Monday, September 30, 2013

Frank Hawthorn Is Blindsided by James M. Copeland

W. J. Fisher regretted every word he had ever uttered to his son in anger. Right in front of him, he saw blood splattered over the bed covers, on the floor, on the door facing, and some that was tracked to the top of the stairwell of the cabin. Stunned and unable to move, he stood in the doorway until he felt an urgent need to vomit.
When he ran back onto the deck, he pulled in fresh air to settle his distressed feelings. His eyes reached back to see why the trail of blood had ceased at the top of the stairwell. Then the thought hit him! Whoever had done the awful deed probably had to pick him up because of the loss of blood while they were getting rid of the body.
He carefully followed the gangplank to the edge of the dock and saw a faint trail of blood show up again. There was a puddle of blood and a small-caliber pistol lying on the jetty used for fishing or tying a boat up, but no other trace of his son. He didn’t touch the gun; he knew there could be incriminating fingerprints leading to the killer!
W.J. couldn’t figure out why the blood was pooled on the outcropping dock, unless maybe they put him on another boat that was up ahead of the cabin cruiser.
He looked up and down the dock. Nothing! There were grain barges lined up in front of his factory and workers scurrying around, but nobody was paying any attention to the cabin cruiser sitting on the rolling Mississippi River.
W.J. was beside himself. What had happened, and what could he do? Where was his son, and who had done the horrible thing? His first thought was to call the police. Then he questioned that thought. He had the company’s best image to keep up. What if all his customers decided his son were a nighttime drunk and a rebel rouser? Who in the city of Memphis could help him keep this thing quiet if it was just a one-night fluke and not make such a big stink of it?
He said to himself what was that guy’s name at our table last night? Smith, Jones . . . no, no. Hawthorn—that was it, Frank Hawthorn. The sign on his name tag said he was an investigator.
After coming to the conclusion that he might possibly get help from the detective, he frantically looked in all directions for a phone.
Suddenly he saw it and said to himself, there’s one on the corner.
He ran to the phone booth only a few steps away. He grabbed at the phonebook that was tattered and swollen by being wet many times from the weather. First he looked at the white pages for Frank Hawthorn. Not finding it there, he looked in the yellow pages for a detective agency. Then W.J. remembered Hawthorn had used the description of investigator on his name tag. He hurriedly ran his finger down the page in the ‘I’s until he came to ‘Investigations,’ then down the list to ‘Hawthorn Detective Agency.’ He felt for a quarter in his pants pocket.
He dialed the number after hearing a dial tone. The phone rang and rang. After waiting for someone to answer, he was just about to hang up and try the police regardless when a voice answered, “Sorry to keep you waiting. How may I help you?”
In a very shaky voice, W.J. asked, “Is this Mr. Hawthorn . . .? Are you the gentleman who came to the investment seminar last night?”
“Yes, sir; who’s this?”
“Mr. Hawthorn, my son and I were there together, we sat together at your table. I’ve got a big problem on my hands at the moment. Milford’s missing, and I’m afraid he’s been hurt badly or killed. Can you come down to the granary docks on the Mississippi River right now? I want to show you what I walked into a few minutes ago. Maybe you have methods of following something like I found.”
“Sure, Mr. Fisher, tell me exactly where you are.”
“Are you familiar with Granary Road that goes down to The Landing Bar and Grill on the docks to the right? The Fisher granary is to the left.”
“Yes, sir, I know right where that is. Your son and I talked about that last night. I believe Tom Spartan runs the place for you.”
“Yes he does.”
“I’ve known Tom several years, and I’ve been to his office. I’ll be there as fast as possible. Don’t let anyone touch the evidence. I’m on my way.”
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Genre - Crime Mystery
Rating – PG
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