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Two Blind Men and a Fool

by Sherman Smith

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Chapter 47: Vinegar and Sugar

There was nothing but a vacant lot where Adam’s place had been. It had burned, and the blackened ruin had been knocked down and carted away.

Stella’s thoughts were mixed as she stared at weeds wrestling for control of the barren earth. Her eyes glistened as she thought of Gibby. If he hadn’t taken in Brooks and Earl, he might still be alive

Was his death partly her fault? On the other hand, thank God she had taken the money from Gibby’s safe, or she would have lost it all. Now, somehow, she felt obligated to use the money to see that Earl and Brooks were taken care of. That is, if she could find them. She hoped they would be still together.

She had to laugh at that. These two men really did not like each other; vinegar and sugar. But they needed each other. Two blind piano players shouldn’t be that difficult to find, especially with Brooks sporting his silk mask.

Where to start? Neither would be wanting to wander off too far. The logical place to begin her search would be in the neighborhood. After that, the Tenderloin, where there were plenty of single-room occupancy hotels.

* * *

Stella spent three fruitless days searching for the two blind crooners. She covered three dozen bars, some not in the best neighborhoods, and two downright scary ones. She asked at the front desks of a dozen tenement hotels and got nothing, which came as no surprise; the gatekeepers were usually tight on information about their guests.

She tried slipping a few of them a couple of dollars to loosen their tongues but got nothing for nothing. She went to every piano bar in town, or at least she thought so. The bartender at Jack’s Top Hat remembered a blind man who had come in applying for a job. There wasn’t one, and he had not left a phone number where he could be reached. He was colored, so that ended that.

Foot-tired and heart-weary, Stella returned to San Diego with nothing but a deeper sense of guilt. She tried again a month later with no better results.

Proceed to Chapter 48...

Copyright © 2013 by Sherman Smith

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