It’s Thursday morning, the 2nd of October in 1947, and Ronnie Grisham and his pal, Tom Jarrell, are now married… To women, of course…
And, for appearance’s sake and to get a much-needed break from work, Ronnie figures they really should go on a honeymoon.
So, the two couples board the southbound Champion for Miami. It’s all aboard for romance! But not in the way their fellow passengers would imagine, no doubt.
Once there, they get a chance to see Miss Doris Day, who is touring with Les Brown and his Band of Renown. And a good time is had by all!
But all good things must come to an end and, after dropping the gals off at the airport, the guys rent a car and hit the Overseas Highway to head down into the Florida Keys.
Just when it looks like Tom and Ronnie will finally get some time to themselves, a friend of theirs comes across a dead Cuban and is found holding the gun. He says he didn’t do it, but the State’s Attorney isn’t convinced…
Looks like it’s back to work for Daytona Beach’s most infamous lawyer and his private dick!
The Blue Parrot was at the end of a little alley off Fleming Street. The only indication of the place was a blue electric light bulb over a white door with a blue parrot painted on the front. Ronnie was only able to find it because Tom had run into the jail and asked Claud where it was and then ran out with the address. Turned out that it was only a couple of blocks away.
Ronnie pulled open the door and was greeted with the sound of Perry Como singing, “When You Were Sweet Sixteen,” a song that Ronnie had mixed feelings about. He liked the man’s voice and liked to listen to his singing on The Chesterfield Supper Club program on the radio. His voice was smooth and could, at times, get him in the mood. But the song reminded Ronnie of his first meeting Tom because Tom was 16 at the time they met. That had always been a melancholy memory. But, as he moved into the dimly lit bar, he grinned as he realized it wasn’t melancholy anymore. There was no doubt the two were in love with each other and Ronnie was more in love with Tom than ever.
Grinning like a goddam fool, Ronnie walked up to the bar. Looking around, he realized he was only one of four people in the place. A couple, two gals, were sitting in the back at a booth, side by side, and seemed to be whispering sweet nothings to each other.
The other person was the man behind the bar. He was about 5’9″ or so and had a head full of thick graying blond hair that was slicked back with a heavy dose of pomade. He had a friendly expression and bright blue eyes. Wearing a starched white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, open at the neck, and under a bright blue apron, the man walked over. “Are you one of us?” asked the man as he looked up at Ronnie.
With a grin, Ronnie replied, “If you’re wonderin’ whether I prefer Joes over Janes, I do.”
“Welcome, then. What’ll you have?”
“Comin’ right up.” The man’s voice had a slight Irish accent to it.
Ronnie parked himself at the bar and looked around. It was a small place but friendly, clean, and inviting. He’d been to a similar kind of spot a few weeks earlier in West Palm Beach, but it wasn’t nearly as clean or as welcoming. It had been more like a spot to be ashamed of.
The man placed a bottle of Jax in front of him along with a bowl of peanuts. “Where you in from?”
“Daytona Beach,” replied Ronnie as he took a drink of the cold brew.
“Nice place up there. Love that flat beach where you can have a nice stroll. Dodging the cars can be a little tricky, though,” he added with a smile.
“I drive up and down there all the time, but I try to keep my eyes out for any tourists who don’t realize the beach is a road.”
“Good man. What brings you to Key West?”
“Well,” said Ronnie as he picked up a couple of peanuts, “I’m down here with my guy.”
“Lucky man, he is.”
“I don’t know about that.” He popped the peanuts in his mouth and then asked, “Are you Johnny Donahue?”
“The one and the only.”
Ronnie extended his hand across the bar. “My name is Ronnie Grisham.”
“Call me Johnny,” said the man as he shook with a wink.
“And I’m Ronnie.” He leaned in. “Claud Wallace asked me to come over and talk to you about Benny Ibanez.”
Johnny’s smile faded. “I see.”
“What can you tell me about Benny?”
Screwing up his mouth, Johnny looked hard at Ronnie. “And what might your interest be in the matter?”
“I’m trying to find whoever it was who really killed Benny.”
Author Frank W. Butterfield:
Frank W. Butterfield is the Amazon best-selling author of over 20 books and counting in the Nick Williams Mystery series, stories about Nick & Carter, a private dick and a fireman who live and love in San Francisco.
To learn more about Frank W. Butterfield’s novels, Nick & Carter and their ongoing adventures, click here for his website.