There are eight million stories in the rainy city I inhabit.

Naomi Price had walked into my life on a slow weekday afternoon looking for help. Her uncle had owned a massive assortment of comic books—over one hundred and fifty thousand to be precise—before he passed away and left them to her. Naomi had come to my store, The Comics Clubhouse, in Seattle’s University District, with questions about the value of her uncle’s collection. I found myself hijacked not only by her long, blond hair and her easy smile but also her uncle’s comics.

In our first meeting, Naomi revealed her uncle had once shown her an Action Comics #1 among his acquisitions. When I told her that it could be worth more than a million dollars she was shocked. The problem was…this million-dollar find appeared to be missing.

I thought a road trip to show off the collection was warranted. We would visit some of the other local stores in the area. The trip would include my good friend Jimmy and Naomi was bringing her boyfriend, Richard. I didn’t know this trip would lead me to become more deeply involved in something that had dark undertones.

The morning of the excursion, I was walking to my store to wait for the others when I saw Wong, the owner of Wong’s Chinese Food Emporium standing outside his front door smoking his morning cigarette.

“Wong you know those things are gonna kill you, right?”

He blew a smoke ring into the air above his head. “Ha Alex, you’re a funny guy. My grandfather smoked into his nineties and died a peaceful death in bed. With his mistress.” Laughing, Wong dropped the butt to the sidewalk, then ground it out under the toe of his shoe. “Can we expect you for lunch?”

“No, I’m driving to Tacoma with Jimmy and some others.”

Wong smirked, “My grandchildren’s college fund will suffer, but you enjoy your inferior lunch.” And with that last shot, Wong went back inside the restaurant.

My stomach growled at the smell of the Chinese food filled air while I continued my early morning trek on the U-district’s sunny sidewalk.

I was inside The Comics Clubhouse when Naomi and Richard arrived. They were walking hand-in-hand as they rounded the corner, deep in conversation.

I tamped down the hint of jealousy that was threatening to peek out. Then when they passed into the shadow of the building, for just a moment the world turned noir and the couple’s demeanor altered. In the dim light, I thought I saw Richard grip Naomi’s arm as if preventing her from running away from him—or toward me for help. I blinked the way you do when you can’t believe what you’ve just seen. Had I really seen that?

Among the planned stops was Wicked Words and Pretty Pictures— owned by my ex Cyan Bloodworth. This was going to be an intriguing day. One I hoped I survived.

My name is Alex Carter. The Comicbook Detective.

Wondering what happened to Dayzee? She’s moved over to Patreon to help fund my upcoming book, “The Comicbook Detective.” Want to read more? Be sure to check Dayzee’s Ramblings on Patreon/albclover and help support my writing.

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