When Private Investigator Dev Haskell crawls out of a warm bed to answer a middle of the night phone call he ends up offering to help the sexy voice on the other end. It’s such a simple request. All he has to do is deliver a message for a beautiful client. It seems she wants to meet with a former business partner and discuss his payment terms, if only she could find him. Dev is more than up for the task, after all, how hard could it be?
But things are never as they appear. Dev locates the man and delivers the message only to find himself a suspect of increasing interest in a missing person case. Suddenly, he can’t find his client and he can’t find her business partner. That becomes the least of his problems the moment a body turns up. He’s suddenly on the hook for murder and all the evidence is pointing toward him.
Haunted by a childhood experience, Dev will need all his skills and a good deal of luck to solve this case and save himself. Ting-A-Ling demonstrates yet again why Mike Faricy have been called America’s hottest new mystery writer… (The Dirty Lowdown)
Ting-A-Ling: Case 7
My phone rang out in the dark, ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling. The sound indicated an unknown number and I debated answering as I came awake.
“Hello, hello.” I cleared my throat a couple of times and looked over at the digital clock glowing on top of my dresser. It was after two in the morning.
“Oooh, is this Den?” A woman giggled. I couldn’t place her sexy voice, but I guessed from the slurred speech she wasn’t feeling much pain.
“Actually, it’s Dev, Dev Haskell. I’m wondering if maybe you might have the wrong number.”
I heard what sounded like a distant toilet flushing before she said, “I don’t think so, honey, is this…” She repeated my phone number back to me, sounding an awful lot like she was reading it.
I glanced over at Heidi lying next to me in a ‘two bottles of Prosecco’ induced sleep. She was breathing deeply and wore a contented smile on her face. “Yeah, that’s my number. What can I do for you?”
“That sort of depends, you tell me. It says here to call if I’m looking for a good time.”
“Right here on the door, it…”
“Yeah, in the ladies room. Someone wrote your number on the stall door. Well, unless you snuck in here.”
I suddenly heard a loud whoosh. “Yeah, I’m down here at Bunnies. I’m in the middle stall,” she said as if that explanation would somehow clear things up. “Your number is right below the hook to hang your coat on. There, all finished. Anyway, I’m calling for a good time. Believe me, I could use it right about now.”
“Actually, much as I’d like to help you out, I’m wondering if I could get a rain check. I’m sort of in a meeting right now.”
“Oh yeah, figures, someone called ahead of me, right? My whole night has gone that way. The guy I was with ditched me about ten-thirty, stuck me with the bar tab and left me here. They had last call about fifteen minutes ago, now I gotta grab a taxi home. Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying.”
“Yeah, unfortunate timing. How ‘bout I give you a ring tomorrow?”
“I’m not sure I’ll remember.”
“I will. Okay if I call you?”
“What’s your name?”
“Danielle, but everybody calls me Danielle.”
I waited for a punch line, but there didn’t seem to be one coming. I heard a squeak that was most likely the stall door opening. “Well, I better get going, it’s gonna take forever to catch a taxi.”
“Thanks for the call, sorry I can’t help. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Danielle.”
“Yeah, I promise.”
“You won’t forget?”
I set my phone back on the dresser. Heidi’s heavy breathing was beginning to grow dangerously close to a snore. I figured if I woke her there was a chance it could lead to better things and she was probably still Prosecco’d enough not to remember in the morning. I shook her shoulder gently. She rolled halfway over on her back and gave a little sort of grunt. I moved back under the covers, snuggled up against her and lightly ran my hand along her side a few times. Each time I roamed just a little further down until my hand began its final approach, launching off her hip bone. She rolled over and just as I was thinking ‘success’ she rocketed back with a quick, sharp elbow that caught me on the cheek bone. I saw stars, literally, and had to shake my head a few times to get my bearings.
Heidi returned to her regular deep breathing.
Once my head cleared I decided to let ‘well enough’ alone. Just to play it safe I took an extra pillow and placed it between us.
It was early morning. The sun was up and I guessed it was sometime before seven. I was vaguely aware of Heidi climbing out of bed and walking down the hall into the bathroom. I drifted back to sleep. Maybe ten minutes later I heard the shower running. Sometime after that she walked into the bedroom. I sort of half opened my eyes, hoping she might climb back in bed. I rolled over thinking I could lend some encouragement.
She had her thick white bath towel wrapped tightly around her and my bath towel wrapped around her hair. She wore a surprised look on her face that suggested something like I had two heads. She stopped and stared.
“What?” I said.
“What the hell happened to you?”
“What do you mean, huh? That black eye, dopey. You walk into a door or something in the middle of the night?”
“Black eye?” I sat up and turned to face the mirror over my dresser. It looked like I’d stepped in the ring with someone a lot faster than me. My left eye and cheek were swollen and purple.
“Oh, God. Thanks for this.”
“Yeah, I just tried to pull the blanket over your shoulder last night because you seemed to be cold and you gave me the elbow. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.”
“I didn’t do that. Did I?”
“Really? I couldn’t have.”
“Yeah, and that’s about all the action I got.”
She stared at me for a moment, then said, “Oh, so that’s it. The sympathy vote. You probably did that just to talk me into climbing on…”
“Yeah, Heidi, that’s right, I beat myself up so you’d feel sorry and crawl back in bed with me,” I said, then waited. I counted silently, wondering if it might just work. I could see the wheels turning inside her head. I made it to nine before she spoke.
“You know, you’re so stupid, Dev. But that’s kind of sweet, in your own warped little way. Oh, God, I shouldn’t, I’m just out of the shower.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Amazingly, I wasn’t thinking about you.”
“I was just hoping it might relieve some pressure. God, I think I’ve got a headache coming on.” I gently touched my swollen cheekbone.
“Okay, okay, but make it fast,” she said and dropped the towels.
When we finished Heidi lingered just long enough to drink the last of my coffee and eat the one remaining blueberry muffin that I had saved for myself.
“Actually, I was gonna eat that muffin.”
“Too bad, you should have thought about that when you made me stay and work up an appetite.”
“I didn’t tell you, you had to stay. I was merely thinking that after I picked up the tab for dinner last night, your two bottles of Prosecco, and the after dinner drinks you couldn’t seem to live without, that maybe you felt guilty about falling asleep on me. I certainly put in the time.”
“Guilty? No, not really.”
“Well, you should.”
“Sorry. Not. Look, I had a great time and then I was tired from the long day. Did I tell you I closed that Buchner deal?”
“Yeah, at least a half dozen times and by the way, you weren’t tired from an exhausting day at work. It was the two bottles of Prosecco, ‘your best’, if I recall your order correctly. And then those after dinner drinks. What was it?”
“Did I order a dessert Manhattan?” She sounded like she really couldn’t recall.
“Yeah, right, two of them, by the way. You sure needed those.”
“No doubt you remember the ride home.”
Her blank look said otherwise.
“I had to keep pushing you off. You were crazy, wanted me to pull over so we could ‘make impetuous love’…was how you phrased it. I think.”
“Oh, sorry about that. Maybe I did have a little sip too many.”
“Yeah, followed by that second bottle of Prosecco and then…”
“Okay, okay. Look I gotta run, I’ve got a luncheon meeting. Hey, if you find my thong, it’s red, hang onto it for me. I couldn’t find it, unless you did something stupid and crude with it, you perv.”
“Actually, I think it’s down on West Seventh, right near the stoplight at Grand Ave.”
“Yeah, you said you felt imprisoned or something along those lines and you threw it out the window. I can’t remember exactly. It was just before your ‘impetuous love’ suggestion.”
“Are you kidding me? Damn it, that was about an eighteen dollar thong.”
“There you go, I’m always telling you not to wear one in the first place. See what happens when you ignore my common sense suggestions.”
She shook her head and said, “You really are a perv. See you later, I gotta run.” She scooped up her purse and the rest of my blueberry muffin and ran out the door.
“My pleasure.” She waved over her shoulder, but never bothered to look back hurrying to her car in the cold weather.
I had my phone out as she pulled away from the curb. No rush, I ended up leaving a message. “Hi, Danielle, this is Dev Haskell. We spoke last night, actually this morning, early. Just calling back. You can reach me at this number. Thanks.”
Thanks for reading this far in Ting-A-Ling, Dev’s just about to fall in over his head. Check it out and enjoy, Mike Faricy
The Dirty Lowdown called Mike Faricy America’s hottest new mystery writer. Robert Carraher and the Irish Gazette referred to him as Minnesota’s Master of the Bizarre. He has been nominated for a Minnesota book award. All his books are stand alone, they can be read in whatever order you wish. They’re filled with the sort of oddballs we’re all curious about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. His characters serve not so much as an example as they do a warning to us all. None of them will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies or coups to take over the government. Rather, his characters inhabit a world just below the surface of polite society. The circumstances they find themselves in are usually due to their own bad decisions, but then bad decisions make for interesting stories.
He is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he spends part of his time as well as in Dublin, Ireland.
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