Publication date: April 26th 2022
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Detroit homicide detective Jacob Miller has been accused of many things, but being smart isn’t one of them. The murder of drug dealer Willy is proof enough, but not covering it up is even worse. So why would he think that stealing a fellow inmate’s hidden fortune is any wiser, especially when an ex-mafia family head is after the same thing?
But even the stupidest people have occasional flashes of brilliance, and Jacob is no exception. After being released from prison and moving to sunny Costa Rica, he solves an international murder mystery involving the usual suspects: love, lust, and murder.
Despite that mildly brainiac feather in his cap, he still has to deal with the beef between him, his fellow inmate, and the mob boss…and the violent fallout that ensues.
We sat around a rec room table playing gin rummy as if we were in the country club after hitting a round of eighteen. Of course, there were no beers or whiskeys or fat cigars—and we had only shot nine holes—but the feeling was much the same as when I had once gone to my sister’s club.
Pusser was at the table, and everyone—excluding me—was ribbing one another and telling off-color jokes. We drank Cokes and Sprites and ate from tiny bags of chips from the vending machine. We bet nickels instead of dollars, mainly for my benefit. When I wasn’t there, hundreds of dollars were sometimes on the table.
“So your sister,” Pusser said to me, “she’s watching out for my wife, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, trying to count the cards as they were played, but with little success. My mind wasn’t big enough to hold that type of voluminous information: too many cards, too many colors, too many numbers. I played by the seat of my pants—and it showed. My partner—whoever would have me—and I almost always lost. That’s why I was passed around, so everybody could feel the sting.
“She better,” Pusser, who today was my card-playing partner, said. “I’ll kill her and her little dog, too.” He was joking, of course, but he felt it necessary to tell me anyway: “No, no, no. I’m just kidding. I’ll just break her legs.”
Everyone at the table—except for me—laughed. Frank Miller, former Minnesota state senator, not guilty of taking bribes from a local window manufacturer, slapped me on the back. “As long as it ain’t the kneecaps,” he said.
“Those are the worst,” Miller’s card partner, Bobby Francone, former CIO of the window company Miller hadn’t taken bribes from, said. “I was jogging one day, tripped on a curb, and—wham!— down I went, right on my fucking knee. Not even a fracture, but it hurt like hell. Still gets stiff in the cold.”
“The end of your basketball career, huh?” Miller said.
“Yeah. Tell me about it. Fuck Michael Jordan, you know. I was known as ‘Bobby the Bomber.’ I could dunk it right over that black motherfucker’s head.” The racism wasn’t all that uncommon, and of course, they all laughed again. I just played my cards, a polite smile on my face.
“Anyone ever tell you you talk too much?” Pusser asked me.
“All the time,” I said.
“That’s good, though, right? You’re the kind of guy I’d want on my side. Don’t know nothin’, don’t say nothin’. Nowadays, everyone talks too much. Whistleblowers and such. Hell, your own employees. Your staff. They all turn on you.” Miller nodded and grunted. “Ain’t that the truth.”
And he should have known because it had been one of his staff members who had blown the whistle on him, with the state attorney general and the FBI eventually getting involved. But to my surprise, neither Miller nor Francone had turned on each other. Instead, they both stood trial, hoping their respective juries would be generous. They hadn’t.
“Of course, you did talk a little bit, didn’t you?” Pusser said.
“I suppose,” I responded.
“Not that I blame you. A lifetime in a maximum-security prison might make me sing a little tune too.”
Looking down at their cards, they all nodded. “Got that right,” one of them said.
“You know, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. You only get one shot at it, right? One life to live,” Pusser said. “You gotta look out for yourself. Dog eat dog and all that, you know what I mean?”
“You got that,” Francone said.
“Yeah,” Miller echoed.
Hence why they were here—why all of us were here. We had all been looking out for ourselves. Every last one of us. Everyone in the rec room, everyone in their bunks, reading books, or watching TV, playing two-on-two on the basketball court, hitting a long ball on the golf course, whiling away time in solitary cells, taking college courses at the educational center, or enjoying conjugal visits.
We had all been looking out for ourselves.
The only thing that mattered now was how big our stashes were.