Mystery and Crime Fiction posted December 22, 2016 Chapters:  ...6 7 -8- 9... 


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Matthew Granite seeks help

A chapter in the book The Last Laugh

AKA Brown

by mbroyles2

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Background:
Matthew Granite receives a strange visit from a woman who claims her sister has been murdered by mistake and that she is the real target.  Before she can go into much detail an assassin bursts through the office door and kills her and attempts to shoot Granite.  Matthew falls through a hole in his office wall that was meant for a picture window.  He survives his injury but is hospitalized.

The assassin wants to finish Granite off, but finds the hospital isn’t the right venue to pull off his task without major complications.  His employer wants him back in Louisiana to complete his mission.

The assassin receives new instructions part of which is to kill all those who know about the item he is looking for.  He starts with the messenger. 

Granite is presented with the envelope that the mysterious “M” had with her.  It contains old currency from the late twenties and early thirties and an old key.

He decides to pursue it further and find out about the items.

The assassin locates the brother of the murdered girls and kidnaps him. Pausing long enough to rid the world of two would-be muggers.

Chapter 8
 
Every time he drank he fell in love.  For Jimmy Daniels, that meant every day.  On opening night of Cyclones hockey, it could be twice – depending on whether they won or lost.  He sat at a high-top table holding a Bud Light longneck with one hand and stroking the cheek of a redhead with the other.  She had a centerfold face and emerald eyes.  Her inhibitions melted with each soft caress.

Matthew Granite observed the mating ritual from his corner seat at Stingrays.  He looked at Woody who held up six fingers, signaling that Jimmy was working on his sixth beer.  It won’t be long now, Granite thought.

For six months of the year, Stingrays was nothing more than a drinking man’s bar.  There was no jukebox or big screen television.  Karaoke or amateur comedian night never graced a stage.  No one came to hustle pool or throw darts.  They came to drink, and - drink in silence.

However, from mid-October to the first of April, Stingrays was transformed into the unofficial bar of Cincinnati Cyclones’ fans, complete with hockey memorabilia and an all-you-can-eat 5-way buffet. The Queen City favorite consisted of Cincinnati style chili, mounds of cheese, onions, and beans, served over spaghetti.  Folks couldn’t get enough of it. 

Granite didn’t normally attend the festivities, and never went to the games.  Preferring instead to listen to the broadcast in the comfort of his apartment.  Tonight was different, and the focus of his mission was four beers away from proposing.

Jimmy Daniels was the only son of Fred and Ethel, who, coincidentally, were both named after the characters in the I Love Lucy show.  It didn’t take them long to discover that their little Jimmy was a “gifted” child.  He read by age two, wrote complete paragraphs by three, and by age fourteen had graduated valedictorian of his local high school.  Full scholarship offers came from all of the surrounding colleges. But, Jimmy went for the gusto and applied at Brown University. When he left six years later, he had a PhD in computer science.  His specialty was cyber security, and companies hired him to break into their systems and discover the gaps.  He’d then write new security programs and collect enormous fees.  To date, there hasn’t been a system that Jimmy couldn’t hack, and no one has been able to break into his.  That made him highly sought after.  Most of the locals knew him as “Brown”, and those that knew him well tended to avoid him. 

Matthew Granite was the exception.

He walked over to the table and tapped Brown on the shoulder.  “Mind if I cut in?”

Brown turned.  His eyes were enhanced by contact lenses, which made them look powder-blue. They hinted that he’d been drinking, but for the most part, they were clear.  His sandy-blond hair parted to the side and rested just above the eyebrows.  He smiled when he spoke.  “If isn’t my good friend Matthew Granite.  How the hell are you, big guy?  I heard you took quite the tumble.” He started to stand, but thought better of it, when he realized the floor was further away than he calculated.

“I’m fine,” Granite answered. 

“What brings you to this fine establishment on such a momentous occasion?”  There was a slur in Brown’s speech, and Granite knew it was part of the act.  Brown had often boasted that women found drunk guys vulnerable and sexy.  Granite suspected he had mounds of data to back up that claim.

“I own the place.”

“Well, there is that.  What’s on your mind?”

“I have something I need you to look at.”  Granite produced a letter-sized envelope, and removed three of the one hundred dollar bills that “M” had given him and the key.  “I need you to research these and tell me what they mean.”  He dropped the items on the table.

“Not tonight, Matt, please.”  Brown spoke out of the corner of his mouth and nodded at the redhead.  She paid him no attention.  Instead her focus was on the money.

“Is that real?”  she asked and reached for the bills.

Granite picked the items up and placed them back in the envelope.  “Naturally, not tonight.”  He pointed at the guy seated at the next table and gave him a quick “come here” sign.  The man snapped to like a soldier on parade and hurried over.

Granite handed him the envelope.  “Emilio, I want you to put this in the limo, and see to it that Mr. Daniels here takes it inside the house after the game tonight, or whatever else might await him.   Understood?”

“Yes sir, Mister Granite.  I understand.”  Although he was born in Oklahoma, he spoke with a heavy Spanish accent.  He took the envelope and headed outside.

“You have a limousine?”  The redhead gushed.

Granite shook his head.  Even when he wasn’t trying, Brown scored points.  “Just be at the apartment tomorrow, and tell me what you find out.”  He turned to leave.  Looking back over his shoulder he said in a voice that only Brown could hear; “And good luck.”

 
* * * *
 
It was 10:30 the next morning before Brown knocked on Granite’s door.  He had a shit-eating grin and beamed proudly when Matthew let him in.  The Cyclones won.

“Top of the morning to you, boss, how was your night?”  He noticed the tossed blanket and ruffled pillow on the sofa, and the grin disappeared.  “That good huh?”

Granite went to the counter and started pouring two cups of coffee.  “Not as bad as it looks,” he answered.  “I still have trouble lying down for any length of time, but I’m healing fine.”

Brown accepted the coffee and sat on the end of the sofa that didn’t have the blanket and pillow.  Granite remained standing.  “So, what did you find out?”  He blew on the coffee and sipped it.

“Well, the money is legal tender.”  Brown handed the bills to Granite.  “Two are series 1929 Type 1 National Bank Notes printed by the Commercial National Bank in Shreveport.  The other is a series 1929 Type 2 National Bank Note printed by the Hibernia National Bank of New Orleans which is now owned by Capital One.  How'd you get them?”

“A client gave them to me.”

“Not your usual fee, is it?”

“She gave me 200 of them.  Some are Federal Reserve Notes from the 1930’s.”

“How did she get them?”

“She didn’t say.”

Brown took a drink of coffee and continued.  “Didn’t you ask her?”

“I never got the chance.  She was murdered in my office before I fell through the hole.”

“I knew it.”  Brown stood up and looked at Captain America. “They tried to make us believe you absently fell out of that hole in your wall.  I would’ve bet my entire house there was more to it than that.”  He turned back to Granite.  “So who was she?”

“I don’t know that either.  That’s why you’re here. You get anything from the key?”

Brown sat back down. “It’s not a key mass produced.  It’s old, probably from the same time period as the money.  It’s a one of a kind with no recorded history.“

“Figures.”

“So what’s the next step?”

“Well, all the National notes were printed in Louisiana.  I think we should look there.  It’s just a hunch, but we got to start somewhere.  I did get out of her that she had a twin sister that was also murdered.  I want you to look up all the unsolved murders, of women under 40, in Louisiana with the first name starting with an M.”

“Wait, why unsolved and why an M?”

“I believe the same son-of-a-bitch that killed the woman in my office also killed her sister.  She claimed it was a case of mistaken identity.  Most twins are given names that start with the same letter.”  Now Granite walked towards the picture of Steve Rogers.  “We find out where these girls lived, then we can hunt down their murderer. I'm betting that he's local.”

“And then what?”  Brown asked.

“I’m going to kill that motherfucker.”
 


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