Hello again, Constant Reader, and a fresh hello to new friends. Things are still going well with my novel, "Area 187; Almost Hell", and the promotion and continuing projects have just been kicking the ass of your favorite biguglyhairyscary. But, that's no excuse for neglecting all of you out there by slacking on giving you something to read here in my little corner of the web. I was talking to another author, Tony Faville, and he's been kind enough to fill in for my blogging shortcomings by giving all of you Chapter 1 of his new novella, "Avery Nolan; Private Dick of the Dead" free of charge and right here on my little ole blog. The good news is, if you like it you can get an electronic or paper copy (after you pick up "Area 187; Almost Hell", of course…) of your very own for a steal over at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I've read this one, folks, and it carries my personal seal of approval. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little taste of old-fashioned noire with a twist from Tony Faville.
Note; this excerpt provided by and is displayed here with the express consent of the author and is shown here exactly as written by the author. All copyrights and ownership are with the author, Tony Faville, following standard copyright laws.
September 22, 1959
New York, New York
It was a quarter to six on a Tuesday afternoon as I walked out of the
42nd Street movie house. I had just finished watching the latest singing
cowboy movie to come out of Hollywood and I had hoped the last hour and
a half would help to ease half a lifetime of pain and suffering.
I should have known better than to expect a miracle.
It was late September, and the skies were dark with a storm front
blowing in from the northwest. I pulled my fedora down low over my head
and popped the collar of my overcoat up to shield my neck from the now
blowing winds and cutting rain. Stepping around the corner and into the
partial shelter the alleyway provided, I pulled a half empty pack of
Lucky Strikes from my pocket, shook out a smoke, and tapped it against
the side of my zippo.
Rolling the dented and scratched hunk of brass around in my hand, I
watched it as it moved in the quickly fading daylight. I couldn't help
but remember it's former owner, a Navy Corpsman that lit my smoke for me
as I lay there bleeding into the black sands of Iwo Jima. Of course I
could never forget, just as he flipped it shut he took a Jap round in
the neck. When he fell over dead across my body, the lighter the must
have fallen into my gear because it was with me when I finally got home.
I have carried it with me every day since.
I flicked it open and rolled the wheel, bringing the yellowish flame to
life with a small spray of sparks. Lighting the small filterless
cigarette, I heard a noise down the darkened alleyway behind me.
Turning, I squinted through the wind and rain and saw a lone bum on his
hands and knees, looking for all the world like he was throwing up the
remnants of last nights nickel hooch and canned baked beans.
This is New York City and the sight of a bum in an alleyway is nothing
new or earthshaking, so I make my way down the street towards my office.
If recent business had been better I might have caught a taxi to take me
the few blocks, but times are tough, even more so for a twenty dollar a
day, private dick such as myself.
Because of the rain, I covered the distance in under fifteen minutes, a
little double time jog harkening back to my days in the Marines. Running
full bore through the jungles of Guadalcanal with forty pounds of gear
and a Garand rifle in my hands was a lot different than sprinting
through the city streets of the concrete jungle. Rotating through the
door of my building, I stepped into the foyer and shook my whole body as
if I were a cocker spaniel who just came in from taking a crap in the
Joe, the old coot of a doorman, sat in his chair and failed to even look
up at me as he sat there snoring his way through his golden years. I
stepped past him and the broken elevator, and headed up the three
flights of stairs to reach the landing that held my ramshackle office.
Pausing momentarily to look at my name painted in gold on the frosted
glass of the door, I made a mental note to remind myself to ask the
building super to freshen up the paint when he had a chance.
Reaching out, I took the doorknob in my hand, and stepped back a step as
the door slowly opened inwards under my touch. Instinctively, my right
hand shot into the gap of my open overcoat and whipped out my pistol,
bringing it out to bear on the darkened office before me. Stepping in to
the room slowly, I attempted to let my eyes adjust to the darkness.
Cursing my inability to afford an office with an exterior window, I
reached behind my back with my left hand, feeling for the lightswitch.
Suddenly, a lighter flicked to life in the dark shadows of my office.
Even in the darkness, I could see the dame that was sitting in the chair
at the side of my office with a cigarette dangling between her ruby red
lips. In the brief moment her face was illuminated by the flickering
yellow glow of her lighter, I could see she was something special.
It was either that, or she just has a habit of thinking she is special.
Flipping on the overhead light with my left hand, I continued to hold my
pistol in her general direction.
With a smokey voice that was gently touched by expensive scotch, she
said, "Unless you tend to hold all of your clients at gunpoint Mister
Nolan, I would kindly request that you put your pistol away. You men and
your guns, I believe Doctor Freud was right, that is an awful big gun."
Walking across the office to behind my desk, I placed my pistol on the
corner, and took off my coat. Shaking the wet topcoat, I hung it to dry
on the wooden rack in the corner, then took a seat in my squeaky wooden
and leather chair. "It's not the size of the gun lady.."
She interrupted me before I could finish, "Yes Detective, it's knowing
how to use it, correct?"
I could see that from her ten dollar shoes to her forty dollar dress and
all the Chanel no. 5 all between, she was a dame that was truly used to
money. Old money was my guess, and from the looks of things, a lot of
My only question was, what was a dame with money doing in the office of
a guy like me. Sure, I was no slouch as a private investigator, but I
was the guy that lonely housewives paid to take pictures of their
husband in a cheap motel in flagrante delicto with the latest bimbo du
"Since you have me at a distinct disadvantage Miss, could I at least
have your name?"
"Of course Mister Nolan, my name is Anna Winters." She stood from her
chair and slinked across the room like a jungle cat to take a seat in
the chair in front of me. If this were all an act, she was laying it on
awfully thick. Problem was, it was working. Flicking her ashes into the
ashtray on my desk, she continued, "My father is Doctor James Winters, a
geneticist that does his research at New York University."
She could have said her father was a platypus and I would not have cared
any more at this moment in time. As I said, she was a world class dame,
with a set of pins that led all the way up to there, and with more
curves than the Pacific Coast Highway. Sure, there were plenty of
lookers in New York City, but a lady of this caliber only comes along
once in a blue moon.
Pulling a photo from the manila envelope she had in her hands, she slid
it across my desk, then she settled back and took a long drag from her
cigarette before gently exhaling a stream of smoke into the air.
The man in the photo before me looked like a professor, a true to life
egghead. From his white lab coat, to the bow tie and eye glasses perched
awkwardly on his narrow face. Yeah, I would say he appeared to be the
epitome of a professor.
"My father is missing Mister Nolan, and I would like you to help me find
"Please call me Avery, my father was Mister Nolan. At least that is what
my mother told me. So, you say he is missing?"
"That is correct Mister...Sorry, Avery. Nobody has heard from him for
the last two days, not my mother, nor any of his colleagues from the
Looking back at the picture, I was able to rule out that he was lost on
a bender in some alleyway, as he did not seem to be the type to wile
away his time with booze and loose women. "Have you filed a police
report? Missing persons is more up their alley, not mine."
"My fathers situation is a little more, shall we say, sensitive than the
New York Police Department is capable of handling. I need someone with
more of your skill set."
"Look, Anna, I get a pair of sawbucks a day to take pictures of guys
cheating on their wives. Now, if you simply want me to find your father
and take pictures of him, then maybe I do in fact have the skill set you
are looking for, if not, then maybe I am not your guy."
"Sergeant Avery Nolan, United States Marine Corps. Enlisted on December
eighth, nineteen-forty-one. You were made a squad leader after
Guadalcanal and were decorated for bravery on several occasions, a Navy
Cross, two Bronze Stars and four Purple Hearts, the last of which was
received on Iwo Jima. No Avery, I believe you have exactly the skill
sets I am looking for."
She impressed me as she had obviously done her homework, so I said so.
"Okay, so you have read my file, that still doesn't make me your guy."
"No Avery, I paid a man a sawbuck a day, as you put it, to find me the
right man. As the children in the school yards are fond of saying: Tag,
you're it Mister Nolan."
In the distance I could hear a police siren screaming through the city,
the typical sounds of the city that never sleeps. "Okay, so you need
someone that can handle themselves, that tells me there is more to the
story than just a missing professor. And since you have not been very
forthcoming with additional information as of yet, I am inclined to tell
you that my fee is thirty dollars a day, plus expenses, with one week
paid in advance."
She stamped out the remnants of her cigarette in the ashtray and
promptly lit another. Reaching into her handbag, she pulled out an
envelope and tossed it across the desk. It landed with a weighty plop
and then slid off the desktop and into my lap.
Picking up the envelope, I opened it and found a cool grand in twenty
dollar bills. She slid the original manila envelope across my desk and I
looked inside, finding additional photos and notes with names, addresses
and phone numbers.
Expertly blowing another cone of smoke in my direction she said, "A
thousand a week and all expenses paid Mister Nolan. Not only is my
father missing, but so is much of his research. Most importantly, his
specimen is missing from the lab."
"Specimen? What kind of specimen are we talking about, rat? Monkey?"
"I feel it would be best if you found the answer you seek at my fathers
lab. I have already contacted the school and you will be granted full
access to his lab, and cooperation from his research assistant, Tommy."
Opening the bottom drawer of my desk, I retrieved a bottle of cheap
scotch and two dirty glasses. Pouring a glass, I offered it to her, but
she politely declined. Sliding the bottle and spare glass to the side, I
raised the glass to my nose and took a whiff of the mossy spirit before
savoring a small sip.
"Okay Miss Winters, consider me your man. Since I prefer to give my
client daily reports of my findings, how do I get in touch with you?"
Standing up, she placed her lipstick stained cigarette in the ashtray
and pulled her royal blue overcoat on and cinched the belt tight around
her narrow waist. On any given day, with her red hair and subtly
freckled skin in that shade of blue she could have passed for a movie
"My number is in the envelope, you can feel free to call me at any time,
day or night."
"One more question before you go Anna, what exactly was your father
"He was working on a project for the Department of Defense. He said it
had something to do with battlefield first aid capabilities for
soldiers. Avery, truthfully, I really don't know anything more than
"First aid is not exactly something people tend to disappear over. Are
you sure his disappearance is related to his work."
"It is only my assumption. My last phone call with my father was three
days ago, he said something about going to Mischka's. I thought nothing
of it, assuming he meant a colleague, but none of them claim to have
knowledge of a Mischka."
Rising from my chair, I extended my hand to her and shook her hand. A
gesture she readily returned with a strong grip, stronger than most
women of her stature. "Don't you worry Miss Winters, I will find your
father for you, you have my word on that."
I walked her to the door as she thanked me for taking the case, then
stepped her through the open door. I watched with a certain pleasure as
she walked down the long hallway to the stairs.
Walking back to my desk, I poured myself another drink and looked at the
stack of money peeking out from the open envelope on the desktop. A cool
grand a week to find a stodgy old professor that is likely lost in some
dark and dank archive hall? Yeah, I guess a Private Dick with a skill
set like mine could get used to those kinds of numbers.