Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Death Dealer Chapter Four

Chapter 4

The Death Dealer

Stan was a bachelor in every sense of the word, his clothes, his car, and especially his house.
He always said no woman was ever going to tie him down. A computer programmer by profession Stan has made a small fortune by hacking for profit. His lavishly furnished brownstone is the weekend hangout for the guys to drink, shoot pool, play chess and discuss everything from women to politics but tonight there was important business to tend to.
Steele thought his lime green shirt was a little loud even for Stan’s taste but decided not to comment on it. Stan greeted his friend with a manly hug and offered him a cold Pepsi. Steele accepted the drink and soon the men were sitting comfortably on the dark brown sectional inside Stan’s large sunken living room the guys nicknamed the pit.
Steele was normally the one his friends came to for advice but before they got started Stan gave his friend a stern look and said; “Let’s not forget who we are dealing with here. Remember, Trench is the same guy who shot some unarmed dude in the back a couple of years ago and we both know that a tiger don’t change his stripes.”
Stan guided his remote toward the huge screen on the opposite side of the room, when the screen was on he reached for his keyboard and began tapping away. “Roger was here earlier, he gave me what little he could dig up on his pill popping college buddy.” Stan continued to talk while he typed. An aerial view of the east coast came into focus. “Okay, class is in session,” he said jokingly. “Fat Daddy owns two houses, one in Philly the other in Baltimore.” Stan zoomed in on the mansion Fat Daddy owned in Maryland.
Steele gave a low whistle; “Damn the drug business pays more than I thought.”
Stan nodded, “Yeah, and I guess it helps if you control a third of the city.” He pointed to the screen; “He also owns this little toy, a luxury yacht called Strictly Business. Once a month he fuels this baby up and pilots her from the Baltimore harbor to…”
Steele motioned for Stan to stop. “Wait, let me guess, Atlantic City?”
Stan laid the wireless keyboard next to him on the sofa, “Now how in the hell did you know that?”
Steele paused for a moment, “I talked to a couple of his henchmen today, they told me.”
Stan stared at Steele in disbelief as he pulled out the little red cigarette lighter and gently placed it on the oversized mahogany coffee table.
“Well,” Steele confessed, “I had to give them a little incentive first, but once I doused one of them with gas they were very cooperative.”

Stan looked at the lighter then at Steele, “Dude, you are one sick pup.” He reached for his keyboard and shook his head, “I’m glad I am on your side.”
Steele told Stan what he had learned from the thugs, about how Fat Daddy pays off a few casino bus drivers to secretly haul the shipments of drugs in the cargo bins late at night on their return trips from A.C. Stan listened as they watched the screen, Fat Daddy’s yacht Strictly Business was headed up the east coast at that very moment. When Stan told Steele that Charles Harris aka Dr. Death had just checked in the Borgata hotel Steele knew that the shit was about to hit the fan.
“Like life size chess pieces moving around the board,” he said “and soon all of the players will be in place.” When Stan commented on how bold Fat Daddy must be to bring the drugs in on his own boat Steele stroked his chin and nodded his head.
“No that doesn’t make any sense, why would you run the risk of getting caught with a million dollars worth of dope? Can you hack into his credit card records?”
Stan chuckled, “How do you think I got all of this? He’s using a dummy corporation and a program called Hush Mail to cover his e-mail tracks.”

Once Stan pulled up the records Steele waded through the transactions for the last three months, “There, he pointed. You see, every time he fuels his yacht he charters a second boat.”
Stan looked confused,  He waved his hand, “I don’t understand.”
Steele took a sip of his drink and explained.
“Drug runners pick up their load usually in Miami and drive it up the coast sometimes all the way to New York.
It got so bad that the cops named Interstate 95 cocaine alley so he has found a way to avoid it. Fat Daddy is one clever, little, bastard.  You got to give him that. He’s protecting his investment and covering his ass by following the second boat, the one with the drugs. After he takes delivery in Maryland his guys pick up his shipment, loads it onto the chartered boat then he follows it to A.C. where it’s transferred to the casino busses headed to Philadelphia.  This way he avoids the I 95 traps. The cops never check under casino buses, why would they?” Steele slapped his knees; “He never actually touches the drugs so if the pilot or the bus driver gets busted he can walk away. Of all the casinos in Atlantic City only a hand full are near the marina, that’s probably why he always stays at the Borgata Hotel, it’s on the marina. That’s where the doc is gonna make his move. Thanks man,” Steele got up and patted Stan on the shoulder. “I have to get down to the shore before it’s too late.”

It was around nine when Steele rushed to the club. He parked around back and met up with Sugar Bear. The two slipped down stairs so Steele could pick up some equipment and additional firepower just in case he needed it.
Inside the storage room behind the shelf was a hidden door that lead to his arsenal. Steel opened a small black duffle bag and began filling it while he gave Sugar Bear a few last minute instructions. Before closing the bag he also added a Glock and a pair of night vision binoculars.
Steele was about to leave when Sugar Bear confessed that he had a change of heart about the possible murdering of the drug users. “I’m really sorry about the things I said earlier boss. I got some baggage, a bad relationship that I never told you about. The Philosopher really put things in perspective for me. I mean I know some of these people, grew up with a couple of them. They are victims and now they are about to be victimized again, for the last time. What about the kids, you know the first time users, and the ones trying to quit, what about them? All of them are not hard core druggies; you can’t let all of those people die, Steele. If there is anything that I can do you let me know okay?”

Traffic on the Atlantic City expressway was light. Steele rolled down his window to get some fresh air, it helped him to clear his mind and figure out a strategy for getting the deadly chemical from Dr. D. He needed more time, and now he would have to improvise. Less than an hour after crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge the smell of sea shells and salt water that traveled along with the ocean breeze told Steele that he was back in Atlantic City.
During peak season at the shore no one can just walk in and expect to get a room. Lucky for Steele he and the head of security had worked a case together a few years back and Steele was able to call in a favor. Not knowing when the deal was going down Steele dropped his bags off in the room and reached the marina just in time to see the Strictly Business and the second boat dock.
Steele staked out a secluded spot about a block from the yacht and watched through his night vision glasses. “Damn, six guards,” he muttered to himself. Getting aboard the boat would be damn near impossible. He would have to intercept Dr. D’s deadly drug before it reached the ship. ‘Who was the turn coat? The doctor was not going to just stroll onto the ship and spray the chemicals on the drugs so he must have someone working on the inside, a traitor.’

Steele took photos of all the men as they milled about the boat. By the time he was finished the man himself had finally made an appearance. Fat Daddy had lived up to his name.
Wearing a single gold earring, a gold chain, and sky blue shirt with pants to match the Drug Lord easily tipped the scales at 300 pounds. His clothes fluttered in the salty, night, breeze as he puffed on his fat cigar. Fat Daddy turned as he heard the footsteps of a trim muscular man in his thirties approaching from inside the boat. The man dressed in black wore a tight fitting short sleeved shirt and long pants.
It took a few seconds for the face to register but the man in black was named Ramon. Steele had caught a lucky break. Ramon used to work for Trench. Steele was sure that he was the man on the inside. As Steele anticipated the fat man could hardly wait to get to the casino, he made a beeline to the poker table but for the moment Steele was not concerned about Fat Daddy’s whereabouts. He knew that Ramon would lead him to Dr. D and the poison they were going to use to taint the cocaine.
By Atlantic City standards the night was still young. Steele used the crowd as cover; it made it easy for him to follow Ramon to his target. In the drug business there is no such thing as loyalty and Romone was about to prove it. Steele watched from down the hall as Ramon slipped into the Doctor’s suite. As Steele waited he wondered what the going rate was for betrayal, how much was he being paid to help murder hundreds of innocent people.

The hall was quiet, that’s one of the benefits of being on a floor with suites, less foot traffic. Minutes later Ramón and the Dr. stood at the door and shook hands. Ramón headed Steele’s way with a kaki knapsack. Steele ducked into the ice machine cubby hole with his back facing the hallway, when he heard Ramón pass he crept up behind him and stuck his gun in Ramón back.
Disguising his voice Steele whispered in a commanding tone, “Don’t move, don’t talk, don’t even blink or I swear I will kill you where you stand.”
Making sure that Ramón did not see his face Steele looked around before guiding him backwards back into the cubby hole before knocking him out with the butt of his Glock. Steele picked up the bag, took a quick peek inside, and quickly left the floor.
“That was easy,” he said to himself.

After locking the package away in the hotel safe he felt as though the glass was still half empty.
All he had done was to prolong the mad doctor’s plan. What’s stopping the crazy doctor from making up another batch of poison and starting over again? Or what if he had brought more with him? He didn’t have any answers but the one thing that he did know was that a fresh shipment of cocaine was about to hit the streets of Philly and there was something that he could do about that.
Feeling that he had at least accomplished a small victory Steele called Stan and got the casino bus schedules so that he would know when the last bus would leave that night.
Just in case Fat Daddy wanted to move the drugs tonight Steele returned to his vantage point and watched the yachts through his binoculars. Hours later Steele checked his watch, two a.m. and the fat man was a no show. He was probably still gambling. Steele concluded that there would be no drugs moved tonight.

Feeling confident that the drug lord would not risk transporting the shipment in broad daylight, Steele decided to enjoy himself. He treated himself to a big breakfast of hot cakes, eggs, bacon, and sausages; it was a far cry for what they were serving at the Greasy Spoon back in Philly. After breakfast Steele checked on the Strictly Business and the drug boat. When he was satisfied that everything was as he had left it the night before he began feeling a bit nostalgic for the old times in A.C.

Steele took a stroll on the Boardwalk to Illinois Avenue where the Traymore hotel once stood. He remembered his teen years and the fun weekends that he had with the guys hanging out chasing girls and getting into mischief on the Boardwalk and in Club Harlem on Kentucky Avenue.
By nightfall it was back to business. Steele changed into a pair of black jeans and a black shirt, slipped the bus schedule in his back pocket then waited patiently as the chill from the sea air had begun making its presence felt. He was about to call it quits for the night when he saw two men off loading four large metal containers and putting them into the trunk of a dark blue sedan.
Steele took a short cut to the bus terminal; he had to run in order to get there before the car.
With the exception of a few late gamblers boarding the last bus back to Philly there was no one around to notice the containers being loaded from the trunk of the car to the storage area under the bus.
The bus driver lit up a smoke and casually enjoyed his cigarette.   He had  no idea that from now on he would trading his smokes for favors behind bars in the Federal penitentiary.

Using his binoculars Steele carefully jotted down the name, number, and license plate of the bus. Once he was out of the area he put in a call to the state police and tipped them off.  He had done all that he could do.
“At least that’s one shipment of poison that will never see the streets,” he said out loud.
Steele returned to the hotel and took the elevator to the twenty second floor. He was looking forward to going home tomorrow, home to his woman, his friends, and his club but as he would soon find out that things would not be so simple.
He kept thinking, ‘What harm would it do for him to try and reason with Dr. D? There’s got to be some other way for him to get even with Fat Daddy other than to wipe out so many lives.’ He stayed on the elevator and rode up to the doctor’s suite.
When he got off of the elevator two men with guns headed his way. The men wore hats and sun glasses to disguise their faces; one was holding a kaki knapsack identical to the one he took from Ramon. Immediately both men opened fire on Steele.
Instinctively in one fluid motion Steele dropped to the ground, drew his weapon and shot back as he rolled toward the cover of a large oak sideboard on the opposite side of the hallway.
Pop, pop, pop!
Steele hit one guy in the leg while the other shots went left shattering a large vase on a nearby stand. He could hear the thuds as a hail of bullets landed on the opposite side of the thick sideboard he used for cover.
During the exchange of gunfire screams could be heard from inside other rooms on the floor. Suddenly the elevator door slide open. When an elderly woman attempted to leave the elevator the wounded gunman grabbed her as a shield and forced her back into the elevator.
The second man saw his chance and made a break for the staircase firing wildly as he ran. Steele fired three more shots hitting the second gunman in the shoulder. The gunmen groaned and grabbed his bloody shoulder before heading down the exit stairway.
Faint sounds of police sirens grew closer and closer as Steele cautiously approached the open door to the suite. ‘What the hell’s going on here?’

Steele crouched down low and held his gun close to his chest as he slowly crept into the room.
Ignoring the heat from his gun barrel and the smell of gunpowder Steele’s trained eyes darted quickly around the lavish suite. There was a stillness in the air. Steele had a bad feeling. The gunmen were not after him, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Once he had a clear view of the spacious suite his instincts were confirmed. Dr. D. laid motionless on the floor. The once cream colored carpet under him was fast becoming a large pool of dark red blood. Doctor D was dead.
Just as the Atlantic City police were about to arrest Steele for the murder his friend, the head of hotel security showed up and vouched for him.
When the excitement died down and the two men were alone Steele said, “I need a favor, I need to see the video surveillance footage from this floor.”
The two men went to the surveillance room in basement of the hotel to view the footage. After watching the footage several times the security chief reared back in his chair and said, “Sorry Steele but there’s not much to go on here.”
Steele slapped the table with his hand, “Un- freaking believable.”  Steele chose not to eleborate on what he saw on the screen.

After making a statement to the police and signing the standard documents Steele thanked his friend, checked out of the hotel and headed back to Philly. With the murder of Dr. D. and the shipment of drugs off of the street there was only one problem left to deal with. Who stole the doctors poison concoction and why?
The video surveillance told Steele everything he needed to know but in the event his plan went wrong he didn’t want his security guard friend to be involved. Steele’s first stop when he got back in town was Stan’s house. That night, around three a.m. in the morning Steele drove back to the badlands and broke into Trench’s office.  Steele had walked into a trap.
Trench knew that Steele was a smart detective so he laid low in his dark office waiting.
Trench sat silently until Steele neared his desk before turning on the lights. Trench leaned forward in the chair behind his desk while pointing a gun at Steele’s chest.
He smiled and said, “What’s the matter Steele couldn’t wait tomorrow to pick up the other half of your fee?” He instructed Steele to put his gun on the floor. Once Steele reluctantly complied Trench continued. “You were always a smart little son of a bitch, you know that. How did you know Steele?”
“I’m not so smart,” Steele answered, “its dumb asses like you that just make me look smart.”

Trench’s smile turned to a look of anger, “Careful brother, I haven’t decided which way you gonna leave outta here tonight yet.”
Steele looked him in the eye and pointed to the desk. “Your first mistake was the newspaper.
The last time I was here you tried to stop me from noticing the Wall Street Journal on your desk. So, I had you checked out. You have been buying a lot of stock in funeral homes lately, a lot. Then you sent those assholes after me trying to get me to believe that they worked for Fat Daddy when they actually worked for you. You actually had me fooled for a while but when I saw the hotel surveillance footage after the murder of the doctor I recognized the chain tattoo on the neck of one of your thugs and the designer glasses and sneakers.”

Steele paused for a moment before continuing, “Your people are ripping you off right in front of your face, and you didn’t even notice it.
The Fat man couldn’t have sent them to off the doctor because he didn’t know the doctor was there and he had no idea that his shipment of coke was about to be poisoned. The second knapsack was a dead giveaway. You were the only one who knew about the doctor’s plan, so it was your guys who went after the doctor’s poison. Oh, and one more thing, how many funeral homes have you brought around here in the last six months? I counted four and that’s just in Philly. Okay, your turn,” Steele pointed to Trench. “What was all that bull about saving your cousin and why in the hell did you need me?”
Still holding the gun Trench was no longer smiling, he leaned back in the chair. “My cousin was a useful idiot. He doesn’t have the balls to run things the way I did. Yeah, I got out of the drug business that part was true but how much do you think I’m gonna make a year selling knockoff handbags, huh?”
The clever banter between the two men was over, it was clear to Steele that deep down inside Trench had become an angry, bitter man. Steele folded his arms and listen to Trench’s confession. “I saw a chance to make some real money and I took it. You were needed to run interference for me.
The more they chased after you the less they looked at me. Without you in the way how long do you think it would have taken them to get to me?
You public enemy number one daug. You knocked old Ramon in the head and stole the first batch of poison. It was you who pissed off the guys in Little John’s crew. And who did they catch standing over the crazy ass doctor’s dead body?”

Trench waved the gun at Steele, “It was you brother. I just sat back and waited for the right time to make my move. Now you see, I got me a really good chemist,” Trench reached under the desk and pulled out the brown pack that his men stole from the doctor; “he says that in a week he can mass produce this drug. When he does I’m going to do it up right. I am going to taint every drug dealer’s stash from Baltimore to New York.”
Steele laughed, “What about Philly, what about your cousin Little John, you gonna murder all of his customers too? You gonna put him out of business while you kill thousands of those innocent people?”
“Look Steele, maybe you aren’t as smart as I thought you were so I will tell you again. Within 48 hours after these junkies take a hit of the tainted coke they’re going to  drop faster than roaches after the exterminator come through and once they do nobody is going to want to touch the stuff. So yes my bleeding heart friend, in order for me to fill up these funeral homes and get that stock price jacked up I will put my dumb ass cousin Little John out of business. I never liked him anyway.
Hell their friends will probably blame him and kill him for selling them bad coke. I am gonna be rich, no more of this shit.” Trench grabbed one of the handbags off of his desk and flung it against the wall.

Trench laughed until he noticed Steele smiling and removing an earpiece then unbuttoning his shirt to take off the wire he had been wearing.
Steele held up the wire, “Oh, I forgot to mention that your dumb ass cousin has been sitting outside in the car with Stan listening and recording our entire conversation.”
Trench leaped up from his chair and pointed the gun directly at Steele’s face when his cousin Little John and four of his crew burst into the room with guns drawn. A very nervous looking Trench lowered his weapon. Steele smiled, reached down and picked up his gun then leaned over the desk to pick up the khaki knapsack with the killer drug.
“I never get involved in family squabbles,” he quipped. “Hey, maybe you can offer him some of your designer glasses.”
Steele laughed as he walked out the door.
He waved at Stan who is parked just a few cars away.  Once he gave Stan the all clear sign Steele got into his Jag and drove off into the night.


Want more Alexander Steele

Case of the Death Dealer

Case of the Deadly Ring
Legacy of Death

Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Trilogy
Author Larry J
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

The Alexander Steele Murder Mystery series consist of the first three short stories set in Philadelphia. Philly native Lawrence Johnson aka Larry J. takes you into Philly's neighborhoods by way of his fictional,suave,detective Alexander Steele. The semi retired PI is the proud owner of the Mount Airy hot spot known as the Inner Sanctum. Steele has a problem. He just can't seem to put his past life of crime solving behind him. A seemly endless stream of new clients come to his club each with tempting new cases for the ever inquisitive private investigator.
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Case of the Death Dealer Chapter Three

Alexander Steele and the Case of the Death Dealer chapters one and two

Chapter 3

Glass Houses

After the usual greetings Stan the tallest of the three men decided to get right to it. “So Steele, I see you’re back in the game, huh?”
Steele nodded, “Not by choice brother.”
The usual jovial Philosopher nodded at Stan, adjusted his glasses and gave Steele a serious look. “Well you know how it is, you called and here we are. I know you couldn’t say much on the phone so what’s the deal and how can we help?”
Steele ordered drinks for his friends and a Pepsi for himself. He explained the entire situation to the guys and waited for their response. While the Philosopher sipped his grey goose Steele slid the picture of Doctor D across the table.
When the Philosopher saw the photo he nearly spilled his drink. “Hey, I know that guy; we went to Morehouse together in Atlanta.”
Steele smiled, “I figured you did, that’s why I asked you to come. Dig up anything you can on him, no matter how small.”

The Philosopher shook his head, “That was ages ago and we really didn’t hang that much. Back then he was a pill freak, I see he’s graduated from more than just college.”
Stan briefly looked at the picture then tossed it on to the table as he spoke. “Yeah, he graduated alright, from popping pills to mass murder, what’s the world coming to? Steele, you want me to check this dude out?”
“Not him,” said Steele, “I want you to work your computer magic on the king pin Fat Daddy.”
Steele gave Stan a small piece of paper with Fat Daddy’s real name on it.
Stan nodded, “I’m on it, by this time tomorrow I’ll be able to tell you everything about this guy including what kind of toothpaste he uses.”

As Stan and Steele discussed his plan the Philosopher took out his pen, pulled out a small pad then began writing. He had heard about Sugar Bear’s lack of sympathy concerning the looming mass murder of hundreds. On his way out the door he handed Sugar Bear the paper and simply walked out. It read,
Glass Houses - Life is like a finger print, each one is unique. Until you can duplicate my life's experiences, until you have felt my joy and pain, my victories, and failures you are not qualified to judge me, my decisions, or my lifestyle.’
Sugar Bear thought for a moment, smiled then tucked the paper inside his shirt pocket. At the back of the club Stan noticed something was not quite right with his friend. “Hey man, I know you’re supposed to be retired and all but it’s time to embrace who you really are.” Stan stood with outstretched arms as he looked around the club, “This is Alexander Steele’s playground he proclaimed, it’s a beautiful place,” he sat down across from his friend and continued, “but it’s not who your really are.” Stan opened his hand and placed it on his chest, “Deep down inside you are a private detective, a damn good one, that’s what you were born to do.”
Stan spotted a familiar face near the front of the club and waved him over. Kenny was a tall, dark haired man with a deep dark tan.  Kenny wore an expensive, beige suit. He made his way over with his beautiful, blonde girlfriend in tow.
Stan made the introductions; afterwards Kenny said “It’s a real pleasure to meet you Mr. Steele.”
After a bit of small talk the happy couple went over to the dance floor. Stan immediately turned to Steele and asked, “What do you think of Kenny?”
Steele was dumfounded by the question, “What do I think?” he repeated. “He’s not my type,” joked Steele. “Okay, I get it, you want me to read this guy. I see a happy couple out having a good time.”
“No,” Stan shook his head, “that’s what everyone else sees but what can you tell me about Kenny?”
Steele decided to humor his friend. “Okay, fine, let’s start with the easy part, judging from the pale ring around his tanned finger it’s obvious that he has recently taken off his wedding ring and the fact that he has a deep tan and his girlfriend doesn’t probably means that he most likely took the wife on vacation instead of the hot girlfriend.”
Stan was not easily impressed, “How do you know he didn’t get the tan from working outside in the sun? Maybe in construction?”
Steele burst out into laughter, “With those soft hands” he replied, “He’s more likely to be holding a doctor’s scalpel all day than a jack hammer, and you don’t buy suits like that on a construction worker’s salary. That’s a custom made suit, look at the stitching, it didn’t come off the rack.”
Stan had little choice than to concede that Steele’s observations were right on. “So is that it Steele? Is that all you got?”
Steele laughed again, “Man, what do you expect? I only talked to the guy for five minutes. Okay, he’s not originally from Philly, if you listen closely you could hear a slight Boston accent.   He’s left handed and Jewish, how’s that?”
Stan slapped his hand on the table in amazement, “Damn, how do you do it?”
Steele leaned forward, “He threads his belt through the pant loops from right to left, and he has a little, gold, Star of David on the chain around his neck.” After Stan’s little quiz was over Steele felt the need to get some air.

The detective/club owner was feeling antsy, it was like he knew something was about to happen but he coulnd’t put his finger on it. It was the calm before the storm. He left the club early and drove past Fat Daddy’s Steakhouse.  

The bright red and white sign above the restaurant was impressive. Next to the letters that read Fat Daddy’s Steak house was a picture of a large, juicy, prime rib steak. Steele was about to turn his car off when he noticed a dark green pickup truck without a license plate pull up in front of the restaurant. One of the two men that got out of the truck looked in the direction of  a red sedan parked on the same side of the street as Steele.
The men dressed in dark clothes lowered the back of the pickup and struggled to drag something large and heavy on to the sidewalk directly at the entrance of the Steak house. Three middle aged women who had just left the restaurant screamed in horror once they realized the object was a dead man’s corpse.
The men in the truck didn’t appear to be fazed by the screams. One of the men watched patiently at his partner poured a bucket of dark, green, slimy, seaweed over the dead man’s body then walked over and tossed a note that read ‘I’m coming for you!’
The screams from the women brought curious customers running out of the restaurant to see what the commotion was about. Seconds after the truck sped off. The sound of its squealing tires was drowned out by a tremendous boom coming from inside the restaurant.

Within seconds the scene erupted into total chaos; windows were shattered by the force of the explosion while those closest to the blast were thrown to the ground. Other were screaming and yelling as they scrambled to drag their friends and loved ones out of harm’s way while flames flickered inside of what was Fat Daddy’s Steakhouse.
In all of the confusion Steele noticed the red sedan speeding off. Realizing that there was nothing that he could do to save those who died in the blast he decided to pursue the man in the red Dodge Charger.
Sounds of the loud, clanging, fire alarms combined with the wailing sirens and squealing tires got Steele’s adrenaline going. He knew that the driver must have set off the blast probably  by remote control. Steele chased the car down back streets, through red lights, across parking lots , train tracks and gas stations. It was clear that the diver knew how to handle a car. The chase came to an abrupt end when the driver turned the corner into a small street and was not able to stop in time.  He rammed into a car that was parked in the middle of the street and was killed instantly.
Steele slammed the gear shift into park and sat on a nearby step waiting for the police.   He thought to himself, ‘The doctor is making his move; it won’t be long before the other shoe drops and many more people die.’

The next morning started out the same as most others, thousands of unhappy people trudging of to spend eight hours or more in a place that felt more like punishment than a job. Steele sat in his car and checked out the dozen or so people standing at the bus stop. He was there to stakeout Fat Daddy’s hoagie shop across the street.
Dressed in black Dockers and a loose fitting blue shirt Steele wanted to be comfortable for the long day ahead. He needed to know for sure if Dr. D. had already made his move. If he had all hell would break out across the city and since his hoagie shop was drug central it would become ground zero.
As he watched and waited he thought about Stan’s clever little stunt last night. The little exhibition that he goaded him into was just what Steele needed to crystallize the reasons why he would need to step out of the comfort of his cushy club to do what few other men in this city could.
Steele had solved tough cases all over the world, it was a dangerous job, a job where he faced death more times than he cared to remember, a job that got him shot not once but twice, but Stan was right, he was good at it.

By noon the temperature had climbed to an uncomfortable, muggy eighty nine degrees and there was still nothing out of the ordinary going on across the street. Stan’s call was a welcome distraction from the mundane comings and goings of the few customers that wandered in and out of the hoagie shop. Most of the customers were apparently absent minded and paranoid since very few came out with any food but always looked around before entering and leaving the store.
Stan and Steele talked for a while then agreed to meet at seven that evening. Any private detective would tell you that without a doubt spending long hours on a stakeout was the most boring part of the job. At six thirty he decided to call it a day. Steele loved the energy that came from the busy neighborhood street in the summertime. The radio was set to WDAS and the AC was on full blast but on the outside it was hot and sticky.
Steele turned down the radio and lowered the window a bit so that he could enjoy the wafting aroma’s coming from the neighborhood barbeque grills and listen to the children’s laughter as they played in the fire hydrants. As he made his way uptown he could hear music blaring from teenager’s radio’s as the hung out on the front steps while the old heads up the street shot craps probably with crocked dice.

Showtime in the inner city came to an abrupt halt when Steele noticed he was being followed for the second time in two days. Knowing the car behind him would contiune to follow he drove until he reached a gas station in a fairly isolated area. Steele no longer needed to wonder if the poisoned drugs were in play, if they had been there would be no need to have him followed. Pretending not to notice the car Steele who always dressed in light button down shirts that made it easy to conceal his weapon casually walked into the gas station and pre paid for his gas, he also brought a plastic red cigarette lighter.
When he returned to his car he was not surprised to see a muscular man with a full black beard sitting comfortably on the hood of his jaguar while another played with a large sharp ice pick.
Trying to avoid another confrontation Steele tried to reason with the men, “Look I told your other friends to talk to Trench.”
The man with the white tee shirt had two tattoos a bulldog on his arm and a broken diagonal link chain on the side of his neck. The tattooed man laughed and said, “Why would we wanna do that? Fat Daddy wants to know why you’re watching his place.”
Realizing his mistake Steele quickly shifted to his second plan, attack. When he took off his gas cap and began pumping gas into his car the bearded thug on the hood looked confused but Steele’s lack of fear angered the tattooed man with the ice pick.

The young, male, Asian gas station owner watched from inside to see what would happen next.  In an act of frustration the thug in the white T shirt plunged the ice pick into Steele’s front tire.
The hissing sound distracted his partner just long enough for Steele pull the hose out of the car and douse him with gasoline. Steele had taken him by surprise; he knew that he needed to act fast.
Steele was at the top of his game; he quickly snatched the gasoline soaked man off of the hood and twisted his arm behind his back. The sharp searing pains forced the bearded thug up on his toes winching and screaming in agony.
The man with the ice pick was really pissed; he snarled as he ran toward Steele yelling obscenities. Suddenly, as if some invisible force was holding him back the ice pick wheedling thug stopped dead in his tracks. Steele was holding the cigarette lighter close to the gasoline soaked thug’s shirt. The strong odor of gas filled the air. He moved it side to side taunting the guy with the weapon. In an instant the tables had turned and Steele was in control.
“One more step,” he yelled, “take one more step and I’ll light your boy up like a roman candle on the Fourth of July! Now lose the damn ice pick asshole!”

 The guy flung the weapon away; it made a clanging sound when it hit the ground. Steele released his partner by shoving him toward the angry man them pulled up his shirt to reveal his gun. The thugs didn’t know much but they wasted no time telling Steele that the new shipment of drugs had not come in yet but was expected soon.
Before letting the two go he warned them that it would be in their best interest not to tell their boss about their conversation.
“I’m no fortune teller,” he added “but I am willing to bet that your life spans will be drastically reduced if you decide to tell anyone about what happened here, so keep your mouths shut and get the hell outta here.”

Final chapter next Tuesday

Want more Alexander Steele

Case of the Death Dealer
Case of the Deadly Ring
Legacy of Death

Alexander Steele Murder Mystery Trilogy
Author Larry J
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

The Alexander Steele Murder Mystery series consist of the first three short stories set in Philadelphia. Philly native Lawrence Johnson aka Larry J. takes you into Philly's neighborhoods by way of his fictional,suave,detective Alexander Steele. The semi retired PI is the proud owner of the Mount Airy hot spot known as the Inner Sanctum. Steele has a problem. He just can't seem to put his past life of crime solving behind him. A seemly endless stream of new clients come to his club each with tempting new cases for the ever inquisitive private investigator.
Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.