Chapter 1 - Theo


The large man burst through the door of the wood-paneled office with a victorious flurry, “Hello Doris!” he trumpeted with a wide grin.

The woman sitting behind the oversized computer monitor looked like she was hungover from drinking a little too much at her 150th birthday party last night. “You got ‘em then sir?” she croaked, her voice was evidence of her recently escaped smoking habit. She gave up smoking a few years ago and now she just chomped on gum like it owed her money.

“Of course I did Dorris, don’t you know who I am?” Theo sighed as he plopped onto the leather couch and began to prop his feet up on the neighbouring coffee table as he leaned back contemplating his success.

Theo was in his mid-30s and just over six feet tall, his daily uniform usually consisted of brightly colored Hawaiian shirts, cargo shorts, and flip flops. He had shaggy light brown hair and scruff covering the lower half of his tan face.

Right in the middle of reclining, he saw an ancient hand come from behind the astonishingly outdated monitor and snap once. He immediately took his feet off the table and placed them on the floor and cleared his throat, “It was the alligator wranglers dentist”.

“Called it. Where’s my money, sir?” Dorris croaked popping a hand out to receive her winnings. Theo fumbled in his pocket and produced a $1.00 bill, then gently placed it in Dorris’ weathered but rock-solid grip. “You did” his eyes narrowed, “how do you always do know?”

“I don’t always know, I just only bet when I’m sure. Also, TV” she shrugged. Theo looked across the room to the small antiquated TV set that set on a wooden TV tray. It was in fact playing some old murder mystery show like it always was. “With that one done, we have enough money for the end of the month”. Then without smiling or breaking eye contact with Theo, Dorris fidgeted in her front desk drawer until she found what she was looking for, she brought her hands above her head and tugged on the string of a mini pull-string confetti cannon raining miniature streamers all over her hair and desk.

“Well, I’m not the one buying confetti cannons” Theo smirked then broke into laughter as Dorris cracked a smile. “Well, is there anything else on the docket?”

“There are a few; a cheating wife, a cheating husband, another cheater, hit and run, cheater..” She listed as she flipped through dusty files in the lower drawer of her desk.

“Good lord, is there anything that won’t, I don’t know, destroy what little faith in humanity I have left?” he moaned

She flipped through the files for another few moments then picked up one, only to read it silently and slide it back into its original position. She continued, looking at 4 more files before replacing them until she came to one towards the back of the drawer. “Here’s a murder, a patient in a, oh what’s the term, I think it’s ‘institution” she finally produced.

“Wait, did the patient murder someone or did the patient get murdered?” then he thought about it for a second and mumbled to himself “does that even matter?”

“He got killed in a” she raised both hands and mimicked parenthesis “seclusion room” she put her hands down and flipped through more pages in the file. “It looks like there was no evidence of entry or exit, no weapon, nothing on the security footage. The police are lost, but” she read on silently then remarked, “Yeah you’re doing this one. The guy who died was a Walcott”

Theo who had slumped on the couch lamenting the future of the cheating world suddenly perked up. “NOPD couldn’t figure it out? How did he die?”

Ignoring his question and replying to the one she wanted him to ask, she insisted, “Yes, the rich family in New Orleans, the ones that own the French Quarter, that family”

“I know who they are, I just don’t care. Tell me about the case. It could be an interesting one if the almighty New Orleans Police Department couldn’t handle it” he mocked

“Fine, I wish you did care a little more about how we make money, but it was a small circular puncture wound to the heart and no weapon or any kind of evidence was found at the crime scene, and yes, the NOPD has given up. The very rich family is willing to pay anyone who can find who killed him”

Theo rose to his feet smirking, “ok, I guess I’ll just have to show them up then”

“Not like that” Dorris said looking down at his clothes.

He looked down at his Baby Blue flamingo button-down, “Like what? What’s wrong with this? I always dress like this?”

“Honey, the aliens on the moon don’t even need their binoculars to know that you wear that mess every day, and even they laugh” she gestured dismissively towards his shirt.

“It’s comfy and classy” he straightened the cotton collar and ran his hands down the front of the shirt exhibiting his immaculate taste.

She stood up from her chair raising a full two feet taller than she was and locked eyes with Theo. Her voice rose and adopted a tone that resembled a mother scolding her child. “You are not wearing that for this case young man. This case could put us in the black, so if you’re going to play the part of a professional private investigator, you best look it.”

Theo’s lower lip actually stuck out for a millisecond before he realized that his face was moving without his permission, he sucked it back in and straightened his back “I just had the best idea, you know what would be good for this case? A suit.”

Dorris smiled knowingly, “I think that is a wonderful idea sir”

 

Theo rented a small apartment above a mobile wedding service, it had a small living room with a kitchen to the left and a bedroom to the right. Of course, the last time anyone had seen the floors of his bedroom was when they were installed. The hardwood was littered with dirty clothes, discarded snack wrappers, and to-go containers. The mes