How did things get so out of hand, so quickly? What seemed like a simple lost love case has now turned into possible murder and kidnapping. As soon as the goon hung up Frothy’s phone I called 411 to get the Brooklyn, Michigan police department’s number.
“Brooklyn P.D., this is Detective Brooks.”
“Yeah, I’m calling from Charlotte and I want to report a possible murder at Frothy’s Bar.”
“Slow down, sir. What’s your name, and how did you get this information?”
I took a breath. “I'm Mike Hanner. I called the bar to speak with CK the bartender. A man answered and said CK couldn’t make it to the phone, ever. He sounded very serious.”
“Does this CK have a first and last name?”
I felt stupid when I said, “All I know him by is CK.”
“Sir, I need the address where you are right now. We responded to a shots fired call at Frothy’s ten minutes ago. A 30 something male is being transported to the hospital with possible gunshot wounds. I need to get your local police to come interview you about this incident.”
“Okay, anything to help. Detective Dunn at the Mecklenburg P.D. knows me. You may want to speak with him and get him to meet me. I’m a private eye.”
“Private eye, huh? Alright I’ll call Dunn and see if he can interview you for us.”
I hoped that Ronnie Dunn would vouch for me. We used to be running partners back in the crazy eighties. We both had our sights on the same girl. She wanted to get married and settle down. I didn’t. Ronnie did. Story of my life, the ones that got away.
Next I tried to reach Shaft on his cell…. straight to voice mail. I thought about how I’d known Shaft for years and didn’t know where he lived, if he was married, or even what his daughter’s name was. Didn’t even know he had a daughter until our conversation earlier today.
I sat stunned at my desk, wondering if I should pull out the bottom drawer and get into the 101 proof. Then I recalled that condescending voice on Frothy’s line calling me a useless drunk. I promised myself right then that I wouldn’t have another drop until I cracked this case.
My cell rang as I was wondering what Victoria Lane might know about Shaft’s whereabouts.
“Yeah, this is Hanner.”
“Hey, its Dunn. What in the hell are you into now Hanner?”
“Damn if I know Ronnie. Bartender that I met a few weeks back in Michigan got himself shot, and the same people that did that may have Cam Shaft and his daughter.”
Dunn sighed. “That’s a lot of shit for one night, even for you Hanner.” I’ll call the detective in Michigan back, and vouch for you. Tell him that you’re here in Charlotte, and couldn’t have anything to do with the shooting up there. Now, what about Shaft?”
“The same dude that was on the phone from the bar in Michigan claimed to have shut up the bartender and told me to drop this case if I wanted to keep Shaft and his daughter alive.”
“What case Hanner?”
“A dame came to see if I could reunite her with an old flame. Turns out that may have been a setup. Shaft and his daughter dug up some stuff on the dame’s employer. I guess Shaft may have tried to trade that info for some cash, and he got in over his head.”
“Blackmail?” Dunn asked.
“I’m not saying that Dunn. He’s just in way over his head is all I know.”
“Hanner, I should wait twenty-four hours before filing the missing persons APB on Shaft, but I’m going to run it through right now. If he’s a friend of yours, I’m sure we have his info on file down here. What’s the daughter’s name?”
“I don’t know, never met her.”
Dunn snickered, “Sounds like Shaft is a smart guy, keeping his daughter away from you.”
“Yeah, yeah, Dunn. You’re hilarious. Are we through? I’ve got some calls to make.”
“Yeah I’m finished for now Hanner. I’ll catch up with you in the morning, and see where we stand.”
“How’s Nichole?” I asked
“She’s fine Mike. See you tomorrow.”
I tried Miss Lane’s phone, straight to voicemail. Her message said she was in Pennsylvania on business and would be back in town on Monday night. I really needed to speak with her in person anyway. I decided to go to the airport, cruise the parking lots, and see if I could find her Mercedes. Then I would wait until she showed up.
I left the office and walked to the El Camino in the parking lot. The door on the Chevy was locked. I never lock it, no keyless locks, and I don’t want to be slowed down if I have to make a quick getaway. Maybe I locked it by accident. I felt for the gat in my pocket, opened the door, and noticed a large envelope on the seat. Nothing on it except my name, and the initials C.S. in the upper left corner.
There was a disc in the envelope. I'd have to check on Vicky Lane later.
I slid open my phone. “Hello, Chloe?”
“What is it Mike?”
“I was wondering if I could come by?”
“I don’t know Mike. I have to get up early tomorrow.”
I begged, “Come on. This case I’m on has gone all to hell. A guy’s been shot, Shaft and his daughter are missing. I really need to see you.”
“Need, or, want, to see me?”
“You really know how to make a girl feel special, Mike. Okay, I’ll leave the back door unlocked.”
“You do have a home computer, don’t you?”