By Stephen Halpert
Dick Pride waited for Sippi outside her office. The young reporter was shifting from one foot to the other. As soon as she left her car and got close enough to hear he started right in. us know about it!
“I read the crime lab report. The male head’s finally turned up. Anything you might care to share?”
Sippi still wanted to take him to the diner and buy him a good breakfast. Instead she shook her head. “Sorry, classified. Talk to Chief Mallory.”
“Maybe we could do a trade, you know share information, like trading baseball cards. My editor gave me two names. And in return maybe you have something for me.”
“You mean the mad twins,” Sippi said. His face fell and for a moment she felt sorry for him. “Tell you what,” she said. Magee and I are out of here sooner than later. Aunt Bea’s bash is tonight and I promised I’d help her.
Let’s either meet at her party and talk or connect for breakfast on Monday. Your call?”
“Tonight’s fine,” he smiled. She sighed. Love that schoolboy innocence, she thought. “Maybe you could buy me a beer, and who knows this could be the start of
something big,” he said wistfully.
Her candor set him back but he held his ground. “I come from a family of
“Enough!” She held up her hand. “We’ll talk. You want a story. I want to prosecute a sick killer. Incidentally whenever Aunt Bea entertains there’s always an open bar.” She patted his cheek. “See you tonight.”
He bent down and petted me. I wagged my tail. I hoped we’d be pals. Little did I know what that friendship would entail.
Sippi finished her office chores by noon and we headed back to her condo. “I hope Magee, that tonight Aunt Bea has the time of her life. Any guess who that man of her heart might be?”
I yipped. I’m a dog remember, not a mind reader.
By four thirty Aunt Bea was dressed and ready to leave for the Inn. When Sippi inquired about her mystery gentleman all Aunt Bea did was smile.
“You’ll see. Let’s just hope he’s be able to get away and be there. I’ve never known a man with so many non-stop business obligations. I have a busy schedule but his is ridiculous.”
“I’m not going to pry,” Sippi said. “Instead I’ll just wait and sit on the
Raven picked us up at five in a rented limo. Sippi wore her special party dress and elegant dancing shoes. I felt proud. Sippi had had my dress blues dry cleaned. I loved wearing my uniform, especially my badge. By six thirty the third floor ballroom was near full. Aunt Bea surveyed the early guests.
“Where is he,” Sippi asked Raven?”
“The man of her dreams.”
Moments later we heard fanfare by the elevator. Charley Smiles and Dick Pride laden with two thick bundles of newspapers came into the ballroom. A large photo of Bea looking considerably younger filed the front page. The headline read “First Lady of Soul Returns To Where Her Career First Began.”
Bea rushed up to him, flung her arms around his neck and started kissing him. Her jazz combo began playing her old standby from the musical Show Boat, “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine.”
They stood together swaying quietly. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “Baby it’s been way to long a time.”
“Too long,” the mild mannered country editor whispered. “Lot’s of catching up to do.”
“And a lifetime to fit it all in.” Then they kissed like a bride and groom.
I wagged my tail. Tears of joy filled Sippi’s eyes. She hugged me and even looked affectionately at Raven.
All was heavenly. Then that horrible scent of perfume I had sniffed at the tennis courts invaded my nostrils. They burned. I started sneezing. Party’s over I thought. Sadly it was back to work. I was sure whoever used that rusty axe and hid it behind the tennis court
was here in the ballroom. The trick was how was I going to sniff out a murder in a ballroom full of guests. I crouched as low to the floor as I could.
“What’s up with Magee?” Dick Pride asked Sippi.
“He’s onto a scent.”
“A good cop’s day never ends,” Dick said. “I’ll always remember when I was little how my father would get calls right in the middle of birthday parties and family celebrations. Who do you think he’s after?”
Sippi introduced Dick Pride to Raven.
“We’ll talk,” Raven smiled. Then he turned to me. “Go for it, Magee. I’m right beside you.”
“What’s going on.” An elderly gentleman said.
“Contact lens lost,” Raven said flatly. “This dog’s specialty is
Something did not feel right. The energy shifted abruptly. I felt sure that there was danger afoot.
“Raven,” Sippi said. “Please don’t let him get his uniform all messy. I just had it dry cleaned.”
I stayed low to the ground keeping my focus on the scent. It was getting stronger. I moved more slowly; I knew I was getting closer. Then I saw two gray haired women. They looked so much alike it would be difficult to tell one from the other. I knew it was best not to cause a scene. No one wants a dog to start barking in the middle of a celebration. I crouched there, watching. Then I saw one of them pull out a small gray pistol. She aimed it at Aunt Bea. I knew I had to do something. I growled and sprang.
The woman’s face contorted. “Die you lousy black bitch. You’ve no place here.”
Just when she fired, I landed on her arm. The gun went off. Aunt Bea
screamed and fell against Charley Smiles. He put his arms around her. “I’ll protect you, my darling.”
The woman was scuttling for the exit. Mallory yelled, “Stop her, Jones. Don’t let her get away.”
I heard his voice dimly through a terrible pain in my head. There was blood on my paws. I heard Sippi scream my name.
“Oh God,” she cried, “please, please don’t let this happen. I love you so Magee. Please baby open your eyes. We’re partners.” Then her voice got muffled and everything went black.
(to be continued)