Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chapter 1 of The Case of Financial Woe

Okay folks I am completely out of ideas for the day, thanks to two mile up and back with groceries on my back.   Instead of a film, TV or video game review, would you all be kind enough to tell me what you think of my chapter for my new short story involving a detective series I have been working on for some time now.    Give me some love, people.

Chapter 1

Getting things done is hard in this town. You'd be amazed how many less than trusting spouses I get. I hate married couple cases but they foot the bills. My last client was concerned about his trophy wife Christie. Blonde, 5'10" and legs that JLO would die for. A former second run Chargers cheerleader and exotic dancer. With this in mind, my client thinks the new wife might be moving around on him. She and his son seem to be at odds with each other and it was creating turbulence in the household. He worries his son Billy isn't applying himself, almost time for college and he won't stick with something. He prattled on for another twenty minutes but I was already getting a clear picture. Whether Mr. Brooks CPA wants to admit it or not, something is definitely screwy. On the third day on the job I got my answer.

Tailing Billy so easily, I should give Brooks a discount. The Comfort Inn on Hotel Circle Space is convenient for those family outings to Sea World but it doesn't look like Billy was looking to visit Shamu but an afternoon delight seems to be the order of the day. From the balcony, to the bartop and finally across the couch, I thought Billy was applying himself with vim and vigor. I guess I just haven't been as close to family as Billy and Christie but from the lens full I got, they seem to be hitting it off rather nicely.

With a hop, skip and a jump back to the office I printed out all the sins of the son for the father. I really hate this part. You always warn the client of the wrongdoings and how they really don't want to see the results of their suspicions and they always tell you they will get what they paid for and so on. It always takes the wind out of their sails, causes wrinkles and raises blood pressure. This is his third shuffle through the pictures as he is mildly cursing under his breath. By this point, I am envisioning a quickie divorce, a child out of the house and possibly the will. The dying silence is finally gotten to me. I lean back in my chair, pour us each a glass of rye and slide his glass to him. In one swift belt he downs the whole glass, shivers slightly and slid the glass for another. Topping him off another glass I finally broke the dead air.

"Well Mr. Brooks, where you go from here is of course your choice. I will have my final report and charges finished by tomorrow. Again, I am sorry for this...turn of events" I never really know what to say in these circumstances. I guess, "Maybe if you bought the kid that Transformer when he wanted it, this would happen." wasn't going to cover it, so I remained quiet. The balding man of 52 and 5'8" with the less than stellar physique looked tired, pissed and far too quiet. He finished the last of the whiskey in his glass, slid a check on my desk and stomped out of my office without so much as a chance to give him a receipt.

Well I can always mail it to his address assuming it doesn't became a murder scene in the next 24 hours. This is why I hate divorce cases. The husband takes late nights, the wife is out for extensive spa treatments. Hell the only one not getting the evil eye dropped on them is the family dog because he is either widdling on the rug or licking himself into a pretzel. I look at the check and he apparently felt the need for the bonus expense since it took me less time than a full week. A phone app snap later, I flush my account with a much needed transfusion and settle back with a paperback.

Half way into Chapter 5 of Nero Wolfe I cursed myself for not having my own Archie Goodwin to boss about and make do legwork. Of course I operate out of a rented office, not 300 lbs nor would I say I have a distinguished pallet for consumption. May have to work on the latter. Rolling in at 7 I was looking forward to a dinner with my brother in the hopes he was broken up with that cute redhead and his life was looking as dull and grim as my own when I heard a knock to the outer door and someone slid into the office waiting room. Now if I was a hard boiled detective from the dime novels I would have a fetching secretary prep a cup of coffee and take down all the person's woes and problems. I don't. So I slid my suit jacket on and straightened my tie and with a sigh I headed to the door. On my shabby green Ika three seater couch was a young woman dressed like she should be in La Jolla attending a galleria exhibition. With long legs modestly surrounded by whisps of silk, a dress of coutre and a matching handbag I blinked and wonder if she got the right office.

Occasionally I get my neighbor's clients by accident or they got turned around in spite of my name and job description itched in gold. Really hate that dentist, the smug bastard. "Can I help you?" Apparently I startled her from whatever was roaming in her head because she spun around like a deer caught in the headlights. The deep brown eyes gazed up at me with no so much fright but woe. "Are you Mr. Malone?" "Yes I am, Ms.?" "Dietrich. Cathy Dietrich. Can we talk in your office? This is extremely delicate."

I opened the door and ushered her to one of the two wing-back leather chairs. They cost me a pretty penny but worth it. Plus those wooden chairs were pretty battered even before they were destroyed. "I'm in a serious bind, Mr. Malone. I was in investments with a firm called Money Manages with Chet Baker and well.. I was seeing decent profits from it and... I held up a hand and stopped her. "So you dug deep and invested big. Next thing you know, the firm crashes and you are out of funds, a letter or email apologizing and now a disconnected number. Close?"
Ms. Dietrich looked stunned "Well yes. Just like that. Can we do anything? My lawyer says they cannot bring up any lawsuits because they don't have a physical address anymore and maybe a detective will cost more to find them than the money I lost. I don't agree."

I leaned back in my desk chair mulling it over. "I'll need more information than that. Maybe a picture on your investor, his previous address would be a good start." Dietrich fishes in her expensive purse drawing her Iphone out. "Can you print this?" Sitting next to Cathy for a selfie I see a smug brunette with a bright toothed grin, scheming eyes and a flashy suit material that looked like something you would wear in the clubs...in the early nineties. "Okay now the hard questions." "Excuse me?" " You see Ms. Dietrich, my clients come in, drop the proverbial bombshell in my lap and I listen until it is time to act. However I can sense you are not quite done unburdening your soul. SOoo were you and Chet close at all or purely professional?" Cathy slumped into the chair and let out a long built-up sigh. Her features went ten years older and I was hard pressed to guess her exact age. "No Mr. Malone I wasn't very professional at all. I was lonely, Chet was young, fresh and said all the right words. I promised myself I wouldn't fall for him but he was very charming and so confident and now I just feel like a complete and utter fool. Please just find him, get my money back and see to it the police have his little carcass for the inmates to play with."

Hell hath no fury. I keep seeing it time and time again. Well I have enough to work with and she has been pretty upfront with me. "Alright Ms. Dietrich, my services are $350 a day, plus expenses and a two day minimum. I will text, email or phone you with updates and I will remain on the case so long as we stay within the confines of the law. Understand I am not a mercenary, hitman nor a informant for a hit to happen so.."
Cathy look shocked. "Mr. Malone..I...I," "Don't worry Ms. Dietrich. I am not suggesting you were planning that. I am just covering my tail with a business contract." Her worry lines started to decrease and I really didn't think I would be combing through VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) to find this clown. "Alright Ms. Dietrich I have enough to work with. I will get started immediately and give you an update as soon as I have it." She smiled with a warmth of satisfaction of purchasing a new car. "Thank you again Mr. Malone. I'll talk to you soon I hope." With that, she stood up with a renewed vigor and I saw her through the doors. With the picture, Google and a bit of police contacts I am looking at most maybe 3, possibly 5 hours of computer crunch time.

AFIS (Automatic Fingerprint Identification System) would be handy if I got a few fingerprints from this prick so looks like a quick stroll over to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center), list potential priors, his M.O. And let my fingers do the walking. What? You thought I was going to bust down doors with bravado and a sullen stare down? Crack the heads of the informants in shady bars until they gave me a name? Yeah last I checked I am not Spidey or Daredevil so we'll go this route. Kicking back in my office chair with a glass of rye, I start peeling away at this schmuck's records and it is reads like a need for an exorcism. Frankly if I'm not sure if I should just knee cap him or send the IRS after him. Chet or Raymond Mezrich, age 36 has some different holdings around town but when you start breaking down from lack of water and electrical, these are either open lots or warehouses. Well you can always set up shop at a warehouse. Dietrich described the place he was at Oceanside sounds like a rented furnished house with all the trimmings.

So predator takes prospective clients in the dragon's den if you will, shows off all the props include a high end high performance sports car (rented), fake Rolex or Omega and glam suits he got overseas from some poor kids working themselves to death in a sweatshop. That's good for the marks digging into their piggy banks but what about the high maintenance divorcees and widows accustomed to the finer things in life? He has to have an amount of petty cash or business credit cards so...he will still need at least a billing address. Okay there's were we'll get answers.

Going over the notes that Ms. Deitrich left, I notice how thorough and detailed they are. Makes it all the more impressive this viper got his hooks in her. The calfskin notebook she left me filled with particulars, highlighted fine points and a few overemphasized exclamation points of what she should do to his genitals. The calthader lined with cayenne pepper was quite disturbing. After 20 minutes of perusing these meticulous hand written notes, she goes on to say what a time she had with "Chet" at Eddie V's. Ugh La Jolla again. I swear there must be a breeding ground for these opportunistic jagoffs with great credit ratings. I could get arrested in La Jolla. Afford a dinner, a show and maybe hit a club and I am out a grand easily. Okay it is not the mecca of greed and misfortune but getting close. I decide to close up the office, leave Chula Vista and go snag my parabolic microphone from my place.

Even since that "incident" I had to relocate from Chulie to University Heights. It gets crowded on the weekends with all the young partiers, antique nuts and street performers but my rent is reasonable, my neighbors are decent hard working folks and it's kind of nice living up on a hill. Fresh ocean air every morning buuuut...the crows and morning doves rousing me from sleep is still something to get used to. My neighbor is out with her service dogs for a walk. Sweet woman who enjoying retirement but like every retiree they just find something else to do.

After I check the hall closet's false wall I snag the microphone and place in it a gym bag. I strip down to grab some more chic look of chinos, deep gray dress shirt, gel my hair and grab my Wayfinders to complete what I affectionately call...the douche disguise. Thankfully with the classic Charger I can now blend in.

Gone o gone is the way of my LTD but that is the inevitable change. With the mic aimed low I can just look as though I am an idiot trying to get my smartphone to work. The modern day quest for fire expression.

20 minutes later and a 10 dollar valet to park the Charger, I head into Eddie V's and make a beeline to the extravagant bar. Cosmos,single malt scotches and martinis ranging from 15 to 20 bucks a pop signifies to me, I am so not in this income bracket and probably never will be. My bartender Dave roughly about 6'3" sandy blond hair in a man bun and at least 250 sculpted muscle. Seriously does everyone in this town hit the gym more than me? I run every day and do some light conditioning but this guy looks like a forgotten Greek god. This is so depressing. Dave chats up some well-dressed divorcee cougars that look like they will either take turns ravaging his chiseled bod or jump him simultaneously when I flag him down for a drink. Dave smiles a bright white yet fair grin at the ladies as he comes over to help me out.

"What can get for you, my man?" "Um an ounce of charisma you got going there. I think they want you across the bartop." "Yeah that is a bit too common here. Thanks for saving me." I snickered slightly and got some Chivas Regal on the rocks. Dave returned and it's go-time. "Hey man, you seen this guy around? We got talking about investments and then dummy me forgot to get his number. He seemed to treat this like it was his haunt. Can you help me out?" Dave glances down at the screen and goes all rigid. "If I were you, I'd steer clear of that jagoff." "Really? So I shouldn't be dealing with this guy?" "Nah bro. Word is he's like a massive dick that swipes money of rich men and plenty of chicks left and right. No real proof or anything but I think its like pyramid schemes and crap like that." I decide I have beaten around the bush long enough. "Okay Dave you seem to know this jerk and I really need to zero in on him." Flashed my credentials and told him how he screwed over my widow client and Dave's eyes narrowed. "Okay bro, yeah he shows up here for lunch so you just missed him but he always makes his way back around 9 to check to the top shelf hunnies roaming about. He's such a sleaze but he doesn't cause any scenes or acts up here so we can't ban his ass."

"Dave, if I leave you my card can you buzz me the minute he is in?" I slip him a fifty with the card. "I'd really appreciate it. With any luck you won't have to see this prick ever again," Dave snags the card and slides the fifty back. "Bro, I am so totally doing this for free." Dave navigates back to the cougars topping them off and offering a bit more conversation, I finish my drink, leave a twenty for his time and set back to the Charger.

Okay a date with a douche. Well I better look the part of a patsy then. Time for that horrific suit Tom gave me, some loafers and a goofy expression.