TAIL SPIN

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Summary

Ne'er-Do-Well Photographer Calvin Kilkelly makes his living snapping wedding photos and relaxing on the beaches of Florida. When the Governors daughter Tracie Cunningham receives death threats from an anonymous source Cal is yanked from relaxation and thrust into a conspiracy. Cal has the golden opportunity to play the hero, or the zero, or get killed in TAIL SPIN.

Genre:
Thriller / Romance
Author:
Speck
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
2
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

WANT TO BE WANTED

During winter birds flock north. During fall monarch butterflies flutter to Mexico. During spring college kids drive to Daytona Beach, Florida. Thousands book hotel rooms, drink from sun up to sun down, and tan their bodies on the white sands. In a few years the empty dunes inhabited by switchgrass and seagulls will be filled with buildings. High rises with high rent and high prices. But for now, Daytona Beach is just high.

Calvin Kilkelly wiped sweat from his tanned forehead, the sunshine beated down like an oven. A hairy hand raised a photograph in front of his face.

"Why's that one look like that?" A whiny voice asked.

The hand belonged to Jerry Goldberg, the groom to the bride, Hila Ethel. The couple was currently conducting a wedding rehearsal on the beach. Cal resented having to do anything anyone told him, that's the whole reason he is a photographer.

"It's called soft focus. I wanted to highlight your eyes."

Jerry took another look at it, his pasty skin hurting Cal's eyes from the sunlight. Jerry set the picture back down onto a plastic folding table.

"I don't like it." Jerry said.

"Let's focus on what you do like, Mr. Goldberg."

"Eh. It is what it is."

Cal held his tongue. Jerry paced back to a set up area for the pictures, both him and his wife were in wedding attire. Cal wondered how hot it would be in a tuxedo or dress on the beach.

"How much does this run us, again?" Jerry asked.

"It'll be two hundred for today. During the wedding it's two-fifty."

"What?" The groom yelped like the photographer said an insult "Two hundred? I thought it was only a hundred."

"You're mistaken, Mr. Goldberg. It's two hundred for the rehearsal."

"Nah, nah, nah." Jerry walked over to him, Cal had to hold back his laughter because he looked like a penguin with that suit on. "You said it was only a hundred."

The bride interjected and came up behind her future husband and current fiancé. Placing a hand on his shoulder "Jerr..."

"No, Hila. This schmuck is trying to pull a fast one."

"Listen." Cal raised his hands, the Nikon camera hanging around his neck shifted. "I just want my money as is. I'm not responsible for what you heard, misheard, or didn't hear at all. If you want the photos it'll be two hundred, if you don't I still need fifty for comin' out here."

"Why... why... You're a liar, Mr. Kilkelly. A bald-faced liar. A fucking liar."

"Honey..." Hila said.

"Just get my checkbook. Let's get this over with."

***

Calvin Kilkelly drove down A1A highway in his beat up 1970 Ford Thunderbird, feeling the wind pass through his short blond hair. That was one of the things he preferred about Florida compared to Maryland.

He grew up in Baltimore. One thing about Baltimore is that it isn't pretty. The people aren't pretty. The city isn't pretty. The nature finds a way to not be pretty. His dad, Jackie Kilkelly, worked for the Baltimore Police Department for twenty years after his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps.

Cal loved his dad. Only downside was that Jackie could make you feel like a real sack o' shit sometimes. Like anything less than being Neil Armstrong or Mickey Mantle was like being nothing at all. Cal decided, fresh out of highschool, a career in the National Security Agency would make him proud.

After ten years of photographing potential terrorist hideouts, sifting through letters, and spying on everybody from One Eyed Joe to damned-if-I-know he called it quits. When Jackie retired so did he, much to his father's malice, Cal even went down to Florida with him.

Now it was this. Looking at the stewardess'es, bikers, dopers, spring breakers, surfers, and beach bums of Daytona Beach in-between playing photographer. He was never real artsy, when he took a photo of something he took a photo of something. You want a flower. SNAP! That's a flower. Nothing more, nothing less. The hippie-type chicks never minded it though, they loved how he made them look on his Nikon. So did he.

Cal had a girl a week. He liked blondes mostly and had a thing for Latina women too. The type of women he liked the most were the ones that didn't stay long. He didn't wanna be alone but he didn't wanna be bothered. He thought maybe that was a bad thing. He was starting to wonder if he was wrong and all his buddies were right.

Getting a home, wife and kids, with a decent job sounded like the right thing. The more college kids came and went the more he felt trapped in Daytona. The traffic was getting worse as he drove past all the pink and purple hotels.

La Casa de Cal was a bungalow that hasn't been remodeled since the '70s. It still had shag carpet along with floral wallpaper and popcorn ceilings. A picket fence wrapped around the overgrown garden that had statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It was re cheapest place he could get in Daytona. He had no neighbors, which he preferred.

When he finally did reach his pad he just slumped down onto the couch. He typically smoked pot after a job like that but he wanted to take a nap or just gaze at some photographs. His favorite one was of Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, she lights his cigarette lasciviously. He thinks it's romantic, although he doesn't know why.

Cal chose to fall asleep, no schedule for the rest of the day meant he had no problems. Not a care in the world. That was until he was awoken by a soft knock at his door.

When he opened the door he saw a red haired girl with pale skin and freckles dotting her face like a constellation. She was petite at four-eleven in height, somewhat insecure that she wasn't as tall as the other girls. She was the spitting image of Myrna Loy, the kinda girl anyone would wanna marry but not the kind they'd wanna have 'fun' with.

"Are you Calvin Kilkelly?" She asked in her gentle voice.

"Yes. What's it to you?"

"I'm Tracie Cunningham. Patrick Connover told me to speak with you."

Paddy Conover? Cal knew Paddy from the NSA, the two were good buddies. They'd sometimes get drinks after work and keep eachother company when they did dull tasks. Paddy had moved down here like Cal did, only he did work in Tallahassee. Although Cal couldn't remember what kinda work.

"I know Paddy. What do you want?" Cal thought he had sounded rude. But she was interrupting his mid-day nap.

"I was recieving death threats and Mr. Connover said to come see you."

"Listen, honey." Cal said "I don't do that kinda work anymore. Me and Paddy were in the NSA together but now I'm just a photographer. If you want a little bodyguard, look in the Yellow Pages under the letter B. This is Florida for Petessake! Every alligator wrangler with a gun thinks they're one."

Tracie couldn't help being a little offended. Especially since she had always gotten whatever she wanted, albeit never having to yell or scream. Never-the-less she persisted.

"Please help me, Mr. Kilkelly." She said "I am The Governors daughter after all."

It just clicked in Cal's head. Paddy worked for a security service that protected The Governor and his cronies. They did similar work for the NSA together during their service.

"We can speak inside, Miss Cunningham."

"Please." The Redhead smirked at him "Call me Tracie"

The two chilled out on his couch, a blanket and pillow still on it from his nap. Tracie wore a polka-dot skirt just above the knee which showed off her legs when she sat down. Calvin put on the song Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted by The Partridge Family.

"Do you want a Sex On The Beach?"

The girl was taken aback by his lewd request.

"Excuse me?"

"A Sex On The Beach." Cal replied "Vodka, schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice."

"Oh. No thanks."

Cal walked over to his bar area. A rugged counter littered with bottles of various sorts of liquor and alcohol. It was all wood panelled and had a tacky multi-colored light system. He started mixing a drink for himself.

"So you're The Governors daughter?"

"Yes sir."

"You don't need to call me sir. Call me Cal. So when did all of this start?"

"Only a few days ago. I received a letter in the mail saying if my daddy's friend, Vincenzo, gives away his money to charity they will kill me."

Cal got done with his drink, colored a mix of red and orange with a comical crazy straw sticking out of it. It was a 'girly drink' but it reminded him of a sunset. It was almost like the color of Tracie's hair.

"I don't get it."

"What?

Cal walked over and sat down next to her on the couch.

"They sent a threat to you... why not just say fuck it and cut out the middle man and threaten Vincenzo? It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul it doesn't make sense."

"Vincenzo has no children and his wife passed away. Him and my daddy are like that."

Tracie twisted her index and middle finger around forming a knot. Cal listened intently while putting the pieces together in his head. He didn't like hearing her call someone 'daddy'.

"Do ya' have the letter?"

"Uh-huh."

She rummaged around in her alligator skin purse and pulled out a folded up note and handed it to him. On the top was a big red "I". He read through the text.

"To Whom It May Concern,

Your father is in cahoots with multimillionaire Vincenzo Argento. If that jagoff gives his money to charity we will kill you. If you go to the police we will kill you. If these demands aren't met by next week, well, you can't eat your cake and have it too. Once the demands are met, announce publicly in the Daytona Tribune that Vincenzo had his will changed."

Without doing anything else, Cal set his cocktail down on his coffee table and blurted out:

"Two people wrote this letter."

Her eyes widened. She was impressed by his skill level.

"Fascinating! How can you tell?"

"I read letters for the NSA. They were threat letters for Senators, Representatives, The President, His Cabinet, The Generals, you name 'em. My job was to see which people were pissed and which ones were nuts. Look here."

Cal pointed at the lettering. She leaned into him, he caught a whiff of her perfume. It was like bubblegum.

"This section of lettering is different than this section. It was written on a typewriter so one pressed harder on the keys. I can also tell another thing."

"What else?" She asked like a kid on Christmas morning.

"One of these guys is from Chicago. He used the word jagoff. That's a Chicago term. Also the words eat your cake and have it too. Thats the proper way to say it, not have your cake and eat it too. So one is educated."

"This is all so exciting. It's like you're a detective."

Cal leaned back and did an impression of someone he thought was cool like Robert Pattinson.

"I'm just interested in your safety."

"Please find out who's doing all this. I don't know what they're up to or if my life really is in danger. Daddy can pay handsomely, I promise."

Cal could see the fear in her eyes. She really was afraid and had been since she had received the letter at her friends house visiting Daytona.

"It'll be ten grand for my services since this is a big deal. Let's not make a spectacle out of--"

Before he could finish The Redhead had shoved her head under his chin and wrapped her arms around him. Cal didn't know what to say or do other than return the favor.

It didn't feel real.
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