Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Deadly Gamble Chapter Four Vanished


 Legacy of Death











Chapter #4
Vanished



By Friday night the rain had given way to clear skies.  It was half pass nine when Stan joined Steele at the Sky Lounge, the rooftop bar atop his trendy club.  Stan looked rested and ready to help his friend catch the murder. 

“Hey what’s happening brother?” Stan did a 360 as he gave the new addition to Steele’s empire the once over.  He nodded slowly as he soaked it all in.  “Shakia really has outdone herself this time.  Everything looks great.”
After the usual greeting Stan placed his black laptop on the table, opened it and began typing as he talked. 

“I got your e-mail and did a little digging on your suspects before I hit the road.  Oh by the way your cousin Duce said hi.  We had lunch at the Red Roaster the other day.”
After a few minutes of tapping on the keys Stan started reading down the list of suspects.

“Okay Steele there’s nothing here that screams murderer to me but hey since you’re the PI you decide.”  
The cool weather kept most of the patrons in the club downstairs.  Stan and Steele had the corner area to themselves.  After making sure that no one was in earshot Stan began reading aloud. 

“Antonio age 59, divorced, profession chef, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.  Hobbies photography and botany, he’s also won a few cooking competitions.

Kevin Matthews – age 45, married, self made millionaire previous occupation computer technician. Interest gambling, golf, antique cars and gun collecting.

Pablo – age 33, divorced no known skills.  At the age of 16 he served time in juvenile prison for car theft he also served time at Holmesberg prison and the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center for armed robbery and assault.  Known associates Nick D’Angelo.  He was cellmates with some guy called Hammer.” 

Steele nodded “I’m not surprised, Hammer is Half Dead’s younger brother.  The two ran a network of drug labs until the DEA caught up with them two years ago.”

Stan continued reading, “says here Pablo is out on parole.  That probably explains why he’s working as a gardener.  Next on the list Tara Matthews….”

Steele put his hand up after hearing the name.  Stan took one look at Steele and knew his friend was annoyed.   “Tara’s not a suspect; she’s the client and a friend. Why is her name on the list?”
Stan knew he would be stepping on Steele’s toes when he added her name to the list.  “Listen buddy, when it comes to Tara you’re not objective, hell I wouldn’t be either if she saved my life and she’s hot. I know you don’t want to admit it but she had motive.  Did you even bother asking her where she was at the time of the murder?”  Steele took a minute to gather his thoughts, deep inside he knew Stan was right.  One of the first things he learned at a detective was to never let your emotions get in the way of being objective about a case.  “Okay Stan, fine, keep her on the list but at the bottom of the list, I’ll get to her later.” 

The two rarely butted heads so Stan was relieved that things didn’t get out of control.  Now that they had reached an agreement Stan continued on to the next suspect.

“Daniela Matthews aka Kitty age 41, single, Kevin Matthews sister.  Profession poker player attended Georgia Tech’s school of chemistry before deciding that playing cards professionally were more fun not to mention more profitable.”  Steele raised his hand and practically jumped out of his seat.  “Whoa, did you just say Kitty was a chemist?”  Stan took another look at his notes.  “Well not exactly, according to what I have here she played cards to earn tuition money for college.  At some point she became less interested in school and more interested in poker.”  Steele walked around the table and peered over Stan’s shoulder at the computer screen.  “Do you know how long she attended Georgia Tech?  Stan thought for a moment but decided not to relay on his memory.  A few keystrokes later he had the answer to Steele’s question.  “About a year and a half, she quit during the second semester.”  Steele paced as he though, “yeah that’s more than enough time to learn how to poison somebody.  Come to think of it she’s always been busy every time I wanted to talk to her.”

Steele sat back down to recap the information he had gotten from Stan.  “So we have a jealous husband who doubles his wife’s life insurance policy to ten million dollars a few months before her death.  A botanist/chef, a chemist turned poker player and a wannabe gangster/gardener.”

Stan pointed to the laptop, dude you’re forgetting somebody.  What about Audrey the maid?  Wait till you hear this, she didn’t exists until four and a half years ago.  Any records of her just vanished.”  Steele leaned forward in his seat, “What do you mean vanished?  What about her work history, husband, kids, driver license, W2’s?”  Stan spun the computer around to Steele as he answer “nothing Steele, nada all we have is a birth certificate.  Audrey Rodriguez born July 10th 1981 at Mercy hospital in Miami Florida, there’s some info on what public school she went to and then she just seemed to vanish.”
Steele nodded, “that’s an old trick sometimes used by illegals.  Anyone can go to the public library and check the newspapers archives.  They comb through the obituaries to find a child who was born around the same year they were.  Once the child is dead and buried no one considers that years later someone would assume their identity.  The Matthews have probably been keeping her off the books.  Without a social security number they would have to pay her under the table. 


Steele handed Stan the SD card from Antonio’s camera.  Earlier that day he e-mailed Stan the photo he had taken of the crime scene the day before.  Steele was hoping to find something, anything that would give him a clue or motive about the murders.  It was a shot in the dark but sometimes shots even in the dark still hit their mark.  Steele meticulously examined all thirty seven photos.  One by one he eliminated the shots he felt were irrelevant.  Steele’s hopes of finding anything useful in the pictures were dwindling fast.  He was down to the last two pictures and there it was.  Steele was excited, “Stan can you do a side by side of these two pictures?”  Steele pointed to two photos of the worn-out work bench inside the shed.  He had taken the first photo at the crime scene.  The second pictures were taken by Antonio before the bodies were discovered.  It took Stan a few minutes to put both pictures on the screen at once.  Steele starred at the computer screen.  He smiled as he gently stroked the tips of his mustache.  After what seemed to be several minutes he finally spoke.  “I know why Mrs. Matthews and Sam were killed.

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ALSO:


Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Trilogy
Author Larry J
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

The Alexander Steele Murder Mystery series consist of the first three short stories set in Philadelphia. Philly native Lawrence Johnson aka Larry J. takes you into Philly's neighborhoods by way of his fictional,suave,detective Alexander Steele. The semi retired PI is the proud owner of the Mount Airy hot spot known as the Inner Sanctum. Steele has a problem. He just can't seem to put his past life of crime solving behind him. A seemly endless stream of new clients come to his club each with tempting new cases for the ever inquisitive private investigator.
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Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

http://j.mp/1sncUH2



The Legacy of Death from the Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Series

Legacy of Death sale price $0.99 



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Deadly Gamble Chapter Three Secrets

Chapter #3
Secrets













Steele’s run-in with the mystery women was the first twist in the case.  From the very beginning everyone including Steele thought Mrs. Matthews was the intended target but now Steele wasn't so sure.  If Mr. Matthews didn’t murder his wife then maybe Sam the pool boy was the target, maybe Mrs. Matthews was just collateral damage.

The following morning Steele’s headache was gone but the dank, dreary weather had put the detective in a foul mood.  He stopped by the club to make sure everything on the rooftop lounge was in order.  Steele became more agitated when he noticed a discoloration on the floor of the rooftop lounge.

“Sugar Bear why are there black stains on the floor?”  Sugar Bear explained that the coating on the floor didn't dry in time for him to hang the new banner.   He put down newspaper so he could walk to the other side of the floor and hang the sign. 

Sugar Bear glanced down at the floor before reassuring his boss that the stains would not be a problem.  “Don’t worry boss after a couple of rain showers that will come right up.”

Sugar Bear handed Steele a small, white, plastic bag with a Wal-Mart logo. “Oh here’s the other spool of fishing line.  I used the first one for the sign.  Did you know you can’t see it in the dark?  It’s pretty cool.  It gives the illusion that the banner is hanging in mid air by itself.”  

Steele was not nearly as excited about the banner as Sugar Bear was.  There was work to be done at the club so Steele decided to keep the fishing line.  He tossed the bag on to the back seat of his car.  Steele’s cousin Johnny loved to fish.  He lived in South Philly so the next time he was in the neighborhood Steele would drop it off to him.

By the time Steele reached the entrance to the manor raindrops had begun to fall.  Mr. Matthews was upset.  He gathered the entire staff in the family room and waited for Steele before reading them the riot act.  With one foot on the floor Steele perched himself on the corner of a large oak desk a few feet behind Matthews.

“Thank you all for your support during this difficult time.  You will be pleased to know that I have canceled the move to Miami.”  The employees were put in an awkward position.  Clearly they were happy to hear the good news however any signs of jubilation would be construed as in bad taste, callousness or worse.  There was a murder on the loose and no one wanted the finger pointed in their direction.  There were a few brief smiles but definitely no high fives or cheering.  Mr. Matthews continued, “It has been brought to my attention that several of you are not cooperating with Mr. Steele’s investigation.  Let me make myself perfectly clear, I will do everything in my power to catch the bastard who murdered my wife.  Anyone who refuses to answer Mr. Steele’s questions will be terminated immediately.”

After Kevin Matthew’s speech Steele wasted no time interrogating staff members. Grounds keeper Pablo was first on Steele’s list.  He seemed defensive and a bit arrogant the other day. Steele wanted to see if he was hiding something. 

“So Pablo lets cut to the chase, where were you yesterday morning?  Pablo stroked his long dark mustache as he gave Steele the once over.  Pablo gave Steele a nasty looking
sneer as he slowly shook his head.  “I don’t like you. ¡váyase al demonio!”  Having spent time on a few cases down in Mexico Steele had no problem translating Pablo’s invitation for him to kiss a particular lower body part.  Steele’s response caught Pablo off guard.  At first he didn't realize Steele had understood what he had said.

“If I find out you killed those two it would be very unwise for you to go around making references to your ass when you get to the joint.  Now I’m gonna ask you again where the hell were you yesterday morning?”  Pablo kept his eyes on Steele.  Using his thumb he pointed to the woods beyond the pool house.  “I was clearing brush and taking down some old trees that fell during the storm.  You want proof, sorry I ain’t got none and I don’t need any you know why, because I didn’t have no reason to kill either of those two.  Me and the Misses barely spoke and most of us including Mr. Matthews thought the pool guy was gay which is fine with me but I just don’t go that way if you get my meaning.”

Steele gave Pablo a look of skepticism.  “Oh really, that’s not the way I heard it.  Word is that you owe her money, correction owed her money, a lot of money but now that she’s dead I guess you’re off the hook.  Funny how things work out sometimes isn't it?”

Pablo was angry he took a step closer and pointed a finger at Steele’s chest.  “You must have been talking to that old bastard in the kitchen.  One day he’ll get his.  Where I come from snitches get more than stitches, they get a dirt nap.” 

Realizing that he had let his anger get the better of him Pablo decided to back peddle.  “Well I’m not saying that I would be the one to do it but guys like that usually get what’s coming to them, you know what I mean?

Look detective dude I think he’s playing you.  I was going to keep my mouth shut but now that he’s pointing the finger at me well…..  While I was working in the woods I saw his ass sneaking around in the bushes and trees that morning.  Yeah I bet he didn't tell you that did he?  Him and that Kitty were whispering about something in the garden a few days ago.  It wouldn't surprise me if the two were in cahoots.”

With the information Steele got from Pablo he made a beeline to the kitchen.  If Pablo was telling the truth it would explain the mud on Antonio’s shoes.   Steele wondered why Antonio lied to him about the shoes, was it because it would place him near the murder scene or even worse, was Antonio the murder?

When Steele entered the kitchen Audrey the maid was making sandwiches but the cook was no where to be found.  According to Audrey, Antonio was on his daily run to the Italian market on 9th Street in South Philly.  Steele quizzed the maid about her whereabouts yesterday during the time of the murders.

Audrey was very polite; she spoke with a slight Spanish accent.  “Oh Mr. Steele after changing the linen, emptying the waste baskets and vacuuming I always take my lunch break.  I was in the east wing watching my soap opera’s.  Jessica is about to have Ryan’s baby but Phil is the real father and ………..”  Steele raised his hand and forced a smile.

“I’m sure the three of them will work it out but right now I have a double murder to solve.  Have you gone to the shed lately?  I noticed several lottery tickets in the trash can.”  Audrey nodded, “no Mr. Steele why would I go down there.  I do play the lottery and Sam and I were friends but I only take care of the house.”

There was no reason to talk to the chauffeur and since the cook was not on the premises Steele decided have a chat with Mr. Matthews' sister Kitty but she had already left for a poker tournament in Atlantic City

As Steele made his way to the car he remembered Audrey’s last words “Sam and I were friends” Where was the sadness, the sense of loss among her and the staff.  Everyone seemed so detached from the loss of the bosses’ wife and Sam the pool boy.  If Steele sensed anything from the suspects it was fear.  One of them was the killer.  Everyone in the house knew it; they also knew they could be next.

When Steele was about to leave the mansion he saw that the rain had stopped.  As he slid into the driver’s seat he noticed a blue pick up truck rounding the driveway.  Antonio had returned from the city with fresh vegetables and meats for tonight’s supper.  He also purchased a case of wine but Steele wondered how many if any of the bottles would make it to the dinner table.  Antonio got out of the truck, lowered the back door of the pick up and reached for the bag closest to him.  Both men grabbed bags and boxes.  They talked as they walked up the steps to the side entrance leading to the kitchen. As they put the groceries down on the kitchen table Steele noticed a note on the far end of the counter. 

Meet me at the South Street Spring Festival 11:00 am.

Steele pretended not to see the note but as Antonio began distributing the groceries into various bins inside the frig Steele questioned him about yesterday’s murders.  He didn't seem at all surprised when Steele confronted him about being spotted in the woods. 

“Well Mr. Steele I had to lie to you in order to protect a confidence.  You see I was given an opportunity to make some extra cash.  I was hired to keep tabs on Mrs. Matthews and Sam.”  Steele interrupted, “so you were paid to spy on Mrs. Matthews, your employer.  Who hired you?”  Antonio stopped and faced Steele.  He waived a celery bunch in Steele’s direction. 

“No, no Mr. Steele spying is such and unsavory term, I like to think of it as keeping tabs on her.”  Steele was not in the mood to play semantics.  He waived his hand in a circular motion urging the chef to continue.  “Yesterday before the murders I crept up the slope to snap a few more pictures.  I was there earlier but decided to go back figuring the more pictures I had the more I would be paid.  I could clearly see the two thought my camera lens but they were both asleep or at least at the time I thought they were.  When I heard the sirens and saw the ambulance and police headed for the front gate I panicked.  If they were dead the photos would be useless and if I were caught with them you can imagine the position I would have been in. 

Mr. Steele I can count on your discretion can’t I?”  Steele nodded, “of course you can but I’m gonna need those pictures.  Where are they?”  Antonio hunched his shoulders, “why, what good could they possibly do you now?  Everything I shot was before the murder?” 
It took some convincing but Antonio finally told Steele where to find the pictures.  “I buried the photo card that has the pictures on it.  It’s inside an Altoids mints tin.  I buried it at the base of the white ash tree but don’t expect me to go back up there.  I've already been spotted once so you’re on your own.”

Steele went straight to the old white ash tree, got down on his knees and began to dig but he wasn't alone.  The shadow of a man loomed on the ground just to his right.  The man was holding a shovel and before Steele could get on his feet the shovel wielding assailant swung directly at his head.  Steele quickly ducked to avoid the blow.  He extended his leg tripping the man as he rolled to the right causing his attacker to drop the shovel as he fell to the ground.  Steele jumped to his feet and pulled his Glock before the man could recover.  Steele looked slightly puzzled at the man who was now facing his gun barrel. 

“Pablo! What the hell is your problem?  I’m convinced you have a death wish.  You better talk fast and it better be good.”   Pablo got up slowly from the ground.  “Okay PI, you got me.  I thought you were digging up something valuable that Mrs. Matthews buried and I wanted to get to it before you did.”

Steele wasn't even close to believing his story.  Pablo’s behavior had been erratic from the beginning.  He was hiding something and Steele was determined to find out what it was.  Steele would soon learn that Pablo was right about one thing, there was something of value in the little tin box. 





Chapter #4
Vanished 

Please recommend this story to friends and family by clicking the link below.  
Thank you


ALSO:

Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Trilogy
Author Larry J
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

The Alexander Steele Murder Mystery series consist of the first three short stories set in Philadelphia. Philly native Lawrence Johnson aka Larry J. takes you into Philly's neighborhoods by way of his fictional,suave,detective Alexander Steele. The semi retired PI is the proud owner of the Mount Airy hot spot known as the Inner Sanctum. Steele has a problem. He just can't seem to put his past life of crime solving behind him. A seemly endless stream of new clients come to his club each with tempting new cases for the ever inquisitive private investigator.
#apple
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

http://j.mp/1sncUH2


On Sale $0.99


The Legacy of Death from the Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Series



Friday, August 15, 2014

Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Excerpts




Excerpt from Death Dealer


Later that morning Steele drove down to North Philly to an area known by the locals as the Badlands to meet Trench in his office hidden behind a restaurant aptly named the Greasy Spoon. It was a bright sunny day outside but it was clear from the grime on the front window that the sun’s attempt to brighten the inside was a lost cause.

From the moment Steele walked in the door it was evident that whoever was
responsible for cleaning the place had taken the last five years off. The dingy red and white sign in the corner read special, 2 eggs, hash browns, and coffee $1.50. Knowing that it was a front for Trench’s illegal activities in the back Steele shook his head as he entered.  He murmured, “They should change the sign to leave your taste buds at the door.”

The half dozen zombie-like patrons didn’t bother to look up when he walked in. The
decor was early seventies with duck taped stools but the balding; cigarette smoking man in front of the grill was defiantly a product of the fifties.  Never taking the cigarette from his mouth the sweaty cook turned around holding a spatula in one hand and plate of eggs and hash browns in the other. “What can I get you young blood?”

Steele chuckled as he thought, "Coffee, hash browns and eggs $1.50. Cigarette
ashes? No charge. Does that come with a side of Pepto Bismol? This place would be
a health inspector’s dream if one was ever bold enough to come through those doors."
Steele took notice of the bulge near the cook’s waistline under his dirty apron.
"That ain’t no fanny pack," he thought, this guy was definitely packing heat. The cook was doing double duty as Trench’s first line of defense; too bad he didn't do windows. Steele glanced at the plate of food and waved him off, “No thanks.” He pointed to the dark brown door all the way in the back. The man set the plate on the counter in front of the customer.  Hanging directly over head was a swirly strip of fly paper that had done its job all too well.
“You Steele?” he asked. When Steele nodded the cook reached under the counter and buzzed him in. Steele passed by an assortment of boxes containing counterfeit merchandise from Trench’s suppliers. They lined the walls of his office in the back of the rundown greasy spoon diner.  He counted three body guards plus the hired help.





The Deadly Gamble an Alexander Steele Murder Mystery








The Deadly Gamble Part One








The Deadly Gamble Part #2 will be posted tomorrow at noon. 
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Monday, August 11, 2014

The Deadly Gamble Chapter Two


Gamblers Anonymous













Steele fully anticipated being stonewalled by the staff.  Tara believed that their “Ding dong the witch is dead” attitude would not bode well for Steele’s investigation. 

Tara had to get back to work but refused to leave until Steele revealed how the victims were killed.   Steele walked her back over to the crime scene.  Once they entered the small room he picked up the old, galvanized steel, bucket from the corner and held it to her nose.  Tara winched and immediately recoiled as she stepped away from the repulsive odor.  

“That smells awful Steele.  What the hell is it?"  Steele placed the bucket back in the corner.  “It’s the murder weapon, well what’s left of it. The killer must have waited until they were asleep or passed out from the booze before mixing bleach and ammonia together.  He or she could have also added the pool chlorine to the mix, probably poured it over some old rags in that bucket.  The two mixed together produce extremely toxic vapors.  A while back some guy tried unclogging his toilet with bleach and ammonia mixed with drain cleaner, well let’s just say it didn't end well for him.  Whoever did this closed the window after they left the shed the first time. In a small area like this it didn't take much time for the toxic fumes to build up.  The killer waited until the deed was done then came back to remove the evidence.

Bleach and ammonia separately, no problem but when you mix them together especially in a tiny room like this."  Steele shook his head slowly.  "The vapors are lethal so if I'm right the coroners’ report should come back with toxic shock as the cause of death.  The shed is old and has lots of cracks so by the time the police got inside most of the order had dissipated.  I guess the murderer was in a hurry to get out so whoever it was either forgot or didn't think it was necessary to take the bucket with them."

Tara was blown away at how clever and resourceful the killer was.  Steele walked her to her car and watched her drive off before going back to the house to confront the staff.

The code of silence he encountered turned out to be more of a strategy of evasion.  Because of the murders Mr. Matthews had given the staff the day off but since the suspects lived on the property they really didn't have anywhere else to go.  Steele felt as if he had entered a house full of deaf-mutes, suddenly everyone was far too busy to talk, everyone except the cook. 

Antonio was a heavyset man in his late fifties.  His gray hair and mustache made him look older.  Antonio’s official title was cook but unofficially he was the mansions version of KYW news. It turned out that Antonio was more like the cook/town gossip.
He was about to prepare supper when Steele entered the kitchen.  The cook smiled when Steele walked in.  Antonio was Italian but it wasn't necessary for him to tell anyone because his accent was a dead giveaway.

“Ah Mr. Steele, I wondered when you would get around to visiting me.  How can I help you?"  The men shook hands then talked for over an hour.  Antonio was a wealth of information.  Steele wasn't sure if gabbing was just in his nature or if it was the bottle of vino he sipped on every five minutes or so.

“You know Mr. Steele if you scratch just beneath the surface you will be surprised at what secrets you will uncover around here.  Did you know that Pablo the grounds keeper owed Mrs. Matthews a lot of money and that she threatened to fire him if he didn’t pay up?  It’s true.  He likes to bet on the horses but he’s not the only gambler in the house.

Audrey, the maid, she plays the Powerball, never misses a week."  A lot of what Antonio talked about was idle gossip but what Steele found interesting was the cook’s mention of the horse racing and lottery tickets.  Steele pulled out his cell phone and scrolled to the contents of the trash can inside the shed.  Two of the items in the trash were lottery tickets and a racing form.  When Steele asked about any recent change in staff members’ behavior Antonio perked up.  “You know Mr. Steele now that you mentioned it there was a change.  Yesterday Audrey the maid was on cloud nine, she was singing and smiling all day long but today she seemed really depressed like the dog just died you know.  Maybe it was because of the murders.  Now today Pablo is the one who’s happy as a clam.  I bet it’s because he doesn't have to pay all that money back to Mrs. Matthews.”

Steele asked the tipsy chef about the mud on his shoes.  Antonio paused as he glanced down.  “Oh, ah, I have an herb garden behind the house.  I did some planting earlier, must have forgotten to wipe my feet.”

On his way to the car Steele took a side trip to Antonio’s herb garden behind the kitchen.  There were no fresh footprints so at that point the talkative cook moved up a notch on Steele’s suspect list. Why did the chef lie?  Steele also wondered why Antonio was so eager to throw his co-workers under bus.  Since Pablo was the groundskeeper Steele understood why his racing form would be found inside the shed but whose lottery tickets were in the trash?  Could they have been the maids?

Steele was always thorough. Before heading to the club Steele drove downtown to 16th and Spruce.  He wanted to check out the apartment of Sam the deceased pool boy.  He didn't expect to find much of anything but sometimes the smallest of clues could break a case wide open.  The buildings landlady was a middle aged woman who had heard about the murders on the evening news.  She was obviously shaken.  Her voice trembled slightly when she talked about her tenant who was found murdered.

 “Sam was a good kid, well he wasn't really a kid but he looked young for his age.  He was quite the ladies man if you know what I mean.  He seemed excited this morning before he left for work.  I never did find out what he was so jazzed about.  You are the first person to come by today.  I expected the cops but they never came.” 

Steele explained that since the murder took place outside the city limits that the township police would probably have to go through the Philadelphia Police department before they would come.  He asked if she would show him Sam’s apartment.
The woman paused as she fumbled around inside the large pockets on her flowered, blue smock.  Seconds later she pulled out a bronze ring of keys and searched for the one labeled 2C. 

“Well I guess it doesn't really matter now does it?  I suppose you're here to search the room for clues.  Since he wasn't killed here and since nobody told me not to let you in the apartment I guess its okay as long as you don’t tell nobody.”  Steele was about to answer when the phone rang.  The landlady took the call then handed Steele the key.  “This is going to take a while.  Sam didn't have a lot so there ain't much up there to steal and besides you have an honest face.”

The two things that caught Steele’s attention when he entered the small apartment’s bedroom were the open window and the jewelry, lots of expensive jewelry including a Rolex watch.  Clothes were strewn over the bed and chair.  There was a beige suitcase on the floor between the bed and the nightstand.  When Steele reached down to pick up the suitcase he felt a wave of searing pain in the back of his head then suddenly everything went dark.  The next thing he remembered was the superintendent standing over him with a glass of water. 

“Hey mister you alright?”  Steele reached for the back of his head as he sat up on the floor next to the bed.  He winched as he gingerly rubbed the back of his head. 

“That’s a nasty bump you got there Mr. Steele.  What the hell’s going on here?  Who was that woman and where did all this jewelry come from?"  Still recovering from the whack on head Steele tried to focus.  He managed to sit on the bed and take a few sips of water.

“What woman” The super seemed surprised by his question “The women who busted you upside your head a couple of minutes ago, that woman.  It had to have been her. She flew past me in the lobby faster than Usain Bolt."

Steele got a description of the women from the landlady.  “She was blonde maybe in her mid thirties.  I couldn't see her eyes because she wore dark glasses and she kept her head turned away from me but she had on a red Phillies baseball cap.”

Steele thanked her for helping him.  He never answered her about the jewelry because he didn't have one. Steele was just as curious as she was.

One of the advantages of owning your own club is that you get to make or in this case break the rules whenever it suits you.  Getting blindsided in what was supposed to be an empty apartment did not put the detective/club owner in the mood for socializing with guest.  So instead of going to the club Steele headed home with a huge headache and a ton of unanswered questions. 
Who was the woman who clocked him?  What was the burglar looking for in Sam’s apartment and why did she leave everything including the jewelry?

Steele’s best friend Stan wouldn't be back from New York until tomorrow night so any cyber data mining info Stan could dig up on the suspects would have to wait.  

All the news was not bad, Steele’s job was not to solve the murders it was to clear Tara’s uncle.  As long as the killer had no more targets Steele had the luxury of time on his side.
If the murderer got cold feet and decided to take off overnight Steele’s job would become a lot easier.  At least this way he would know who the killer was.  All he would have to do is track him down instead of whittling down the hefty list of suspect at the mansion.  On his way home he received a call from Tara

“Steele, I wanted you to hear this from me before you found out yourself.  This isn't easy for me to admit but I caught my Uncle in a lie.  Earlier he told me and the police that he was at a board meeting this morning.   Well there was supposed to be a meeting but it was postponed because the CFO had appendicitis and needed to be rushed to the University of Pennsylvania for emergency surgery.  When I confronted him he admitted he lied.  He spent most of the morning at the roulette wheel in Atlantic City.  He didn't want his wife to know he was gambling so he used the meeting as a cover.  The problem is he’s a high roller and uses the VIP entrance where there are no cameras.” 

Listening to Tara was changeling.   For Steele focusing on Tara’s revelation was not easy.  The drum beat of pain in Steele’s head was stiff competition for what Tara had to say. 

“Steele, are you listening to me?  This doesn't mean Uncle Kevin is a murder it just means he’s a bad liar.”  Steele gently rubbed his head, “okay Tara, point taken.  I’m gonna need to talk to him anyway.  The staff has decided to take a code of silence.  The only one willing to talk is the chef, in fact it kinda hard to shut him up.  If your uncle doesn't loosen a few tongues this is going to be an uphill battle.”
Tara sighed into the receiver, “don’t worry about it Steele.  He wants me to have dinner with him this evening.  I'll talk to him about it then.”

Besides Steele’s mom Shakia was the only living soul on the planet who could tell when he was lying.  When he didn't go to the club she showed up at his house armed with the evening’s Daily News.  Rather than confront her boyfriend about the photo Shakia set the paper down on the coffee table making sure Steele could see the headlines.  There it was right on the front page beneath the fold a photo of him embracing his attractive friend and now client Tara.  The caption read Private investigator consoles niece of murder victim.   
In spite of his pain he was still observant enough to see what Shakia had done.  Steele felt the need to explain.  “Hey look baby, I can ….”  Shakia kissed Steele softly on the lips.  She began speaking in a tone that was all too familiar to the observant detective.  It was that kind of voice she used when she was about to leave him to hang out to dry.  
“Oh baby, you know I trust you…….it’s not me you have to worry about but I'm sure you'll be getting a call from my Mom soon.”  Shakia began to laugh but when she saw drops of blood on Steele’s shoulder her mood turned serious. 



“Alex is that your blood?"  She moved in for a closer look.  Steele didn't want to make a big deal of the attack.  He knew how much Shakia worried about him. After explaining what happened at the apartment Shakia played nurse tending to his wound, bringing him Tylenol and an ice pack to ease the throbbing inside his head.  Later that evening Shakia provided her patient with a little special TLC.

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ALSO:

Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Trilogy
Author Larry J
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

The Alexander Steele Murder Mystery series consist of the first three short stories set in Philadelphia. Philly native Lawrence Johnson aka Larry J. takes you into Philly's neighborhoods by way of his fictional,suave,detective Alexander Steele. The semi retired PI is the proud owner of the Mount Airy hot spot known as the Inner Sanctum. Steele has a problem. He just can't seem to put his past life of crime solving behind him. A seemly endless stream of new clients come to his club each with tempting new cases for the ever inquisitive private investigator.
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Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

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