‘Murder and More’ is the fourteenth novel in the Carson Reno Mystery Series. All books in the series are ‘stand-alone’ novels, rated PG or PG 13 and may be read in any order without confusion. The setting for the series is the early 1960’s and Carson Reno is a Private Detective who works from an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel.
In this excerpt from ‘Murder and More’ Carson and his associate, Joe Richardson have traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida in search of a killer. Instead they find a rude and uncooperative motel desk clerk.
From the airport we drove north on Highway A1A and easily found the Greyhound Bus Station. It was conveniently located between a small bar and a surf shop in the more economical part of Daytona Beach. Numerous ‘low rate’ motels lined both sides of the road advertising rooms at ‘prices to fit any budget’, and I’m sure they did. Kids in bathing suits were running everywhere, nervously waiting on mother or father to hurry up and take them to the sand and salt water. Most were carrying a bucket of beach toys and wearing those silly blow-up floats around their waist that made mom and dad feel safe, but were actually more dangerous than not having anything at all. However…they were really at the beach, Daytona Beach, and I’m sure everyone was determined to have a good time – regardless.
I took the East (beach side) and Joe took the West side. As expected, it didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.
The desk clerk at the Beach Town Motel was resting shoeless feet on top of a large cooler and watching a small black and white television when I walked in and looked around. An open can of beer was sitting near his dirty feet with several empties stacked beneath the chair. I assume beer came with the sunrise – allowing him to make the most of his day.
His blue, faded tee-shirt covered an oversized belly and ended just below the top of a well-used red bathing suit. Cracked/sun parched skin on his round face seemed to be held together by a gray beard that was in serious need of attention, and white rimmed sunglasses hid eyes that I was sure looked just like the rest of him. This guy more resembled an ‘over the hill’ life guard rather than a motel clerk.
He spoke without looking at me or moving, and using a tone that sounded like I had disturbed his morning nap. “Rooms are twenty-five dollars a night and thirty if you use our towels on the beach. It’s a two night minimum and we require payment in advance. If you want a room, sign the register and I’ll get you the key.” He was still watching TV and waving at the small counter while he talked.
The unconditioned air in this little office was almost unbearable. No fan, no air conditioner and nothing but sticky humidity that made you wonder if your next breath might set the whole room on fire.
“I’m looking for somebody.” I walked to the counter, and as close to him as I could get.
“Yeah?” he questioned, swinging his dirty feet to the floor and turning to face me, “been getting a lot of that today. Who you looking for?”
“Remy Boudreaux,” I answered casually. “Is he one of your guests?”
“Ain’t that crazy,” he said showing me his yellow teeth behind a shallow smile, “you the second person that’s been in here today looking for that fellow. Ain’t that crazy,” he repeated.
“Really,” I commented slowly and tried to not show any surprise.
“Yeah really, ain’t that crazy,” he said for the third time before finally standing up.
“Well?” I said with a little irritation.
“Well what?” He was finally facing me across the counter, and even behind his sunglasses I could see that intelligence was not something that would make his mother proud.
“Is Remy Boudreaux one of your guests?” I asked again.
“Sure, I thought I already told you that.”
Jeez this guy was stupid!
“What’s his room number?” I was shaking my head in frustration.
“Room 135, but he ain’t there.” The desk clerk fumbled under the counter and came up with a partially smoked cigarette – which he examined, checking its quality I assume, relit it and then blew the filthy smoke in my direction.
“Since you know he’s not in his room, do you happen to know where he might be?”
Joe had walked into the small office of the Beach Town Motel while we were having our discussion (assuming you could call it a discussion). I could hear his quiet giggle behind me.
“Nope, he left with that other fellow,” he said removing the cigarette from his mouth, looking at it again, then returning it between his lips.
“What other fellow?”
“The fellow that came in here and asked me about him before you did. Ain’t that crazy?” he said again, blowing more smoke across the counter.
“What did this fellow look like? The fellow Remy Boudreaux left with, what did he look like?” I was repeating myself, hoping to penetrate and find something resembling intelligence inside his stupid head.
“Big guy…a real big guy with a ponytail. Hell…I ain’t never seen a guy that big with a ponytail – they ain’t real popular here on the beach. Ponytails get in the way…you know what I mean?”
“Johnny Fewhairs,” I said, glancing at Joe.
“What’s that?” the idiot desk clerk asked.
“Nothing,” I turned toward the door. “Thanks for your time; you can get back to your nap now.”
“I wasn’t napping,” he yelled as we walked out onto the sidewalk.
“What was that guy smoking?” Joe snickered after the door closed.
“I’m not sure,” I laughed, “and I’m not sure I want to know.”
“Where’re we going?” Joe was looking around.
“Room 135, let’s go check it out.”
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‘Murder and More’ website – http://carsonreno.wix.com/murderandmore
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Author websites – http://www.carsonrenomysteryseries.com