Sailing into Death

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Sailing into Death    (SAMPLE)                                   BACK TO SYNOPSIS

(CJ Washburn, PI Book 2)

Chapter 6 (partial)

CJ stood with his hands in his pockets, staring at the closed sign on the front of the small building. Bay Shore Charters and Sailing School didn't open until 9:00. It was only 8:05. He strolled away to walk along the walkway and look at the variety of vessels tied to the piers, wondered if any of them were the ones on which the classes were held. Not all of them were sailboats. More than half were strictly power boats; big power boats; not the kind with a small outboard hanging off the back. He wanted to get closer but the fence and locked gate precluded it.

His attention was momentarily drawn up the street where a police car and then a fire apparatus screamed by, heading south on Bay Shore Drive. Less than a minute after they disappeared from view their sirens died. Another could be heard off in the distance, coming closer. CJ wondered only briefly what was going on.

He returned to Bay Shore Drive and walked South to 2nd Avenue where he stopped to look at sailboats again. He watched people come and go, several pulling wheeled carts down to their boats. They were dressed a lot different than CJ. That got him to thinking that he needed to return to his hotel room and change into shoes more appropriate for sailing. The shorts and light-cotton off-white button-down shirt he was wearing would certainly be okay; however, his dress oxfords weren't going to cut it. Why he put those on this morning, he had no idea. He had a pair of Nikes with him.

As he walked along between 2nd Avenue and 1st Avenue, in route back to his hotel, he spotted the commotion of emergency vehicles up ahead a quarter of a mile or so, right next to Al Lang Field. There were three police vehicles that he could see, an unmarked sedan, a fire truck and EMS, as well as an official-looking white van. As he got closer several men in full-body wet suits appeared from around the van, one looking to put on scuba gear, getting ready to go into the water.

A body, CJ thought.

Professional curiosity kept him from crossing the street as he normally would have to make his way to his hotel. When he got to within fifty feet of where the action was concentrated, which was not but a few yards from the bench where he'd sat and called Stella and where a diver was now doing something with a scuba tank, a police officer stopped him.

"Cross over to the other side of the street and go around," he told CJ.

CJ backed up a couple of steps and then just watched. One diver without a tank was already in the water handling what did in fact appear to be a body. The other diver went in, tank on his back, goggles on top of his head.

"Sir!" the cop said. "I need you to move along."

CJ looked over at him.

The cop pointed at CJ. "You! Move away! Cross over to the sidewalk on the other side or go back. Go about your business. There's nothing here for you to see."

A little more pushy than Tucson cops, CJ thought. Not wanting to get tied up in something that certainly wasn't his business, he crossed the street and then cut through the stadium parking lot to get over to the street on which sat his hotel. It was 8:35. If he hurried he had just enough time to change shoes and get back to Bay Shore Charters and Sailing School when it opened.

CJ stepped out of the hotel front entrance twelve minutes later and walked down to the sidewalk. He looked to his right at the Starbucks next door and wondered what he did with the coffee he'd bought earlier. He didn't get any more of it than a hot sip. He turned his face up to the sky and tried to remember where he left it.

Oh yeah! He'd set it down on the bench when he called Stella, then walked away without it. It was probably history now, dumped by the scuba divers who'd been using the same bench.

He weighed the urge for another coffee against getting to the sailing school when it opened. He figured they didn't start right at 9:00 so he turned toward the Starbucks. Hopefully there wouldn't still be a long line.

There was a woman and a man in line, both standing a good five feet back from a police detective at the counter. CJ could tell it was a police detective because, one, they all looked the same, and two, there was a uniformed police officer next to him, the same officer who gave CJ a hard time just fifteen minutes before. The detective was showing something to the girl behind the counter, the girl who served CJ and who reminded him of Trish.

The girl shook her head while lifting her hands and shoulders, the universal sign of I don't know. Then she looked past the detective's shoulder to CJ. Her eyes got big. She pointed and her mouth moved. The detective and police officer swiveled around and CJ suddenly felt like he'd forgotten to put on his pants.

The police officer moved first, stepping toward CJ and pointing at him, his other hand sliding to his weapon. "You! Don't move!"

CJ didn't move.

"Are you Clinton Washburn?" the detective asked of CJ after the officer had taken him by the arm and guided him outside.

"Yes," CJ said.

"Private investigator from Arizona; Desert Investigative Services?"

"That's right. How...?"

"Let's see some ID?"

CJ reached to his back pocket, but found it empty. He checked his other pockets but found only the key to his rental, his cell phone, his hotel room keycard, and some change.

"I must have left my wallet in my hotel room. I can go up..."

"Do you know a Douglas O'Reilly?" the detective interrupted.

Surprised, CJ said, "Yes."

"How do you know him?"

"I met with him this morning, at breakfast in the hotel."


"He was the subject of my current investigation. I'm here in Florida on behalf of a Tucson, Arizona client."

"He was the subject?"

"Yes, was," CJ said, again surprised by the question. "The investigation is concluded. I've accomplished what my client asked of me."

"And what was that?"

"To find her brother-in-law."

"And then kill him?"

CJ's mouth dropped open. "Douglas is dead? Son of a..."

"Yeah. It's a bitch all right. It's a bitch that you dropped your wallet while pushing a knife into Mister O'Reilly and then throwing him off the seawall. It's also a bitch that the credit card you used to purchase the coffee you left at the scene was in your wallet along with the receipt, and that the gal in Starbucks remembers you."

"I need to call my client," CJ said.

"How about you call your attorney instead?" the detective said.

"My client is my attorney."

"You're under arrest, Mister Washburn, for the murder of Douglas O'Reilly."

With that statement the uniformed cop pulled CJ's arms behind his back and began applying handcuffs.

The detective continued. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you. You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop. You can invoke your right to have a lawyer present, and until your lawyer is present, the interrogation must stop."

CJ had all kinds of things he wanted to say, but he was in another state where nobody knew him and he knew nobody.

"I invoke my right to silence and my right to an attorney," he said.

"Smart man," the detective said. "It's rare that I get to arrest a smart man. I doubt your client and attorney in Arizona is licensed to practice in Florida. I would normally allow you to contact her anyway; however, since as you say, you are here on her behalf, maybe killing her brother-in-law on her behalf, I am invoking my right to refuse. We will be happy to assist you in finding a local attorney."

They walked him back across the stadium parking lot to a patrol car and pushed him into the back. As they started to close the door CJ said, "Detective."

The detective looked in at him.

"This is extremely important. Contact John Taffer, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge at the FBI field office in Tampa."

"And why should I do that?"

"He'll be able to tell you who Douglas O'Reilly really was and maybe shed a little light on the direction your investigation should go to find the real killer."

"Other than you?"

"I didn't kill him. I came to find him to inform him of the death of his daughter. Agent Taffer intercepted me last night, wanted me to back off my search for fear that it would get Douglas killed."

The detective only tilted his head at CJ.

"Douglas was an FBI informant. I really shouldn't say anything more, leave it to Taffer to fill you in."

The detective straightened up and appeared to pause in consideration of what CJ just told him. CJ started to open his mouth to say something else when the detective plucked his phone from his belt clip. CJ closed his mouth and watched him punch a few buttons and then hold the phone to his ear.

After a bit, the detective said, "John, good morning. Parker DuPont here."

CJ smiled at the fact that Detective DuPont was already on a first name basis with Special Agent Taffer.

"Going well. Kids are good. How is Gail doing? Still in chemo?

"Yeah, know what you mean. Listen, I've got a body down here on Bay Shore. Not even cold and I already have a suspect in custody.

"Yeah, they should all go this easy. Here's the twist, however. The guy in custody dropped your name. I hope to hell you're not going to tell me he's out of bounds or some dumb ass thing.

"The suspect's name is Clinton Washburn. The dead guy is..." DuPont's eyebrows went up. "Yeah. That's right. Douglas O'Reilly."

DuPont moved the phone a few inches from his ear and CJ heard Agent Taffer yell, "Dumb ass!"

"Tell him O'Reilly came to me," CJ called out the door.

Detective DuPont pushed the door closed and walked away.


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