The Pub Chapter 2 Murder Mystery - Book 1
Joe sat in the tiny office engrossed in a tangle of adding machine tapes and messy files. When someone banged on the door, she jumped, startled by the interruption. George, the head chef, held the door open with a pair of tongs and crooned in a girlish, high-pitched tone.
"Someone's got a boyfriend. Someone's got a boyfriend." His other hand was hidden behind his bulk which nearly filled the door frame
He liked ducking into Joe's air-conditioned office to get out of the steaming heat of the kitchen. For a change, he had a legitimate reason. From behind his back, he tipped forward like a ballerina, leaned in and set a floral arrangement on the desk.
She had learned to steer clear of the head chef who liked using his tongs to pinch female staff members. Her first week on the job, on her way past his grill, he had sneaked up behind her, picked her up bodily and pointed her toward the upper cabinets.
"Grab those napkins for me, would ya'?" Snickering, he peeked under her mini-skirt as he held her up. Joe's face flushed as the kitchen staff looked on.
That morning, George was wearing a familiar smirk as he reached across her desk and snatched the card from the bouquet. Reaching under the paperwork on her desk, Joe found a wooden ruler and smacked his hand with it. He dropped the card immediately, wincing.
She opened the envelope and read the note, then started to make a phone call. She was dialing when her new manager appeared in the doorway behind the chef.
"You, OUT!" Jason pointed at the suddenly somber chef. Then, he pointed to the kitchen. There was an awkward dance at the door as George backed out and Joe's manager came in. The chef shot her a silly grin from behind Jason as the door slammed in his face.
"So, how about it?" Jason asked with a wink. She hung up the phone and turned her attention back to her work while he slid onto the bench across from her. A cold silence filled the room. Unaffected, he stared at the top of her head and began whistling.
Jason had been hired to replace Bob, the manager who'd hired Joe. Rumors of embezzlement and cooked books had put Joe under scrutiny during the investigation that followed. Thankfully, her friendship with the owner had saved her job.
"I'm sure you had nothing to do with the missing cash, Joe," he told her as the investigation dragged on. His fondness for her was no secret.
Dick liked being seen with pretty women who were willing to chauffeur him around in his Maserati. He told her they were checking out the competition when he invited her to join him for dinner at comparable restaurants along the coast. Joe ended up driving back most evenings when he drank too much.
The silent partner from Chicago wasn't nearly as friendly. In fact, he hadn't made up his mind about the bookkeeper and her part in the financial turmoil that followed Bob's departure.
Joe was busy ordering the week's liquor supply when he showed up unannounced shortly after Bob left. She looked up to see him standing, briefcase in hand, at the open door.
The last time she'd seen Ervin had been when she interviewed for the job. She was glad he left the day-to-day operational decisions to Dick. According to Ervin, all that was about to change. He could be heard around the restaurant blustering about his plans.
"I'm here to get to the bottom of this and straighten out the accounting mess. Be assured, heads will roll." Employees tried to steer clear of the so-called silent partner.
Jason spent nearly two weeks during the investigation, back in Jamaica, closing out his affairs before moving into the condominium that came with the position. He returned to town just in time to join the staff's as they celebrated the silent partner's departure for Chicago.
The new food and beverage tracking system Ervin had put in place during his scrutiny of the books caused confusion and grumbling from the staff. On the bookkeeping end, Joe was flooded with indecipherable food tickets while the staff tried to use the new complicated system which Ervin insisted was an improvement.
With Ervin gone, Dick allowed Jason to change the system back to the old food and beverage codes which made Jason an immediate hero of all the staff except Joe, who had to deal with the confusion of returning to the old system. New hires had been trained one way. Now they had to learn the old method of handling food orders. Registers were out of balance for weeks during the transition.
Jason could put on charm to draw people to him eager to share a round of drinks, bawdy jokes and a friendly slap on the back. But it didn't take long for him to alienate most of the female staff with innuendos and off-color remarks. He was particularly adept at annoying his bookkeeper.
The sound of vegetables being chopped and the aroma of roasting prime rib entered with him as the office door opened and he stepped inside. "Joey!" He'd started calling her that once he found out it annoyed her. He smirked at the look that came over her face as he made his grand entrance.
The phone rang and she answered it, eager for a diversion from his beady eyes.
"Good morning, The Pub. How may I help you?" She turned to face the wall.
"Hey, baby!" She recognized the familiar sleepy voice.
"Yes, I have that file right here," she answered. Shuffling through the paperwork piled on the table that served as her desk, she opened a file at random.
"Certainly. I can send you an itemized statement if you like."
The door slammed behind him as Jason stood up and stormed out.
"But Baby," the voice said. "Don't you recognize my voice? It's meeee!" He drew the word out in a whine.
"Of course I do," she answered with her manager out of the room. "He was in here."
"Oh. I get it. Meet me for lunch?"
"Noon in the lobby," she said hanging up.
Jason returned at that moment holding the staff schedule he'd ripped off the bulletin board. He tossed it on the desk where it landed in front of her. The page was ripped in places where he'd crossed off some names. One of them was Chip's, the assistant manager.
"What's this?" Joe asked.
"You've been promoted."
"What about Chip?"
"Oh," he answered. "That'll be your first assignment. You get to tell him he's fired."
"What if I don't want the job?"
"There's the door," he said, grinning.
Looking for the Beginning?
- The Pub Chapter 1 Murder Mystery - Book 1
The manager of a restaurant and live music venue disappears without a trace. When paychecks start bouncing and cash goes missing from the bank account the new bookkeeper is under suspicion.
© 2012 Peg Cole