Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire
by Malcolm R. Campbell
Vanilla Heart Publishing
Mainstream humor with a dash of mystery… A throwback to Hollywood’s film noir reporters, Jock Stewart is out of touch with the looming world of digital journalism.
While Stewart goes out of his way to mock those in authority by pretending to kowtow to them, he admits he does his best work by “being an asshole.” A mix of Don Rickles and Don Quixote, Stewart is the man for the job when the skirts are up and the chips are down.
Hard-boiled reporter Jock Stewart wakes up on the morning after the Star-Gazer office party with a hangover and an old flame in his bed and he cuddles up with the mayor’s wife in the back seat of a 1953 Desoto. Between these defining moments, he investigates the theft of the mayor’s race horse Sea of Fire and the murder of his publisher’s girl friend, Bambi Hill.
Stewart discovers the truth for his news stories via an interview style based on lies, pretense and audacious behavior.
Coral Snake Smith was sitting in his favorite booth at the Purple Platter when Jock got there at 11:45 AM. Smith, who suffered disfiguring burns as a child, ended up with a ruddy, red and yellow complexion that made him unfit for any career other than crime or psychiatry. He dabbled in psychiatry until the review board questioned why 98.6 percent of his male and female patients were diagnosed with an Electra complex. Subsequently, he practiced crime without conviction.
Now he described himself as a storyteller, an information handler, and an unidentified source. Those who trusted him believed his word was well worth the price of a meal, hash browns scattered and smothered and a Denver omelet. Others hypothesized that he was a stool pigeon.
Jock sat down on the far side of the duplex table and ordered two usuals when the waitress stopped by after a long vacation on the far side of the near-empty dining room.
“Dawn will turn on her hustle when the church people get here,” said Smith.
“True,” said Jock.
“You could have washed that coffee off your face and put on a clean shirt,” said Smith, “unless you were sent packing out of your own house.”
“Why do you say that?”
Smith picked at an itchy place on his face where the hairs in his beard grew in on themselves along the edge of a yellow band. “Red and yellow kill a fellow,” the guys at the paper always said.
Dawn set down two breakfasts that looked like they were cooked yesterday. Smith poured stripes of ketchup across the top of his omelet, and then offered Jock the squeeze bottle. Jock declined.
“I say that because sources close to the action have confirmed that fifty-two percent of those attending the Star-Gazer office party last night danced with those they didn’t bring.”
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After working as a college journalism instructor, corporate communications director, technical writer and grant writer for many years, Malcolm R. Campbell published The Sun Singer in 2004 and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire in 2009.
Campbell’s articles have appeared in Nostalgia Magazine, Nonprofit World, The Rosicrucian Digest, Quill & Scroll, Training and Development Journal and the former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday magazine.
He is a contributing writer for Living Jackson Magazine.