November Book of the Month

Sample of "Butcher Boat" by Frederick Fichman




What parents with the last name, PIGGE, would ever name their one and only son Bartholomew.

Bartholomew Pigge. And then abandon the poor child at an old aunt’s home on the desolate northern California coast line to grow up surrounded by massive pines and constant sea fog, nothing more. Bart had to live with that last name all of the thirty-five years of his life and suffer the constant taunts, harrassments and occasional fights. It caused humor with some and disdain with prospective employers after high school. And now dozens of jobs later and fed up with begging for work from snickering employers he was finally going to try something on his own, Private Investigator. Not working for an established company, Bart was going to do this on his own…for once damnit. All his doing, his hours, not answering to any man, or woman. Now, if he could just find a client or two to help pay for his lunch.

Seventeen hundred miles away from his California coast homeland he sat in a well-worn beat-up bar on the Texas coast, Port Aransas, down the road from his west Houston apartment.

Trolling for clients and not fish, he always thought that on the fringes of large cities clients may be easier to come by and less resistant to a lone wolf PI. And maybe his moderately good looks, easy manner, cold grey-eyed stare and scarred fists would garner some confidence with prospects that needed his thin expertise. He could handle a short-stack of pancakes, cut multiple cords of wood, sell wallpaper and paint, but handling legal and not-so-legal cases for clients, well, that was something he could grow into, referring occasionally to his recently completed online course.

Bart pushed back his half-eaten red snapper and sipped on his cold beer. He looked out of the nearby window and the dirty-grey Gulf of Mexico. He could see the tankers and cargo ships lining up for the Houston Channel to the north. He could also see his prospective nearby clients rigging and un-rigging their fishing boats, row after row of them, lining the piers on either side of the Red Dog Bar. Inside the decades old nautical motif was covered with dust and years of sparse maintenance. The other patrons, grizzled fisherman, young half-witted deck hands, a skank or two and of course the barkeep, the owner, Ernie. Ernie had seen many years behind that bar and was as grizzled as the postage size establishment he owned and ran...

“Want some more?” Ernie growled.

Bart leaned back from the bar stool, shook his dark head of thick hair.

“No, I’ve stuffed myself enough.” He looked down at the mostly full plate, smiled a bit.

“That was good.”

Ernie snap-grabbed the plate, obviously insulted. “Well you sure as hell didn’t eat much.”

“I may not been have been that hungry, good beer.” Bart chugged another gulp of beer.

He reached in his pocket through down money and then looked up at Ernie.

“Say, uh what’s your name?”

“Ernie, my name is Ernie, I own this joint.”

Bart, pulled out a stack of his P.I. business cards. He held out his hand. “My name is Bart…I’m uh, down from Houston looking to expand my business. Can I leave some of my cards there at the end of your counter?” Ernie grabbed the stack. “Lemme see this, I don’t do that ya know.” He read the card then chuckled. “Private dick hunh” Bart nodded. “Is that your name Bart, true? You didn’t just make that up to try to get business didya?” Bart’s shoulders slumped. “No Ernie, that the name I’m saddled with.”

Ernie smiled broadly and reached out his hand. “Anyone who’s got the guts to go into this world with a name like dat, well, he needs all the help he can get….now only if ya come back and have lunch with us again, okay.” Ernie winked, Bart winced.

Bart said quietly, “Sure, many times.” Ernie chuckled to himself and slapped down the stack of cards at the end of the bar, they sat next to the stack of outdated real estate magazines, jar of old candy canes and a bowl of loose toothpicks.

The front door rattled open, an old-timer, a fisherman from a time when the oceans were just filled burst into the room, sat next to Bart. He flashed a toothless grin at his friend Ernie.

“Guess what Ernie.”

“Lemme guess Leroy, you finally are gonna pay your bill.”

“Nah, nothing like that…they found the skiff. Coast Guard is tying her up now.” Ernie wiped his hands on his filthy apron,

“And?”

“Like they said on sixteen…all bloodied up, bad.”

“Any body parts, Leroy.”

Leroy looked over at Bart’s glass of almost finished beer. “Lemme have one of those. Nah, nothing large. Although Pete said they found a foot.”

Bart’s was suddenly intrigued. “A foot?” Leroy grinned again, most of his front teeth knocked out years ago. “Yeah, a fucking foot.” He cackled and pointed to Bart’s glass.


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This page contains the first chapter of Butcher Boat by Frederick Fichman as a sample. This sample has been published with permission from the author and/or publisher of Butcher Boat, whoever originally submitted the book for review.