Saylor's Goodreads Bookshelf

Saylor's books

Animal Farm
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Great Gatsby
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Little Women
A Tale of Two Cities
The Count of Monte Cristo
Les Misérables
Moby-Dick or, The Whale
The Joy Luck Club
The Memory Keeper's Daughter

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Saint Charles Place Book Excerpt

Publication Slip

Featured Author: M. Saylor Billings
Featured Title: Saint Charles Place. An O Line Mystery #1
  • ISBN Paperback: (13) 978-­‐0-­‐9838061-­‐0-­‐3 
  • (10): 0983806101 List Price: $7.99
  • ISBN Kindle: 0983806110 
  • ASIN: B005FH55BC List Price:  $2.99
  • ISBN eBooks: 0983806127   List Price:  $2.99

    LCCN: 2011912704
    Month/Year Publication: August/2011
First-­Edition Pages: 160
Category: Adult Fiction
Target Audience: General Audience, as well as Gay and Lesbian readers; radio theatre enthusiasts; and readers of M.C. Beaton, Ellen Hart, and J.A. Konrath. 

Saint Charles Place
An O Line Mystery
M. Saylor Billings
Billibatt Productions
This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this
work are a product of the author’s imagination or are
usedfictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or
dead, businesses, organizations, events, or locales is purely
Saint Charles Place - An O Line Mystery
Copyright © 2010 by M. Saylor Billings
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in
any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written
permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied
in critical articles or reviews.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2011912704
eISBN : 978-0-9838061-2-7
Billibatt Productions
Coming Soon from M. Saylor Billings
The Disaster Relief Club: Book 2 of
The O Line Mysteries Series
The O Line Mystery Short Stories
Writing as Lorna Tollison:
Nobody, really, Likes You
A Guide to Insouciance.
This book is dedicated to Raejean
~With affection.

1 July 2006
2 September 2007
3 Sally
4 Antique Carnival
5 It’s in the Garage
6 Dinner and a Plan
7 Chippendale Dancer
8 Item 17
9 Sean Connery’s Wig
10 It’s not about a chair
11 You’re on your own
The author gratefully acknowledges Nina Greeley
for her generosity. It is through her tireless efforts
and encouragement that The O Line Mystery Series
has been brought to print. Thank you.
While the eight or so commuters waited for their public
transit bus, they busied themselves with newspapers, mp3
players, coffee cups, or neck scarves. In turn, heads jerked
up at the passing traffic. Just checking. Casually they
shifted their weight before glancing down at their watches
or cell phones for the time. The wet fog that encircled them
began to dissipate. The dull grey sky awoke as yellow
shafts of light passed between white billowing clouds that
stretched and lulled along. A deep metallic hum announced
the arrival of the O Line bus that would shuttle them from
Ohlone Island into San Francisco via the Bay Bridge.
Michael Chan looked up from his newspaper in time to
see the tall white rectangular bus sail triumphantly around
the bend. He watched his fellow passengers jockey
themselves into a haphazard boarding line. The bus halted
with a jerk and the doors popped open. One by one each
passenger placed a piece of plastic on top of the money
taker, while the accompanying green light indicated
acceptance. Or they would place dollar bills into the
machine, which beeped as they shuffled deeper into the
rectangle. Michael pulled out the three crisp dollar bills
and fed the machine. He moved awkwardly around a
passenger who stood in the aisle at the front of the bus,
unwavering and unconcerned that they were obstructing his
At the next stop, a woman who sat below his strap
hanging arm looked up at him. He maneuvered around to
let her out and took her seat. He sat next to an older man
with stringy long hair and a five o’clock shadow. The old
man was dressed in a flannel tie-dyed shirt and khakis.
“You look like a geriatric hippy.” Michael said under
his breath as he unfolded the newspaper.
“You look like an office coolie.” The older man
retorted moving his lips imperceptibly.
The two men sat unmoving and unspeaking for the next
three stops until they reached the Warner tunnel that would
take them under the Oakland Estuary. When the tunnel spit
them out in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown, they had
made the exchange. Michael folded his newspaper and got
off at the next stop.
As he made his way through the crowded streets of
Chinatown, he unfolded a small sheet of paper he had
cupped in his hand. Slip 23 Cove Point Basin. He rolled up
the paper between his fingers to toss it on the street but then
stopped himself and slipped it into his pants pocket. He
entered the Happy Lucky Café nodding at the staff and took
a table against the wall.
As he pulled out a PDA, a waitress brought over hot tea
and water. He took a thin memory card from his shirt
pocket and inserted it into the side of the digital device.
After his jok porridge was served, he settled down to read
the downloaded classified documents and memos on his
The marina at Cove Point Basin is a desolate looking
place. Aside from removal of the detritus that accumulates
in former manufacturing areas, little care had been taken to
make it attractive to the boat slip renters. There were no
showers, no walking paths, and no security cameras. It
was, in fact, a parking lot for boats. From the bus stop,
Michael walked the half-mile or more to the marina where
he came upon the walking bridge that led past a security
gate to the boat slips. The security gate and number pad
lock looked newer than the bridge. He looked closer at the
number pad and remembered the sheet of paper he had
wadded up in his pocket. He shook his head in frustration,
pulled out the rolled-up wad from his pocket and carefully
straightened it in the palm of his hand. Pressing his lips
together he gathered spittle in his mouth and dripped it onto
the paper. As he gently rubbed the spittle over the paper, a
four-digit number appeared. He typed the number into the
keypad and heard the door unlatch.
Slip 23 contained a shiny forty-foot fiberglass sloop.
Michael wasn’t sure whether to knock on the hull or call
out for permission to board. The smell of diesel fuel and
salty sea air mingled with the scent of the fragrant wild
fennel that grew along the shoreline. He looked down at his
black-soled loafers and at the white fiberglass hull. He
glanced around casually at the other boats before slipping
off his loafers. The lumber was cold beneath his feet and
he picked up his loafers before climbing across the small
span to the boat’s deck. He knocked on the hatch and bent
down to look through the small window on the side of the
“Whadcha lookin’ fer?” The gravelly voice came from
the dock. Michael lost his footing but caught himself on
the small rail that ran along the boat’s edge. He looked up.
Now, the older man from the bus was wearing a curly black
wig with a black captain’s hat perched on top.
“You look like a – ” he paused. Signals and
countersigns slipped from his consciousness. There were
no words to accurately or insultingly describe what stood
before him. Aside from the wig and hat, the older man was
now wearing a wrap-around skirt, something perhaps from
the Polynesian Islands, and a rugby shirt over a fake pot
belly that tilted unnaturally. With his mouth agape,
Michael shook his head, “You just look mentally ill.”
“You look like a wife beater,” said the older man.
“And you’re on the wrong boat.”
Michael stood up and looked over to the sign with the
numbers 20-30 and counted down the row. “No I’m not.”
“Evens are on that side. Odds are on this side. You’re
on slip number 26. You’re so off base I had to come and
get you.”
Michael was infuriated but followed the man to the
correct boat slip and boarded an older looking cruiser.
“You like boats?” He asked Michael.
He handed Michael what looked like two thin arm
sweatbands and growled, “Put them on with the plastic on
the inside. Like this.” He showed Michael his own wrists.
They clamored down the hatch of the sloop.
The old man removed his disguise revealing a bald
head and a medium build under the fake potbelly.
“So it’s easier to dress older than younger.” Michael
said trying to impress the older field agent with his keen
observation skills.
“For me. But for you? With that bone structure you
could go as a woman.” The vocal growl was gone and the
old man spoke clearly for the first time.
Michael was disgusted. It was so easy for these old
white guys to just start off by emasculating an Asian.
“I’m not emasculating you, son.” The old man caught
Michael’s eye. “You don’t think I’d dress up as a woman if
I could get away with it? Grow up.”
Michael said nothing but looked around the boat cabin
as the old man closed the door to the hatch.
“You hungry?” He asked Michael.
“No, I had breakfast,” Michael said but added, “But I
could use a coffee or something.”
“Good, me too. Fix us something.” The old man
busied himself with removing a small panel from the wall.
“This area is turning into a lawless hotbed and it’s going to
get a lot worse. We’ve got a lot to go over.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Nobody has told me anything, just
that bunch of files and memos from the fraud division you
gave me this morning.” Michael said as he opened cabinets
in the galley.
The old man unlatched a portal and aimed a remote at
the boat next to his. Michael heard the muted music from
the other boat turn on and looked up, the old man nodded at
the other boat and grinned, “Always know your exits, son.”
“So,” Michael measured out the coffee grounds as he
spoke, “what do you do here?”
“My job is to make sure information sold to the
government stays inside the government.” The old man sat
down at the galley booth and spread out folders on the table
in front of him as Michael finished filling the small coffee
maker and turned it on. Michael grabbed a couple of
bottles of water, placed them on the table, and scooted into
the opposite side of the rounded booth.
“The reason nobody has told you anything is because
there are only four people who know what’s going on and
we’re two of those people. You’re fairly new to this
business - you don’t have much field background, no ties to
other agents, no financial difficulties, and you’re a digital
forensics expert - so you’re the perfect candidate. Who did
your field training?”
“Agent Cousineau.”
“Ah, Big Cousin.”
“You know him?”
“Sure. He’s one of the best trainers we have. Hands
down.” The old man smiled. “He’s still teaching Moscow
Michael laughed. “Yeah.”
“Look, I’m going to tell you straight off, there are a lot
of ways to make some extra cash with this operation. Don’t
do it, ever. You will get burned.” The old man opened his
bottle of water. “You are going to be the whole of this
operation. You’re going to have to make your own
contacts, informants, your own drops, everything.”
Michael was not happy with this news. “Wait a minute,
hang on, I’m being transferred out of IT? I didn’t put in for
a transfer.”
“No, this a promotion. It’s a career builder.”
“To what, the fraud division?” Michael had worked
very hard to place himself exactly where he wanted to be
and that wasn’t in the lower echelons of the fraud division
of the FBI.
“You’ll be a GS-12 but Elliot will keep you
comfortable. He’s got other accounts to pay you.”
“What about you? What are you doing here? I mean
why not just meet me in the city, at headquarters? Why am
I not meeting Elliot?”
“Pfft,” the old man snorted, “that gossip mill? It leaks
like a sieve. No, if you want a secret known, tell one of
your coworkers; if you want to keep a secret, tell no one.
The files I gave you this morning are for your cover
operation for the agency. It’s your red herring, see? That
cover operation pays for everything we do here.”
Michael nodded his head, but he had no idea what the
old man was talking about.
The old man drummed his fingers on a folder, “This is
the real deal. But now with all this new technology, I’m
falling behind.” He shrugged, “I can’t keep up. I’m from
the analogue age.” The old man shook his head in
frustration, “And I’ve been thwarting these assholes for 15
years. But it’s a whole new ballgame, new players with
new toys. ”
“Fifteen years? And you haven’t caught them? No
The old man looked at Michael in astonishment, but
then grinned and nodded his head. He looked down at the
papers, cleared his throat and said quietly, “There are no
arrests, Michael. This is not a thing, a tort, that goes into a
court of law.”
Michael watched the old man get up and patiently pour
them cups of coffee, “Let me explain from the beginning.”

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