(New) The Case of the Missing Scoundrel "A Samuel Light Story"By John Pirillo, artwork & stories at www.johnpirillo.com
The Case of the Missing Scoundrel
"A Samuel Light Story"
By John Pirillo
My name is Samuel Light. I'm a detective, licensed by the State of Nevada. I solve cases. Strange cases. Cases that are only spoken of in the shadows of the night and in places so deep and far away from anyone else listening that only I and the client know. If they're still alive. If they're dead, then it's a bit harder. I do what I can. That's my job.
This is one such case.
Las Vegas, Nevada Midnight
Ted Damson was an older man, not quite in his fifties, but graying in a nice even way such that the ladies found him attractive, even the younger ones. And he was a scoundrel. He would lure the fair damsels into his clutches with great dance steps, easy money and nights of flirtaceous play, then once he'd stolen their virtue, he would abandon them. You see, he was only interested in virgins. You might laugh at that, seeing as how these days virgins are harder to come by...in either the male or female category, but that was his shtick.
But tonight was not going to be his best night. Sometimes you can play too hard, break hearts too often and your good karma gets sucked up like dirt into a vacuum cleaner and you get spit out into the cosmic ditch, dirty, bruised and...Dead!
Virginia was to be his date that night. August 1. It was to celebrate their tenth day of hanging out together. Her best friend Madison saw through Ted, but her pleas to Virginia to step softly were largely ignored, until that night. The date night she knew she was going to give him everything he had ever dreamed of. She smiled at that thought, her cheeks blushing with warmth that radiated from her heart and sexual glands. He was a keeper, she thought to herself.
She waited for him at the usual digs, The Pink Lady. It was a gay joint, populated by cowboys and cops, come together to play, make friends and perhaps make a love connection. Why he chose such a place for their final night of play she couldn't fathom. But she didn't mind. She got hit on a couple of times by some lesbians, but very kindly told them she was straight. They laughed, thinking she was just joking, and walked off, their feelings intact.
Her best friend Marshall Goodman ran her department store. He was happily partnered with Thurman Henderson, a very sweet guy. She invited them to her apartment sometimes for all night poker with her gal pals. They all got along great, joking and cackling like hens into the wee hours with dirty jokes, conversations about romance and broken hearts. She had cried with Marshall when he told about his last relationship and smiled for him when he and Thurman squeezed hands lovingly after revealing that Thurman had come into his life when everything had seemed the darkest.
Seeing the sadness in her eyes, Thurman and touched her chin lightly and smiled into her eyes. "Don't worry, sugar, you're next. Someone's gonna come into your life and sweet you right off your feet!"
Next night as a matter of fact. At the Palace Station where she usually spent Friday evenings, eating Dreyer's ice cream cones and dumping her spare quarters into slots, winning some, losing some, then eventually breaking even or losing it all and leaving, content, but a bit lonely still, even with all the bustling life about her. It was on her way out, not looking, as she fumbled in her purse for her car keys that she bumped into him.
"Sorry!" She said with a blush of frustration because her keys flew across the heavily polished floor and under one of the poker machines. He never blinked an eye. He went to the machine, dropped on his knees, then reached for the keys and snatched them back to safety, placing them in her left hand.
He rose and offered his hand. "Name's Ted. Please let me apologize for the accident by offering you a drink?"
She was about to refuse. He was at least twenty years older than her from what she could see. But is bright, sparkling eyes and winning smile overcame her reticence, and also she remembered the echo of the words Thurman had told her. Prophecy?
That had been ten days ago. This was to be the tenth day. The night it all came together for her and him. He had been hinting at it for days now, indicating in subtle ways that he had been shopping in certain places for something she might find interesting. Never saying what. Being a hopeless romantic, she thought he was going to drop to a knee that night. What else could she think? He'd been a perfect gentleman every day, asked for nothing, was always on time, accountable and reachable. They spent numerous hours late at night on their cells talking to each other about their hopes and dreams.
He was the right one. She was absolutely certain.
Now she was at the Pink Lady and he was an hour overdue. He'd never been a minute late before. She felt a bit flushed at the thought he might have found someone else, and then shook her head. Not likely. Not like him. So she waited another hour, then another, each time hanging onto what she hoped was the real Ted, not some illusion. After all, he'd taken nothing from her.
Finally, she gave up. As she was leaving she bumped into a very handsome tall man, who gave off a distracted air. His eyes caught hers and immediately, she felt as if she'd known him her entire life. She could tell he felt the same.
He smiled. "Name's Samuel."
Without another word, he offered his hand and a business card. She took the card, shook his hand. She didn't see his face go blank for a moment and him stagger briefly as if sucker punched, then after reading the card looked into his face. "You're a what?"
He almost looked embarrassed at that moment with her question, and then he cleared his throat. "I'm a detective. I find lost people. Even dead ones. I help people who have problems. Human and..."
She glanced at the card. "Otherwise?"
Before she could say more a very tall, burly man with a rough grin and sparkling eyes sauntered up with a beer in his right hand. "Sammie, holding out on me? Who's the lovely young lady here?"
Virginia instantly liked the man. He reminded her of someone back south in Virginia when she was a child. He was tall like that and comfy.
"Virginia." She held out her hand.
He took it and kissed it.
Samuel glanced at his friend. "She's lost someone."
Her blush turned into anger with herself. Here she was worried about being dumped by someone, and flirting with two of the most handsome men she had ever seen. What had come over her?
As if reading her thoughts Samuel smiled. "Don't worry, Virginia. We're easy that way."
Easy what way? She asked herself.
Samuel stopped smiling. "You're looking for a man, in his late forties, tall with a winning smile. Ted...uh...?"
"Damson." She finished. Surprised and startled by his insight.
Jimbo, Samuel's friend, chuckled. "Sammie's good for things like that. He's very intuitive."
"Psychic." Samuel stated.
"That too." Jimbo agreed.
Samuel laughed, then steered Virginia towards the door. "We need to get out into the fresh air to find our friend."
"I'll tag along later." Jimbo hollered after them. "I'm in the middle of some hand wrestling back here with a couple tough guy cops."
"Lose." Samuel warned him.
"Just do it." Samuel warned him again.
Jimbo shrugged and vanished to the back, while Samuel brought Virginia outside. It was still warm. A typical August night. The moon was high overhead with a tinge of orange. The bright pink neon lights of the sign overhead flooded the sidewalk and parking area with tinges of red and pink. They headed for the sidewalk.
"Where are you taking me?" Virginia finally asked, realizing she was alone with a stranger.
Samuel turned and stopped. "He's dead."
She gave him a startled look and was about to scream, thinking she'd found herself a real loser and a psycho to boot.
"I'm serious. I see those kinds of things. That's how I knew your name and where to find you. He told me where to find you."
"He..." She stuttered. Confused and feeling crushed as if her entire world were about to collapse inwards on her. She staggered and he caught her, until she could get a grip on herself again. Realizing she had, he let go, giving her a sympathetic look.
He gave her a searching look. "How long did you know him?"
"And did he ever let loose any hints of what he did before he met you?"
"Not really. Oh, we'd talk about the past, but nothing personal as that."
She began to shiver, and the night was warm. Samuel touched her lightly on her right arm and she felt this glow of warmth seeping from his hand and crawling up her arm. For some reason it felt like sunshine pouring through her body. He let go and the warmth remained.
"Who are you?"She asked him again.
"What I said. Who I said."
"Wanted me to contact you. To apologize."
She frowned. "But why would he do that. He could have just as easily come here tonight in person...."
Then she noticed the police cars in the parking lot, lights swirling silently, gathered about something there. A paramedic ambulance, its lights whirling, roared into the parking lot and stopped near the policemen.
She started to go that way. Samuel blocked her path.
"He doesn't want you to see him that way."
"What way?" She asked, more confused than ever, a growing sense of horror gripping her heart and soul as she began to sense something larger was going on that she had come for.
Samuel stepped into her view again. He gently tilted her chin up so she could look into his eyes. "He wants to ask for your forgiveness and to ask you to forget."
"I..." She faltered, tears streaming from her eyes. "He's..."
Samuel nodded, looking towards the lot.
"But he looked so healthy!"
"He was, but he broke so many hearts that his own finally broke."
"He regretted what he did in the end." Samuel said gently. "He always had, he just was never willing to face it fully. So he kept breaking his own heart a little at a time as well, until..." He shrugged and glanced towards a stretcher now being lifted into the ambulance.
"I want to go with him." She finally said, and rushed off.
"What is it about you, Sammie that you always chase the girls off?" Jimbo asked from behind him.
He turned just as Virginia reached the ambulance and began speaking to the police. They nodded and she got into the ambulance. Its doors shut and it roared off into the traffic off Tropicana, carrying a very confused woman.
"She has to forget." Samuel said.
"What happened here?" He told him, and then looked into Jimbo's face.
His eyes closed for a moment and a brief golden glow surrounded his body. He stiffened for a moment, and then opened his eyes with a smile. "Hey! We still have time to catch Star Wars Ten."
"You're on, buddy!" Jimbo shot back.
Inside the ambulance Virginia looked on with distress at the dead body on the gurney in front of her. Who was that man? Why was she there?
The ambulance pulled into a hospital emergency parking spot and the back doors opened. She jumped out and fled into the night, confused and lost. Why had she been in that ambulance? With that dead man?
As she fled she stopped for a moment as a man, whose image seemed to waver slightly, appeared before her. He smiled. "Thank you!" He said.
"Do I know you?" She asked, surprised at his words.
"We met once upon a time. You were kind to me. Thank you." He repeated.
She smiled, and then rushed past him, hailing a Yellow Cab as it came near. It pulled over and she got inside. "Where to, lady?" The Cabbie asked. "Anywhere but here!" She told him.
The cab sped off into traffic.
The man who had greeted her smiled. His name was Ted Damson. He closed his eyes. "I'm ready now." A swirling tunnel of white light opened before him and he stepped into it. He was met by all the people he had loved in this life and some he had never known, but who radiated so much love and peace that he felt safe and secure.
The tunnel of light seemed to extend into infinity and then he and the others vanished.
Nearby, a bum, who had been about to drink, rubbed at his eyes. He had been watching from the bus stop. He set his brown bag of booze down, got up, crossed himself, and then walked away from what he had just seen.