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Authors: David Archer

Death Sung Softly

BOOK: Death Sung Softly
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              Death Sung Softly 
2014 by Nancy Adams.

              All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the author. Reviewers may quote brief passages in reviews.


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              While all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication, neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein.

              This book is for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed are those of the author alone, and should not be taken as expert instruction or commands. The reader is responsible for his or her own actions.

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About the Author






“Sam, look,” Kenzie said to him, as he came out of his bedroom, “Mommy made waffles!”

“Waffles?” Sam asked with a face full of delight. “Oh, wow, I love waffles! Don't you love waffles?”

The little girl nodded as he took his usual chair beside her own. “Uh-huh, I love waffles, too, and I love the syrup that goes on 'em, and everything!”

“Yep! Me, too! Syrup and everything!” He watched as Indie, little Mackenzie's mother and his housekeeper and cook, popped two more waffles out of the waffle iron and onto plates. “And here they come!” he said, bouncing up and down on his chair.

Indie laughed at his antics as much as her daughter did, and slid a plate in front of him, She'd poured him a cup of coffee when she'd heard his bathroom toilet flush, so he reached for the butter and syrup that were on the table and began slathering butter into every single hole in Kenzie's waffle, then smothered it in his own favorite original maple syrup. As soon as hers was ready, he turned and started on his own.

“Kenzie, tell Sam thank you,” Indie said, and the little girl smiled up at him.

“Thank you, Sam,” she said sweetly, and he bowed his head to her.

“You are most welcome, Milady,” he said in a fake English accent, and she giggled at him. Indie smiled and patted his arm.

“You're spoiling my kid rotten,” she said. “I may have to ask for a raise, so I can afford to pay for her therapy. You gonna be okay with that?”

“Depends,” Sam answered. “I think a little spoiling is good for a kid, so the therapy shouldn't be too expensive. Maybe I'll just pay for it myself as a bonus.”

They bowed their heads as Kenzie said grace, then dug in and ate their breakfast, but talked while they ate.

“I've been thinking,” Sam said, “and to be perfectly honest, being a PI beats the heck outa being a medically retired cop, so it seems to me that I should put the license to good use and open up shop. How would you feel about being my receptionist and resident computer whiz?”

Indie looked at him. “Let's see, you mean on top of being the housekeeper and chef here at home? Does this job pay better than I'm getting now?”

Sam nodded. “I was thinking I could raise you to three hundred a week, and we'd leave the current room and board as part of it. How would that sound?”

Indie thought it over. “And where would the office be? If it's here at your house, I can handle that, cause it lets me be here for Kenzie.”

“Of course, it's here,” he said, smiling. “You don't think I'm gonna blow money on a separate office, do you? That'd be silly, at least while I'm just starting out. I mean, I've got my pensions, and I checked it out; I don't lose them if I go into business for myself, so anything I make is just extra income. I mean, I know we don't really need it, but it couldn't hurt, right?”

Indie looked thoughtful again. “Where at? The dining room?”

“Nah. I've got a room I use for storage off the garage. It's got a window, so if we clean it up a bit, I was thinking that's where I'd put the office. It gives us a place to talk to clients privately, and it's big enough if we take all the junk out of it. It's even got a separate entrance, on the opposite side of the garage from the main house, so if we put a sign up, we can point right to it. We don't even need to go there except when we're meeting clients.”

Indie smiled. “Sounds good to me, Chief,” she said. “How would you start?”

“I'll put an ad in the local paper, I guess, and maybe take out a commercial on some of the radio stations. That shouldn't cost too awful much, and if it brings in some business, we're good. Wanna help me set all that up today?”

They finished breakfast and started working on wording for the newspaper ad. Indie showed Sam how to get a free phone number through Google that he could redirect to his home phone, and then came up with wording that Sam liked. They called it in before noon, but the ad sales person talked him into a display ad, rather than a simple classified, and emailed him a proof so he could see what it would look like. It showed a silhouette of a man who looked a lot like Sherlock Holmes, with the wording:


Sam thought it was hilarious, but Indie said it would catch attention, so he approved it. The ad was set to begin that evening, and so they called a few local radio stations to get a commercial arranged. Before the day was done, Sam had spent more than a thousand dollars on a month's worth of advertising, and was shaking his head.

Indie sent Sam to buy some office supplies, including some “print your own” business card blanks so she could make some for him with his new phone number on them, and then they spent the afternoon setting up the office, which wasn't hard. Mostly, they just hauled things into the garage itself and shoved them onto shelves, then cleaned up the mess they'd made. Sam had a desk and some chairs he'd bought from the PD once when they were putting in new office furniture, so they set them up, added some plants and lamps, and it was done!

Neither of them expected anything to happen for a few days, at least, so they were both surprised when the new number got a call less than an hour after the newspapers hit the stands that night. Indie raised her eyebrows, but it wasn't quite four thirty, so she answered the phone in the living room.

“Sam Prichard, Private Eye,” she said. “How can we help you today?”

A man's voice answered hesitantly. “Um—Barry's disappeared, and well, we all thought maybe it was time to get help. The cops don't wanna do anything, so we thought maybe we'd hire somebody.”

Indie nodded to Sam that it was a real call. “Okay, can you tell me a bit more about the missing person?”

“Yeah. He's Barry Wallace, the singer, and he hasn't been seen in over a week, now. We're all pretty worried, cause it isn't like him, y'know? I mean, we've had to cancel three gigs this week, and it's really starting to hurt us.”

“Okay, then what I need to do is make you an appointment with Mr. Prichard, to come in and talk to him about it. Would tomorrow morning work for you?”

There was a hushed debate on the other end of the line, and then the man came back on. “Um—we can't talk to him tonight? I mean, this is pretty important. If you don’t know, Barry's about the hottest thing to hit the Denver rock scene since Kip Winger!”

Indie said, “Hold on a moment, please,” and muted the phone. She turned to Sam, who was sitting in his recliner. “This is a guy who's looking for a missing rock singer, and he wants to see you tonight, if possible. You up for it?”

Sam shrugged. “Heck, that's why we ran the ad. Tell him to come on over!”

She gave the man the address and said that Sam would see him as soon as he could get there. The guy thanked her profusely, and said he'd be over in fifteen minutes. They set Kenzie up with one of her favorite shows, left the door into the house open so they could hear her if she called them and went to the office to wait.

A car pulled up less than fifteen minutes later, and Indie showed four people into the office. She hurried to find a couple of extra folding chairs (Sam had some in the garage for when he had friends over, working on their cars) and got them all seated while they made introductions.

The guy who had called was Chris Lancaster, he said, and he was probably in his late forties. He was lead guitarist for the band called Step Back Once, and he introduced the others with him. “This is Stan Bennet, our drummer; Candy McAlester, she plays bass, and that's Janice Peet, she's on keyboards.”

Stan was maybe thirty or so, and looked like he'd been through some tough times. His hair was wild and long, and seemed to have no idea what it was supposed to do, so it simply stood out in different directions and waved. He was thin and tall, and it seemed he wouldn't look anyone in the eye.

Candy was maybe in her early to mid twenties, chunky and blonde, but Sam could tell from the roots that the blonde came from a bottle. She seemed straight, and level headed, and smiled as she was introduced.

Janice, on the other hand, was brunette, thin and nervous, her eyes darting around as if she expected to see a ghost pop up any second. Sam marked her as a tweaker, a meth-head, instantly.

Sam shook each hand and said, “Okay, it's good to meet all of you. So, tell me what's going on with this Barry.”

“He's dead,” Janice said without preamble, but Chris interrupted her before she could go any further.

“We don’t know that,” he said. “He could just be stoned out of his mind, somewhere, or off on a tear. He's done that before.”

“Not lately,” Janice went on, “and he hasn't missed coming by to see me every night for weeks, not til now.” She lowered her eyes, as if nervous about what she was saying. “He—he knows how messed up I get, and he's been helping me cope with things.”

Sam squinted at her. “What kind of things?” he asked bluntly.

Janice looked at him for a moment, the lowered her eyes back to the floor. “Barry's like my big brother, it's not like it sounds. He knows I got problems with some stuff, and he's been coming over to make sure I stay clean. He wouldn't miss it if he was alive, so I think he's dead.”

Chris and Stan looked at each other, then Chris said, “Jan's been messed up on meth, before, but she's been clean for a few months. Barry got her off it, and she's afraid she won't make it without him. Me and Stan, we think he's fallen off the wagon himself; he used to be a big drinker, and when he'd get really wasted, sometimes he'd take off for weeks.”

Sam looked at Candy. “And what do you think?”

She shrugged like it didn't really matter. “No clue,” she said, “but I'm new. I've only been in the band a few weeks. I'd love to say he's just off on a bender, but I don't know, man. All I know is I was promised I'd be playing gigs, and without him we don't play and we don't get paid.”

Sam nodded. “Okay, tell me about him.”

Chris, who was obviously the spokesman of the group, leaned forward in his chair. “Barry Wallace is probably one of the best singers to ever get close to a microphone. He's got a set of pipes that won't quit, and when he sings, people just stop whatever they're doing and listen, man. I've never seen anything like it, and I've been around the music scene for a long time. His voice isn't like anyone else's, but he's got the kind of draw that Elvis had. People just like to hear him sing, and he puts on a helluva show while he does it. That's what made us so popular, the last few months. We're all good at what we do, but without a singer, we're just another garage band. Barry made us special.”

“And when did you last see him?”

Chris rubbed a hand down his right cheek. “We played two weeks ago Friday night, and then he called me on Saturday and said he needed to talk, but he never showed up.”

Sam sat and looked at them all for a few moments without saying anything. He had always been a pretty good judge of people, and most of the band seemed okay, but something about Stan seemed odd. He looked at the drummer.

“Stan, what do you think has happened to him?” he asked suddenly, hoping to catch the man off guard and get a reaction that would tell him more about the guy.

Stan looked at him, then, and made eye contact calmly. “I can't even guess, Sir,” he said. “He's never done this since I've known him, but I've heard stories about him going off and falling into a bottle. I just don't know what to say; if he's done that, he's probably ruined us all.”

Sam grunted, surprised at the clear, articulate answer, but didn't let it distract him.

“Okay, here’s the deal. I get a thousand dollar retainer, and I charge two fifty a day plus any expenses. I can't guarantee results, but I'm good, and I guarantee that you'll get every effort I can put into looking for him. If you hire me, I'm gonna want everything you can give me about him; his Facebook account, email address, cell phone number, friends and family, lovers, favorite party spots, everything you know about him. Still want me to look for him?”

They all looked at one another, and then Chris reached into a pocket and counted off ten one hundred dollar bills onto Sam's desk. “How soon can you get started?”

“How soon can you get me all the information you have on him? As far as I'm concerned, I'm on the case as of right now.”

All four began to speak, and Sam and Indie both took notes, even though Sam had a recorder going on the desk. They talked for four hours, and gave Sam copies of their two latest CD's so he could hear what they were saying about Barry's voice. By the time they were done, Indie nodded to Sam that she had enough to get started with, so they all shook hands again and the four musicians left.

Sam and Indie went into the living room and found Kenzie sound asleep, so she carried the little girl up and put her to bed. Sam plugged one of the CD's into his stereo and let it play.
(Click to listen)

Six AM, it's time to rise and shine,

I stretch and wipe my sleep away,

Then a thought of you comes to me,

Like a summer breeze,

And I know, that it's gonna be, a very good day,

And I wish that I could tell you,

What a difference you have made,

You've rescued me from darkness,

And brought me to the light,

But I guess I'll have to show you,

BOOK: Death Sung Softly
12.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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