Jack Diamond entered his office with his suit jacket tossed over his shoulder and his tie loosened. He’d just closed an insurance fraud case and was ready for some down time. He tossed the jacket on the sofa, walked over to his desk and turned on the lamp. He opened a drawer and pulled out a bottle of bourbon and a glass, poured a drink and sat down in the chair behind the desk. He gulped the bourbon down. Poured a second and sipped it. He grabbed a cigarette from his pack, struck a match and fired it up. He took a long, lingering drag and then flicked the ashes into the ashtray, sighing heavily.
Jack was tired of boring insurance fraud gigs and cheating wife cases. Sure, they paid the bills, but since retiring from the police force, Jack longed for some real excitement again. Private investigating wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He should have listened to his partner in the police force and just played golf instead. There was just one problem. Jack hated golf.
Jack snubbed his cigarette out and drank down the remainder of his bourbon. He leaned back in his chair, propped his feet up on the desk and tilted his fedora over his eyes. With his hands folded in his lap, he fell easily asleep.
The phone rang and startled Jack awake. For a moment, he looked around his office as though he hadn’t a clue where he was. The sun had set and the full moon cast a silvery glow across the room. He sat upright in his chair and answered the phone.
“What is it, Dani?”
“Just got a call from a prospective client, Jack. She wants to meet with you tonight,” the soft-spoken voice of Jack’s secretary reported.
“Did she say what it was about?”
“Only that Larson sent her.”
Jack sighed. If Larson sent this woman to him, that meant he didn’t want to take the time himself to deal with her. Art Larson had been his partner back in the force. He never could deal with women very well.
“Okay, Dani. Ring her back and tell her to come on in. Say seven o’clock.”
Jack hung up the phone and lit another cigarette. He had forty-five minutes to kill, but he guessed another bourbon was out of the question. Instead, he sifted through the files that Dani had left on his desk. Recent cases they’d just closed, but they all needed to be looked over again to make sure all the details were correct. One file was a missing woman’s case. Turned out she had deliberately left her husband and ran off with a soldier who’d just returned from Europe. The husband ordered Jack to get her back and then tried to wrangle Jack out of his expenses because he followed the two all the way to California, only to report back that the man’s wife refused to come home. Jack had to rough the guy up a bit, but he paid in the end. A lot of the cases were like that. Men cheating on the wives. Women cheating on the husbands. Missing funds from bank accounts that turned out to be gambling debts. A lot of petty dealings. Just as Jack closed the final file and tossed it on the pile a long with the others, Dani knocked on his office door.
“Come in,” Jack said as he straightened up in his chair.
His thirty-something, red-headed secretary entered, followed by a petite blond. The woman kept her head down, but Jack could tell she was attractive. Her green dressed hugged her slim figure and swished a bit around her knees as she moved into the room. Jack stood up and walked over to them. He extended his had to the woman.
“Jack Diamond,” he said as the woman placed a delicate hand in his.
“This is Mrs. White, Jack,” Dani said as she led the woman over to the sofa to sit down.
“Oh please call me Millie,” the woman said softly as she gathered her skirt and sat on the sofa.
“Thank you, Dani. Could you bring, Mrs. err, Millie a cup of coffee?”
Dani nodded and left to fetch the coffee. Jack sat down in a chair across from the woman.
“So what can I do for you, Millie?”
Millie fidgeted with her purse for a moment and then looked up at Jack with two large blue eyes misted with tears. Jack reached into his back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her.
“Thank you, Mr. Diamond,” she said as she accepted it and dotted her eyes with it. “You must forgive me. My husband just recently died.”
Jack nodded and leaned forward in his chair. “How did he die?” Jack inquired.
“Well, that’s the thing, Mr. Diamond. They ruled it a suicide, but… Mr. Diamond, my husband had no reason to commit suicide!” Millie sobbed.
Just then, Dani returned with two cups of coffee and sat them down on the table between Jack and Millie. She looked over at the sobbing woman and then back at Jack. He nodded and Dani sat down next to the woman and put an arm around her.
“Millie, just how did your husband supposedly commit suicide?” Jack asked.
“They found him in his office, Mr. Diamond. Apparently he shot himself, but Charlie didn’t own a gun. I tried to tell Detective Larson that, but he wouldn’t listen. And then he told me to come see you.”
“Are you sure he didn’t own a gun?” Dani asked her as she patted her on the shoulder.
Millie looked up at her with a frown on her face. “Well, if he did, he never told me about it and he didn’t keep it at the house.”
Jack stood up, slid a hand under his fedora and rubbed his forehead. “Was your husband in any financial trouble?”
Millie shook her head. “He said business was booming. He is…was a car salesman.”
“Okay,” Jack said as he paced about the room. “So business was good. Anything wrong with your marriage?”
Millie burst into tears. “We were trying to start a family,” she whispered as she raised the handkerchief to her eyes.
Jack walked over to his desk and lit a cigarette. He offered one to Millie, but she declined. He paced about again as he took a few drags off of it.
“Did Detective Larson give any indication that something was afoul? I mean, he wouldn’t have sent you here if it was a shut and dry case.”
Millie dug inside her purse and pulled out a book of matches. “He gave me this,” she said as she handed it to Jack.
The logo on the front of the matches read The Wild Card. Jack handed it to Dani. Her eyes widened as she read the logo and then looked back up at Jack. They’d dealt with this night club before and with its owner, Victor Angelo.
The Stacked Deck is a noir-style WhoDunIt serial which will appear as 31 parts, told every day in March. I hope you will join me again tomorrow for another exciting part of this story!
This serial is copyrighted ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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