Welcome to Hurricane Bay, Florida, where the act of arson isn’t uncommon. When a popular gay bar, the Flaming Flamingo, burns to the ground with bartender Rudy inside, fear rocks the Gulf-side community. Bar owner Peter Rotunda wants to learn who destroyed his business and committed murder. Soon after the incident, Rotunda hires adorable and sexy private investigator Axle Dupree to take the case.
Axle is a fresh private eye with exemplary charm. Not only can he woo the pants off his boyfriend Casey, but also just about every other guy in town. Soon a list of alleged suspects builds: wealthy Laura Monigal, who has a history of arson; mysterious faux-cowboy Clifton Monigal; a Daisy Dukes-wearing circus performer; and a “fluff” romance writer.
As June unfolds, conversations are sharp, road trips into the Everglades become overwhelming, and spying is necessary. But after applying heat to the suspects, Axle learns who the murderer is ... and so much more about his community.
The stranger in Casey’s bungalow was six-three and looked like a character out of a circus. The man’s name was Edgar Sign and he had the longest arms and legs I had ever seen in my life. His handlebar mustache was the color of rust, and his feet were covered in oversized clown shows. He wore Daisy Duke denim shorts and showed off hairy, stork-like legs. His eyes were circled in black paint and his lips were a bright red. Silver daggers hung from each earlobe. A burgundy and velvet top hat sat on his head. Upon my arrival at Bungalow 16, he was relaxed in a big chair shaped like a palm tree. One of his knees was crossed over the other, which told me that he was strangely interesting.
Casey had offered him a beverage but he declined. He looked at Casey and then at me. He scratched his scruffy cheek with one of his dirty looking hands and said to me, “I understand you had a meeting this morning with Margo Pagino. Is this true?”
What business was of it of his to know of my meetings and with whom? I did partake in a whiskey sour, which Casey had prepared for me since he was a master at mixology. The sip went down smooth with a bit of sweet and sour. “I don’t have to answer that question, Mr. Sign.”
“You should?” Edgar was quick to respond, scowled at me, and looked a little bit irritated with me. His eyebrows crooked and like waves.
“Why should I?”
“Gentlemen, stop,” Casey chimed in, neutralizing the moment. “Edgar, say what you need to say already. Stop dragging this out.”
Edgar nodded, locked his stare on me, and said, “I know for a fact that you had a meeting this morning with Bobby Pagino’s mother. I also know that if you are wise, you won’t be trying to find him. Bobby does not want to be found.”
“Who are you to Bobby?” I asked, intrigued with the strange man and all his bizarre gusto. What circus had he traveled with? And just how long was his freak show going to be in town?
“None of your business,” he said, stood and pointed at me. “You are a stupid man who doesn’t know what you’re getting into it.”
“Edgar,” Casey interjected. “Stop with the rudeness. This is Axle’s home. You shouldn’t disrespect him like this.”
My blood pressure rose because of his outburst and I was ready to toss a punch at the fucker, sending his ass packing. I kept my composure together, though, and asked, “Why should I not find Bobby Pagino, Mr. Sign?”
“You may not like what you find.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, curious of his comment.
He rolled his fingers together, nodded, shared a wide grin with me that broadcasted in flaming fire that he was psychotic, and said, “You’ll find out soon. Yes, you will.” After his comments, as if he were on fire, he ran for the door, opened the plane of wood, and bolted away into the evening.
Casey and I sat across from each other, shrugged, and showcased semi-opened mouths, awestruck because the strange moment. We stared at each other with clueless looks smeared over our faces. He was the one who finally asked, “What the fuck was that about?”
I wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. “I have no idea. I’m totally confused.”
“As well as I am. Should we be concerned?”
“He was probably wacked out on meth or something. He’s not the first crazy I’ve had to deal with in my career. A dozen or more cases come to mind on the subject of wackos. Trust me I’m not going to lose sleep over him.”
Casey comprehended what I had just shared, moved up to me, kissed me, and started to undress me.