Sunday Evening
I pulled into my driveway just as the sun was beginning to set. My watch said it was 6:15 and as my stomach began to growl I realized I hadn’t eaten all day. I grabbed the stack of bills from the mailbox and headed into the house. I slipped my coat and shoulder holster onto the rack next to the door.
“Here Milo. Where are you boy?” I gave out a sharp whistle, but Milo didn’t come. I heard him barking upstairs. The fool must have locked himself in one of the bedrooms again. I went upstairs and opened up my bedroom door and Milo almost knocked me down the stairs as he rushed past. Milo was a small dog, but a little pudgy around the middle. He was brownish in color and one of the nicest beagles around.
I followed Milo downstairs and he was sitting next to my office door barking.
“What is it boy? You left something inside?”
I opened the door, but Milo just sat at the door looking up at me. I sighed and entered the room. Before I had a chance to react, some goon came running towards me from behind the office door and slammed me into the bookcase knocking me off my feet. It knocked the wind out of me and I smacked my head on the floor, making me dizzy. I saw Milo run back up the stairs afraid of the loud noises. The goon’s foot came slamming into my ribs again and again. I tried to get into a fetal position to give him as little room as possible to hurt me while I tried to clear my head.
After a few moments that seemed like an eternity, I began seeing fewer stars and tried to get up. I saw a foot coming towards my head. I grabbed and twisted it, knocking the goon off his feet, giving me the time I needed to get up.
My body was still a little sluggish from the knock to the head ,but at least I was on my feet.
As I was trying to regain my balance, the goon lunged at my legs and tried to tackle me to the ground. I jumped to the side and grabbed one of the books off the bookcase and smacked him in the back of the head as he went by.
I dropped the book and grabbed the goon by his collar and jacket and lifted him up off the ground. Not an easy feat, even for someone like me who is just topping six feet and weighing in at almost two hundred and ten pounds. I slammed him on top of my desk and pushed him head first across the desk onto the floor. I must have grabbed him by his jacket pocket because it tore off in my hand.
“Next time bring a buddy.” I said to him as I walked around the desk getting ready to finish the fight and find out who hired him. As I turned the corner of my desk the goon was laying on his stomach. I reached down to flip him over when his hand came up to my chest. What felt like a thousand watts of electricity zapped through my body. Last thing I saw was a taser in the goons hand as I went down for the count.
I woke up with Milo sitting next to me.
“Some watch dog you are.” I croaked. My head was pounding and my body was all tingly.
I woozily got to my feet and looked around the room. It looked just like my work office. Papers and books were strewn all across the floor and my bookcase was broken. I stumbled to the bathroom and grabbed some aspirin. As I looked in the mirror, I saw a gash across my forehead from when I was slammed into the bookcase. I was a mess.
“You look like shit.” I said to myself in the mirror. “What the hell could this guy want and who hired him? Two times in one day is not a coincidence.”
I washed out the cut and slapped on some butterfly bandages to stop the bleeding. I went to my coat to grab my phone. That’s when I noticed Louise was missing.
“Shit. Things keep getting better and better.” I looked down at Milo and shook my head. He barked at me and wandered into the kitchen.
I snatched my phone and called Dwight. He picked up on the second ring like usual.
“Hey Dwight, it’s me again. I got a problem and need you to come over.”
“What is it now Gavel?” He said with a bit of impatience creeping into his voice. “Find another body?”
“Worse. I was jumped in my own house and Louise was stolen.”
“Shit Tony. I’ll be there in an hour. I’m just finishing up here at the Cooper house. Just sit tight and don’t do anything stupid.”
Dwight hung up the phone as I sat down on the edge of the desk looking at the messy office. That’s when I noticed a matchbook on the floor. I picked it up and it said on the cover ‘The Watering Hole’.
“The asshole probably dropped it when I ripped his jacket.”
The Watering Hole was a little bar on the pier near the shipping yards. I slipped the match book into my pocket and went into the living room to wait for Dwight.
Within the hour Dwight was at my house and looking over the office. Dwight was an intimidating figure to say the least. He towered over me at 6 foot 5 inches and was built like a brick wall. He must have been pushing close to 300 pounds. He was an all American line backer in college and decided to go into law enforcement after an injury to his knee knocked him out of a shot to play in the NFL. For all his size and muscle the one thing that stood out about Dwight was his hair. He had the silliest looking afro. I doubt anyone in their right mind would tell him that, except for his wife Paddy maybe. He was the only Irish/African American I knew. He took no shit, but was loyal to his friends and coworkers.
“Someone must have it in for you.” Dwight was saying, his face hardening.
“This is the second time today I walked into an office like this. When I got to work this morning my office looked just like this. At least no one jumped me there.”
Dwight blinked with surprise at my statement and turned to look at me.
“You’re telling me,” As his jaw began to clench “that this is the second time someone broke into your offices today and you never thought to call the police? What’s wrong with you? If you have a problem call us. That’s why we’re here. Let us do our job.” Dwight sighed and looked around the room one more time.
At this point Milo decided to walk in and sit on Dwight’s shoes. Dwight loved Milo and was there when Milo adopted me during a case we were on. A family got murdered and Milo was found hiding in a closet. He was nothing more then a little pup at the time. When I opened the closet door, Milo rushed over to me and wouldn’t leave my side the rest of the night. I wound up bringing him home after Dwight talked me into it. Dwight reached down and gave Milo a scratch behind the ears and Milo licked him for his efforts.
Dwight took out a pad and pen and was looking at me. “So tell me what happened. Start when you went to work this morning. I walked into the living room and sat on the couch gesturing Dwight to do the same.
“I got to the office early today to finish up some paperwork. It was probably a little after 9am. As I walked down the hallway I noticed my door was jimmied open. I went inside and all my files were scattered throughout the room. The guy didn’t leave anything unturned. While I was looking around the room, Merissa Talbert came in. It was close to 9:30 by this time. Merissa Talbert is the wife of Anthony Talbert, Jim Coopers business partner. She was supposed to meet Jim for a meeting at the Crossroads Diner Friday night but he never showed. She hired me to find Jim Cooper.”
Dwight was taking notes as I talked.
“Why didn’t she call the police, was she having an affair with Jim?”
I shook my head. “She said they were supposed to meet because Jim found out some information and didn’t want the husband to know about it just yet.”
Dwight wrote it all down and gave me a dubious expression.
“Did she mention what the information was?”
Again I shook my head.
“She never mentioned it and I could tell from her body language that she had no idea what it could be. She was puzzled by it. She told me she tried calling him a few times and got no answer and the next day she stopped by the house, but the gate was locked and no one was answering. She tried calling him throughout the day, but he never answered and he never returned any of her calls. After I cleaned up my office I figured I’d start my investigation at his house. When I got there no one answered the buzzer and I didn’t want to waste the trip so I scaled the fence and took a look around. I called you when I found the body and headed home. I got to my house and hung my coat and Louise by the door, like I usually do. I made my way to the office and that’s when I got blindsided by the goon and he knocked me into the bookcase. We fought for a few minutes and I was finally getting the upper hand when the bastard stunned me. I woke up and looked around the house and that’s when I noticed Louise was missing. I never saw the guy before in my life. He was about 6 foot and weighed close to two hundred pounds or so, slightly out of shape. He had short black hair. Almost a buzz cut. No tattoos that I noticed or piercings.”
Dwight wrote everything down and said to me “In the morning you should come by and talk to a sketch artist. If we’re lucky the guy might be in the system. Anything else that you can remember?”
“That’s about it. If I remember anything else I’ll call you. Thanks Dwight. I want Louise back. This bastard is not going to get away with this.”
Dwight looked at me sternly. “Don’t be stupid. I’m warning you. If you find out who the guy is let me know and we will take care of it. I know your going to go off half cocked and look for this guy. I don’t want any trouble because of this. I’ve known you for years Tony. Don’t make me regret it.”
I didn’t respond. I just got up and shook Dwight’s hand and walked him out. I took Milo for a walk and was busy thinking about the goon. Was the matchbook from one of his hangouts? What the hell was he looking for in the first place? I really needed to go over my old cases. After Milo was done doing his business I went back inside and cleaned up my office while Milo watched me.
“Next time bite someone that comes in the house will ya.” I said to him sternly.
Milo lied down and put his paws over his head. I had to laugh. He always knew how to cheer me up. It didn’t take me long to clean up the office and I finished in record time. My bookcase was broken and I would have to get a new one. Nothing was missing except Louise. My eyes were burning from lack of sleep. It was time to call it a day.

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