The Rose Bandit
The Oncoming Storm #5
Genre- Cozy Mystery/Detective
Published By- Staccato Publishing
Publication Date- February 14th, 2016
A series of burglaries have struck the sleepy town of West Falls. Seven homes have been burglarized, with only a single red rose left at each crime scene. The townspeople have dubbed this cat burglar the Rose Bandit. And Dan Landis, private investigator, has been hired to catch the thief.
Haunted by the ghost of his dead partner and an empty bank account, Dan jumps at the opportunity. But, when a body turns up at the Rose Bandit’s latest crime scene, Dan suspects there is more going on. He faces a dilemma: Catch the thief and make a quick buck, or prove that the Rose Bandit isn’t a killer.
It was a Tuesday when Dan Landis landed in Atlanta. It wasn’t his first time in Hotlanta, but it was definitely the first time he’d arrived intentionally. He’d been to ATL sixteen times flying in the warm embrace of Delta. And every single time he’d ended up going through Atlanta. He’d once gone from Norfolk to Ontario and still went down south. At least the subway tram was fun. Dan had always thought you should judge an airport by how air-conditioned its subways were. And how convenient the Cinnabon was. His car smelled of cinnamon goodness. And burning oil. It was a worrying smell. He suspected this car had seen better days.
“You and me both, pal,” he said to no one in particular.
“Keep talking to yourself and people will start thinking you’re crazy,” a voice answered. He glanced at the blue teddy bear in his rearview mirror. The bear said nothing.
“When the bear starts talking, you should really be worried.”
Dan glanced at the redhead riding shotgun beside him. She was watching the telephone poles zip by. “Duly noted,” he fired back.
The redhead in question, Maggie O’Bryon, turned to him. “Were you always this maudlin? Because I remember you used to be a bit more chipper. You also ate more bran. I might have found your problem, you need to be more regular.”
It was two hundred miles and change from Atlanta, Georgia to West Falls, South Carolina, population 3,428. The GPS told him it would take three hours. Dan was fighting to beat that time. His rental car had other ideas. Best laid plans.
“Cow!” She sat up straight. “I love cows! Always wanted to own a little farm, raise a couple of cows. Maybe a goat. You never take me to see farmland. Just imagine the rich and wonderful experiences we’ve never had because you won’t leave your five block radius.”
“I’ll have you know,” he said with raised hackles, “I’ve left my radius plenty of times.”
“Oh sure. Work. Shopping. But never for fun. When’s the last time you went out? Gone to see a midnight showing of Rocky Horror? Flown a kite on Mount Trashmore?”
“Who are you, Mary Poppins?”
Maggie sang a few bars of “Chim Chim Cher-ee”.
“I don’t like kites.”
“What, they owe you money?”
“I just don’t like kites.”
“Say that again…”
“Because you sound like Batman. Like, the dorkiest Batman I’ve ever seen.” Maggie finally turned to him. Her eyes were Tiffany blue and sparkled when she was up to something. She pulled her business jacket like a cape across her face, eyes twinkling. “Kites are a superstitious and cowardly lot. I am vengeance. I am the night. I. Am. Dorkman.”
Dan watched the road. He ignored the chattering redhead and the rattling engine. And the streams of smoke. He paid no attention to the creeping gauges.
“Yes. I’ve always thought ignoring a problem will make it go away.” Maggie had a terrible habit of reading his mind.
“Just trying to make the city limits.”
“Having goals is important.”
“Couldn’t agree more.”
“There!” He pointed to the green sign. West Falls 10 miles. The sign also advertised Williston and Irmo.
“Williston. Wonder if there’s a Wilma in Williston. Or an Irma in Irmo.” Maggie glanced his way. “Didn’t you date a Wilma?”
“I wouldn’t say date, no. Strictly speaking we were just casual acquaintances.”
“Ah. Allow me to rephrase the question. Didn’t you hook up with a Wilma, borrow $20 and never call her again?” She twisted a flaming lock of auburn hair around her finger.
“You’re thinking of Betty. Wilma had the cat. Actually Betty had a cat too. Wilma was the ventriloquist getting her degree in radio. She runs the concession stand at the Naro.”
“That the reason you don’t partake in Rocky Horror?”
Maggie turned to Dan. “So tell me my young protégé, is there any place you haven’t broken hearts?”
“My five block radius.” The car chose that moment to throw a rod. Momentum ceased. Dan eased the car to the side of the road. It slowed to a crawl before giving up the ghost completely.
“The phrase ‘I told you so’ comes to mind.” Maggie folded her arms, raising one eyebrow. “But why would you listen to little old me? I’m just the one whose car has never broken down. And speaking of, why couldn’t we just take my car?”
“Sold it,” he said, turning the now defunct car off. Stupid car.
“When were you going to tell me you sold the Caddie? That car was a classic!”
“Needed the money. Expenses happen.” He looked into the eyes of his best friend in the entire world. “Sorry.”
Maggie turned away. “I hope you got a pretty penny out of the whole thing.” He was tired of sitting in the car. Dan unbuckled and got out of the car. It had been a while since he’d walked farther than his mailbox. Hopefully walking long distance was like riding a bicycle. Maggie leaned against the smoking hood. “What you really need is a Vespa. Like the one your doctor friend rides.”
He slapped his forehead. “Ack!” He ran back to the car, opened the door to the backseat, and unbuckled Roger the Bear. The bear said nothing. “Almost forgot him.”
“He’s important.” He carried Roger under his arm.
Maggie gave him an appraising look. “Doesn’t make you less of a weirdo.”
“Let me know if you spot a car.” He started walking. “I’ll show some leg.”
“You hardly have the gams.” She strolled behind him. “Maybe try flashing that smile of yours. That should give you passage on a turkey truck.”
He turned around. “Would you settle for pigs?”
Maggie looked over one shoulder noting the oversized eighteen-wheeler barreling towards them. The bed was filled with jam packed live bacon. The smell said the bacon didn’t appreciate being packed in so tightly. Or that they were very regular. The hog truck didn’t slow. Dan waved both hands. The horn blew. The pigs grunted and squealed as they went past.
“I should have shown more leg,” he admitted. The bear said nothing. “I hate insurance cases,” he huffed.
“Because they leave you stranded on the side of the road?”
“I’ve never been on an insurance case yet that restored my faith in humanity.” Dan kicked a rock. It bounced into a ditch. “It’s always some yahoo faking workman’s comp. Or someone faked their death. Or, and this one’s my personal favorite: A half-baked robbery scheme where the real thief is a schmo working two jobs to support his wife and kids. And they just can’t even make it work for them. And I’m the one who has to unravel all the mad schemes and stupid plans. It’s why I love a good infidelity case. At least then there’s a clear bad guy. An insurance case in a town like this, five to one it’s a local crank addict nabbing copper from the church’s a/c I hate when life gets complicated.”
“I thought you liked life complicated?”
“I like complicated women. And puzzles. And puzzling women.”
“No wonder you love me,” she beamed. A noise made him turn his head. This was no pig truck. It was a full-sized white van, no windows on the back or side panels. He wondered if there was free candy. “This time smile.” She smacked him again for good measure.
He put on his most winning smile, the one usually reserved for especially difficult cases. Or women. Or both. He said a prayer to anyone who would listen. The van slowed down as it approached. The passenger window rolled down. He coughed in the dust it kicked up. His eyes stung, a sneeze floating up his nose. He was starting to suspect he was allergic to the South. As the dust cleared, Dan looked with watery eyes into the face of the scariest woman he’d ever seen.
About the Author-
Jay Mims, better known as Mimsey, lives two miles past nowhere with The Mimsus. He also accidentally adopted his neighbor’s cat, Eartha Kitty, has a lizard named Bob hiding in his house, and has a passive-aggressive Dalek roommate named Steve. When not writing cozy mysteries, Jay teaches and is learning knitting. Jay is currently working on knitting a cape. Capes are cool.
Social Media Links-
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