Mormon Private Eye:
Most detective noir stories take place in a metropolis. This one however took place in Provo Utah. It’s a nice place to live when you learn to live with all the crazy California drivers. Anyhow, I’m a private investigator, like the ones you see in the movies. I even wear a black trench coat with a black fedora on top. I take on many cases, whose cheating on who cases mostly but once in a while I get real cases. Like the case where I met Claws, what a case that was.
I was going through a dry spill for about a week when one night as I was about to close up there came three knocks. “Come in, the doors open.” Through the door came a young woman in her early twenties, “Mr. Rockwell?” She asked with a tender voice. I nodded and motioned her to take a seat. “So what can I do for you Mrs.…” the ring on her left finger told me she was married. “…Click, Ilsa Click. It’s about my husband, Neil Click.” She sat herself down in the chair in front of my desk then continued, “He’s missing, I went to the police but nothing has come up. I have to know where he is, to know he’s safe.” I hushed her before she could start the water works. I hate watching women and children cry. “When did you last see him?” I asked. Mrs. Click managed to calm herself enough to answer, “Two days ago, he left for class. He only had the one class that day and he never came home. The police made me wait twenty four hours before they would file a report. When they finally started an investigation they questioned Neil’s classmates, his professor even the University’s Den and found no leads. The police think he simply ran out on me but that’s insane, Neil would never do that.” How many times have I heard that line but it’s been known to be true from time to time. “How long have you two been married?” A smile finally appeared on her face, “Three years now, we were sealed in the Provo temple.” I went to that temple a few times before I served a two year mission to northern California. “That’s a beautiful temple.” Her smile grew, “You’re a member then?” I nodded, “Well Mrs. Click, if you will leave a number with your name next to it I’ll keep you updated.” After that she left and I was alone again. There wasn’t much to go with, I was going to have to start from scratch.
The next day I called an old friend of mine, Officer Rick Valiant, Rick agreed to meet me at Joe’s Cola Bar for lunch. I sat at my usual table in the back corner where I could see everything in the room. I spotted Rick quickly as he came in but then again he was a giant of a man so it wasn’t hard. Rick stood at six foot five, probably the tallest man on the force or at least one of the tallest. “Rick, thanks for coming.” I shook his hand firmly, “Hey I’m always happy to help you with a case on my day off.” Rick said with a happy go lucky smile with a hint of sarcasm. “I knew you wouldn’t mind, so how are you these days Rick?” He sat back in his chair and stretched a bit, “Pretty good Sam, I can’t complain. How about you? What are you up to these days?” I shrugged a bit, “Just fine I guess but sort of stumped about this case I’m on now.” Rick nodded, “Right, you mentioned that on the phone. Missing persons case, Mr. Neil Click.” The waitress then came up, “Hello Sam, Rick, what can I get you boys?” Her name is Glenda, she runs the place with her Husband Joe. Very nice couple, “I’ll have a caffeine free cola on the rocks Glen.” I told her and Rick asked for the same. Once she had left we continued, “So what can you give me Rick?” Rick shook his head, “Not much I’m afraid, we know he made it the University. He made it to his class but once the class got out he disappeared. His car was still parked in his spot but he was nowhere to be found.” Interesting, an entire university of students and not one saw what happened to one man. “Who was the last person to talk to him?” I asked, “The University Den, we questioned him but that lead nowhere. He was pretty shaken up, the thought of a student disappearing at his University really got to him.” I figured it would be a dead end but I had a feeling that I should talk to the Den myself. “Maybe I’ll have a talk with him. See if there was something your boys missed.”Glenda came back with our drinks, “Let me know if you boys need anything else.”We thanked her and took our drinks. “Couldn’t hurt, if you find something let me know. I’d like to see this man return home to his wife.”
After I left Rick at Joe’s I arranged to meet with the Den of Joseph Young University. His name is Lucas Taylor, a wife and five kids. Before making my way to his office I walked past Neil Click’s class room. Wanted to see if there might be something off, out of the ordinary but I couldn’t spot anything so I made way to see the Den. His office had no windows on the side I was on when I arrived but there were large windows on the inside. It didn’t have a real great view at all. Taylor came up and shook my hand, “Mr. Rockwell, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” I thanked him then took a seat. “Well thank you for seeing me I realize how busy you must be. So I’ll just ask you a few questions and be on my way.” He seemed a bit edgy but acted happy to assist me, “Please, anything that can be done to help.” He replied. “I was told you are the last person he talked to before Neil Click disappeared. What did you talk about?” Taylor sat back comfortably in his chair, “Neil Click is about to graduate with a bachelors degree. I made it a habit a long time ago to meet with students approaching their graduation dates, to congratulate them on their success.” Wouldn’t think a man like him would have the time to do that but then again what do I know about being a Den? “Is this all you talked about?” He nodded, “What happened after your talk?” Taylor sighed and leaned forward. “I shook his hand then sent him on his way.” This really seemed to be a dead end when a thought came to me. I rose from my seat and walked towards the window. Down below was a balcony and below that was private parking for staff members. “Something wrong Detective?” Taylor asked and something was wrong. Wasn’t quite sure why but I was certain that he knew more then what he was telling me. “Yes, I’ve got a missing husband out there and I have no leads to his location.” I stared at the window for a moment longer then turned to the Den. “I thank you for your time Mr. Taylor. I’ll be on my way now.” He stood from his chair to show me out. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help to you detective.” I left the University in my black mustang and headed for the underground. Maybe nothing like Chicago or New York but even Provo has an underground filled with scum of the earth.
I’ll skip over the location of the underground and get to the point. I came to the underground to meet with a rat named Lewie. Lewie was once a respected doctor in his field until he began drinking and became an alcoholic. Lost his family and his job, the only jobs he can hold are the kind you find in the underground. Lewie gets around and hears just about everything sinister going on so if anyone can tell me if Taylors dirty, that’d be Lewie. “Hello Lewie.” I said to him as I approached. Lewie has become very skittish around me and for good reasons. I may have rough housed him a bit for lying to me. Anyway, he managed to calm himself to appear tough. “Sam Rockwell, what an unpleasant surprise.” The man smelled like garbage, probably hasn’t bathed in weeks. “I need some Intel Lewie, have you heard anything about a Lucas Taylor, the Den at JYU?” I could tell my question sparked something in Lewie’s memory by the way his ear twitched. “What’s it worth to you?” He said with a grin. I needed whatever he could give me, “How about a hotel room for a couple nights, complete with room service.” Lewie lived in a dirty shack and missed the finer comforts of life; a free hotel room would make him feel like a king in his castle. “You’ve got yourself a deal Sam.” He looked around to make sure nobody was listening then asked, “Do you know the Fox?” Never met the Fox but I’d heard plenty. “What about the Fox?” I asked, “I heard the Fox has dirt on the Den and its good too. So good that he’s practically her puppet. That’s all I know, truly, it is.” I believed him; he still remembers what happened the last time he lied. I added some fiber to his reward and well let’s just say he hasn’t dared to lie since. I pulled out my cell and made arrangements for Lewie at a nearby hotel, the manager there owes me a few favors. Soon I was on my way to meet the Fox for the first time. The Fox has a similar profession to me except I take honest clients and I have a license to be a private investigator, the Fox does not.
I never met him before but I knew how to find the Fox. Frankly I never had a reason to go find him until now. I drove my mustang to the mall closest to the University and made my way to the photography studio there. There was a woman at the desk to assist me, “Hello, welcome to Irene’s Family Photos. How can I help you sir?” she said with a smile. The woman was beautiful, Native American decent, smooth long hair and ruby lips. “I need special pictures taken, a former client sent me.”What I told her was a code to see Fox. Without it her employees would never let me see her. Still smiling she replied, “Of course I believe we were expecting you.” That told me I could see him. She turned to the other employee and told him to watch the front while she helped the costumer. She then led me to the back room where we went into another room. Once inside the lights went out. I calmly searched for my mini flashlight. “Why are you here gumshoe?” A mechanical voice asked. “Is this the Fox I’m talking to?” I asked. “I am, now answer the question. What are you doing here?” I found my mini flashlight but kept it off until I needed it. “I need information about Lucas Taylor.” There was silence then the voice came back, “Why? What do you want with Mr. Taylor?” I continued to have the mini light ready, “A woman came to see me, and her husband has gone missing. I believe Taylor knows but isn’t telling, so I need something I can use when I approach him again.” There was silence again but it didn’t last, “Why should I tell you? I have client to protect and their business is not your own.” I was growing impatient. “It is now, I’ve got a young woman who wants to know if her husband is alive or not. Frankly I could care less what your client wants with Taylor, all I want is to find the girl’s husband and send him home.” The silence was longer so I quickly turned on my mini light and soon found the source of the mechanical voice. It was the same woman who led me in, she was holding a device in front of her mouth. I was surprised when I realized that she is the Fox. She flipped a light on then put the device down. “Impressive, with a reputation like yours, I would have expected to see a frightened little man but I assume that’s what you want.” She smiled with those ruby lips, “Your reputation is also impressive Rockwell, and I’ll admit that it’s a pleasure to meet you. However you’re not here for pleasantries, you’re here about the Den.” I nodded and she continued, “My business with my client is done, but I have made a pledge of silence. However, I’ll give you something to work with…” She walked towards me until her lips were but inches from my ear and whispered, “I took pictures, pictures that if spread around would ruin him.” She pulled away then opened the door. “That is all I can share with you, thank you for the lovely visit we must do this again sometime.” I thanked her and left her studio.
Soon I was again in Lucas Taylor’s office; he was surprised when I walked through his door. “Detective Rockwell, I didn’t expect to see you again.” I closed the door behind me. “I have some more questions for you Taylor and I’ll appreciate no more lies.” The man was confused. “What are you talking about?” I then replied, “You know what happened to Neil Click and for some reason you’re not telling me. I know about the pictures, so you had better start talking.” He began to sweat and became very nervous. “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about so if you’ll excuse me…” I grabbed him by the collar, “Enough of the lies or I’ll make sure those pictures spread like wildfire.” That did the trick, “Alright! Alright I’ll tell you… He was taken, it was an accident. Neil came to see me as I said but I had forgotten about him. I was busy with a man. Mr. Click came in at the wrong moment and heard a part of the conversation, not much but enough for his capture.” He sat down grievingly. “Just what did he hear that justified his capture?” Taylor stood up again and walked to the window. The view was still poor but he looked on as if looking upon the campus. “This campus filled with happy members the church is in danger Detective. A sinister man wishes to destroy the high standards we all hold dear. As you know, JYU does not allow alcoholic beverages on campus. We live the Word of Wisdom here.” I grew impatient, “Enough of the run around and get to the point!” He nodded franticly. “He wants to start selling beer on campus.” I made him repeat for I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “What kind of a mad man would plan such a thing?” I gasped. “It’s true Detective Rockwell, all I say is true.”I shook my head. “How could you agree to such a thing? What could there possibly be on those pictures that would make you allow beer on campus? Have you no clue what this could do to the students?” I grabbed his collar again and shook him. “What does he have on you, son of perdition?!” He broke free of my grasp and leaned against his desk. He whispered something I couldn’t hear so I told him to speak up. “I cheated on my wife…”I’ve investigated many spouses to see if they were faithful or not but when it’s a member of the church… it makes my blood boil. “You broke the law of chastity? Broke the covenants you made in the temple with your wife?” Taylor then began his confession. “My wife got a new job as few months back. She’s never home, never has time for me or the kids and it’s so lonely. I only kissed her once and held her hand a few times…” I cut him off. “Now see here, though I’m disgusted with you it’s not my place to judge. There are only three people should confess to about this, God, your bishop and your wife. All I need to know is where Neil Click is.” Taylor kneeled down before me, “No you must do more than that, you must stop him! The man is mad; you can’t let him get away with it. He’s with the university council, he black mailed them too. Find him, you’ll find Neil Click.” He told me where to go but before I walked through the door I asked him, “What’s the name of this ally of evil?” He uttered, “Claws…” I raised one eye brow in confusion. “Santa Clause?”He shook his head, “No not Clause, Claws!” Taylor said this with his hands out stretched like a creature of the night. I left and raced for the secret meeting between the university council and Claws.
I found myself at the former “Buckner Island Pizza” place. It had closed due to a terrible kitchen fire. I moved quietly as I closed in, stopping frequently to make sure I was not seen. I came to the back door and heard nothing so I quietly opened the door. Making my way through the blackened kitchen I soon heard voices. “This is an outrage!” A man said, and then a woman spoke, “We cannot allow alcoholic beverages on campus.” Soon I could see them all. They were all standing and close together. There was another who hid his face in the shadows. Only his arms were visible. He raised his arm and pointed at the lot. He wore gloves with silver claws coming out of them. “Don’t forget, if things don’t go the way I want I’ll have your families killed. An assassin waits outside your homes, waiting for me to give the word.” I pulled out my gun and pointed it at the man called Claws. “Hold it right there scum!” I couldn’t see his face but I could tell that his head had turned towards me. “Detective Sam Rockwell, I believe you’re looking for a young man by the name of Neil Click.” I nodded, “That’s right, now I’m only goanna tell you once. Put your claws up where I can see them and give it up.” Claws laughed at me. I then continued to say, “It’s all over, on my way over I called my good friend Officer Rick Valiant and told him all about you and he has cops arresting your assassins as we speak.” One of his hands clinched into a fist. “Your pretty clever my friend, you win this battle.” He then took off into the darkness. I chased after him and saw him driving away in a black car. I ran after him and tried shooting at the tires then they threw someone out of the car. The man was tied up, it was Neil Click. When I looked up the car with Claws was gone.
It was over; Neil Click was home with his wife. University council and their families were also safe. Lastly, the standards at the University remain unchanged. Alcoholic beverages will never see the University’s campus. As for Claws, police are searching for him and I’m sure he’ll be found soon enough. Then there’s me, I’m back in the office waiting for another exciting case to take on.
Detective Sam Rockwell