The Fingerprint Murders


By Gerald Darnell

cover image of The Fingerprint Murders

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Jim Hammond was a nice guy.
No, that's not true – Jim Hammond was an asshole. As the Food and Beverage manager for the Peabody Hotel, Jim was responsible for the management of bars, restaurants, banquets, service delivery and the costs associated with all food and drink sold at the hotel. That responsibility included purchasing the product, hiring employees, setting schedules and menu prices. He distinguished himself by bringing a level of profitability that had never been recognized in the history of the hotel. He also distinguished himself as being the most hated member of the Peabody Hotel Management Staff.
I didn't have to deal with Jim, but I did have to deal with the people he directly or indirectly supervised – they all hated him. He was rude, over bearing, over structured and over-the-top in his management style. Everyone knew that Mason Booker T. Brown was the person who hotel staff looked to for direction; but, everyone also knew that Jim Hammond could appear at anytime and make a good day turn bad.
He had been known to fire people on the spot, to change menus in the middle of a breakfast, lunch or dinner delivery time, to not provide adequate provisions for banquets and to personally check liquor levels of issued bar stock. Jim Hammond ran a tight ship and he was successful; however, most every employee of the hotel despised him.
Jim's marriage of 10 years ended two years earlier after a very nasty divorce. Fortunately, the marriage had produced no children. Following the divorce, Jim seemed to focus more on his work, and I'm sure that was partially responsible for his recent success as Food and Beverage Manager.
Also, shortly after his divorce, rumors began to surface about a homosexual lifestyle – but I doubted those rumors. I had personally seen Jim in the company of some very attractive women; so if he was homosexual, he camouflaged it well.
In the end, Jim Hammond distinguished himself in another way – he distinguished himself as the only employee of the Peabody to be murdered while in the hotel!
For some stupid reason his office phone rang; it was almost 11:30 PM on Saturday night and nobody should be calling at this hour.
"Hello," Jim snapped after quickly grabbing the phone. He felt the presence of someone on the line, but no one spoke.
"Hello," Jim shouted again. "Who the hell is this and why are you calling me at this hour?"
While he was screaming into the phone, the door to his office abruptly opened –Jim had a visitor.
"Well, well, well," Jim said to his intruder, while slowly replacing the phone receiver back in its cradle. "I told you to never come to my office or call me here. And who the hell was that on the phone? One of your 'other' friends?" he asked sarcastically.
Jim's visitor didn't speak, but simply smiled, while quietly closing the office door behind them. Then they walked across the office, around the large desk and slowly began giving Jim a soft shoulder massage.
"Thank you," Jim mumbled, enjoying the massage. "But, this doesn't change anything. We've had our fun, you've been paid and tonight isn't a good time – I'm tired and I'm going home."
Jim's visitor still didn't speak. Slowly they reached a glove covered hand into their pocket and produced a freshly opened bottle of Jack Daniel's and a couple of glasses, which they sat on his desk, while still performing the soft shoulder massage.
Jim looked at his visitor and then at the bottle of Jack Daniel's sitting in front of him.
"Whiskey? You brought whiskey!" Jim exclaimed as he picked up the bottle and shook his head. "You know I don't drink, and if I did, it...

The Fingerprint Murders