Edgar Nikephoros Huntinger, P.I.

Submitted into Contest #164 in response to: Write a story in which someone returns to their hometown.... view prompt



On April 30, in downtown Miami, Florida, a car turned the corner. Its tires screeched as it bumped a palm tree that stood precariously there. It jolted, moved back, then continued, with frenzied speed. The harsh sunlight of early morning gleamed on its black chrome. A young boy and his mother, who crossed the street at that moment, were momentarily blinded. Too late, the boy saw the monstrous vehicle. He screamed as it rammed into them, so hard it knocked them down, moved over them, then abruptly turned, roared, and screeched back around the corner. The scent of burnt rubber rose in the muggy air and lingered in the aftermath.

The boy, in excruciating pain, gasped in spurts. He turned to his mother and screamed again as he clutched her hand. “No, Mom, no.” 

As she lay there, blood oozed from her thick, black, curly hair. She turned slowly, in agony and looked at her son through glazed eyes. “Edgar,” she whispered in a tortured voice. For a moment, she returned his grasp. Then, her lashes fluttered, and she closed her eyes. She became still, her hand grew limp. The boy screamed again into the moist air, unaware that his foot was severed.


The morning of the accident, the ten-year-old boy and his mother sat in their apartment kitchen, on Edgar’s birthday. The topic was his present. His mother had prepared scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon-his favorite breakfast. Their conversation changed to his missing father.

“Mom,” he said, as he munched on his toast, “have you ever tried looking for Dad?”

His mother was silent for a few minutes as she twirled the eggs with her fork on her plate. “I’d thought of it, Edgar, but I was afraid, and of course there was the money problem. Private investigators are expensive.”

“What are private investigators, Mom?” he replied with a mouthful of food, his sky-blue eyes bright and riveted on his mother’s elegant Grecian face.

She had gotten up from the table and ruffled his soft black curly hair. “Be right back, my inquisitive lad,” she said.

She returned with Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. She sat down and thumbed the pages. “Here we are,” she said. “First, I’ll read the meaning of the word ‘investigate’: to make a careful study and to discover the facts about it.” She closed the book, and she smiled. “A private investigator is someone hired to study an unsolvable trouble, in this instance, the problem of your father’s disappearance, to discover the facts that caused it, and to gather those facts to tackle a possible answer, and to begin a search if necessary.”

Edgar was silent for a minute, before he asked, “Was Dad’s disappearance an unsolvable problem?”

“Yes, son. Because I reported him missing, and the detectives never found him.”

He fidgeted; his half-eaten breakfast forgotten. “Mom, why were you afraid?” 

She looked down at her plate, her own food barely touched. “I was afraid he was dead, Edgar, or that he’d left me for another woman, or maybe because of drugs and mean people.” Her face sad, she reached over and put her hand over his. “Let’s go back to that pawn shop and get those binoculars you saw in the window last week.” Her heart moved as she watched her son’s delight.

 His blue eyes face beaming with joy, he jumped up, went over to her, and hugged her. “Thanks, Mom,” he said. 

“Why don’t you empty the plates in the garbage disposal, wash them, and then we’ll leave.”

Her got up, took the plates over to the disposal, and emptied them with a fork. Then he turned on the faucet, added dish soap, and washed them. 


Edgar’s Aunt Alena, his mother’s sister, took care of the funeral, and brought him to her home to live with her. She was more attuned to their Greek ancestors, particularly the Romani people who traveled from place- to- place. She wore clothes of vivid colors and large gold-hooped earrings. She had shoulder length black curly hair like Athena, his mother.

They lived in a one-level house with a small lawn that she kept meticulously, with a variety of flowers: white and red roses, yellow tulips, and daffodils. It was located on a tree-lined street near Key Biscayne, Miami.

Edgar’s aunt loved to dress him in suits, especially on Sundays, when she took him to an old Greek Orthodox Church called Saint Sophia’s. She educated him in the local public school system.

She trimmed his hair often. “So, I can see that handsome high-forehead and sky-blue eyes so like your father. And your hair and your hawk-like nose are just like your mom and me,” she’d often comment.” And on one occasion she mentioned, “Oh, I forgot your temperament is like ours too,” because sometimes he had a temper.

“Did you know my father?” he questioned one day. She hesitated, had looked at him thoughtfully, but answered him. “Your mother introduced him to me before they eloped. I never saw him again. He left soon after you were born.”

Edgar’s aunt had never married, so she loved him as a son. She supported him, and she comforted him, so that he could cope with his grief which he often succumbed to in the night.

“Mom,” he’d whisper in his drenched pillow, “stay close to me. I’ll try to be everything you want me to be. I love you, Mom.”

When his aunt heard him, she entered his room quietly, then she held him tenderly. “Edgar,” she said, “your mom is in heaven looking at you. She will watch over you always.” Then, she rocked him, and he wept, until, exhausted, he fell asleep.

Soon after the accident, Edgar’s aunt brought him to the best foot surgeon that she could find. They fitted a flesh-like artificial foot. His prosthesis was so comfortable, many times he forgot it was there.

Although Edgar’s foot was unnoticeable, he had problems in school because he was morose and studious. The worst of his classmates bullied him.

One day, his aunt said to him, “Edgar, we must find a means for you to deal with those bullies at school. I have an idea, but you must promise me that you will be careful; you must never seriously injure anyone.”

Edgar, his pale blue eyes wide, said, “But, Aunt Elena, I don’t want to hurt anyone, even though I’m running out of ideas on how to avoid them.” He’d looked down at his shoes, then he looked up, and smiled a smile bursting in sunshine. “Can we move?” he blurted.

His aunt laughed. “Not yet, Edgar. My idea is to sign you up for lessons in self-defense tactics, specifically concentrated on foot movements. The teachers are professionals who will teach you to defend yourself. Your confidence will grow.”

Within a year, he excelled in judo and karate. And by the time he was eighteen, he earned the black belt. His aunt also enrolled him in classes for swimming and diving, which she said, was excellent sport activities for his foot. 

Edgar went to college and majored in Criminal Justice, intending to earn a law degree. However, thoughts of his mother, her strength and her courage, and the shadow of his missing father hung over him consistently and caused him to change his mind. He left college and enrolled in a local police academy. After a probationary year he rose to the rank of an investigator. 

His aunt died at twenty-three, and he inherited a fortune, which enabled him to think of going into business for himself. Therefore, he enrolled in a private investigator school, obtained his diploma, and applied for a license to work in Florida. After several successful cases, he ordered business cards: “Edgar Nikephoros Huntinger, Licensed Private Investigator.”

He put up his aunt’s house in Key Biscayne for sale, and moved to South Beach, close to where he lived as a child. He wanted to be near the city, because corruption and crime thrived there. He surmised that being close to the center of trouble, would help him to remember what his profession entailed, that an investigator’s primary purpose was to serve the victims of crime. He decided on a home office for convenience.


Years later, on a clear warm evening, as Huntinger sat in his office, he reflected on notes compiled over the years, which concerned his missing father. “For you, Mom,” he whispered in the silent room. Suddenly, he felt a peace he hadn’t known since before his mother’s death. He got up, went over to the computer, and typed: “Facts in the Brandon Huntinger Case.”


September 21, 2022 23:24

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Tanya Humphreys
01:49 Sep 30, 2022

Reedsy Critiquer here... I was hooked by the story! I loved the excitement and the way you developed Edgar's story and hence, his drive. I was concerned at the beginning, when you said, 'black chrome' cuz chrome is chrome and black is black. But your writing through the story is good and captivating. I would prefer a climax based on Edgar's experience with death rather than an explanation of his career choice. It was anti-climactic. Great writing though, for me to even be enthralled to read to the end. Keep up the fun reads!


Olivia Snead
13:39 Oct 01, 2022

Thank you for your kind remarks. It was motivating. I value your advice on the anti-climactic ending. I will consider your suggestion.


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