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Roadhouse Blues (standard:mystery, 4486 words)
Author: ThomAdded: Dec 11 2000Views/Reads: 3656/2303Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Sean Murphy is a PI based in Columbus Ohio. He is looking for a client's lost father. The trail leads to a roadhouse in West Virginia. Then things go bad. Very bad

ROADHOUSE BLUES Thomas L. Givens 288-52-4935 1104 Willard Ave. Grandview
Heights OH 43212 APPROX. 4500 WORDS 

The sun was warm as the Mustang rolled down the rutted gravel road. The
top was down and dust settled on the GT's black finish. Ahead was US 35 
 and the Kanawa  River. Above and behind me was a wide spot in the road 
named Hawk's Nest, West Virginia.  I had spent the last week following 
the cold trail of an old ex-con for his daughter. 

The old man at the barely standing general store said I'd probably find
Web Collins at Rhonda's Roadhouse. I would talk to Mister Collins and 
give him his daughter's phone number. Then I was off to Charleston, 
West Virginia for a little R&R. I wanted to see the man who'd been the 
best man at my wedding. I liked him much more than my ex-wife. Hell, I 
like Nixon more than my ex. Seven days ago, I met Melissa Collins in 
the bar of the old Clock Restaurant in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. We sat 
at the antique bar where my Grandfather had worked after he came over 
from Ireland.   The air was cool and the light subdued as she tried to 
decide what to say to me. 

Melissa was  a petite, attractive brunette. She wore a navy Donna Karan
suit and a white silk blouse. Her brown eyes were alive and serious as 
she spoke. 

"Mister Murphy, Mother always told me my father was dead. I believed
her. After all, she was my mother. Why would she lie? I guess she 
really hated him." 

She took a small sip of her draft beer and moved the pilsner glass in a
small circle, leaving a trail of moisture on the bar. The ceiling fan 
above us rotated slowly, soft moving the still air. Looking around, if 
I didn't know better, I'd swear it was nineteen-thirty-five. 

Melissa idly twisted a strand of hair in her fingers as she continued. 

"Mr. Murphy, I never knew my father. Well, there's vague memories of a
man who gave me piggy back rides. He was tall and gentle and smelled of 
 tobacco and Aqua Velva when he lifted me in the air. Then one day he 
was gone. Mama said he'd died." 

I lit a cigarette, took a sip of my beer and watched her. From a purse
slightly smaller than a steamer trunk she pulled a  bundle of letters 
and a few faded newspaper clippings, dry and brittle with age. 

"Mom died a month ago. I found these in the attic. There were some
pictures too." She handed me a snapshot of a tall, thin man, an 
attractive young woman and a young girl, maybe two or so. The little 
girl  had bangs and wore some frilly confection of a party dress. 
Everyone in the picture looked happy. More or less. 

The man was rail thin and had the look of  generations of the hills and
hollows in his face. The woman was tall, slim and dark. I could see 
Melissa in her mother's face. 

I looked at the letters. They were from the old Ohio Pen, on Spring
Street, here in Columbus. I set them aside and read the short articles. 
They were from the "Citizen-Journal," a morning daily that folded 
several years ago. 

The first clipping dealt with a man charged with embezzlement. Webster
Collins was accused of taking eight hundred dollars from a vending 
company. He was a route driver for them. The second article said he 
pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and was sentenced to five 
years in the slam. This was July of  sixty-two. Melissa was two years 
old. I was ten. 

The letters were to Mom. Amanda Collins. They dealt with Webster's pain
and shame. From the letters I gathered Amanda never answered him. The 
last letter acknowledged the divorce. It was dated November of 

"Mr. Murphy, I need to know why. That's all. Why didn't he try to see
me? Why did he do it? And why Mom hated him so." 

I gathered the papers off the wooden bar and looked into her confident

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