Charlie Hume carried two types of business cards. One read: CAPTAIN CHARLIE HUME: FISHING CHARTERS & TOURS. DOCK 23 “THE PENELOPE”. The other: CHARLES HUME: PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS. DOCK 23.

Which card he presented, of course, depended upon how the situation presented itself.

Economic times were tough all over these days, so people didn’t have as much extra cash to spend on luxuries, like chartering a boat. However, there was always a need for someone to go poking around in somebody else’s business and get the dirt on them.

So Charlie obtained his private investigator license and set up shop. Since he didn’t have an office to set that “shop” up in, his office was his boat, “The Penelope.”

Recently, in the private eye biz, the cases were few and far between. Most of the time he had been tracking down missing husbands, finding them, then tracking down those husband’s wives, in order to get paid.

However, even those types of cases had been lacking lately, so Charlie began to start considering other ways to raise cash. He even recently thought the unthinkable, selling “The Penelope”.

He didn’t want to have to do that. For all of his life, he had loved that old boat. It contained so many happy memories and when he inherited it from his father, Charlie was in seventh heaven! He quickly renamed it in honor of his mother, who told him that was embarrassing, and in which Charlie replied that most women would be honored to have a boat named after them. His mother had just laughed.

But that was long ago and now economic reality was setting in. So selling the boat was now a very strong possibility, unless some wealthy individual came along, looking for a charter, or some good case happened to fall into his lap. But unbeknownst to Charlie, a case of another kind was on its way.

As Charlie tried to get some sleep down in the boat’s galley, he heard a knock on the upper deck sliding door.

“Who is it?!” Charlie called out, taking the 9mm Sig Sauer handgun, he always stashed under his pillow, and wondering who in the hell was knocking at this late hour!

“Open up and find out!” he heard the muffled, yet familiar, reply from up on deck.

He slid back the door and saw a big burley bear of a man gaze back at him. It was Pavlov Florensky.

Pavlov was an ex-Soviet military communications officer. He was in his late 70’s and built like an ox and just as strong. He was Charlie’s best friend and confidant.

“Morning, Comrade!” Pavlov greeted, as he came down the steps of the galley with a case of beer in tow.

“Hey, Pavlov,” Charlie laughed, “what are you doing out so late and where’d you get the beer?”

Pavlov smiled, “Got a friend of a friend, who just bought an old abandoned ware house in Guam. In going through the inventory, he found case after case of this old beer. In which one of those cases just happened to find itself here!”

Pavlov took out a can and handed it to Charlie.

“Check out the brand,” Pavlov smiled, “I think you will find it interesting.”

Charlie noticed the brand name on the side of the can. DHARMA!

“Oh yeah, how can we forget them?!” Charlie laughed. A while back, Charlie had an experience dealing with DHARMA that had almost cost him and Pavlov their lives!*

“Well, drink up,” Pavlov said, as he popped the can’s top, “its over twenty years old, it should have mellowed with age by now.”

“I think that only applies to wine,” Charlie laughed.

“Wine, Beer,” Pavlov shrugged, before he chugged the can down, “if it gets you drunk, then that’s all that counts!”

Charlie grinned, as he opened the can and started to chug a lug himself, when his cell phone rang.

“It seems you are a popular man at this late hour,” Pavlov smiled.

“Seems so,” Charlie replied, wondering who was calling.

He hoped it was some drunken rich guy, who had picked up a couple of skirts, and wanted to impress them with a late night charter, but figured it was more likely just another very persistent bill collector working the late shift. It turned out to be none of the above. Instead, it was a call from someone he hadn’t seen in awhile. She sounded frightened.

“Charlie!” Megan Pace said, with a tone of urgency in her voice, “I’m a little freaked out right now! I need to see you! I need your advice! Its an emergency!”

“So what’s wrong, rock goddess?” Charlie asked, setting the beer can down, as Pavlov started in on his second.

“Its Char,” Megan said, “she’s in trouble!”

“Where you at?” Charlie asked.

“The Mutual Friend,” Megan answered.

“I’m on my way!” Charlie replied

He knew Charlene and really liked her. She was cool. But she did have the tendency to attract trouble. But that was okay because, after all, trouble was Charlie Hume’s business.

Next: Chap. Four “A Very Very Soft Bed”

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