The first case of PI Walthenson – “A Case of Working With the Jones Brothers”

This case has everything, red herrings, jealous brothers, femme fatales, and at the heart of it all, greed.

See below for an excerpt from the book…

Coming soon!

PIWalthJones1

An excerpt from the book:

When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he concluded that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn’t important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what? Doug the ‘destroyer’, Doug the ‘dangerous’, Doug the ‘deadly’; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he’d made a mistake. A very big. and costly, mistake. Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn’t help himself and instead of minding his own business, listening to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place. The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and, because of the cryptic conversation, there appeared to be, or at least to Harry, criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether he should go. Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime. Instead, he had willingly gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry’s fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it. The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament. He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence. It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It was obvious that it was the right place and the right time, but in considering his current perilous situation, it definitely was the wrong place to be, at the worst possible time.

It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of lawyers, what were to Harry, dry, dusty men who had been in business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, ‘Why don’t you become a lawyer?” when asked what he could do for the great man.

Or so it was handed down as lore, though Harry didn’t think Washington meant it literally, the Walthenson’s, then as now, were not shy of taking advice.

Except, of course, when it came to Harry.

He was, Harry’s father was prone to saying, the exception to every rule. Harry guessed his father was referring to the fact his son wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty lawyer. Just the clothes were enough to turn Harry off the profession.

So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.

There’s a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you’re interested.

So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, ‘Harold Walthenson, Private Detective’.

There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn’t just see his business plan as something sinister. Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.

She’d seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.

Of course not, he said, he didn’t smoke.

Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no ‘real’ cases, nothing but missing animals, and other miscellaneous items. What he really wanted was a missing person. Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.

Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor. The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.

Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him. No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.

Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry’s end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2019

Searching for locations: Innsbruck, Austria

On this occasion, we drove from Florence to Innsbruck, a journey of about 500 kilometers and via the E45, a trip that would take us about five and a half hours.

We drove conservatively, stopped once for lunch and took about seven hours, arriving in Innsbruck late in the afternoon

The main reason for this stay was to go to Swarovski in Wattens for the second time, to see if anything had changed, and to buy some pieces.  We were still members of the club, and looking forward to a visit to the exclusive lounge and some Austrian champagne.

Sadly, there were no new surprises waiting, and we came away a little disappointed.

We were staying at the Innsbruck Hilton, where we stayed the last time, and it only a short walk to the old town.

From the highest level of the hotel, it is possible to get a look at the mountains that surround the city.  This view is in the direction we had driven earlier, from Florence.

The change in the weather was noticeable the moment we entered the mountain ranges.

This view looks towards the old town and overlooks a public square.

This view shows some signs of the cold, but in summer, I doubted we were going to see any snow.

We have been here in winter, and it is quite cold, and there is a lot of snow.  The ski resorts are not very far away, and the airport is on the way to Salzburg.

There is a host of restaurants in the old town, and we tried a few during our stay.  The food, beer, and service were excellent.

On a previous visit, we did get Swiss Army Knives, literally, from a small store called Victorinox.

And, yes, we did see the golden roof.

An excerpt from “Betrayal” – a work in progress

It could have been anywhere in the world, she thought, but it wasn’t.  It was in a city where if anything were to go wrong…

She sighed and came away from the window and looked around the room.  It was quite large and expensively furnished.  It was one of several she had been visiting in the last three months.

Quite elegant too, as the hotel had its origins dating back to before the revolution in 1917.  At least, currently, there would not be a team of KGB agents somewhere in the basement monitoring everything that happened in the room.

There was no such thing as the KGB anymore, though there was an FSB, but such organisations were of no interest to her.

She was here to meet with Vladimir.

She smiled to herself when she thought of him, such an interesting man whose command of English was as good as her command of Russian, though she had not told him of that ability.

All her knew of her was that she was American, worked in the Embassy as a clerk, nothing important, who life both at work and at home was boring.  Not that she had blurted that out the first tie she met, or even the second.

That first time, at a function in the Embassy, was a chance meeting, a catching of his eye as he looked around the room, looking, as he had told her later, for someone who might not be as boring as the function itself.

It was a celebration, honouring one of the Embassy officials on his service in Moscow, and the fact he was returning home after 10 years.  She had been there one, and still hadn’t met all the staff.

They had talked, Vladimir knew a great deal about England, having been stationed there for a year or two, and had politely asked questions about where she lived, her family, and of course what her role was, all questions she fended off with an air of disinterested interest.

It fascinated him, as she knew it would, a sort of mental sparring as one would do with swords, if this was a fencing match.

They had said they might or might not meet again when the party was over, but she suspected there would be another opportunity.  She knew the signs of a man who was interested in her, and Vladimir was interested.

The second time came in the form of an invitation to an art gallery, and a viewing of the works of a prominent Russian artist, an invitation she politely declined.  After all, invitations issued to Embassy staff held all sorts of connotations, or so she was told by the Security officer when she told him.

Then, it went quiet for a month.  There was a party at the American embassy and along with several other staff members, she was invited.  She had not expected to meet Vladimir, but it was a pleasant surprise when she saw him, on the other side of the room, talking to several military men.

A pleasant afternoon ensued.

And it was no surprise that they kept running into each other at the various events on the diplomatic schedule.

By the fifth meeting, they were like old friends.  She had broached the subject of being involved in a plutonic relationship with him with the head of security at the embassy.  Normally for a member of her rank it would not be allowed, but in this instance it was.

She did not work in any sensitive areas, and, as the security officer had said, she might just happen upon something that might be useful.  In that regard, she was to keep her eyes and ears open, and file a report each time she met him.

After that discussion she got the impression her superiors considered Vladimir more than just a casual visitor on the diplomatic circuit.  She also formed the impression the he might consider her an ‘asset’, a word that had been used at the meeting with security and the ambassador.

It was where the word ‘spy’ popped into her head and sent a tingle down her spine.  She was not a spy, but the thought of it, well, it would be fascinating to see what happened.

A Russian friend.  That’s what she would call him.

And over time, that relationship blossomed, until, after a visit to the ballet, late and snowing, he invited her to his apartment not far from the ballet venue.  It was like treading on thin ice, but after champagne and an introduction to caviar, she felt like a giddy schoolgirl.

Even so, she had made him promise that he remain on his best behaviour.  It could have been very easy to fall under the spell of a perfect evening, but he promised, showed her to a separate bedroom, and after a brief kiss, their first, she did not see him until the next morning.

So, it began.

It was an interesting report she filed after that encounter, one where she had expected to be reprimanded.

She wasn’t.

It wasn’t until six weeks had passed when he asked her if she would like to take a trip to the country.  It would involve staying in a hotel, that they would have separate rooms.  When she reported the invitation, no objection was raised, only a caution; keep her wits about her.

Perhaps, she had thought, they were looking forward to a more extensive report.  After all, her reports on the places, and the people, and the conversations she overheard, were no doubt entertaining reading for some.

But this visit was where the nature of the relationship changed, and it was one that she did not immediately report.  She had realised at some point before the weekend away, that she had feelings for him, and it was not that he was pushing her in that direction or manipulating her in any way.

It was just one of those moments where, after a grand dinner, a lot of champagne, and delightful company, things happen.  Standing at the door to her room, a lingering kiss, not intentional on her part, and it just happened.

And for not one moment did she believe she had been compromised, but for some reason she had not reported that subtle change in the relationship to the powers that be, and so far, no one had any inkling.

She took off her coat and placed it carefully of the back of one of the ornate chairs in the room.  She stopped for a moment to look at a framed photograph on the wall, one representing Red Square.

Then, after a minute or two, she went to the mini bar and took out the bottle of champagne that had been left there for them, a treat arranged by Vladimir for each encounter.

There were two champagne flutes set aside on the bar, next to a bowl of fruit.  She picked up the apple and thought how Eve must have felt in the garden of Eden, and the temptation.

Later perhaps, after…

She smiled at the thought and put the apple back.

A glance at her watch told her it was time for his arrival.  It was if anything, the one trait she didn’t like, and that was his punctuality.  A glance at the clock on the room wall was a minute slow.

The doorbell to the room rang, right on the appointed time.

She put the bottle down and walked over to the door.

A smile on her face, she opened the door.

It was not Vladimir.  It was her worst nightmare.

© Charles Heath 2020

NaNoWriMo (April) – Day 11

So now the truth, or a version of it it is out there, Jack now needs to find out who this Jacob is.

Well, he thinks he knows who it is, but he needs some confirmation from his mother about what she apparently has been hiding from him all his life.

Of course, as expected, his mother is being elusive.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the backstory, which, sometimes never finds it’s way into the book. It serves me to get a better understanding of a character, of several, in what some might call a background paper.

I also wonder if this type of scenario plays out in other families, and if they were, or are, referred to as the skeletons in the closet.

We didn’t have any in our family, well, none that I knew about, anyway. I’m sure there were, we just never got to hear about them.

I guess that’s why often members of a family will go searching the genealogical records, and find out if they are related to someone famous. My wife reckons that she is somehow related to Harriet Beecher Stowe, the writer of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. On our side, we had a luddite (who wasn’t really a luddite – long story) transported to Van Dieman’s Land from England.

I know who won that forebear contest!

Today’s effort amounts to 2,438 words, for a total, so far, of 27,923.

More tomorrow.

The story behind the story – Echoes from the Past

The novel ‘Echoes from the past’ started out as a short story I wrote about 30 years ago, titled ‘The birthday’.

My idea was to take a normal person out of their comfort zone and led on a short but very frightening journey to a place where a surprise birthday party had been arranged.

Thus the very large man with a scar and a red tie was created.

So was the friend with the limousine who worked as a pilot.

So were the two women, Wendy and Angelina, who were Flight Attendants that the pilot friend asked to join the conspiracy.

I was going to rework the short story, then about ten pages long, into something a little more.

And like all re-writes, especially those I have anything to do with, it turned into a novel.

There was motivation.  I had told some colleagues at the place where I worked at the time that I liked writing, and they wanted a sample.  I was going to give them the re-worked short story.  Instead, I gave them ‘Echoes from the past’

Originally it was not set anywhere in particular.

But when considering a location, I had, at the time, recently been to New York in December, and visited Brooklyn and Queens, as well as a lot of New York itself.  We were there for New Years, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

One evening we were out late, and finished up in Brooklyn Heights, near the waterfront, and there was rain and snow, it was cold and wet, and there were apartment buildings shimmering in the street light, and I thought, this is the place where my main character will live.

It had a very spooky atmosphere, the sort where ghosts would not be unexpected.  I felt more than one shiver go up and down my spine in the few minutes I was there.

I had taken notes, as I always do, of everywhere we went so I had a ready supply of locations I could use, changing the names in some cases.

Fifth Avenue near the Rockefeller center is amazing at first light, and late at night with the Seasonal decorations and lights.

The original main character was a shy and man of few friends, hence not expecting the surprise party.  I enhanced that shyness into purposely lonely because of an issue from his past that leaves him always looking over his shoulder and ready to move on at the slightest hint of trouble.  No friends, no relationships, just a very low profile.

Then I thought, what if he breaks the cardinal rule, and begins a relationship?

But it is also as much an exploration of a damaged soul, as it is the search for a normal life, without having any idea what normal was, and how the understanding of one person can sometimes make all the difference in what we may think or feel.

And, of course, I wanted a happy ending.

Except for the bad guys.

 

Get it here:  https://amzn.to/2CYKxu4

newechocover5rs

 

Searching for locations: Auckland, New Zealand, a rare day for the port

We were staying at the Hilton and advised there would be a large cruise liner berthing next to the hotel.  There was the Arcadia.

2013-03-08 11.51.48

This is the view from the other side of the hotel.  Where our room was, we could almost walk onto the aft end of the ship.

We were also told this was a rather extraordinary day because there were two cruise ships in the port. particularly because it was near the end of the cruising season.

The other ship was two berths along, the Sun Princess.

2013-03-08 11.56.17

Not as big as the Arcadia, up close it was still very impressive.

In a word: Angle

We all know this to be an intersection of two lines like a crossroad is at a 90-degree angle

But…

It’s an angle bracket that keeps the shelf up, hopefully with books on it.

Did you know that it was something someone did in order to get something?

She began to angle for an invitation to a party that she would not normally be invited to, or he has angled his answers to the prospective employer in a bid to be more likely to be selected for the position.

It can also refer to a position, or judgement, so that someone might say, try and see it from my angle, or another angle.

Or that it refers to fishing, and the fisherman or woman is known as an angler.

It can be a position from which something is viewed, or in crime parlance, the CSI people will work out the angle of the bullet’s entry do they can locate the position of the shooter.

Angle can refer to people of Germanic origin, such as an Anglo Saxon

And, here’s something even I didn’t know, in Astrology, it is each of the four cardinal points of a chart, from which the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses extend anticlockwise respectively.

The A to Z Challenge – I is for “I woke up one day…”


Ever woken up and the first thought that goes through your mind, where the hell am I?

It usually happens when I travel which was quite often, to a place where I haven’t been before, and more often than not, a long way from home.

A hotel room, sometimes they were big, sometimes quite small, opulent, or very basic, a view of snow-capped mountains, or pigeon coops. The result is the same, that first look out the window is nothing like that of out your own.

Like waking up in a different bed, in that different room with that different roof, different walls, paintings, lights, and, when you look sideways, clock.

Often, it took a few extra seconds after waking up, to try and remember all the relevant details. Like where you came from, what airline brought you, which cab you took to the hotel, and which room you were in.

The trouble was, try as they might, hotel rooms were not like most of today’s houses bedrooms.

It was this in mind when I went through the same checklist trying to figure out how it was possible there was a woman in my bed when I couldn’t remember meeting one or bringing one back to the room, simply because I didn’t. I know if I had or hadn’t.

Wouldn’t I?

The other troubling fact was that this time I had agreed to bring my wife along on this junket, just to prove that I was not having an affair, and now she was missing. That woman that was beside me in the bed was not my wife, and I had no idea who she was.

And, as I watched, she rolled over and opened her eyes. In the silence that followed, along with several changes in her expression, perhaps she was making the same assessment of her situation as I had a few minutes before.

The last expression was of surprise, then, “Who are you?”

Not what I was expecting. I was expecting outraged indignation, followed by a threatening call to the police. It could be argued, since all the rooms in the hotel looked the same, that I had intruded in her room, instead of her in mine.

I doubled checked again that this was my room, then said, “I could ask the same question.”

It took a few more seconds to focus on her. Definitely younger than I by a few years, and very attractive. I had to wonder if I had, how I’d convinced her to join me, or equally so, why I would have entertained the notion of having an affair. I may have thought about it, from time to time, but I would not have acted on it. I was content with what I already had.

“The last thing I remember was my husband bringing me a drink from the bar. We were having lunch in the Starlight restaurant. We were here celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary. What do you last remember?”

“Lunch with my wife, down in the Starlight restaurant. I brought her along to allay her fears I was not having an affair.” Which sounded as lame aloud as it did in my head.

“And yet here we are, fulfilling a prophecy.”

I noticed the quick look under the sheets to see if she was dressed, and in that flash, I could see that she had underclothes on. The dress she had been wearing was neatly folded over the back of a lounge chair and her shoes neatly placed beside it. Another glance, sideways, noted my clothes were folded neatly on the other lounge chair, and I was in my pajama bottom.

“But we are not having an affair, are we?” That also sounded lame, but in my head, it held some significance though I’m not sure why.

“I don’t know you, nor have I seen you before. I don’t even know your name. My name is Glenda Matheson. My husband is Robert Matheson.”

“The Congressman, who’s about to announce he’s running for President in the next election?”

“Yes.”

“Then if you are seen here, with me…”

The implications of being caught in a compromising situation with a Congressman’s wife, and even worse, one with such a high public profile, it would be on every front page of every newspaper, and on every TV news channel in the country. Explain that to a wife who was mildly suspicious that you were having an affair.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about.” She rose and sat on the side of the bed, then collapsed backward.

“What happened?” I took a step towards her, but something made me stop.

Instead, I looked sideways and realized what woke me was the sunlight streaming in through the open window. I was sure before I left the room, those curtains were drawn, certainly enough that no one could see in. Now, from the building across the road, and reasonably close, it would be possible to see into the room from a room there. I moved the other window and drew the curtains, darkening the room.

A light came on from her side of the bed.

“People could see in?”

“If they wanted to, but normally it wouldn’t matter. If they were looking, I’d say it was too late.”

“Except there’s a Congressman’s wife in one of the rooms, and a hoard of photographers following them around. You have no idea what fame can do to your privacy.”

I could imagine. And she was right, of course, I’d seen the media coverage of anyone who had a high profile, and they were literally hounded.

“Are you alright?” she was still lying down.

“Dizzy. Lightheaded. This is how I feel when I have two sleeping pills instead of one.” Then, a few seconds later, “and the same taste in my mouth.”

“You were drugged?”

“Are you dizzy, feeling lightheaded?”

It didn’t seem so, but it was possible. “I didn’t drug you if that’s what you’re thinking. The only time I’ve seen you is in the paper, and even then, I didn’t take much notice. If I had, I would have know who you were.”

She was about to say something when there was a pounding on the door. “Mr. Jackson, are you in there. This is the police.”

My heart just about stopped.

Then, almost an instant later there was a voice behind me, a woman, “If you don’t want to end up dead, come with me now.”

Both of us immediately turned in the direction of the voice. Middle-aged, conservatively dressed, could be a school teacher.

“Who are you?”

“Someone who is trying to save your life. Now. The both of you. Before they kick the door in.”

Another few seconds and more pounding on the door set us both in motion. She grabbed her clothes, I grabbed mine, and we followed her through a connecting door, and she closed it just before we heard the door to my room open. The room had another connecting door that led into another room, whose door was in the side wall. After locking one, she came over, opened the third and we went through, out into a passage, and then into a stairwell where on the other side she locked it.

“Get dressed. We have to go.”

“Where are you taking us?” Glenda asked. She had regained her senses, enough to ask relevant questions.

“Away from here.”

“Why?”

“Because the police officers that entered that room have been ordered to kill you.”

….

© Charles Heath 2021

NaNoWriMo (April) – Day 10

One third of the month is gone and this writing job is not getting any easier.

The notion that we can sit down and over a period of 30 days, we can write a 50,000 word novel would be, to some, a preposterous notion.

For me, it is not. I have done it for three years in a row, and even without having a plan.

This one has a plan, but that plan only sometimes stretches to a day or two ahead, depending on how I’m going.

Today, it had been hard going because I set time aside to just sit down and write it, but you all know how fickle that can be. Devote time, and the words don’t come, have no time and try scratching in between a lot of other jobs, and the words are flowing.

It is annoying to say the least.

Bit, for today, Jack has discovered he does, indeed, have a doppelganger, and that he is related, which explains the uncanny likeness. Of course, he has been followed to the island, and run to ground in a park where the two meet face to face. Oh, and the doppelganger has a name, Jacob.

It could have got ugly, but Maryanne is there, though Jack is still not sure why, and her presence averts what could have been an ugly showdown,

Instead, some words of advice. Jack must ask his mother for the answers.

A fine time for Jack to discover that his mother has been lying to him for his whole life.

But, of course, any attempt to get her on the phone is proving difficult.

And it might mean the end of his holiday.

Our Jack is not a happy man.

Today’s effort amounts to 2,873 words, for a total, so far, of 25,485.

Yes, word wise we have reached the half way mark, but story wise, it appears it make take a little longer.

More tomorrow.

Searching for locations: The Mary Valley Rattler, Gympie, Queensland, Australia

I have a passion for visiting transport museums, to see old trains, planes, buses, cars, even ships if it’s possible.

This has led to taking a number of voyages on the TSS Earnslaw in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Many, many, many years ago on Puffing Billy, a steam train in the Dandenongs, Victoria, Australia.

The steam train in Kingston, New Zealand, before it was closed down, but hopefully it will reopen sometime in the future.

The London Transport Museum in London England, which had a lot of buses.

The Workshops Railway Museum in Ipswich, Queensland, where once the many steam engines were built and maintained, and now had only a handful of engines remaining.

However, in the quest for finding and experiencing old transportation methods, we came across the Mary Valley Rattler, which runs out of Gympie, Queensland, Australia.

The ride begins in Gympie at the old Gympie Railway station, and as can be seen below, is one of the relics of the past, and, nothing like the new more modern stations.  Thankfully.

If you’re going to have a vintage train, then you have to have a vintage station.

The Class of engine, seen below, is the C17, a superheated upgrade to the C16 it was based on, and first run in 1903.  This particular engine was built in 1951, although the first of its type was seen in  1920 and the last of 227 made in 1953.  It was the most popular of the steam engines used by Queensland Railways.

The C designation meant it had four driving axels and 17 was the diameter of the cylinder, 17 inches.  It is also known as a 4-8-0 steam locomotive
 and nicknamed one of the “Brown Bombers” because of its livery, brown with green and red trimming.

Also, this engine was built in Maryborough, not far from Gympie by Walkers Limited, one of 138.

This photo was taken as the train returned from Amamoor, a trip that takes up to an hour.

The locomotive is detached from the carriages, then driven to the huge turntable to turn around for the return journey to Amamoor.

This is the locomotive heading down to the water station, and then taking on water.  After that, it will switch lines, and reverse back to reconnect the carriages for the trip to Amamoor.

The carriages are completely restored and are extremely comfortable.  It brings back, for me, many memories of riding in older trains in Melbourne when I was a child.

The trains, then, were called Red Rattlers.

This is the locomotive climbing one of the hilly parts of the line before crossing over the Mary River on a trestle bridge.

This is the engine at Amamoor near the picnic area where young children and excited parents and grandparents can get on the locomotive itself and look inside where the driver sits.

And, no, I didn’t volunteer to shovel coal.

This particular locomotive spent most of its working life between Townsville and Mount Isa and was based in Cloncurry, Charters Towers, and Townsville, before being sent, at the end of its useful days in the late 1960s, to the Ipswich Railway Workshops.