Chapter 1 – The Crime

“In 1539 the Knights Templar of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with the rarest jewels—but pirates seized the galley carrying this priceless token and the fate of the Maltese Falcon became a mystery.  That is, it remained a mystery until 1941 when Sam Spade, a detective in San Francisco, mysteriously acquired the Maltese Falcon completely intact, with the exception of one large diamond that had been encrusted in the falcon’s stomach.  Sam sold The Maltese Falcon to a collector for about a million dollars even without the diamond.  The diamond, which is said to have been one of the largest ever mined, has never been found….

…until now!”

She was a beauty and I was stunned the second she walked into my office on that night that seems like it was eternity ago.  I don’t know how she found me, or how she ended up in this neighborhood to even locate my office.  She was definitely one of the rarest forms of beauty.  Natural.  There wasn’t a single thing fake about her.  From her head to her toes including her soul, totally real.  What she was doing out at night on the streets of Kansas City’s jazz district by herself, I’ll never know.

I guess I should start at the beginning as that seems a natural place to start, but prepare yourself for a tale so wrapped in intrigue and mystery that even though it’s over, we can not be sure it really is over.  There are some nasty characters in this tale, but relax, have a drink, and I’ll begin.

My name is Samantha Spade and I’m a private investigator.  Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to hear, “How could you be a private eye, you’re female!”  Well, you’d be surprised what a little bit of shown cleavage can find out.  Men are weak, and women are their kryptonite.  I can get information out of a man that no man can get.  However, as you’ve probably noticed my address, I’m not a very popular private eye because I can’t afford an office where I could be found.  No one has to know that I live in a room in the back of my office either, but that’s another story.  The office that I have is drab and dark because the building super doesn’t care about it.  I’ve asked to have the lights fixed, but he just ignores me.  Keeps saying something about “Let your husband do it”.  But this isn’t my story, it’s hers.  I’m telling it because she can’t.  Someone has to tell it as a cautionary tale to other young ladies trying to venture out on their own, especially in this city.

Brooke, was a young girl of 21 and was getting a little tired of working for Catherine Trammel.  Yes, THAT Catherine Trammel.  Beautiful heiress suspected of offing her husband but nothing could ever be proved.  He disappeared at sea a couple years ago and nothing was every found of him.  Mrs. Trammel inherited all of her husband’s money, stocks and businesses that he had left behind.  Surprisingly, she ended up selling most of it and starting dabbling in art.  Ok, dabbling isn’t quite the word.  She was collecting a massive amount of art valued in the millions of dollars.

Brooke didn’t know for sure, but she just knew that her employer had killed her husband, or at the very least, had him killed.  Brooke had seen a diamond the size of a silver dollar only once, but Catherine’s eyes went wide when she looked at it, almost like a dog looking at a treat it’s master was holding for them.  Catherine had put it away very quickly when Brooke walked into the room, but Brooke remembered seeing it almost as if the image had burned itself in her brain.

While Brooke was busy answering some of Catherine’s correspondence, there was a knock at the apartment door.

Catherine often had people come to her apartment to meet with her.   Brooke never knew what they came for because she was never invited to stay in Catherine’s office while they were there.  She also never dealt with any correspondence resulting from any other those meetings.  As far as she knew, Catherine was investing and trading in art.  Paintings, statues and just about anything anyone would call art.

Brooke got up from her desk and went over to the door.  Pulling it open and as the Opening it slowly, as the figure outside the door became visible, she immediately recognized the figure with the large-brimmed hat throwing her face into shadow in the hall as Vera Bannister, a firm, direct and very unpredictable evil-looking woman and evidently a long-time friend of her employer.  When she visited Catherine, Brooke was supposed to make herself scarce.

“Good Evening, Mrs. Bannister.  Miss Trammel is in her room.  Please follow me,” Brooke said dryly as she opened the door wider and turned to lead her into Catherine’s room.

The room seemed to go black just as stars seemed to burst from Brooke’s eyes.  She crumpled to the floor.

Later, Brooke’s eyes opened slowly.  Everything was dark and blurry but was slowly starting to come into focus as she pushed herself up into a sitting position.  She then noticed that there was a knife in her hand and what looked like blood on the blade.  She dropped the knife as if it was on fire.  She reached a hand around to the back of her head and gingerly probed the back of her head with her fingers.  Sure enough, there was a pretty good-sized goose egg on the back of her head.  She pulled her hand away and looking at her fingers noticed a little blood.  She assumed she was going to live, but her head didn’t feel like it.

It had gotten dark outside and Brooke had no idea how long she had been there on the floor.  There was very little light coming in the windows except from the streetlights below.  Brooke slowly rose to her feet, steadying herself on a chair as she pushed herself up into a standing position.  Noticing a glint of light off of the knife now at her feet, she looked in the direction of her employer’s room.

There seemed to be just the light from the moon coming from her employers room and she moved unsteadily on her feet towards it, a growing panic welling up inside her.  She got to the door and pushing it open slowly, afraid of what she might find, she noticed saw her employer, evidently nude, sprawled across the bed, laying face down as she sometimes was after coming home from the clubs, highlighted by the moonlight streaming in the window.  She appeared to be asleep, but Brooke didn’t notice any movement from her at all, even breathing.

“Catherine?” Brooke whispered tentatively as she inched closer to the bed.

Catherine’s shoulders and back was bare revealing a tattoo in the center of her back, along with her legs and feet.  Brooke noticed that even though she appeared to have gone to bed without clothes on, her body was mostly covered by a sheet.

Brooke got more nervous as she approached the bed carefully.  “Catherine?”, Brooke said, a little louder this time.  No response.

“Catherine?”, Brooke once again called as she approached the bed.  No movement or sounds.   She then noticed that Catherine was breathing at all.

“Catherine!” Brooke called out as she reached the bed and her employer.  She reached out to touch Catherine on the shoulder to gently wake her, but as soon as she touched that cold shoulder, she knew that Catherine was dead.  Brooke started to panic and shook Catherine a little harder to make sure.  Nothing, no response.  Brooke grabbed her shoulder and rolled her over on her back.  Catherine’s head flopped back and then Brooke noticed the blood-soaked sheets under Catherine where her head had been.  There was a lot of blood, probably coming from the slash that ran clear across Catherine’s throat.

Brooke screamed at the sight.  She panicked!  She couldn’t think of what to do.  And it was just then that Brooke noticed that in the pool of blood on near Catherine’s mouth, there was something a little shinier than the blood itself.

It was the diamond!

If you would like to read more, then please consider making a contribution to my KickStarter campaign. You can find it by clicking here! (Currently it is in “preview” mode because it hasn’t gone live yet, but it has been approved and will be going live shortly. You can sign up to get notified when it goes live!)