What happens when a rich client, three beautiful women, a shifty businessman, a gambler and a missing spouse are all suspected of murder? The results are a merry-go-round of shadows and lies in a house of cards with clues almost as old as Carson.

Greed, blackmail, infidelity, murder, serial killers and a twenty year old crime spin a tale that is practically unbelievable – with the truth masked behind a story that nobody wants told.

This old fashion ‘whodunit’ takes Carson Reno and his crew on a complicated adventure, which has too many victims and too many suspects.

Come along and help Carson find the clues and discover the truth as he tries to make sense of all the

SHADOWS & LIES

Startled by the door opening and entrance of an unannounced visitor, I looked up from my desk to see a woman gliding toward me across the office floor. She was moving as if on roller skates, holding a burning cigarette in her right hand, and her left hand extended in my direction.  Both hands and arms were covered in elbow length white gloves; I stood when as she stopped only inches from the front of my desk.

“Hello Mr. Reno,” she offered with a smile and pleasant voice. “I’ve always wanted to meet you and…and well now here you are.”

“Yes…yes I guess I am,” I somehow managed, accepting her outstretched hand. “How may…how may I help you?”

She didn’t answer, but did release my hand before taking a healthy draw off her cigarette and blowing a mouthful of blue smoke out into the previously fresh air of my confined office.

“Please…please sit down,” I continued to stutter while walking around my desk and moving a padded chair close, then waving for her to use it.

“How may I help you Miss…Miss…” I repeated.

She accepted my invitation and slowly sat down, but not before using her left hand to smooth the rear of her dress. Still without speaking, she pulled an ashtray to the corner of my desk, giving her cigarette a place to rest.

“I’m sorry Miss…Miss…did we have an appointment?” I moved behind the desk and returned to my chair.  “Sometimes I forget and sometimes my secretary forgets to remind me of these things.  It’s really not a problem, so please tell me how I may be of service?”

Without responding, she began removing her long white gloves one finger at a time - first the left then the right, revealing silky smooth hands with long nails and shiny red polish.  Then she neatly folded both gloves and placed them across her lap, giving me a chance to catch my breath and take a good look at my new visitor.

She was dressed in a long red dress with black and white trim; in fact the dress almost covered her ankles. Short black hair was sheltered with a small black hat and white earrings hung below, offering the perfect accent to her unusual outfit. Her complexion was flawless, highlighted by bright red lipstick and large paste-on eyelashes, drawing attention to a pair of gorgeous baby-blue eyes. The bulky dress didn’t permit much evaluation of her body, but from her manners I expected that she had all the right parts and pieces in all the right places, and knew how to get the most value from those parts and pieces.

I managed a peak at her feet while getting her seated and confirmed that she wasn’t wearing roller skates, but rather dark red high heels flanked by black net stockings – stockings that reminded me of netting I’d once seen on a fishing trip.

The famous Peabody Hotel Barbershop is located in a small alcove on the west side of the building and just off the main lobby. Without an outside entrance, customers can only access the barbershop by entering the hotel lobby and using the short stairs near the coffee shop.

Marcie was back in the box and I needed to get a haircut and talk with my favorite barber – Ray Ray. Ray was Scottish, and evidently when he was born his parents were having some disagreement about how to carry on the legacy of their family name…Ray. There was also some muddle about unfilled promises to grandparents regarding use of the given name of some long ago departed relative…Ray. Anyway, when it was over Ray ended up with the given name of Ray to go with his surname, Ray…thus the name Ray Ray.  To avoid confusion everyone just calls him Ray!

At least that’s the story about his name as he tells it, and I’m not one to argue with a guy that carries a razor in his pocket.

Barbershops and beauty shops are great places to get information, provided you can filter out gossip and bragging from the facts. Ray was good at that and he usually had some interesting insight about local news stories and events. Perhaps he could bring me up to speed on all the news I hadn’t read about in the past few years!  But today I had some specific questions for my friend.

The shop was empty when I walked in, except for Ray sitting in his barber chair and reading the paper.

2017 by Gerald W. Darnell

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