Ed Teja

Murder on a Fishing Trip

It’s hard to get away from who you are… An LA private investigator heads to Colorado to see his old friend Jimmy and do a little fishing but walks into a murder scene. The victim was a reporter for the local paper — Jimmy’s. The local sheriff isn't exactly a go-getter and Jimmy wants to ensure the killer is found. Old friendships make for high-maintenance situations.

~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~

Jimmy opened the door and peered into the hotel room. After a moment, he pulled his head back and looked at me. “Here's where it happened,” he said.

“I guessed,” I said, letting my distaste come through. Jimmy scowled, then we went inside.

“I need you to see the crime scene.”

“Fine,” I said. It wasn’t really fine. I didn’t need or want to see where the man had been killed. I was supposed to be walking trout streams, not crime scenes. I was supposed to be on vacation. In my line of work, I saw plenty of crime scenes in LA — more than enough. But now it seemed that before I’d be allowed to see any fish, I had to see this one first.

I’d driven up to Los Altos for the fish… they were why I’d come. The fish and Jimmy. Jimmy had invited me to hang out, fish, and catch up. We knew each other from when he used to live in the city, back before it got to him. When I got into this racket, as a cop, he'd been an eager reporter on his way up. Then he quit.

One day he looked up, looked in the mirror maybe, and he didn't like what he saw. He struggled for a couple more years before he tossed it in, literally running for the hills. He went all the way to Colorado. He became the editor and publisher of a small-town rag and kept his head low.

Jimmy thought he'd gotten away from it all. Of course, it finds you anyway. I had taken a vacation, thinking I'd get away from it for a while. I'm not really much of a fisherman, but it gets me outside the city once or twice a year. I'm told that's supposed to be a good thing for me, but it never takes either. I can't even run away from it for a few weeks.

So now the two crime bums who'd gotten away from it all were walking into a crime scene. Sometimes I think it is a good thing I became a private detective. Otherwise, I'd have a lot of explaining to do about why I always seem to be showing up at crime scenes. I don't like explaining myself, which was one reason I left the police force, especially when I don't always understand why things work the way they do, or even why I did what I did. I can catch bad guys sometimes, but don't expect a dissertation on the philosophical underpinning of it all from me. I'll settle for being able to do the job.

After he opened the door, Jimmy stepped aside and let me walk in first. He wasn't being polite, just nervous. We stepped around the dried blood on the carpet and stacks of papers, empty drawers turned upside down… the usual kind of mess you expect to see where there's been a murder. The cops don't rate neatness high when looking for clues. The carpet, the cushions from the couch were ripped, and the stuffing was strewn across the floor.

“Think they thought the murderer hid something in the cushions?” Jimmy asked sarcastically. “Maybe he hid his wallet there?”

I didn't answer him. I walked over to poke with my toe at pieces of what had been a cheap desk. It had been torn apart and the top, ripped from the frame, leaned against the wall, next to an overturned waste-paper basket. Breaking it up was no big feat — it's all garbage, that chipboard stuff they sell to hotels.

You have to wonder why they buy that junk. Maybe it works out better just buying new crap every few years, replace the stuff that gets really abused, than laying out the money for something decent in the first place. I buy used furniture myself. I like knowing what a chair or desk will be like after the newness wears off.
31 printed pages
Original publication



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