Brewster McCabe – Ace Private Eye

This can now be checked off as a finished product. Brewster McCabe: Ace Private Eye is now available for purchase on CreateSpace and Amazon.


You can also order the book on

An excerpt from the earlier draft pages of Brewster McCabe…

The life of a private eye is a transitional one at best.  But we Dicks are used to doing the dance of death with the Grim Reaper all the time.  Especially during lunch.  Especially at “Dirk’s Diner.”

Owner Dirk was long gone.  He had moved on to greener pastures.  Or was that he was planted in greener pastures?  No matter.  At least he didn’t have to eat the diner’s food anymore.

Dirk’s customers are still giving 2:1 odds it was the food that killed him.  I think it was the meat cleaver in the back myself.  Call it a hunch.  Homicide said it was self-inflicted.  I say it was revenge.

Food poisoning can do that to a person.  Somewhere between the gut wrenching cramps and the vomiting, a customer loses his sense of humor.  And Dirk lost his life as a result.  It was no laughing matter.

Dirk’s waitress Dinah took over the diner business after Dirk died.  Dinah had been in the food business since the day she was born.  And some of the food she served must have entered this world with her.  To say her cooking was disgusting would be a lie.  It was worse.

But she had that way about her.  Sharp-tongued, salty, muscular.  She reminded all of us of our mothers.  We called her “Mom.”  She called everybody “Sport.”

No one ever quite figured out who Sport was.  He may have been her husband.  He may have been her dog.  But it didn’t really matter.  What did matter was that she had the ugliest tattoo on her arm.  And whenever she flexed it, it would . . .

But I’m digressing.  The thought of eating one of Dinah’s lunches had a way of making one digress.  It also had a way of making one sick.

The alternative was even less appealing.  Hunger was a strange bedfellow and I didn’t want to roll over in the morning and look it straight in the eye.  I’ve often known that empty feeling.  Rolling over and not knowing what her name was.  At times like that I’m reminded on a liner note on an old Jimmy Buffett album:  “The night wrote a check the morning couldn’t cash.”

God I’ve bounced a lot of checks in my time . . .


But none of this had anything to do with the quandary my stomach was in right now.  I’ve heard others talk about being adventurous eaters.  At Dirk’s though, eating was the adventure.

So here I was with my lifelong pal trying to choose the lesser of evils for lunch.

By now you’re probably wondering why I eat at Dirk’s when the food is so consistently lousy.  It’s a case of simple math:  38-24-36.

Her name was Lola and she was the prettiest thing this side of the Mississippi.  I was madly in love with her.  She wouldn’t give me the time of day, let alone the time of my life.  But she poured a mean cup of java.

“Coffee, McCabe?” she asked.

“Yes please,” I replied, my heart racing in anticipation as she moved her supple, pouty lips once again to speak.

“Cream? Sugar?”

Sugar!  It was the first time Lola had called me that.  How I’ve dreamed this day would come.  It was difficult to hold back from embracing her fondly.  Or was that fondling her embracingly.  Oh well.

But I acted coolly.  I spoke thoughtfully, choosing just the right words to say to my beloved Lola.


What is it about a women that can make a debonair, man-about-town like me so tongue-tied?  What kind of spell can make a man weak in the knees and stiff in the . . .

I can’t help but wonder: “What’s a nice girl like her doing in a place like this?”

Of course, I knew the answer. But Dirk’s was filled with the flotsam and jetsam of the Earth.  Convicted serial killers out of the slammer on good behavior.  Dealers, druggers, bar babes and the lowest form of life of all – door-to-door salesmen.

To the uninitiated, these door-to-door sellers were hard to tell apart from the dealers.  But there are some stark differences.

Dealers shop at Brook’s Brothers.  Salesmen: The Bargain Basement.

Whenever I see one of these guys, I’m reminded of the advice my brother gave me as I contemplated my future in the working world.  He said, “Brewster, don’t worry about failing in any career.  You can always be a salesman.”

I can thank him for my limited success as a private eye because that bit of sage advice continues to terrorize me to this day.

Life as a salesman.  Days, weeks, months filled with mindless chitchat, pitching the ol’ hard sell to poor little old ladies and wearing polyester (ugh!).

Where in the hell do these guys find these suits?

After all, I remember standing alongside the rest of the fashion-conscious free world heralding the demise of polyester suits in the mid-70’s when the leisure suit fad finally died out.

Remember this apparel some people had the guts to call clothes?  In my high school days, we could always tell the “Polyester Princes” miles away because they gave the electric heaters lining the halls such a wide berth.

We even used to chase the school nerd with lighters, threatening to melt him on the spot.  He looked like the scarecrow being chased by the Wicked Witch of the West.

I have no idea where salesmen continue to find these cheap suits.  But I have a theory they all shop at the same place because they all seem to know one another.  They even look like they enjoy recognizing one another from across a crowded room.

This is particularly true at a place like Dirk’s.  A salesman walks into the diner and 30 minutes later he finally exhausts his supply of business cards and off-color jokes accented with obscure punch lines.

I never would have made it selling metal detectors at Radio Shack.

Not that I’m making it as a detective.  But at least I don’t have to ooze all over people and smell like a cheap bottle of after-shave.

A cheap bottle of liquor, yes.  But cheap after-shave?  Never!