Vacation is a chance for most people to get away, but for Gregson… it was a reminder that he still had a nose; he was a connoisseur of crime. Sometimes, the best wine is opened last; he was hoping that the South American Shop would give him a taste of his former self. As detectives age, they are like a collection of memories, evidence of a life they chased and solved, but there are always those mysteries that remain open, and Gregson was beginning to accumulate those. It made him feel desperate, desperate for more, at the end.

When the twin prop plane landed, Gregson squeezed between the seats in his hula shirt and oversized cargo shorts; his Stetson was planted firmly on his head.

A taxi driver in a classic Mercedes was holding a sign. GREGSON. “That’s me.” The driver’s olive skin and coffee brown hair, complimented his voice.

“What are your plans in Rio?”

“I’m looking for a bomber.”


“Private Investigator.”

“Oh, you should meet my cousin; he designs the tips of bombs. You know, the one that finds New York or Los Angeles; works for the Russian government, but he’s currently based out of Havana. Do you know the city?”

“Yes—fine women; they’ll steal your money, if you’re lucky, and not your life.”

“Yes, that’s about right.” The taxi went through traffic, between electric bicycles, and sellers. Gregson longed for the beach, but work had to intrude.

The shop was coming up on the right. “Will you wait?”

“That’s what you pay me for.”

Inside the South American Shop stood a man, at least 6 foot 6. He wore clothes that were half black and half white. His skin was black, but bleached by discolorations. His hair was curly, but it had been straightened.

“How can I help you?” He said with a Portuguese accent.

“I’m looking to remove a curse.”

“Oh, I see. Most of our weight-loss products are in the back, but I should warn you, you’ll spend half the time on the toilet.”

“Not weight-loss products. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m tracking down a bomber; he uses mercury switches; do you have an antidote?”

“We don’t sell explosives.”

“But you deal in them.”


“What connection does your shop have with the one in Chessfield Park?”

“Oh, that belongs to my brother. He got himself mixed up with some rich people who run an experimental clinic on an island in the Caribbean. I wouldn’t poke your nose around those people. Magic and bio-engineering left them with no soul.”

“Thanks for the tip,” Gregson said. “Do you have something for the common headache?”

“Yes; Advil. 14.95 US.”

“Where’s the clinic?”

“It’s located on a small island, off the coast of Cuba, in international waters. The governor is a queer fellow and is seeking sovereignty as an independent country. The US and Cuba have not granted his request and rumor has it that he threatened both superpowers with voodoo, which had gotten great laughs. You want to talk to Captain Jack, if you wish to go there. He’s a Brit, but not very sophisticated.”

Gregson paid the man and left for the island.

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