Miles Mitchell is the Private Eye with the Lifetime Pass to Walt Disney World.

Something lost at the Most Magical Place on Earth, need someone found or followed in Walt Disney World, call Miles Mitchell a Private Investigator with a Lifetime Pass for the place where Dreams come true.

Miles grew up in the parks, knows their history, trivia, and how to navigate them as easily as most people walk through their living rooms.

Follow Miles as he looks for a lost train, helps a couple get married against the wishes of an angry grandmother, conducts fake surveillance, and figures out why some vloggers just cant get along.

Just don’t leave a him a voice mail message to find a glass slipper, your son Nemo, or a black magical feather, he hates those calls.

The Turnaround Case

Anything bad that happens at Disney World easily makes it to the national news within minutes.
Murder is always sure to lead on the six o’clock news.  So, a murder happening at the most Magical Place on Earth was big talk around every water cooler in America the day after the headlines hit.  Add in both the suspect and victims were minor Disney celebrities and the tabloids went nuts.
She was a former Mouseketeer, from 82 to 83, married to the star of two Disney movies, from the Seventies.  They had divorced once but it did not take and they were working on their tenth year of wedded turbulence.  Saying theirs was a hostile relationship would be an understatement. The Jets and the Sharks got along better, in fact the marriage had ended similarly to what had happened to Riff and Bernardo.  She was still alive him not so much.  She was the first and only suspect.

Her lawyers wanted to pay me a lot of money, to look over the official version and see if I could poke some holes in it.  The defense team waved a bunch of money at me and thought I would jump. Typically, I would be a fool to say no. But this was a high-profile case and a lot of eyes were on it and I did not like being near the spotlight.  I avoided public attention like a redhaired freckled face tourist avoids the Florida sun.  But the paycheck was right; big, huge, and enormous.  So, I agreed and signed non-disclosure contracts with addendums and clauses.

The law firm wanted me to read the files first but I waved them off. I wanted to go to the scene of the crime and view it with my own peepers before I started slogging through other people’s impressions.

Now it is said ‘no one dies at Walt Disney World’ and this is technically true.  No one is officially dead until a Sawbones says, ‘that man is dead.’  But for all the adults in the room we know that is just not true.  People are dead no matter where a doc says those four little words.  But hey who am I to disagree with a technicality.

I arrived at the Polynesian Resort lobby to meet my minder, Jerry Waters.  Jerry was the lead investigator for the D.A.s office, a decent guy but he was a company man, and he never let you forget it. I was going to be the metaphorical enemy for this interaction.  We made small talk but I avoided questions about the case until I could see the scene.

We had walked around the outside of the Moorea Longhouse and I saw that Disney had not been asleep at the switch.  Surrounding the end of the exterior of the Longhouse was a tasteful but blocking barrier of moveable shrubs in wheeled planters.

I know all about Disney but I don’t know how they maintained this army of silent green and brown sentinels.  Was there a lone person out there responsible for keeping them trimmed and watered, who turned them occasionally so that they had a nice uniformity of growth.  Inquiring minds wanted to know.

We approached a Disney Security Host sitting in a golf cart, underneath a big umbrella trying hard to look alert while watching the slowing growing botany barrier.  I wondered if he had a watering can; you know to help maintain its lush greenness.

Jerry showed his ID and the bored Security Host dutifully checked his clipboard and had both of us sign in. Jerry produced a Disney card key, that we would use from the interior hallway.  It was the last room on the end facing the water and Jerry told me that Disney had emptied all the rooms beside, across and above it so no one could look into the patio area of the crime scene.

Jerry handed me a pair of gloves which I put on, not bothering to remind him that I was already under strict instructions to touch nothing.  It was pointless anyways the Crime Scene Investigators had already been through the place, photographing, videoing, collecting, printing, and inventorying everything in the room.

I saw that all the sheets and such were missing from the bed and a large section of the carpet had been cut out as well.  No doubt being examined under a microscope at the Orange County Crime Lab.

I asked Jerry to tell me the D.A.’s theory of the crime. I stressed theory to remind him I was working for the opposing counsel.

Jerry looked at me with aloofness as if he had all the answers and I was going to come up empty.  I was under no illusion that I could disprove the prosecutors , but I do like to come up with my own answers.  I am hardheaded that way.  So, I simply listened intently to the facts and set aside his attitude.

“The victim. (He said the name but I for the sake of avoiding sensationalism I will not use it here.)  He had come back from the autograph signing at the Contemporary.


“From all reports, no evidence of anyone else in the room except his wife, the killer.”

“Alleged killer.”  I said, just to continue our verbal jousting.

Jerry sighed.  “The accused, came back two hours later, drunk as a skunk, she had to be escorted back by her assistant.  The deceased was sitting on the patio and the married couple continued their low-level argument from earlier in the evening and the assistant departed. An hour later their argument escalated and she stabbed him with the steak knife that was on the room service tray.   She then cleaned the blood off her hands with the bloody towels and wash cloths from the shower.  She then took off to Disney Springs where she drank until she was cut off from further intoxicating beverages by the staff, then she came back here and called the cops putting on a big boo hoo show for the cops.”

“How did you get the timeline?”

“Well, the door was activated by the deceased’s card key at six p.m., then he ordered room service, a steak which came with the murder weapon.” He paused for dramatic effect. “The statement of the assistant, and then her getting cut off at Raglan Road down at Springs, then her call to 911 from the room. Not to mention temperature of the corpse and rigor mortis.”

“Motive?”  I asked hoping the widow did not have one.

“She found him making out with a blonde fangirl in the Green Room earlier today, which was probably revenge for her affair last year with the pool boy.”

“Ouch.” I said. “Clichésish, but good motive.” And I thought, something the jury would just eat up if this went to trial.

I looked around the room visualizing his account.  Her coming back to the room entering from the patio, him following.  Them arguing about his infidelity, him throwing hers up in her face. Her getting mad, grabbing a knife off the tray on the table and stabbing him, then her cleaning up, and going back out while her husband was bleeding out on the now bloodstained mattress. “So, she stabs him, cleans up, and leaves with him bleeding out on the bed?”

“Have you met her?”

I shook my head. “I have not had the pleasure.”

“Cold.  A real ice queen.”

“Elsa, eh?”

I got a blank look from Jerry.

I shook my head. “Philistine.”  I said quietly.

“What did you say?”

“I said ‘Canteen’ as in enough blood to fill a canteen.” I said, motioning towards the stained mattress.

“Oh.”  Jerry said unconvinced.

“Just one wound?”

“Up through the stomach, nicked a lung, took him a while to bleed out.”

I looked around, the room.  “So, your theory is she stabbed him, washed her hands, left to go drink more, then comes back here and calls the cops.”  I shook my head something was not right.

“The drinks were wearing off but she was still not thinking straight, probably thinking her celebrity would mean she would be believed. Plus, she has a history of violence.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Six separate incidents of her picking up whatever was in reach and either throwing or hitting someone or at least trying to.  And the cops are very familiar with their address in LA.”

“Any convictions?”

Jerry looked a little uncomfortable at this. “No convictions and only two arrests, but all the others were documented they just did not go anywhere, officially.”

I shrugged.

“People were paid off.” Jerry said.

“Now that sounds shaky.”

Now Jerry shrugged.

I nodded and decided that I had seen enough. I bid adieu to Jerry and headed back to the lawyers office to review the file.  This included looking at the crime scene photos and an inventory of the room.  Nothing jumped out at me, the case looked strong from a forensics point of view.  No stray fibers, no unidentified fingerprints, no suspicious gloves, or strange footprints in the bushes outside the crime scene.
No matter what you see on television, hardly any cases are made on forensic evidence.  Oh, it helps to confirm some things, it sometimes eliminates possibilities but usually most cases are made by good interviews and someone messing up or eyewitnesses seeing something.  And forget about the shocking reveal in court under testimony, that is strictly a dramatic TV tool.

I started reading through the statements taken by the detectives.  They had interviewed everyone, including the wife.  I read her’s first.

They only thing that differed from Jerry’s account was the stabbing.  She said her dear husband was alive and well when she left to go get a few more drinks.

I read it through a couple of times looking for something out of place but everything seemed straightforward.  Pausing I got some food brought in, paid for by the law firm, sandwiches always taste better when someone else if picking up the tab.   This is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

While eating my toasted ham and cheese on wheat I read through the Disney Cast Members statements. A few housekeeping statements, the Security Host who responded to the room and checked the pulse of the dead man, who then had the now widow wait outside the room with her until the cops got there just a few minutes later.  Disney seemed to have managed their part perfectly.  The Deputies statement, even he seemed to have done it by the book, then the scene was handed over to the medical examiners office and the crime lab.

After finishing my lunch or early dinner I decided to get into the meat of the matter.  First, I read the statement of the girl the deceased had been canoodling with in the green room.  She freely admitted to being with the much older but charismatic man and getting caught by wife.  She then left after harsh words were said and spent the evening with her friends in the Magic Kingdom.  Her ticket and ride photos from Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion had confirmed she had been in the park the rest of the night, until long after the deceased was stabbed.

I still put her statement off to the side to review at a later date in case something else came up.  My job was not to find a killer, just to create doubt that the client was the killer.

Then I got to Archie the Assistant.  Yes, his actual name was Archie.  I did not believe I had ever met an Archie in person, the only ones I knew were from reruns of All in the Family and the one who hung out with Jughead, Betty and Veronica.

I always liked Betty over Veronica; what can I say I like blondes.

Archies statement was long, so I got comfortable and started reading.  Archie had been with the client for only a short time. He admitted to being a super fan of hers and how big a thrill it had been to be hired to work for her.  He admitted that she was drunk when they left the Contemporary, in fact she was drinking on the monorail. She had carried the cup all the way back to the room and thrown it away in the trash can when they arrived at the room.

I nodded at this. I had known a drunk that carried a two-liter glass growler fifteen blocks in the Netherlands.  He fell down twice and it never touched the ground. Drunks can and have done strange and amazing things.

I made a mental note to check the inventory of the room’s trash.

I continued to read the statement. Archie described how totally blasted the lady was, she had tried to get off at the Grand Floridian because she had stayed there last time Disney had invited her back for one of these Mouseketeer Reunions, he of course stopped her and got her safely to the Polynesian.  He described how the deceased had started cursing the accused out as soon they came into view. He described how the deceased had ordered him to leave after she went into the room crying.  He had been unsure what to do but after hanging outside for a little bit he went to the Ticketing and Transportation Center to catch his bus to the All-Star Movie resort where the accused had put him up at her expense.  He was adamant in his statement he did not believe his most admired starlet could have killed her nasty husband and he believed some crazed fan had done the deed, going as far as to suggest the hussy from earlier.

I put down the statement, looked through the file for the inventory of the room then I called the partner that hired me and told him to set up a meeting with the District Attorney.

We met in one of the District Attorney’s conference rooms the next morning.  The Defense Attorney, the lead D.A., Jerry his investigator, the accused and Archie the Assistant, and little old me.

This was the first time I met the accused; I try and judge everyone by my own appraisal but I agreed with Jerry’s assessment, she was one cold individual.  I suppose it could have been a performance, that was her profession after all, but something told me this was the real person, tightly composed, unflustered, and distant.  Maybe that is why she drank to feel things.  But that was not really important.  I turned my attention to Archie.  He was young and seemed to defer to his boss in everything.  In fact, the only time he turned away from her was when someone was talking directly to him.

After we were settled the barrister who hired me allowed me to take the lead.  I started with the accused.

“So, on the night of the murder you were very drunk.”

She simply shrugged.

“Anyone give you a breathalyzer?”

She nodded. “Once they took me to the police station.”

I checked my notes.  “The test indicated you had a blood alcohol level of .02. I think most people will agree that is not very drunk.”

She shrugged.

“It says in Archie’s statement that you took an alcoholic drink onto the monorail.”

“I do not recall, I had quite a few drinks earlier in the evening.”

“Do you know that alcoholic drinks are not allowed on the monorail?”

She simply shrugged. Her lawyer nodded for her to speak. “I am not sure I knew that rule.”

“Were you aware that they give black straws for alcoholic drinks, it makes it easier for Disney Security to identify drinks and enforce the rules on the monorail.”

She shrugged again but verbally answered as well. “I did not know that either.”

“I know the team that works that station, they are really good at turning away drinks.” It really was not a question so she remained impassive.

Now I turned my questioning to Archie.  “Sir could you read the copy of the inventory of the trash can from the crime scene?” I slid the highlighted document over to Archie.

“One clear plastic cup and one clear straw.”  He read out loud.

“So, in your statement you said she took an alcoholic drink onto the monorail and carried the cup all the way back to the room.”

Archie looked a little confused, then muttered. “I guess I was wrong.”

“I guess you were.” I looked over the statement, then added. “Let’s see if you were wrong any place else.”  I continued from the statement. “You also stated that you had to restrain your boss from getting off the monorail at the Grand Floridian, which does not make any sense. As the resort monorail leaves the Contemporary, then stops at the TTC then the Polynesian.  It does not stop at the Grand until after the Poly.”

Archie looked towards his employer.  She more or less looked through him.   He answered “I guess I was wrong; she might have just said that in passing, that she almost got off at that stop before. I was a bit confused when I gave that statement.”

I nodded.  “Yes, you were confused about that night.”  I quoted his statement. “I left the room by the patio door and walked to the Ticketing and Transportation Center and just missed my bus and sat for a half an hour waiting for the next one to my room at the All-Star Movie Resort.”  I watched Archie start to fidget.

“You did not miss your bus; in fact, you never took a bus from the TTC to your resort because there is no bus service from the TTC to any Disney resort.”

Archie did not know what to do.  He just stared at the woman he idolized and broke down crying. “I did it for you, so you could be free of the despicable jerk, you said you hated him. You said you would be better off without him, then we could be together.”

Finally, I saw the ice queen show emotion.  Mostly shock.  “I never said any such thing. What did you do?”

“You left, you had an alibi, so I came back into the room through the patio door you left open and he laughed at me when I told him you were going to leave him and run off with me.” I saw a big tear run down his face.  “He laughed at me.”

That is when Jerry signaled for the boys in blue to come in and take away the crying Archie.  He shouted as he was handcuffed. “I did it for you, so you could be free of him.  So, we could be together.”

That was three days ago, I got a nice big check from the law firm today and the charges against the former Mouseketeer were dropped and then charges were filed on Archie the Assistant.

It just goes to show you what the Blue Fairy said to Pinocchio was correct.  “A lie grows and grows until it is plain as the nose on your face.”

Other Miles Mitchell Mysteries

The Case of the Unhappy Camper 

The Case of the Unhappy Camper -Audio Version 

The Photos To Die For Case

The Case of the Misplaced Ice Thingy 

The Case of the Distrustful Defensive Defender

The Complete First Collection of Miles Mitchell Mysteries

How High Is Up

Sometimes my cases aren’t really cases at all, they are just using my skills to help out friends.  I am a big believer in karma, doing good has a good return.  You throw out a kindly boomerang, you get a kindly boomerang back.

At least that is the way I was raised.

My friend Daniel is a trusting soul, and I worry about him sometimes.  He recently started dating at really nice girl named Daphne.  Daphne is very down to earth, which is a good contrast to Daniel who is more of head in the clouds type of guy, I really like her.

Millie and I were walking up to Daphne’s house with a stack of pies and in swim gear. We had been over to Daphne’s a couple times before, once for a super bowl party and twice for game night, but this time it was different. This time she was having her family over for a barbeque.  We were there to give Daniel back up as he would be under the scrutiny of her family who was going to be there en mass.  Daniel had already met her parents, and that went well, but this time her brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins would be there as well, meeting Daniel for the first time.

We were early and greeted at the door by Daniel who was looking nervous. We had arrived early to help them set up things.  Daniel and I paired up setting up with the chairs and corn hole in the backyard, while Millie helped Daphne in the kitchen with spoons and spatulas.

I was sitting in the backyard drinking a beer when the guests started to arrive.  Daniel introduced and I made small talk.  Luckily Daphne had hired a caterer to cook hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill so Daniel was relieved of that duty and could concentrate on impressing the relatives.

Everything was going fine, except for Daphne’s nephews. The decided that Daniel was a fun-loving guy who liked to joke around.  As his oldest friend I knew this was not him, he was a quiet guy who was uncomfortable in large groups, and today was no exception but he was putting on great act. But I could see the three nephews, Larry, Darry, and Harry were trying to push his buttons; splashing him from the pool, surrounding him and pestering him with questions, shooting him with nerf guns that they pulled out of somewhere.

I was running interference for my bud as best I could, but someone arrived that changed the dynamic.  Daphne’s youngest brother arrived with his new fiancé. I was in the house when they came in.  Millie and I were introduced to both Peter and Wendy.  Peter was a bright young guy, with a warm smile and a friendly honest disposition but with a slight geek flavor.  Wendy, Peter’s fiancé was small and pretty, just past the line of being cute with long blonde hair that reminded me of something, something familiar that I couldn’t put my finger on.

Once the couple found their way outside to the rest of the family, I saw Daphne give a quick angry look towards the pair.  I was not going to ask what the problem was as I firgured it was none of my business, but my gal Millie felt no restraint.

“Problem with him or her?”

Daphne turned away from the door and looked around to make sure none of her relatives were around.  “A little of both, Peter is a good guy but never really dated a lot, he has always been a bit geeky.  Smart, funny, but geeky, he played D and D all through high school, but he is a great lawyer now, a legal genius makes money hand over fist setting up mergers and partnerships and all.”

“So, what is the problem?”  Millie asked.  I just leaned back and listened while nibbling at the fruit tray.  Millie without even looking pulled the tray away from me while keeping her eyes fixed on Daphne.

“Wendy.”  She looked around the kitchen again for listening ears. “He was dating another girl, real nice, had been with her since college, then blondie shows up three months ago, he breaks it off with Lily, which the family liked, and then last week he asked me about engagement rings.”

Millie summed it up quickly.  “Gold digger?”

Daphne gave the slightest nod.

Millie nodded, then looked at me and simply directed me with a phrase. “Go do your thing honey.”

I looked back and forth between the two women who were looking at me. Daphne in a pleading manner. Millie in an encouraging by direct way.  I shrugged, grabbed another strawberry from the tray which Millie allowed as a reward for acquiescing to her direction.

I went into the backyard and joined the group of cousins, aunts and uncles.  I got into the group that Peter and Wendy had joined.  Luckily, I did not intrude on the conversation as it progressed without me disrupting the flow. Peter was finishing up a story about some sort of business deal and the group turned their attention to Wendy, so I simply listened in.

“So, what do you do Wendy?”

“Oh, I work at Walt Disney World.”

Peter spoke up proudly. “She works for Disney Entertainment.”

Someone else asked what she did, and she promptly answered. “Oh, I am Tinkerbell, you know I talk to little kids and ride on floats.”

There were ohs and ahhs around the group, including a little girl who just looked at her with new fascination.

One of the female relatives spoke up. “I thought your hair looked familiar.”

Wendy smiled. “Yes, all I do is put my natural hair up.”  With that she used her hand and pulled up her long hair and put it into a bunch that formed the iconic bun of the Peter Pan’s best friend. “And I am ready to go meet customers in my little green dress.”

The little girl who had been listening to this was in awe, and whispered something to her mother, the mother nodded.  “Sorry Wendy, I know you are not working. But Abbie wants to know if she can have your autograph.

“Sure.”  Wendy said smiling at the mother but not the little girl.

A pen and paper was produced and Abbie handed it to her. I watched from nearby as Wendy signed the paper.  It was a big piece of paper and I could see she signed it ‘Tink to my friend Abbie.’

After that was done the conversation turned towards other topics and I drifted towards Millie and leaned in and kissed her on the cheek then whispered in her ear.  “Take off your shoes and go stand next to Wendy.”

Millie trusted me enough to not ask questions she just casually covertly took off her shoes and shuffled through the crowd and stood next to Wendy as they were both next to the grill getting a burger.

She came back with a burger which she had no intention of eating and handed it to me and whispered.  “Did that help?”

“Immensely.” I said kissing her quickly on the lips.  I sat down next to Daniel who was eating a burger as well and trying to explain what he did for a living to Daphne’s grandfather.  Selling information about Disney to people on the internet is a vague and nebulous job at best and explaining it to someone who retired before the internet became essential to business is next to impossible, but he was trying.  Peter and Wendy sat down at the same table and I firgured I would ask one direct question of Wendy before I ended my investigation and reported my findings to Daphne.

“So, you work in Disney Entertainment, as Tinker Bell, did you do any other characters before that.

Peter answered for her.  “Actually, my favorite character, she played Tigger.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes, I just loved bouncing around.” She winked and leered at Peter. “I love bouncing around don’t I sweetums?”

Peter blushed a bit at her statement, and I turned away a bit embarrassed at her crassness in front of a total stranger.  I finished my burger and excused myself from the table and helped Millie and Daphne cover up some of the food.  When they went to move some food inside before it melted, I followed along.  No one else was in the house and I motioned for Daphne and Millie so we should talk.

I explained to them what I had discovered, and Daphne said she would have to think about what to do.

We were interrupted by howling coming from outside.  In the yard we saw Daniel chasing the nephews with a pair of nerf swords yelling unintelligibly in anger. We learned the nephews had spiked Daniels burger with ghost peppers, Daniel had coated his tongue with hummus and sour cream and began chasing the little tricksters.

Daphne made her nephews apologize to Daniel and they were punished by their parents.  Daniel was cured with a tub of ice cream and a plunge in the pool. The rest of the day went smoothly, and things began winding down.  The evening came and most everyone had left. Only Daphne, Daniel, Millie, and I remained along with Peter and Wendy.  Everyone was relaxed when Daphne decided to lower the boom.

“So, Wendy, you work at Walt Disney World, that must be some commute to see Peter in Tampa.”

“Oh, it’s not that bad.”

“How lucky for you that your hair is just like Tinkerbells.”

As an outside observer I could hear the trap being set for her but Wendy was currently unaware of the danger.

“Just lucky I guess.”

“So how long have you been playing this part?”

Wendy looked at her. “What do you mean?”

Daphne looked at her sternly. “How long have you been pulling this Tinkerbell crap off?”

“I do not know what you mean.”

Daphne decided to direct her conversation towards her brother. “Did you know that all Disney face characters are required to wear wigs, not a single one of them shows their natural hair in costume, no matter how perfect it matches the character they are playing.”

“What are you saying?” Peter asked.

Wendy spoke up quickly. “I do not know where you are getting your information, but you are wrong.”  Wendy said. “You are just wrong.”

I shrugged again but Daphne nodded for me to disclose what I knew, and I did dispassionately. “Disney Cast Member never refer to Disney visitors as customers they are always guests.”  I could see Wendy getting angry, so I stayed calm.  “That ‘autograph’ you gave was all wrong. All character autographs are basically the same, any friend of a character is trained to do it the exact same way every time.”  I decided to reveal my source for this. “My mother had to do a sewing project where she had to embroider all kinds of Disney Signatures and yours does not match any Tinkerbells that I have ever seen.”

“Well, I was a little off today, that is all.” Wendy sputtered as a desperate defense.

I looked over at Peter who had a bit of suspicion in his face, I gave a little shake of my head.  Daphne nodded for me to continue so I did. “And I have known, plenty of Disney Entertainment people, they are always, ‘friends’ with a character, especially around kids.  It keeps the magic of the characters being real.  They never claim they are the character.

Wendy just sat there staring daggers at me.

Daphne spoke again.  “Also ‘Wendy’ if that is your real name, you are too tall to play Tinkerbell, isn’t that true Miles?”

I shrugged and stated the facts I knew, and the facts I had observed. “Tinkerbell can’t be portrayed by anyone over five foot two inches. You are about five foot seven, Millie is five foot eight. Even if you were slouching you are at least five foot six.”

Wendy looked shocked so I continued. “And there is no way you could have ever been in the Tigger costume, because you have to be a minimum of five foot ten.  Too tall for Tinker Bell, too short for Tigger.”

Daphne spoke up. “I think you are some sort of blood sucker trying to get my rich brother to marry you so you can get his money.  Tomorrow morning, I am going to hire Miles here to do a further background check on you, to see if you are just an opportunist or if you have a criminal record.”

Wendy stood up and turned toward Peter. “Peter take me home right now.”

We all sat there as Peter got up and followed the angry woman into the house and out the front door.

Daphne gave us a forced smile.  “More wine anyone?” She raised her own empty glass. “I could really use another glass,” she sighed “or maybe a box.”

The Details of the Defensive Distrustful Defender

I didn’t like this angle.  I looked around but I could not find a better angle, oh well this would have to do. Click, click, click. I played with the settings and clicked away again, three times again. I looked at the screen, better than I thought. That should do it I thought.  I found an empty bench and made notations in my notebook.  I put my pen away and sat back and took in the day.  It was one of those beautiful sunny winter Florida days.  The temperature was in the high 70s, there was a slight breeze and just a few puffy white clouds moving across the sky.  I smiled; I had a pretty good life somedays. Like today, I was doing work that I enjoyed, I was in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and I had a great gal that I was going to be spending the evening with watching a movie.  I closed up my notebook, put the large rubber band around it and stuck it in my messenger bag, next to my camera. I was still getting used to the bag, Millie had gotten it for me at Christmas and I still was unsure how much to put in it, or where to place things in it.  My old bag had been a black nylon job designed mostly for a laptop, but it was getting kind of ragged, with more repair sewing then orginal stitching.   I was grateful, and it looked really cool, kind of like Indiana Jones, but I was still getting used to it. I walked out to the parking lot and was looking at my phone for where my station wagon was and decided to walk instead of waiting for the tram. I was a few feet from my car when I noticed someone coming towards me through the cars.  “Excuse me do you know where Unicorn is.”  I stopped as the man in typical tourist garb came between the two parked cars, that is when I heard a car come down the row of parked cars a bit faster than normal.  I was tackled into the van, strong hands grabbed me and put a black bag over my head.  After only a few seconds I stopped struggling, when I felt the zip ties go on my hands the sliding door slam shut.  My wallet was grabbed, and they unclipped my bag. Professionals, multiple people, at least four, one the guy in the parking lot, one driver, and two in the back of the van. I was yanked off the floor and put me on a bench seat between two large people and seat belted.  Then a voice. “You will not be harmed if you cooperate and answer our questions, truthfully and honestly.”  The voice was a bland mid-western American accent.  I guessed it was the guy who asked me where Unicorn was. “Well, I would have done that without the bag over my head and the zip ties, so we got off on the wrong foot already. I hope you guys did not break my camera.” There was a pause and then I heard my camera start up and then a few test shots.  “It works fine.” A different voice then the one who initially spoke. “Well, that is good, I am guessing you guys would not have paid for it if you broke it anyways.  Hard to put in a claim with kidnappers.” The midwestern accent spoke again. “Do not think of it as a kidnapping,” there was a pause as he looked at something, “Miles Mitchell, think of it an invitation to a discussion we did not want you to turn down.”  I was about to speak when Mid-Western spoke again. “A Private Investigator, no surprise there.” I was about to say something funny, like ‘take a card, I am always looking for new customers’ but instead I stopped talking and thought.  These guys did not know who I was.  They did not know I was a private investigator, not even my name.  No one had sent them, whatever they wanted me for it was recent, like within the last twenty-four hours, no prep time and with their moves I knew these guys were professionals.  So why did they grab me, I was not working anything high profile or high priced right now.  In fact, the case I was working right now was downright silly and frivolous and of no consequences to anyone but a very specific person.  So, what had I done to make these guys take me on this forced jaunt.  I had the feeling they were telling me the truth about not hurting me, but it is hard to convince yourself that with a black bag over your head. I had been distracted the first few minutes by the bag and conversation now I took a breath and began to concentrate on the movement of the van, making turns and such.  We were already out of the parking lot by the time I was paying attention. I could tell we were stopped, and it was longer than a stop sign, it must have been the traffic light right outside the park on Osceola Parkway and Sherberth Road and we made a right onto Sherberth.  Then the turn around the power substation. Then we slowed down. Traffic? A little early in the day for traffic on this road. Then we turned off the main road to the right. Were we pulling into the dirt road after the substation? Maybe they were going to do some violence upon my person. Then we stopped and continued on, but I realized it was a smooth road.  So not the dirt road next to the substation.  Were we in that private resort right off Disney property?  Well, I was born on property and if this was the end, then I only died a couple miles from where I came into the world.  Not much of a trip from beginning to end, only three or four miles. I could see the headlines ‘Private Investigators Body Found Only Miles From His Birthplace’. See what I said earlier about not totally convinced this not a one-way trip. We made a couple turns, then we backed into a spot, the door slid open, someone said ‘clear’ and I was escorted roughly but efficiently out of the van into the sunlight and into an apartment and seated in straight back chair.  I could tell there were people standing around me, so I did not try anything.  I listened and could tell there was very little furniture in the room or wall coverings because the echo of an empty room.  One side of room was warmer, so I suspected there was a large patio door on my left side, and I was probably facing the kitchen. I decided to speak up.  “Where did the spokesman for your little team go.”  I had not heard him talk since we came into the condo, and I suspected he went to talk to the big boss. “So, you guys been here long?”  There was no response. “You know I can get you a good deal on a drapes and curtains, I know a guy.”  Still no response.  “So is the big boss close by, or did the team leader have to go call him?”  I heard a little bit of shuffling around the room and was trying not to tense in case I had annoyed them enough to forgo their mostly non-violent approach so far.  Being stiff when being hit was shown to increase to injuries, that is why so many drunks survived crashes, whereas awake and alert people got injured so badly, tension. I heard a person or maybe two people enter the room. Then the hood was taken off my head suddenly.  I blinked at the bright light and took in the room.  The guy from the parking lot was on my left and an older women in a dark pant suit was on the right.  The boss and the team leader I concluded. “Mr. Mitchell who is your client?” The team leader asked. “None of your business.” I stated. “But since you know my name, tell me yours.” The team leader looked to his boss, who gave a slight nod. “I am Scott and this is Ms. Gray.” There was a pause. “Who are you working for that brought you to Animal Kingdom today?” I sighed.  How far was I going to go with this?  “I cannot tell you, professional ethics and all that, but what I will say is whatever I am doing has nothing to do with you, or whoever you are working for.” Scott spoke without getting permission from his boss this time. “You were observed in the vicinity of certain individuals numerous times, taking pictures in their direction and then making notations in your notebook.” I shrugged, which is not really hindered when your hands are zip tied together. “I am sure there is a lot of overlap with people and where I was today, the park is not that big, but I assure you I was not taking pictures of anyone, you have my camera, go ahead and check it.” The boss lady nodded to someone behind me.  A younger woman dressed similar to the boss, but in a tan pants suit, a little more forgiving in Orlando sun, she had a tablet and handed it to the boss. I pegged her as tech support.  The boss looked it over and the room came to a standstill as she flicked through the information.  She handed it to Scott who did the same. That is when Ms. Gray spoke directly to me for the first time. “You have an impressive background Mr. Mitchell.” I was not sure how to respond mostly because I did not think it was true. “Thank you?” The unnamed female had been scrolling through my camera.  “The principle is not on here, in fact except for a few out of focus people there are not people on here at all.” Ms. Gray said a simple word directed towards her subordinate. “Explain.” The woman was about to but I spoke up first. “Frogs, I took pictures of frogs today, real frogs, statues of frogs, carved frogs, drawings of frogs.” There was silence for a few seconds as the tech scrolled through my camera. “Just frogs, all dated today.”  The techie said, putting down the camera on the kitchen bar top.  She started looking through my bag.  “No thumb drive either.” “Yeah, I lost my thumb drive a couple of months ago it was a really neat one, it lite up and everything.”  The assembled group who were looking at me with blank expressions. “Sorry I overshare sometimes.” Ms. Gray looked at her subordinates with a look of disgust and slowly started shaking her head.  I knew that look, the look of someone that had to clean up the mess of someone else.  And this was a big mess, a mess that could land people in jail for kidnapping.  Ms. Gray’s unhappiness told me all I need to know about my health for the rest of this meeting, I was going to be ‘okay’.  I leaned back in my seat to get comfortable, feet out, crossed them and put my zip tied hands behind my head. Scott, Mr. Midwestern Accent Man, the lead kidnapper, began to look uncomfortable. The woman who had gone through my camera just looked embarrassed out of association. I decided to let everyone off the hook quickly, because I am just a nice guy and I travel light in life, I don’t carry grudges.  Besides I never knew when I might need a favor from some professionals. I looked directly at Ms. Gray.  “Let me guess, you guys are probably State Department, maybe Homeland Security or some other alphabet agency which is allowed to work on American soil but is not too flashy about it.” Ms. Gray did not react which was what I expected so I was probably right so I continued. “Someone important is visiting Disney covertly, maybe with a very small security team, but you guys are doing a covert overwatch to ensure they don’t do something stupid.” There was a brief flash of surprise on Ms. Gray’s face, very brief but it gave me all the confidence I needed to continue. “The target’s security team spotted me taking pictures, I am guessing they were talking about me on their comms which you guys are eavesdropping on.”  Ms. Gray had regained control over her face not letting me see anything else. “They were going to take action on me, but you decided to beat them to the punch when you saw me being tailed out of the park.” I guessed at this last part, I had not seen anyone tailing me, but then again, I was not looking as I had not done anything lately to warrant any counter surveillance. Ms. Gray held up her hand to get me to stop, but one more question had popped into my head. “So, this tail I picked up sees me get tackled into a van and reports what to the rest of his security team?” Ms. Gray spoke in a perturbed manner. “You are more impressive than your file says.” I simply shrugged.  Then another idea jumped into my head and my mouth opened in shock and I spoke without really thinking about it. “The guy following me, the guy from the target’s security team is working for you also.” Scott spoke up confirming what I had just theorized. “He is going to report back to the security team whatever we want him to.” Ms. Gray walked over to me and motioned for me to put my hands in front of me.  I did and a folding knife flashed into existence and she cut the zip ties, freeing my hands. “Sit here Mr. Mitchell while I confer with my team.  I nodded.  I had been talking enough, I should probably shut my pie hole before I said something stupid.  As soon as they little group left the room I stood up and wandered around the room looking out the patio doors, and then I checked my camera for myself and saw that it was working fine.  My cell phone was nowhere around, they trusted me, but did not trust me that much. A few minutes later they came back into the room.  The tech woman did not return with them, just Scott and Ms. Gray. “I understand you are very familiar with Walt Disney World.”  This was not a question, but a statement. “Born and raised here.” “Indeed.”  She looked uncomfortable but proceeded.  “We would like to hire you as a consultant, a local guide as it were, but you will have to sign some non-disclosure paperwork and you will only be paid in cash, do you understand?” “Cash is good.”  I said simply Ms. Gray looked me dead in the eye. “If you thought the threats about talking about Operation Cashmere were serious Mr. Mitchell, those consequences would be a walk on the beach compared to what I will do to you if your employment with us leaks out.” I gulped. Even the name Operation Cashmere was classified if she referenced it so casually in this setting, I knew this was some serious stuff. “Totally and one hundred percent clear.” “You will be reporting directly to Scott.”  She said this last part and then turned and left the apartment without another word. I nodded and turned to Scott. “So can you guys take me back to my car or what?” It had been two days since I had been dropped off at my car, Scott, no last name given, gave me my cell phone and my wallet and an envelope containing a stack of hundreds.  He instructed me to keep my phone on and answer it when they called, and with that he was gone.  I kinda hoped they would not call again, the less I had to do with the government the better but I knew I was not that lucky.  I intentionally stayed away from the parks so I would not trip over whatever operation was going on.  So, there I was lying in bed at eleven am reading a book on Antarctica and I was interrupted by the phone, I did not recognize  the number but it was a Washington D.C. area code.  I answered it on the third ring. “Meet me at the safe house in an hour.”  The voice of Scott said without preamble. “Good morning, Scott.”  I said being a wise guy. There was silence on the other end. I decided to stay annoying. “And how is your mom?” The line went dead. These government types had no sense of humor. An hour and five minutes later I was back in safe house.  They had been busy, there was a whole cork board up on the wall, with surveillance photographs, a few blown up passport photos, and some printouts.  All with circles and arrows in different colors denoting god knows what because I was not told the code.  There were also maps of each of the parks in each of the corners. Scott was on the phone when I came in and motioned for me to sit looking at the cork board.  I yawned and tried to look disinterested in the display before me. “Things have changed we are no longer simply conducting surveillance; we are going to help the Emil and his son, defect.” “Emil huh?”  I was sure it was not his real name but it was good enough for me. “Emil is going to defect?  Defection are so Cold War.”  Scott did not laugh at my joke. I shrugged no sense of humor. “We need some input on getting our target away from their bodyguards and into a vehicle. “These bodyguards,” I said looking at the muscular gentleman who did not look happy in their passport photos. Scott mentioned they were from a covert intelligence agency that were known for not being nice.  I shuddered. Scott continued.  “We were thinking about doing it in Epcot near the International Gateway.” “Well, that would be the park I would pick, but you are still pretty far away from any vehicle traffic.”  I looked at the map of Epcot.  “I take it this is without the cooperation of Disney Security.” Scott looked uncomfortable.  “We would rather not involve them at this time.” I looked at the board now.  “Which one is your inside man on the protection detail?” Scott shook his head. “You are not authorized for that information.” I rolled my eyes in exasperation.  I sat down and thought while looking at the board. Then I noticed a dry ease board next to it.  I looked for permission to use it and Scott nodded and I wiped it down and began to draw a map from memory. It had taken two days to set this up, almost an entire day do recon and refine the plan. Then another day to get the pieces into place.  It came down to the appetite of a little boy and his love of ice cream.  I looked around where I was sitting, waiting to see if Emil had convinced his eleven-year-old to attempt to consume a Kitchen Sink Sundae at Disney’s Beaches and Cream Resort.  It was a challenge I would have rose to as an eleven-year-old,  8 scoops of ice cream with all the toppings, whipped cream all in a collectible red plastic bowl that looked like Mickey’s pants. I had no comms with the team, no one was going to come to my rescue if the bodyguards got their hands on me.  I had driven my own car on the operation, and I did not know anyone’s name except Scott and Ms. Gray.  They had complete deniability if something happened to me. Not that anything was going to happen to me, this was my home turf, besides, I was just going to draw attention to myself, a diversion. I watched the Emil the hopeful defector, and his son in matching red Mickey shirts with the primary bodyguard walk past my hiding spot near the volleyball court, followed by three bodyguards trying to be inconspicuous.  I joined the parade. I was wearing the exact same clothes I had been wearing at the Animal Kingdom when they bad guys security team thought I was doing surveillance on them.  I had another camera this one with a large telephoto lens.  I was not going to risk my own camera getting smashed by the bodyguards, so I borrowed this government prop with no battery and no memory.  The team did not want any record of what we were about to do. Our little parade would reach Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Parlor for Emil’s four o’clock reservation and when he ordered the Kitchen Sink in the collectors souvenir bowl our plan would kick off.  We already knew that did not have weapons as they had come through EPCOT which meant they had been checked by Disney Security for things that went bang. I held back allowing the bodyguards time to take up positions on the porch near Beaches and Cream and along the edge of the pool, Stormalong Bay.  I had picked this place because of Stormalong Bay.  The pool for the Yacht and Beach Club was immense and impressive, almost a water park in its own right, with a lazy river, and a really long water slide from a beached sailing ship along the lake shore. It was so amazing that Disney had to institute control measures to keep outside guests from crashing the pool, mainly brightly colored wristbands that changed from day to day. I was hoping to draw off two bodyguards, three if I was lucky.  Meanwhile the female agent had checked into the hotel and would be stationed with purloined entry bands for the resort pool so Emil and son could get into the water park directly from Beaches and Cream, stripping them of the remaining bodyguards. Walking the porch between the hotel and the pool area I rounded the corner and made a big show of taking photos of the first bodyguard.  Then I just kept strolling right past the guy. I swear I heard his nostrils flare as I walked by, he mumbled something in a foreign language into his earpiece as I went by.  Right outside entry door to Beaches and Cream was number two bodyguard I stopped, took ten fake photos from about twenty feet away and kept on stepping. I glanced into the water park area, there was the female tech in a modestly cut one piece bathing suit ready for part two as I completed part one of the plan. I could hear muscle head crack his knuckles as I sauntered by.  I spotted number three hired muscle on the porch and did my thing with the camera again and ambled by him.  This guy was quiet which unnerved me a little bit more than the other two, but I kept walking. I was able to take a quick peak over my shoulder and saw I had collected a tail of two gorillas.  Maybe number three was just slow.  I walked with purpose away from the porch towards the boat dock. I hoped to get my new tails on the boat with me, taking them out of the equation fully so they could not chase Emil and his son. Before I got to the boat dock the two muscle bound creeps grabbed my arm.  I did not think these guys were going to be as gentle as the government agents had been a couple of days ago.  Well, no plan ever goes perfect.  I dropped my faux camera and jerked my arm away and started to sprint away not making the turn onto the dock but towards the Swan and Dolphin, I did not want to be stuck on the boat dock with guys who had already put hands upon me.  I hated to do it but I turned my head and saw only one was chasing me, the other one was recovering my fake camera. If all was going according to plan, Emil had navigated through Stormalong Bay, past Hurricane Hannahs and was on a previously parked electric scooter with a pair of oversized sunglasses, a new Goofy hat with ears and Mexican poncho to hide his kid in his lap.  So instead of two people running away, they were going to present as one heavy person on a scooter slowly driving back towards Epcot.  I also had instructed Scott to guide them to drive underneath the bridge towards the Boardwalk hotel instead of up the ramp.  The ramp and the tunnel under the bridge went to the same place, but my thinking was ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ besides no one running away would take a narrow path when a wide-open path was in front of them.  From there they had two options, go back into Epcot, or take the Skyliner to the Caribbean Beach resort.  I like the Skyliner option the best; the father and son could get a quick rest and leave the protection detail behind by a good margin. At least I hoped that was how things were going.  I had my own problems; I was being chased by a bodyguard who wanted answers as to who I was working for.  I was not going to tell him if he caught me, but I had no intention of being caught.  I was halfway around Crescent Lake when I snuck a glance over my shoulder to see if the bodyguard was still following.  He wasn’t.  In fact, I spotted him jogging back the way he came, with his finger in his ear.  Probably getting yelled at by his boss for getting pulled out of position and being told to look for Emil and his kid. I stopped on the bridge to catch my breath and gave a half wave salute to the guy who was glaring at me, he responded with a not so Disney hand gesture. I took a deep breath and began walking towards the Dolphin where I had left my car. I got into my car, checked underneath my seat for another envelop full of hundreds and drove off.  As far as I was concerned my responsibility to the government was at an end.  I did not expect to hear from Scott or ‘Ms. Gray’ again, and any future contact with the feds I hoped would be limited to tax time. But I did hear from federal government again, sort of. I got a plain white envelope with no return address, but post marked for the Foggy Bottom area of D.C. containing a printed article. It seems a task force was assembled by the State Department on the evidence provided by a single eyewitness who was providing huge amounts of firsthand evidence and of human trafficking around the world. I smiled as I assembled an e-mail with multiple frog pictures.  A dad with a daughter who was absolutely crazy about frogs and Disney had hired me to take a picture of every Disney Frog I could find.  I found thirty-five in Animal Kingdom alone.


The Case of the Unhappy Camper

The Photos To Die For Case

The Case of the Misplaced Ice Thingy

The Details of the Defensive Distrustful Defender

The Complete First Collection of Miles Mitchell Mysteries

The Photos to Die For Case


The Photos to Die for Case

I stared out the window to ensure I did not get car sick.  Motion sickness was not usually a problem but I had been sitting in the back of this car for close to an hour reading and the driver was not the best and the rain was uneven making the ride, inconsistent.

“Almost there honey.” 

I turned away from the window and looked at Millie’s beautiful blue eyes and simply nodded. She had that look of love she got when she was putting me through the wringer and I was being ‘okay’ with it.  I nodded happily and smiled back at her. “Glad to hear it.” 

Millie turned back around and continued talking to the uneven driver, Sarah. Sarah spoke. “Now that we are over the bridge it is only five more traffic lights and then three stop signs and then past the green gate, to the green gate.”

Millie spoke with a bit of concern. “You sure you do not want me to plug the address into the GPS?” She said holding up her phone to show it was no problem.

Sarah waved a hand dramatically in response and the car took a little swerve to the right, not enough to hit anything but to make it felt, especially in the back seat. “No darling I have been here a couple of times and I have an innate sense of direction.”

The innate sense of direction resulted in three wrong turns, one which was down a dead-end street.  Luckily, there was very little traffic as we happened to be driving into a tropical storm.  Miles believed their arrival at the address was more due to running out of roads to go down then Sarah knowing where they were going.

Sarah dialed a number on her phone and simply stated. “We are here at the gate please open up.”  There was no response back but slowly the massive ornate metal green gate started to open.  “See no problem.”

I so badly wanted to say something sarcastic and biting but one look from Millie showed she agreed with me, and since I did not want to aggravate her on this trip and my comment would not gain back the thirty extra minutes we had just lost wandering around in a tropical storm, I held it in.  As we entered a large van with several people in the back were departing, I silently wished them well getting them to where they were going.

Why was I riding in the back of a Range Rover on the Gulf Coast of Florida going into the teeth of a tropical storm?  I blame Walt Disney and his love of pie. 

Self Promotion

My good friend Gary, meeting with the Kevin Smith and giving him my card. I regret not taking the day off and meeting a man I admire greatly. But if I ever cut a deal with Disney to turn the Miles Mitchell Mysteries into a series, I will fight to make Kevin my Executive Producer.