A touch of danger (archi.., p.1
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       A Touch of Danger (Archie Lemons #2), p.1

           Grant Fieldgrove
 
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A Touch of Danger (Archie Lemons #2)
A Touch of Danger

  By

  Grant Fieldgrove

  Copyright © 2011

  ManChops Inc.

  All rights reserved

  ISB 978-1466358522

  Published by ManChops Inc.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over or does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  Copyright 2011 by Grant Fieldgrove

  Cover Design by Eric Duhart

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  First edition: November 2011

  Special Edition: December 2012

  For Julie & McClane

  Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry

  You don't know how lovely you are

  I had to find you, tell you I need you

  Tell you I set you apart

  PART ONE:

  HIP TO BE SQUARE

  1.

 

  The lock made a clicking noise as I inserted the key to my brand new office and opened the door. The room smelled faintly like that new car smell everyone loves and I breathed in a heavy breath to take it all in. The room was completely empty but the carpet was new and the walls had that look of fresh paint having just been applied. There was one giant window that overlooked most of Bakersfield and the early morning sunlight provided quite the view from the top floor on the city's tallest building. My new office. Fancy shmancy.

  Elise had talked me into renting this place during the outbreak of cases we received after my little incident more than half a year ago. In case you don't remember, I will give you a little refresher course.

  My pregnant wife was murdered in our home this last winter by, what we assumed at the time, was a burglar who got spooked. I was the one who found her. We buried her on the coldest day the city had seen in years and years and afterwards I fell into a deep funk from which I could not seem to break free. All I did was lay on my sofa and watch reruns of crappy old sitcoms until a woman named Monica Fick came calling and offered me a job to find her husband, whom she thought was dead. Well, long story short, Monica Fick wasn't who she said she was, her son-in-law was the one who murdered my wife because he's an idiot and was supposed to kill me instead because I was hot on their trail for a girl they kidnapped and killed. Hope that makes sense. I am trying to push it far from my memory.

  I teamed up with two detectives from the BPD, Anderson and Enzite (one of which, Anderson, thought I was guilty of my wife's murder at first) and we ended up catching all people involved in the local chapter of a disgusting organ selling ring that was going down right here in wonderful Bakersfield, California.

  The bust didn't come without some very serious consequences, though. Enzite got cracked in the head with a golf club, Anderson got shot three times and would have died if his bullet-proof vest didn't stop one crucial bullet from destroying his heart, and I took three shots as well, two from Monica Fick, whose real named turned out to be Roxanne, from very close range before I shoved a piece of dry ice through her eyeball and into her brain, and one from her husband Scott, right before Anderson managed to empty his service piece into that arrogant, stupid bastard.

  Anyway, needless to say, it was a huge case for the city. Anderson and Enzite got a medal and I got a shit-ton of business. So much, in fact, I hired my sister-in-law, Elise, full time to be my assistant. She was in desperate need of a job anyway since her piece of crap, bug-eyed husband abandoned her and their two kids, Eric and Elliot, and she was laid off from yet another job.

  It worked out great for both of us, seeing as I would have needed extra help anyway and I have terrible people-skills, which I contribute to my autism and ADD, among other things. I have always felt totally comfortable around Elise and the kids and I am thrilled to have them around now. They really help with my loneliness and keeping my panic attacks and tantrums at bay.

  I still have problems sleeping though, as I often wake up from nightmares. I can't stand being a killer. It really changes a person. I now wear cargo pants and vote Republican. Kidding, kidding, but it still sucks. And, I know I didn't have any other choice in the matter and if I didn't do what I did, I would be the one who was dead, but, ya know. I tell this to myself constantly but it very rarely helps. The bottom line is that I killed a woman and there was nothing I could do to ever change that. I try to force it out of my memory and move on, but it is hard. During the day, it is easier to forget about, but at night, while lying in bed with only my thoughts to keep me company, it finds its way comfortably into my subconscious, and there it stays until morning.

  I was prescribed several pills, which I was reluctant to start taking. I was sick of being always medicated and I took myself off all pills during my short stint at the local college, way back when. Some of these new pills help me sleep and some help with some of my symptoms, especially my panic attacks due to enclosed spaces or pure frustration. I honestly hate taking these goddamn things but I have to admit, being able to get into an elevator and take it to the top floor of the tallest building in town, straight to my new office, feels pretty nice. A year ago, I never would have been able to do that. Hopefully soon I will be able to manage it without the use of pharmaceuticals. Hopefully.

  Stupid elevators. Not that you care, but my fear of them started when I was really young. Maybe four or five. My brain wasn't functioning like other children's my age; so much so, that I couldn't even talk. Not a single word. And with the autism, I took everything as literal. So, stepping on to an elevator and watching the doors close, only to reopen a few seconds later in a completely different spot, freaked me out. Badly. I couldn't wrap my mind around it and it scared me so much and I had such a giant meltdown that my dad and I were permanent stair-takers from then on out. Now, add that with my fear of enclosed spaces and claustrophobia, and elevators can suck it.

  Anyway. There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think about my wife and how much I miss her. She was my best friend and was supposed to be my constant companion throughout all the adventures our life took us on. But, she was stolen from me for absolutely no reason. I wish I could have asked that bastard who killed her why he didn't just run away when he discovered it was her in the house instead of me, but I can’t. The last time I saw him the leg of the chair I was strapped to was shoved through his skull and resting nicely in what was left of his brain.

  Anyway, after all that, the cases started coming in at an alarming rate. So much so, that I had to turn down several just because I would not have the time. That had never happened before and without Elise, I would have had to turn down even more. We are making a pretty good team right now though, and she is the one who talked me into the larger office in this brand new building, as I said before.

  As I look around it now, all I can think about is how long it is going to take to transfer all my stuff from the old office into this new behemoth. I should have thought of that beforehand. Thanks a lot brain, now I have to do manual labor.

  Wait, ya know what? I have a better idea.

  I take out my phone and Google ‘Movers in Bakersfield,’ scroll through and pick Manual's Labor based solely on name. Gotta love Mexicans. Did I mention I hired a gardener at my house just because his name is Jesus? Yep, Jesus mow
s my lawn. I hope this doesn't come off as racist or stereotypical, but goddamn man, those Mexicans can take care of a lawn!

  I scheduled the movers for the middle of next week, as that would give me enough time to get everything situated. Right now, though, I have to meet Elise back at my old office and break the news to a client that his wife is being less than faithful to him. A task to which I never look forward.

  I was wasting too much time staring out my new window. I needed to high-tail it back or risk being later than a Catholic schoolgirl a month after freshman prom.

  2.

  I arrived back at the office a mere five minutes before my current client, Jim Ambrose, showed up. Mr. Ambrose had come to me two weeks ago wanting to find out if his wife was seeing someone behind his back. It seems he has a rather large sum of money from a recent inheritance and grew suspicious of his wife's behavior shortly after his windfall. I had asked him the usual questions; ya know, has she changed her appearance at all, different style of underwear, different hairstyles, all the basics to which he answered in the affirmative every time, except for the underwear. Apparently, the misses Ambrose did not wear any. Nevertheless, all the other yeses were never a good sign when you already have your doubts.

  Anyway, I took full advantage of this chump's large bank account and purchased myself several mini surveillance cameras, just like James Bond would probably use if he were a middle class private eye in Bakersfield. I was pretty impressed with them though and I was quite generous to myself with Mr. Ambrose's bank account. Along with those cameras, I also purchased a brand new iPad to link the cameras up to. Seemed appropriate since my current iPad was white and this new one is black and matches the little cameras. Much more stealth, too! Oh well, my padded bill is the least of this asshole's problems.

  I used the new cameras all over his house in various hotspots where I assumed would be the most likely for sexual activity with a lover when Mr. Ambrose was not around. I felt just like Tommy Grand or Joey Greco from TV's Cheaters...only without the greasy Italian-ness. Fist pump! Unfortunately, these cameras proved to be absolutely zero help, as I never saw the little misses doing anything inappropriate in her home. In fact, I followed her around for several days and never saw her do anything out of the ordinary. She met with some friends a few nights for normal, friendly activities, but there was never any funny business, even when there were men involved in the night's festivities.

  In fact, the way I solved the case was when I accidentally ran into her at a movie with my nephews. She, of course, had no idea who I was when I gave her and her female friend a smile at the snack bar, but as they walked away I glanced in their direction and noticed Mrs. Ambrose move her hand down the mystery woman's back and land firmly on her ass, where it stayed for far longer than the acceptable "friendly-ass-grab" amount of time.

  I told Eric and Elliot there was a sudden change in plans, and instead of seeing the latest talking-whatever movie from Pixar, we were going to be seeing something else, and I would make it up to them, big time! Of course, the women went into the Fatal Attraction remake, starring some big-breasted, no-talent whore and some douchebag from the WB Network. I had never heard of either of them. Oh, Hollywood, will you ever learn? Does that place even remember what an original idea is anymore?

  So the movie started off a little awkward for the kids and me, as the opening scene was a longer-than-required sex scene between some pretty people. Pixar, this was not. The kids were not pleased and I got several dirty looks from viewers following every one of the kid’s groans, giggles and very verbal complaints about this movie being gross. I agreed with them but I had to keep an eye on my client.

  "Those girl's chesties are way bigger than mommy's," Eric stated, piling on the awkwardness for me.

  "Yeah, Eric, sorry about this. Don't look. We'll be out of here shortly, I promise."

  "Are there at least any monsters in this, Uncle Archie?"

  "Besides the two round, plastic ones on screen right now? No, probably not. I'm sorry guys. I promise, just a few more minutes. Just sit tight and I'll take us for pizza after this is over. Please," I bargained.

  They seemed to agree to the deal as they both sat quietly and watched the action on screen. I would need to think of another bribe to keep this little incident from Elise or else I'd be vacationing on Shit Creek this summer.

  But, sure thing, during the sex scene on screen, I looked at Mrs. Ambrose and her friend and saw them being pretty friendly with each other. Then came the little nibbles on the neck. Then, the friend's hand went from Mrs. Ambrose's breast, down her stomach and out of site. I had had enough. It was checkout time. I grabbed the kids and we got up to leave.

  "Hey, this isn't Cars 2. What the heck?" I said nervously to a couple seated in our row as we squeezed by them. I gave them a cheesy little smile and a shoulder shrug. They both shot me a dirty look and I let out a guilty little chuckle. "My bad."

  I went to the box office and asked what time the 12:10 showing of Fatal Attraction would let out. We still had plenty of time to see the much shorter Cars 2 and still make it out into the lobby in order to catch up with Mrs. Ambrose and her supposed lover.

  ***

  After our movie let out I took the kids to the small arcade area located at the front of the theater and bribed them with ten-dollars’ worth of quarters. As they played, I stood at the entrance of the game room and kept my eyes on the Fatal Attraction theater.

  I checked my watch and when it was close to the movie letting out, I called for the kids and had them wait with me. When Mrs. Ambrose left the theater, the kids and I acted as if we were just leaving the arcade and followed them out into the shopping center.

  I had my iPhone out and was taking a very sneaky video of the happy couple walking around and occasionally stealing a kiss here and there. I had hoped it would be enough to convince Mr. Ambrose that the story I would tell him was factual.

  It was time to go.

  I called Mr. Ambrose when I returned to the office and he agreed to meet me there on Monday afternoon to discuss his case.

  ***

  So here we are now, a blazing hot Monday afternoon in August, and I arrive at my desk with just enough time to get situated and fool Mr. Ambrose into thinking I didn't just blow in to break his heart and would be blowing right back out as soon as I completed my task.

  There was a knock on the door and Elise stuck her head in.

  "Mr. Ambrose is here to see you now, Mr. Lemons."

  I hated how she called me Mr. Lemons when a client was around. It was excessively formal for a sister-in-law to call her brother-in-law and friend, but she insisted on doing it, saying it sounded way more professional. I had given up trying to convince her otherwise.

  "Send him on in," I instructed.

  The door opened fully and in walked Mr. Ambrose, a decent-enough looking man of average height and weight with salt-and-pepper hair and a freshly shaven face. He had a nervous smile above the little cleft in his chin.

  "Mr. Ambrose, please come in and have a seat. I have some news about your case."

  3.

  I have to admit, Mr. Ambrose took the news of his wife's infidelity quite well. He said he didn't care as long as she wasn't messing around with another man. Apparently, Mr. Ambrose has been watching too much late-night Cinemax and thinks he'll just slide right in to their sexual encounters. I don't think the real world really works like that and I used the expert tact I picked up from Detective Anderson to inform him that he probably turned her off men forever. He didn't even realize I was taking a dig at him and assumed it was a sign that after him, no other man would do.

  Either way, I couldn't care less about him or his fantasies as long as his check cleared, as I was sure it would. And as Mr. Ambrose walked out the door, so did my last active case. It was quite the relief. Elise and I had pretty much been working non-stop since I returned to work after my sabbatical following The Incident, and while I still had plenty of work
offered up, I really needed a break from all the action. We were both exhausted, and on top of the much-heavier-than-usual workload, the kids were always home since it was summer break, which made everything at least fifty times more difficult. Not that I was complaining, I loved having them around, we all just needed a break though. And soon.

  The door opened once more and in walked Elise holding her laptop.

  "Hey, I was thinking," she said. "What do you say to some camping on the beach in Pismo?"

  "Camping? You mean like...in a...motel?"

  "No, you stuck-up snob, in a tent. On the beach? Whatta ya think?"

  "I think we both have jobs and can afford beds."

  "Come on, Archie, where is your sense of adventure? It'll be fun?"

  "I don't see what is fun about sleeping on the floor," I said. "If you want to sleep on the floor, you can sleep on the floor of a nice hotel while I enjoy the bed. Whatta ya say?"

  "Archie! You do not stay at fancy hotels while at the beach. Especially Pismo Beach! Camping will be great fun. And besides, you can consider this the 'touch of danger' that you always hope for on your cases. What is more dangerous to a little sissy-boy than sleeping on some sand?"

 
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