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There's Nothing Short Of Dying (standard:mystery, 4765 words)
Author: ThomAdded: Mar 25 2001Views/Reads: 2347/1391Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is a novel in progress featuring Sean Murphy. He's a PI in Columbus,Ohio. A woman hires Murphy to find her brother who is a sixties radical missing since the early seventies. Like the era, nothing is what it seems. Chapters 1,2 and 3


The woman was punctual. One PM. She came through the door tentatively,
the way some of my clients do. By the time the situation has 
deteriorated far enough to require the services of a private 
investigator, people tend to be nervous. Or frightened and a little 
angry. Sometimes it all of the above. 

The woman was five-five and attractive in a Sally Fields, girl next door
kind of way. She was mid-thirties, perhaps a hundred and ten pounds. 
The hair was dark brown and shoulder length, swept back off her 
forehead. She was dressed in upscale suburban chic. A dark Donna Karran 
suit with pumps to match. The purse was Gucci. The eyes were a shade of 
blue that comes only from contacts. 

"Mister Murphy?" 

"Yes. Ms Reynolds?" 

"Misses." She said as she nodded  absently in agreement. 

The woman sat stiffly in the chrome and leather client's chair after
giving it a concerned glance. In her left hand she clutched a wadded up 
tissue that had seen better days. Then haven't we all? 

Mrs. Reynolds chewed her full lower lip for a moment and looked across
the desk at me. She was tense, like a curious deer, ready to bolt at a 
moments notice. 

"Well Mrs. Reynolds," I said as I speared a Marlboro from the pack on my

"How may I help you?" I set fire to the cigarette as I pulled a yellow
legal pad from the drawer. I wrote her name at the top. A trained 
professional in action. 

She took a deep breath and nodded as if she had just made a decision. 

"Mr. Murphy, I really don't know what, if anything, you can do for me. I
mean I told Mom  we haven't heard from the son of a bitch in all these 
years, why look for him now?" 

I just waited. At times you have to let them tell it their way. If
pushed, they may remember they need to be elsewhere and leave. I did 
not want that. My cash flow wasn't flowing. 

She rummaged around in her purse and drug out a pack of Merits. After
freeing one she lit it with a gold Dunhill that sparkled in the 
sunlight. Inhaling deeply, she left the pack on my desk. 

"You see Mr. Murphy, it's my brother. And my mother. Mom's sick. Cancer
you know." I nodded as if I did. "Anyway, the doctors give her six 
months or so." Cigarette curled lazily upward, framing her lovely face. 
"Now she wants to see my brother. And no one's seen him in over twenty 

"Twenty years?" I heard the surprise in my voice. 

"More. He's been gone since May of Seventy-one." 

She hit her cigarette again. 

"Mr. Murphy, you look to be the right age. did you go to Ohio State in
the late sixties, early seventies?" 

"Sure. Me and about forty-five thousand other people." 

"Does the name Jack Sowada ring a bell?" 

Boy, did it. With the mention of that name my mind went careening back
through time. The sixties. A kaleidoscope of images rose unbidden from 
the depths. 

The pungent smell of marijuana mixed with the sour smell of tear gas.
Tie-dyes, bell-bottoms and hair. Peace symbols and picket signs. The 

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