He's tall. He's dark. He's Johnson Toast, Private Eye.
Johnson Toast has been lurking around for more than a year. All I know about him is, he's a detective and he is involved with voodoo. I know nothing about detectives or voodoo. I've written, The Beginning. Once you read it you will know as much about Johnson Toast as I do. I'm inviting you to join me on this journey. You wouldn't leave me all alone with a private eye I don't even know with an f'd up private life, running into God knows what out there in Voodoo Land, would you? This could get scary. Help me write this. All ideas are welcome. Thanks.
Chapter One - The Toasted Bagel
"Johnson Toast?" She said with a light hearted giggle.
"Ha-ha, very funny," muttered the forty-something guy, not looking up from the newspaper spread out on the kitchen table, his Benjamin Franklin reading glasses on the tip of his straight nose.
"I'm serious," his sister answered. " I said, do you want some toast?"
"I'll take a half a bagel."
Johnson Toast went back to the article that had caught his eye. It was about a carpenter named Jack Bender, who'd gone missing. The man only lived a few houses away. He was on the same block, kitty corner in the back. Jack was the type of neighbor that Johnson waved to, but that was about it. As far as Johnson knew, it was just Jack and his dog, Ginger who lived there. Ginger was a mutty kind of a thing. Looked like a mix between a beagle and a Rottweiler. She was the more popular of the two. Although dogs were not supposed to roam the streets unattended or off leash in Cedar Cove, Ginger did. It was no fault of her own of course. It was that irresponsible owner of hers who had complete disregard for the rules, but that didn't make Ginger any less likeable. As a matter of fact she was considered to be everyone's dog. It was not unusual to see her walk out of any of the neighboring houses after having invited herself over for dinner. She was a regular at the Toast residence whenever Johnson's sister was in the mood for stroganoff. Laney liked to cook and she'd thought that her brother was getting a little too gaunt after Angela had run off with that young guy she'd met at the coffee shop, after five years of what Johnson had considered to be a blissful marriage.
Laney, Johnson's youngest sister had eased herself into his spare bedroom a little bit at a time after she and Carter had split a few years back. She was only going to stay until she could figure out what to do and then she did figure out what to do. She hired Jack Bender to finish off her brother's basement while Johnson was away on a much needed two week vacation. The remodel was complete with two bedrooms and a family room down there, so that her semi delinquent sons would be more comfortable when they came to stay on weekends and for the summer.
Johnson was miffed with his sister and her surprise. She jabbered on and on about some big change at the house that he was going to just LOVE, all the way home from the airport. He never liked how she referred to it as the house instead of his house. Weren't guests supposed to call it, your house? He knew it was all over when she'd put the blindfold on him and walked him to the bottom of the stairs. He was a private eye. He'd already seen the traces of drywall dust on his black tarred driveway when they'd first pulled in. He could smell the fresh cut two by fours, new paint and carpet from the top of the stairwell.
"Do you like it?" She'd asked when he'd removed his blindfold and surveyed the damage.
"Nice," he'd uttered.
"I thought the boys could sleep down here and this would be a great place for them to play their video games and watch their own T.V. shows. This way if they want to invite a friend or two over they won't all be underfoot. And of course this will only add value to your property when we move out someday. It's a win-win."
"And when exactly will that be?"
"Johnson, this is only temporary," she'd said. "Just let me get my head on straight and my feet back on the ground and the basement paid off. Besides, who is going to feed you, if not me? You don't even remember to eat unless I put a plate right under your nose."
He didn't have the heart to push his slutty, overbearing sister and her budding juvenile delinquents out of his remodeled home that day and here it was a year later and she was still standing in his kitchen, spreading peanut butter on a toasted bagel for him.
"Did you see this article in the paper about Jack Bender?" he said.
"Jack Bender, your friend."
"He's not my friend, he was my builder."
"Your builder with benefits."
"What about him?"
"They say he is missing."
"Really? Like, missing, missing? How?"
She was speechless for a minute. Johnson basked in the quiet.
"Well are you going to tell me what it says or do I have to put my contacts in?"
"It says that a neighbor hadn't seen his dog, Ginger, for several days and thought it strange, so he called over there and no one answered. Then he went to the Jack's house and no one came to the door. It wasn't locked so he went in and the only one home was the dog. She had made messes through out the place and was very weak. It looked like she hadn't eaten for days. Fortunately Jack left the lid up in the bathroom so she hadn't run out of water."
"Oh my God! Poor Ginger! Is she going to be okay?"
"Yeah, it says here that she was treated and then taken to the local shelter."
"The shelter! Jesus Johnson! We have to go and get her out of there. She has to come and stay with us till they find her daddy."
"Wait a second."
She was already out of the room, on her way to change her clothes. It wasn't ten minutes and she flew past him, out the door with glittery fringe flying, on her way to the shelter.
"Oh Jesus," he muttered.
So, do you have any idea what could have happened to Jack Bender?