The entire book appears at this link with chapters added after appearing online:
Tyger investigates a prisoner in
Picayune, Mississippi; as well as the strange behavior of
indigenous yahoos. Then, Tyger links up with Joe and Lana on a
complicated Vietnam style mission near Hammond in pursuit of
Joe’s evil arch enemy Bingo LeBeouf. Following the case, the
three share thoughts at the Lamplighter Lounge. Joe contemplates
“MORIARTY ON A HOT TIN ROOF”
So hot and yet so not, the merry merry month of July this
way flies. Tyger picks up the black box system at the West Bank,
tackleing yet another assignment in the wilds of Yahooland.
This fine time the fun location is just over the Mississippi
border at Picayune, a place that is booooring, to say the least.
Oh well, what the hell, it’s an attitude as they say in the
modeling biz. In this case Tyger models the latest in Fine
surveillance gear, courtesy of IRS Inc., insurance
claims investigations, home of the super sleuth line of discovery wear.
(Sandy Alexander has even printed up an impressive batch of
Tyger Williams “Claims Investigator” business cards for the lad to
flash about town, mainly outside nightclubs attempting to impress.)
William R. Robertson is the subject d’jour, a white male,
35 years old, 5’8″, 230 pounds. Yep, surveillance fans,
another real porker. This corker this blessed instance
is between a rock and a hard place so to speak.
Can of investigative corn waiting to be popped open,
Robertson currently resides at the Picayune Hilton, otherwise
known as the municipal prison. He is incarcerated for skipping bail on
outstanding warrants, reckless driving, and vagrancy, among a
multitude of sleazoid charges, municipal court records show.
Outstanding citizen, our Mr. Robertson. It seems that good
sir insurance claimant was arrested while “lying passed out,” at
Bob’s Quick Stop along Highway 43, the main avenue linking
greater Picayune with Interstate 59.
“Robertson exhibited slurred speech and alcohol on his
breath when woken by Officer Brenda Jones next to a trash
receptacle. He walked in a staggering manner, and was unable to
pass a breathalizer test as administered by the arresting officer.”
Picayune must be a tough town. Pedestrians get arrested
for drunken ambling. Robertson apparently is a well known local
miscreant. He has a rap sheet longer than Jose Canseco,
Dick Nixon, and Zsa Zsa Gabor combined.
It is a rather impressive document a shade shorter
than Remembrance of Things Past. Shooting Robertson’s activity
poses an interesting quadratic equation
with a simple, yet elegant solution as a mathematician might remark.
All Tyger has to do is set up the black box system
outside the prison exercise yard and wait for Robertson,
along with the other prisoners,
to take their court mandated recreational break.
What’s more, a basketball rim is set up.
With any luck, Jefferson might shoot a few hoops
while the camera’s eye shoots him.
Now that, comrades, is a true sporting surveillance assignment.
It just seems to get easier from that point, perhaps too easy.
The back service area of a small shopping center
directly faces the high chain-link fence
topped by barbed wire completely surrounding the bite-sized jailhouse asphalt yard.
The shopping center is asphalt as well.
The only difference between the two seems to be that one area is closed in
while the other is open aired.
Then again, maybe the two are more similar than first appreciated.
Tyger sets up the system with a clear wide
angle shot of the prison yard, then enters the police station
to check on the prisoner’s status.
Simple request, right? Wrong, redneck breath.
What do you know, takes 20 minutes to find anyone
willing to talk to an insurance investigator.
All the local cops are stuffing their faces with donuts and coffee.
Tyger finally finds an officer responsible for prison
supervision who confirms Robertson’s presence.
“Y’all after his sorry ass for insurance fraud, too, huh?” he asks.
“No sir,” Tyger replies “We are simply trying to determine
the validity of his claim. We make no assumptions prior to an investigation.”
“Yeah, well I’m sure Billy Ray is as clean as the driven
snow. Hahaha. One our real upstanding citizens. Spends a
lot of time with us, so we have the opportunity to commingle
with his particular brand of inspiration.
We got a real quiet town here unlike that place you’re
from. Wouldn’t have much to do without fun-loving boys like
Billy Ray Robertson. No sir. He keeps our lil’ old Picayune
Hilton stocked with live bait customers.”
Surprisingly, the police lieutenant displays a certain
subtle truth in his last comments. The inmates at Picayune
Municipal Prison not only have the great privilege of serving
time at such a great sorta state of the art facility, but also the
responsibility of paying for it.
Courts charge them $50 a day for room — a small bunk in a
15×15-foot double occupancy cell; and board — don’t ask. Nice deal.
Tyger makes himself scarce with a comprehensive tour of the
greater Picayune metropolitan area after confirming the temporary
residential status of the sub. Walkabout takes about 10
minutes as the Highway 43 loop quickly swallows itself leaving
Tyger at the dead road where he began.
Apparently, the whole megalopolis of 4,000 citizens revolves
around the city jail like spokes on a wheel of misfortune. No
need for Cerberus here. Tyger has seen all the sights like
the Quick Stop, McDonald’s, Shell Station, and a few other small
Not to sell the place too short, there is one semi-hip
street by the A&P Supermarket and Woolworth’s surveillance system
center that contains a small country cafe, stationary shop, antique
store, and bookstore among more approachable commercial locations.
Tyger hangs out at the hip adjacent Picayune arts and crafts district
waiting for the black box to clean up Robertson-related business.
He saunters on over to the Bluebird Cafe, decorated, appropriately
enough with a painting of two bluebirds –necking, how romantic — on the front
glass window. nInvestigator at rest grabs a cup of coffee at the
Bluebird, followed by another and another and another until the
regular coffee klutz crowd of retired citizens becomes curious.
Not in the mood for idle chatter, Tyger departs at that precise
moment for the next venue. Let’s see.Where shall Tyger go with choices so mindless
A no-brainer alright. He flips the two headed coin and it
comes up, surprise surprise, heads. Guess that means the antique store.
No sale. The antique store fronted by an equally antique
elderly man has nothing to offer. Tyger wastes about two minutes
there looking over an old wood chair. What is it you say sir? Pinewood? That’s nice.
Then, Tyger walks to the bookstore perchance to find himself
some of that-thar-book-learning. Large cardboard boxes filled
with books line the walls. “Make yourself at home sir,” the 40ish woman
with bobbed black hair and black framed glasses tells the seeker of truth as
Tyger rummages through a particularly filled to the brim with books box.
“You are in luck today. We just received a new shipment
They usually sell like hotcakes. You are the early bookworm, I see,
and have beaten the usual book crowd. Let me know if I can help you.”
Tyger looks through the boxes, one after another, picking out a few
books that look interesting, mainly paperback versions of Shakespeare plays.
He takes the Tempest, Hamlet, Othello, and Merchant of
Venice, all small brightly colored volumes from a collegiate
series of some sort. They might be good buys, Tyger reasons,
since it would be nice to have them available for future reference.
Approaching the woman, Tyger inquires, “How much do these
cost?” “What do you mean sir?” she replies confusing Tyger greatly.
“What do you mean what do I mean? This is a bookstore,
right? You sell books, right?” “Yes sir, but we don’t sell them
individually. We sell them by the box.”
“By the box?” Tyger asks incredulously as he looks again
through one of the cardboard containers filled with all sorts of
ridiculously banal titles, mainly romance novels. “By the box?
Just want to buy these four books. Not a box. Never heard of such a thing.”
“Yes sir,” the woman replies testily. “We are a wholesale
bookstore catering to the retail trade. They come in here, buy
the entire contents of the box and re-sell the books later .”
“You’re telling me I can’t buy just these four books,”
Tyger says, “but if I put them in a box and buy the whole box,
that would be O.K.?”
“That’s right. Five dollars for that box.”
“How did you determine that price?”
“We charge by the poundage.
The more a box weighs the more it costs. That one is a $5 box.”
“Doesn’t matter what’s in it? It’s still $5?”
“Correct, sir. If you want an individual book you should go to a
bookstore. They have a very fine one at the county seat in Poplarville.”
“Don’t think I am going to Poplarville today.”
“Oh well. Do you want the box then?”
“Think I’ll pass. Don’t have room in my car
right now for a box of books. Thanks anyway.”
Welcome to the cultural mecca that is Pearl River County,
Mississippi. Book ’em by the box, Danno.
Tyger wraps up the details of investigation, dropping the tape
off at Dorothy’s house. Poopsie slurps at his heels. “Come on
Poopsie, be a good girl now,” Dorothy orders the pink ribbon
poodle, not a DIY girlie alcoholic drink.
Turning to Tyger, “She gets so excited when we have company.
That darn dog. Well, Tyger here is some news for you,” according
to the now very obviously pregnant Dorothy Lafleur.
“Joe wants to go back on Bingo LeBeouf. He has devised quite
an operation. I think he is going to use a helicopter and follow
Bingo by air.” She stops and laughs. “That Joe Fine. Sometimes …
Anyhoo, he wants you to meet him at the Ramada Inn at
Hammond tomorrow, work the case with him. I will be here
handling back-up if there are any problems.”
“Love to do it, but not really into being high,”
Tyger understates. “Been up in helicopters a few times.
Didn’t particularly care for the sensation.”
“No no no. Joe is going up in the air. I think he wants you
on the ground. He is going to follow Bingo with a tracking device,
radio to you where to shoot the video.” Ohhh-key.
“Bingo LeBeouf is a real creep,” Dorothy adds. “One slippery devil.
Joe really wants to nail him on the hot tin roof this time.”
On to Kinderhook. O.K. Captain Ahab had his white whale.
Original Super Sleuth, Sherlock Holmes after whom Joe Fine
patterns himself with Holmesian hat and pipe adorned business
cards, has his Professor Moriarty. And yes surveillance fans,
Joe Fine has his Bingo LeBeouf, master baiter of all cracker evil.
After the fox, then, we must hunt, fine feathered friends,
silly rabbits. Do not get caught between the hedges.
Yoicks! The hunting hound-dogs are yapping at the heels of
the insidious villainous Bingo LeBeouf of Tickfaw,
Tangipahoa Parish, Loosi-hosannah.
Tyger arrives at the Hammond Ramada Inn Motel Coffee Shop,
known for some reason as the “Lamplighter Lounge,” bright and
early at 8 a.m. Joe already hangs there looking a bit ruffled,
and dirt-caked, which is out-of-character. No doubt, he has spent
the dawning hours preparing something special for his arch enemy LeBeouf.
Working class dapper, Super Sleuth wears a “Joe’s Garage” blue cap and
trademark short-sleeved alligator logo blue shirt. He appears to
be in a better mood than first appearances indicate as he greets
his trusty aid, the goodly Tyger at bay Williams.
“Hey hey hey. We are getting that bastard today,” glows Joe,
doing his Mr. Sunshine impression.”Yep. That slippery bastard does not
know what he is up against. Already put the long distance tracking device
underneath his truck. That was a bitch to do, let me tell you.”
Joe interrupts himself. “More coffee sweet-pie,” he asks the
orange uniformed with white apron youngish waitress
who complies sheepishly and sleepily. Maybe,
too much late hour fun at ye old Lamplighter Lounge.
“Thanks sweet thing.”
“Anyway,” Joe continues, “here’s the deal. Bingo’s wife tells me he is
working a construction job today. Doesn’t know where.
Drop me off at the Bogue Falaya Commercial Airfield.
Got a chopper there on stand-by. We get up
in the air over LeBeouf, follow him by the
tracking device when he moves. This baby has a range
of five miles, about the same as my 2-year-old’s voice.
That sucker won’t even know we’re up there.
I two-way radio you with the precise position when we
determine where that bastard is. Then, you go in for the kill and
shoot his ass full of videotape. I mean, just nail the sucker.
Don’t worry about being subtle. Get him up there. Get out of there.
Real surgical strike. Don’t want to take forever, you understand.
You would not believe how much it costs to rent a chopper.
Client has agreed to foot the expenses. He is going to love the
results. We’ll get that Bingo bastard yet.”
Tyger catches Joe’s infectious spirit. “Yeah you right!
Let’s get that sucker. Let’s nail him balls to the walls.”
“We are going to cut off his nuts and eat them for lunch,”
Joe adds for good measure. “Today is the day we end his little
game. That asshole has danced enough. Time has come to pay the piper.”
Hmmm. Joe has Tyger almost convinced that this insanity might
prevail. Then, Tyger’s turtle brain catches up with his racing heart.
Follow the subject by helicopter? Seriously?
“Hoping skies are clear today,” Joe adds as a
pensive footnote. “Had to book the chopper in advance.
Cloudy skies could inhibit communications. Tracking
device and radios won’t cut through the soup.
Continues Joe as Annie, “Let’s look at the bright side. That bastard is due for
a fall from a hot tin roofing job. His unlucky number is up today.
We are gonna get him, sucker. Yes, indeedy.” Pause. “Check, please.”
Tyger places surveillance equipment in the back seat.
Joe climbs in the passenger side. They drive about 10 miles
east on Highway 190 to the commercial airfield.
Sure enough, as promised, a small four-seat Bell
Helicopter sits like a weird giant insect outside the large metal
framed open hanger. About a half-dozen light aircraft rest in
various states of disarray along the side of the runway. Not
exactly what one might consider an invasion armada.
Tyger drives through the open fence onto a dirt road towards
the hanger. Who should be sitting on the chopper like a Vietnam
War poster girl, but the lovely Lana, female investigative ghost assistant.
“What do you know?” Joe asks facetiously. “Look who showed
on time. Things are beginning to look up.”
Tyger laughs nervously. “Lana is on the case?”
“She wanted to go up in the chopper,” Joe says. “Why not?
Got room. Can always use a little window dressing.”
Indeed. Lana hops off her purty preening perch, walking
seductively, her posterior swaying in the breeze, to greet the team.
“Where you been?” she asks Joe in a charming reversal
of previous role play. “Been waiting for over an hour.”
“Now you know how I feel,” Joe replies, winking a cheery right eye.
“Turnabout is fair pay. How you like it now?”
“Oh men. they’re all alike,” Lana flirts Lolita-style.
One beat, two beats, a holla.
“When we going up? This is going to be great.”
“Hold your horses honey. We’ll get there.”
Turning to Tyger.
“Post up at that church we passed on Highway 190.
You know the one?”
“Yeah,” Tyger says. “Yeah. Baptist church down the road.”
“Correct, Watson,” Joe says. “Set up the system and the radio,”
handing Tyger one of the two-way transmitter-receivers.
“We will come in with directions, hopefully, in about 30 minutes.”
“Sounds good, Joe. I’m on it as Dorothy’s husband says like white on rice.”
“That buffoon,” Joe sidebars. “Oh right. He screwed up the Pearly Mae case.
We have to keep that clown out of the kitchen.”
Joe walks towards the waiting helicopter like a pilot in a
Hollywood Grade B World War Two movie.
“Tyger,” as he points both thumbs up, “here’s to happy hunting.”
“You go get ’em boss. I’ll be waiting.”
“Oh yeah,” Joe adds,”use the Dill Pickle codes.
There a mess of hunters in the woods. Don’t want to take
any chances in case one of Bingo’s buddy’s might be listening on the CB radio.
We’ll refer to Bingo as the fox. You be yourself, Tygerriffic.
I’ll be,” he pauses to consider the options, “great white hunter. Yeah. Like the sound of that.”
“Happy hunting, Tyger. We’ll find him. You shoot him. Let’s get some
Bingo butt for the trophy case. Tenth time is the charm.”
It’s a strange world beyond Baker Street, friends, so who knows,
Joe Fine’s master plan might work. Then again, maybe his bald head has
spent too much time out in the sun without a hat.
Tyger sets up equipment outside the First Baptist Church
of Hammond. He waits, waits and Tom Waits. Nothing.
The radio crackles continuously. Tyger sets it on low,
listening instead to the soft July breeze. He tries to keep as
still as possible to beat the overpowering heat. Every now, and
then, a vehicle whizzing along two-lane Highway 190 breaks the monotony.
Suddenly, an unusual sound overhead — whompa whompa whompa.
Tyger looks up. Hmmm…incoming ?
Who would be flying in the bright blue sky at this time of day
over this particular locale? Take a wild leap to conclusion
central. It’s not quite “Apocalypse Now,” but it will do for Tangipahoa Parish.
On blinks the radio. “Position Tyger. Position Tyger. Do you read?
Do you read? This is great white hunter. Over.”
Amazing, Tyger shifts from his upward vigil, scrambling for
the radio transmitter. “Uhh. Read you great white hunter. Has the
fox left the henhouse yet? Over.”
“Negative. Sitting along Sherwood Forest. Heading for the
happy hunting grounds. Stick to your guns. Will advise when the
cat jumps over the hot tin roof. Over. Over and out.”
Yeah right, over and far out. No need to utter the sign-off
as the helicopter dips left, soaring north by northwest
towards the mission at Tickfaw.
Maybe, Joe should load the chopper up with some automatic
weapons, napalm, or flechettes, get the damn thing over with
once and for all. That would be an interesting sight.
Wait wait wait. Wait wait wait. Another hour passes as Tyger
sits at ease in the hot car because he does not want to miss any
relevant radio communications. Sorry Victor Charlie, no more
commos of which to speak. Early afternoon and long white clouds
begin lining the sky. They grow by the minute like a sad army gathering to bivouac.
Oh yeah, Tyger recollects, summer in Loosiana means
afternoon showers as atmosphere attempts to counterattack
blistering heat. That is an “X” factor that might put a crimp in
Joe Fine’s attack manual. Nearby birds soar past Spanish moss
hanging on trees in anearby leafy patch. The air, already thickly humid,
crackles. Thunder begins rolling in the distance. A change in the weather is now
officially in progress. In the far corner of his right eye, Tyger notices a lawnmower
man scrambling for cover. A lunging sheet of rain chases him in full fury,
running down Highway 190 towards ye olde First Baptist Church of Hammond.
That is followed by a deafening roar of water striking the dull asphalt pavement.
Oh boy for joy, rain starts pouring down in long sheets of buckets.
So much for this surveillance. It seems a losing proposition
like the Vietnam War. Waste deep in the Big Muddy, Pete Seeger
fans, and the big fool says to push on.
Tyger rolls up the car window. He finds himself surrounded
by a relentless pounding pulsating body of falling water. Can’t
see a thing. Hope there are no Bingo LeBeouf sappers in the far trees.
Sightless in Gaza, no scent of subject; can’t touch that
darn LeBeouf now, lucky insurance claimant miscreant. Pound
pounding sound of pummeling rain overpowers all other senses.
Best Tyger can hope for is that Joe Fine is above the
clouds or on the ground. Hate to be flying through that mess.
Looks dangerous. Lightning flashes and small white objects hell, that’s
sleet, pound the car. It is about 2:30 p.m. The radio is a big fat tabula raza.
If nothing else, at least the place will be comfy
cool for a little while after the rain stops although that shows
no signs of happening in the near future. Of course, this is the
place where humidity never ends, least of all after a summer shower.
After about 30 minutes, sure enough, the sky brightens, and
clouds disappear as if the horrible rain explosion had never
happened. Once again the hot summer air blows; in another 15
minutes oppressive heat resumes, if anything, increasingly intense.
About 94 degrees now as Tyger scans the road for cues. And you
know what? He spies a truck that greatly resembles the red
pinstriped vehicle attributed to the evil LeBeouf bouncing west
through the heat waves reflecting off asphalt. Maybe it is a mirage.
Tyger looks long and hard as said truck careens down the
highway operated obviously by a madman maniac driving. It could
be, it might be, he considers for a momentously long macromoment
Nah. Couldn’t be. Could it? Nah. But … Nah. No way.
That would be way too much.
Ten more minutes pass. Tyger relaxes. Then, crackle
crackle pop the voice of an invisible Joe Fine breaks through the
airwaves. “Position Tyger. Position Tyger. Do you read me. Over. Over.”
“Yes indeed. Great white hunter? Over.”
“Yes. Nasty rain shower that. Did you see the fox,
I mean cat, fox, whatever? Over.”
“The fox?” Tyger forgets the code. “That wasn’t the red
pinstriped truck that flew by here a little while ago. Was it? Over.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Did you catch him? Over.”
“Well, ah, no. Couldn’t confirm, It happened in a flash. Was waiting for your
orders on that one great white hunter. You know. Over.”
“Oh damnit. Damnit. Not your fault Position Tyger. That
bastard left during the rainstorm. Goddamn that Bingo LeBeouf. He
is out of range now. We must return to home base.
Damn it! Not your fault Position Tyger. Not your fault.
That fox, cat, whatever, must have a sixth sense for evil.
Damn it. Stick by your position for 20 minutes in case the fox
cat returns, then report back to home base. Over.”
“Sorry about that great white hunter. I had a sneaking
suspicion but could not confirm. It happened too quickly. Sorry man. Over.”
“That’s alright Position Tyger. We gave it our best shot.
We’ll get that cat. He will make a mistake, slip up
sooner or later, run out of lives. Over. Over and out.”
“Read your instructions, great white hunter. Will sit for a
while, then head back home. Over, over and out.”
Far out. They even paying Joe for that at this point?
Maybe, the 11th time will prove the charm.
What do you know, way. No doubt about it, that was as close
as Tyger could get to Bingo LeBeouf, theoretically anyhow, if
that is who made the road blur. No telling actually.
Of course, no more sign of the mad insurance scam artist.
Tyger returns to the airfield 20 minutes later. Joe and Lana
are sipping cold drinks in the hanger office.
“Hey I’m sorry. If I had only known,” Tyger begins, but Joe
interrupts with a wave of his right hand.
“No. No. No. Rotten luck again. That cat has more than nine lives.
It started raining cats and dogs just before he moved. We
lost commos when we went above the clouds. Goddamn that Bingo
LeBeouf. He’ll mess up and I will grab him like a piranha. His ass is grass.”
Tyger takes down the equipment, then drives Joe and Lana
back to the motel. They sit for a while in the Lamplighter
Lounge. Tyger and Lana drink sweet tea while Joe sips on a longneck Dixie beer.
“You know,” Joe confides to his two junior associates. “I have been
in this game for a long time. First, when I was breaking codes in
the Army of the Galilee, and the last 10 years in Florida.
I don’t know. I am thinking of maybe franchising out the surveillance
systems. Become like the Al Copeland Popeyes Chicken shit king
of undercover video devices. That way, rent other detectives the systems,
show ’em how to operate them, repair any that break. Might just be
the right time for that. You guys would part of it. Don’t worry about that.
Hell, Tyger, you know the systems as well as I do. You can show
others how to work them. And Lana, you coming along real
goody goody two shoes. Always use a smart young beautiful kid like yourself.
It’s not just that Bingo LeBeouf thing. I’ll get that bastard yet. Believe you me.
He ain’t no Moriarty. His well will run dry. Been thinking about this for a while.
Getting a bit old for this game. Maybe it’s time to retrench. It’s a young man’s game.
That’s something to keep on your plates, guys. We’ll see how it goes.”
Pause to refresh. Snap of the fingers skyward. “Check, please.”
Check. Even as Joe Fine speaks, Tyger realizes that maybe a
special moment in time is quickly passing. The major video
companies have just begun marketing the ultra-light palm-sized
8mm handicamcorders and similarly miniaturized devices.
Tyger does not have the heart to mention this fact of video
future life to Joe, who, being au courant with such updated
technologies, knows about it anyway. It is not exactly a
closely guarded state secret, rather a made in Asia
revolution in state of the art videographic matrices.
It won’t take an ingenious Joe Fine black box system or
experienced videomaker like Tyger to mess with the bogus claimant
mindless designs soon enough. Any fool who can hide a small
camera in his palm will be able to trap the feckless injury fakers.
Even dull as copper ex-cops, DEA agents or former
politicians would soon be able to operate successfully as
insurance investigators. Tough luck and farewell then, dear comrades.
That is simply progress. The world does not stop for a
glorious concept no matter how divine.
Joe Fine’s secret surveillance system’s salad days are
probably ending even as the temporarily defeated army of three
intrepid investigators regroup in late afternoon ever a hardwood
restaurant table. Joe, Joe; say it ain’t so.
What a shame. What a sham. The world sometimes can seem like
the proverbial steak without the sizzle.
Bid adieu then friends, to a moment unfrozen briefly in
bright light ascaptured by a camera’s eye. It spits out a
few small, but cherished, memories, vanishing like a quick fox
beyond the zoom lens that black night inevitably darkens with forever.
For our purposes, Joe chases arch enemy, the evil Bingo
LeBeouf, through that endless space of time. He will catch that
fatted calf yet before the universe explodes.
Have no doubt of this dear comrades. Right always triumphs
in the end. So it is written and so it must go.
Or not. Your call.