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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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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HERE COMES A MYSTERY selects Wayne Zurl as “One of the top 10 mystery/action writers you need to be reading.”

Feb 29, 2020 by

Author/blogger Caleb Pirtle III, proprietor of the successful blog HERE COMES A MYSTERY has chosen me as one of the top ten mystery/action writers you need to be reading. Wow! lucky me. Caleb has published more than 80 books, has worked as a reporter for a Texas newspaper, has been travel editor for Southern Living Magazine, has written two teleplays for the famous Kenny Rogers GAMBLER series and the screenplay for the TNT TV movie THE TEXAS RANGERS.

With those writing credentials, I feel honored for him to have picked me as one of his favorite mystery guys.

Linda Pirtle, Caleb’s wife and co-blogger At HERE COMES A MYSTERY has written three mystery novels herself. You can find both writers easily at

You can visit HERE COMES A MYSTERY and see my article here: Wayne Zurl at HERE COMES A MYSTERY

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Make Your Anger Count. My Thoughts On 9-11-2016

Sep 11, 2016 by

It’s fair to say that many, perhaps even a majority of Americans are outraged by how members of the NFL have blatantly shown disrespect for the United States by refusing to stand while the national anthem is being played prior to a football game.

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution guarantees them freedom of expression. While they could protest whatever they dislike in this country in more acceptable ways, doing it like this is their inalienable right.

However, those who are outraged by this unpatriotic conduct and disrespect also have rights. Why not exercise your right to influence the team owners and NFL management who condone this behavior by treating the NFL in a manner similar to how the police combat organized crime?

We shouldn’t be so naive to think that the NFL, team owners or most of the players engage in the sport solely to please the fans. These sports professionals are in the business of making money—lots of money. They are entrepreneurs. Most of the laws and official documents that mention organized crime refer to it as a criminal enterprise. The criminals are also entrepreneurs in the purest sense. They are out to make money—lots of it.

The most successful method of battling organized crime has always been to attack the purpose of their criminal enterprise—their pocketbooks. Cost them money. It’s more effective than putting a handful of thugs in prison. The Mafia, like few other organizations cross train their personnel. If one member is taken out of action, another is qualified to step up and take his place. However, the money is gone forever. Do that often enough and they realize how certain phases of their business operation is no longer profitable. Historically, they have occasionally changed their way of doing business.

I doubt anyone is hoping for these disrespectful football players to experience an infusion of patriotism, place their hands over their hearts and sing The Star Spangled Banner during the pre-game ceremony. But everyone would at least like to see these men stand and remain silent while those who wish to partake in the ceremony can do so without being offended.

So, if people would like the NFL and team owners to “suggest” that all players behave in a respectful manner, exercise your rights to boycott ALL NFL games. NO ONE should purchase tickets. NO ONE should watch televised games. NO ONE should buy products sold by NFL sponsors. Hit the NFL where it hurts—in the pocketbook. Without the usual income from ticket sales or advertising budgets, can the NFL afford to pay these “sportsmen” the exorbitant salaries they could earn in no other country on earth?

If you’re outraged by the conduct of individuals or entire teams, don’t just bitch about it and then grab a beer and watch the game.

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