Stan Cage, Private Eye: The Case of the Disappearing Dame, part three

Read Part One here

Read Part Two here

Morning fog rolled in from the bay, flowing and ebbing along the streets as Stan made his way to his appointment with his mystery woman.  He had been held so mesmerized that he completely failed at asking her name.  Maybe when he picked up this package of hers he would be able to find out.

The building on the calling card was one of many unremarkable grey concrete obelisks that were on the edge of the lower business district.  Inside, a few massive art deco chandeliers dimly illuminated the the dark marble floors.  His footsteps echoed on the steps as he climbed to the second floor.  Walking down the mezzanine Stan looked for the appropriate office number.  Near the end of the walkway, he spied a door open part way.  The number on the door matched the one on the card.

Stan lightly rapped on the door and stepped in.  He quickly appraised the interior and found no one in the immediate area.  In the office there was a delicate looking cherry wood desk with a leather office chair behind it.  Flanking both sides of the door were two sets of chairs and side tables.  On the far wall, next to the only window were three file cabinets.  Stan looked around looked outside the office and once he made sure no one was around he strode over to the cabinets and began opening the drawers.  Every single one was empty.  Strange, he thought.

As he turned back to the door, his chin connected with the fist from one of the goons from the night before.  As he sunk to the tile floor he saw that his mystery woman was being held by the other.  Apples and cinnamon filled the office, and as Stan lost consciousness he wondered where the had come from.

Several minutes crept by before Stan regained consciousness.  He slowly stood up using the desk as a brace against the onslaught of dizziness.  When he was finally assured of maintaining an upright stance he went to the window and looked out, hoping to catch sight of his quarry.  He slammed his fist against the window frame in frustration.  Grabbing his hat from where it had fallen off his head, Stan retraced his steps out of the office building.  Having no idea which way to head he looked up and down the street.  As he turned his head down towards the bay and industrial docks he smelled the now familiar scent of apples and cinnamon.  For some inexplicable reason he knew that was her scent and he followed it, down narrow streets and dingy alleyways until it lead out to one of the many docks the trailed fingerlike into the cold waters of the bay.

Through the wisps of fog that scurried along the waters edge Stan saw her as she stood at the end of the dock; the two gorilla henchmen flanking her.  Her hands bound in chains that linked down to her ankles.  Two other men stood behind and left of the trio; cloaked and hooded.  Their heads were bent towards one another in quiet conspiracy.  But instead of seeing a woman with her head hung in defeat or quiet acceptance, he spied an archangel.  This woman stood at the face of her doom, head held high.  She was the fiercest thing he had ever seen.  Even men, three times her size, would have been pleading for their lives.  But not this Angel.  She stood her ground.

Stan carefully pulled his gun from its shoulder holster.  He crept along the railing hoping to return the favor by catching the men off guard.  As he passed the two that were cloaked they seemed to melt into the fog and retreat back to the streets.

When he felt he had attained a close enough vantage he shouted, “Down on the ground!”

Of course he knew that the goons wouldn’t comply.  They spun around, reaching for their own weapons to fire.  Stan felt everything slow down.  He shot the one on the left first, then the one on the right.  They both seemed to float down to the wooden planks of the pier.  There they remained motionless.  He knew he couldn’t have killed them both; he was a good shot but not that good.  He quickly stepped up to the prone bodies and removed their weapons from their hands.  He then searched pockets until he found keys that he hoped were to the woman’s shackles.

As he rose, Stan noticed that with all the commotion the woman hadn’t moved a muscle.  Could she have been so terrified from the shooting that it rendered he paralyzed or was she so confident in Stan’s expertise that she wasn’t worried?  Neither made any sense.  It was human nature to want to protect oneself from immediate danger, and bullets flying was definitely a danger.

However, once Stan had removed the metal chains, the woman wrapped her arms around his neck in a most grateful hug.  As she pulled away, she gave brushed her lips against his cheek.

“Thank you,” she whispered.  “I feared they had done you in back at the office.”

Stan uncharacteristically blushed at the intimate contact.  “It takes a bit more than a sucker swing to put me down for long.”

“I am grateful for that, Mr. Cage,” the woman smiled.

For some unknown reason, Stan felt the need to confess his snooping in the office.  “I have to be honest with you.  When I first came in to your office I looked around a bit.  I didn’t find any file for me.  Could someone have taken it?”

The woman’s smile grew a little bigger.  “No, Mr. Cage.  The files are safe.  And I would have been disappointed if you hadn’t searched for them.”

The woman pulled from a pocket in her jacket a key.  It was to a locker at the train station.  She placed the key in his hand.

“The files that you need are there.”

Stan looked hard at her then looked out across the bay.  After a few seconds staring at the fog covered water, he turned back to her and asked, “Who are you?”

But the woman standing beside him was no longer the young woman he had been tracking down.  Instead it was the old mama-san from the restaurant.  Stan shook his head.  The fog, along with the upper cut to the chin from earlier must be playing tricks on his sight.  When he looked again, the young woman was before him.  Still unsure of his senses he returned his gaze to the water.

“I am older than you know, Mr. Cage,” the woman began.  “And there are things about me you cannot understand.  Those men that were also on the dock are the grandsons of the original Two Monkeys founders.  The founders are the ones who brought me here.  And it’s the grandsons who will be brought to justice if you take the files to the district attorney’s office.”

“But that’s impossible,” Stan began turning back to the woman.  But she was no longer by his side.  She was retreating back up the pier.  The fog enveloping her like a cape.  Stan had a need to follow her.  To ask her how it was that the original Two Monkeys had brought her here when she was a child when she was still so obviously a young woman.  But he stayed his feet.  Maybe she was right.  Maybe he couldn’t understand her.

After pondering many fantastical reasons for her comments and what he thought he saw, Stan finally returned to the streets of the city and made his way to the train station, taking extra precautions to make sure he wasn’t followed.  It didn’t take long to find the locker the key belonged to.  Inside was a very large and filled accordion file.  He flipped it open and pulled a random sheet of paper out.  Attached was the photo of a child.  And the paper held all manner of data for the child in the photo.  Stan could see that these were details on the children brought over for the trafficking trade.

He carefully turned, hoping to avoid a repeat from earlier in the morning.  Once he felt there was no immediate danger, he tucked the file folder under his arm and departed the station.  Again taking extraordinary measures to elude any tails, Stan made his way to the DA’s office.  When the secretary asked why he wanted to see the district attorney, he pulled one of the files out and laid it on the desk.

“I think he’ll be interested in taking down the Two Monkeys.”

The secretary briefly studied the file then nodded her head.  “I’ll be right back.”

As she disappeared into the caverns of the offices, Stan continued to wonder at the circumstances that resulted in him having this file folder and to the possibility of it being able to take down one of the city’s most secretive criminal organizations.  He hoped he would some day see the woman again, but has soon as the thought entered his head he already knew the answer would be no.  He knew if he were to return to her office, it would be empty and the door locked.  She had entered his life like an ephemeral ghost, and now she was gone.  As the district attorney approached Stan, he could almost convince himself that he smelled apples and cinnamon.

–   –   –   –   –   –

I have a hard time understanding inspiration.  Looking at a painting of a summertime landscape can result in pages of story.  Or a bee gathering pollen on a thistle can be the beginning of a photo essay.  I saw this beautiful photo of our recently returned Rarasaur and a story came to mind.  Searching for someone who is looking for help but in the end the subject of the assistance gives more assistance to others.  That is our Rara.  She is always there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder or whatever is needed.  And she never asks anything in return.  If you have yet to be introduced to the marvelous woman, please head over to her blog, rarasaur.  You will find some fantastic stories that will make you laugh and cry and be inspired.

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Stan Cage, Private Eye: The Case of the Disappearing Dame, part two


Read part one Here

After returning to his office and napping on the broken down sofa the rest of the afternoon, Stan made his way down to the waterfront as the sun set over the bay.  It was still very warm out in the late summer evening, but the sidewalks were already filled with vendors plying their wears, couples strolling arm in arm, children hustling whatever they could, and men with hats pulled low over their eyes looking for things that could not be spoken of.

As Stan was about to cross the street towards the seawall a strange scent caught in his nostrils.  A smell that brought back long ago boyhood memories:  apples and cinnamon.  He twirled around to try to figure out where it was coming from.  But he couldn’t spy any store or restaurant that made any sense.  Then his eye caught the sight of a woman; small, perfect posture, long ebony hair walking away from him.  Could it be the woman he was looking for?  As he began to follow she seemed to sense him and slightly turned her head so that he got a better look in the electric light of the night.  It was definitely her.  She turned a corner and Stan quickened his step until he reached the edge of the brick building then slowed down as he spied her half a block ahead, crossing the street and heading into what appeared to be an alley.  Stan looked carefully behind him before he crossed the street himself.  He needed to make sure he wasn’t being followed.  He also scanned for any signs of a trap ahead as he made his way cautiously to the alley entrance.

A large green neon sign in the shape of a dragon flashed part way down the alley.  And muted light spilled from the open door to the speakeasy.  Legal or not this was the type of establishment that no commissioner or vice squad would ever consider raiding.  Stan recognized that it was the green serpent that the old woman spoke of.  This must be where the young woman went into.  Lowering his hat nearer his eyes Stan made his way in, trying to look like all the other desperate individuals that came to such places.

It didn’t take long for Stan to find the object of his quest.  She sat at the far end of the bar, a martini glass in front of her along with another martini glass in front of the empty stool next to her.  He made his way slowly towards her, looking for signs of danger in a very dangerous establishment.  But no one seemed to take any notice of him or the girl that he was wanting to meet.

Without any pretense, Stan sat next to the woman and took a long drink from the glass set before him.  The barest whisper of a smile played on the woman’s lips as she took a sip from her own glass.

“I’m very pleased you were able to make it, Mr. Cage.”  Her voice was low, barely above a whisper.  Stan wanted to lean in closer so as not to miss a word.

“That was some bread crumb trail you left,”  Stan finally responded.  “How did you know I would enlist the help of some random old woman in a random restaurant?  Or that I would even look into this?”  He pulled her photograph from his breast pocket and set in on the bar.

“Because it seems you like puzzles, Mr. Cage.  It’s the nature of your profession, is it not?”

Stan nodded.  Puzzles were what he dealt with.  Figuring out where a missing person was, how to find something that was purposely lost, how to see clues that no one else could.

“I wonder then, Mr. Cage, how you have yet to see all the lost children.”

The comment had its intended affect.  Stan hung his head for a moment while he let the sting subside.  “Because no body came to me asking me to find them.  Then there’s the matter of the Two Monkeys families.  Some things just are better off left alone.”

“Do you wish to walk away, Mr. Cage?”

“No, I do want to help you.  And please, call me Stan.”

“I am beyond help.  But there is a chance to help these children that are put into slavery.  To help them is to help me.”

Several moments went by before Stan could ask the question that he was sure would spell his final doom.  “What is it you want from me?” he finally croaked out.

A whisper of a laugh escaped her lips.  “Please do not worry, Stan.  I am not asking quite so much from you.  I simply need you to pick up a package from me tomorrow, examine the contents, and if you feel it merits any attention deliver it to the district attorney himself.”

“If that’s all there is to it, why didn’t you just drop the package off at my office earlier today?”

“Because, you like puzzles.”  The woman placed a card on top of her photograph.  Seraphim Exports it read with an address near the base of the Presidio.  She began to rise from her seat.  “Tomorrow at . . .” She then sat back down hard.  She reached towards Stan as if to give him a kiss thus turning her head from the front door.  But instead of feeling her lips on his, he felt her breath as she spoke very quietly.  “Two men who just came in.  They are looking for me.  Tomorrow at 10:00.”  Her lower lip barely caressed his own, but in its wake was left a building fire.  She quickly got back up, careful not to show her face to the front entrance and disappeared out a back way Stan had not noticed before.

Very nonchalantly, Stan put the picture and the business card in his breast pocket.  He slowly finished his drink while looking at the two men over the top of the glass.  They were goons alright.  Definitely henchmen of the Two Monkeys.

Stan adjusted his hat even lower, got up and left the bar.  He strolled the streets aimlessly for an hour.  Once he was sure he wasn’t being tailed, he hailed a cab and headed back to his one room apartment.

Come back tomorrow for the third and final part

–   –   –   –   –   –

I have a hard time understanding inspiration.  Looking at a painting of a summertime landscape can result in pages of story.  Or a bee gathering pollen on a thistle can be the beginning of a photo essay.  I saw this beautiful photo of our recently returned Rarasaur and a story came to mind.  Searching for someone who is looking for help but in the end the subject of the assistance gives more assistance to others.  That is our Rara.  She is always there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder or whatever is needed.  And she never asks anything in return.  If you have yet to be introduced to the marvelous woman, please head over to her blog, rarasaur.  You will find some fantastic stories that will make you laugh and cry and be inspired.

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Stan Cage, Private Eye: The Case of the Disappearing Dame


It had been an unusually long night, followed by an inordinately short morning.  Stan Cage, Private Eye, found himself at his lower east side desk, too early in the morning, 11:07 am to be precise, nursing the grand dam of hangovers, looking at the picture of what was to be his next case.  The dame was exotic:  ebony hair cascading behind her shoulders, skin kissed by the sun gods, and the eyes; yes the eyes.  They bore into his soul.  He didn’t even know her name, yet they seemed to be pleading with him, demanding of him; find me soon, save me.  Stan grabbed his hat from his head and threw it onto the greasy desk. He had no idea who this woman was, or where she was, or what kind of danger she was in.  But he knew, as he knew the handle grip of his gun, that he must help her.

He cased the streets of the middle eastern district.  He showed the photo of the woman to anyone who would slow down long enough to take a cursory look.  Most times he came up snake eyes.  Even if the residents of the neighborhood slowed long enough to look at the photo, their eyes got larger than saucers, and they violently shook their heads.  “No, I don’t know this woman . . . never seen her before.”  That was the same response he got every time.  No change of the wording.  No attempt at making the comment their own.  Frustrated, but feeling he was on to something, Stan went into the next open restaurant.  He waited, patiently, until he could garner the attention of the mama-san of the establishment.  He understood that if anyone would be willing to talk, it would be an old woman who had nothing left to lose.

As Stan and the old woman sat down at the farthest corner table, away from prying eyes and ears, one of her waiters brought a tea pot and two porcelain cups.  A few minutes passed as the woman made a grand ceremony of pouring the rich pungent liquid into the cups then offering sugar.  Stan took two cubes to cut through the slightly bitter taste of the tea.  Once the ritual was complete and they were both sitting back in their respective chairs, Stan pulled the picture of the young woman he found in his mail slot earlier in the day.  Stan studied the old woman’s features for any hint of recognition, fear, anything.  She stared at the photo for several seconds before she looked up into the detective’s questioning eyes.

“How much you know about trafficking?” she asked, still not acknowledging that she knew the woman in the photo.

“Drugs or human?” Stan asked back, wondering where this could possibly be leading.

“Human,” came the response.

“Some, but not a lot.  Word is there are two main families who run an extensive network.  Cops never can get anyone to talk or get any evidence that will stick.”

The woman tapped her finger on the photo.  “This woman, why you seek her?”

Stan rubbed his jaw, realizing that he was in desperate need of a shave.  How was he to explain that this photo was simply left for him, with a cursory note scribbled on the back.

“It was at my office when I came in this morning.”  Stan flipped the photo over to reveal the note on the back.  “This is all I have to go on.  But it seems to me that she is need of some serious help.”

The mama-san picked up the picture and read the inscription:  “Please find me.  I have something for you.”

“Finish your tea,” the woman commanded.  Not understanding why he was being instructed to do such a thing, Stan none the less complied.  She then took the cup and looked intently at the glob of tea leaves at the bottom.  “You must find her.  She has something very important to give you.  Something that could cost her her life.”

“But who is she?” Stan asked flabbergasted at the crypticness of the situation.

“She is one of the first children that the Two Monkeys brought here for the sex trade.  She was a favorite.  Now she runs an underground from inside the organization, freeing the children that are forced here to be slaves.  Those families you spoke of, they will do all they can to stop her.  You must find her.”

Stan shook his head.  “Where do I start?”

“Look to the waterfront, and the Green Serpent.”  The old woman got up from the table and took the tea set back to the kitchen.  She did not reappear.  Stan threw some money on the table, grabbed the photograph, and left the restaurant.

Return tomorrow for Part Two

–   –   –   –   –   –

I have a hard time understanding inspiration.  Looking at a painting of a summertime landscape can result in pages of story.  Or a bee gathering pollen on a thistle can be the beginning of a photo essay.  I saw this beautiful photo of our recently returned Rarasaur and a story came to mind.  Searching for someone who is looking for help but in the end the subject of the assistance gives more assistance to others.  That is our Rara.  She is always there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder or whatever is needed.  And she never asks anything in return.  If you have yet to be introduced to the marvelous woman, please head over to her blog, rarasaur.  You will find some fantastic stories that will make you laugh and cry and be inspired.

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No Lions and Tigers, but we have Bears

So, yesterday morning, I’m at the dining room table working on the computer when I look up to see this guy/gal strolling up the lane.


I’m really sorry the photos are so blurry, but I’m still trying to figure out my new smartphone.  I used the telephoto, but I was shaking with excitement so I didn’t get any clear shots.

After walking a few yards up our lane, the bear headed around the fire lane and started toward the back of the house.


From his/her size it looks to be a young bear.

Out here in the Columbia River Gorge, we do live in bear country.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a rather large male black bear, and a mom with her two cubs, but I’ve not been able to capture on camera.

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Deane’s Diner

Joshua had been on the road for several hours and when he spotted the red neon sign blinking “Deane’s Diner” he let out a heavy sigh of relief.  His arms were numb from the vibration of the Panhead and his lower back was beginning to ache.  A couple other bikes were parked in the gravel parking lot in front of the diner along with several beat-up trucks.

Not one to judge an establishment by the vehicles parked outside, Josh gave no notice to the transportation hierarchy.  He got off his bike, pulled off his helmet then hung it on one of the handlebars.  He strode into the front entrance and was immediately greeted by every eye turning to look him over.  Again, not one to judge an establishment by its clientele he made his way to the bar and sat down on one of the vacant stools, relieved to be not moving.  He grabbed a menu and began perusing the offerings.  Thus engaged he did not see the barkeep come up to him.

“What’ll ya have?” came the low, sultry, almost hoarse voice.

An immediate impression of a Marlene Dietrich came to mind as Josh looked up.  He was shocked to find a small, spit of a woman, strawberry blonde hair in a braid over her left shoulder and wearing an oversized  t-shirt and jeans.

“Umm,” Joshua stuttered, “I’ll just have a beer to start.”

As she went to pour his beverage, Josh watched her through lowered eyelids.  Her voice did not match the petite woman whom he saw.  He wondered if she was the owner’s wife or perhaps daughter.  As she approached he tried to take a gauge of her age but there was nothing in her flawless alabaster skin except for a sprinkling of freckles and wire spectacles which sat halfway down her nose that gave him a clue and the dim lighting of the diner did not help.

“Here ya go,” she stated as she placed the cold brew in front of him.  “You want anything to eat?”

“Whaddya recommend?” Josh asked, hoping to start a conversation.

“The pulled pork is good today,” came the smokey reply.

“Great, set me up then.”

As the bartender turned to place the order Josh queried, “This place been around long?”

She looked back at him over her glasses, her brow knotted in a furrow as if she were trying to take his measure.  She gave the line cook the order and began to return back.

A couple of patrons at the pool table were beginning to argue.  She halted and briefly answered Joshua, “About twenty years.”  She then went around the opposite end of the bar and confronted the two men arguing.  They were both very big men, well over six feet each and the little redhead didn’t even come up to their chests.  Still she showed no fear when she laid her hands on each of their arms which caused the two to move away from her and each other.  However, the arguing and finger pointing continued.  The bartender pulled a chair over and stepped onto the seat.  This allowed her to just stand a bit above them.  The entire diner grew quiet at this point and in her deep throaty voice she ground out, “You two will not make a mess in this bar.  Am I understood?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” came the reply in unison.

She then stepped off the chair with assistance from both men and headed back to her duties behind the bar.

Josh let out a low whistle as she took his beer glass to refill it.  “That was something to see.  Still don’t you think the owner should take care of these guys?  They could’ve really hurt you, even accidentally.”

As she placed the refilled beverage in front of Josh she simply stated, “I’m Deane.”

Josh flushed just a little but felt compelled to ask, “Well, Deane, can I buy you a drink?”

A very smokey laughed issued from her.  “I only drink wine, and none is served here.”

Joshua was going to question why, but he already knew the answer.  Without wine, the bartender didn’t feel obligated to share a drink with fly-by nights like himself.  She became more intriguing all the time.

Bickering began again at the pool table.  Deane slapped the bar with a towel and in a dusky voice no louder than before said, “That’s it.  You two are outta here.  Now get.”

Completely taken aback by the petite owner’s ultimatum the two looked at each other then gathered up their leathers and started for the exit.  As they opened the door Deane shot at them, “Dinner’s at eight.  I expect you two to be on time.”

“Okay, mom,” answered one, while the other replied, “Sorry “bout the fight.”

Joshua’s mind was blown.  Never did he imagine that that pixie of a bartender could be a mom, much less a mom of two strapping young men.  He saw his already meagre chances of getting a date gone completely down the tubes.  And with that realization also came with a bit of jealousy.  Whomever had this woman’s heart, certainly had a treasure worth protecting.

Throwing his tab along with a generous tip on the bar, Josh waved to Deane in his most endearing fashion.  “Thanks for the beer and the grub.”

Deane waved back with her own endearing smile.  “Thanks and come again,” she replied.

Josh quickly got on his bike and headed back on the highway.  Deane’s Diner was a place he would remember with relish for a long time.

–   –   –   –   –   –

This little bit of fun is dedicated to a most beloved family member.  Hope you enjoyed D.


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Any Given Sunday

Woman with Luggage by Raul Lieberwirth

Woman with Luggage by Raul Lieberwirth


It could be any given Sunday.  There she is, standing at the corner, in her usual running attire – tank top, shorts, and sneakers – her leg hooked over the other as she chooses what songs to listen to, hair up in the perfect messy ponytail.  But it isn’t any Sunday.  Instead of picking out songs, she is texting.  And instead of stretching, she’s waiting.  With her luggage.  For a taxi to come.

It had been a stupid mistake.  I tried to tell her that.  It would never happen again.  She never answers back.  She just kept packing.

Today, instead of leaving for a morning run, she is simply leaving.  I stare at the back of her head through the livingroom window.  All my powers of concentration bent on the task of willing her to turn around.  To look at me.  To change her mind.

But she doesn’t.  She remains in the same relaxed position.

The taxi arrives.  The driver gets out and stows the luggage in the trunk.  He opens the back door and she slides in.  Then they take off.  She never looks back.  And I stand here, looking at the spot where she once was, still willing her to come back to me.  But she’s gone.

–   –   –   –   –   –

Thanks to Jeremy’s Weekly Challenge.

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A View Off The Porch – Oregon Coast

It’s been such a long time since Poncho and I have made any trips off the estate.  Last week we finally had an opportunity to do so when we visited some friends in the Waldport area of the central Oregon coast.  What beaurtiful country!

This is the view we were greeted with every day.


Our friends have a lovely place.  And early spring is in full bloom.


A gazebo provides the perfect locale to contemplate all things.


Oregon has some really cool bridges.  This is in Waldport and it spans the mouth of Alsea Bay.


Heading back north we made a few stops to take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Oregon Coast.  This is Seal Rock National Wayside.  Didn’t see any seals though.  The color of the Pacific Ocean was extraordinary.


Farther up the coast is this fantastic overlook just a few miles south of Cannon Beach.


And no trip to the coast is complete for me without a stop in Cannon Beach to get out and see Haystack Rock.


Of course, there has to be an “I Was Here” photo.


The weather during our trip was spectacular.  Sunshine as far as the eye could see.  It still felt crisp out on the beach, but the wind was barely blowing which made the outing all the more enjoyable.

Posted in Writing, Stream of Consciousness, A View Off The Porch, Photography, Creative Non Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments