FROM THE UPCOMING NOVEL MAX FLY, U977
There is a place out there that lies on the fringe of the law. A world of people who cross borders, lose themselves in a crowd. A world that knows where illegal papers can be found, visas, licenses, whatever is needed to move about.
They are easy to find if one mingles with the right kind of people, those who live on that fringe. There are ways to cross borders, avoid checkpoints, and to exist away from the eyes of law enforcement officials. You learn where places are where you can go to meet people with similar interests. People who deal in guns and ammunition, some in information, and others in smuggling of goods or people. These are the people who comprise the underbelly of society. This is the world I know, the one I am most comfortable moving around in and this is why people hire me, to find people in this seedy underworld of humanity.
My name is Max Fly. I’m a private investigator and my firm is located in Burnt Corn Alabama where we specialize in finding errant husbands, outing people who file fraudulent insurance claims, and the occasional people who jump bail. What we don’t do is deal with drug and weapons dealers. That is until the day I received a call from an old friend in Atlanta requesting that I speak to an associate of his whose son recently died from multiple gunshot wounds while in downtown Atlanta. Apparently, he was making a crack cocaine purchase. As I mentioned, we normally stay away from drug-related cases due to the danger associated with it. But, I owed my friend a favor and he turned in the chit, so…
Two days later I left my friend’s office, located on the tenth floor in the Federal Building on Peachtree Street, with a dossier about two inches thick on the guy he wanted me to find.
My next stop was at the Atlanta Police Department, the Homicide Division, where I got as much information as I could squeeze out of an Atlanta Homicide Sergeant, a Loretta Lincoln, who was heading up the investigation. She was a cute little thing, about five foot nothing, but I could tell we wouldn’t be the best of friends when she told me she didn’t appreciate me monkeying around in her business. Luckily my client possessed some leverage with the mayor of Atlanta and was able to pry loose a meager amount of information from the lovely sergeant. Enough to get me started, anyway – a name.
From reading over the files, I found out the main suspect, a Cletus Cooper Morgan, was born and raised in northwest Georgia in a small town called Burning Bush. Up to this point, I thought the burning bush was in Midian near Egypt.
I filled up the Fly Mobile, a 1958 Oldsmobile 98 with its powerful Rocket V8 engine, with twenty gallons of high test gasoline and pointed her north.
I pulled into downtown Burning Bush around three in the afternoon and found a parking space in front of an old weathered building that looked like it once housed some sort of hosiery or sewing mill, one of the countless textile plants you could find throughout the southern states into the ’90’s that used to provide a living for many of the women in the rural south before President William Jefferson Clinton decided to hurry the process of sending all the manual labor jobs to Mexico and points south by pushing through that damned North American Free Trade Act.
The building was painted a bright yellow with brown trim around the windows and doors to match the brown and yellow sheriff’s badge that was painted on a sign hanging over the front door, declaring it was the home of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Bodean Johnson, Sheriff. I did a little background check on this unincorporated community prior to leaving Atlanta. Burning Bush is located in the northwest corner of the state near Chattanooga, Tennessee and was named after the nearby Burning Bush Baptist Church. It is so small that the population isn’t given but there are 1095 members of the Baptist church listed, so I assumed the population of the town would be pretty close to that of Burnt Corn, Alabama, somewhere around 100-300 close-knit residents. I also figured that would make it easier for me to find the man I was looking for. Evidently, he had roots in the community. His great-grandfather owned a farm between Burning Bush and Fort Oglethorpe.
By the time I arrived, I had been driving about three hours and found myself a little road weary. As I stepped out of the Fly Mobile onto the cracked and heaving sidewalk, I noticed an attractive and very shapely redheaded woman standing across the street, staring at me.
“What’s your name, handsome?” she asked.
It was apparent her eyesight was 20/20. “Max,” I replied. “What’s yours?”
Della Daisey. Della Daisey Morgan. You got a last name?”
“It’s Fly, Max Fly. Did you say your last name is Morgan?”
“Yes, I did. Why do you ask?”
“No reason, just curious.”
“What kind of car is that?” she asked pointing at the Fly Mobile.
“It’s a 1958 Oldsmobile 98. You are just full of questions, aren’t you? Are you a cop?”
“Ha, ha, no I’m not. What you doin’ in front of Sheriff Floyd-William Floyd’s Office? Lookin’ for someone?”
“Yes, I’m looking for someone. I’m a private investigator.”
“Well, good luck Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator. If you’re looking for something good to eat, stop by and see me. I can be found down the street at the Della Diner and Dance Studio. Maybe you can show me your private investigator’s badge?”
“Did you say, ‘and dance studio’?”
“I did. We provide live entertainment after 6:00 p.m. on the weekends and Thursday nights,” she replied as she walked away.
I watched her bottom twitch left to right as she walked away, wondering how she did that so provocatively.
After cooling my heels for the obligatory twenty minutes, a burly deputy whose name tag told me his last name was Johnson, ushered me into the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff was a thin, balding older man, at least in his mid-sixties. I was informed that the sheriff held the post for the past thirty-five years and is as well established in Burning Bush as any elected official could expect to be.
He stood and grasped my hand. His hand was warm and his shake was firm.
“Name’s Floyd-William Floyd, you can call me Will. Everybody does.”
“The sign says, Sheriff Bodean Johnson.”
“That was the previous sheriff. I just ain’t got around to changing it yet.”
“How long you have you been sheriff here?”
“Going on thirty-five years, I guess.” He was looking at the card I gave to the burly deputy in the front of the office.
“Max Fly from Burnt Corn, Alabama now visiting me at Burning Bush, Georgia, such irony. What can I help you with, Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama?”
“I’m looking for someone, Sheriff. He goes by the name of Cletus Cooper Morgan. Here’s a picture of him it’s about ten years old, but it’s the best I could find. I have been hired by a firm to try and find this guy. He is a former boxer who boxed under the name of Kid Morgan, small-time but he got far enough to get into the ring with Danny Cyclone Ciorrocco but that was as far as he got. Cyclone knocked the last nut out of his grill and Cletus quietly faded away until he showed up in South America, dealing in illegal weapons, portable rocket systems, and high tech devices such as night vision scopes, radio sensors and certain explosive detectors. He participated in different types of security operations with foreign governments. Basically, he was doing things he wouldn’t want his mother to know about.”
“You don’t know his mamma.”
“No, I don’t. He was involved with the killing of hundreds of peasants in remote villages and left the bodies for the families to find. He was serving many clients down there. It didn’t matter what their political persuasion as long as their money was green.
He became a partner in a bean processing factory in Jamaica and went on the CIA payroll. Now they are trying to keep a lid on it but it is hard, considering the activities Cletus participates in.
They said he’s into kidnapping, extortion, and robbery, and engaged in the bombing of an El Salvador civilian airlines and hijackings as means of raising money for political upheavals in South American countries-upheavals in which the CIA played an active role.
Apparently, he is heavy into the shipment of drugs and gun running that started while he was down in Buenos Aires, Argentina, training with their military, which is one of the most brutal and are considered pariahs in other parts of South America. The feds found a canceled plane ticket with his name on it showing he flew out of Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires last week. His destination was Atlanta.
“That sounds like something our Cletus would get involved in. Why are you needing to find him, Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama? I’ve never been to Burnt Corn. Is it a nice place?”
“It is. A bit larger than Burning Bush, but still nice. My client’s son got mixed up with Morgan about five years ago and ended up dying at the end of a Mac10. My client was told by a former agent with the DEA that Morgan was pushing about 20 kilos of cocaine into Atlanta every month and they believe he was supplying someone near Chattanooga. Then come to find out, ol’ Cletus has family in these parts, Burning Bush, to be exact.”
“I know Cletus. I haven’t seen him in years. He left to play football down at Valdosta State back in ’63, I think. That didn’t last long. I figured it wouldn’t. As soon as they asked him to read something he was beyond his pay grade if you know what I mean. He ended up in the United States Army and served in Southeast Asia for a couple of years. He came out more screwed up then he was when he went in.”
“If he was to be around these parts, where would you guess he could be found?”
“The Morgans got a homestead ‘bout five miles north of here.”
“How would I get there?”
“Mr. Fly, the Morgans have a reputation around here and it ain’t a good one. If you have no need to, then don’t go near their place. They’re a mean bunch if there ever was one. Ol’ Pa Morgan was known to run shine out of the hills behind his farm and then his oldest boy started growing’ that funny tobacco that all them hippies like to smoke. I was with the ATF and the DEA a few years ago when we arrested the oldest boy, Duane Dale Morgan. We burned down a few acres of his weed. The feds didn’t keep him very long. When he came back he was into something entirely different. He was cookin’ up some of that methamphetamine that seems to be the elixir of choice for all the big city folk nowadays. We had to go up there again and now they throwed his butt into the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Still there, as far as I know.
If you just feel you have a need to stir up a hornet’s nest, then, by all means, go on up. It’s pretty easy to find. You just head north outta town on Burning Bush Road toward the Burning Bush Baptist church. When you get out about five miles, turn right on Poplar Springs Road and go about a half mile and turn right once again on Peggy Sue Drive. About a mile down you’ll see a small dirt road going off to your left into the woods. There ain’t no mailbox or nuthin’ markin’ the place. You just have to take my word for it. Turn down that dirt road and you won’t have to worry, one of the Morgans will find you.”
Sheriff, Meth is no longer the drug of choice, it’s crack cocaine and it’s taking this country by storm. It’s easy to make. It’s cheap and it’s highly addictive. They say one hit is one too many and a million hits are not enough.”
“I just met a Della Daisy Morgan. She doesn’t happen to be related to the Morgan family we have been talking about, is she?”
“I believe she is a cousin. Probably a kissin’ cousin. Up here in these parts that could mean anything. But that red hair gives her away. Ain’t no way you can hide that.”
Well, now the feds are gathering string on Cletus hoping they can put him away. They have to find him first and that’s where I come in.