Pat Ruger: Caribbean Shuffle

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Chapter 10

“You what?”

“Well, to be honest, we didn’t have intercourse.”

“Oh, well, that makes all the difference!”

“Hold on, let me explain.” I started to but nothing came out.

“Okay?”

“Earlier today … she was in the hallway outside my door, locked out, she said. Her keycard didn’t work.”

“So you naturally let her use your phone …”

“Of course, what was I supposed to do? She called the service desk and they said they would send someone up with a new card, and in the meantime she waited in my cabin.”

“She found your tequila?”

“Well, that was my idea.”

“Ah, so she didn’t have a gun on ya, making you share it …”

I ignored the question. “She went to bathroom and came out butt naked … wait! I snapped a shot of her DL when she was in the bathroom …” I grabbed my phone and found the gallery. I opened the photo and there she was. I gave the phone to Jimmy. “‘Stephanie Louise Moore’ from Kansas City.”

“Well, now I’m impressed … You didn’t trust her so you snuck a peek at her license, but then had sex with her?”

“Not entirely, but I know what you’re getting at. I’m not on my game ...” My right hand instinctively went to my bare left wrist. “She took my watch and a couple of trinkets.”

“Your ‘Rolex’? I wondered what happened to it.” He handed me my phone back. “You’ve had that watch for a long time. Wasn’t it Freddy who gave that to you when you saved his little brother over on 53rd Street?”

“Yeah, I don’t think he even knew it was a knock-off.”

“Damn.”

“The good news is that we can get some info about Miss Moore here and figure out who might have killed her.” I jumped up off the bed and addressed Fosse. “Your boss’ll cover my cell phone bill, too, right?”

“I … I guess so.”

“Good, cause this is going to be expensive.” I dialed my favorite police operator.

“Janice, are you still a princess?”

“Sho’ ’nuff am. What’s up, Patty? I can hardly hear ya.”I raised my voice.

“Is this better?”

“Yeah, baby. What’s goin’ on? You need my help?”

“I sure do. I’m on a cruise ship and trying to ID a DB. I have her DL, can you run it?”

“On a cruise? Where at?”

“On the way to Jamaica … Hell of a way to spend a vacation, but here I am.”

“I reckon. You know I can run it, but will I?”

“Okay, I’ll bite. What’s it going to cost me?”

“Well, let me think … Oh, I know! Alabama is comin’ to town. Get me a couple of good seats …”

“Alabama is still around?”

“Yup, just like the Stones, they practically need walkers on stage.”

“Consider it done, Babe. But I’ll have to get ’em for you when I get back.”

“They won’t be here for a couple of months … What do you need run?”

“I got a Missouri D.L. for a “‘Stephanie Louise Moore,’ hold on.” I put the phone on speaker so I could read the photo. “Address is ‘1254 Great Oaks Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri,’ D.L. number, ‘146001278.’ The D.O.B. is roughed out.”

“That’s okay, hon, I got the number … except … that number don’t exist … Let me try by name … There’s a Stephanie Louise Monroe in Kansas City, but no Stephanie Louise Moore. Is she a spook?”

“I don’t think so.” I looked at Jimmy.

“Hey, princess, this is Jimmy.”

“Hey, Jimbo, when you comin’ over?”

“Soon, real soon. Hey, try just the address and see what comes up.”

We could hear typing like mad. “That address is showing in the middle of a field. I Google-Earthed it and there’s nuthin’ there. Sorry, boys … but I still get my Alabama tickets!”

I had to laugh. “Yes, Janice, I’ll get you the tickets. See you when we get back.”

“Let me know if I can help with anything else. I still got wants …”

“Okay, I will. Bye.” I hung up and Jimmy continued to look over Stephanie’s body.

“See, here?” He pointed to the back of her neck. There was a puncture wound, barely visible. “I think this is what killed her. An ice pick or something when she wasn’t looking.”

“We won’t find a murder weapon on a ship, it’s long been thrown overboard.” I helped Jimmy turn the body back over. “What will you be doing with her now?”

“The freezer, I guess,” was Fosse’s reply. “We have body bags for such use, just in case.” He took a black vinyl package from a cupboard and unfolded it. “Give me a hand.”

“Before you do,” Jimmy interrupted. “Let’s bag her hands and feet for forensics. You have freezer bags and duct tape?”

“I can get some.”

“You do that. We’ll wait.”

Fosse rushed out of the room.

“Jesus, Patty. We coulda got ya one of those beautiful poker maids.”

“This was before the game. Besides, all I did was finger her and let her give me head. Nothing else.”

“And she was hot?”

“You know me, that’s not what I’m looking for.”

“Yeah, but they seem to be looking for you, all the time.”

Fosse blew back in, breathless, and gave Jimmy the freezer bags. I took the duct tape and we proceeded to wrap each hand and foot with the bags and tape them up tight. Jimmy zipped up the body bag and tightly fastened the attached zip tie.

“To the freezer then,” Fosse said, picking up her shoulders from above her head. “A little help?”

I let Jimmy grab her feet and held the doors open while they carried her to the galley. The freezer was bigger than I imagined, about 4 or 5 times the size of my cabin. In the back of the freezer was a chest that was about 8 feet long. I lifted the lid and cleared the frozen packages out, Jimmy and Fosse close behind. They dropped Stephanie in carefully and I closed the lid, taping it shut with some more duct tape that I ripped from the roll.

As we exited the walk-in, Jimmy asked, “You guys have surveillance video?”

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