Life & Events
My first published novel is "Bottom Bones"
“For Sale, thirty five foot cabin cruiser, with two queen sized staterooms, lush carpet, bathroom with head and full body shower. Auxiliary controls top deck, covered, newer galley, and twin powerful Chrysler diesel engines. Call after five o’clock.”
“Wow,” Frank Hawthorn thought, after reading the newspaper ad. He could see the beautiful boat skimming over the ocean, kicking up spray on either side that made rainbows appear. Suddenly he remembers the confrontation with the Chinese freighter that appeared to be a floating battle ground and twenty times his size out on the high seas that destroyed his former pride and joy. The captain of the vessel appeared to be delivering boxes of fabric or readymade dresses to his neighbor next door. Frank actually saw cartons and cartons of that kind of stuff going right by his dock on the Hudson bay. He was fishing when the delivery boat returned a few hours later headed toward the open seas. Frank was so curious he followed them in his 20 foot cabin cruiser. By then it was night time, and Frank thought he was invisible in the darkness He came within 100 yards to get a better look with his binoculars. He could see the Chinese Flag waving above the huge boat and while he was watching suddenly a mountain of salty water ten feet behind him rose up bigger than his boat and drenched him to the skin. Frank jammed the throttles forward but not fast enough. The next missile was zeroed in on the back of his cruiser and blew it to kingdom come. He flew through the air and finally landed far, far away from where he was just seconds ago. An ice chest floated by in the cold night’s salty waters and he grasped it and held on for dear life.
His mind shifted back to the present moment to the New York Times Newspaper ad. Frank had recovered from the ill fated tragedy and was determined to purchase a replacement cabin cruiser. Frank had the money to purchase any kind of boat he wanted, because his business had flourished since he opened the Hawthorn Detective Agency in downtown New York City. He had watched the newspapers until he saw the ad he was looking at.
What occurs after the advertised Honey Do was purchased would unnerve anyone! Ralph Smith, Frank Hawthorn’s ‘Man Friday’ was cleaning up the gooey melted cheese that had slipped off the galley counter into the teak wood floor of the newly acquired cabin cruiser. Detectives Josh Jones and Corrine Kelly had borrowed the Honey Do for a sting operation card game where they tried to catch a card shark. When they were bringing the boat back to Frank’s house on a trailer they forgot to unplug the cheese dip. While Ralph was cleaning up the mess he discovers a hidden storage area underneath the teakwood floor. He ran to get his boss who was just outside. He encouraged him to come see what he had found. After a process they carefully lifted the lid to the storage locker and peered inside. Frank was the first to recognize the ominous black plastic container filling the inside of the cavity. It was a body bag!
Ralph quickly reached toward the metal zipper, but Frank stayed his hand and shouted, “Don’t touch it Ralph, I don’t think you’re ready for what’s in that bag. We have a dead body on our hands.”
Ralph recoiled in fear.
Frank Hawthorn had graduated from the New York City Police Academy, and had done well. He decided he wanted to be his own boss instead of working for the police department. His police academy buddy, and side-kick Troy Spiegel had done well himself. He was now a Lt. in charge of the Eastern Division police department for New York City. He was commander of the stationhouse located across the street from the Hawthorn Detective Agency Ralph Smith sat for two days guarding Frank Hawthorn with a shotgun that had no ammunition in it. He didn’t even know who Frank was. A van load of men had abducted Frank, tied him up and pitched him into the back of an abandoned garage holding him for ransom The leader of the men who hired Ralph picked him up on a street corner begging for food. Frank tried to get away when he woke up after being knocked in the head and talked Ralph into allowing him to escape with a promise of a thousand dollars all in one pile and plenty to eat for as long as he was hungry. They got away and Ralph stayed with Frank and became his man Friday…as well as any other day.
The Hawthorn Detective Agency employed detectives for all kinds of problems. When they took a serious crime case they all worked together. Since Frank had opened the new offices down town on the fifth floor of one of the nicest buildings in New York City there were hardly any questions his detectives needed answers too. Sometimes Frank felt like a director instead of a detective. He was sitting at his cherry wood designer 60 inch desk comfortably in the revolving plush leather chair reviewing the cases the detectives were working on.
Detective Charles Brown was the lead man for the fraud division, and he and Detective Bobby Green were trying to nail down a man named Claude Pepper, an older gentleman who had been selling land he didn’t own. His customers were kind of mad, because they had been expecting a great profit after the splendid proposal Pepper presented. The boys had a pretty-good handle on the case and were about ready to nail Pepper’s hide to the wall.
Both Charles and Bobby were retired from the New York Police department. Afterward they found out they were under foot at home when their wives had to put up with them all day…every day. Right after Frank opened the new agency for business they both showed up. He hired them both without knowing if he would need them or not, but he soon found out those ole boys were so good at their profession that they could catch a crook in a brush pile.
Detective Marvin Peters MOS in the military Police had been management. His M P unit worked the incoming military ships and subs in the New York harbor. All the sailors coming off the ships had heard before they docked to steer clear of Marvin, or they would be in the brig. Clyde Arnold was his sidekick and the sergeant in charge of dragging the offenders in when collared by Marvin.
He said once there were sailors who came into port that wanted to skip the home-time thing. They didn’t tell their wives they were coming into port, but went directly to the houses of ill repute, or some other sailor’s house while he was still out to sea.
Detective Josh Jones, JJ for short, knew where every poker game in town was located. He could out play any crap shooter, and catch the ones that were cheating. Anything to do with money laundering, crap shooting, or card games he could nose out in jiffy.
JJ’s partner, 32 year old Detective Corrine Kelly had been in the modeling profession before she joined the United States Air Force to become a pilot. Nobody believed her when she said she was going to fly, but she took gym classes to build up her strength and muscles. She did a fabulous job of it. She turned heads many times during her military career. She applied for flight training in F-15 Jets as soon as she finished OCS. She did her flying the hard way for two years, off the deck of a carrier. When her time was up she resigned her commission. She figured she had done just what she said she was going to do. Afterward she applied at Frank’s agency for a secretarial job before he moved from the old place. When Frank opened the new office Corrine begged for a job as an investigator. With his approval she applied for a license and got it. She bought a 38 snubbed nose pistol and started practicing. When she fired she could hit the bull’s eye nine out of ten shots.
JJ and Corrine were on a case searching for a loan shark who was footing the bill for a floating card game with really high stakes. They were moving the game every night to a new location. Frank felt proud of his agency and all the people who supported him.
After Frank’s reflection he got back to the boat replacement thing. He had found few boat ads in the New York Times newspaper, unless they were for really big boats like ninety feet, with a live crew aboard. Frank unfolded the newspaper sections, targeted the boat ads and fingered down the column. Suddenly he came across an ad that he had not seen before. Over two weeks and the same ads had always been there. Frank wondered if people ever sold boats they advertised. He read the new ad that finished with, “Call after five o’clock.”
The number given was for the Warner Perkins Marina dock in Manhattan bay where Frank already did business. The location was perfect. He would stop on his way home. He had found Warner Perkins to be a very trust worthy man who had provided good services for all their boating needs in the past.
When JJ arrived at the agency he and Corrine came into his office and inquired about a location that had been raided by the police department so he dialed Lt Troy Spiegel at the stationhouse and inquired. JJ and Corrine left the minute the spot was located, hot to catch their current illegal card game sponsor.
Frank’s secretary-office manager, Amy Thompson stopped by his desk on her way out later that afternoon and he gathered his days work and shoved it into a drawer and walked out with her. Amy Sue Thompson was a blond, pretty girl who commanded attention with her personality. She had a degree in criminal investigation and law. She tried the legal assistant position with a tax attorney and found it very dull and boring before she found the ad about the manager’s position. Frank advertised for an office manager to handle the financials, and schedule the cases at the agency. After checking out her credentials and meeting her Frank saw Amy’s potential and hired her on the spot. His choice had proven correct. They talked shop on the way down stairs and said goodnight in the high rise parking deck when they got to Amy’s car. Frank went to his 1979 red Mustang convertible and headed for the Perkins Marina in the Manhattan bay.
Traffic was horrendous as people hurried back home after a hard days work, but Frank made it to the marina before six o’clock. He knew his man Friday, Ralph Smith had been out all day shopping for a few new clothes for social activities and was not going to prepare dinner as he usually did. Frank noted the burger joint as a perfect place to order and take home dinner for both of them. The café had been there for years and had the reputation of serving great food. Frank left his car in front of the joint and walked down to the busy docks where he expected to find Warner Perkins.
As usual Warner was up to his hubcaps in boating things, and Frank found him bent over a net under a pier light sorting out fish.
“Say, Warner, that you, I can’t tell the net from the fish?”
“Well yes, this is me down here on my knees worming around trying to catch this mans fish so he will go home. I’m gonna jump in the bay just as soon as I finish this chore. My wife won’t let me in the house smelling like this. You are Mr. Hawthorn, one of our customers, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but to you it’s Frank. I always feel like my father is behind me when someone calls me Mr. Hawthorn.”
They both laughed and Warner asked Frank if he needed service on his boat.
“No Warner, I’m sorry to say that boat I was in love with won’t float anymore after the missile hit me.” “Missile? Oh, I remember, you’re talking about the Cusec Caper where the Chinese freighter knocked your boat out of the ocean?”
“Yeah, I’m fine now but I almost didn’t make it. If Ralph hadn’t sent the coast guard to get me I would have croaked.”
“You look healthy enough now.”
“Thanks. By the way, I read the interesting ad in the paper this morning about the thirty-five footer that makes you see rainbows when you race across the ocean or maybe it was me that said that. Anyway the boat was for sale and your name was there for the contact. What do you know about the boat?”
“I don’t have to tell you about it, I can show you. Its right down the pier from us. Let me finish with this net and I’ll take you down there and show you. It’s a really nice cruiser, and the money’s right.”
Frank was anxious to see it. However, he knew there was no telling what kind of condition some people called nice. He waited around on the pier, looking over the floating money pots birthed nearby until Warner finished his chore. Frank had always heard that, “A boat was a hole in the water you pour money into.” He wasn’t certain, but so far that was true of his former purchases. Warner hollered that he was going to wash his hands before coming down with him. Frank hollered back, “No problem, I have plenty of time.”
Warner soon came bustling down the pier wiping his hands on his pants legs ready to show the boat. They walked briskly out the pier, careful not to snag a toe on the uneven boards while heading toward a boat that Frank saw and thought was a beauty when he first saw it under the pier lights. He was continuing to walk on past when Warner stopped him and stepped on board the cabin cruiser. The caption “Honey Do” was stenciled on several places including across the transom and on the upper covered deck. Frank thought the boat was a honey alright. He could already see the rainbows he had mentioned earlier. He couldn’t help himself he began smiling from ear to ear. Warner walked him through the cruiser, commenting about the teak that had been added or the gas refrigerator having been replaced and the air conditioner serviced. It seemed Warner’s Marina had kept the boat up for some time, and now the owner was ready to sell.
“Warner, why would a man want to sell a Honey like this? (Pardon the pun.)”
“Frank, I do believe the owner is tired of the boat. He used to come out here a lot and stay on the boat for the weekend with friends, or takes it out in the ocean to fish all night with some other men. But now he doesn’t come at all.”
“What’s the man asking for the boat?”
“Fifty thousand cash.”
“Fifty thousand…? Warner this boat looks like its worth a hundred thousand if it’s worth a dollar. Why is he selling it so cheap?”
“I can’t tell you that, all I know is he came out here with the title, and a copy of a bill of sales that only has to be filled out by the buyer and asked me to sell it for him. It’s yours for the fifty thousand cash and I know the titles clear.”
“Since you have been taking care of this boat for a long time do you know of any leaky problems with the boat or the ownership? You should know.”
“Frank I promise you the boat is in excellent condition, everything on it works perfectly, it even has new bed linen on the stateroom beds that goes with it, including all the linens.”
Frank scratched his head thinking, “Fifty K, huh, I feel it in my gut that I should say yes right now, but I better say I want first dibs on it. Do you have anybody else thinking about it? If you do, don’t sell it till I’m back some time tomorrow, Ok?”
“You got it Frank, but no bodies asked me about it besides you. Are you having burgers tonight, their juicy and tasty?”
“You bet; I parked my car right in front of the café so I would remember to get burgers for dinner tonight. I have to make up my mind about the boat, however.Maybe… I’ll see you tomorrow.”
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Page Updated: 07/10/12