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The Pub Chapter 3 Murder Mystery - Book 1

Updated on June 3, 2023
PegCole17 profile image

Peggy Cole is author of 2 fiction novels, multiple stories, how-to articles, book reviews and a 14-year Hub Pages contributor.

A dangerously fast ride down the coast leads to new views about Jason.
A dangerously fast ride down the coast leads to new views about Jason. | Source

"Assistant Manager?" Joe practically spat out the words. The promotion would never have been her choice, certainly not under Jason. But she needed to keep this job.

Her firing Chip would kill any ties she had with the staff, particularly Chip's friends. That was likely what Jason was trying to do. Alienate her.

Staff changes had become routine after Jason came. New hires had replaced most who might remember the former manager, Bob. There were new entertainers and even the menu had changed. With the staff grumbling about new duties, different hours and other changes, Joe plodded on with her daily tasks trying to hang on. Coworkers started falling silent whenever she came near.

She glanced around the small office, her eyes lingering on the roses. She wondered if they were from Tom. But he didn't need flowers to attract women. Every night women ogled him as he performed on stage, passing him their phone numbers. He had no shortage of female companionship.

Joe wondered what she saw in him. He wasn't a boyfriend. But he was one of the few who still spoke to her at work. Still, she had no illusions about a guy that treated women as disposable.

She'd learned a lot in the short time she'd worked at The Pub. The behavior of customers and staff under the influence no longer surprised her. With every change, her old job at the bank started to look better and her regrets deepened.

She wondered who had sent the flower arrangement. Maybe it was Tom. But he didn't need roses to attract women,
She wondered who had sent the flower arrangement. Maybe it was Tom. But he didn't need roses to attract women, | Source

Joe looked at the card that came with the roses. There was no signature, just some scrawled words, “Let’s Do It.” that made Joe grit her teeth. Out in the kitchen she could hear tongs clicking as George bellowed out a song.

“Eighteeeen yellow roses came todaaaaay, eighteen yellow roses, a pretty bouquet." He actually had a good voice if he would lose the lounge lizard act. Joe pictured him using the tongs as a microphone.

She'd confided in the lead bartender, Chewy about George physically picking her up that day in the kitchen. His face had grown dark and he scowled.

"If George ever tries anything like that again, you let me know." Then he grinned and mimicked a favorite movie line. "Mongo kill Sheriff Bart," he said. She wondered if he was joking.

Joe knew little about Chewy's past except for clues in the photos behind the bar. Framed shots of him much younger showed that he'd been a heavy weight boxer. Despite his current softened physique he remained an imposing figure.

After what Joe had told him, Chewy installed an intercom system to connect the office to the main lounge where he worked.

"There's a chime on either end. All it takes is the touch of a button if you ever need me for anything." He stretched across the desk, his hulking frame mashing her up against the wall as he demonstrated the system. She jabbed him in the rib cage and he moved away slowly pinching her gently on the cheek.

"When vendors show up out front, I'll buzz you, or you can buzz me if you need me," he said with too much enthusiasm.

Once the system was in, Chewy would buzz to tell Joe a joke or just for the fun of knowing the noise made her jump. He was easy to like with his sense of humor and friendly manner.

When the buzzer rang at noon the day she got the flowers, she grabbed her purse and headed out front to meet Tom.

She hoped she could avoid Jason on the way.

Tom and Joe ducked out the back door of the lounge and stepped into the steaming humidity of the tropics. The door, padlocked during the day, remained unlocked during night hours. Occasionally, a late-night patron would go for an unexpected swim after stumbling off the dock beyond the door.

Chewy stood next to a sign that said, "Required to stay open during business hours." It was the basis for his favorite pun.

"Oh, we're actually required to stay open during business hours?" He'd use the line on anyone who'd listen, bellowing with laughter every time. That day there was no mocking the sign. He glared as he watched the couple leave, making sure to give Tom a warning look.

A couple of sunburned boaters carried a cooler toward the door, making their way along the nearby dock. Fishermen could exchange three large fish for one free meal at the restaurant. It added a variety of freshly caught fish to the menu.


Joe had tried to keep her dates with Tom quiet with little success. The Pub was like a small town that thrived on gossip. Leaving the restaurant was the only way to get any privacy. As Tom drove to the small diner, Joe realized that as Assistant Manager she should no longer be dating an employee.

The morning was just beginning for Tom who'd played his last set at closing. Joe had locked up afterward and returned to The Pub to begin her normal shift at eight am. Her eyes showed signs of little sleep.

They both ordered breakfast. There was no mention of the roses while they waited for their orders to arrive. Joe sipped coffee and watched Tom cut his pancakes into precise squares before drowning them in syrup working his way from left to right in a methodical motion.

She held off telling him about her promotion. Jason would want to announce that to the staff himself. It was easier to concentrate on who might have sent the flowers and far more pleasant than the task that awaited back at the restaurant.


The Staff Meeting

“We’re in cost cutting mode,” Jason repeated. “Everyone has to learn to do more with less. If you can't do that, get out.” There was no mention of more money for the additional duties and employees were smart enough not to ask.

With Joe's expanded duties she would work as bookkeeper until the afternoon, then, take a short break and return to work in the evening to serve as hostess. No longer an option to return at night, the new schedule meant she'd be there as a worker rather than as a customer.

“Welcome to the hospitality industry,” Jason said on her first night as hostess.

Evenings after Jason left, she shared Dick’s corner booth. True to his word he watched over the place, his presence now routine with eyes that grew redder with each passing hour.

Following that meeting, a new entertainment schedule showed up on the bulletin board scribbled in Jason's nearly indecipherable handwriting. Tom’s name was missing from the schedule.

Later that evening after the dinner rush, Jason showed up at the beverage station where Joe was pouring a glass of tea. As he leaned in close, she caught the overpowering smell of Bourbon on his breath.

“Let’s go,” he said, reaching around in front of her. He dangled a large set of car keys in her face.

“Go where?”

“We've got some reconnaissance work to do,” he said grabbing her by the arm.

“I need to grab my purse,” she said. She hoped for a chance to tell Chewy where she was going.

“No you don’t.” He tightened his grip and marched her out of the front entrance stopping when they reached his car. Joe heard a small voice in her head screaming, "run," as Jason unlocked and opened the door. He steered her inside before she could act on it.

He started the car and slammed it into gear jolting out across traffic with pebbles spewing out behind them. A tinge of orange trailed along the water's edge where the sun dipped into the ocean.

Joe cast a furtive glance back at her car hoping someone would notice if she never made it back

© 2012 Peg Cole


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