So Long Bob, and Thanks for the Memories

Sep 30, 2023 by

On January 30th three inches of snow fell. Then it rained, and the world turned to slush. Then it snowed again, only to be topped by a smoky-looking Scotch mist. Overnight temperatures glazed the landscape.
Being one of those eco-conscious schmucks, I didn’t buy any rock salt. So I sharpened my ice scraper and ate a big bowl of Wheaties the next morning.
After hours of chipping and scraping and shoveling what looked and felt like tons of shaved ice, I opened my jacket to cool off. An invisible cloud of a goat-like odor wafted upward. I hung up my tools and headed for the shower.
After remaining under the hot water long enough to resemble a hundred-and-eighty pound cooked lobster, I dried my hair and ran to the bedroom for warm clothes.
My head popped through a cable knit fisherman’s sweater and I noticed a very large man sitting in a wingback chair in the corner of the room. He scratched his mustache with an index finger as he looked at me. I knew the face.
“How the hell did you get in here?” I asked.
“You don’t lock your doors.”
“Yeah, but don’t you knock?”
“Not any more.”
“I know you, but it’s not like we’ve really met.”
“Uh-huh, you can call me Bob.”
“Nice to finally meet you,” I said. “It feels like I’ve known you for years.”
“I guess I’ve had a pretty good run.”
“You think?”
He smiled and ran a hand over his crew cut in what I guess he thought to be a gesture of modesty.
“I heard what happened,” I said. “I’m sorry.’
“Thanks. Happens to everybody.”
“You have anything half finished?”
“Two things, actually, one in progress and one rough outline.”
I smiled. “Looking for someone to help tie up the loose ends?”
“I think Joan can handle that.”
“I thought she might.”
Bob showed me a big grin and nodded. The brown leather A-2 jacket he wore looked big enough to cover a VW beetle.
“You dedicated every book you wrote to her,” I said. “That was cool.”
“We’ve been together for a long time. Had a few rough patches, but she’s a good girl. She deserved all those dedications.”
I nodded. “End of an era, huh?”
“Yeah, I’m afraid so.” He spoke with a Boston accent.
“I’ll miss Spenser and Jesse and the black guy.”
“His name’s Hawk,” he said, and frowned.
“I know. I just wanted to hear you say that.”
He smiled. “Oh, yeah, now I get it. And don’t forget Sunny.”
“Yeah, I like her, too.”
“So do I.”
I began to wonder why my guest came to visit.
“I’m honored,” I said, “but why did you, ah . . . stop by?”
“Oh, yeah, good question. I guess I wanted to see a few people before . . . you know.”
“But for what?”
“I hear you’re getting impatient. Your first book’s not selling. Time to regroup. Write a new letter and keep trying. In this business sometimes tenacity trumps talent. But you’ve got something to say. Don’t quit now.”
“Yeah, easy for you to say.”
He laughed. “Everybody starts in the same place. I like your characters, and you’ve got a good line of shit.”
“You’ve read something of mine?” I sounded surprised.
“Can’t remember where, but yeah. I liked it.”
“No kidding?”
“No kidding.”
“Sure.” He stood up and stretched. “Listen, I gotta go.”
“Well, thanks for the pep talk. And it was great to meet you. Should have been years ago.”
“Your welcome, and yeah, that would have been nice.” He zipped up his jacket. “And good luck.”
“Thanks again. Hey, I’ll walk out with you.”
“That’s really not necessary. I don’t do things conventionally any more.”
“Oh, yeah . . . well, take care.”
“Okay, you, too.”
He walked out of the bedroom and turned to go down the stairs. I gave him less than ten seconds and followed. The door at the bottom of the steps was closed. I didn’t feel any cold air from it having been opened. I heard my wife on the phone in the kitchen. Bob was gone.

For Robert B. Parker
September 17, 1932 ~~ January 18, 2010
“Put the most meaning in the fewest words.”

For a list of his books and other credits go to

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Street Justice, a very short story

Sep 30, 2023 by

Jamal Willie Walker raped and murdered a six-year-old girl in a cracker box home on the seven hundred block of Taylor Avenue.

We traced him from North Bellport in Suffolk County, where the crime occurred, to the third floor of a six family tenement in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

I kicked in the door and my partner covered the room with his revolver. As the door snapped open and slammed against the wall, Walker grabbed a pearl handled, “tuxedo” Colt automatic
from the dinette table.

“Two against one, Jamal,” I said. “Pull that trigger and no matter what, you’re dead.”

His eyes widened. He believed me.

“Whoa, Man. No trouble here. Ain’t my day to die.” He raised his hands, still holding the old pistol.

My Smith & Wesson stared at his chest and I looked down the barrel. “Paul,” I said, “Go outside and make sure those uniforms are covering the fire escape in case our friend bails out
that open window.”

“You gonna take his gun?”

“Close the door on your way out.”

“Lemme cuff him for you,” he said.

“Make sure those patrolmen cover the back. I’m good here.”

Paul gave me a questioning look.

“Go ahead,” I said. It wasn’t a suggestion.

My partner left and I waited fifteen seconds. “Jamal, you burned that girl with a cigarette before you raped and strangled her.” I shook my head. “Bad move . . . Sayonara, sport.”

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A Halloween Collar: A Sam Jenkins New York police story

Sep 30, 2023 by

“I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it,” I said, and smacked the kid on the back of his head.
The ghoul mask fell from his hand to the floor.

“Up yours,” he said.

I grabbed his nose and put my face an inch from his ear. “The next time I hit you, you little stinkbug, you’ll lose your teeth.”

His eyes strained to look at me. I removed my fingers from his beak.

“I chased you four blocks,” I said, “and ripped my pants going over that fence. I am not a happy policeman. I’ll ask again. Where did you get those fireworks?”

“I forget.”

I smacked him again, this time a little harder.

His hand went defensively to his head. “I’ll have your badge for that, man.”

“I doubt that. Blowing up a mailbox makes you guilty of a felony. Where did you get the M-80s?”

An arrogant smirk crossed his face. “From my father, the chief inspector.”

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Festival of Felonies

Apr 19, 2022 by

Festival of Felonies

Cover of Festival of Felonies by Smoky Mountain Mysteries author Wayne ZurlFrom bizarre animal killings in HAVE YOU CONSIDERED VOODOO? to a grisly death by tomahawk in REENACTING A MURDER; follow veteran cop Sam Jenkins from his days as a young New York squad detective until his second career as a middle-aged police chief in the not-so-quiet Smoky Mountain community of Prospect, Tennessee in the series’ fifth anthology of realistic crime fiction.

In other segments of this collection, Jenkins is faced with investigating the aftermath of a mass murder at an elementary school in PAPER TRAIL, with proving one of his officers was justified in taking the life of an unarmed teenager in THE FERGUSON SHOOTING and finally, dealing with a conglomeration of eccentric suspects in one of the more humorous cases of arson he’s ever seen in A FIRE AND OLD ICE.

Authentic police work. Quirky characters. New York street smarts versus down home crime. If you like Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone, you’ll love Wayne Zurl’s Sam Jenkins.

For more in-depth summaries of each novelette, visit the anthologies sections of this site.

For more in-depth summaries please go to the novelettes section of this site.

Purchase books and eBooks from:

All Purchase Links

Read An Excerpt

From: PAPER TRAIL, chapter one

Sergeant Stanley Rose scrambled from behind his patrol car and moved clockwise toward the school’s rear entrance. When he reached a white Toyota parked near the corner of the building, he rested an Ithaca pump shotgun over the hood, pointing it at the admin office window. POs Junior Huskey and Harley Flatt scurried in the opposite direction until they found cover behind a Ford Fusion and a Chevy pickup. Junior carried a scoped Winchester model 70 and Harley an AR-15. Their khaki uniform shirts contrasted with the darker vehicles; their green trousers blended with the grass. Bobby Crockett and I remained at the side of the school behind my unmarked Crown Victoria, no more than sixty feet from the building. We carefully watched a young man hold the muzzle end of an AK-47 at the head of John Woolford, the assistant principal of the Lamar E. Shields Elementary School in Prospect, Tennessee, a small city generally said to be on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

In addition to carrying an assault rifle, the grips of two high-capacity semiautomatics protruded from the gunman’s waistband. That much firepower turned a skinny kid into a formidable opponent.

I’m not a professional hostage negotiator, but I needed to establish contact and do something to keep the situation from swirling down the toilet. Using my cell phone, I called a landline in the school’s office.

Woolford picked up. “Yes?”

“John, Sam Jenkins, Prospect PD. Can I speak to the man with the guns?”

On the other end I heard, “The police chief wants to speak with you.”

The young man, who looked to be in his late teens or early twenties, was very thin and dressed all in black. After hearing the message, he pushed Woolford roughly into a chair and grabbed the phone. “What?” he said.

I identified myself and began a dialogue. “Tell me what you want. What can I do to work this out?”

His nostrils flared as he sucked air in through his nose; he took no time to reply. “I already done what I came here for. I got nothin’ more to say.”

As he dropped the phone onto the desk, I yelled, “Wait!”

Without further ado, he calmly squeezed the trigger of the assault rifle. The muzzle flashed and recoiled slightly, the cracking report was loud enough for us to hear outside the building as one 7.62 x 39 millimeter round travelled through John Woolford’s head. The young man showed no emotion, no more feeling for another living thing than if he had cut the head of a fish. For a moment afterwards, he looked out the window. His head turned thirty degrees to the right, then to the left, perhaps searching for the eyes of the last person with whom he spoke.

Who knows what a homicidal individual thinks? I’ve met plenty and can never figure them out.

The silent radio broke squelch, and Junior said, “I’ve got a shot.”

“Standby,” I said. “Let’s see what he does.”

The young gunman shrugged, turned the rifle, placing the muzzle between his lips, and put a bullet through the top of his head.

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Something for nostalgia seeking Brooklyn Dodger fans.

Mar 31, 2020 by

By Wayne Zurl

On September 24, 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field and I was there. Well, not exactly there—I watched the game on TV. I was eleven and had sprained my ankle the day before in gym class. My mother kept me home from school to let it heal.

The Dodgers’ second baseman Junior Gilliam just hit a high fly ball to shallow right field when I heard what I thought was a muffled backfire sound off close to our house. I looked out the window, but didn’t see a car running. Then a man about thirty or forty—as a kid, I had a hard time telling—slammed the side door at Mrs. Campbell’s house. It wasn’t Mr. Campbell. He jumped into a two-tone brown ’48 Chevy, one just like my father’s, and drove away. I went back to finish watching the game.

The cameras panned a small crowd of people scattered around the stadium. Vin Scully, the announcer, said only 6,700 attended—a drop in the bucket. The game ended when Pirates’ outfielder Bob Skinner grounded to short and Don Zimmer scooped it up and fired a bullet to Gil Hodges at first. End of an era. The Dodgers won the five-hitter two-zip, but no one in Brooklyn looked happy.

My mother was preparing a meatloaf when I pushed the curtains aside and saw two marked police cars parked in front of the Campbell’s house. As I peered out the window, a black ’55 Ford pulled into the driveway and an overweight guy in a gray suit and dark fedora stepped out.

I called to my mother, “Hey, Ma, what’s going on next door?”

She didn’t know.

Another dark four-door pulled up and two more suits got out. One carried a big Graphic Reflex camera and the other, a large tool box.

My mother stepped up behind me and looked over my shoulder.

“I’m going out there,” she said.

“Me, too.”

“You shouldn’t walk.’

“Sure I should.”

I hobbled after her and reached the sidewalk in front of Campbell’s home, just as a Nassau County patrolman left the house and approached his car. He looked short for a cop. His orange oval patch and powder blue tie contrasted sharply with the navy blue uniform.

“What happened?” my mother asked.

“Woman got killed.”

“She get shot?” I asked.

He looked at me for the first time and frowned. “Yeah, why?”

“I’ll bet I know who did it,” I said.

My mother stared at me like I was a Martian.

The cop smiled and shook his head. “Sure you do, kid.” He got into his car and drove away.

“What are you talking about?” Mom asked.

“I saw a guy run out of the house before.”

She grabbed my hand. “Come with me.”

The Campbell’s front door stood slightly ajar. Mr. Campbell sat on the sofa hanging his head. Mom knocked on the jamb and the overweight plainclothes cop opened the door. A gold shield hung from a leather fob on his jacket pocket.

“My son has something to tell you.”

He stepped outside and closed the door.

“This guy,” I said, “came out the side door and jumped into a car.”

“What guy?”

“I don’t know. Some guy. I never saw him before.”

“What time?”

“Not sure. Third inning?”

The detective looked confused.

I shrugged. “I was watching the Dodger game.”

“Oh.” He rolled his eyes.

“Was she shot?” I asked.

I must have seemed overly enthused. He scowled.

“Look, son, we’re pretty busy here. I hope you’re not fooling around.”

“He wouldn’t do that.” Mom always stuck up for me.

“What’s his name?”

I spoke for myself. “I’m Sam Jenkins. We live next door.”

“How old are you, kid?”

“Eleven and a half.”

“You look pretty big for eleven.” He pointed to the Ace bandage around my foot. “What happened?”

I told him, and then described the man I saw and his car.

“Okay, thanks. I’ll look into it.” The squad dick turned to leave.

“Hey, wait,” I said. “You want his plate number?”


If you enjoyed this short story about a young Sam Jenkins and would like to read more about his real career in law enforcement, how about a FREE copy of A NEW PROSPECT, the book that begins the long-running series? It’s won two awards and has over two hundred 5 star reviews. And the price is right. Just click the link and any eBook format is yours.
After that you’re on your own, and welcome to visit the squad room at Prospect PD anytime.

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