Thursday, December 29, 2022

Kaleidoscope Eyes – Part One of Two Parts blog post #580

 Photo courtesy of Pixabay



I hope you enjoyed the story about the murder of John Jacob Kinsolver and the result of our intrepid protagonist solving the case. Off hand, I'd say he was well rewarded for his efforts. Got good hits, not much in the way of comments.


At any rate, here’s a new one for the next two weeks.



Kaleidoscope Eyes

Green trees and blue skies and the prism of the rainbow. Derek Paulson saw them just like everyone else. But he had a trick of washing everything through a filter that clued him to his emotions. Kaleidoscope eyes, he called it.

Right at the moment, he lolled on a poolside recliner watching Julie though a blue-green screen. Oh, her hair was just as raven, her eyes as brown, her flesh tones as tanned as ever, but he observed them through a blue wash. Blue, he figured was him being shy.

The filter tilted more toward green—envy—as the guy sitting beside Julie on the far side of the pool reached over and touched her arm as he said something. The pair went into gales of laughter. Unable to endure it any longer, Derek got up and dived into the pool. He swam under water for as long as he could, long enough at least for the water to go from verdigris to clear. Damn Billy Bream, anyhow. They said he’d gotten nearly every woman in the Alma del Mar Apartment Complex. Couldn’t he at least leave Julie alone? And that name irritated him, as well. Soul of the Sea. What a name for a damned red-brick apartment house without a sea within a thousand miles!

He surfaced and took a noisy breath. He couldn’t help but glance toward where Julie sat through a decidedly red cloud. Flustered that she sat alone, he grew confused and got out of the water on the wrong side of the pool.

He felt her eyes on him as he walked around the concrete pond. What did she see? A man? A boy? He smothered a snicker. Probably a man-boy, even though he was almost twenty. But like his mother always said—before he’d left home for college—it was a “young” twenty.

Billy Bream, now. Not much question about him. A man, not a boy, even though he couldn’t be more than a year older than Derek. Still, everything about the guy screamed raw masculinity. And Derek had to admit… damned attractive masculinity. He wished his shoulders were as wide, hips as trim, abs so…. Well, he just figured he suffered by comparison to the Billy Breams of the world

He paused to pick up his towel before walking over to claim the now-vacant lounger beside Julie Raynolds. That a instead of an e in her name, seemed perfect. Set her off as someone special, someone who didn’t run with the crowd. Someone, he hoped, who wouldn’t be snowed by Billy’s super-masculinity. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean she’d respond to Derek’s reduced brand.

“You mind?” he asked, as he settled on the chair.

“Not at all. You taking summer classes?”

“Yup. Getting physics out of the way, plus a couple of electives. You?”

“Nope. Taking the summer off. I start work at a hobby store Monday. If you decide to make a boat in a bottle, stop by and I’ll sell you a kit.”

He chuckled. “Might just take you up on that.”

“Maybe you can explain the ‘physics’ of the thing to me.”

He liked the silver peal of her laughter, and a light purple haze invaded his eyes. Love. Definitely love.


Derek spent the rest of the weekend alone. His nerve failed him when he was on the verge of asking Julie to go somewhere with him, do something, anything with him. And she started work this morning. As he prepared for class, he considered doing exactly what she’d suggested yesterday. He’d go in and ask for a ship-in-a-bottle kit and make a big joke of it. Then he’d ask her to go to a movie with him. He stared at himself in the mirror and noticed a yellow haze. Naw. He wouldn’t have the nerve.

Thirty minutes later, as his ancient Taurus idled roughly at a stop light, a red haze clouded his vision. Alerted to something, he glanced around and saw what his subconscious had already spotted. A delivery van approached him at a speed that would make it hard for the vehicle to stop for the light. He also saw the driver glance up from something he’d apparently been reading and try to react. A yellow Impala approached from his left, the driver oblivious to the danger.

Derek punched 911 on his cell before the crash even happened. The van caught the Chevy amidships… hard. Even as the Impala skidded sideways toward him, Derek wondered if the driver could have survived. The yellow vehicle struck the concrete median and tipped into the traffic light station—the only thing that kept it from tumbling into his Taurus.

He was out of the car before the Impala even came to a halt against the far curb, racing through a red haze for the wrecked car. Even the belated realization that Billy Bream drove an Impala just like this one didn’t hit his pause button. He approached the vehicle from the passenger’s side and jerked open the door.

The sight of Billy Bream sprawled on his back across the bench seat, green eyes half closed, as still as a possum playing dead, caused him to flinch momentarily, the red haze flickering toa dark purple that frightened him. He hadn’t figured out all the colors yet, but this one must mean something ominous. Death, maybe?

“Bream, you okay?” he half-whispered, knowing it was a senseless thing to do. The guy was dead. Derek’s eyesight flickered green for a moment. Maybe not. Maybe just unconscious. How did you know of someone was dead? A pulse. He put his hand to Billy’s neck. At first, he felt nothing. Then an uncertain flutter beneath his fingers.

Other cars stopped and people bailed, shouting questions, cursing the delay, whatever. At least, there’d be someone to check the other driver. But what about Billy? What should he do?

The unthinkable. He tilted Billy’s head back and put his lips to the unconscious guy’s mouth. The contact surprised him, or his reaction did, at any rate. Collecting himself, he blew into the other man’s mouth a couple of times, and then crawled onto the floorboard to apply pressure to Billy’s chest.

“Come on!” he yelled. “Breathe, dammit! Breathe.”

No response.

He put his lips to Billy’s again, trying to ignore his eyes flickering through all the colors of the kaleidoscope. But mostly purple, strobing from light to dark so fast it made his head swim.

“Billy, dammit! Wake up!” he screamed.


I wish I had eyes that warned me of my emotions. There have been times in my past when such a warning might have come in useful. We all get surprised by our emotions from time to time.

We’ll see how this plays out for Derek next week. In the meantime, have a great holiday season.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

John Jacob Kinsolver, Part Four of Four Parts blog post #579

 Photo courtesy of Freepik


 Last week, Albuquerque police Detective Dave Field, questioned Luther Standing about the murder of John Jacob Kinsolver, a well-known and popular former cop turned private investigator. The young man answers his questions in a straightforward way, making no attempt to hide there was a relationship with the dead PI. As Dave takes the young Indian home, Luther mentions that Harold Balderson, John Jacob’s young assistant always carried a knife on a sheath on his belt. That gives Dave a way to push Balderson’s buttons.




And I pushed them hard. He sat in my interview room more than once squirming under a barrage of questions. He made a mistake early on by denying he carried a knife. One of the photos in JJ’s files clearly showed a sheath holding a miniature hunting knife. In addition, I located a couple of friends of his who confirmed he never left his apartment without the knife… until a few weeks ago.

I went to a sporting store and purchased a blade like the one in the photograph and took it to the medical examiner who confirmed it could have been the murder weapon. That was enough to get me a search warrant for Balderson’s apartment and car. It surprised me when I found a knife in his bedroom… until I compared it with the photo. Different knife. Harold was smart enough to make sure he had a knife after I asked him about one.

When I called him on the fact this was a different brand, he claimed he liked this one better and replaced the old one. Where was the old one? First this answer and then another. None of which checked out. It was probably at the bottom of the Rio Grande… providing he could find a spot deep enough in the shallow river. A years-long drought had severely reduced the waterflow in our famous river.

I don’t claim to be a skilled interrogator, but I am a dogged one. I leaned on that kid so hard, trailed him so doggedly, he just finally caved and admitted the whole thing.

Harold Balderson’s instincts had been correct when he tried to scare Luther Standing away. John Jacob was falling head-over-heels in love with the handsome Indian. Harold could also see that Luther was slowly yielding to JJ’s kindness and attention and interest.

Balderson’s response to me that he’d have gone for the Indian instead of his meal ticket was likely the way it would have gone down, except Balderson went nuts when JJ finally convinced him it was over. The kid watched from across the street and trailed JJ up Indian alley. Realizing the man was going to look for Luther, Balderson lost it completely, stabbing his former love in the liver before finishing him with a thrust to the heart.

The enraged man then started for the Last Spruce, intending to call out Luther, but his rival wasn’t there. Since he didn’t know where Luther lived, Balderson was left to rage silently until the moment passed. Recalling that I’d found JJ’s personal computer at his home explained why Balderson hadn’t destroyed the photos and files. If he’d been a tad smarter, he’d have broken into the house and gotten rid of the laptop.

The fact that Balderson followed John Jacob into the alleyway made it a premeditated act, and that’s the way the Assistant District Attorney indicted him.


After the excitement of Balderson’s arrest passed, I found myself thinking of Luther Standing. Why? I didn’t know… not really. But I’d questioned him as a suspect, so perhaps I owed him an explanation. Besides, I needed to let him know he didn’t need to call me each Monday any longer. He’d surprised me by doing exactly that in the two Mondays that had elapsed since I gave him those instructions. Of course, I could have just waited until Monday to give him the news, but I didn’t. He answered his cell on the second ring.

“Luther, this is Dave Field. I need to talk to you.”

“Yes, sir. Do I need to come down to the station?”

“No, this isn’t official. How about a cup of coffee?”

“Sure, Detective. Whatever you say.”

After my shift that day, I picked him up at his apartment and drove to a nearby Shooting Star. Coffee had just become dinner.

As I glanced at him sitting across from me in one of the Star’s high-back booths that gives a sense of privacy, his looks grabbed me again. I’ve seen plenty of handsome men—movie star handsome men—but never one that just grabbed my attention and held it. Until this one. All of a sudden, I understood how John Jacob Kinsolver felt about him. The other kids… no, but this one? Yeah, I could see it.

“What’s up, Detective?” he asked, in his low, rumbling voice.

“First off, my name’s Dave.”

“Dave,” he repeated dutifully.

“And I thought it only fair to let you know that Harold Balderson confessed to killing M. Kinsolver. I suspect that’s not much of a surprise to you, but what you don’t know it that after he did that, he came looking for you at the bar. Aimed to do you the same favor.”

Luther’s black eyes stared into my grey ones. “Damn.”

“You’re lucky he didn’t know where you lived.”

Luther pursed his lips and nodded. “Maybe he was the lucky one.”

“I dunno. Do you have a knife?”

He shook his head. “No. Sure wish Mr. Kinsolver had been lucky.”

“You’d be with him if he had been?” Don’t know why I asked that, it just slipped out.

“Probably. He was a good man.”

“I guess he was your kind of guy.” Dunno where that came from either.

Luther’s lips firmed for a moment before relaxing again. “Understand one thing, Detective—”


“—Detective Field. He came looking for me, not the other way around.” Luther visibly relaxed. “I dunno, maybe he was my kinda guy. A decent one. Haven’t been with many men, but I guess the others were a lot like him.”


“One, actually. A friend—a counselor—who pulled me out of the clutches of alcohol. I guess I thought I owed him.

I allowed my confusion to show. “The first time I laid eyes on you was in a bar with a woman draped all over you.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Which one you asking about?”

“Both, I guess.”

“Okay, first off, I like women. Second question: I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I was heading that way. Freddie, that the other guy, taught me that I was the boss, not Lady Alcohol. Taught me how to drink responsibly. Recognize limits.”

He paused and eyed me frankly. “And he also taught me a man can show you love too. Not like a dad or uncle, but… well, you know.”

“What happened to him?”

“Gone. Car accident. Somebody plowed into him head-on on the highway. I… I was supposed to be with him, but I was late getting off work. He was coming to get me.”


“Guess that’s why John Jacob got under my skin so easy. Reminded me of him. Not, not physically, but the way he looked at things.” Luther gave me that disturbing, piercing eye look. “How about you?”

“How about me, what?”

He shrugged and fed me my line back to me. “Both of them.”

I slumped back in the chair and uttered the first thing that came to mind. “You don’t have to call me every Monday anymore.”

He licked his lips. “What if I want to?”

“I… I guess that would be okay. I like you, kid.”

“Kid? I’m twenty-one. How old are you?”


A smile played across his lips. “And I like you, old man.”

“How much?”

“Dunno. But we can go see.”

Possibilities opened up before my eyes. “I’m an Albuquerque cop, you know.”

“So was John Jacob.”

I nodded. “At one time.” I paused before adding, “I don’t have JJ’s kind of money.”

He seemed to swell, then his look turned pitying. “If you think I simply sold myself to Mr. Kinsolver, then we don’t have anything more to talk about.”

Something shot through me. It shook me when I realized it was panic. “Sorry. Guess I was thinking of Harold Balderson. That’s all there was in it for him.”

He moved to get out of the booth. “If you think I’m like Harold, we damn sure don’t have anything to talk about.”

I gripped his wrist. “That’s not what I meant. This is all new to me. I don’t even know how I feel about this. I mean….”

He flashed a smile that about unhinged me. “Then why don’t we go find out how you feel. One time, one experience isn’t gonna change your life.

He was wrong.



Seems to me like Luther was a strong influence on the detective. The kid more or less solved the murder case for him and then solved another mystery, as well. Really like to know what went on after they left the Shooting Star Restaurent.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

John Jacob Kinsolver, Part Three of Four Parts blog post #578

 Photo courtesy of Freepik


 Last week, Albuquerque police Detective Dave Field, who’s investigating the murder of John Jacob Kinsolver, a well-known and popular former cop turned private investigator, discovers an unsuspected side of the dead PI’s life when he locates nude pictures of young men, one of whom is named Luther. Eventually he runs down the elusive young man in an Indian bar on East Central.



The kid readily agreed when I asked him to accompany me down to the station. Gave me no trouble at all. In fact, he proved helpful, quieting the rumbles of objection—some filled with implied threats—that rose all around us. He also rejected multiple offers to accompany him to police headquarters. He moved with impressive masculine grace as he stood and came around the table. His photographs hadn’t lied. This was an extremely attractive youth no matter the angle he was viewed from. When we passed through the door into the early evening light, my impression didn’t change, except perhaps he was younger than I’d estimated. Late teens, maybe.

We rode downtown in silence, and although I cast several glances his way, he stared straight ahead with a totally bland expression on his face. One of those unreadable faces you read about in the old western novels. A hide-behind face, I think they called it.

As soon as we were seated in the interrogation room, he slid a warn wallet across the table at my request for identification. No wonder Doris hadn’t located him. His driver’s license—which was current—was South Dakota issue under the name of Luther Standingdeer and showed him to be twenty-one. Good genes.

I tried for gruffness but wasn’t sure it came off that way. “This has a different name on it. You go by an alias? Why?”

His smile was slow and rueful. “Never thought about it like that, but I guess I do. Years back, I started introducing myself as Luther Standing when I wasn’t on the reservation. Got fewer ‘looks,’ I guess you could say. Before I knew it, that’s the way I started identifying myself everywhere. It’s not illegal, is it?”

I brushed his question aside. “You know a man named John Jacob Kinsolver?”

That earned a nod from that handsome head. “Yes, sir.”

“How did you know him?’

A slight hesitation. “Met him at the downtown library. I was sitting at one of the tables reading when he sat down and started thumbing through a book. After a while, he struck up a conversation. Seemed like a nice guy, so when he offered a cup of coffee, I took him up on it. Turned out to be lunch and a nice visit. He even took me back to where I was staying when we finished.

“Where was that?”

“I was living with this girl at a place on San Pablo SE.”

“In the War Zone?”

“I guess that’s what they call it.”

“What’s her name?”

He provided it and added he wasn’t staying there any longer.

“Where now?”

He gave me an address on Wisconsin NE.

“Who’re you living with?”

“It’s my own place.”

“Where do you work?”

“Did a few odd jobs for Mr. Kinsolver. I’m a handyman, so I get work here and there fixing things up and doing some landscaping.”

“So you have no regular employment?”

He spread his hands. “Guess I’m what you call self-employed."

The kid was so calm and self-contained as I led him through my questions that I decided to shake him up. I glanced at him sharply. “Let me see your knife.”

“What knife?”

“The one you used to kill John Jacob Kinsolver in an alley two blocks south of the very bar I found you in an hour ago.”

All it earned me was raised eyebrows. “Why would I do that? He was a good man. Gave me work and recommended me to friends.”

I took a shot in the dark. “And paid your rent in your new apartment.”

He nibbled his upper lip. “Yeah. He did that.”

“So what happened? He refuse to pay the next month?”

“Paid it for six months. It’s not up for another couple of months.”

“Why in the hell would he pay a six-month lease for you? He didn’t even know you that well.”

A shrug. “He was just that way. Like I said, a nice man. He didn’t mind giving a guy a helping hand.”

I threw him another curve. “You go for older men?”


“You peddle your ass to older men, or do you go for ones your own age? Naw, they can’t pay like the John Jacob Kinsolvers of this world.”

Then he threw me a curve. His voice turned harsher. “Don’t talk about him like that.”


Mr. Kinsolver helped me out. He was a good man. Don’t go saying bad things about him.”

Interesting. His concern was for JJ, not himself? Or was it an act? “Yeah, he helped you out after you posed for him. I saw the photos, Luther. Don’t try to deny it.”

“Why would I?”

I mentally shook my head. He wasn’t reacting like I expected. “Because of that last picture in the group. You know, the one with the hard-on.”

Another bland look. “He asked me to get that way, so I did.”

“You didn’t mind him taking a picture like that?”

He had the grace to turn a shade darker. “He asked, so I said okay. He’d been good to me.”

“I’ll bet.”

We sparred for another hour, but ultimately, I had to let him go with a warning not to leave town. Who was I kidding? He’d probably head straight for South Dakota. But I had nothing to hold him on, so I did the next best thing.

“Luther, I’m counting on you not to run. Here’s my card. I want you to call me every Monday morning until I tell you to stop. You hear me?”

He accepted the card and stared at it a moment before nodding. “Yeah. I hear you.”

I could have just tossed him out on his ear and let him find his own way back uptown, but I didn’t. I’d kind of liked the way he’d stood up for Kinsolver.

“The bar or home?” I asked as we got in the cruiser.

“Home. It’s on—”

“Yeah, I know. Wisconsin, a block north of Central.”

About the time we passed the University of New Mexico campus, he glanced over at me and spoke.

“What about Harold?”

“What about him?”

“You ever consider he might have been the one to hurt Mr. Kinsolver?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because of me, I guess. Maybe I did get Joh—uh, Mr, Kinsolver killed.”

“What do you mean?”

“Harold didn’t like it that I was around. That Mr. Kinsolver was spending some time with me.” Luther licked his lips. “Harold looked me up once and threatened me.”

“Threatened you? How?”

Luther’s eyes went straight ahead again. “Said he was gonna beat my ass... after, uh, after he fucked it.” The kid sorta stumbled into his next comment. “Does Harold still carry that knife?”

“He carries a knife.

“Uh-huh. A small hunting knife. Had it in a sheath on his belt every time I saw him.”

“He try to use it on you?”

“Naw. He didn’t try nothing. Not after I got in his face. But he was mad about Mr. Kinsolver spending time with me. I… well, I know how it was between them. And I think he was afraid Mr. Kinsolver would get tired of him and look to me.”

“Did he have any reason for believing that?”

The kid just studied his hands resting in his lap and didn’t answer. I let it drop for the moment, merely reminding him to call me on Monday.

As I pulled away from Luther’s place, I smiled. Now I knew how to push Harold Balderson’s buttons.



So what does Detective Field have in mind? For sure, he’s going to interview Harold again. But is he finished with Luther? Next week’s finale will reveal all.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

John Jacob Kinsolver, Part Two of Four Parts blog post #577

 Photo courtesy of Freepik



Last week, Albuquerque police Detective Dave Field caught a case involving the murder of a well-known and popular former cop turned private investigator, a man named John Jacob Kinsolver. By searching Kinsolver’s personal and agency files, he discovers a life no one else suspected. Kinsolver liked boys—more specifically, young men. Handsome young men. One of them, Harold Balderson, worked for the PI and was obviously a kept man. Then Dave runs across a new name: Luther.




Photographs in the Luther folder were all more artistic than erotic… save one. But the care devoted to posing and light exposure somehow rendered them more stimulating. The subject was not only well formed but also sublimely comely and somehow ethnic in features. I judged him to be in his late teens or early twenties and extremely photogenic.

Following my review of the photos, I scoured Kinsolver’s journal until I found the first reference to a “Luther,” about a year ago. My victim was so fulsome in his praise of the young man, he failed to reveal how the two met. But as I read on, it became obvious John Jacob was besotted with the young man. Other journal entries appeared rushed so he could devote his time to describing events with his new muse. And Luther appeared more and more frequently in his notations, reminding me of love-sick longings in some teenager’s personal diary.

Apparently, their rare meetings—punctuated by lengthy laments in the journal—did not result in consummation until about three months before Kinsolver’s death. Descriptions of the momentous event were more poetic than graphic, but nonetheless raised a slight sweat on my neck as I read. Although descriptions were spare, I fully understood the part teach played in their trysts. Finally, I came upon a surname. Standing.

Our paragon of male beauty was named Luther Standing. And with that, came a recognition of the ethnic bent I’d observed. This young man was likely a Native American. That name had, no doubt, been shortened from something like Standing Bear or Standing Horse or somesuch. I had no clue as to tribe, but whichever one it was, they sure grew them fine. The discovery of the family name sent me back to the photo file to examine the last photograph in the array, the one I’d referenced as a departure from the norm for the Luther shots. Definitely erotic. Full frontal with Luther Standing… well, standing. Impressive.

Reluctantly, I returned to being the hard-nosed detective assigned the task of determining who had killed John Jacob Kinsolver. Yes, the individuals in the photo arrays—including Luther Standing—were possible persons of interest, but there might be others. I spent days going over the dead PI’s files, noting some subjects worthy of consideration because his investigations had resulted in a significant impact on their lives. By the end of the week, I had a list of ten individuals I wanted to interview. Five of them… personal, I guess you could say, including Harold, his assistant, and Luther, the object of JJ's devotion. The other five were subjects of his investigations. I started with Harold.

He sat straighter in his seat when I read him his Miranda warning. “You think I killed John Jacob?”

“Did you?”

“Hell, no! He was my meal ticket, man. I worked for him. Now, I’ve got no job. That don’t make sense.”

“And you bedded him.”

“I what?”

“To be crude about it, Harold, you fucked him.”

The young man lost some of his tough guy attitude and turned a light shade of pink. “What are you—”

“You can’t deny you’re aware of the photographs. Had to be, you were posing for the camera for some of them.”

“Yeah, I… well….”

“And the journal pretty well describes what went on between the two of you. If that’s not enough, he paid your apartment lease for this year. In advance, I might add. Looked like a permanent thing.”

Harold hung his head and was silent for a moment before he looked me in the eye. Pugnacious Harold was back. “So what? You know that, you know I didn’t want nothing to go wrong with it. Sweetest deal I ever had. Why fuck it up?”

I spread three photographs on the table before him. “What about these? Competitors?”

He eyed them casually. “Nah, they came before me. He told me all about them.” A lascivious grin split his lips. “Compared me to them regularly. I came out on top every time.”

A fourth photo--one of Luther Standing--slid the table and came to rest against his arms. “And this one? How did you rate compared to him.”

“Yeah, I knew about him. Even met him once when I came back to the office one night to pick up something I’d left.” His smile turned wolfish. “Something I needed before I met my girl that night.” Harold casually pushed the photo away. “Pretty, but namby-pamby. John Jacob didn’t like namby-pamby. He liked men—like me. Luther wasn’t his type.”

“Do I detect a little jealousy?”

He leaned back in his chair, exaggerating his masculinity. “I was, I’d go after Luther, not my meal ticket.”

I kept at him for another hour before letting him go with a warning not to leave town.”

“I’m copacetic till the first of the year, Detective. Then I’m splitting this burg”

“Rent’s up, huh?”


The first two of JJ’s crushes were in the system. Ronald Berger got busted for male prostitution and Rolf Milton for prostitution and robbery. Milton was in the pen at the time of JJ’s murder, and Berger had left for Illinois, where he was from. I confirmed both of these facts before turning my attention to the remaining two. The PI’s journal gave me enough information to run down Jack Fearless without much trouble.

Fearless wasn’t what I expected. In fact, he should have been named Fearful. Attractive enough physically, he tuned up as soon as he took a seat in the interrogation room. I spent five minutes trying to convince him I wasn’t with the sex squad but don’t think I succeeded. Well, maybe I did, because when he heard the word homicide, he collapsed into a puddle of weeping jelly. For a moment, I considered calling in his mother—who had brought him to the station—but decided that wasn’t a good move. What would I do with two blubbering individuals?

Eventually, he calmed down enough for us to start.

“You take a good picture, Jack.”

He put two and two together and turned a bright red before muttering “Thank you.”

“How long were you ‘friends’ with Mr. Kinsolver?”

“T-two weeks.”

“Only two weeks?”

“Yes, but we got together several times.”

“Why did he stop seeing you?”

His shoulders rose in a shrug. “Don’t know. I liked him. Guess he didn’t like me.”

“According to his journal, he liked you very much.”

“Really?” The shrug again. “Anyway, he stopped asking me over.”

I could see why. I’d asked around the department and found a couple of cops who knew Berger and Milton, and they’d both been masculine, aggressive types. The opposite of this kid. At the end of an hour, I was convinced Jack Fearless couldn’t shiv anyone. He’d have been more likely to take a knife to himself than someone else

That left Luther Standing. But JJ’s journal gave no clues where to find the guy. Doris Staples, one of the women in the department was pretty good at locating missing people, so I handed over a couple of his photos and asked her to have a go at it. She examined the pictures and let out a low whistle. “Oh, I’d like to find him. But I gotta warn you, Dave, Indians can get lost on reservations very easily. He a Navajo?”

“Don’t have any idea. Doris, give it a try while I turn my attention to John Jacob’s cases.”

She agreed, so I did just that. The most likely prospect died a quick death, and I mean that literally. The guy died of a heart attack a week after JJ closed the case. When no vengeful relatives turned up, I moved on to the rest.

I got so involved in tracking down and interrogating—and eliminating—the others on my list, I almost forgot about Luther Standing. Not really forgot, just delayed approaching Doris to ask what she’d found. I suspected she’d found nothing, or she’d have contacted me. When I finally approached her, she confirmed my suspicion.

“Sorry, Dave. He’s not in the system. Doesn’t have a New Mexico driver’s license. Can’t locate a social security number. The Public Health people at the Indian hospital don’t know him. Struck out with local Native American groups, addiction clinics, and the like.”

Appreciate you trying. Now I’ll give it a go.”

“Turn up any suspects?”

“Nope. Just eliminated them.”

“Hate it that John Jacob went that way. He was a decent guy.”

I considered the life JJ had hidden from the rest of us, but decided I concurred. “That he was.”

After pondering possible courses of action the rest of the day, I decided on the simplest of them all. JJ was found in Indian Alley, so I left my department Chevy at the park on Morningside and looked around. None of the people enjoying the park admitted to knowing anyone named Luther Standing, so I started hiking north up the unofficial highway through the alley without finding anything of interest. When I reached the side street housing the city’s best known “Indian Bar,” I turned north and stood in front of the rather unimposing building. The low rumble of jukebox music and multiple conversations penetrated the closed door. Taking a deep breath, I pulled it open and stepped inside.

Dark. Smoky. And quiet as a tomb the moment I entered. The place oozed hostility. As my eyes adjusted to the muted light, I made out a few individual faces. They were routinely dark and closed. Stifling an urge to run, I moved through the bar. A big table in the far corner caught my eye, mostly because it was filled with young people. I made my way over to it, halfway expecting an assault from any quarter. Reminded me of entering a Serb village in Kosovo without backup some years ago when I was serving.

Now I know that tables do not actually have heads. But this one did. And at the head, sat an achingly handsome young man who stared at me intently as the girl draped all over him, hugged him even tighter.

After pausing a moment, I raised my voice. “Luther Standing?”

A smile tugged at the young man’s lips. “That’s me. Who’re you?




So Detective Field has located the enigmatic Luther. His field of suspects in the death of John Jacob Kinsolver are shrinking… in fact, they’re down to two. Harold, Kinsolver’s long time lover, and the mysterious Luther Standing.

What in the world could possibly happen next? We’ll see with next week’s episode.

Stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

John Jacob Kinsolver, Part One of Four Parts blog post #576

 Photo courtesy of Freepik



Perhaps the period of reposts and guest posts is over for the moment. Got two edits done, still working on another and laboring over a novel, but found time for a new story. This one is a three parter. Hope you enjoy.




My eyes scanned the spot I had last seen John Jacob Kinsolver. Of course, his body had been removed from the alleyway, his blood had been absorbed by the earth, and the crime scene tapes taken down. Nonetheless, I could see him lying there as keenly as I had a month earlier.

An ex-Albuquerque cop, John Jacob at earned a reputation as a licensed private investigator. Not the sleazy, shabby gumshoe pictured in novels and on film, he’d been honest and upright. No one ever called him John or Jack or Jake; it was always John Jacob. That’s the kind of respect he’d earned. However, I soon tired of that and came to think of him as JJ.

There appeared to be a bit of mystery about why he’d left the force and gone private. And when I’d asked my partner, an old grizzly called Detective Charlie Whiteside, now retired to Florida, he’d answered rather whimsically, “It was different at APD back in those days, Dave.” He’d leave it at that and walk away. Nobody ever referred to the Albuquerque Police Department as anything but APD. That said it all.

Naturally, I’d asked some other old timers the same question, but all I ever got was shrugs or “Let it lie, Detective Field.”

My partner had just retired, and I hadn’t been assigned a new one on the day a vagrant flagged down a cop to report a body lying in an alley on the south side of East Central. Indian Alley, the old timers called it, as it was a corridor frequently trod by the city’s urban Natives to travel from a park near Morningside SE up to and Indian bar on Central SE near the fairgrounds. It was also known as a gay cruising area, although there was no correlation between the two. I’d always found our Native American community just as accepting or just as hostile as any of the other ethnic groups of the city.

At any rate, I’d caught the case, and worked it solo. John Jacob had not been married and had no known relatives. The only familiar I’d located was an assistant about ten years younger than JJ’s forty years, who made no objection to me rooting around in the detective agency’s files.

Harold Balderson was a bit of an enigma to me. Good looking, in a rough sort of way, his pugnacious attitude peeked through even when he was attempting to be cooperative. I got the feeling he could be nasty when crossed. Physically, he resembled his boss in build, about five-ten, a hundred and seventy-five, fighting to keep from going to one eighty-five. He’d regularly done some of the grunt work common to investigations, stakeouts, online checks, and the like. Funny. Usually, the online stuff and phone calls were done by a secretary, at least in the movies I’d seen.

 A search of the company records revealed John Jacob Kinsolver earned way more money that an ordinary department detective—despite the burden of funding his own office, providing for his retirement, and health insurance. And, he didn’t have a hierarchy to contend with. Maybe I’d discovered why he left the force.

His list of clients was impressive. Well-known names, including the mayor’s and a couple of state officials, showed up with regularity. Some of them might claim I was taking unauthorized advantage of PI privacy privileges, but I had no interest in the information rather than looking for the party or parties who planted a knife in JJ’s liver and then in his heart. Still, it might become tricky if things went to a criminal trial. Licensed investigators had certain privacy privileges under New Mexico law.

It wasn’t until I got into JJ’s personal computer, a Dell laptop, that I began to understand a few things. This was no dour, stick-in-the-mud hard-nose. Some of his personal accounts revealed a different person from the one I knew. His relationship with Harold Balderson took on a whole new aspect when I discovered a series of nude photographs of the man. By switching back and forth between the photo files and a journal I found, a story began to unfold.

John Jacob Kinsolver had noticed Harold when—as a member of APD—he gave a talk to a University of New Mexico criminology class. He’d been impressed by the then twenty-two-year-old’s questions and interest in his subject. He’d done no more than note the student’s name and commented on his handsome appearance. And that was the end of it.

Until… almost a year and a half later, he’d cruised Indian Alley and unexpectedly come upon the handsome Harold earning some extra money in his senior year by offering himself on the street. It seemed that the thrill—and perhaps the danger—of the pickup had appealed to both Harold, as the purveyor of the goods, and to JJ, as the illicit purchaser. Back in those days, APD had not been gay friendly. Indeed, they’d been known to set honey traps for closeted gay cruisers. Now I understood the answer to the question I’d posed to my partner and others. APD was no friendlier to gays on the inside of the department than they were to those outside of it. John Jacob Kinsolver had known when it was time to leave.

With this discovery, I concentrated on Harold Balderson. Even though I attempted to show no change of attitude with my new knowledge, his antenna was finely tuned, and he grew more cautious, less accommodating. He should have known where I’d focus my attention, those closest to the victim were those who got the hardest look in a murder case, especially at the beginning of the investigation. Given his educational and vocational experience, he doubtless understood that, and tried to ease my suspicions by being open and helpful… to a point. He hadn’t mentioned his personal relationship, which had undoubtedly continued over the years. That explained the generous salary and company car. Harold might work for the agency, but he was also a kept man.

Not only that, but he was the only individual close to the victim. Of course, given JJ’s profession, there were likely countless individuals wandering the streets of Albuquerque or behind the black iron bars of various penal institutions who hated John Jacob Kinsolver.

Even though I had Harold down at the station in an interview room more than once, I resumed sifting through JJ’s records. I discovered photographs of other young men, all nudes or near nudes. None were overtly sexual, although for one of JJ’s persuasions, they would provide titillation, possibly even outright excitement.

And then, I came across a file that told me Harold might not be the only individual in Kinsolver’s life. And I reached that conclusion solely from the fact that this young man’s photos were in a file all his own. When I opened it, the first photo took my breath away. A young man, totally nude, stood in near silhouette with his back to the camera, his head thrown back, releasing a cascade of gleaming hair so dark I was reminded of wet coal I’d once seen over in Madrid east of Albuquerque. His arms were spread as if welcoming the morning deity, His broad shoulders fell to a narrow waist, slightly flared hips, and slender, muscled legs slightly spread. The physique was one a gay like John Jacob would have lusted over, while a straight like me could only envy.

Beneath the photo, JJ had penned a single word.



Revealing? Maybe, although it doesn’t take much imagination to think a whole bunch of people might have reason to despise a nosy private investigator, maybe even to hate him. And who is Luther? Maybe we’ll learn the answer to that question next week. Until then…. 

Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

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