Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Alexander Steele and the Legacy of Death Chapter 4 Treasure Hunt

A Philly Murder Mystery                                                                                                                              

Chapter 4

Treasure Hunt

The second after he walked Julia to her car Steele went to work. With detective Vance on vacation Steele had no one at police headquarters downtown that he could call for help so he did the next best thing; he walked back inside the club and asked Stan hack into the police database. Before Stan could begin they needed to make a few calls. With the information Julia provided Steele’s cold case had begun to heat up.
Every good detective knows that solving a case can come down to the smallest detail. So in order to conduct a proper inch by inch search of the barber shop Steele needed a small army.

With Stan’s help they began calling friends he knew were very loyal to him. Friends who would keep their mouths shut about the hunt for the gold. News around Philly always traveled fast.
The last thing he needed was a bunch of wanna be treasure hunters descending on his property like a swarm of locust.
Steele’s first call was to Shakia. He knew her better than anyone, so when he told her he had given the workmen the rest of the day off her reaction was predictable. Ten minutes after the call Shakia came strutting through the front door of the Inner Sanctum wearing white shorts and a hot pink blouse. After all their years together Steele was still captivated by how beautiful and sexy she was. Shakia had more important things to focus on; she decided to forego the usual greeting. Standing directly in front of Steele she briefly examined his face before gently placing the back of her hand on his forehead.
“Hum, no temperature. That’s good. Shakia looked into his eyes for a moment then playfully tugged on Steele’s arm. “Come on baby, I’m sure the doctors will be able to find out what’s wrong with you.”
Stan sat at the bar sipping his drink as he enjoyed the show. He chuckled as Shakia made fun of Steele’s plan to hunt for the hidden gold. After she felt she had made her point Shakia released his arm and placed her hands on her hips.
“Alexander Steele have you lost your damn mind?” Not waiting for an answer Shakia continued. “How do you expect me to meet the deadline for finishing this project if you continue sending the workers away? Hidden treasure, really?!” She waved her index finger from side to side.
“Okay Alex, no more Indiana Jones DVD’s for you.”
Stan laughed so hard he nearly fell off his stool. Even Steele chuckled a little. He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes.
“Okay baby, you’ve had your fun.” Shakia wasn’t done. She fumbled around inside her little white pocket book and pulled out her blackberry. Shakia waved it around as she spoke.
Her tone had softened, it was as if she was pleading with him to understand the position he was putting her in.
“Alex, baby, you’re killing me. You want this place ready to open by Labor Day weekend but this is the second delay in a week. Now I have to spend the afternoon rescheduling deliveries like the sound system, light fixtures, carpets and a half dozen other things.”
Steele’s crew of volunteer treasure hunters was starting to arrive. When he noticed Johnny, the Philosopher and Frankie walking in Steele thanked them for coming and ask Stan to fill them in. He took Shakia by the hand and led her to his booth where they could talk in private. By the time he Steele finished talking to his girlfriend Tara and Leroy had joined the rest of the group. Steele walked Shakia to her car and gave Stan final instructions before turning to his friends. The hunt for the gold was on.
It was after five when Steele returned to the club from next door. The Alex Steele and company grid search of the old barber shop was a bust so he thanked everyone and came back to the Inner Sanctum. Over the years Steele had brought Stan in on many cases to cut down legwork. He knew from experience that when Stan flashed that wide grin he had found something juicy.
Today Stan was grinning like a crackhead who had just found five dollars worth of loose change inside the couch cushions. He spun the laptop around in Steele’s direction when he saw him headed his way.
“Jackpot brother!” Stan began giving Steele the rundown as he slid into his usual seat. “Check it out baby. That’s the police report from the double murder. According to the medical examiner’s report the murders took place on a Saturday night but” he paused briefly for effect “the bodies weren’t found till Tuesday morning. The barber shop doesn’t open on Monday’s so nobody missed old Romone and as far as I can tell Rosa wasn’t reported missing either. Even if they were, the cops won’t look for them until after they were missing for more than 72 hours.”
Steele stroked his mustache as he stared at the computer screen. “Interesting,” he mumbled, “why didn’t Rosa’s sister report her disappearance?”
Stan didn’t pay much attention to Steele’s question. He shrugged his shoulders and continued. “There’s more, the bodies were found on the roof top. You guys were looking in the wrong place.”
Just then Sugar Bear came walking down the aisle holding his hand against his right jaw.
“That bastard pulled my tooth.”
Stan laughed, “Look at the bright side, brother. You can put that tooth under your pillow tonight and the tooth fairy will leave you a whole quarter.”
Everyone laughed except Sugar Bear who was now looking at Stan as if he wanted to choke him with his bare hands.
Steele had been waiting for hours to ask Sugar Bear about the necklace. When he did Sugar Bear wasn’t very co-operative. Holding his jaw with one hand he used his free hand to pat his chest.
“Oh, I really can’t talk about it. It’s personal. Why are you just asking me about this now?” Steele was surprised at Sugar Bear’s reluctance to answer the questions. Keeping his eyes on Sugar Bear he slowly leaned back in his seat.
“So what you’re saying Sugar Bear is that you would rather talk to the people down at unemployment than to me.” Once Sugar Bear heard Steele’s remark and noticed the WTF look on Steele’s face he had an immediate change of heart.
“Well, uh, okay, I guess it won’t hurt if I told you a little something boss. See I’m a member of a secret society called the Crystal of the Seventh Ray. Now before you guys’ imagination starts running away from you let me explain. We don’t drink goat’s blood or sacrifice chickens or dance around naked in Fairmount during the full moon and stuff. This secret group has been around for over a hundred years. It’s basically a group of astrologists. We study the planet Uranus and the connection and effect it has on us. The 7th ray is the final light of the crystal on the chain we wear. It has power.”
Stan snickered, “if it’s so powerful than why didn’t it heal your tooth?”
Sugar Bear ignored the question. “The necklace is how we identify other members.
During the spring and summer when the weather is nice we use high power telescopes to stargaze.”
Steele and Stan looked at each other. Steele pointed to the computer, “that’s why they were on the roof that night. Thanks Sugar Bear, take the night off. I hope you feel better tomorrow.”
Sugar Bear took a seat next to Steele. “Thanks boss but I want to know what’s going on here.”
Stan filled Sugar Bear in then explained that the bodies laid on the roof exposed to the harsh sun and rain for several days.
“According to this report there was also a pretty bad thunder storm during that weekend and rigor mortis had set in. All the prints had either been wiped or washed away by the rain. There were traces of vomit but it didn’t match either of the victims.”
Stan leaned back away from the computer and grimaced. “Damn, this is some pretty gruesome shit. Says here that her throat was cut and he was shot twice at close range. A straight razor and a forty-five were found at the scene. That must have been one hell of an argument.”
Steele shook his head slowly, “that explains why nobody called the police that night. They may have heard the argument and the gun shots but nobody saw anything. The neighbors couldn’t tell where the shots came from and they may have mistaken the gunshot for thunder.”
Steele got up and headed for the front door. “Hey boss, where you going?”
Steele shouted back, “Where you think I’m going?” He pointed to the ceiling; “I’m going back next door to the rooftop.” Steele stopped and swiveled toward Sugar Bear. “Hey, what did you do with those magnets?”
Stan gave Steele an inquisitive look while Sugar Bear got up and fished around inside the trash can behind the bar. Steele sniggered and shook his head at Stan, “Man don’t ask, I know you. If I tell you you’ll only make things worse.”
Once Steele had the magnets he continued on his hunt for more clues.

Since Steele’s last trip to the old building, storm clouds had moved in. Steele could feel tiny sprinkles of drizzle on his face as he surveyed the dark angry clouds. He needed to move quickly before the heavier rains began.
After twenty years of neglect the roof was in extremely bad shape. What remained of the blacktop was covered with old ash gray gravel. The remnants of an old rusted telescope and two wooden, weather beaten beach chairs were all that remained of Romone’s makeshift observatory.
Navigating his way around the roof was a treacherous affair for the inquisitive detective.
One false step and Steele could end up in the hospital with a broken back or worse. Steele held the magnets outward inside his opened hand as he gingerly made his way around the creaking rooftop. The detective was looking for any clue that could help him solve the twenty year old mystery. After nearly falling through two of the weakest spots the powerful magnates slid off his hand and landed about two feet away. Steele finally spotted a small black metal key case nestled against the brick chimney.
Once he was back inside the club Stan and Sugar Bear watched as Steele struggled to force the rusted key holder open. After a couple of tugs he whipped out his pocket knife and pried the top backwards until he heard a pop. Steele held up a bronze key with the logo of a lion’s head and paw. Beneath the paw was an image of a world globe and the initials RBC.
He tossed the key over to Stan, “you recognize this symbol?” Steele asked.
After giving it the once over he shook his head and handed the key over to Sugar Bear. He held it up to the light. “No man can’t say that I do. Looks like a safety deposit key to me.”
Sugar Bear handed the key back to Steele who promptly tossed it back to Stan.
“See what you can find out, will ya. If you need me I’ll be at Laura’s Lounge trying to find out what happened to Julia’s ex-husband. That’s one of Slick’s hangouts, maybe he heard something.”
Steele paused at the back door then snapped his fingers before walking back to Stan. He pulled his wallet from his back pocket and handed Stan his American Express Black Card. “Hey do me a favor will ya Stan? Order Shakia a dozen of those red and yellow tropical flowers, Hawaiian Anthurium or something like that from the florist Paul Beales over on Ogontz Ave.
Steele quickly jotted down something on a piece of scrap paper. “Here, have the florist add this note. Pick them up and drop them off at my place. Make sure you leave them in plain sight; you know somewhere where she won’t miss them.”
Stan starred at the card and note. “Did I miss something Steele? I thought Shakia was mad at you?”
Steele shook his head and smiled. “No, Shakia’s a business woman, she’s upset with the delays but after hours when the sun goes down she shuts that side of herself off. Trust me, she’ll show.”

Chapter 5
Curse of the Coins

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Alexander Steele Murder Mysteries can be found on, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and Lulu books.

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