My chest was still sore from the two bullets I took at the courthouse during Ralph Flagg's sentencing. Bulletproof Kevlar vests may protect you from having a bullet rip through your body, but not from the impact, it hurts. Take my word for it; I was hit in the chest twice now, once in Vegas and now here in Michigan. My poor little Palm Treo cell phone stopped the bullet in the Vegas desert, it wasn't a Kevlar vest, but it prevented me from dying. The two bullets from the courthouse, that the Kevlar stopped, were now part of a plaque on my wall, next to the plaque with the bullet and cell phone from the Vegas shooting. I expected more plaques on the wall, not because I liked to get shot, just having them there meant I wasn't killed.
I sat in my office, devoid of clients, playing Sudoku on my Palm TX for the millionth time and wondering if this was all worth it. I had been almost killed three times and because of my investigations, the love of my life, Penny, had come close to harm also. I put the Palm down and looked at my door, still lacking the flashing lights I thought about putting around it, to make it look more like Las Vegas. I was wondering how Deacon and Lynn were getting along in Vegas, I hadn't heard from them in a while. Deacon looked so cute following after Lynn, when we met her investigating the showgirl murders. Like a puppy in love, well, more like in heat.
I was thinking about going to the computer on my desk to play Mah Jong tiles, when my door opened, startling me. I half expected either Trapper or Buck, but the person who did come in was a welcome sight, a gorgeous red-head. I figured she was a left over from the now closed call girl business upstairs, she just hadn't heard that the police shut it down yet.
"Mr., Richards?" she said in a silky smooth voice, very slightly nasal, but dreamy.
"Yes, may I help you?" I replied, standing up.
"I need your services." she asked.
"Please, come in, would you like some coffee?" I asked, she said no. I continued, "Well then, tell me what it is you need exactly."
She was about thirty-something, medium height, slender, well dressed, subdued red-auburn hair and beautiful chestnut colored eyes. She went to the client chair as I pointed it out, we both sat, she crossed her slim, attractive legs. Her beautiful face had a distressed look now, sad, yet she looked somewhat irritated.
"I'm in need of having my husband watched to see what it is he does during the times he's not with me." she said.
"You want him followed to see if he is cheating on you?" I asked.
"Well, yes, I guess I do suspect him of cheating, but mostly to see what he is up to. I suspect he maybe planning on divorcing me and I want to be prepared. Do you understand?"
"Oh, yes, get the jump on him and his holdings." I mused.
"Then you do understand." she said with a coy little smile.
"Quite clearly now, I'll need some information on him," I said as I handed her my rate card, "These are my fees, you decide how much you want and I'll go from there."
She studied the card for a moment then said the full treatment would be fine; she wanted all information on him. She opened her purse and took out two hundred dollars in fifties and handed them to me for the advance, then I handed her a pad and pencil.
"Would you please write down any information about him to help me get a feel for his movements or activities? List places he goes, where he works, any habits he may have, favorite drinking hole, maybe a few friends and where I can find them. I'll also need to know where he banks, the ones you know of, and names of any lawyers he may have." I said.
She busied herself writing a book, and then handed it to me. I saw his name was David Paul. I asked if she had a picture of David, she took one out of her purse and handed it to me. He was a very handsome man; I could see women tripping over themselves to get to him.
"Why do you feel David may divorce you, Mrs. Paul?" I asked.
"Please, call me Rene, well; he's been moving little things out of the house, his personal items, books, papers, things like that. Then he took out his jewelry without saying anything. I usually don't check his drawers, but I looked the other day and his jewelry was gone." she said.
"He's removing valuables then?" I asked.
"Yes, like he's preparing for something."
"Could he be pawning the jewelry to pay gambling debts?" I asked.
"David has never been involved with gambling. We were in Las Vegas for a week and he never once went in the casinos to gamble. He doesn't trust games of chance. Too risky he says."
"OK, on the subject of cheating, does he show signs of having a mistress?" I asked.
"He has changed a bit in that respect, the way he's happy all the time, not like he was a few months ago. He's different, and spending more time away from home, staying late for work, things like that." She took a hanky from her purse and dabbed her eyes.
"Mrs. Paul, you're a very beautiful woman, why would he want to divorce you?"
"Thank you, Mr. Richards, but beauty isn't always something a man can hold on to, a healthy relationship is important, too. I thought we had one, but it seems he wants more."
"Do you think he may be planning a divorce to be with this other woman, if there is another woman?"
"I was hoping you could tell me that," she said quietly.
"Of course, I'll be checking on him as soon as possible, and give you my reports." I said.
She stood and said, "Thank you, Mr. Richards; I'll be waiting to hear from you."
I gave her my business card and said to call me if anything occurs that may help. She said she would and left.
I sat back and read the pad she wrote her husband's info on. He had a busy life; work, he was an account executive for a major bank, and he loved sports. He was a huge Detroit Tigers fan, had season box seat tickets. Never missed a game when he could attend. He drove a Cadillac CTS and owned a boat. Loved to fish and went out most weekends to Lake St. Clair. He belonged to a gym, went three times a week. When did he find time for his gorgeous wife? Shame really, she was a knock-out. But as she said looks aren't everything. I stared at his picture, getting his face in my head so I could identify him later. Could Davey boy be fooling around?
My door opened again and in walked a matronly woman, probably in her late fifties, but youthful looking. She was well dressed, had money by her demeanor and she was leading a dog on a leash.
"Are you the detective?" she asked with an air of snootiness.
"Last time I looked at my license, I was."
She just looked at me, scrunched up her face and said, "Are you serious?"
"I can be, what can I do for you?"
"I'm Mrs. Elizabeth Truedell; I need protection, a bodyguard if you will. Do you provide that service?"
I thought of Buck and said, "Well, Mrs. Truedell, we have in the past, yes. Is this for yourself?"
"Oh goodness, no. This is for Mr. Bennington of Sydney," she said like I knew the guy.
"Is this Mr. Bennington able to come in so I can talk to him?" I inquired.
"Mr. Richards, you can't talk to him, he's my dog," she said, seeming to be annoyed.
I looked down at what I recognized as a Terrier breed, acting as snooty as his master. I suddenly realized the dog had on clothes, a small jacket, making him look dorky. I told her to have a seat and tell me more.
She sat and continued, "Mr. Bennington is an Australian Terrier, and he is a show dog of careful breeding and training. I need to have him watched carefully, there are person's who would like to see my Mr. Bennington not make it to the AKC dog show next week. I've had threats already, they started this week."
"How did you receive the threats?"
"By phone, a gruff voice said it would be a good idea to stay away from the show, or else." she said.
"Or else what," I asked.
"He didn't say, he just hung up after that." The dog sat up for her as her hand went to him. She scratched his ears and patted his head. "So can you provide Mr. Bennington with protection?'
I tried not to laugh and said, "I'm sure we can, I'll talk to my associate and see what kind of schedule we can set-up. I'll need more information from you." I handed her the pad and pencil and asked her to put down names, addresses and dates of the show, along with anything else I should know.
While she was doing that, I looked at the dog; he just took a crap on my carpet.
"Buck, you feel like doing a job for me?" I asked him when he answered the phone, sounding like I woke him. This was good because he would be groggy and agree to watch a dog.
"Well, is it a good-looking babe I have to watch?" he said, figuring I wanted protection for a client.
"Sorry, it's a male from Australia, but he has beautiful eyes and a nice shiny coat of fur." I said.
Buck was silent for a bit, and then asked what the hell I was talking about. I told him the whole story and he laughed out loud and long.
"A frigging dog? I'm going to watch a dog to see it gets to a dog show without being kidnapped or murdered?" He was still laughing.
"It's $300 a day, for a week." I said.
He stopped laughing, "When do I start?"
"Come by tomorrow morning early, I'll set you up. I told the dog's owner to go to visit a family member tonight to avoid the threat. She agreed, but said she would need to get back to her life tomorrow, back to her business. She owns a chain of dog grooming vans that travel to people's house to do the grooming, freeing up dog owner's lives for better things. This world is getting sad." I said.
He snorted, and then laughed again, I liked Buck's laugh, it was infectious. He said he'd be in by 9 a.m. and ready to poop scoop. I smiled and said that wasn't necessary, she had assistants to clean up after the dog. He said good-bye and hung up still laughing.
I sat back in my squeaky desk chair thinking about dogs and cheating husbands. I guess they aren't much different, dogs and husbands both go sniffing after any female of their own species. I pulled the pad over and looked at both the dog protection list, and the cheating, possibly divorcing husband list. I slowly worked my plan for tomorrow in my head and called Trapper.
After a couple rings, he came on, "What do you want now, Richards?" he said after checking his caller I.D. and assuming I wanted something, which I did.
"Just a tiny favor, that's all," I said.
"You mean even tinier than giving you a Kevlar jacket that saved your life, favor?" he smirked.
"OK, that was a big favor that I will probably never live down. I just need a small favor that won't take away much of your busy life of fighting crime." I said.
"What?" He was brief.
"I have a husband going to possibly divorce his wife and quietly sneaking valuables out of their house. Can you run a check on him for me?"
"Is the wife good looking?" he asked.
"A doll, red-head, great legs and thinks hubby has a mistress." I answered.
"It never fails; they all go for the other woman. The grass being greener thing. Men can be so stupid." Trapper was eating this up.
I knew he liked red-heads, being as he claimed he was Irish, and in the past has mentioned he liked the fiery haired beauties.
"OK, if I agree to look this guy up, and if he turns out to be a hardened killer, you get to collar him, I get to console the wife." I could almost see his grin through the phone.
"I don't care, as long as she pays her bill." I said, "I don't think he's a hardened killer, he's a bank executive and loves the Tigers, boating and fishing."
Trapper was silent for a bit, then said, "What's his name?"
"David Paul." I answered.
"Got an address?" he asked. I said yes, and gave it to him.
"I know this guy, I actually know this guy. The guy with two first names. About three months ago, he was hauled in for propositioning an undercover cop posing as a hooker during a sting. He was real friendly and talked about his love for the Detroit Tigers, boating and fishing, and how he could get me a loan at five percent on a mortgage. He was really drunk at the time, so I knew he was lying about the nine percent. He was out the next morning, pleaded and paid a fine. He went on his merry way, back to his life.?
"Great, does he have any other skeletons in his closet?" I asked.
"Well, some blond came in after he was arrested and he made his phone call. She wanted to bail him out, but he was too far gone drunk to leave, finally passed out. We told her to come back in the morning, and she did, to pay his fine. She was not a red-head." Trapper offered.
"Wait a minute; you're homicide, so how did you happen to be working vice to arrest him?? I asked.
"The sting was huge and I was on shift, they were short so I got volunteered to process the johns. Besides, I like working vice, I get to see all the nice hookers that are hauled in." He was smiling, I could tell.
"Takes you back to the Las Vegas days and the hookers in the back cells, huh, stud?" I cracked.
"You got it sport. I had a good thing going there, until Weber caught on."
"You were a pimp, weren't you?" I joked.
"I never made any money on it, just lots of favors from the other cops who indulged in my little escapades. The girls made the money; I just looked the other way and collected IOUs." He was grinning again.
"Well, if you could look the other way and get any further info on David Paul, I'd appreciate it," I said.
"I'll squeeze it into my busy schedule and fax it over to you, I can't get out today, the Captain is hanging around the office. I think he's bored and came here to bug us. Later." He hung up.
I was debating whether to start going after David Paul or wait till I heard from Trapper's background check. I took the latter, packed up my stuff and decided to go home early today. Buck was coming in tomorrow early and Trapper probably wouldn't have anything for me till tomorrow, so call it a day. I'm going to see what trouble Penny has stirred up for me.
I drove into the drive and parked, Penny wouldn't expect me to be an hour early, so the door wouldn't come flying open with her there to greet me. I went in and yelled that I was home. Penny came flying out of the kitchen wearing a bikini. I was a bit stunned, my mouth just hung open and she rush to me and gave me a big hug and a sloppy kiss. I backed up and looked at her; she could really fill out a bikini for a fifty-eight year old woman.
"Are you going swimming out in the lake?" I asked.
"No, I have something better to do. You're home early, lousy day?" she asked.
"Actually it was good, slow but good. I have two new clients, I'll tell you about them later. First I want to know about the bikini."
She smiled and took my hand and led me to the back porch. In the middle of the room was a stripper pole. She finally got it.
I laughed, "Were you practicing on this thing, is that why the bikini?"
"I wanted to feel the part. We had the exotic dancer on today and she showed a number of moves on the thing. She had me and a couple of audience members try our luck at it. She said I did real well for a beginner. After the show, a couple of the stage crew brought the thing here and set it up for me. This room was the best for it, high ceiling, and lots of room. Plus, I get sunshine coming in when the shades are up." She was smiling from ear to ear.
"Did you give the crew a show?" I asked.
"No, they had better things to do than watch me flop around, but I'm practicing to get good at it."
"Well, give me a demo." I asked.
"Not hardly, I have to practice a bit more before I entice you with my moves." She smiled again.
"Well, let's go watch the TiVo of your show so I can see how well you did there."
She led me to the family room and sat me down, went to start up the TiVo, then plopped down on my lap and asked if I wanted a lap dance. The show came on and we watched it, although I was having a bit of trouble concentrating on it, with her on my lap in the bikini. She did quite well on the pole for her first time; I saw possibilities for interesting nights at home. The show ended and I started running my hands around her smooth body. She giggled and jumped up, running into the hallway down to the bedrooms. I sat there until I heard her say the bikini was coming off, I went to help.
Penny and I sat on the couch, snuggling, after eating a couple of subs we made in advance, with foot long Italian bread from a bakery. I told her about my day and the new cases I got, then I commented on how good she looked in and out of the bikini, and couldn't wait till she was proficient on the pole. She said to give her a few days and she'd treat me.
"Hey, today is a special day. Take a guess." I said.
The day before we take our son, Buck, to a topless bar?" She smiled. I had forgotten about that.
"Well, I'm afraid Buck may be tied up for a week or so with that bodyguard case we just got. We'll have to postpone it till later."
"I hate to see a grown man cry. So, what is this special day?" she asked.
"Today in 1568, The Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral perfected a way to bottle beer. We'll make a toast to him later."
"Did the church have anything to do with can beer?" Penny asked.
"No, but the way I read it, most of our alcohol problems started with Monks or some religious order. I guess they wanted to keep the masses drunk and suggestible to their whims." I joked.
"I'm sure if they started serving beer in church, you'd start going."
"Yes, but only for the beer. Chips would be a nice touch too." I quipped.
"You'd replace the wine and wafers with beer and chips? You're disgusting." She grinned.
We sat watching TV and toasting to the patron saint of bottled beer, and then hit the sheets again, this time to sleep.
We were up and running the next morning, Penny to her show and me to solve crimes. Penny said she had a floral designer on her show and then a person from the American Kennel Club about the dog show next week, the one my client was entering her Terrier. I thought about Buck and how much fun he would have watching the mutt.
Penny and I kissed at the door and headed out to our respective places of employment. I got to my office and found Buck in his usual position on the lobby chair. I kicked his feet and he shot up, ready to fight. I just backed off.
"Good morning, Jimmy!" he cheered. "I'm ready to protect and serve. Man or beast, I shall be on guard."
"Yeah, and $300 a day is a good reason to. Come on in," I said as I opened the door. Buck sat on the client chair and I went around the desk to my squeaky chair.
Buck was dressed very smartly, black slacks, black dress shirt and a dark grey sports coat. I imagined he had his nickel plated .38 under the jacket.
I took out my notes from Mrs. Truedell and read them to Buck. He sat nodding his head and asked if that was all he had to do.
"Well, you have to be alert to anyone getting near or around the dog and prevent them from harming the animal. Are you prepared to lay down your life for the pooch?" I smiled.
"I got my little persuader under my jacket, I won't let anyone harm a hair on the mutt," he grinned.
"Fur, dogs have fur, but either way I get the picture. I got something else for you." I said as I opened my desk drawer and took out small box and handed it to Buck.
"A present for me, Jimmy you shouldn't have." He opened the box and found it filled with business cards, printed with his name as an associate of the Jim Richards Private Investigations firm. He beamed his walrus smile and thanked me.
"You aren't licensed, but sort of covered as an employee of the firm. So, do your best to make us look good." I smiled.
"You got it boss, now where do I start?" Buck was raring to go.
I wrote the address down and gave him a copy of the information sheet I had filled out at home this morning, explaining his duties and a few suggestions for keeping everyone happy.
"You basically have to stay in the background, but never let the dog out of your sight. Keep a sharp eye out around you, for any strange activity, like men with sniper rifles," I grinned.
"Hell, man, I could just take the dog and go hole up in a motel for the week, that would be the safest bet," he said.
"Yes it would, but Mrs. Truedell has numerous functions to go to with the dog, speaking engagements for the AKC and publicity appearances for her business. You'll be busy the whole week and earn your pay." I said.
"What if I have to take a crap?"
"Take it with the dog; he crapped on my carpet yesterday. If you really have to get away for any length of time call me, I can come and fill in for you."
"OK, I'm on my way, call the woman and tell her to expect me," he said.
"Have fun and don't get bit by the dog," I grinned.
He made a face and left. I picked up my phone and called Trapper. I got his voice mail and left a message. Either he saw it was me and didn't answer, or he may have been in some meeting. Either way, I'd have to wait. I called Mrs. Truedell and told her Buck was on the way, and informed her that Buck would have the right to make important decisions regarding the dog's safety. He was in charge. She agreed and said she had another warning on her answering machine when she got into her home office. I said to have Buck listen to it and report to me.
After my call to her, I sat back and organized my thoughts about David Paul. My fax machine suddenly came to life and in chattered the background check on David Paul. I pulled out the paper and saw that Trapper had drawn a little hand with the middle finger up, on the top page, I laughed. I read the report and it was basically nothing. Paul was thirty-six years old, no convictions, no felonies, no parking tickets, just the arrest for propositioning the fake hooker. He was clean otherwise. According to the report, Dave worked for a Bank of America branch that had just opened inside the Lakeside Mall, one of those store front banks, and he was an assistant manager. Not the bank executive that Mrs. Paul wrote on her list, maybe he exaggerated his position to her. He had no military record, just didn?t want to join I supposed. Financially, he was comfortable, but not well off, so Mrs. Paul wouldn't get much from him in a divorce. Unless she took his boat away. His credit report was good, he could afford to buy things on the three credit cards he had. All around, he was the all American Everyman
I decided to go to the Lakeside Mall and get a look at his work environment, so I closed up my office and headed out. I just got in the car when my cell phone rang, it was Buck.
"Hello," I said as I was driving out.
"Jimmy, I listened to the threat on the phone, it was a bit nasty. I didn't understand the reason for not wanting a dog to be in the show, but Mrs. Truedell informed me that a winning dog can be worth a lot of money in stud fees, much like a horse. I don't buy the idea of getting rich off a dog, but hey, it's their business, not mine. I checked the caller I.D. and according to a buddy of mine who works for the phone company, it's a pay phone. Privately owned by a party store in Troy. I got everything settled with Mrs. Truedell, the woman is a fuss bucket, but we are good to go here." Buck took a breath and exhaled.
"What's your itinerary for the day," I asked.
"She has to inspect her fleet of grooming vans, and then she is going to a meeting of dog owners who breed their mutts, so she can get herself into the mix. She's fairly new to this whole dog show business, and breeding her dog, but she had money and figured she could make more with one champion dog. I feel sorry for the thing."
"Well, I'm going to check out my cheating husband, routine stuff, keep me informed and if you need anything just call."
"I will Jimmy, but I'm not promising I won't strangle Truedell if she doesn't quit calling me "my good man." he growled.
I snickered and said I'd talk to him later and hung up. I drove out Hayes Road up to the Mall and into the parking lot. I wandered the place for a while then asked one of the security guards where the new bank was, he told me. I went there and found a Coney Island across the way from the bank so grabbed a booth up front and watched. I could see Dave in his office; it was right in the front window. Not a good place to have an office fling, unless he wanted people to watch. I ordered milk and a donut and watched. It wasn't long when a blond came in and they became very friendly. I saw a quick kiss by his office door after he closed it; she had to be the mistress.
Buck was just about ready to smack Mrs. Truedell for saying "Could you please keep in the background, my good man."
He bristled and said, "Look ma'am, unless you want your dog to end up as puppy chow, I would suggest you let me do my job, as you agreed." He flashed his smile and stood his ground. She just looked a bit stunned and quietly said all right. She then walked away towards the ten vans she was about to inspect. Buck offered to take the dog's leash and she finally relented, probably fearing for her life from Buck. He looked so odd, all six foot two of him, leading this small Terrier along on its leash. The dog did seem to like Buck, which pleased the big man. Buck followed behind Mrs. Truedell, stopping at each van as she checked them for cleanliness and having the equipment ready. She gave each one her approval and then told her staff to go to work. Everyone spread out going to their vans and drove off.
Mrs. Truedell told Buck to follow and she went back to her Lincoln Towne Car and they got in, Mrs. Truedell in front and Buck in back with the dog. The driver was given the instructions as to where they would be going and he headed out. They went to Imperial Hall on Groesbeck and the driver pulled up to the front doors. Mrs. Truedell, Buck and the dog exited the car and went in and found the room where the local dog breeders society was having their meeting. Everyone acknowledged Mrs. Truedell as she probably had her groomers work on most the dogs there. She went up to sit at a table close to the front and Buck gave her the leash and hovered behind her next to a curtain, but close enough to spring into action.
The meeting started and the President got up and addressed the group of about 80 people and their dogs. It was a bit of pandemonium with all the different breeds wanting to get at each other. Most of the better show dogs just sat on command from their masters, while the newer member's dogs were slightly unruly. Buck was watching the crowd for any suspicious persons watching Mrs. Truedell or the dog.
"If we can all sit, I'll start the meeting of the Greater Detroit Dog Breeders Society." He banged his gavel and the meeting began. Buck endured the boring speeches given by various members talking about their particular dogs, and then Mrs. Truedell got up. Buck thought she did a pretty good job speaking, she didn't sound as snooty as she acted before the meeting. Everyone had a chance to talk and a guest speaker came and talked about dog diseases and their prevention. Then the meeting ended with snacks and light conversation.
Back in the Towne Car, Mrs. Truedell asked Buck if he had found it interesting. He said it was like having teeth pulled, she actually laughed out loud.
David Paul and his blond friend finally left the bank and came across the way to the Coney Island. I was hoping they'd sit next to my booth, but they went about as far back as they could get, and snuggled up in a booth. I took out my new Treo cell phone and carefully snapped a couple of pictures of them. The waitress came by for the fourth time asking if I needed anything more, I figured she wanted me to vacate the booth for someone ordering a bit more than I had. I was getting slightly hungrier than a donut could fill, so ordered a Gyro. The love birds would probably be here for a while, so I enjoyed my food. After about forty-five minutes, they kissed a bit, and then went back to the bank where the blond went off down the mall, and he back to work. I finished my Gyro and paid my bill, leaving a rather large tip to keep the waitress happy for my camping out. I followed the blond as she browsed a few stores, and then went out to her car. I followed carefully and walked past her, noting the license plate number.
She drove out and I circled back to the bank and sitting on a bench in the mall, watched Dave do his business for a while. The bank was closing before the mall, so I followed him out to his car, the Cadillac CTS Rene told me he had, and from a short distance I watched him drive out. My car was on the other side of the mall, so I wouldn't be able to follow him, but I now knew what color car he had, and was close enough to get the plate numbers. I walked back through the mall to my car, and drove out to where the Paul's lived in Sterling Heights. I found the location of their house from the map program on my Palm TX and set the GPS to guide me. I got to the house and saw his car in the drive, so he wasn't meeting up with his side dish. I saw Rene Paul come out of the house and went to a yellow Prius next to his car, got in and drove away. About ten minutes later he came out and drove off. I followed as close as possible without being seen, traffic was miserable on Van Dyke heading south, so I had to watch carefully.
He went over to 13 Mile Road and Mound Road and into the parking lot of a restaurant bar called The Gazebo. I pulled in to the drive just as he was going in. I put on a different jacket than the one I had on at the mall and went in. It was dark but I could see him sitting in a booth along the wall by the windows. I went and sat at the bar where I could still see him. I ordered a Pepsi, which they had, even though I would have liked a beer, but not while driving. He just sat looking bored, until a shapely brunette came in and he got up to greet her. They kissed a bit friendlier than just friends, and sat next to each other facing me. That helped, so I took a few more pictures with my cell phone. Well, this was a turn of events, a new woman; he was cheating on his mistress, and cheating on his wife. He was a dog.
They sat for a while and finished their drinks, then got up and went out. I followed and got to my car just as they drove off, both in his car. They drove out 13 Mile to just past John R Road and into a motel. I knew what they had planned. I pulled on to the side of the road and brought my Fuji camera up and snapped a couple of pictures of him going into the office, then a couple more as he came out and then the two of them went to a room on the front of the building. I was going to have a good amount of info to tell Rene about. I couldn't imagine him planning a divorce when he was the one being unfaithful, she could hit him for everything with this.
I thought that this could be a long wait, so I decided I had enough ammo to start with, even though I still wanted to find out what he was up to by taking things from his home. I started the car and drove up to 14 Mile Road and out to Jefferson. It was now about 4:30 so I decided to head back home, not much else to do.
I got to the house and Penny was in the front yard planting flowers along the porch. I remembered she had a floral person on her show today. I could just about tell what Penny was going to be into when I got home, just by her guests, which kind of took the surprise out of coming home. Well, she always did seem to surprise me any ways.
"I think those look very nice." Commenting on the bright yellow flowers she had along the path. I had no idea what kind of flowers they were, they just looked nice.
"Thanks, sweetie, I had the desire to beautify the house, and I got a lot of good tips from my guest today. I have the TiVo set up so we can watch it." She was smiling with pride at her accomplishments in gardening. She said she was done for the day and we went in to watch her show. I learned a bit more about the AKC dog show from her second guest, now I knew what Buck would be going through. Afterwards, we ate a light dinner of pizza rolls and fries that we nuked in the microwave. We sat on the couch and I told her of my adventures with David Paul and his harem. She just looked disgusted, and said some men should be neutered. I agreed, and kissed her on the cheek.
"Are you fooling around?" She popped that at me.
"I'd be a fool to." I replied. "Besides, you're more than I need."
"Better remember that, sweetie, or else." She had an evil little smile on her face.
We watched TV, had our beer and chips and snuggled. We were really disgusting for an old couple.
We had just gone to bed when my cell phone rang. I answered it and I heard a woman crying.
"Hello, who's this?"
"Mr. Richards, its Rene Paul, sorry to call you so late, but I just got a call from the police, David was arrested for murdering a woman in a motel."
I asked where he was being held, she said at the Madison Heights police station. I said there probably wasn't much we could do tonight, so I'd pick her up early in the morning and we could go there to see what happened. She agreed and said she'd wait for my call, then hung up. She didn't sound really anxious to go help her hubby, could she be happy he was in this fix. I'd find out more in the morning. It was too late to call Trapper to see if he could get a heads up on what happened after I left the motel. I wondered if I would have seen something had I stayed. Something to think about on my future cases, not to be in a rush.
I think I finally got to sleep around 4 a.m. and was up by 6. I got ready and dressed, then Penny and I had a light breakfast, then around 7:30 I called Trapper. He came on sounding a bit groggy himself and asked what I wanted now. I told him about following David Paul and my discoveries, and about his wife calling with the info of his supposed killing the woman in the motel. He knew what I was going to ask.
"I have an old buddy in Madison Heights; I'll call him and get his take on it." He hung up.
Ever the brief one was Trapper. I called Rene Paul and said I was waiting to hear from a friend in the local police about the circumstances of last night and would call her back. She said she wasn't going anywhere till I called. Penny was getting ready to go out the door and stopped, looking at me kind of weird.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I have a ghost whisperer on my show today, and a psychic. I'm not sure I want to go in to work." She wasn't happy looking.
I knew she didn't like ghost stories or spooky movies, so I understood. "Why did you book them then?"
"There's a convention of spiritualists and mediums going on at the Rock Showplace, and my producer thought it would be nice to have them talk about it. I don't particularly think it's nice to talk to the dead. Once they are gone they should stay gone."
"Penny, as a magician and having friends who did mentalism for entertainment, we talked a lot about how these psychics are 99% fakes. Don't let it bother you. Unless you personally have seen a ghost, then there aren't any." I offered to her hoping to ease her mind.
She just frowned and said good-bye. She went off to her car and I wondered if I'd come home to a sťance tonight. I personally don't like psychics and mediums, I have had chances to know a few and they were frauds. I hoped Penny didn't start a fight with her guests about the subject.
My cell rang and the caller I.D. said it was Trapper. "Hey, Chief. What's the word?"
"Well, they say your client's husband was a bad boy. He spent the evening in the motel room with the brunette you told me about and around midnight the manager got a call from Paul's neighbor, about screaming in the next room. He went there and banged on the door, but no one answered, so he opened it with his pass key and found the woman in bed, bleeding all over the place. The man was nowhere to be seen, so the manager called the police. They came and finally found the man in his car passed out. He had blood on his clothes and a knife in his hand; they took him in to be examined. He was still passed out. Reminds me of the time he was hauled in here, the boy can't hold his booze. Oh, and my friend wants copies of the pictures you took."
"I didn't see them bring any bags of liquor in with them, unless he went out later and got it. They only had one drink while they were in Gazebo's. I left the motel around 4:30 so they had plenty of time up to midnight to get drunk." I thought. "I'll email the pictures to you and you can forward them to your friend. Thank him for the info too."
"Will do, now I have to get back to serious crime fighting." He hung up.
I called Rene and told her I'd be there in a half hour and I'd tell her what I knew. She thanked me and I got ready to go. I drove out and picked her up and headed to the police station, where we were directed to the arresting officer, Detective Tom Richmond. I introduced myself and Rene, and then he asked me if I knew Will Trapper and I said I did. He told me he was the one who Trapper called this morning; they were friends from way back. He took us to his desk and I let Rene have the chair and he filled us in on what they had so far.
He asked me about my involvement and I asked Rene if I could tell him, she said that would be all right. I told him how I followed Paul yesterday and the things I saw. He thought it was interesting that Paul had two women on the string. Rene was just fuming when she heard this for the first time, I could hear her say under her breath, son of a bitch. I gave Richmond the license plate number of the blond's car. I told him I would send the pictures to Trapper and he would send them to him. He gave me his email address and said to send them directly to him, I said I would.
I asked if there were any witness to see Paul go out to his car and pass out. He said "There were no persons wandering around that time of night, just the person in the next room who heard screaming around 11:45. The neighbor looked out their window and said they didn't see anyone outside at the time. By the time the manager called and we got there it was about 12:30, so he could have stumbled out and got himself in the car to leave, but passed out before he could."
"Were the keys in the ignition," I asked out of curiosity.
"Actually his keys were in the room, he hadn't taken those or his wallet and cash. He may have been so drunk he didn't pay attention to what he was doing." Richmond explained.
"When I first saw them together, I thought they looked happy and not in a way that he would kill her." I wondered.
"Being honest, there are a few things that make me wonder about this case. Like where did he get a steak knife in a motel, did he bring it with him? And there was a half bottle of whisky in the room, hardly enough for them to get drunk on, unless they went out to a bar just before this happened." He looked at Rene and asked, "Was your husband susceptible to alcohol, Mrs. Paul?"
She just looked stone face and said, "He could hold liquor well, but in quantities he would go right to sleep. He wasn't a bad drunk; he would get happy and playful most the time." Looking to me, she continued, "I honestly can't see David doing this, it's not like him to be evil."
"Well, we have more investigating to do, but I'll keep you informed," he said looking at me. "Any friend of Willy boy is a friend of mine." He smiled. I thought I'd have to start calling Trapper "Willy boy" now.
"Thanks, detective, I'll get those pictures to you today." I said.
"Call me Tom, I'll watch for them. Well, I don't have anything more here, if you want to go to his bail hearing, but I don't think the judge will let him out due to the nature of the murder."
Rene and I thanked him and he directed us to the court room where David was due in about 20 minutes, but it could be an hour before they get to him. We went there and sat until he was brought in and went before the judge. The D.A. and David's attorney argued back and forth about posting bail, but the D.A. won out and David was sent back to his cell to stew. As he was being taken out he looked to Rene and waved slightly and didn't smile. He was gone and Rene and I got up and went to my car. I told Rene that I would talk to him and see what he had to say. I drove her home, she was silent the whole way there, and when we arrived, I asked if she would be all right, she said she would. I left her at the door and drove back to Madison Heights and talked to Richmond again, asking if I could get a conference with David, he said I could watch in on the interrogation, but my meeting would have to wait till he was talked to. I said I'd appreciate it if I could observe the interrogation. He took me to the room that I was getting so used to, although in a different place. He told me they'd have him in shortly. I sat and waited, then the door opened and in walked another suit, I nodded to him.
"You with the D.A.'s office?" I asked.
He nodded and stood in the back of the small room. I looked to the two way mirror just as they brought David Paul in.
Buck had slept in the guest bedroom of Mrs. Truedell's home; he insisted that the dog sleep with him. Mrs. Truedell relented and then said she hadn't slept without the dog since she got him. Early in the morning, Buck took the dog out for a walk and a healthy dump on Mrs. Truedell's huge property. He was enjoying the walk in the fresh morning air when he heard a pinging noise and realized someone was shooting at him and the dog. Buck grabbed up the dog and ran for the nearest trees. He carefully looked around the tree and the only place he could see it might have come from was the road along the side of the property. He heard no other noises now, figuring the shooter must have had a silencer on his weapon. Mighty heavy artillery for one small dog. Buck waited a bit more, while listening heard a car drive off and then carefully came out. He went to the road still holding the dog and looked both ways but saw nothing. He went back to the house and told Mrs. Truedell what had happened and told her someone is serious about this. She was in a panic and wanted to call the police but Buck said they wouldn't do much good without evidence, plus it's not a human in jeopardy. She thanked Buck for protecting the dog; she gave a sigh of relief and asked Buck to share breakfast, which he did.
It was four more days till the dog show and Buck was wondering why anyone would go to such extreme measures to prevent the dog from competing. But why, Buck couldn't figure out, why kill a dog; it wasn't that big a deal to stop him from entering the show. What would anyone gain from this dog not winning, and would the owner of the winning dog be the killer?
David Paul sat at the table with his attorney and they were whispering to each other. Richmond came in the room and sat across from them holding a folder. He opened it and then leaned forward, asking if David objected to the session being video recorded, David's attorney said it was fine. Then Richmond asked if he'd been read his rights and he said he had.
"Please state your full name for the record," Richmond asked.
"David Matthew Paul," he said.
"Mr. Paul, you were found passed out in your car last night with a knife in your hand, covered in blood from a Marsha Webster. Can you explain what happened?" Richmond opened the conversation.
Paul sat quietly, looked at his lawyer, then said, "I don't remember."
"Mr. Paul, you were followed yesterday by a private investigator from the time you met up with a Linda Shank at your place of employment. We got her name from her license plate that the investigator noted, then you ate at a Coney island, then she left and you went home. After which you went to the Gazebo bar in Warren and met with Miss Webster. You had a drink there, and then went to the Madison Inn Motel, where you and the victim rented a room around 4 p.m."
The lawyer asked, "Why was my client followed by a private investigator?" I could see David looked puzzled.
"Well, it seems Mrs. Paul hired him to find out if her husband was cheating on her, looks that way to me, and with two women." Richmond responded.
David Paul's face went to rage, he was huffing and said, "What the hell, she was spying on me? The bitch, couldn't keep her nose out of my business." His lawyer was telling him to calm down and don't say anything more about it. He just sat fuming.
Richmond continued, "The P.I. provided us with the information on the two women you met with yesterday, we got Linda Shank's name off her license plates. As to the motel incident, unfortunately the P.I. left around 4:30 and wasn't there to witness the rest of the night's activities. Too bad, since you can't remember, we just have to assume that you committed the murder."
"I didn't kill Marsha, we were in love. I would never do that to her." David was yelling, again his lawyer told him to settle down.
"OK, you passed out in your car, did you have that much to drink to pass out." Richmond asked.
"I don't understand that, I didn't drink that much to make me do this. I can't remember anything after we fell asleep in the bed; the next thing I knew was waking up in a cell and being accused of murder. This is ridiculous."
"So you're saying you weren't passed out in your car due to drinking?" Richmond questioned.
"I had very little to drink, yes, I shouldn't have passed out, let alone walk out to my car carrying a knife that I'm accused of killing Marsha with," he spoke with an air of confidence. Then continued, "I also don't understand if I had left the keys in the room, how I got into the damn car since I always lock it up."
Richmond was silent for a bit, I presumed to mull that statement over. I'd never leave a Cadillac CTS in any parking lot without locking it up, so how did he get in?
Richmond took a new tact, "OK, give me some details as to how you knew or met Marsha Webster and how long have you been seeing her?"
Paul looked to his lawyer and then said, "We met at the main office of my bank, she was a systems analyst and I was attracted. This was about four months ago. We started being closer about three months ago. The branch manager found out we were involved and sent me to the stinking mall branch." He frowned and continued, "I was transferred to that new Lakeside office, and demoted to an assistant manager. Not what I wanted, but you understand office politics; don't play in their back yard."
"That must have pissed you off?" Richmond asked.
"Well, it didn't thrill me. But Marsha and I continued to see each other after the transfer."
"OK, now, who is Linda Shank and how does she fit into all this?"
Paul smirked, looked down and spoke quietly, "She's an old girlfriend I was with years ago, she recently popped back into my life and I was enjoying her company. We have been friendly for about a month now."
"So, you've been cheating with three different women, isn't that a bit selfish." Richmond grinned. The lawyer started to open his mouth, Richmond continued quickly, "Never mind that, let's suppose you weren't the killer, who do think might have wanted Marsha dead and possibly frame you for the murder?"
"I'm not sure, but she had a boyfriend that she dropped for me. He may have been pissed enough to do something about it."
Richmond tossed David Paul a small note pad and asked him to write down anything he knew about the boyfriend. Paul did.
Richmond looked at the pad and said, "David, I have nothing more to say at the moment, but I will reserve more questions for later. I'm going to follow up on a few things." He stood and went out, a big guard came in and took David out, followed by the lawyer.
Richmond came into my room and sat on a chair next to me, he propped his feet up on another chair and grinned at me.
"Paul said something that caught my attention. He mentioned about going out to his car without the keys. We never told him about that when he sobered up this morning, we just told him we found him in his car passed out. So how did he know?"
"Did his lawyer have any of the details about the arrest and circumstances to have told him?" I asked.
"Yeah, he may have been talking to my people about it, just struck me as interesting. I'll talk to the lawyer when he comes out, I don't want to tip Paul that he made that comment, I may need to hit him with it later." Richmond sat quietly.
"How long have you known Trapper?" I wondered.
He smiled and said, "We used to be in the same squad in Clinton Township when he was a rookie there, he just got in from Vegas and we partnered up. The guy was insane, a real nut. We got along good, then I got a better offer for money and promotion here and took it, but we kept in touch." He sat smiling and chuckling to himself.
I told him how I had met Will and our adventures during the Dominatrix murders. I told him about Captain Weber in Vegas and some of the crazy things Will did out there. He was laughing and saying these were new stories Will hadn't told him. I told him about the hookers in the back cells of Las Vegas and Richmond said that he could believe it; he said Will had a soft spot for ladies of the evening. He and Will used to spend a bit of time on road patrol talking to the working girls, Will would look the other way for them and watch out for them too.
I now knew Trapper liked to work both sides of the law.
Mrs. Truedell had Buck holding the dog while they were in the Vet's office to get the dog checked for any diseases or ailments before he could be entered in the AKC dog show. Buck was holding up, despite the waiting around for every little thing Mrs. Truedell had Buck doing. He carried the dog through the various stores and businesses that she visited and didn't do anything other than promote herself. Buck had to admire the woman's determination for getting ahead in life.
They were finally called into the vet's exam room and told again to wait. Buck grumbled under his breath, Mrs. Truedell smiled at the dog and gave him a little kiss on his nose. Buck was now calling the dog Benny, much to Mrs. Truedell's dismay, but she knew it wouldn't affect the dog so just overlooked it. The vet came in and she was an attractive woman; Buck estimated to be in her early fifties, about a head shorter than him, nice figure, big green eyes and jet black hair. She smiled at Buck and greeted Mrs. Truedell, and then Buck put the dog on the exam table and stood back admiring the lady vet.
"Dr. Winston, this is Mr. Buck, he's Mr. Bennington's bodyguard," Mrs. Truedell said and went to a chair by the wall and sat. The vet looked surprised, and asked Buck why would the dog need a bodyguard.
"There have been a number of threats towards Benny entering the dog show; I'm here to make sure nothing happens to him." Buck related.
"Well, that's different, how long have you been in the animal protection business, Mr. Buck." The vet asked.
"Please, it's just Buck, I work for a private investigation firm but we do bodyguard work also. This is the first time we've protected an animal. I usually guard human bodies." He smiled.
"Well, if I ever need my body guarded, I'll definitely call you. I'm sure you could do the job well." She smiled coyly at him. "Oh, and please call me Sue. Buck would you please take Benny by the front paws and hold him up, standing, if you will?"
Buck liked the way she called the dog Benny; she was quite good looking and Buck was getting distracted from his duties, thinking other thoughts.
The vet examined the dog sliding her hands over the dog, checking its body. Occasionally her hand would brush over Buck's hands, still holding the dog. Buck was getting a bit excited by the woman, and had to suppress the thoughts he was having at the moment. The vet finished and told Buck he could put the dog down and got out a hypodermic and gave the dog a shot. Buck was feeling nauseous as he hated needles. She could see that and took out a lollipop from her jacket and gave it to Buck. He grinned and said thank you.
"Sweets for the big tough bodyguard," she laughed.
Sue went to another counter and was writing on a prescription pad and gave Buck two sheets of paper, "One is a script for a heartworm prevention medication for Benny, the other is for you." She gave him a sexy look and smiled. She went over to Mrs. Truedell and said the dog looked fine and took the papers Mrs. Truedell had, to sign her OK for the dog show. Buck took a peek at the second note, it was a phone number and the words, call me. He gave his biggest walrus grin and picked up Benny and followed Mrs. Truedell out, giving Sue one of his new business cards and a wink.
I drove back to Rene Paul's home and knocked on the door, there was no answer. I looked in the garage door window and her car was gone, I wondered where she could be off to. I drove over to the motel that I should have spent more time at last night. If I'm going to take this business seriously, I need to pay more attention to the job. I got there and went into the office, there was a young looking man at the desk, he said hello and could he help me. I showed him my I.D. and said I was investigating David Paul for his wife. He nodded and said he was on duty last night when the murder happened. I looked at his name tag and it said Mike. I asked if I could call him Mike, he said it was fine with him.
"OK, Mike, what exactly happened from the time you got the complaint till the time the cops arrived and found David Paul." I asked.
"I got the call about 11:45 and went to the room, I banged on the door, no one answered so I used my pass key and opened the door. It wasn't a pleasant sight, all the blood. I ran down here and called the police, they came and were checking around, I gave them the info from his registration which had his car listed, they went to find the car and found him, smelling of booze. I had to identify him, I said it was him, and they tried to wake him but he was pretty out of it. The CSI people examined him and then it took three big cops to carry him to a cop car and dump him in. They went off and then the CSI people came to do their thing in the room, then sealed the room and then they and the cops went off."
"You must have a bit of experience with drunks coming in to get a room for a couple hours, you know what I mean." He nodded. "Did David Paul seem like he was drunk and passed out?"
"Well, you're right, the drunks do have a certain look to them when they indulged too much, I didn't think Mr. Paul looked all that drunked out. He looked just a bit too peaceful to me, like he was drugged; I've seen a lot of that here too. People get drugged up and I have to get them out of the room. I hate that. Anyways, I didn't think he was all that drunk, but I'm just a working stiff and my opinion doesn't mean a lot."
"Mike, you just said a lot of important things that make my investigation a lot easier," I said telling a half truth, but it made him feel important to be part of the investigation. I asked if the cops were done with the room, he said it was still sealed and he wasn't allowed to open it up for anyone. I said no problem and asked if the complaining tenant was still in their room, he said they were and I asked their name and room number, he said Vera Morgan in room 204. I thanked him and went out to the stairs and up to the room. I knocked on the door and it was opened by a very obese woman, she snarled, asking what I wanted. I showed her my I.D., which she squinted at for a long time; I deduced she had bad eye sight.
"Ms. Morgan, I'm investigating the case regarding the murder in the next room, you made the call about the screaming you heard last night?"
"Yeah, around 11:30 they started to argue, and then I heard screaming, sounded like someone being killed. I called the office to complain, the desk guy came up and then ran off, cops came a short time later. I stayed in my room except when the cops questioned me. I told them the same I'm going to tell you; I saw nothing, just noises."
"You never looked out to see what was going on? But you saw the desk clerk run off to call the police?"
"Well, I was peeking a bit and saw him go."
I looked out over the railing at the parking lot, I asked, "Do you remember where the car of the accused murderer was parked?"
She stepped out from her room and came to the railing, looking out but squinting deeply. "I think it was over there." Pointing to the spaces across from the building lined by trees and bushes.
"Do you wear glasses?" I asked. She looked indignant and said she didn't need glasses. I thanked her and asked if I could talk more to her later, she said fine. I left her at her door and went to my car.
My cell phone rang on my way back to my office, the caller I.D. said it was Trapper. "Hey, Willy boy, what's shaking?"
He was quiet for too long and then growled, "Don't ever, I mean ever, call me Willy boy again, if you value your family jewels."
I laughed out loud and asked what he was calling for. He said he just wanted to see how the investigation was doing.
"Well, there are a few puzzling aspect to the case, maybe you can give it a fresh outlook," I said, and told him all the details of Paul and the locked car anomaly.
"Want my opinion, sounds like he's being framed, if everything you say is all there is to it. Someone didn't think out the details too well, why would they unlock his car, put him in and take the keys back to the room, makes no sense."
"Murdering a lover makes no sense, either," I said.
"Yeah, well over the years of being a cop I've seen a lot of murder between lovers. Sometimes it's the biggest reason for murder, love lost or rejected, big killer." Trapper said.
"Well, maybe Paul and his lover were at odds, the neighbor said she heard them arguing first before the screaming. But doesn't explain the passing out and the car. You said when he was brought in to your station he was a mess from drinking. He claims they didn't drink that much last night before falling asleep in bed. Another thing, where did he get the steak knife she was killed with? I'm sure they didn't bring it with them, and Paul doesn't remember anything. This is going to be complicated."
I was just pulling into my office parking lot as Trapper said, "Well, you're the great detective, you'll figure it out." He laughed and hung up.
I went into my office and checked the answering machine, nothing. I sat and called Buck to see how he was doing.
Buck answered after three rings, he just said, "Doggy central," and I laughed. "How's your high profile case doing," I asked.
He grunted, "I'm doing my best to tolerate this woman, she can be so nice one minute and so annoying the next. If it weren't for the dog I'd strangle her, but I think the dog would miss her."
"Do you need any fill in for time off? I have an idea for relief backup for you, if I can get hold of Officer Becker from Trapper's squad." I said.
"Becker is good people, one of the few I've come across who I'd trust." Buck said.
"Well, let me see what I can do to give you a day off. I'm not having a good run of luck on my case, I got a cheating husband who supposedly murdered his mistress and then was found passed out in his car and can't remember a thing."
"He's probably lying; bad memory is a great excuse for not admitting he's the killer." Buck offered.
"That has passed through my thoughts; it's a mystery for now. I'll call Becker and make an offer, you willing to share some of that obscene money you're making?" I asked.
"Just to get away from Mrs. Stuck-up, I'd give him a day's pay, go ahead and offer." Buck sound desperate.
"I'll do that; give me till tomorrow for an answer. Talk later, and don't murder her yet." I smiled and said good-bye. It was now about 3:00 in the afternoon and I had been a busy boy. I called Trapper back and he came on, "What did you forget?" He asked.
"I need to talk to Becker, actually." I asked.
"I'm sitting here watching him swatting flies in the squad room; it's about all he's good for. Why you want him?" He asked.
"I want to see if he wants to relieve Buck on his doggy protection duty for a day. Think he'd like to make $300 for a day's work."
"Hell, I'd watch a dog for $300, can I do it?" Trapper laughed.
"You're a high power officer of the law; I can't interrupt crime fighting to have you do a menial thing like dog sitting."
"True, I'm above that, hold on, I'll get Becker." He dropped the phone on his desk so it blasted in my ear, I waited. Becker came on the line and I explained what I needed him for, he sounded excited when I told him the duty and pay. He said he had the next two days off and would be glad to help. I told him to come to my office in the morning and we would go out to Mrs. Truedell's home and Buck would fill him in on his duties. He thanked me and asked if I wanted to speak to Trapper again, I said no and we hung up.
I sat back in my squeaky chair and pondered the Paul case. I looked at the pad of information that Mrs. Paul had filled out for me. She listed his place of employment as a branch of Bank of America in Sterling Heights. I got myself organized and went out from my office and drove up to that bank branch off Metro Parkway. I arrived, went in and was greeted by three different people asking if they could all help me. Did I look that helpless? I asked the nearest person who was the person in charge? He pointed to an office and said Mr. Welkie was the senior officer of the bank. I thanked him and headed that way. I knocked at the door of his office and he jerked his head up with a surprised look. I introduced myself and showed him my I.D. which he asked for a closer look, I handed him the wallet and he studied it.
He handed it back and looked to me with an annoyed face, "If this is about David Paul and Marsha Webster, I have given my statement to the police. You're not the police, so I guess I don't have to go through all this again." He spit out.
"Does the bank want adverse publicity when it is known that one of its employees murdered another employee? I was hired by the Paul family to work the case, and to do it quickly and quietly. I'm also helping the police with the investigation." I was stretching the truth a bit, but didn't lie.
He just stared at me, then sighed and asked me what I wanted to know. I asked if he could tell me a little about how he knew Paul and Webster were fooling around and why was it a cause to move him out to the mall.
"I got a note from someone, I don't know who, saying that they were fooling around, he was a married man, not something we condone. I confronted him and he was a bit rude about it, saying it was none of my business. I didn't take that kindly. I read him the office policies I established when this branch was put under my command; it states there is to be no fraternization between employees, period. Unless they were married to each other, but I would not let two married persons work together here in this bank. They could work in separate branches but not in the same one. It is to prevent any criminal activities."
I wondered how a couple could commit criminal activities more than a single person, but I guess he knew better.
He continued, "I told him to stop his activities with Miss Webster or be transferred, he chose the transfer. I moved him out since the new branch at the mall opened. He went gladly. That's all I told the police, that's all I can tell you."
"Did Mr. Paul seem like a violent person?" I asked.
"I was not in Mr. Paul's confidence to know his disposition in regards to his emotional state." He threw out the sentence like he was a psych major.
"In other words, you don't know if he had a temper." I asked.
"No." Was all he said and sat back? "Are you finished?" He asked sounding like he was getting weary of it all. I took my cue.
"Yeah, I guess you aren't much help in this regards. Sorry to interrupt your busy day." I stood and went out quickly, thinking what a dick this guy was.
I left his office and almost ran into an attractive, dark-haired woman about 40ish; I apologized for the near collision. She smiled and quietly asked me to follow her; I couldn't refuse such an offer. She led me down a hallway to a door that went into a small conference room, small as in a table and four chairs. She turned and smiled to me and asked me to sit. I did, so did she.
"My name is Sylvia, I wasn't eavesdropping on your conversation but I could hear you from the hallway. I know a bit more about the affair of David and Marsha than stone-face was telling you." She smiled again.
"OK, Sylvia, is this going to cost me anything to find out?" I smiled back.
"No, just want to do my duty to help Dave out, he is a good person." She had a new smile that told me she was familiar with Dave more than just a co-worker. I wondered if she was, and why would she help knowing he was fooling around with another co-worker. Maybe she was the one who sent the mysterious note to stone-face.
"It was a bit dicey at first when they started to see each other, they kept it under raps quite well, but then they started getting sloppy and finally we all could see something was going on. But the kicker came when there was talk about some big time embezzlement going on. Marsha worked in the accounting department as a system analyst, working with the computers on the bank's accounts. It was said that money was moving around, but no one was able to prove it. Just small amounts from all the accounts, too small and too many to catch. This is not official, just word from a few people in accounting. Before the bank could do anything, stone-face stuck his nose in and moved Dave to the mall. The bank wasn't happy about it but the deed was done and it would have looked too suspicious to move him back, so they just watched Marsha to see if she was up to something. Well, now it's too late to catch her, she's dead. Convenient isn't it?" She smiled again.
My mind was now busy with the new information; this would put a new wrinkle in the case.
Sylvia gave me a few more details on the affair between Dave Paul and Marsha Webster. Not enough to make my case easier, but it gave me an idea on the relationship between the two. I thanked Sylvia and said I had some pressing business, just to get away from her. I sat in my car and called Richmond and gave him the info on the bank fiasco, I just held back the embezzlement part, something I wanted to follow myself. Richmond said they were really busy with a recent rash of attacks on young women hanging around a local bar, so the Paul case was put on a back burner. The Mayor and chief of police were hot to keep the publicity down on the attacks, so he was being pressured to find the culprit. I said I didn't envy him and we said our good-byes and I hung up.
It was now about 5 p.m. and I should go and see what kind of evil Penny had in store for me. Her ghostbuster guests would most likely spook her, pardon the pun, and maybe I should be there for her. I figured David Paul would be on ice for a bit longer and I could follow the embezzlement lead tomorrow. I drove home and was feeling a bit apprehensive, but ready to deal with whatever she had for me.
I pulled into the drive and up to the house, getting out and to the door. It didn't fly open, and I had to use my key since it was locked. I always had to tell her harshly to lock the front door; I guess the ghosts scared her into it. I went into the living room and called her, but no answer. I went out to the porch and found her spinning around her new stripper pole, and then she saw me and did a little dance over to me. I was smiling from ear to ear as she spun into my arms and hugged tightly.
"I'm presuming you had a good day?" I asked.
"I had a great day; I debunked the spook shakers and came out pretty good. I did a little exploring on the internet about the whole cold reading and medium world and Houdini's attacks on spiritualists, I was prepared and I conquered. I'm just doing a little steam blowing off here, I'm so glad you're home." She gave me a sexy little smile, and said she needed a shower. "Want to join me?" I would be crazy to turn her down. I was glad I didn't come home to her in a gypsy outfit and a sťance.
We soaped each other up and scrubbed good, then toweled off and went straight to the bedroom. It was early but she was in a mood, I didn't complain. After about an hour and a half in bed she bounced up and announced she was hungry. I laughed and followed her to the kitchen. We made a good meal and then watched TV, drank a couple beers, ate chips and then went back to bed, but this time to sleep. I kissed her and told her I loved her, she smiled and cuddled.
We were up early the next morning, I asked who her guest was today, and she surprised me by saying she didn't know. I said I was going to be in suspense all day. She headed off to her work and I went off to my office to meet with Becker.
I was at my office by 8:40 and found Becker sitting on the hallway chair, he stood at attention, I told him to relax. We had a short briefing about what was expected and I said that we should just head out to the Truedell residence after I checked my answering machine and email.
Becker and I drove out to Mrs. Truedell's home, or I should say mini-mansion, we had just gotten into the drive as Mrs. Truedell was leading Buck and Benny to her Towne Car. Buck walked quickly ahead of Mrs. Truedell and got to the car first, he stopped just short of the back car door when his ears perked up. He held up his hand towards Mrs. Truedell and she stopped. He listened for a couple of seconds then heard something he had heard before. He turned with Benny in hand, and grabbed Mrs. Truedell's arm and pulled her away from the car, yelling to run, run, run. They did and Buck got Mrs. Truedell into the front door of the house and handed her Benny's leash, and said to stay right there. He carefully went back down the porch and got flat on the ground to look under the car, now about 20 feet away. Becker and I had witnessed this as we drove up the big circular drive leading off to the right by the garages. Just as I stopped my car, there was a ball of yellow-orange flame and an explosion in the back of Truedell's car that made it fly up about four feet and back down hard. Luckily, Buck was flat to the ground, but he was still being pelted with small debris and a bumper just missed his head by inches.
I pulled out my Treo cell phone and called 911 to send the fire trucks out to a car fire. Becker and I jumped out of my car and ran over to Buck, still on the ground and helped him up, he was shaking his head and sticking his fingers in his ears and wiggling them. I asked if he was all right and he looked at me as though he didn't hear a word I said. He yelled that his ears were ringing. Mrs. Truedell was standing at her front door looking pale and terrified. Buck yelled that he had heard a mechanical noise that he had recognized from his younger days when the biker gangs were at war and car bombs were an everyday occurrence.
"Where's the driver?" I asked. We all looked around and couldn't see him; I asked if he was in the car and Buck said he didn't think so, at least he didn't see him as they approached the car.
Buck, Becker and I went up to Mrs. Truedell, I asked, "Your driver, do you know where he is?"
She replied, "No."
"How long has he worked for you?" I asked.
"About a month, after Travis left, he was my last driver."
"Did this driver come with references?" I asked.
"Of, course; I never hire someone without checking them first."
"I asked Buck and Becker to check around to see if they could find the driver. They headed toward the garage and Mrs. Truedell and I just watched the car burn.
"Why would anyone want to do this to my little dog, I could have died in that fire." Mrs. Truedell spoke quietly.
"I'm not sure if this is just about your dog, ma'am. Do you have any enemies that may have wanted to harm you?" I asked.
"None that I can think of, I got along with everyone I meet," she said.
I heard Buck yell my name and I ran to the direction it came from. I saw the garage door was open and went in. I found Buck and Becker kneeling at the body of the driver.
"Is he alive?" I asked.
"Yeah, just knocked out." Buck replied just as the driver started to stir. He looked up at Buck and gave out a tiny scream. Becker held out his badge and told him he was safe now. The driver put his head back on the ground and groaned.
I could hear the scream of the sirens from the fire department coming down the road, I went out the drive to watch them pull in and set out their equipment. After a half hour, they had the blaze under control and I pulled Buck aside.
"I'm thinking there is more to this than just a threat against a dog." I said.
"I was thinking the same thing; this is more than a crazy way to kill a dog. Truedell and I would have been toast if we sat in that car waiting for the driver who wouldn't have come. Think it's time to bring in the cops?" He asked.
"Guess what, we're in Clinton Township, so who do you think I'm calling?" I grinned.
Buck didn't have to be told. Becker came up and I told him our suspicions and I pulled out my phone to call Trapper. He wasn't happy that I disturbed his late breakfast and asked me if Becker was still there. I told him he was and Trapper said that he was putting Becker in charge, give the boy some experience. I said that he just didn't want to come out on such a menial case. I could tell he was grinning and said, of course. He did say he would swing by later and check on the progress, and then hung up. I looked at Becker, who was just staring at the activities of the firemen, and called him. I told him that he was in charge of the attempted murder case, per Trapper.
Becker grinned like a teenager who just had his first kiss.
Becker got on his phone and called for backup and the CSU team to check the car, then went to tell the firemen that this was now a crime scene. Then he went to talk to the driver who was now sitting on the porch steps holding a wet cloth to his head that Mrs. Truedell had the housekeeper get for him.
"What's your name?" Becker asked.
"Jack Edwards," he replied.
"Jack, tell me what happened up to our finding you."
"I brought out the car and parked it out front, then went back into the garage to close the door to the house, I had left it open and Mrs. Truedell doesn't like it open. As I turned to go back out, I was hit on the head; I don't know what happened after that." He spoke as if in pain.
Becker turned to Buck and asked him to relate what happened up to the explosion.
"Mrs. Truedell and I went to the car; I moved up to open the door for her since I didn't see the driver. I heard a mechanical noise, like the un-winding of a timer. I had heard that sound before; in my reckless days when one biker gang had a problem with another and homemade bombs were something I saw them make. The timer is wound up to go off about two to five minutes from setting and it triggered the explosives. In order to work, the person who planted the explosive would have known we were going to be in the car shortly." Buck didn't look happy, I'm sure he didn't like the idea of going up in a ball of flame.
Since I had already explained to Becker, in my office, the purpose for Buck guarding the dog, he knew what the situation was, but the attempted murder of humans was puzzling. He said to me that he believed that there was more to this than just keeping the dog from entering the contest. Everyone now agreed on that. Mrs. Truedell was really upset to think someone would want her dead. She went back into her home with the dog on its leash, we followed, and she just sat in the living room, quietly asking to be alone. Buck picked up the dog and handed it to her, she cuddled it and smiled. We went back out as the CSU team and two patrol cars pulled in the drive. Becker went out and took command; I thought he handled himself quite well. The extra cops cordoned off the area with crime scene tape and the CSU team went to work on the car.
Buck and I sat on the porch steps watching the whole thing and about an hour later, Becker came up and said the CSU had found parts of the timer, it was a standard kitchen timer modified to set off the explosives. They would take it back to the crime lab and see what they could get off the pieces.
I asked, "Becker, are you on the cop clock now, or do I have to pay you the $300 for a day's work?"
He grinned and said, "It's up to you, I'm on the cop clock now that I'm in charge. I did have my eye on a new laptop; I was just short by $250 so I was glad for your offer." He smiled sheepishly.
I looked to Buck and said, "I'm sure you want to go home for a while and get your head together?"
"Yeah, I'm really wanting to use my own shower, I think I'll head out and come back later tonight, if that's OK with you?" Buck said.
"I can't believe you're still here. Oh, before you go, let Becker know what to do with the dog, especially the potty parts." I smiled. Buck stood and took Becker aside and had a talk with him, then took him in to meet Mrs. Truedell. Buck came out a few minutes later, saluted me and went to his car.
Becker came out a minute or two after and came to me. "I appreciate your confidence in me, Trapper tends to regard me as a simpleton, I try to please him, but I always seem to screw up."
"Maybe you're trying too hard. Just relax and do your job, I'm sure you know what to do or you wouldn't be here. And Trapper wouldn't have put you in charge of this mess, now figure it out." I said trying to bolster him up.
"I've been a cop for a long time, mostly street patrol; I've never done any detective work," he paused to think, "where do I start?"
"Think about it, what would be your next step?" I asked.
He looked around at the mess in the front yard. "I'd need the results from forensics, but I'd need to know who may want to kill the woman. I guess I'd talk to her employees, they usually want to kill their boss." He smiled and I laughed.
"Judging by Buck's love for the woman, I'd say employees are a good place to start." Now Becker laughed.
Becker and I went back into the house and found Mrs. Truedell sitting quietly in her chair with the dog sleeping soundly on her lap. Becker came to her and sat on another chair across from her.
"Mrs. Truedell, I need to have a list of all your employees, both here in the house and at your business. Can you supply me with that?" Becker asked politely.
"Yes, if you feel someone who was in my employ would want to murder me. There is a list in the top drawer of that desk, help yourself." She said as though she was resigning to the thought that she was in danger.
Becker went to the drawer and found a folder, removed it and came back to the chair. He sat and opened the file and sat reading a bit. "Mrs. Truedell do you have any, even small, problems with any of these employees?" He asked.
Mrs. Truedell sighed and said none she knew of. Becker asked if there were any persons who may have been fired or quit in the last couple months that aren't on the list. She told him every person who worked for her had been with her for at least a year or more, no one was fired or quit recently, she had a good crew. She did remember that her last driver had moved to California and Jack came to work for her to drive and general maintenance around the property.
Becker looked to me and then asked Mrs. Truedell if he could talk to the household help, she reached over and pressed an intercom button on her phone and called the housekeeper, she came on and was asked to bring all the help to the library. Becker thanked her and asked where the library was, he was told and we went there.
We found Jack, the driver; and two women, the housekeeper and a cook. Becker asked them a number of good questions, and turned the driver loose. He asked the women about the driver and they both gave him good reviews. Becker asked them about their backgrounds and they gave him the information. He had them write on a pad, their names and addresses and thanked them for their cooperation. They left and he stood looking a bit lost, I felt for him.
"So, I suppose you are going to talk to her business employees now?" I offered; to get him on the right track. He smiled and said he was.
We went back outside and I said I had to go back to my case of the murdered mistress. I wished him luck and said Buck should be back by 6 p.m. and I'd send Becker a check for his services for protection. He grinned and thanked me for helping him. I said if he needed anything, help or advice, just call. I gave him my card and went off to my car. I could see Becker moving back to the cops in the yard talking.
I drove out to the Madison Heights cop shop again, I needed to talk to David Paul and see what I could get on the embezzlement slant. I was told by the desk officer that Tom Richmond was out on a case and would be back later. I asked where he might be and showed my I.D. and said I had some information for him. I found in this business you do a lot of half truths and outright lies. The person at the desk said he was at the Covered Wagon bar checking on some recent attacks on female patrons. I thanked him and went out the building.
I went to my car and took out the phone book I keep there and looked up the main branch of Bank of America. I dialed the number and asked for whoever was in charge of bank fraud and security. I was told to hold, and then a woman came on and I asked the name of the person whoever would be able to help with a question of bank embezzlement. She hesitated then said the name was Frank Sitaro, but he was out of the office. I asked when he would be in as I would like to have a meeting with him. She said he'd be back around 2 p.m. and she could set an appointment with him, I said that would be fine. I looked at my watch and it was just now 12:45, so I went to the nearest Subway I could find and had lunch.
CONTINUED IN THE BOOK...