Shamus Journals
Chapter 1

This is a story of cases that might have happened. It is also written as a work of fiction. I will give you a brief description of myself and my background, and tell you how I came to be in this business.

I got a divorce in eighty-nine, and after the usual time of feeling sorry for myself, I bought a small house on two lots in an unnamed Florida town. I was doing pretty good on my disability and working part time, taking some small cases for workman's compensation. I was taking pictures of case cheaters and small time grifters. It was working out pretty well, and I had a good little nest egg built up for a rainy day. I had just finished testifying in one of these cases, when I came home to find a survey crew in my front yard. I walked up to the white hard hat that looked to be in charge, and told him to get the hell off my land. He politely told me that I didn't own it, and my house was on the list to be torn down. I called the Sheriff and a deputy came out. After I showed him my deed, he politely gave the crew five minutes to remove the stakes and get off my property. The foreman gave him a hard time about it, and got himself arrested for trespassing. I started laughing out loud, and got a cussing out by the foreman. The deputy put some more charges on him before they hauled him away. I went in and called for a pizza, and while I ate, I wondered who thought this land was theirs

I woke the next morning to someone banging on my front door. I yelled out to them to get the hell of my porch.

"Sir, we need to speak to you right away about your land."

"Mister, I have a nice shotgun, and if you hammer on my door one more time I am going to shoot you through that very same door you're pounding on. If you want to talk to me, call Black's Investigations and set up an appointment."

They talked to each other for a little bit and I heard them leave. I started the coffee pot and went to take a shower and shave. I was sitting at the table drinking my coffee, when I heard the familiar sound of my boss's Harley coming in my drive. Damn, what now, I thought to myself? He let himself in the back door, got coffee, and sat down.

"Well, Harry, what the hell did you get yourself into now? I got a call from one of the biggest law firms in Florida, wanting to make an appointment to talk to you. They said at your earliest convenience, which I took to be right now."

"Charley, they can kiss my rosy red. I don't owe anyone money and my home is paid for, so I don't care what they want."

I told him what happened yesterday and about this morning's rude awakening. He laughed and told me that I should have shot and swore they were trying to break in. We discussed what they might want and why they were interested in my two little lots. We couldn't figure why they would make such a big deal out of it. Charley went on to tell me to go to the Federal Courthouse, and pick up my Federal Carry Permit. I had been finally cleared for it, and they wanted me to get my picture taken and get my identification card within twenty-four hours. They had a time limit for issuance, so it had to be processed within the prescribed time.

"You been trying for a year to get it, so you better go down there today. There's nothing going on at the office right now, so you have a day or two to recover from court. I am going for a long ride myself and relax. Shirley has the desk, so she will take any new cases that we might be interested in working. I'll catch you later, so call in sometime tomorrow. Do you want me to set you an appointment with those attorneys for tomorrow afternoon?"

"Yeah, if I don't talk to them, they will just drive me crazy. Set it for about twoish, so I can sleep in for a change."

He left, and I went to the courthouse to get my Federal Carry permit. I had been trying so hard for the last year to get it. It wasn't that I wasn't eligible, they had to have Homeland Security do the checks and they were slower than a seven year itch. I had finally had to call an old friend that was high up and have him push the clearance. It had finally come through, with a deadline on issuance. I wondered what would have happened if I had been out of town. I went in and went through all the government bullshit, and finally about three PM came out officially licensed to carry in all states and territories of the U.S.

I got back home about five thirty, just as the traffic was starting to get heavy. There was a Sheriff's cruiser sitting in my driveway and I had to stop and wait for him to move. He turned around and followed me to the house. When he got out, I could see it was my old friend Mark. I had saved him a lot of grief during his divorce by doing a little bit of picture taking at the right time. As a result, he didn't have to pay alimony, and got joint custody of his two little girls. He also was able to keep his house and property.

"Hey, Harry, who you got pissed off at you now? The Sheriff got a call this morning about the arrest of that surveyor. An attorney tried to tell him they owned this whole three blocks and thus he wasn't trespassing cause it was their client's land. Did you sell out and not tell anyone? Oh, I got some more news for you. I got promoted to Captain as of midnight tonight, so you better stay out of trouble or I'll put an APB out on you."

We laughed at his sickly attempt at humor. I showed him my Federal Carry ID and he was suitably impressed.

"So Mark, how do they figure this is not my land? I own this full lot, all the way to the street, and the one directly across there. I have a free and clear deed. Somebody read their plats wrong or something. I have to keep them mowed and neat, 'cause the city lets me know if the weeds get too high. I hope I haven't been mowing the wrong lots all these years."

We both got a laugh out of that one, knowing that the city never makes mistakes. We finally got down to why he came over, and it was to invite me to a promotion party at his house tomorrow evening. They were having a BBQ and beer bash, and all the guys wanted me to come. Because of my background, most of them considered me a brother officer. I told him I was off tomorrow and would be there. I asked him what I needed to bring, and he said; "Yourself." I gave him the finger, and he was laughing as he drove off. I went in the house, cracked a cold one, and sat down in front of the TV. That was the last thing I remember, 'til I woke up to that damned crow cawing on my front porch. I had tried feeding it dry rice, figuring it would blow up and bust. But it seemed to thrive, even with a big belly. I had even thought about getting a cat to kill it, and I hate cats. It was there on the banister every morning. I thought about getting a shotgun and shooting the bastard, but with my luck, I would miss and hit one of the cars on the street, and end up getting sued. I went in and took care of my morning ablutions and could still hear the damn thing above the noise of the shower. Damn Crows! I went out and got my coffee and listened to the morning news as I sipped it. I almost choked when the news said a Charles Carmen had been killed by a hit and run driver yesterday on the turnpike. The funeral arrangements were pending the release of the body by the Coroner's Office. I really felt bad, not only because he was my friend and boss, but I was out of a job. Damn, what a way to start the day. Then I remembered the appointment with those attorneys. I hated attorneys, not because of what they were, but because I had never met one in my fifty some years that wasn't greedy and crooked as a dog's hind leg. I got dressed and headed for the office. As I drove over, I wondered if Shirley was in today. I knew she would take his death hard, because he was the only one to give her a chance when she got out of college. I let myself in, went to my desk, and sat down. Shirley had been here, 'cause the coffee pot was still hot. I poured a cup and waited for the attorneys to show up and tell me why they were bothering me so much about my two lots. I was reading a file on private investigation licensing for each state, when the two attorneys showed up. They immediately came over and sat down.

"You are Harry Hanson, I take it, sir?"

"That's me, so quit with the small talk, and tell me what the hell a big firm like yours wants with little ole me."

"We would like to make you an offer for your land. Our client would be more than fair, and you would make a profit from the amount of the offer."

"I am not interested in selling either lot. I bought and own outright both lots, so keep your men off my land."

"We represent a large company that has bought the block your house is sitting on. We thought we had bought to the "Y", until yesterday. It seems the realty company we were using thought the last two lots were part of the package. There is a commercial development going in, and we need your two lots to complete the package. We will make you an offer that you can live with."

"I don't like attorney's and never did, so let me spell it out for you: N. O."

"Now you listen to me a minute. We can file for eminent domain and take it from you, but we prefer to be straight with you and make a good offer."

"No, let me tell you something. You can't take it using eminent domain, because it is zoned residential and commercial. By the law, that exempts me from any such action. You two think that I am a dummy, and that I didn't check all this before I bought the last two lots, seven years ago. You're wasting my time, so leave before I call security and have you escorted off the premises."

They had a sour look on their faces but left. Damn, as if I didn't have enough problems today. I went through my stuff in the office, and took all my personal files and things. I still had my pay coming from this last job, and wondered if I would ever get it. Dammit, Charley, why did you have to go riding on the turnpike? I was going to miss him, 'cause he and I went way back. I wondered if his daughter would sell the business or just close it. She was working on her masters in college, and would probably not have the time to run the office. I had been looking at land and job opportunities in Nevada, and maybe this would be a good time to get serious about it. My PI License would transfer, and now that I had the Federal Carry Permit, I wouldn't have to wait for a weapons permit there. I headed for the house and my computer to look at land again. As I left the office, I put my key, with what I was still owed in the in basket. I knew Shirley would handle it with the estate attorney. I still had to find out when the funeral was, and I had the barbeque to go to tonight.

I got to the house, and was relieved to see that I was alone except for that damn crow that just wouldn't leave. I grabbed several hands full of rice and threw it in his direction. He jumped right down and started stuffing himself, and I hoped he would blow up this time. I went in and got a beer, and then sat down at the computer. I brought up the realty listings I had book marked for Nevada, and started going through them, looking a little closer for listings in rural areas. Nothing new on this one, so I jumped to another and one lone ad caught my eye. Old gold mine and cabin combined, thirty acres with year round water and plenty of trees. All equipment, including snowmobile and off-road jeep with dual winches. I wondered if there were roads or just trails that went to the cabin. I took the picture tour and was really impressed with the cabin and the surrounding scenery. I noticed a little diamond flashing at the edge of one pic. When I clicked on it, a note came up saying that the mineral rights to the acreage were included in the deal. Now this fellah was smart, because he had bought them in the first place. There was a number so I called and got a recording, asking me to leave a return number and the call will be returned within the hour. I went in and took another shower, and dressed for the party at Mark's house. By the time I was done and ready to go, the phone was ringing. I answered, and the man on the other end said his name was Abe and he was the one selling the property I had called about. We talked for about an hour and he filled me in on why he was selling, and what he wanted for the whole shebang. I asked how I could get ahold of him if I came out to look at it, and when it would be convenient for me to come out. He quickly told me how to get there and to come at any time.

I got all the directions from him, and then quickly went out the door and to Mark's. I spent about three hours at the party, and the food was great. Some of the people there got pretty wasted, so others drove them home. I always limited myself to three beers, so by the time I left, I was just about totally sober. I went to bed and slept good, without being awakened by the noise that usually occurred when traffic started up in the morning. I rolled over and realized it was Saturday morning, and I had nothing planned for the day. I called the airlines, and then got online and got some rates for motels stay in while I was there in Nevada. I hated cold weather, but really missed the change of seasons. After checking several sites, I found one that was the cheapest of them all. The motel was near where the cabin was, and it was a national chain that I had stayed in before. Now that I had the site and prices, I had to book within seventy two hours to guarantee the price. I wasn't going to make any plans until I went to the funeral of my friend and paid my respects. I got on the phone and called Shirley's cell. She said the funeral was Monday afternoon. I thanked her and quickly got off the phone before she started crying in my ear. I sat around the house all day and watched movies and football. Now I don't particularly like football, but I had bet fifty on this game at five to one and I just won. I would make it a point to see Mark tomorrow and collect. He always got me to bet him and won nearly all the time, so this time it was my turn to brag a little. Damn, what was the name of that team I bet on again? Oh yeah, the Patriots.

I went to bed that night with a smile on my face, thinking of the expression that would be on Mark's face when I went to collect my money. I woke up to the sound of that damned crow, cawing away on my porch again. This time it sounded like he had brought friends. I shook the sleep out of my head and went out the front door, fully intending to shoot him with the pistol I had grabbed. I threw open the front door, and I'll be damned if that survey crew wasn't back again. I called the Sheriff's office and asked for a cruiser to come out to run them off again. I was putting on my pants, when someone knocked on the door. I went out, and the deputy was there and for a change I knew him. I told him I was pressing charges on all of them, and wanted them arrested and their vehicles impounded. He laughed and told me I better put the gun inside before backup got there. I threw him the bird, and he went over to the survey crew. He had them all line up, and told them they were under arrest for trespassing and destroying private property. I watched them all start arguing with him as I went around and pulled the stakes out of both of my lots. As I passed the instrument set up on a tripod, I tripped and knocked it over. The crew chief started screaming. I picked it up and tossed it in the back of one of the trucks, and he about had a fit. The Deputy quickly cuffed him and told him he was also being charged with making menacing threats. Two more units showed up, and then two tow trucks. They were all hauled off, and the trucks towed to impound. Man, they wouldn't give up. The bonds this time were gonna cost somebody a lot of money. I had a smile on my face as I locked up the house and set the alarm. I wasn't taking a chance on someone breaking in and stealing all my guns and mementos.

When I got to Mark's, his girls ran out of the house, calling my name. I grabbed them both up and gave them hugs and kisses as I walked in the house. Mark was making grilled cheese sandwiches and I ordered one too. He made sure the girls weren't looking and flipped me the bird. He laid my money on the counter and told me that what I had lost to him over the years, he might as well be paying me with my own money. I spent the afternoon playing with the girls and replaying the morning's happenings. He said I ought to sell and make a killing off it. I told him I was going to Nevada to look at a cabin and thirty acres with the mineral rights.

"What the hell you going to do in Nevada, Harry? That place you're talking about is out in the middle of the boondocks. I hiked all over that part of the state and camped at many of the lakes. I was stationed out in that area, and it gets really cold in the winter. That town is in the mountains, and during the winter, is snowed in for a month at a time. There are two casinos, three motels, and four combination bar and whore houses. There are only two restaurants in the whole town, and one closes for the winter every year. Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

"Mark, I am tired of the heat and hurricanes, and the insurance for my little place is sky high. I have my disability and a pretty good nest egg put by, and I am looking for a little peace and quiet. The guy in Nevada is not asking much for all he has, and I want to see it. I am sure I can find some part time security work, and maybe a little investigation work if I get bored. Mainly, I just want to go to a different place and live without people staring at me or my tinker toy car."

"You know, I'll hate to see you go, and a lot of the guys will too. Hell, Harry, half the guys on the department owe you a favor or two. You know that if you ever need help, just call and one of us will come running."

"I appreciate that, Mark, but I have one favor I need to ask. Make sure those damn surveyors stay off my property while I am gone. Have a car sit in my driveway and monitor traffic or something. If I come back and find those stakes all over my yard, I am gonna give you hell, Mark."

"Ok, Harry, I'll tell the guys at briefing, and have them keep an eye on your place while you're gone. I will tell them that anyone caught on your place should be arrested on sight. Is that fair enough, Harry?"

"I appreciate it, Mark. I will buy the girls a pizza, since all you ever make is grilled cheese sandwiches for them. Better yet, I will take them out to dinner at their choice of restaurant. That way I know they will get a least one good meal while they're here."

"Very funny, Harry. I give the girls what they ask for, and they always want these grilled cheese sandwiches."

"Yeah Mark, that's because that's all you know how to cook, and the girls know it. It's a wonder they aren't all clogged up from all that cheese."

I walked out of the kitchen laughing and he threw a dish towel at me. The girls came running and gave me a hug and kiss goodbye. I told them about going out to dinner with me and they both said they wanted Pizza Hut. They also whispered in my ear that I better hurry back, 'cause Dad's food was getting old. I went out the door laughing, and I heard Mark asking the girls what they had told me.

I made it back to the house about dark and turned the alarm off and went inside. I popped a beer and sat down in front of the TV, and turned on a movie. I sat and thought about the cabin and what kind of privacy it would afford me. Man, that would be nice and to be snowed in without any human contact, would be great for a change. I figured to hang out my own shingle and to introduce myself to the local Sheriff. Maybe I could get on as a part time or reserve deputy.

I woke to that damn crow again, and stumbled to the kitchen and put the coffee pot on and went to the shower. I finished up and sat down at the table and sipped my coffee. I had to get on the computer and book the flight to Nevada and get everything confirmed. I figured I would set out tomorrow and look at the cabin and land on Wednesday and come back Friday morning sometime. That would give me plenty of time to check out the area and talk to the local law, and check about some work at some of the local casinos. I was really looking forward to this little mini vacation.

I went to my closet and got out my only black suit, and made sure I had a clean white dress shirt to wear. I made it to the funeral home across town, just before they called everyone inside. I signed the guest book as I went in, and grabbed a seat in the back. Charley's daughter came over and asked me to give the eulogy. I tried to get out of it, but she was insistent that I be the one, since we were friends for so long. I finally said I would, and she pulled me to the front to sit with her and Shirley. Great, I was sitting between two crying women, and I didn't have a hanky to offer either one of them. The preacher finally got done with his soul saving and called my name. I went forward and spoke for about five minutes, saying what I thought everyone wanted to hear. All the time I was cussing him in my mind for putting me in this situation. I did admit to myself that I would miss him and his asinine sense of humor, and the skewed way he thought of life.

I finished and sat down between the two sobbing women. Evidently I was the only speaker, but as always the preacher had to have the final word. I listened to him for about four minutes and when he said bow your heads I left. I got outside and lit a cigarette and headed for my car. Since Shirley knew how I felt about funerals, I figured she would explain it to Charley's daughter. Hopefully, she wouldn't be too mad that I had left. I cranked the car and started home, when I remembered about the car that hit Charley and left the scene. On an impulse, I headed south on seventy-five to a little city about thirty miles from where he was hit.

Six years ago, we had cause to do a sting on a plastic surgeon. As a result, he was sentenced to five years in prison and lost his medical license. He had gotten out last week, and we were notified by the parole board. Neither of us thought much about it, but I had remembered that the doctor had an old white Jeep Cherokee. A witness had told the State Patrol the car that had run away looked like one. I just had a hunch about it, and since it was Monday, and I had nothing else to do. I wanted to check it out for my own peace of mind. I owed Charley that much, so here I was, heading for the house to check it out. I finally found the turnoff, and cruised by his house. There were two cars in the driveway but no Jeep. As I went by, I noticed that the garage door was down and thought that was a little strange. I noticed a brand new shiny padlock on the hasp and this raised my curiosity level. I parked up the street and put a pancake holster on my belt at the small of my back. I walked down the street with my coat over my shoulder, hanging down to cover the handle of the gun.

I walked by the garage, and noticed a window on the opposite side of the house was open. I walked toward it as I went back by. I looked in the garage through the window, and saw there was a car inside. It looked big enough to be a Cherokee, but there was a car cover on it. Since it was about a foot from the window, I decided to crawl in and look at the front of it. I looked around and saw no one, so I climbed in the window. After finally squeezing through, I came to the conclusion that I was too old and brittle to be a burglar. I stooped down at the front and raised the cover. I immediately saw that the left front light was broken and the fender was bent badly. I knew that this didn't constitute a hit and run, but I felt sure that this was the vehicle that killed Charley. I got down on one knee and immediately noticed pieces of plastic the same color as his Harley in the front springs. I knew then that this was the vehicle that had hit him.

I got back up and pulled the cover down and went to the back to see if it had a plate on it. It did but was covered in mud and dirt, I wrote it down and looked at the sticker and it was current. I now had to get back out without being seen. I knew this was going to be a problem, 'cause the only way open to me was that damn window. I gave some serious thought about going out the door, but I knew I could be arrested for B&E for being in here without permission. I decided to try the window again, and hoped I wouldn't be seen. I stuck my head out and looked around. I didn't see anyone, so I climbed back out. It seemed that no one noticed me, so I went to my car.

I got out my cell, called the State Police Barracks, and got on the phone with the shift commander. I told him what I had figured out about the hit and run and where I was. I gave Mark as a reference, and asked that they send a car to check it out. He told me that one was already on the way, and to wait on it. I told him what kind of car I was in and he laughed before he hung up the phone. First Charley, and now him. Why was my little car always the object of laughter? I bought it for five hundred and put about two in it. It got great mileage. I just couldn't understand why it always evoked so much laughter from everyone.

I was still contemplating this, when the State Trooper pulled up along side of me. He grinned when he saw my car.

"What's so damned funny about my car, Trooper?"

"That's the first yellow Yugo I ever seen. I should say, that's the brightest yellow Yugo I ever seen."

He laughed at the finger I threw him and said to follow him. I walked down to where he parked and we walked across the street to the doctor's house. He knocked on the door and it was answered by a young boy. The Trooper asked if his dad was there and he said yes, but that he was asleep. He then asked him if his mom was here and boy hollered in the house for his mother. She came to the door and got white as a sheet when she saw the Trooper.

"Can I help you, Officer?"

"Yes ma'am, I need to see your husband about his Jeep Cherokee. Is the vehicle here or maybe in the garage ma'am?"

"It's in the garage, but it hasn't been driven in years, officer."

"Can we see it, ma'am?"

"The door's open, so just help yourself. Close the door when you're done."

He looked at her and she closed the door in his face. He was shaking his head as we walked to the garage. We both went in and he walked over and pulled the cover back then looked at the window then at the car. He looked at the front of the Jeep and then shined his light underneath the left side. He got on his radio and called for a wrecker and another unit. We went back outside and stood in front of the garage door and waited.

"Don't you think you're a little too old to be crawling in windows? He grinned at me and looked down at my pants."

"Sure enough, there was a wide white smear up the front of both legs. I was grumbling under my breath while I brushed them off as best as I could."

He went to his car and got a statement form for me to fill out, and he laughed the whole way to his car. I felt like a big enough fool, but the laughter just rubbed salt in the wounds. Damn, I was getting too old and forgetful to be doing this sneaky stuff. I smiled to myself as I thought about the story he would tell his fellow officers. I had the last laugh though, I had gotten Charley's killer. I looked up and I said to the sky under my breath; "Now we are even, my friend."

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Violent / Military /