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News & Features » July 2017 » “Concealed Cash Stash” by William S. Hubbartt

“Concealed Cash Stash” by William S. Hubbartt

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays. 

This week, a group of friends investigate an urban legend in hopes of striking it rich. 
 
Concealed Cash Stash
by William S. Hubbartt
Springfield, Illinois 

When you grow up in Springfield, Illinois, you’ve heard the stories about Paul Powell and the concealed cash stash. When the former Illinois Speaker of the House, and Secretary of State  died in 1970, they found some $800,000 in cash stashed in shoeboxes his apartment in the St. Nicholas Hotel in downtown Springfield. Allegedly money from bribes or payola or who knows what, it far exceeded the normal earnings of a state official. 

So when my buddies, Tommie, Lefty, Hutch, Turner and me reconnected at a high school reunion, Tommie invited us for after-event drinks at his place.  He said he now had an apartment in the very building where Paul Powell stashed his cash.  Of course, we all went.  

*

Fueled by alcohol, everyone had a story to tell, sharing their story about how they beat a ticket, paid off some city inspector for a permit, or slipped a fifty under their application when climbing behind the wheel with the driver’s license examiner. As with all high school reunions, each tale brought a big laugh and another story to exceed the last, because we’re all bragging about how we’ve made it big after high school. Momentarily, there was a lull, a quiet time, the laughter died down, as we all settled into a reflective mode.  “Time passes, can’t believe it’s been twenty years, damn, man!”

So Tommy says, “It was room 546, you know.  This floor, that’s why I picked this floor. Rumor has it, there’s still another missing shoebox of money they never found.”  

Everybody spoke at once.  “Bullshit!”  “But there’s no room 546 now!”  “Of, course, they changed the room numbers.”  “Construction crew would have found it when they remodeled.”  “That was just rumor started by the rental company to promote full occupancy.”   

*

I had done insurance claim investigations and learned how to pick locks. Tommie and I went down to the security station at the entrance.  He distracted the retired guy at the security desk while I picked my way into the maintenance room found a logo cap, a voltage detector, and a portable gas detector. Back in Tommy’s room, I laid out the plan, divide and conquer. “Tommie and I’ll do the west side rooms, you guys do the east side.  Use the hat and the meter. Knock and announce there was an odor and you’re doing a gas leak check.” 

With that, they were on their way, I could hear whispers and tittering and the occasional beep of the meter.  Tommie and I went to the other end of the fifth floor hallway. I gave him the voltage detector and suggested, “…tell them you are checking for a short, could start a fire.”   There was no answer to the knock, so I worked the pics and let him in. 

*

Finally alone!  I went down a couple of doors and listened before I knocked. I heard voices, loud, angry, sounded like an argument. “…you idiot!  I’ve found your texts, they tell the story. You’re fucking my best friend!  You want her?  Go. Get out!” “Wait… wait. It didn’t mean anything.”  I took a pass on that one and went to the next. 

This had to be it.  It had to be the old 546.  I listened, silence.  I knocked, silence. I used the pics and slowly cracked the door.  Dark silence.   I stepped in and closed the door latching it. The perfumey smell suggested a woman’s apartment. I flicked my cell phone to light mode, shining as I scanned the walls, and then the closet.  A clothes horse, the closet was packed, and oh shit, shoe boxes galore.  I started carefully checking each, but soon was opening and throwing them in the corner. Then I checked under the bed and found a return air duct. There was something inside, a box, this had to be it, the missing shoebox of money.  My heart beat faster. I unscrewed the cover and pulled the box out, lifting the cover it smelled dry and dusty, felt like money. 

*

Suddenly, the tumblers in the lock turned, she came in, light came on, she went into the bathroom. I squirmed, squeezed out from under the bed and ran for the door. 

“Hey!” She screamed. 

 I ran out the door, down the hall, turned a corner, stumbled, and fell through a window, down a construction chute landing in a dumpster. I had my prize.  I opened the box. 

“Recipes!?” 

“Freeze.  You’re under arrest.”

***

WILLIAM S. HUBBARTT is an author of non-fiction and fiction materials:  Recent short story fiction placements include “Tara’s Torment” Heater – Fiction magazine and  “Warehouse of Wisdom” in Wilderness House Literary Review.  Other short story placement include: “Redemption,” “Selling Out,” “Donovan’s Dream,”  “Death Sentence,”  and others appearing in ropeandwire.comand “Caleb’s Courage,” “The Spirit of Sonora,”  “The Hunted,” “Fools Gold,”  and others  placed at www.frontiertales.com and “Soldier’s Heart” placed at Shotgun Honey. Mr. Hubbartt holds an MS, Loyola University of Chicago and is currently employed with a government agency in Chicago.

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jul 20, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , ,



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