Jackie Phillips has asked me to share the first chapter of her WIP, tentatively entitled The Man in the Fedora. The title and the cover are both tentative at this point, actually, subject to change after editing and a bit closer to publication.This is Book 1 of a series about a Private Eye named Dee Dee Watson, who rides a Harley, and has a black belt in jujitsu. She’s been hired to find…well…why don’t I let you read the excerpt and see for yourself? Thanks for sharing with us Jackie, and much good luck as you pursue this dream.
The Man in the Fedora
I was sitting at my desk, wondering if I should just give it up for the day and find a good stiff drink. When he comes strolling in.
He looked like he stepped out of an old 1940’s movie set. You know the type – tall, good-looking, strong chin and steely eyes. He was dressed in a suit that cost more than I make in a year. He wore a gray overcoat with a black fedora hat. I do love a man who looks good in a fedora. He did – very good, in fact.
My name’s Dee Dee Watson and I’m a Private Eye. Yeah, a private detective. My mother doesn’t like it and my older brother gives me hell about it every time we see each other. I love what I do. I would say it pays the bills, but it doesn’t.
Business has been slow. I refuse to do divorce cases. If you want pictures of your spouse cheatin’ on you, you take them. I’m not going to do that kind of work. Yeah, I know it’s the bread and butter of a private eye. Guess I’ll take my bread sans butter.
I was looking at the stack of bills and my empty bank account when in walks the Fedora.
I see him sizing me up. That’s okay. I’m sizing him up, too. What I see is a rich man with no emotion in his eyes. Now my curiosity is aroused. What’s a rich man like him doing in a run-down office like mine?
He stops just inside the door and demands, “I want to talk to D. Watson.”
“I don’t do divorce cases,” I state, maybe just a bit more emphatic than need be. He irritates me with his tone.
“I’m not married,” Fedora says with a bite to his tone. “Who are you?”
“Dee Dee Watson.”
I see something flicker in his eyes for just a second.
“I thought you were the receptionist.”
He stands in front of my beat up, scarred desk and I feel compelled to stand and offer my hand.
“Does this place look like it can afford a receptionist?”
He grasps my hand. His handshake is firm but brief. I picture him wanting to wipe my girl cooties off like a kid would. I smile.
Now, I’m a tall woman, five foot ten without heels. He outdid me by a good five inches. So, I motion him to sit in the only other chair in the office, a torn, brown fake leather monstrosity. I sit back down, fold my hands on top of my desk, and wait for him to make the first move. I’m curious now to see why he’s here.
He takes off his fedora. At least he remembers his manners. “The ad in the Yellow Pages state you specialize in finding things.”
“Things. Not people.”
“I’m not looking for someone. I’m looking for something.”
I raise an eyebrow, waiting for him to specify exactly what he’s looking for. Or what he wants me to look for.
“I need your help in finding a family keepsake”.
“Do you have a picture of this family keepsake?”
He takes a photo out of his coat pocket and slides it across the desk toward me. Picking it up, I take a look. I shove the picture back at him.
“Is this a joke?” I ask. “It’s not funny.”
“You said you don’t find people, Watson. You never said you don’t find dogs”.
He’s watching me with those steely eyes and I could swear I see a flicker of humor. I must be mistaken. I’m still thinking it’s some kind of joke.
“So, this dog is a family keepsake?”
“Actually, he is. My grandmother named him Trisha. Tee for short.”
Him? Trisha is a he? I keep silent, still debating if I want to kick him out the door. For some reason, I want to hear him out. If it turns out to be some joke, I can still kick his butt out the door. I have a black belt in jujitsu. I also fight dirty. Besides, it’s been slow around here.
He pushes the picture of Tee back to me. “My grandmother, Martha Holden, is an extremely wealthy woman. Throughout her life, she has always had a dog named Trisha. It’s an odd little quirk of hers. Someone dognapped Tee about three days ago. They’re demanding five million in ransom or they’ll kill the dog. This would devastate grandmother. I can’t let that happen.”
Five million? I thought I recognized Fedora. Robert Holden…his family made millions in the dot-com era. They have their fingers in a lot of money pies.
I take another look at the picture. I am, I admit, an animal lover. I have been known to pull my motorcycle over and kick some ass when I see someone abusing an animal. I look at those trusting eyes and wonder if I’m just nuts because I find myself wanting to accept the job.
I glance at the pile of bills that refuses to get smaller. With a small sigh, I drop the picture on the desk. Glancing up at Fedora, I ask him for the details of the kidnapping and the ransom demands.
Looks like I’m going to be on the hunt for a small family keepsake named Tee.