said, “Private investigations. If you don’t want to leave a message, wait for me on the bus stop bench on the northwest corner of Third and Havitchur Way at sunset. I’ll find you.” Beeep.
The banker left no message.
Three buses stopped and let people off while the banker sat with his briefcase between his feet, waiting for someone to approach him. The last of twilight rolled down the sky darkening to night behind neighborhood shops and apartment buildings as a fourth bus came to a stop in front of him. A gaggle of high school students caught his attention as they jostled each other down the steps and onto the sidewalk, trading taunts and jabs using words the banker didn’t even understand.
A body lowering itself onto the bench elbowed him. His head whipped toward the personal space violator. The man was grinning at him.
“Looking for a PI?” he asked, studying the banker’s face in the flashing neon light from Tina’s Tavern across the street. Before the banker could respond, the stranger nodded and stuck out his hand. “Case, Justin Case. You do need a private investigator.”
Raising an eyebrow, the banker hesitated before shaking his hand.
“Yeah, I know,” Case said, “sounds like an alias.”
“If it were, would I tell you?”
“I don’t know. Why would you need an alias?” The banker was definitely having second thoughts.” Thank god I didn’t give him my name and number.
“That’s a fair question, so I’ll tell you this: My dad, Hezekiah Case, was an abnormal psychologist—“
“He studied abnormal psychology?”
“Huh. I suppose he did. Anyway, my mother wouldn’t let him name me Areel Knutt, but she was okay with Justin.”
Befuddlement settled into the banker’s brain. “Is that true?”
“Does it matter?” He stood up. “Hey, let’s go to Tina’s. You can buy me a drink and tell me why you need a private detective.” He stepped into the street.
The banker followed. “Why did you want to meet out here and not in there to begin with?”
Justin answered as if the answer should be obvious. “It’s my stop coming home from work.”
Entering the bar while Justin held the door, he asked, “You have a detective agency downtown?”
“No, of course not, I’m a real estate consultant,” Justin replied, leading him to the bar to order drinks (which the banker paid for with cash) and then to a corner booth at the back. “Private investigations are a side hustle.”
Sliding onto the booth bench, the banker’s face brightened “Real estate consultant, huh? Maybe you can help me.”
Justin’s eyebrows drew together to create a triple wrinkle between them. “Why should that make a difference?”
“The guy I want you to look into is running a real estate scam, and I approved a loan for him before I knew it was a fraud.” He pulled a folder out of his briefcase. “Here’s the name and address he used on his loan application. Sorry I don’t have a photo of him.”
Perusing the paperwork, Justin asked, “What kind of information are you looking for?”
“You know, anything that might indicate he’s generally a con artist. A history that discredits his credibility if he gets caught and tries to drag me down with him.”
The PI looked him in the eye. “You wanta put him in jail?”
The banker squirmed in his seat. “Oh, no. Nothing like that. I just want to make sure I don’t end up in jail.”
Nodding, Justin rubbed his hand over his stubble. “I’ll take the case. $1,000 a day, 3 day minimum up front, plus expenses when I give you my report. Cash only. Meet me back here in three days.”
The banker swallowed hard. “I guess that’s fair. I saw an ATM just down the street, if you want to go with me while I get your money. Then we can say goodbye, and you can get started.”
With his feet on Roy’s desk, Justin watched his friend examine the photos he’d taken of Roy’s clients in their beach front home doorways signing the contract Claire had devised.
Roy was saying, “Nice shots. None of them even knew you were there. The beauty is, no one at the top of that five mile stretch of coastline is going to complain. They all jumped at the chance to purchase the property themselves to prevent anyone else from developing it. Claire made sure to include an easement for the public to continue using the beach so no one fences off the access. Seems nobody minds watching the surfers and sunbathers.”
“Are you recording the contracts?”
“Are you kidding?” Roy picked up his phone and made a call. “Hi. It’s Roy. How’s my favorite banker?… Well, maybe my good news will cheer you up. My buyers turned out to be the folks on top of the bluffs. We’ll never hear anything more from any of them. And, I’ll be in tomorrow to repay the loan… Yep, in full… That’s right. It’s been great doing business with you, but I don’t anticipate needing to borrow anything more… I’ll be self-financing from now on. You’re off the hook… Thank you… Yep, see you then.”
The next evening, a very happy banker met Justin at Tina’s.
Having read the PI’s report, the banker said, “I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about this guy anymore.”
Justin slid his expense invoice across the table. “That’s why you hired me.”
“$2000 seems a little steep, but I do feel more secure having this list of his failed businesses. They sure sound sketchy to me. Thanks for digging them up.”
“Yeah, it’ll be good leverage if you ever need it. You know,” the detective said, “just in case.”
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