Peter Standwick did one thing wrong; he got killed.
The dead ‘cook’ for Jack Haven’s crank operation was found with Jack’s wife Susan’s cross and its broken chain in his pocket. How did it get there?
Mike Eiser needs to know.
Jack’s lab where Stanwick worked is torched. Susan is beaten severely; and then, Jack dies in a traffic accident. Was it an accident, or murder? Who burned the lab and why? Who assaulted Susan?
Mike Eiser needs to know.
According to DEA, there are undiscovered clandestine methamphetamine labs in Jericho County. Will Eiser’s murder investigation point the way to them?
The Havens are bootleggers whose history stretches back to reconstruction. Progressing from bootlegging moonshine whiskey to growing and distributing marijuana, Jack and Jason Haven, the latest generation of Havens, produce and distribute crank. However, tensions between family members threaten to destroy the Haven family from within. Have those tensions exploded? Susan is pawn in a game between brothers; but is she a victim? A survivor? Or the flame that lights the powder keg?
Mike Eiser needs to know.
Can Mike Eiser, Arson Investigator Donna Miley, and Mike’s partner, Detective Malcom “Mini” Moore, sort out the Haven family’s entangled motives and wade through piles of twisted and confused evidence to solve multiple murders?
Mike Eiser needs to know.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
When big city crime bleeds over into smaller nearby town it affects the lives of the residents. The Detective Mike Eiser Series deals with investigations focused on big city crimes played out in the fictional small Georgia town of Poplar Bluffs…a town that receives city crime influences from Atlanta and Augusta. The result is suspenseful, entertaining and action-packed. This book was a based on the question "What if an old time family of mountain bootleggers progressed through multiple generations into distributing pot and methamphetamine? What could be the likely impact in the present generation on the family members and the community?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The Detective Mike Eiser Series has a stable cast of characters that make up part of the town of Poplar Bluffs and whose lives flow through the series from book to book. The characters are real people; there are no superheros, no rich people; only members of a small town community and Mike Eiser's friends and neighbors. Each story stands alone and the antagonistic characters are developed to go with the individual stories, although the influences of a couple of them persist through more than one story.
Wednesday, May 31st
Jack Haven downed the last of his coffee and picked up his keys. “Mar, have you seen my cell phone?” he asked, donning a Stetson hat to go with his jeans, cowboy boots, and western style shirt. “I can’t find that thing anywhere!”
“I’ll call it,” his sister Mary replied, dialing her cell phone.
“I don’t hear anything. Is it ringing?”
“It’s supposed to be. Maybe you left it in the truck.”
“Maybe…yeah, maybe that’s where it is. Can I use yours to make a call?”
She handed him her phone and filled bowls with breakfast cereal for Jack and Susan’s kids.
Jack dialed a number. “Hello, this is Jake Haven. I can’t come to the phone right now, but please leave a message and I’ll call you back.” tolled Jake’s answering machine.
“Jake, this is Jack. Could you run by Georgia Hardware and Lumber today and pick up a couple of packages for me? George Harris has them ready and they’re paid for. I can’t get into Poplar Bluffs today, so thanks for getting them for me.”
He ended the call and handed the phone back to Mary. “Thanks. Say good morning to Susan and the kids for me. I’m out of here.”
Susan climbed out of bed. Her hands were shaking. She needed medicine and Jack wasn’t home. Jack was never home.
She walked across the room to the mirror, pulled the long tee-shirt over her head, and stood naked in front of the mirror. A young mid-twenties woman with natural dark blonde hair, blue eyes, full breasts with delicate pale pink nipples, and ginger colored public hair stared back at her. She stared at the gold cross hanging below her throat, remembering how much she had loved going to church as a child with her family and how much she missed it. Jack had given her this cross, but he wouldn’t go to church. She idly rubbed her shaking hands over her breasts and watched her pale nipples harden. Her body fascinated her.
Most men want me, she thought. Most men would kill to have me. Why doesn’t Jack want me anymore?
She looked around the bedroom; a room in a farmhouse so similar to the one she’d grown up in, her parent’s house a few miles down the road. Looking out the window, she recalled playing with her dog in her parents’ yard and climbing the tree behind the house. She thought back to Jericho County High School, where she’d once been popular. She and her best friend Samantha Lang had been cheerleaders and popular with the football players. Especially Jack. He had taken her virginity, marrying her after graduation. Living in a rundown mobile home stuck to the side of a north Georgia hill, she’d given him two children, Stephanie, now nine and Robbie, now five. Jack was involved with his business, always traveling and meeting people. There had never been anyone but Jack, at least until Jason, Jack’s brother, had explained to her the nature of Jack’s business. She’d tried to get him to quit; to get a real job and work like everybody else. Instead, he shut her out. “It’s in my blood!” he said. After that confrontation he ignored her and she dropped into depression and misery. She remembered going to her father-in-law Bret and begging him to talk to Jack; to warn him about jail. Bret had laughed at her. “It’s the family business…a tradition,” he’d said. “Should I tell my sons they shouldn’t be part of the family roots? Women have no say in our business. Stay out of things that don’t concern you!”
It’s my fault! I should have just let him run his damned business and stayed out of it.
Jason, Jack’s brother and business rival, had given her some meth pills to ease her depression. It made her feel better, She felt sexy and strong as long as it lasted. She felt Jack still didn’t want her, but she was equally certain every other man on Earth did. Jason gave her just enough to keep her floating on that plateau and almost immediately she became an addict. But now when she needed help, Jason was out of town.
Picking up her cell phone, she dialed a number. When a disembodied voice answered she said, “Hey…we need to talk.”
A few minutes later she placed the cell phone on the table, sighed, and stepped into a pair of panties, hooked her bra, and pulled a dress over her head. She combed her hair and once again considered the result in the mirror. I’m half strung out, she thought this is as good as it gets. Slipping into her shoes, she grabbed her purse and car keys and ran downstairs.
“Whoa!” said a heavy woman who sat smoking at the breakfast table tapping her ashes into her cold coffee cup, her gray hair coiled in a sloppy bun on top of her head. She looked Susan up and down. “Where’s the fire?” Mary was Jack’s older half-sister who’d never married and watched Jack and Susan’s kids, who were busy munching breakfast cereal. Susan suspected Jack had hired Mary to watch both the kids and herself. She resented Mary, but there was nothing she could do about her since she was part of the Haven family business.
“Going out,” said Susan. “I’ll stop by the market while I’m out. Do we need anything?”
Mary shrugged and stubbed out her cigarette. “I reckon we’re about out of coffee.”
“I suppose,” said Mary.
“See you later then.” Susan opened the screen door and headed for her car.
Mary reached for her cell phone and dialed a number.
“Yeah?” answered a man’s voice.
“She’s on the way,” Mary said.
“Good. I’m on it,” the voice answered.
The ramshackle mobile home was nestled securely in thick trees at the top of a steep dirt and rock drive halfway up the side of a small mountain. Few knew it was there, and that’s the way Jack Haven wanted it. A rickety set of trailer steps led to the door, where a large German Shepherd lay in the shade of the steps out of the morning heat.
The dog perked up when Susan parked in the small clearing in front of the trailer. Recognizing her car, he stretched slowly and ambled over to greet her.
Opening the door, she wrinkled her nose at the odor coming from the trailer. Thank God there aren’t any neighbors! I don’t know how Pete deals with the odor.
“Hi, Thor.” She greeted the dog with a scratch of the head then climbed the rickety steps and knocked on the door. Hearing motion inside, she waited until an eye peered out at her from the corner of a window shade.
The door opened. “Susan! What are you doing here?”
“Hi, Pete. Can I come in?”
“Yeah…quick, before somebody sees you. What are you doing here?”
The door closed behind her and she considered the man standing in front of her. About her height and age, bone thin, Pete showed the ravaging effects of cooking and using methamphetamine. His partially deformed teeth grinned at her as he clasped his chemical stained hands.
“What do you need, Susan?”
“I’m sick, Pete. Nobody will give me any.” She gently traced the line of his cheek with her finger. “I need some, Pete.”
“How you payin’ for it?”
“Same as last time, Pete. Same as every time before.”
“I see,” he said, opening a container, then taking a syringe out of a drawer and preparing it.
“Could I have a little extra to take with me? Just to take the edge off later?” she asked eagerly.
“Sure,” he said as he injected the vein in her arm. “Now, relax a few minutes.”
She could feel the effects of the drug moving through her system. Feeling better, she needed to finish with Pete so she could enjoy it.
Get on with it and get it over with, you piece of shit, she thought as she crossed to the table, hiked her dress up around her waist, and lay back on the table spreading her legs and rubbing her hand seductively between them. “This is what you’re looking for, Pete. This is want you really want,” she said. “Come and get it.”
Hidden eyes watched her car as it headed up the driveway, climbing the hill to the trailer. The owner of the eyes was across the road climbing carefully on foot among the trees until he reached the edge of the clearing, arriving in time to watch her knock on the door. He saw Pete answer her knock. Thor ignored him as dogs ignore other familiar things and returned to his spot under the steps. Circling to the back of the trailer he peeked through the space left where the kitchen blind didn’t quite meet the window frame. He could see Susan lying on the table and used his cell phone to video her in her compromised position. Moments later more video was taken of a naked Pete and Susan committed to their activity. He shook his head and took a moment to review the quality of the video.
Excellent! he thought. This was going to get complicated. He scrambled back down the hillside to his car.
Susan sat up and looked at the naked man sitting in a chair holding a cold beer can. She loathed him. Ironically, she needed him just as much as she hated him. Looking down at herself, she rearranged some clothing and smoothed her dress back into place. “Thanks, Pete. I have to go now.”
He looked up and nodded. “’Til next time then.”
“’Til next time.” She picked up a plastic bag he’d prepared for her and opened the door. The dog barely acknowledged her as she left. Even the dog doesn’t care what I do, she thought as she climbed into her car. I must have reached a new low. With those thoughts bouncing around in her mind, she drove away.
Pete rose and chucked his empty beer can into the kitchen sink. It was time to get back to work. He stood staring at the kitchen table thinking about what had just happened there. He reached down and picked up a small gold cross and chain from the tabletop. Damn, Susan lost her cross. The chain must have broken. Examining it, he could see where the links had separated. Maybe I can fix it for her he thought absently and stuck it in his shirt pocket.
CLABE POLK is into a second career as a writer of fiction. He is the author of The Detective Mike Eiser Series, The Adventures of Harry Morgan Series, and the author of The Road to Armageddon, numerous short stories and flash fiction pieces.
A lifelong reader with a great variety of life experiences, Mr. Polk brings an avid interest in natural sciences and more than thirty-seven years of professional environmental protection program management and law enforcement experience to his writing.
He lives near Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, two daughters, and the family’s Cockapoo named Annie.
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