The Tic Tac Toe Clue

tic tac toe

© yarnspinnerr

Private Investigator Margurite Carter and her client, shipping tycoon Jeremiah Burton, were inside one of his waterfront warehouses sometime past midnight.

“You’re sure my partner is using this place to hide opium smuggled in from the Far East?”

“Yeah, but we still have to find proof before going to the cops.”

“Where do you suggest we look?”

“Try someplace besides my chest. My eyes are up here.”

“Sorry.” Burton wasn’t used to not being in charge of every situation and tried to look chagrined.

“Men.” Margurite rolled her eyes.

They stood in front of nine stacks of crates organized three across by three deep. “My source said it should be among these.”

“You trust the cook on the freighter that delivered this cargo?”

“He said he’d leave a clue. Wait. A sheet of paper’s stuck to the far right stack with a butcher knife.”

“Odd, but so what? It’s just a game of tic tac toe.”

Carter snapped her fingers as the proverbial light bulb illuminated over her head. “No it isn’t. It’s a map.

I wrote this for the 175th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Once again, I dusted off my 1940s “hardboiled detective” Margurite Carter who first appeared in The Haunted Detective and was mentioned in The Digital Muse. I couldn’t think of a story about a game of tic tac toe, but as a map or diagram describing which of the stacks of crates contained opium, it worked just fine.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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What Are You Doing Tonight?

moonlighting

From the television series “Moonlighting.”

Laura and Simon were an unusual pair of private detectives. They were divorced last year after ten years of marriage but neither could bear to sell the detective agency they co-owned, nor was one willing to concede sole ownership to the other. So they continued to see each other day after day, night after night at “Marcus and Marcus Detectives.” Laura even used her former last name professionally though in her personal life, she’d reverted back to Rodriguez.

Unlike television or cinematic private detectives, their cases were far less glamorous or dangerous. Mostly one spouse hiring them to see if the other spouse was having an affair.

“Usual drill, Simon. I pose as a hooker to see if ‘Mr. Sleezebag’ will give me a tumble. You stand by with the camera and I’ll record the dialogue.”

They were sitting in their car outside an office building near downtown. She was in the driver’s seat, which she preferred, and he was sitting next to her checking the camera.

“Got it, but for the record, his name is Chester Albright.”

“Or ‘all dumb’ for cheating on his poor wife.”

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