Red Farlow Mysteries, Book 3
Date Published: September 30, 2020
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
FBI Agent Joseph Trammell retires to a beachfront home on a Georgia island.
Six months later, PI Red Farlow finds him dying in a pool of blood. Someone shot him four times. Five shell casings litter the floor. Drops of blood lead out of the house and onto East Beach on St. Simons Island. Red sets out to find out who killed Joe Trammell and why.
Did the local drug and arms smuggler hire a hit? And who caught the fifth bullet?
Farlow wades into the murky water of intrigue, conflicting love affairs, and danger as he tracks down the killer. It’s not exactly a relaxing day at the beach.
East Beach, Red Farlow Mysteries, Book Three
Red Farlow resisted following his wife, Leigh, to bed. He’d slept fitfully of late. Instead, he walked to his front porch overlooking the beach and St. Simons Sound.
He sat and listened to the water and waves, cloaked in a fog teased by a gentle winter breeze.
The mist had drifted in earlier that evening and thickened into a likeness comparable to Brunswick stew. The cloud blanketed Red’s neighborhood.
His nostrils flared. A southwesterly wind ushered in the rotten egg stink from the paper mills on the mainland.
A freighter hauling across St. Simons Sound to Brunswick’s port sounded its foghorn. Red watched as the ghostly hulk cruised past. Gulls danced in the breeze over the beach’s surf line. All was right with the world. Or was it?
Red looked down at his cell phone. How did I miss a call? He noticed the time— half past midnight.
He listened to the voice message.
“Red, ah…Tram. Now!”
The short, clipped message alarmed. Red’s friend was a talker by nature. He recalled Joseph Trammell’s older brother relating how he burst forth from their mother’s womb, chatting up a storm. Tram didn’t deny that. He just grinned upon hearing the story.
At times as a federal agent, Tram faced predicaments that would dent anyone’s proclivity toward conversation.
Red considered what the trouble might be as he went in to tell Leigh he was going out. He put on a windbreaker, walked through the mist to his truck, and drove up the road to Tram’s house.
He parked on the street and walked to the front door, which stood half-open. A lone lamp glowed in the living room and an upstairs hall light sprayed the stairwell with its softness. He stepped into the house, down the hall by the stairs, and to the brightest lit room—the kitchen.
Joseph Trammell sprawled, barely alive, in a pool of his blood on the floor. Red kneeled over and cupped the back of his friend’s head and shoulders.
Tram’s eyes fought hard to open.
“Red,” he managed to utter.
“Yeah, man. It’s me,” Red said. “Tram, help will be on the way soon.”
Red dialed for an ambulance.
The former FBI agent fought for breath. He managed to say, “Key West.” Tram tried to heave more air, but the rattle denied it. His eyelids opened and shut several times.
It was the last time Red saw his old boss and friend he called Tram. Someone put four bullets in him. Looking at Tram on the floor, the private investigator feared the EMTs could do little to save him.
Joseph Trammell exhaled a final faint whoosh of breath, and his head slumped to one side. He died.
That was too bad. Red loved the guy. Damned.
Tram retired from the FBI late the previous summer and moved into a house on St. Simons Island’s East Beach.
Red and his wife Leigh had passed the house on the road a dozen times. They walked by it on the beachfront that many or more. The night Red got the call, he finally went inside the cottage.
It’s not that they weren’t welcome. Tram had invited them to visit his house twice. Both times they had conflicts and couldn’t make it, so Red was long overdue in dropping by to see him and his pride in homeownership. He and Leigh did manage to meet Tram once for dinner at a restaurant on the island.
The sad part about not having visited Tram’s new house was Red had a home a mile away in St. Simons Island’s Village on the Georgia coast.
Busy lives got in the way. Leigh had her psychotherapy practice on Chippewa Square in Savannah. They went to Europe for three weeks that autumn. On and on the reasons mounted. But Red knew he should have visited Tram as soon as he moved in on that hot day in August. He didn’t.
Red looked around the kitchen and concentrated on everything in a quick view.
A large pool of blood under his friend. Five shots fired, as indicated by the collection of brass casings on the floor five feet from Tram’s body. He’d taken four bullets. Someone else got the fifth. A trail of blood drops speckled the floor.
Red saw no gun but noted a butcher knife on the kitchen counter near the sink.
He remained still, not wanting to disturb the evidence there—someone who was bleeding escaped out the back. Anyone could see that much. Small puddles of blood found three to four feet apart led from the kitchen to the porch, out the screen door, and onto the sand of East Beach.
Red took out his cell phone and shot a dozen photos of the scene. When a siren sounded a few blocks away, he gingerly stepped out of the kitchen and left through the front door. While waiting on the small patch of grass, he watched as a lone woman approached the house from down the street. A couple walked up the road that dead-ended into Tram’s property.
Minutes later, an ambulance pulled onto the short pebble driveway, followed by a county police car. Two EMTs ran to the house. Red directed them and the cops to the kitchen.
The hubbub began.
Other neighbors appeared. Two more cops arrived and started asking questions of everyone there. An officer talked to one woman—the early arrival—who said she lived several cottages down. Red wondered what the cops would learn from her and the others.
In the middle of the night, gunshots tended to raise alarms, particularly in high- end neighborhoods with million-dollar beachfront houses. Of course, many were vacation homes and unoccupied much of the time. Still, there were plenty of full- timers on the stretch of East Beach.
Red walked back into the house. As the ambulance guy and woman examined Tram’s body, two sheriff’s officers came in and started asking questions. Soon, a county homicide detective appeared in a sedan. Red spoke to him, explaining that after Tram’s voice message, he came over and found his friend dying on the kitchen floor.
Red saw no need to tell them what Tram uttered in his last moments. No one asked.
About the Author
W.F. Ranew is a former newspaper reporter, editor, and communication executive. He started his journalism career covering sports, police, and city council meetings at his hometown newspaper, The Quitman Free Press. He also worked as a reporter and editor for several regional dailies: The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, The Florida Times-Union, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ranew has written two previous novels: Schoolhouse Man and Candyman’s Sorrow. He lives with his wife in Atlanta and St. Simons Island, Ga.