Here are a couple of short excerpts from a novel I have been working on. The first one sets up the story, a private detective’s first day on the job, fulfilling his state mandated internship with a seasoned investigator. Together they meet their new client at a classy restaurant in Sarasota, Florida. The second excerpt is from the end of the day when he stops by his wife’s boutique.
The place was over the top. Valet parking, with a very attentive and professional front desk person who greeted us, “Gentlemen, welcome to Michael’s on East. How may I help you today?”
Jeff said, “We are meeting Ms. Jane Guthrie.”
“Certainly, Ms. Guthrie is one our regular patrons. Right this way.”
On the way to her table, I was so busy gawking at the extravagant perfection of the place and the wealthy looking diners that I almost walked right into a table. That would have made a great impression as we met our new client. Everything about the place was elegant and excellent, the table linens, the ambient lighting, the music, and the art. There was color and class everywhere. Quite a contrast to one of my favorites, Pelican Alley by the drawbridge to Casey Key on Albee Road, where you don’t even need to wear a shirt with sleeves. I am not even sure if you need to wear a shirt or shoes, if you eat outdoors.
I guessed Jane Guthrie to be about sixty, fit looking for her age, and tan like a retired person who lives in Florida and plays a lot of golf. I wasn’t sure if she owed her relatively youthful and vital appearance to God and good genetics or Lady Clairol and the local plastic surgeon. Maybe a combination of both. She wore a tailored, sleeveless dress of modest length that looked elegant and somewhat casual at the same time. The turquoise of her dress accented her tan, shoulder length blonde hair, and her blue eyes. She was as classy as our meeting place.
Just for fun, I stopped by the shop, excuse me, “boutique,” to say hi to Becky, and report on my first day as a private investigator. I surprised her. She was with a customer, her other employee, Casandra was also with a customer. Chloe was hanging out at the counter. She loved helping her Mom after school and during the summer. Fortunately, federal labor laws allow twelve-year-olds to work in small family businesses. I caught Becky’s eye and she non-verbally indicated she was happy to see me and wanted me to wait for her to finish with her customer.
So, I walked over to Chloe and asked, “Do you have anything in my size. I’m looking for something frilly.”
She didn’t miss a beat, saying, “Well, of course we do, mam. I think you will love our new floral print sun dresses.” She walked me over to show them to me, pulling one off the rack, “This one is available in size XXXL and I believe it would really accent you skin tone and hairy arms and legs, as well as bring out the color in your eyes.”
“How was school, sweetie?”
“The usual…books, boredom, and adolescent drama.”
“Glad you liked it. It’s good to see my tax dollars at work.”
It’s the end of the year so things are pretty light. I‘ll have it done in thirty minutes.”
“It’s been steady since I have been here.”
“So, how’s being a private detective?”
“Met a rich client who wants to catch some Medicare scammers.”
“That’s government insurance for old people, right?”
“Yep. The Medicare fraud business amounts to several billions of dollars a year.”
“Hope you get the bad guys, Pops.”
She started calling me “Pops” a few weeks ago. It’s a step up from “Griffon.” It’s hard being a stepdaughter (and stepdad.)
Becky was ringing up a sale. When she was finished, she gave me a kiss and hug.
“So, how’s my favorite private eye?”
Chloe saw and rolled her eyes very dramatically.
“Well, we met with a wealthy new client who wants to pay us very handsomely to put away a Medicare fraud ring that has used her brother’s information to bill Medicare for stuff he didn’t need. We will sign the contract tomorrow and will probably be flying to Nashville for a few days. Will that work out okay for you?”
“Sure, Chloe comes here after school and it will be a couple of weeks before Jena and Jonathan fly down for the summer.”
“How are things going at Rebecca’s?”
“Well, since I opened up, eleven months ago, we have been able to pay all of our monthly bills. That’s unheard of for a new business. We have even begun to made a small profit the last three months. So, I’m pleased. Business has been decent today”
“You’re brilliant and beautiful.”
“And you are sleuthy and sexy. You will be a great private investigator. As a matter of fact, want to celebrate by going out for dinner?”
“Sounds good and I know just the place. You can wear that new evening dress and I will wear long pants and shoes. You’re going to love it. It super fancy.”
Michael’s on East was a huge hit with Becky, though Chloe felt a little confined and forced into an an extravagant adult world. She was a little low key about it, but later in the week, I overheard her talking to a friend on the phone about how amazing the place was.
We went home, changed clothes to shorts and t-shirts, took a late evening walk on the beach under the stars and moonlight, I truly felt like I lived in paradise because I do.