January’s short story features my protagonists from my detective fiction series.

I intended this story have an solid mystery and it turned into something completely out of left field. At first, I wasn’t happy with how the story turned out. But, as I continued to write, I realized this story helps me develop my characters by throwing them into a wacky situation.

With that said, this short story is more character-based than plot-based. I hope you enjoy, thanks for reading.

Pirates [Part Four]

“So, they’re not actually pirates?” Lilah asked, whispering, trying to cloak her disappointment.

George sighed. “No, they’re not. Barney already told you that.”

Lilah sighed, taking a cup of coffee from George. It was a good thing they weren’t actually pirates, but it would have been pretty cool if there were pirates involved.

George handed their guest a cup of tea before sitting back down behind his desk.

“Thank you,” she murmured, taking a small sip.

“Mrs. Campbell,” George said, folding his hands on the surface of his desk, “please tell us everything you know about your husband and these so-called pirates.”

Lilah took another sip of her coffee in an effort to bite her tongue. The wife was always suspicious to the two of them. Now it was obvious she knew way more about what her husband was up to and why he had disappeared in the first place. It was no wonder she didn’t want to hire them to find him. She had to have known where he was the entire time.

“When Bruce and I first came to you for help it was because Bruce was in trouble,” the wife began to explain. “If I had known how deep things were, I would have gone straight to the police. However, Bruce kindly asked me to keep the police out of it, which is why we turned to you.”

Lilah nodded her head, the rim of her coffee mug still close to her lips. She certainly remembered having that conversation with them. George almost didn’t take the case because he thought it was better suited for the police to handle, which was unlike George.

“These men… the pirates, as you call them,” Mrs. Campbell explained, “are the same men we were trying to hide from when we came to you in the first place. They wanted to recruit Bruce and when he refused, they got angry.”

Lilah drew in a sharp breath. She knew how angry they could be. When she found a clue and couldn’t get a hold of George, she had decided to check it out for herself. She got caught and almost died at gun point. Luckily, George had received her message and he made it there in time.

It was that moment which made her realize why there were so few men on that ship. There were only four left. George had brought the police when they rescued Lilah and all of them were arrested. At least, they believed they had gotten all of them. Some people were clearly missed and continued the operation even with most of their men gone.

“What did they want to recruit your husband for?” George asked.

Mrs. Campbell shrugged. “They’re smugglers. I couldn’t tell you what exactly they smuggle or whether it’s to bring something into the country or carry it out. All I know is that they wanted my husband.”

George nodded, encouraging her to go on. Then he glanced at Lilah as she did to him. Both of them suspected Mrs. Campbell knew more than she pretended to.

How could she not know what they wanted her husband for? Even if they spoke to him without Mrs. Campbell present, surely he would have explained everything to her? They both came to George and Lilah a few months ago about this issue. Now that she thought about it, Bruce didn’t get much of a word in. Mrs. Campbell did the majority of the talking.

“Why are you here to tell us all this?” George asked. “Shouldn’t you be going to the police station where your husband is being held?”

Mrs. Campbell drew in a sharp breath, blowing it out through her mouth. “I plan to, yes. I need to bail him out. However, I wanted to ask for your help one last time.”

George opened his mouth to say something, but the woman held up a hand to silence him.

“Bruce is not well and he doesn’t know how to take care of himself. He’s a wimp.”

Lilah quickly took a sip of her coffee, attempting to hide her snort.

Mrs. Campbell didn’t seem to notice as she continued. “If he was found with these so-called pirates, then I know the moment I get him out of jail, he’s going to run away again and go back to them.”

And there it was. The slip up.

“Run away?” George repeated. Lilah pressed her lips together.

Mrs. Campbell scoffed, waving a hand dismissively. “You know what I mean.”

“No, we don’t,” George said calmly.

She stared at him, unresponsive. Lilah couldn’t tell if this woman was trying to come up with comebacks in her head or if George actually was off-base and she was so appalled he would say such a thing.

“Mrs. Campbell?” George prompted.

She rolled her eyes, placing her tea on George’s desk. “I can see you don’t believe me, so I might as well take my business elsewhere.” She stood up from her chair but didn’t move.

Lilah shifted her gaze between Mrs. Campbell and George, wondering who was going to make the next move. She was bluffing, otherwise she would have already been out the door. The issue was, why was she acting like this? She was hiding something, there was no doubt about that. In Lilah’s mind, the best way to figure that out was to go along with whatever she wanted.

However, George rose from his chair, putting his hands in his pockets. “Then I suggest the police. I’ve told you before that they’ll be better suited to help you in this situation.”

Mrs. Campbell’s jaw gaped open. “Are you turning down your client?”

“Former client,” George corrected. “You never officially hired us to find your husband, remember?”

She glared at him.

Lilah stood, her coffee mug nearly empty. “I’m going to get more coffee. Would anyone like anything?”

George arched a brow at her and Mrs. Campbell redirected her glare to Lilah. Lilah nodded, getting the hint from both of them. She exited the room without another word.

She quickened her pace down the hall and made it to the kitchen. Lilah took her cell phone out of her pocket and pressed on Barney’s contact info. As the phone rang, she cradled her cell phone in between her ear and shoulder as she poured herself another cup.

“Lilah?” Barney answered. “Is everything alright?”

“Bruce Campbell’s wife is here,” Lilah said quietly. “She’s talking to George in his office and there’s something off about her.”

“I’m on my way,” Barney replied.

“Well,” Lilah said, putting the carafe back on the warming plate. “I’m not sure if you need to come here, but I wanted to keep you in the loop. I’m not sure what George is thinking, but I think he’s getting a weird vibe from her as well.”

“Lilah, I said I’m on my way. Don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t want to bug you. I know you’re busy,” Lilah continued. She opened the fridge and took out the cream.

“No, you’re doing the right thing,” Barney answered.

“I’m sure everything’s fine. I wanted your opinion, really.” She heard sirens through the phone. “Wait, are you actually coming?”

“Yes, Lilah! I’m actually coming.”

Lilah poured the cream into her coffee before placing the carton gently down on the counter. She furrowed her brows, looking over her shoulder back into the hall. “Why are you putting the sirens on? What’s wrong?”

“An APB was put out on Bruce’s wife, Margret Campbell. The other station called me not too long ago asking if we’d seen or heard anything from her. I guess Bruce sang like a canary during his interrogation. His wife is the ring leader of this whole operation.”

Lilah clicked her tongue. “Oh… that’s no good.”

“No, it’s not. Where are you?”

“Home. I excused myself to the kitchen so George is still in his office with Mrs. Campbell.”

“Has she said anything to you guys about what’s been going on?”

“Not really. She came here because she knew we found her husband. I don’t know what she wants us to do, though. She mentioned her husband ran away and when George called her out on it, she bluffed that she was going to leave and go to the police. But she hasn’t gone anywhere yet.”

“And she’s not going to,” Barney replied. “She’s certainly not going to go to the police because she probably knows she’s going to get caught doing whatever it is she’s doing.”

Lilah sighed, putting the creamer back into the fridge. “Is this all about drugs? Isn’t that what smuggling usually is?”

“Smuggling can be anything, but I think, in this case, yes. It’s drugs. Apparently, the hotel you stayed at was one of their bases. I guess there’s a spa there or something? That’s where they were hiding everything.”

Lilah groaned. “That’s why I saw Bruce walking in there.”

“To the spa?”

“And George would never have gotten an actual massage…”

“Huh?”

“Nothing,” Lilah sighed.

“I’m almost there,” Barney said.

“Alright, see you soon,” Lilah replied, bringing the phone away from her ear.

“Stay on the line until-”

Lilah hung up, putting her phone back into her pocket. She grunted, annoyed that the one time she tried to do something nice for George, it ended up being a base for a smuggling ring. Now she needed to see what was on the appointment card. Was it fake and neither of them noticed? Or was George going to arrive to his appointment and the place would be closed?

She picked up her coffee and made her way out of the kitchen. Lilah made it halfway down the hall before pausing. She turned around, unlocked the front door for Barney, and then began to make her way back to George’s office.
Lilah paused at the threshold of the door.

George stood behind his desk with his arms slightly raised. Lilah narrowed her eyes, trying to peer inside. She let out an inaudible gasp upon seeing Mrs. Campbell with a gun fixated on George.

“You don’t understand, you need to help me get a hold of my husband. I’m sure he’s scared and waiting for me to help him,” Mrs. Campbell said.

“You know, that request doesn’t sound sincere when you’re pointing a gun at me,” George replied.

“How else am I supposed to get anyone else to listen to me?” Mrs. Campbell spat. “I’ve worked too hard for things to unravel now simply because my husband didn’t agree with what I was doing.”

“What do you expect me to do about it?” George asked.

Sirens rang in the distance and Lilah instinctively pressed herself against the wall in the hallway when Mrs. Campbell looked over her shoulder.

“Did you call the police?” she demanded.

George responded, but Lilah didn’t pay attention to his words. She craned her neck to look in the room again. Luckily, Mrs. Campbell’s back was to her and was facing George again. The woman was clearly angry as she started ordering George around.

“Where did that girl go?” she spat.

Lilah looked down at her coffee. It was a shame to waste a perfectly good cup, but…

“I’m right here,” Lilah replied nonchalantly.

The moment Mrs. Campbell turned around, Lilah tossed the hot liquid in the woman’s direction. As soon as the beverage splashed in Mrs. Campbell’s face, she screamed, dropping her gun.

George dove to the ground, picking up the weapon, training it on Mrs. Campbell, ordering her to get down on the ground. Lilah stepped out of the way to stand behind the detective, clutching her empty coffee mug.

At the same moment, Barney burst into the office with his gun out and ready. He stared down at Mrs. Campbell, who was kneeling on the ground, her face buried in her hands. He arched a brow at George, who relaxed, lowering the weapon.

“Don’t ask,” George said to his brother.

Lilah hummed softly, peering into her empty mug. “What a waste.”

*

“So, you mean to tell me this Margret Campbell lady posted a fake job posting and hired almost everyone who applied. She had them sign a contract with the real details but no one actually read the contract, so they got roped into this shady drug smuggling business?” Caleb recapped.

Barney nodded, putting his water glass down on the table. “That contract was technically the only legal thing she did. She told them without telling them and they all signed not realizing what they were getting themselves into. But since they signed the contract, they got stuck doing illegal things and now have to pay the price for it.”

“That’s pretty clever, actually,” Lilah stated, leaning back in her booth. “You have to give Mrs. Campbell some credit.”

“What happened to Bruce though? Did he know all of this?” George asked.

Barney nodded. “He was in on it from the start. But then when he realized everything else his wife was doing, he tried to stop it. So, he pretended to disappear and help the other guys get out of it. That’s why his wife didn’t want anyone looking for him. If we found him, then we would end up finding her out.”

Caleb chuckled. “She really backed herself into a corner, then.”

“She did. Bruce, too. He’ll probably get a lighter sentence than his wife, but he’s in just as much trouble,” Barney explained. “Whatever, though. It’s still not my jurisdiction so I didn’t have as much paperwork to fill out.” He raised his glass and George did the same, both smirking at one another.

“I’m glad everything wrapped up, but I wish we were able to finish our vacation,” Lilah said.

Caleb nodded in agreement. “We’ll have to book another weekend somewhere soon. About two weeks from now?”

“We can do that.”

“Wait, what?” George asked.

Lilah stared at him. “What?”

“We just took a weekend off from work. I can’t take another weekend off so soon,” George protested.

“We don’t have any cases right now,” Lilah replied.

“Anything can happen between now and then.”

“You should go, George. You need it,” Barney encouraged.

“What I need is a solo vacation,” George remarked. Barney chuckled.

“That’s rude,” Lilah said, pouting. “We’re all going away two weekends from now. Caleb and I will plan it.”

Caleb gave her a thumb’s up and a wide grin.

“All of us?” Barney repeated.

“Yes, all of us. You were supposed to come with us this weekend, remember?” Caleb reminded his big brother.

Barney sighed, looking at George who shook his head.

“If I have to go then you have to do. I need a support system with these two.”

Barney chuckled again. “Alright, fine.”

Lilah and Caleb cheered. They leaned forward over the table, speaking in hushed tones about vacation plans. Barney and George began their own conversation, knowing full well that they’d end up doing everything for this vacation.

Support Me on Ko-fi

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve enjoyed this story and other work from me in the past, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi.

Any money I receive on Ko-fi goes directly back into my writing to help me afford editors, book cover designers, etc.

Thank you so much for your support!

Rachel Poli

Rachel Poli

Author

Rachel Poli is a multi-genre author with a soft spot for mystery.

She often experiments with short stories and flash fiction, however, she's currently working on the first book of her detective fiction series.

When she's not writing, she's usually cleaning, reading, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.

Website | Ko-fi

error: This content is copyrighted by Rachel Poli. You may not select, copy, or use any of this material.