My mother always says that every argument has three sides and only one of them is the whole truth. Well, the truth is that Roger and I would still be married today if only he would have gotten his head out of the clouds and tried living like a grown-
People who knew him back when he was at
Three years after we got married, after busting my butt to support him during two years of law school, Roger suddenly announced that he was dropping out to become a private investigator. I’d let it slide when he furnished our apartment completely with second-
Anyway, word on the street these days is that he’s good at what he does, so I might have to start watching my back. The last thing I need is for him to come snooping around and capsize this great boat I’m sailing.
Good afternoon, come on in. Please, have a seat. So, you’re here because Ms. Sisu has decided to start writing down my little exploits and you want to hear some of it straight from the horse’s mouth.Well, I don’t like talking about myself but since you came all this way, I’ll oblige.
Can I offer you a drink? Water? Coke? I …uh…have a little something in the desk to flavor the Coke, if you know what I mean. No? Okay. Then straight down to business.
Why did I become a private investigator? Shh, not so loud! My mother strolls in here sometimes like she owns the place and we don’t want to get her started on the subject!
The truth is that I started out studying criminal law but dropped out two years in. The classroom just wasn’t for me. But I liked the… intricacies of the law, the insight into human nature, and the ways the girls used to look at me when they found out I would be mixing with a dangerous element. I ended up here as a compromise, you could say. The pay isn’t all that, but I’m my own boss.
Doesn’t my family worry about me?
My mother is too busy reminding me that Daddy is rolling over in his grave because I didn’t become a proper lawyer and complaining about wanting grandchildren to worry. My ex-
Anyway, I don’t need anyone to worry about me. I can handle myself . I have a licensed gun, of course, but what I like to say that words are often more powerful than weapons, and a man who knows how to wield his words can get himself out of hot water time and again. Out of a lot of hot water.
But, of course, if the situation leaves me no other choice, I shoot the bastard.
"I counted to twenty then hit the intercom button on the phone twice.
Seconds later, in walked a vision: medium height with bounteous endowments where I appreciated them most—at top—and no wedding ring. I noticed the rest afterward: medium brown complexion, v-
I pointed to a caned mahogany chair that kept up the rustic theme of my décor—a complement of seasoned, second-
"Montelly. Miranda Montelly," she said in a broad, eastern seaboard accent as she dropped down into the chair so that it shifted slightly under the impact. Her shoulders slumped as if under a burden and there were worry lines bracketing her mouth.
"So, Ms. Montelly, I understand that you need a Good Investigation?" I liked to use the clever gambit to break the ice but she didn’t give it the reaction I thought it rated.
"Mr. Gooding, my cousin, Amanda Rice, disappeared a little over two months ago and I can’t find out what happened to her. I’m at my wits end."
It felt like she’d jumped right to chapter two and I frowned, confused. "Your cousin came here on holiday and disappeared?"
She flapped a hand. "I’m sorry, I’m not explaining properly. Amanda is Bajan, living here. In early February, she sent me an email saying that she was coming to New York on holiday and wanted to visit me. She even sent me her itinerary so I’d know when she would be there and we could plan to meet up. I was excited because I haven’t seen her in a long while, you see. Then the day for her arrival came but I didn’t hear from her. When her three weeks passed and her return date, too, I called every number I had for her to find out why she hadn’t got in touch when she was in the US but she never answered. I sent her emails all through March. Nothing. I even contacted people here that we both knew and no one had seen or heard from her either. I finally flew in myself three days ago and it’s like she disappeared into thin air."
I set my elbows on the desk and steepled my fingers together, hoping I looked like I was thinking profoundly professional thoughts. And I was—kind of. It was the end of April. That meant that Amanda Rice had been out of touch for over ten weeks and, as unwilling as I was to send the first potential income in a month back out through my door, I had to ask the obvious question:
"Why not just go to the police?"
Ms. Montelly gestured elaborately. "I did. A few weeks ago, I called them from the US and told them my concerns. It was only yesterday, in person, that they finally informed me that immigration records showed Amanda checking in for her flight to JFK on the date she’d planned but her name isn’t on any return flight manifests, so they figure she’s still in the US and there’s nothing more they can do."
"And the police in New York?" Thanks to television, everyone knew that America had slews of high-
"I tried the NYPD even before the Barbados Police Force," Ms. Montelly said darkly. "They said that there was no record of Amanda ever landing at JFK or any other US airport for that matter so I should check back here. Each side is saying that it’s the other side’s job which is why I ended up here."
I dropped my posturing, picking up the scent of a real puzzle—and, more importantly, real billable hours. I took out my notebook from my pocket, snatched a pen from the chipped clay mug on my desk, and jotted down the highlights thus far…"
Q: So, Margaret, you’re going to do a fiction series with a recurring character all. What’s it about? Vampires? Serial killers? A geeky mathematician?
A: Nope. It’s pulp fiction. Not Quentin Tarantino’s movie—the genre pulp fiction.
Q: Pulp fiction?! You mean those fast-
A: I’m a pulp fiction and old black and white movie fan. Dates my taste, I know, but everyone likes a quick, cheap thrill now and again and pulp delivers. A few years ago I unearthed my Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps and delved back into Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and it hit me that I’d like to try something similar.
Q: So why did you take so long to do this?
A: Because The Nude was a priority at the time, as was learning this new world of publishing and book marketing (shudder). One thing at a time. And anyway I didn’t want to recreate the same old brash Bogart-
Q: And did you?
A: We’ll see. It hit me that I could kill several birds with one stone: create a recurring character fans could get to know without committing myself to over a year writing a whole novel, write short stories—something I really enjoy, offer mystery, action, and a bit of naughtiness which everyone enjoys, AND write about my homeland, modern Barbados, which is a ripe setting for simmering intrigue under all that bustling, balmy neatness. Plus it helps me beat off the homesickness when it strikes.
Q: Does your series have a name?
A: Island Pulp Mysteries…or Island Pulp Mystery Series…or Island Pulp Detective Series. I’m having trouble committing to one, but not to the individual storylines!
Q: So who is your main character?
A: Roger Barrisford Gooding, a local private investigator and quintessential Bajan man—sexy and aggravating. (His is a very Barbadian name, by the way).
Q: So the first story is done? When can we read it?
A: Yes, it’s done. I’m now doing what I call the ‘dressing up’ but it’s an e-
Q: And what’s this first story called?
A: Good & Kinky
Q (& raised brows): Kinky, huh? Ooh, boy. What’s it about?
A: It’s about a woman who goes missing after her boyfriend…( a smile and head shake)…Nah. On second thoughts, you can read about it next week on
Image credit: Amazon