American Fiction Mystery

One Thursday morning, Edgar Nikephoros Huntinger, private investigator, sat in his living room, with thoughts as gray as the Miami overcast skies. His thoughts hindered on his father’s unexplained disappearance years ago, which brought thoughts of his mother’s unsolved death. The telephone rang in his office. He wearily stretched his legs, got up, and went into his office. He picked up the phone on the fifth ring. “Huntinger.”

           “Mr. Huntinger, my name is Victor Dumoure. I hope I’ve pronounced your name right; I’m reading it from a business card I received at a costume party on New Year’s Eve. You were pointed out to me as the comic book hero, Dr. Strange. I came as myself, a hardrocker.”

           “Yes, I remember you. The man with a lot of hair and a guitar.”

           “Yeah, that was me.”

           “What can I do for you?”

           “I’d like to meet with you to discuss a problem. Someone is trying to kill me.”

           “Did you go to the police with your problem?”

           “No, because I’m afraid of who it might be. And, I don’t have proof, other than dreams…and ah hallucinations. And no, I’m not on drugs. I stopped that a long time ago. If I had proof, I’d know what to do.”

           “If I take your case, you must agree in writing that if I find out that someone is trying to kill you and who that person is, you won’t approach the suspect with your allegations, for your safety’s sake. Of course, you may have to go to the police.”

           “I’ll agree to your terms. I can offer a retainer of one thousand.”

           “We’ll speak of retainer after we meet. I’d prefer meeting you in a place where you are comfortable. Can you suggest such a place?”

           “Yes, I have a contract at Club Delight. The address is 77 North West First Street, downtown Miami. Will you meet me there tomorrow night at eight o’clock? I can reserve a table for you in the back. Bring identification to show at the door and mention my name.”

           “Yes, I’ll be there.”

           “See you then.” The phone clicked.

           Huntinger placed the receiver back in the cradle. He opened the drawer to his desk, took out his appointment book, and he wrote, “Friday, 8:00 P.M., Dumoure.” Next, he prepared documents for the hardrocker to sign.

 It’s a possibility that I’ll take the case, he thought.

           Friday night, Huntinger left for his appointment. He drove from his home in South Beach to downtown Miami in minutes. He saw the flashing neon lights when he turned the corner on Northwest First Street. He parked his car near the club and got out. He could hear the music as he approached. He showed the attendant his identification and said he was a friend of Victor Dumoure. The attendant looked at the identification, nodded his head, and showed him to a back table. Soon, a waiter arrived. He ordered a carbonated water with lemon. He sipped it as he sat back to enjoy the show, and to study the performers.

           Huntinger noted the tall, lead singer, who was singing a rocking love song. He strummed a guitar and shook his long dark mane as he sang. Dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt that hung long over jean clad legs, he moved rhythmically to his song. When the song concluded, he strummed his guitar to a sound that reverberated in the room. He bowed to his applause. Then, he walked across the stage, and disappeared.

           Soon, Huntinger saw a tall lean man with tinted glasses, and dark hair pulled into a ponytail, approach him. The hardrocker had changed to a dark blue dress shirt. “Hello, Huntinger. Didn’t recognize me, did you?”

           Huntinger chuckled. “Not at first. You’re a good singer.”

           “Thank you. I like your designer shirt. Black goes well with you.”

           “Thank you.” Huntinger sipped his coke as he regarded the hardrocker with unreadable pale blue eyes. “How old are you, Mr. Dumoure?”

           “I’m twenty-nine.” He grinned. “Don’t I look my age?”

           “You look like you’re in your twenties. I wondered how far you were in your career.”

           “I was interested in singing when I was young, around twelve. I began actively pursuing a singing career at sixteen. I’m struggling, but I just got a break.”

“Interesting. Let’s get to your problem, while the music is low. I have a compact recorder that I’ve turned on, in my shirt pocket.”

           Victor Dumoure turned his head to regard the female Nubian singer, who’d just begun a soft and sensuous ballad, before he spoke. “I’m sure someone tried to kill me. There was this gig my agent got for me, that I couldn’t pass up. The night I had to appear; I was sick.” He turned to Huntinger. “I had to appear or lose my contract. Contracts are hard to get for struggling performers. I had to pay bills and my woman liked nice things.” He paused and nodded to the singer onstage. “I got myself together and forced myself to appear. When I got on stage, and the band started up, it was like the whole room was moving, topsy-turvy, and the audience was real

blurry. I knew that I was going to fail. I felt naked as if everyone was staring and laughing at me.

           “Just when I thought I was blacking out, a dream I’d been having flashed into my brain. It was so strong, it was as if someone had grabbed me, to keep me steady. And it was the strangest thing; I was still singing, but it wasn’t me singing. It was like it was somebody else, singing and strumming on the guitar. Next thing I knew, the room was rocking with clapping and whistles.”

           “Were there other occurrences in which you thought someone was trying to kill you?”

           The hardrocker was silent. “Well, I’m not sure. I was feeling sick and hallucinating which I thought at first was just due to stress, and the dreams. I didn’t begin to think anyone was trying to kill me until after that show.”

           “When was the show?”

           “The Friday after Thanksgiving.”

           “Can you think why anyone would want to kill you?”

           As he shook his head, the hardrocker said, “I have a good relationship with everybody. Everyone gets a fair share when we get a show.” His voice trembled. “Look, Huntinger, I’m afraid I don’t know what to think. I’m afraid it’s somebody close to me.”

Huntinger said, “Tell me one of your dreams briefly as possible.”

“I’ll try.”


           The singer has long blond hair. He’s dressed in a black jacket with high shoulders, a white buttoned-down shirt, blue jeans, and black cowboy boots. Suddenly, his clothes are changing-from celebrity attire to rags to a black suit, and back to celebrity wear. He turns, and he points to a beautiful young woman with black hair. She has on a red dress that sparkles. Her eyes are angry as she stares at him. A dark figure stands behind her, his face hidden beneath a wide-brimmed hat. The singer turns….


The hardrocker paused, “Well, Mr. Huntinger, what do you think about my dream?”

          Huntinger reached up to his pocket, and he clicked his recorder off. “All dreams mean something, Mr. Dumoure. I’ve decided to take your case. Would you please sign this agreement?” The investigator handed him papers and a pen.

                    When Victor Dumoure finished signing the agreement, he handed the papers and pen to Huntinger.

                    “Thank you,” he said. “I’ll study what I recorded today. In the meantime, I’d like to suggest a plan. I’d like to go undercover as a friend you met at a party long ago, so that I can study you and those around you.”

                    Dumoure smiled. “I’m going swimming tomorrow. Would you like to join me, and later I’ll introduce you to everyone? We can meet at a beachfront restaurant called Miami’s Best at Miami Beach. The weather will be hot and sunny, according to the forecast. You have beachwear, right?”

                    “Yes. I hope you don’t mind being with a guy with an artificial foot,” said the investigator.

                    The hardrocker stared at him. Then, he said, “That won’t bother me. How did that happen if you don’t mind me asking?”

          “It happened in a hit and run accident that took my mother’s life years ago. My aunt raised me, and she arranged for a specialist to fit me with an artificial foot, the newest in technology. It’s made of synthetic durable plastic, and its flesh colored. Even in sandals, you can’t tell it’s artificial unless you’re looking for it.”

          “Well, you know, I don’t mind at all. You swim?”

          “I not only swim, but I’m also a certified diver,” Huntinger said.

          “That’s great. So, can we meet about nine o’clock?”

           “Yes, that’s fine. You had better go now. I’ll wait until the show is over, then I’ll leave.”

           The hardrocker stood up. “See you later, Huntinger.” He left.

           He’s telling me the truth, but he’s afraid. He’s more afraid of who it might be than he is for himself. I’m sure there’s a clue in his dreams. There usually is a message in the unconscious mind taking its form in dreams, especially repetitive ones. I’ll consult Amaltheia. She’s good with dreams.

           Huntinger thought fondly of his close friend and confidante. He applauded as the last performer bowed. He left a dollar for the waiter and left.


          Saturday morning Huntinger donned his charcoal barracuda bathing trunks and white tee shirt. He put on his brown leather sandals. He ate slice of melon and gulped down a cup of coffee. He left at eight-thirty for his appointment with Victor Dumoure.

          Huntinger drove leisurely, taking advantage of the lull in traffic. He parked on Collins Avenue near the restaurant, and he got out of the car. It was nine o’clock when he saw the hardrocker sitting on the beachfront veranda.

          “Hello, Huntinger,” said Victor Dumoure as the investigator drew near. “I was here early and treated myself to orange juice. Why don’t we have a swim before breakfast?” He smiled as he stood up, attired in blue swimming trunks.

          “Sounds good to me,” said Huntinger.” He laid his towel on the table, and together they went down to the beach.

          They swam out into deeper water. Suddenly, the hardrocker gagged. “Huntinger,” he choked, “I can’t see. Everything’s blurry. Help me.” Victor Dumoure sank.

          Deftly, Huntinger swam over to where the hardrocker went down; he dived. He saw him struggling under the water, and quickly went to him, holding onto him as he swam him to shore. He pulled him onto the sand and quickly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The hardrocker coughed and sat up.

          “I’m ok,” he sputtered. “I was dizzy and panicked. I’m ok. Can you drive me to my apartment?”

          “Yes,” said Huntinger, helping his shaken client up. He grasped him around his bent shoulders as the hardrocker staggered to the investigator’s car.

          “I think you’re being drugged,” said Huntinger to the shaken hardrocker beside him. “What is your address?”

          “I live in the Wynwood Art District, 77 Northwest 24th. Street Could you meet me at the club tonight at seven o’clock? I’ll introduce you to everyone as my friend.”

          “That’s fine. That’ll give me time to change and have a meal.”

          “Oh, do you want your retainer now?”

          “Don’t worry about it for now. You’ve just narrowly escaped drowning. I’ll collect it later.” Huntinger turned onto Northwest 24th Street and stopped at the corner. “It might not be wise for me to go directly in front of your apartment. I’ll let you out here.”

          “Thank you, Huntinger. You saved my life.”

          “We’ll see how well I’ve saved your life, when I find out who means you harm.” Huntinger said kindly.

          The hardrocker opened the door, got out of the car, and stumbled to his apartment.

          After Huntinger arrived home, he called Amaltheia Amaranthus. He told her the details of the hardrocker’ s dream. He listened carefully. “So, you’re saying that it seems to be a type of dream that occurs after a series of dreams. That he dreamed a rare form of prophetic dream. Interesting. So that could be a future persona? Amazing. Thank you, Amaltheia. You’re wonderful as always. Maybe we can do dinner soon? I’ll call you when I get a break in the case. Good-bye.”

          After he hung up, Huntinger thought:

           How strange, that a dream could be an obscure clue, but a clue, nonetheless. As if his subconscious mind guided him to tell someone. Indeed, the good God works in mysterious ways. If the opportunity presents itself, I will evaluate that clue tonight.

          Huntinger was on time before the show started that evening. Victor Dumoure, in good spirits, introduced him to his band, his agent, and his girlfriend as a friend he’d met at a costume party.

          About thirty minutes before the show was to begin, Jake Swindler, the agent, his blue eyes feverish, shouted in strained joviality. “Hey, how about a drink everybody, my treat?”

          After everyone told him what they wanted, he went over to the bar. Soon, he came back with a tray. He handed the hardrocker his drink first. As he turned to hand a drink to a band member, Huntinger swiftly exchanged his drink for the hardrocker’ s drink. “I’ll be right back. I must use the restroom,” he said. No one paid him attention as he went to the bathroom with the drink in his hand.

          The show started on time. Huntinger returned with an empty glass, which he had casually put in his pocket. The performers earned a room shattering applause. Huntinger went backstage and congratulated the performers. He told Victor Dumoure that he’d see him tomorrow. He left for home.

          Sunday afternoon, Huntinger called the hardrocker. “Listen closely, do you have time?” he asked urgently.

          “Yes. I can talk. I’m alone.”

          “I had your glass analyzed. Your agent put a hallucinatory drug in your drink, called ‘ketamine,’ If you know the right people, it’s readily available. It’s known as a recreational drug. And it’s used as a veterinary and medical anesthetic, and in treatment of alcoholism and heroin. There were only small traces of it, but that’s enough to cause the problems you were having, including your unconsciousness, meaning, of course, your dreamworld.”

          “But why would he do it? I’ve never done any wrong to him.”

          “Well, I did a little checking on him, and I learned that he services other performers, who pay him more. Possibly you were becoming irritating because he couldn’t give his other clients his full attention. So, he developed a tool at his disposal to force you to fail in your contract, so that he could quit. I don’t think he meant to kill you.”

          “Do you think the drug triggered the dreams, and then affected my real world?’

          “It is possible your unconscious was assessing your real world and helped you, through your dreams. When you entered a trauma, the drug caused the dream to appear real. In other words, your unconscious made the effort to save yourself.”

          The hardrocker was silent as he absorbed the investigator’s words. “So, it was the drug that caused my dreams?”

          “I spoke to my friend, who’s an expert in dream analysis. She told me you’re gifted. Also, your dream showed signs of future prediction. Do you recognize the characters?”

          “No. But the man behind the woman in red dress, reminds me of my agent. But I don’t know who the woman could be.”

          “Your dream seemed to use an occurrence in your waking world to warn you and to help you to combat it. The woman is a woman in your waking world, which may also indicate a future woman. Your dream also may protect you, so that you do not approach the woman. The dream singer is yourself. You may recognize her in time. It’s complicated because the brain is complicated. Does it make any sense to you?”

          “Yes, it does. Thank you, Huntinger. What did your friend say about why the dream singer changing clothes?”

          “Changing clothes possibly meant the passing of time.” He paused. “Did you mention to anyone that you were meeting me for breakfast Saturday morning?”

          “Yes, I’d mentioned it to Jake.”

          “He must have arranged to have the ‘ketamine’ put in your orange juice before we went swimming.”

          “That’s possible. Look, Huntinger. Thanks. I’m indebted to you. How much do I owe you?”

          ““I won’t charge you. You’re still struggling, and the expense was minimal.” Huntinger chuckled. “I’m putting it in my planner to purchase a front row seat, when you’re really famous.”

          Victor Dumoure laughed. Thanks again.” The telephone clicked as the hardrocker hung up.

          A month later, Huntinger sat in his office reading his files on the hardrocker’ s case.

          Poor kid, he thought. He has resilience, no doubt through belief in himself through his dreams. He’s going to be a great man someday, and a compassionate one. He acted with ingenuity by firing Swindler without recommendation instead of filing charges. The most interesting case I’ve had so far. I hope he doesn’t require my services again, but I’d love to meet his future persona, nonetheless.

          That year, the hardrocker’s first album sold 100,000 copies.

May 20, 2022 16:47

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