WITH THE HEAVY FRAGRANCE of Clive Christian No. 1 filling the bedroom and with a sterling silver ice bucket chilling a bottle of Louis Roederer, Cristal Brut 1990, Millennium 2000 next to the circular king size bed, Ray Mallard reached out and slowly pulled the curvaceous Candy Matson closer to him. On the way over to him she playfully whispered," Why dear, I believe you just can't get enough of me lately? I just wonder why?"
He kissed her ravishingly as she slid on top of him, mounting him over and over again.
She smiled and whispered, "Maybe we can …."
He laughed as he looked at the Bose Wave clock radio on top of the moving boxes that had been left all over her bedroom. He exclaimed, "Don't count on it it's almost six in the morning!"
"Well I want to try anyway; it was such a nice way to remember this place." Candy added as she gently moved her sculptured red acrylic long nails over his washboard abs.
She moved her index finger to his wet, moist lips, "Shh, my dear, no more negative thoughts, all I would like to do spend a nice quiet hour with you."
Candy smiled and then kissed him. She moved her naked breasts carefully up and down his massive chest as she adjusted her legs to straddle his narrow muscular waist. She rose slightly to her knees and then gently lowered herself on his large rigid passion.
"Now dear, see nothing will stop us now!"
Those were the last words that came out of her mouth before her cell phone rang.
"Damn, I better get this."
"Do you have to?"
"Ducky, it may be important."
With those words and a gentle kiss to his lips, she got up off the bed, reached for white bustier and threw it on as she ran around the moving boxes across the room to pick up her cell phone from her black Louis Vuitton purse.
"Hello, this is Candy Matson."
"Candy are you ready?" The caller asked.
"Give a girl some time, you can't get ready in ten minutes, it takes time to be beautiful you know!"
Candy ran around took off her bustier, picked up her clothes and her Stephanie lace, dental floss g-string underwear. She dropped her red razor phone back into her handbag as she bent over to find her jeans.
The phone rang again.
"Shit!" She grabbed her phone out of her handbag again.
Rembrandt was totally put out by Candy's lack of timing and said, "Oh, Candy, cut the dialog, and move your ass out to the car now! We have to get you moved today. It is almost already six thirty and the movers will be here any second now! What the hell are you doing in there?"
She slid into some ripped Diesel jeans; a San Francisco 49er's cropped t-shirt, and a pair Prada sneakers. Candy ran downstairs and walked out of her house on Telegraph Hill. She headed toward a parked car on the side of the street.
Smiling, she, "Well, that was a pleasant morning greeting, Rembrandt, dear. What's the hurry? I was busy in there."
"I Imagine you were! Pleasant--but unprofitable and don't bother me with any details. As many times as I've been to the horse races, I never seem to have the gumption to quit when I'm ahead. Now get in the starting gate and let's go over to see your new digs." Rembrandt added.
"Like Damon Runyon once said, horse players die broke." Candy whispered as she got in the front seat of Rembrandt's cream-coloured Camry.
"I'm also reminded of that old song. Horses don't bet on people. But the scenery was lovely. I enjoyed it. Speaking about scenery girl, how about your new digs, moving on up, hey?"
"Yes, tonight I'll be in 308 Greenwich Street. This is truly one of Telegraph Hill's more sophisticated home, located on the Greenwich Steps. It was magnificently renovated by the owner/designer in 2006, and it has unobstructed views of the Bay from Alcatraz to the Ferry Building."
Rembrandt smiled, drove off and turned to Candy and said, "Yes that new brick path through the professionally landscaped rock-terraced front yard makes a real great entrance. The gated courtyard and entry hall welcome you to the home. The top floor has a living room with fireplace, a den/formal dining room, guest bath, a chef's kitchen and a master bedroom with elegant bath. The view deck accessed from the living and kitchen areas has retractable awnings for shade. The lower floor has a spacious guest suite with bath and sliding doors to the garden and used brick patio. Additionally there are ample closets and a laundry."
"Rembrandt, you sound like a realtor, not a good friend!"
"Well Candy, someone had to take care of you. Look at you are mess, did you even get any sleep last night?"
"Okay, if you must know, the answer is no! Now, are we headed over there now?"
Rembrandt smiled and asked, "I know I will regret asking this questions but where was Lt. Mallard?"
"Mallard, how should I know? It is hard to keep up with that man!"
"Hard, huh? Well unless, I mixed up my scents, his cologne is still in your hair my dear, come clean with me. He was with you last night right?"
Candy smiled, "Well, Rembrandt I can't keep much from you then can I? Why the twenty questions this morning? Isn't it too early?"
"Well I don't know about your crowd, the type that is coming home about this time in the morning, but for the rest of us people, this is time when people get off to work! Look at these people Candy; they are wide awake and ready for work." Rembrandt pointed out to a very tired Candy.
Candy threw her arms up in the air and smiled, "You win! Are you happy now? You were right."
"Okay tell me where is he and is he helping us today?"
"I don't know, he left for work out of the back door when I came out to your car, he got called out this morning for a murder."
"Murder? What are you talking about?"
"Yes, I don't think he will be helping us today, you know, duty calls!"
"Well, if you call that duty. Not to change the subject but why did you sell your three bedroom house for your new two bedroom house?" Rembrandt asked.
"Just wait and see Rembrandt, it is the view. It is worth every penny of it!"
Candy's cell phone rang again.
She answered the phone, "Hello, Candy Matson."
"Matson, Mallard here."
"Where are you dear?"
"In Haight Ashbury, investigating a series of murders."
"Anyone I know?" Matson laughed.
"Well that is exactly why I called. Remember Cindy Lake?"
"Yes, sure she and I were models together in Los Angeles about four years ago, why?"
"She is the apparent victim."
Matson screamed out, visibly shaken and upset, "What? Where are you? I'm coming over right now!"
As Mallard told Matson where he was located, she turned to Rembrandt and told him, "I wanted to avoid that traffic on the streets this time of morning. And I also just had a thought we would drive that way."
"Bully for you, are going to work today and forget about the movers? So few people have their priorities as straight as you do. What might the idea be?" Rembrandt asked as he turned the car around.
"I know a cozy little spot to eat over in Haight Ashbury. How would you like to have breakfast there, instead of town?" Matson asked.
"Splendid, girl. This sounds delightful. My, this is rather forlorn country up that way. You know real people, not just suits and buildings with a great deal of character."
"Yes, the real estate boys haven't caught up with it yet. Wait till they see the results of the recent census. Homes will be rehabbed all over those hills like Telegraph Hills are being now. Maybe one day they will completely remodelled that area as well as they have in Telegraph Hill."
As Rembrandt and Candy quickly motored toward Mallard, they excitedly off the highway and went to a side street. Shortly there after they realized quickly that they were in the Haight Ashbury area as a man staggering toward them approached their car. He had stumbled out of what appeared to have been a vacant building near the street.
The gruff old homeless man yelled out, "Help, help me-please!"
He collapsed in the street right next to Rembrandt's car. Rembrandt immediately and frantically stopped the car.
"What was that?" Candy nervously asked as the man fell against the car, hit the street, and then got up and fell into a vacant looking house.
"It came from back there, Candy! The man must have gone into that house. It's the only one around here."
The man slowly managed to get to his feet and stumbled out the font door and yelled out, "Come back! Help I'm in very serious trouble."
Candy thought about leaving, she really wanted to find out about her friend's death, but now she was presented with this mystery and it had to be taken care of first.
Candy yelled out, "Get out of the car!"
Rembrandt did exactly that then Candy got out of the car and turned toward him, "Yes. It is that house. Let's find out what this is all about, shall we?"
Now there's a fine start for a cozy breakfast for Candy and Rembrandt. It could only happen to Candy Matson, San-Francisco's well-known private investigator. Whether she's at home in her townhouse on Telegraph Hill, or at the races in Bay Meadows, or in Haight Ashbury, it made no difference. Trouble always seemed to pop up its dangerous head and today was no exception. On this quiet morning a man watching the wrong horses finished in the right positions, he ran out into the road right into the path of Candy Matson as she and Rembrandt drove along a road in Haight Ashbury. Out of the blue, the man's cried for help and Candy had to respond.
This cry led to a maze of events that would have done justice to any Alfred Hitchcock movie. Nothing the rest of the day could have topped that man call for help. Well, that was Candy Matson's story and she was going to stick to it. She was busy trying to move, on her way to see her boyfriend, when a mystery literally fell into her beautiful lap.
Candy cut the silence as both she and Rembrandt had gotten out of the car to attend to the man in the street.
Candy asked the man, "Hello, what is your name and how can we help you sir?"
The troubled man looked up at her and asked, "Did I die?"
"I thought I was heaven!" He laughed and began to cough vigorously. He threw up blood on his new clothes.
By the sound of his cough and his inability to catch his breathe, Candy could tell right away that he had some sort of serious lung problem like cancer and didn't have a long time to live.
Candy was right. In less than minute, the skeleton of a man met his fate. However before he died he told Candy, "My friend is in there. He is very sick too!"
He pointed to the vacant building across the street.
Candy looked at Rembrandt after the man died and asked, "What did that the man say about a maze of events? He's right--but in oh, such a mild way. Just to pick a word at random--it was--murder! Sorry if the word sets up a feeling like a finger nail down a blackboard--but leave us to confront it--that's what it was--murder. And it might have gone on ad infinitum, if I---well, that's part of the story and comes later. What comes first was the fact that we stopped the car, turned around and drove up on a man dying or this lonely house high above Haight Ashbury overlooking all of street."
"I don't know what you are talking about but let's look after the other man." Rembrandt replied as they crossed the sidewalk and walked into the door.
The front door was slightly jarred open, so Rembrandt and Candy walked right in. There, by an open window, was an old man on his knees, draped over the windowsill from where he had called out, "Thank you... Oh, thank you. Thank for helping my friend. I was worried…"
Those were his last words as he slumped over on the floor. He appeared to be gasping for air with terrible burns all over his body. He too was coughing up blood.
Candy whispered, "Do you see those burns?"
Rembrandt answered, "Yes, those are some sort of chemical burns, I would bet. It looks like radiation."
Candy and Rembrandt moved over to the body. She bent over and felt for a pulse, she shook her head and told Rembrandt, "It's a heart attack. Quick, Rembrandt, help me get him on the couch"
They lifted the frail man onto couch. He was hot to the touch. They thought he was dead. However to their great surprise, the man began to get a little colour back in his face and his faint pulse began to beat a little stronger.
Candy directed Rembrandt, "Then we'll get his collar open and loosen his tie."
"There we are." Rembrandt explained after he loosened the man's tie.
The man told them, "My wife. She has gone for doctor."
"Good you need one, how long ago did she go?" Candy asked.
"I don't know. Ten days ago, maybe, I can't wait anymore."
Candy smiled, "What are you talking about?"
"Too late. Here. Take this envelope. Deliver it--deliver--"
He grasped the envelope tightly and handed it to Candy. He then tried to speak again and all he could do was gasp for air.
"Take it easy. Don't try to talk. Save all the strength you possibly can." Candy explained as she got out her cell phone to call 911.
"This is important. I must talk. I must tell you what you have in there. They will be after you as well. You have some very important top secret papers." The man sighed gently as his brown eyes began to roll back into his head.
"I've got his tie off, Candy. Hell, who would wear a tie in this area? Tie dyed yes but neck tie no!" Rembrandt laughed.
"Yes, don't hate- the Haight."
"Very funny sweetheart!"
"Wait no more Candy jokes von Rhine!"
Rembrandt looked at the man and told Candy, "Yes. Never mind his collar, though. It won't do him any good. Not now."
"You don't mean he's--he's dead. Let me look."
"Be my guest."
Candy felt his pulse and shook her head, "I'm afraid so. I can't feel any pulse."
"This is a fine kettle of fish. How do we explain this to your ducky friend? We were just driving through a Haight Ashbury neighbourhood and three people died right in front of us? I don't think so. Somehow he will have us on death row by lunch. Speaking about lunch, weren't you taking me to breakfast?"
"What Rembrandt, three people?"
Rembrandt pointed over to a corner of the house, a dead woman's body that lay on the floor. She apparently had gone for help for husband and met the same fate as the other two-she was dead.
Candy shook her head and walked over to the woman, "The only way to explain it. Just tell what happened, the way it happened. Look at this situation."
"And who will believe that we were just driving along a lonely road, a man ran into my car, we heard this chap call for help, went to his aid, and then had him expire gracefully half a minute later. Now we find a third person dead in the room. It is all way too pat, Candy."
"The truth is always hard to swallow, Rembrandt. Nothing but the truth would be better served with an Apple Cosmo."
"Well, this is cozy. But so is the noose around our neck. What do we do now Candy?"
"Leave and report it to the police and be on our way. There's nothing we can do by hanging around. I'll call Mallard and have come over to investigate."
"We could stay and console the widow when she returns." Rembrandt seriously stated.
"No, I hate scenes like that. She'll cry, then I'll cry and I'll feel miserable for a week. Come on, Rembrandt, let's go. Three dead older Japanese people died in Haight Ashbury. It is all in a day's work."
Rembrandt took a very deep breath, "Listen to yourself Candy, something doesn't make sense here."
"What is that?"
"Elderly Japanese people in Haight Ashbury!"
Candy shook her head, "I see what you mean, and you know before the war a great many Japanese people owned business in this area."
"You know when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942; most of this area was completely vacated."
"Speaking about vacating Candy aren't you forgetting the envelope?"
Candy turned around and picked up the large brown envelope. At this point she began to more close go over it and exclaimed, "You know this is funny, this paper looks new, but this style of envelope went out over sixty years ago."
"You can always just leave it, let's get out of here."
"No, Rembrandt that was the request of a dying man. I'll follow through with it!"
The front door flung open and both Candy and Rembrandt jumped.
"Oh!" Rembrandt exclaimed as he jumped high in the air.
"Rembrandt, what's wrong?" Candy asked as she grabbed his arm tightly.
"Oh, it was nothing. It just startled me. Look it was just a black cat. See it ran across the doorstep in front of us."
"Now don't start anything like that. A cat's a cat whether it's black green or beige. I'm not going to go there about superstitious things."
Rembrandt then stopped dead in his tracks and looked at Candy, "Did you realize that there were three in their dead"
"It's like three on the match, it is unlucky!"
Candy pulled Rembrandt toward the door. "Come along Rembrandt; let's get out of here before something else takes place."
The heavy wooden front door closed in front of them. Candy looked at the cat and smiled. She told Rembrandt, "It's only the kind that walk on two legs that make me worry."
Rembrandt noticed a man walking into the room and nudged Candy, "Well, start worrying then. Here comes one of the males of the species."
A middle aged doctor dressed in light blue scrubs, walked into the place, he noticed both Candy and Rembrandt and said, "Oh, pardon me."
"Certainly. Are you the doctor?" Candy asked as she ran into the preoccupied physician.
"Yes. That's right. Dr. Douglas Akira. The three people who live here are my patients."
Rembrandt smiled, "Were, your patients would be much more like it. They no longer need your services."
"What do you mean?" Akira asked.
"I'm afraid you're just a bit late, doctor. The gentleman in there is dead." Candy explained.
"What? Jerome dead? Oh, the fool. I warned him. I told him that he would die from the radiation poisoning. "
"I'm not being curious, you understand--but the gentleman's wife I believe is in the corner."
"Where, inside, is she…?"
Candy pointed out, "No. Just before he died, she must have died. He said she'd died on the way to go get you."
"She just called me on the phone about ten minutes ago. I assumed it was from the house phone." Dr. Akira explained to a shocked Rembrandt and Candy.
"Well!" Candy explained.
Rembrandt turned to Candy and whispered, "I just knew something like this would happen. It was that black cat."
Candy shrugged her shoulders and exclaimed, "Oh, quit it, please come. By the way, doctor...what's the gentleman's name?"
"Moreland. Jerome Moreland. Wait just a moment, young lady. If you don't know him--what were you doing inside?"
"That's a good question. Answer the good doctor, Candy." Rembrandt laughed.
Candy slowly began, "Well, my friend here and I were driving up the road to see my boyfriend. Obviously Mr. Moreland made it to the door, opened it and called to us as we were passing. I turned about, went in--the door was open--found him on his knees up against the windowsill. We lifted him onto the couch, tried to make him comfortable. But it was too late. He died in less than thirty seconds."
The Doctor told them in disbelief, "Ms, come along with me, will you please? First I want to examine Jerome. Then I'll have to have some information from you for my reports."
Candy, the Doctor, and Rembrandt all went back inside the house and the doctor busied himself with whatever doctors busy themselves with when they examined a corpse, Rembrandt and Candy stood in the entrance hall and watched while talked outside to each other.
When the doctor finished, he fired a volley of questions at Candy and Rembrandt--where they lived, how long they lived there, their occupations, etcetera and even more etcetera. Then he excused both of them, it felt funny being on the opposite end of an inquisition for Candy, but in the back of her mind she wondered what type of doctor would ask those types of questions.
He appeared to more of government agent then a doctor. But the doctor was nice enough about it--and it had to be done. They gave up the idea of breakfast in Haight Asbury; they instead drove back across the bay bridge and ate at a place in Chinatown.