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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, 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.
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"Buck, you feel like doing a job for me?" I asked him when he answered the phone, sounding like I woke him. Which was good because he would be groggy and agree to watching 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, then asked what the hell was I 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, 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 nine 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. 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, 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 I.O.U.'s." 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 lead 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 lead 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 untill I heard her say the bikini was coming off, I went to help.
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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 forgot 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 I 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, then hit the sheets again, this time to sleep.
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 missed the draft 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, could afford to buy things on 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, 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.
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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 it's 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 to their own 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 just about 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 and 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 member talking about their particular dogs, 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.
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 more 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, that kind of took the surprise out of coming home. Well, she always did seem to surprise me anyways.
"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, 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, it's 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."
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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 séance 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, 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 stoney 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.
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Buck had slept in the guest bedroom of Mrs. Truedell's home, he insisted that the dog sleep with him. Mrs. Truedell relented and 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 trying to figure that who ever wanted to prevent the dog from appearing was desperate enough to go to this extreme. 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 winner be the killer?
"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, 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, 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 did I get 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 in your scheme of things?"
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.
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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, 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 it's 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 parvo 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.
"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."
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"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 it's 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 an 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 appologized 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.
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Sylvia gave me a few more details on the affair between Dave Paul and Marsha Webster. Not enough to make my case easier, but 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, 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 séance.
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 met or know," 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, 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.
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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 it's 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.
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My cell phone rang while I had a mouthful of sub sandwich, the caller ID said it was Trapper, I answered and I heard loud barking. "Richards, you there?"
"Yeah, what's going on?" I asked.
"This damn dog doesn't like me, I may shoot it, but I'm afraid the old lady would shoot me," he said, but I could tell he was smiling.
"I presume you're at the Truedell estate?"
"Yeah, I just rolled in and Becker filled me in on his investigation, what's your take on it?"
"I observed Becker doing a fine job of investigating, give him a chance, he'll be all right if you don't scare the crap out of him. He does fear you." I heard Trapper snicker.
"I know, I like to rattle his chain, but I'll let him alone on this one. He seems to be holding up well, despite having to take the dog out for a poop. This damn mutt doesn't like me."
"Dogs are good at picking up on mean people." I laughed.
"Yeah, well, I can get meaner. So what do you think about this car bombing?" he asked.
"I no longer think it's about the dog. I think the whole thing was a smoke screen to get to Truedell. Just a cover up to make it look like she was killed by collateral damage."
He agreed with my assessment, "I'm giving Becker full rein on this one, if you or Buck could just keep an eye on him, I'd appreciate it."
I knew Trapper had a good heart, even if he wouldn't admit it.
"We'll make sure the boy doesn't come to harm. Is he nearby?"
"Yeah, want to talk to him?" I said yes, and he put Becker on, Becker said hello.
"First, what the hell is your first name?" I asked.
He laughed and said, "Barry."
I thought Barry Becker, that's a name that must have been a problem when he was young. I suppressed a laugh and said, "OK Barry, I had a thought, if the timer was on such a short fuse, say under five minutes like Buck said, the killer would have had to be nearby, maybe he still is. Think about it." He thanked me and I asked to speak to Trapper again. He came on and just said, yeah?
I told him about the info I got about Dave and Marsha having their office affair and his transfer, I made him swear to secrecy about the embezzlement, until I got more facts from the bank fraud department, which I was about to go do.
"Sounds like the two were up to no good and may have been motive for murder, either between themselves or from someone who knew they were up to no good and wanted in." Trapper theorized.
"So many questions, so few answers so far." I said.
The dog started barking again and Trapper said he was getting out of there, to safer places, like a crime scene. I told him I'd talk to him later and hung up.
I finished up my lunch and looked up the bank's location on my Palm TX map program and set the GPS. I went to the car and drove out to the bank following the voice from my Palm guiding me to the parking lot of the bank headquarters. I went into the ornate lobby, they definitely had the money to burn for decorations. I told the receptionist who I had an appointment with and she directed me to the third floor office of Fraud and Security. I headed up and found the office of Frank Sitaro and waited while his secretary called him. He came to a door off the side and invited me in. He offered me a chair and I sat. I handed him my business card and he studied it.
"I guess we are sort of in the same business, Mr. Richards." He said. "We both investigate crimes. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I am investigating David Paul and the recent murder of Marsha Webster. I'm sure you are aware of the case."
"Yes, messy thing, sorry it happened, anything you may know about it?" he asked.
"Well, I have heard that there were suspicions about embezzlement possibly by the two of them, anything you may have on that?"
He went a little ridged when I said that, "I'm not really at liberty to discuss the possible embezzlement of funds, but may I ask how you know about it?"
"I'm a good detective." I grinned, he laughed and relaxed a bit. I continued, "It could point to motive for the murder."
"OK, fair enough, yes, we were investigating both of them, but the idiot branch manager transferred Paul out before we got a sting set up. We did put someone in accounting to keep an eye on Webster two days ago, but that's now a moot point."
"What methods were they using to take funds?"
"Well, as best as we can figure, they were siphoning off tiny amounts of interest from each account, which with thousands of accounts could amount to a large fortune. They would do it around the ending cycle of monthly billing, so it changed before we could see it. It would have been a clever software program to do something this huge, It's something I don't honestly understand, but our computer people do, they just inform me when it happens and I act on it."
"So, do you have any idea of how much they may have gotten yet?"
"Well, my computer people said the program they used, if running for a couple months would amount to a couple million dollars. We still aren't sure where they were sending the funds. But we are working on it, hopefully we'll know by next week now that we have moved in on Webster's work computer." He said with a sigh of relief.
"Do you have anything positive on David Paul to put this on him?"
"No, right now it's just speculation that he had anything to do with it, so we can't pin this on him and Webster is now gone, so we just need to get the funds back and close the case. If you discover anything that may help our case, and it leads to recovering money, there would be a finder's fee in it." He smiled.
"Well, I'll have to step up my detecting, won't I?" I grinned and thanked him for his time and went to take one of his cards, he stopped me. He wrote his cell phone number on the back of it and gave it back to me.
"Just in case you find anything." He stood and walked me to the door.
I left the building, now motivated by a large fee if I could crack the case. I wasn't even sure if Mrs. Paul was going to pay me since I hadn't completed her case for her. I was wondering what Rene Paul was up to and since I was a short distance from her home I decided to go there.
I drove to the house and found her Prius in her drive. I parked on the street since my trusty, but old, Crown Vic had an oil leak, and didn't want to soil her drive. I went to the door just as she was coming out with a tall, handsome man, she looked surprised and sputtered a hello to me.
"I was in the area and thought I would come by and fill you in on the murder case, but if you are otherwise involved, I can come by another time." I offered, wondering who her friend was, but didn't ask.
"Mr. Richards, thank you, but I am in a hurry to be somewhere. Call me and I'll set some time aside for you." She looked to the man and he walked around her and went to the Prius and got in the passenger side. Rene looked embarrassed and said it was her lawyer, they were discussing her pending divorce. I thought, sure.
"I apologize for coming unannounced, I'll get back to you later." I said and went to my car. They drove off and I wondered why she would pick up her lawyer and drop him off, he couldn't just drive himself over. This was getting interesting.
It was now about 3 p.m. and I drove over to Mrs. Truedell's home again, Becker was out on the front lawn looking at the car wreck, talking to another cop. He waved to me as I drove up. I got out and came around to the two men.
"I followed your suggestion and we scouted out the property, we found a box that probably held the bomb, over on the side of the garage. It had a shipping label on it, I'm sure not the bomber's, but something to follow up on. I sent a car out to the address to check it."
"How's Truedell holding up?" I asked.
"She's doing good, I'm watching her more than the dog now. She said she would appreciate the personal protection on her life. Buck called me and said he would be here around 6:30 to take over again. He sounded rested."
"Did Trapper give you a hard time?" I asked.
"No, he was real supportive, I liked that." He grinned. "I asked Mrs. Truedell to call all her employees to meet me at her business office in the morning to start questioning everyone."
"Good, it may be nothing, but could break the case." I said as I stood looking at the once beautiful Lincoln Towne Car, now a mess of scorched and twisted metal, such a shame.
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Becker's cell phone rang, he answered and listened for a bit, then said thanks and hung up. He said that the lab had pulled off a partial print from the timer, just enough to I.D. a felon named Edward Jackson. Wanted for prior attempts at murder with explosive devices, he was a second rate hit man. I thought for a minute and asked Becker to think about that name, what did it remind him of. He thought for a couple of seconds and then I could see the light in his eyes glow.
"Jack Edwards, the driver. Damn, he wasn't very original. He must have planted the bomb and faked being knocked out!" Becker was just about drooling at the revelation. Becker told the other cop to follow him and we all went to the house. Becker went to the kitchen and asked the cook where the driver bunked. She pointed to a door off the kitchen and said through there. Becker and the other cop had their guns drawn and Becker knocked at the door, no answer. He knocked again and announced it was the police, still no answer. Becker tried the knob and opened the door, he told the other cop he would go low, he did and went in. The room was empty.
Becker came out and asked the cook if she knew where the driver was, she said he left an hour ago, said he had something to do. She also said he took a suitcase with him, she thought it was odd. Becker thanked her and went into the living room and sat across from Mrs. Truedell.
"Ma'am, we now suspect the driver as the person planting the bomb on the car and faking his attack." Becker said gently.
She just stared at him, "Edwards tried to kill me, I can't believe it." She looked distressed as Becker continued.
"Can I see the application sheet you had on him?" He asked.
She got up after putting the dog on the floor and went to a file cabinet in her office just off the living room, took out a file folder, came back and handed it to Becker. He opened it and read the one sheet in it. After a minute, he handed it to me and asked my opinion. I read the brief form and told Becker I thought it was fairly standard, sounded made up. He agreed. I said it was worth checking the references but they probably were made up too. I looked to Mrs. Truedell and asked if she had checked these references and she said she did. I handed the folder back to Becker and said it was a place to start looking for him. He agreed and stood, thanking Mrs. Truedell and we went outside again.
Becker said he was still going to interrogate the employees tomorrow, one of them may have had something to do with it also. I thought to myself, now he's thinking. He looked in the file again and took the car license plate number listed and gave it to the other cop and asked him to run it from his patrol car and call in a BOLO if it comes up legit.
"Why does this guy hang around for a whole month before doing the deed? What was it he was waiting for and was he hired or did he have a grudge with Truedell to do this alone?" Becker pondered.
"Now you're facing the challenges detectives face in the process of finding the answer." I smiled.
"Maybe so, but this is hurting my head. As a cop, I follow the orders of the detectives and I arrested perps, or chase and apprehend them, never tried to figure out who did it." He lamented. "I can see why Trapper can be so ornery at times."
I laughed and said, "At times? He seems ornery most the time."
Becker laughed and opened the file, and looked over the references again. The other officer came back from calling the plates in and told Becker that the plate number didn't come up in the LEIN, it was a fake number. Becker frowned, looked to me and said "Well, back to investigating."
I wished him luck and said I had to go back to my case, he wished me luck too. I drove off the property and decided to go to Paul's old bank and see what I could find out about Marsha Webster. I got there and went over to the desks of the bank service managers and one young woman greeted me and asked me to have a seat. She asked what kind of bank service I was interested in. I apologized and showed her my I.D. saying I was investigating David Paul and the murder of Marsha Webster. She lost that friendly bank officer smile and stared blankly at me.
"Mr. Richards, I didn't know Marsha very well, they all stayed in the back offices to themselves. If you'd like I could call and have you talk to someone back there," she offered.
"That would be very kind of you," I replied.
She got on the phone and dialed a number, made a request for some one named Kim to come up. We waited for a bit then a young man came out and was introduced to me. His name was Kim Wong and he worked in accounting with Marsha. I asked if there was somewhere we could talk privately and he took me to the same small room I had talked to Sylvia earlier. I wondered where she was.
"What can I do for you Mr. Richards?" he asked.
"I'm hoping you can tell me anything you know about Marsha Webster." I asked, and got the same blank look the bank officer had. I wondered if that look was taught in bank school. Then he smiled.
"I knew her pretty well, she and I and the rest of accounting occasionally would go out for a drink in the evening after we worked late. She was a real sweet girl, a bit ambitious, somewhat secretive and a wiz with computers. I didn't know about the affair she was having with Mr. Paul till after Fraud and Security questioned me about possible embezzlement by the two, just after her murder. It was all so distressing."
"Did she say anything about her private life, outside of work?" I asked.
"She lived alone in an apartment off Cass and Groesbeck in Mt. Clemens, I think it was called Grandview Terrace. She once said she had a boyfriend, but they broke up. She mentioned a girlfriend who was a manager at a Walgreens on Groesbeck by 15 Mile Road. She said her name was Lucy." He squirmed in his chair a bit, making me wonder if he had something more he wasn't saying.
"I would imagine after an evening of drinking in a bar, she might have talked a bit more about herself. Anything else you might offer to help me find her killer." I asked.
He looked at me like he wasn't understanding something and asked, "I thought David Paul killed her? That's what I heard."
"Mr. Paul is innocent till proven guilty as the saying goes. I'm trying to find the actual killer, be it Paul or someone else. Did Marsha confide in you anything else that may point to her murder?"
He hesitated, then offered, "She did get a bit tipsy one night and told me she was going to be rich soon and sail off with her lover. She didn't mention names so I didn't associate it with Paul, but I asked how she was going to be rich and she held her finger to her lips and said that was a secret. She never said anything more after that."
"How long ago did this happen?"
"About three months ago, I was a bit concerned since she worked in a bank and had access to money through the system, but I let it go."
"So you had a feeling that might be what she was up to?"
"Yeah, now I hear that's what the bank thinks. Too bad she got killed over it."
"You think she was killed because of it?" I asked.
"Well, we went out a week before she was murdered and she was real quiet most the night, not at all like her. I asked what was wrong and she told me she was worried about the man she was seeing, he was acting strange and she was a bit fearful for her life. I asked why she didn't just leave him and she said she tried, but couldn't, she was in too deep with him, then she shut up for the rest of the night. I couldn't get anything more out of her."
"Do you have any opinions about her death?" I asked.
"Honestly, after I heard she was killed, and found out Paul was her lover," he paused, "I think he did kill her, for the money. I have to get back to work, Mr. Richards, sorry but that's all I have for you." He stood and I thanked him and went out of the room.
Kim went off into the building, I was standing in the hallway just on my way out and then Sylvia popped up from around the corner. She handed me a business card and said to call her, she had a theory as to who may have killed Marsha.
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She went off down a hallway leaving me standing with the card in my hand. I went out of the bank and it was starting to rain so I went quickly to my car, drove over to Groesbeck, and into the parking lot of Walgreens. I went in and asked the girl at the register if Lucy was working. She called her on the P.A. and after a few minutes a woman came up and asked if she could help me. I showed her my I.D. and asked if there was a private place we could go to talk about Marsha Webster. She then looked a bit distressed and had me follow her. We went into the back stock room and into a small office, she closed the door and asked me to sit.
"I understand you were a friend of Marsha?" I started the conversation.
"I was, we knew each other since high school, she was a very dear friend. We had a lot of the same interests, especially computers, so we kind of bonded," she offered, as her eyes started to mist.
"I hope this isn't unpleasant for you talking about her, but I'm trying to track down her killer."
She got that blank look, I was getting a lot of today, and asked, "I thought that bastard David Paul killed her?"
"Well, the police think that's the story, but I'm just making sure it's true, I like facts more than conjecture. What is your take on the relationship between Marsha and David?"
"Marsha was a kind, sweet girl and needed love. She told me she was happy with Paul but he was married. I warned her nothing good comes out from fooling around with a married man. I know, I've been there. Didn't matter, she needed someone to love and he provided it, at least he provide sex, I don't know if he really loved her. Marsha talked to me about him a little, but to me it wasn't all that good. She said once that he seemed too interested in her work on the computers at the bank and he seemed to be up to something. After a couple of months, her mood changed, she still seemed happy but now she was a bit too happy. She told me that she and David were going off together, they were coming into some money and they would be happy elsewhere. Then she stopped seeing me as often as we were, she spent more time at the bank or with him." She stopped and looked at the floor for a while, I just waited.
"Did you know that there is an investigation of embezzlement at her bank, they think she was involved. Did she hint anything about it?"
She looked back up to me and said, "I suspected something was going on there. She was a geek when it came to computers and I know a bit about them myself, so one time I was at her apartment and I saw on her home computer that a program was running, it had tons of numbers flying by and figures were changing in the columns. She didn't know I saw it and I didn't ask."
"Did you see anything on the columns that had any headings or a title?"
"There was the Bank of America name on the top and then I would see a name, Grand Cayman, go by every now and then. I refused to think she could be stealing from her bank, I should have said something about it but she was a friend. What could I do? Maybe if I had said something, she might be alive today."
"Well, don't blame yourself, it probably would have happened with or without you. As a friend, did you have access to her apartment, maybe had a spare key for emergencies?" I hoped she had.
She paused and said, "I do have a key, as you say for emergencies. I don't know what I'll do with it now."
"Would it be a problem for you if I could take it to check out her apartment, it may help my investigation." I asked.
She hesitated, I could see she was troubled. "If it's going to be a problem, I can just ask the building manager to let me in."
She picked up her purse and dug through it and came up with a key ring, took off the key and handed it to me. "I don't really want the thing anymore, Marsha is gone and there's nothing for me there anyways." She started tearing up again. I said I had no more to ask and thanked her. I said I'd find my way out, I could tell she wanted to be alone.
I left the store and drove up Groesbeck to Cass, where Marsha's apartment was located. I didn't know if the police had gone through her apartment yet, if not, I may find something. I parked and looked for the apartment number Lucy told me. I came up to the door and didn't find any yellow police tape acrossed it, so I was feeling lucky. The key worked and I went in, I felt a little strange going into someone's place who had been murdered. All her property was sitting alone until someone comes to claim it, kind of sad to think. I had a bad habit of giving inanimate objects a life of their own, and I shouldn't do that. Now I was feeling sorry for all her stuff, sitting without an owner.
I saw the computer setting on a desk by the side wall in the living room. It was a small apartment, one large area for living and dining with a kitchen off the dining area, then one small bedroom and a tiny bathroom. It was fine for a single person, I would have felt cramped in it.
I went to the computer and it was off, I hit the switch to turn it on and it winked to life. It didn't take long to boot up and then I sat studying the desktop for icons to tell me what programs she had on the thing. I saw a file icon on the right that was labeled "Paul". I opened the folder and found it contained jpeg photos. I clicked on the first one and her picture viewer program came up and there was David Paul sitting in what looked like Marsha's living room, same couch. I ran through the pictures and they were all basically of David and Marsha, but none of them together. They had no idea about the timer on a camera?
I played with the computer for about an hour and found nothing useful. For Marsha being a computer geek, this computer wasn't very sophisticated. I sat back in the desk chair and was thinking about calling Sitaro and filling him in on my findings, just to let him know I was still following leads. I just wasn't going to mention about the Grand Cayman angle yet, save it for my hole card.
I was just getting ready to call when I heard a key enter the lock on the door. I reached for my Glock, but didn't pull it out. The door opened and in walked Richmond. He had a shocked look on his face, put his hand to his gun, then he saw it was me. I just relaxed and grinned.
"What the hell are you doing in here and how did you get in?" he asked rather annoyed.
"I'm a good detective." I don't think he was buying that, so I told him of my recent findings and getting the key from Marsha's friend, and that I stopped to see him earlier but he was off at the Covered Wagon bar. He grinned and sat on an easy chair.
"OK, I need to know everything you do, or I'll take you in for suppressing evidence. Even if you are Trapper's buddy now." He grinned and waited.
I laughed and said I would tell him everything, but I get the finder's fee if I break the embezzlement case. He looked at me strangely and I explained the whole story from when I found out they may have been ripping off Bank of America. He asked when I was going to tell him all this and I said it all just came at me today.
"I did come by to see you, but you were out chasing muggers. Have you solved that important case now?" I smiled.
He looked embarrassed and said, "We found out it was the bar bouncer, he'd follow the women to their cars, cover his face with a mask, and molest them. Big case, only because the Mayor had an ownership stake in the bar so he didn't want any bad publicity about it. So you aren't buying Paul for the murder?"
"Not what I'm saying, he had an interest in keeping Marsha alive if the money trail wasn't closed yet. Although it may have been and he wanted to get rid of her and take it all. The bank dicks have no idea if he was involved, but from my questioning of Marsha's friends, it sounds like he at least knew about it, if not involved in it."
"Well, you saved me a lot of running around doing my job. I'll give you a twenty minute head start and you can call me on your progress." He laughed out loud, I guess he thought he was funny. Well, actually he was.
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Richmond and I sat a while going through her computer, but I could find no program that would rob a bank by pieces. He started snooping around the apartment and checked the drawers and cupboards. I asked if he had a warrant and he waved a paper at me, then he asked to see mine, I waved a finger at him. He had a funny laugh, sort of a snort and a wheeze, reminded me of that dog in some cartoon that would wheeze a laugh when he did something nasty. I looked in the desk drawers under the computer and came up with travel brochures for the Bahamas, well, the Cayman Islands are down there, could their bank be there also.
Richmond came back and sat back down next to me and said, "If David Paul had an offshore account in the Caymans, he would have had to go there personally to open it, they are pretty strict about who they give accounts to. And which bank did he have an account in, there are hundreds of different banks there, he could have gone into any one of them. I'm glad your on the case, makes my life easier."
I thought that Richmond didn't really sound like he had his whole heart in crime fighting. Was he just skimming until retirement? I knew Trapper was a couple years from being able to retire, so Richmond must be close also. I made a mental note to call Rene to see if David had been out of the country in the last four months.
"Well, I don't see anything here that gives me a thrill. I'll give you a buzz if I come up with anything from my investigation, you can say it's part of your investigation." I offered.
He laughed and said that he was going to have forensics come in to check the computer and the apartment, now that we had our prints all over it.
I said I had another case I was working on, finding an attempted dog killer, and I was going to check on that with my associates. It made me sound important to have associates, I just didn't tell him it was a big biker and a mousy patrol cop.
We parted and I went back to my office since it was nearby. I got into my office and there was a message on my answering machine, it was from Rene, asking me to call her. I sat in my squeaky chair and dialed her number. She came on and I said I got her message. She apologize for rushing off earlier and would like to talk about her husband and my findings. I asked if she wanted to meet somewhere, or at her house. She said that we could meet at a Big Boy restaurant on 15 Mile and Moravian Road, since she was going to be in that area in the next hour. I knew the place and said I'd meet her there.
She hung up and I sat back organizing the day in my head. I called Buck at home and asked him to keep an eye on Becker, since Trapper was concerned. Buck said he liked Becker and would make sure he was all right when Becker was around the property, but he couldn't follow him outside. I said I understood, and mentioned that Becker was going to talk to Truedell's employees tomorrow morning, and since Truedell just lost her driver, Buck would probably want to drive her to her office early. He agreed and we said our good-byes and hung up.
I got myself together and drove out 15 Mile to the Big Boy and went in. The hostess asked if I wanted a booth or the counter, I said I was expecting someone and took a booth. After about fifteen minutes, I saw Rene's yellow Prius pull in and park. She got out of her car and coming across the parking lot I had to admire the woman, she was good looking and had nice legs showing in her shorts. She came in and the hostess greeted her and brought her to my table, I stood as she slid in across from me.
"Sorry I just popped in on you earlier, but I was in the area." I offered.
"No problem, I was just conferring with my lawyer as to proceeding with divorcing my bastard husband. Two women he had, and murdered one of them, I'm shocked." She said all this as though she were discussing a soap opera. Not like a wounded wife.
The waitress came and asked if we'd like lunch, I said I just wanted a Pepsi and Rene asked for coffee. She went off then came back with the drinks a short time later.
I filled her in on everything I knew that I could tell her without going into the embezzlement details too deeply.
"Rene, has David been out of the country anytime in the last four months?" I asked.
"I don't know if he was out of the country, but about two months ago he said he had to attend a bank conference for about three days, and he came back rather tan for a man who was supposedly in Seattle. I didn't question him about it, maybe I should have."
I asked Rene if David had any computer experience.
"He couldn't even run our computer from home, he could get his email but he was lost after that. I did most of the work on our computer, paying bills, things like that." She answered.
"You took care of the phone bills, where there any extra charges, long distance phone calls on your bill?"
"No, David had his own cell phone so I guess he wouldn't use the house phone for any of his calls. He didn't let me open his cell phone bill when it came, he said he'd take care of it. That was fine with me, but I did take a look at one yesterday he left on his desk while he is in jail, it was filled with a lot of the same phone number that I figure was one of his whores. There were a couple of international call charges, I haven't any idea where they were to."
"Would you mind if I could get a copy of his phone bill?" I asked wondering if he was calling his bank in sunny Cayman.
"Sure, I can run one off on the copier at home." she offered.
"Do you have a scanner that you could fax it to me?" I inquired.
"Yes, I can do that, I'll fax it to you when I get home, if it will help."
I said it would, greatly, and gave her my fax number. We finished our drinks and she said that if I would submit a bill for what services I had done, she'd send me a check. I said I'd fax a bill to her and got her fax number. She joked about faxing me the money, we laughed and I said a check in the mail would be fine. We departed the restaurant and I watched her leave the parking lot. I sat back in my car thinking about what she said, and wondered if I should call Richmond or Sitaro. I decided to wait until I got the phone numbers Rene said she would fax.
I had enough of the day, at sixty years old, I wasn't as eager as a thirty year old P.I. might be. I didn't want to push my limit. I decided to head back to Penny to see what she had for me tonight. She didn't know, or didn't want to say, what kind of guest she had on today so it would be a surprise. I wouldn't mind the bikini and stripper pole again, something to suggest for later. I called Trapper to see how Becker was holding up, he came on and asked if I had solved the murder yet.
"No, I'm still working on it. Your buddy Richmond has an annoying laugh."
"Yeah, when he really gets going, he sounds like a mule in heat," Trapper laughed.
"How's your apprentice doing on the car bombing?"
"He's holding up well, I'm expecting him in later to fill his reports for the day and he said he had some interrogations to do in the morning. Are you or Buck going to be there?"
"Buck is taking Mrs. Truedell to her office where they're having the employees in to question, so Buck will keep an eye on Barry." I smiled.
"Good, I'm grooming him to take my job when I retire, so train him right."
"Will do, I'll talk more later, right now I'm going home to see if I can get some good sex." I said knowing Trapper lived alone.
"Yeah and I'll go find a good hooker." He laughed and hung up.
I drove home and got to the door and went in bracing myself. I was suddenly attacked by six tiny yipping dogs, all nipping at my ankles. I yelled for Penny and she came out of the kitchen carrying her cat Shadow. She saw what was going on and put the cat on the back of the couch and came to my rescue. She picked up as many as she could and I reached down and grabbed the last two.
"What's going on?" I asked as the dogs squiggled and yipped in my arms.
"We had on a representative from the Michigan Humane Society today and they had dogs and cats who were looking to be adopted."
I was afraid to ask, "So you adopted six of them?"
"Oh God no. I'm holding them here till the St. Clair County Animal Shelter can come and get them this evening. Since I live closer to them, I offered to save everyone a long trip. They piled them all into my car at the studio and I almost lost two when I got here and opened my car door. These things are quick." She laughed.
She pushed me back on the couch and then dumped the ones she had on me. They all started slobbering on me, I yelled help. Penny laughed and went back into the kitchen.
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The dogs had all finally settled down on the couch and were either sleeping or chewing on a couple of socks of mine that Penny had volunteered. I was on the easy chair holding a teacup Yorkie, that was really enjoying a belly rub that I was giving it. The damn thing was cute, and it was small enough to put in my pocket, well, a big pocket. Penny was standing at the kitchen door holding Shadow and smiling at me.
"Wouldn't you like to have a cute dog like that?" she asked.
"I think you brought home a variety of dogs to see which one I would become attached to, didn't you?"
Her smile widened and she said, "Who me?"
"You know I love animals, but if I had a choice I'd get a ferret. But this pup is cute." I said looking down at the nuzzling mongrel.
"What are you going to name him?" Penny threw at me, hoping to get an answer from me without thinking.
"Hey, I never said that little Willy Boy is going to stay with us." I smiled.
"Where did you get that name?" she laughed.
"Well, Trapper would hate me if he heard that."
"Ah, Will Trapper, I get it. So are we adopting a child?"
I let out a sigh, "Only if you agree to help take care of it."
"I'm here more than you are, I'll have to take care of it. Besides, you picked the one I like. So I think we agree." she said happily.
"OK, but I think Shadow may not like the idea."
"After the brood is gone, he'll warm up to Willy Boy. It may take time, but I'm sure."
"OK, but never, ever call him Willy Boy if Trapper is around, I'll explain later." I laughed.
Around 6:45 a car pulled in and the animal shelter people came and got the rest of the pack and we told them we were keeping one. I gave them a fifty dollar bill, knowing the shelter works on donations, the man said he appreciated the home we were giving the dog. He and another man took the other dogs and went off. I looked at the mutt in my arm and said he'd better appreciate his new home. Penny kissed me on the cheek and called me a softy.
We went back in the house and I put the dog on the floor, Penny went in the kitchen to get dinner going. I said we didn't have any dog food, so we'd have to go out after dinner and get some doggy stuff for him. I guess I had bonded with the pooch, it was following me everywhere I went in the house. Penny fixed a nice dinner of burgers and fries, Willy was sitting next to my chair begging. I handed him a small piece of hamburger and he wolfed it down. Penny yelled not to feed the dog at the table, we need to teach him table manners. I slipped him another piece of burger when Penny was looking away, but she turned and said she saw that.
After we cleaned up from our meal, we went out in Penny's car, over to K-Marts and I carried Willy in the crook of my arm. He was so small he could almost hide there. We got a cart and picked up a bunch of doggy toys and food, I saw a nice bed that was big enough for him and got it, but I did figure I would be sharing a bed with the mutt. The doggy bed would be good while Penny and I were at work. The cashier went nuts over Willy, she got the manager's attention and she also went nuts over him. We managed to get out of the store with the dog before someone kidnapped him.
Back at the house we introduced the dog to his stuff and I got a board from the garage that would keep him in the kitchen while we were gone during the day. I told Penny we could leave the little kitchen TV going so he would have something to do. She looked at me like I had lost my mind and then laughed.
The three of us sat on the couch watching TV, Willy was nestled between us. We had our beer and chips, of which Willy had to have a chip. Penny was feeding him and I said I hope he doesn't get a tummy ache. We went off to bed and as we snuggled, Willy crawled to the end of the bed and after doing a spinning maneuver, plopped down and went to sleep.
In the quiet of the night I told Penny about my day and all the adventures I had. She was amazed I had covered so much ground for an old fart. I said it was too bad that the dog was on the bed, we couldn't bounce around like we used to. She said the dog won't always be in bed with us and smiled evilly.
We cuddled and Penny was asleep quickly as usual and I laid there. Willy came up to me and started licking my face. I pulled him off and took him out to the family room and we got on the internet. I checked various websites about Yorkies and learned a lot. While I was on the internet I checked on the Cayman Islands and learned a bit about them. There were hundreds of different banks on the island and they all had the same basic policy about opening up an account. You had to do it in person and provide a whole lot of identification. Willy went to sleep on my lap as I explored the Cayman islands, it's culture, people, businesses and banks. I thought it would be a nice vacation to take Penny down to the islands while I did some investigating. Something that would have to be decided on with more info about David Paul and his activities.
I lifted the dog and we went back to the bedroom. I set Willy down and crawled into bed. Normally Penny wouldn't wake if a bomb went off but she sat up and asked if the dog was all right, I said he was and she went back to sleep. I think I finally dozed off shortly after.
I got up early as I wanted to be at Mrs. Truedell's place of business to watch Becker interrogate the employees. Willy followed me into the bathroom to watch me shave and then he followed me out to the kitchen to watch Penny make herself pancakes. I generally didn't eat breakfast so I just sat at the snack bar and watched. Willy was now under Penny's feet and she was talking baby talk to him. I was thinking since Penny couldn't have children and she worked only about four hours a day, she was at home alone a lot. Having Willy was going to be good for her and keep her company. I knew she had the cat, but cats are too independent, a dog needs attention and company.
I called Willy over and put him on the couch and snapped a couple of pictures with my cell phone to show Buck. Penny gathered her things and got ready to go to work, but not before showering Willy with love and kisses, more so than I would get. She left and I put Willy in the kitchen making sure he had water and some food, then I spread papers all over the floor and hoped he could hit one. I put the board in front of the kitchen door and Willy looked so sad, I almost wanted to take him with me, but resisted. I did reach over and turned on the kitchen TV, I hoped he liked watching Penny's show.
I went out to my car and as I sat there, I called Buck. He came on and said good morning Jimmy. I said that Penny and I adopted a child last night, he made a couple of strange noises and asked what I was talking about. I told him about our new addition and he laughed. He reminded me that in the past he had two Yorkies, something I had forgot about him. I could picture the big man and the tiny dogs. I asked where Truedell's business was and he gave me directions. I said that since Becker was supposed to talk to the employees this morning, I decided to come and watch. He said Truedell was calling him to get going, so I said I'd see him there. I hung up and started the car, then headed out to the mobile doggy grooming company that Mrs. Truedell founded about four years ago.
I pulled into the parking lot and saw Becker talking to Buck and two uniformed cops. Becker was in civvies, I guess to look more the part of a detective. I parked and walked to them; Becker greeted me and introduced me to the other cops, then said Truedell had all the employees in the cafeteria and he set up a small room to do the interrogations. He asked me if I would help by listening in, I said I would.
He looked at me and said it was time to get to it.
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I went through the hallway showing Buck the pictures of Willy. He commented on how Trapper may not get a kick out of having a dog named after him. I said I thought of calling the dog George, Buck's given name, he just smiled and said he didn't think the dog would like that name. We got to the cafeteria and there were about fifteen people sitting around. The two uniformed cops were stationed at the doors and Becker was reading a paper in a folder. He asked for everyone's attention.
"As some of you may already know, Mrs. Truedell's dog's life was threatened but we now suspect that it goes deeper than that. An attempt on Mrs. Truedell's life was made yesterday, and thankfully due to the quick actions of Mr. Buck Carson, the dog's bodyguard, the attempt was foiled. The Clinton Township police are now investigating the case and I will be asking everyone here questions hopefully to track down the person attempting this crime." Becker spoke like a pro.
I figured he heard Trapper do it enough, he had learned well. Becker called a name, Diane Baker, and asked that person to go to the small room off the cafeteria and we followed her in.
Becker was looking at the file of the girl's work application as he sat across from her. This reminded me of all the interrogations I had sat in on, except there was no two-way mirror.
"Miss Baker, you worked for Mrs. Truedell for almost two years? Have you enjoyed your employment?"
The girl said yes.
"Tell me a bit about yourself and the job you perform here." Becker asked.
The girl told us all about her job and how she much enjoyed it, she loved dogs and thought Mrs. Truedell was a fair and good boss. Pretty much what they would all say I thought.
"Do you know a person named Jack Edwards or Ed Jackson?" Becker asked and I watched her face to see if there was a flicker of expression there at the name. She said no and didn't show any signs of acknowledgement. Becker ask where she was yesterday around 10 p.m. and she said she was working. Becker looked to me and I just shrugged and he said he had no further questions and sent her out asking if she would send in the next person on his list. She left and I said that his questions were good, just have to do it over and over again. He smiled and said he really wasn't crazy for the monotony of this all. The next person came in and Becker went through it all again. Nothing popped on this person.
About an hour and a half later we had gone through the entire staff and Becker looked frustrated. I said one person had a strange look on his face when Becker mentioned Jack Edwards. Becker said that he had noticed that too, and he showed me the name he had written down, Bruce Hardy, it was the guy I was talking about. Becker asked me if I would call him back in, I went to the door and called the name and the man came back in, I told him to sit.
Becker took a sneaky stab, "Bruce, where did you first meet with Ed Jackson, also known as Jack Edwards?"
Bruce sat there and looked at me and then Becker, he was quiet for a bit then said, "I don't know the man. Should I?"
"He was Mrs. Truedell's driver until yesterday when Buck saved Mrs. Truedell from the bomb Jack planted in Mrs. Truedell's car. You never met him here at work or elsewhere?" Becker was sounding a little angry, hopefully to scare Bruce and not just loosing his patience.
"I don't know this person, I never saw Truedell's driver." He muttered.
One of the uniformed cops came over to Becker and said something in his ear. Becker said Bruce's full name out loud and the cop whispered again in his ear. Becker got a big smile on his face and sat back. He just sat staring at Bruce who was getting uncomfortable now.
"Bruce, what's your address?" Becker asked and Bruce gave it to him. Becker looked to the uniformed cop and he smiled and nodded.
Becker looked to me and said, "Jim, remember yesterday when I said that we found that box I suspected the bomb came in, well, Forensics said the box did show trace of explosives." Becker now looked to Bruce, "Well, there was a shipping label on it, I sent out officer Mayfield here to check it, he said there was no one home. Probably because the person who's name was on the box was working here at the time." He stared at Bruce and then said, "That label had your name and address on it, careless of Jack Edwards to leave it on the box, or maybe he hoped it would be tracked back to you. You still deny knowing Jack?"
We could see the wheels turning in Bruce's head and he started to look mad. "Damn, that bastard tried to frame me!" He sat up straight and said, "OK, I want immunity if I give you any more information on Jack or the person who hired me to set up the murder." He folded his arms across his chest and shut up.
"OK, Bruce, I'll see what we can do, but we are going to have to take you to the station for further questioning." He looked to Mayfield and asked him to read Bruce his rights and take him in. Officer Mayfield said it would be his pleasure and took Bruce out.
I was feeling a bit happy for Becker and the luck he had over the box. Becker said he'd get hold of the D.A. and see where he could go from there with any offers for his testimony, if it pans out. Becker said he'd also run a background check on Bruce to see if he has any priors.
Becker got up and we all went out to the cafeteria and he told everyone they could go back to work or whatever they had to do. We went into Mrs. Truedell's office and told her and Buck what we found, then Becker said he would keep her informed. He left with the other cop and I told Truedell and Buck I had some investigating to do on my murder case. I reminded Buck that the killer was still out there, so keep an eye on Mrs. Truedell till we catch him. Buck said he would, Mrs. Truedell thanked me for my help. I left the office and tracked down Becker again and gave him an envelope with a check for his day's work filling in for Buck, he thanked me and I went out to my car.
I went to my office to see if Rene had faxed me the phone bill, hopefully it had what I was looking for. I got to my office and went in and found the fax in the tray and took it to my desk. I examined the list of numbers, there were about twenty calls to one local number and sixteen to another, probably his two girl friends. That reminded me about Linda Shanks, the blond mistress, I needed to follow up on her to see what she had on Paul, so I took the numbers and wrote them down. It was the long distance calls I was interested in. I wrote down all the area codes listed on the sheet and pulled out my Palm TX and brought up the Worldmate program then pulled up the area code listings. I scanned down the list and checked each one. There was a couple of calls to Germany, which I wondered about. There were three to the Bahamas and Cayman Islands which were made in the last three weeks. I was finally finding a link.
I sat back in my squeaky chair just as my door opened and in came Linda Shanks, talk about coincidence. I stood and asked if I could help her, she smiled and came closer to my desk. She reached into her oversized purse and was bringing her hand back up just as the mailman walked in and dropped my mail on my desk. This distracted her long enough for me to walk around my desk and come up next to her. The mailman smiled and said good-bye. I could see down into Linda's purse and saw she had her hand on a gun. I drew my Glock out and pressed it against her head, reaching down taking her hand out of the purse and removed the gun from it. I politely asked her to be seated and I took out the handcuffs I kept in my desk and secured her to the chair.
"Now that we are on a friendlier footing, what the hell did you want to do that for?" I asked as I sat back at my desk, putting her gun down and shouldering my gun again.
"I wasn't going to shoot you with it, just scare you." she said quietly.
"Yeah, well my gun does shoot and I didn't know you were just trying to scare me, I could have shot you."
She looked down as I continued, "OK, spill it, why were you trying to scare me?"
"We wanted you to back off the Paul murder case." she mumbled.
"I don't scare easily, you would have had to shoot me to get me off the case. Did you think of that?" I was yelling now, just to jar her.
Now she started to cry, I felt bad that I had yelled. I handed her the box of tissues and sat back.
She worked her way down to sniffling, the tears were all wiped away. She looked at me with red eyes and she sat back in the chair.
"I'm sorry, I'm not very good at threatening people. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said you would do it," she was babbling.
"OK, slow down and explain what the hell you're talking about." I asked politer now, I didn't want the water works again.
"David said that if you kept snooping around, it may come out what he was up to. His whole plan would come apart and we'd lose our reward."
"Reward? What reward?" I asked.
"The reward for recovering the money that Marsha was embezzling. David knew she was doing it and if he could figure out where she was stashing it, we could get the finder's fee."
Now I was really baffled.
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She looked to me with her red doe eyes and said, "About four months ago, David was chasing after Marsha after she revealed to him that she was going to be rich in a couple of months. He was curious so he asked her how but she said she wouldn't tell yet. I came back into town from being out in Colorado and I ran into David at the bank he was now working at, I was going for a loan on a house my family was selling, my childhood home, I wanted it. I was surprised to see him. Years ago, we were going hot and heavy before he met Rene and we had even talked about marriage. Things became a bit strained back then, I got a great offer for employment in Boulder, Colorado and he wouldn't move, so we parted. My great job out there finally went bust and I came back here. David and I hooked back up, but he was seeing Marsha. He told me he had to, so he could find out about money she was embezzling from the bank. As I said there would be a sizable finder's fee if we tracked it down." She paused.
I knew about the fee, too bad they knew also.
I offered, "So David was seeing Marsha to get information from her about the whereabouts of the money? There was no real affair?"
"Right, he and I fell back in love and he wanted to get the money for us. He was fed up with his wife and wanted to be with me. Now he's in jail for the murder of Marsha, but he wouldn't do that since she was the only one who knew where the money was being transferred to. It would be stupid to kill the golden goose as he said." She paused again.
I reached over to the phone and called Richmond and asked where he was, he said back at Marsha's apartment with his CSU. That was good, he was close by, I told him where my office was and said to get here fast. I hung up and Linda looked really frightened now. I stood and took the cuffs off her.
"I'll forget charging you for assault with a deadly weapon, if you just sit quietly and tell Detective Richmond everything you told me." I offered. "Oh, you better hope this gun is registered."
She said it was David's, a friend of his had it and David called him to give it to her. She was tearing up a bit, I put the gun in my desk drawer and said we wouldn't mention it then. I told her just to say she came in to tell me about David's innocence and why. I said I was sorry if the finder's fee comes out but she needed to establish David's innocence. She went quiet again. About ten minutes later, Richmond came in and asked what I had. I introduced him to Linda Shanks, he recognized the name, said he was going to look her up for questioning, and then he sat in the other client chair.
"Miss Shanks came in to talk to me about David Paul's affair with Marsha Webster, there is an interesting twist in the story. I told you about the suspicion of embezzlement, well, Miss Shanks can enlighten you about David's involvement." I looked to Linda and told her to tell Richmond what she had told me.
She went through it again and when she was finished, Richmond asked why David hadn't told them this before. Linda said he wanted the finder's fee and was worried if the cops had investigated it and found the money, no one would get the fee. Richmond sat for a bit then stood.
"I'll go back and question Paul again and see if we can get his facts straight. I'm still baffled by a few details in the murder, maybe I can jog his memory now." He thanked me, and I asked if I was going to be able to talk to Paul myself, he said he'd arrange it and left.
Linda was just getting up and I said to sit back down, I wasn't finished. She reluctantly sat.
"I want to know about David's trip out of the country a couple of month's ago, you must have known about it?" I asked.
She looked surprised that I knew, then she looked evasive but said that he took a little vacation with her to the Bahamas.
"While the two of you were vacationing, did David happen to visit a couple of banks in the Cayman Islands by chance?" I asked.
She was again surprised and said, "You seem to know more than we thought. Yes, he was trying to get a lead on where Marsha was stashing the money. He had found a name of a bank she had written on a pad at her apartment. It was the Deutsche Bank Limited, a German bank that had a couple of offices in the Bahama's, specifically the Caymans. David went there but found he couldn't get any one to talk about Marsha's involvement without an account number and pin code. Something David couldn't find from Marsha's apartment, he had looked."
I thought that explained David's calls to Germany.
"You had no problem with David sleeping with Marsha?" I asked.
"I did, but it was for us, we would have a good nest egg to start elsewhere. He had been planning on divorcing his wife even before I showed up. We were deeply in love, Mr. Richards, he now knows how much. I want him out of jail even if we lose the money." She paused, "I don't have any money, but if you could help him, I'll try and pay you something."
I often said I was a sucker for a sob story.
"Let's just see if we can get him out first. Now, does he have any idea who would want to kill Marsha, with or without the money?"
"David has no idea what happened that night, he can't imagine who'd want to kill her."
I handed her the pad and pencil I keep on my desk and told her to write her number and address so I could keep in touch. She did.
I stood, "I have nothing more I need to know, please, if you hear anything, call me." I handed her my card and she thanked me, I said I'd return the gun later, she said she didn't feel comfortable with it and left.
About twenty minutes later my phone rang, I answered and it was Richmond. He said toxicology came back on Paul's blood and he was heavily sedated the night of the murder. Alcohol levels were moderate, but he was drugged and it was enough that would have kept him out for the night. Richmond said he had a real pain now, finding the killer since he was now believing Paul was being framed. I asked if Paul was being released and he said that they were going to cut him loose for now, too many holes in the story to hold him. I asked when he was getting out, Richmond said in the morning after he checks on a few more details. I said I'd come in to talk to him early, and we finished our call.
OK, the case was getting both interesting and complicated. I sat organizing the details in my head, but that just hurt, so I went to my pad and paper and wrote an outline of the details, then went to my ample closet and pulled out the dry erase crime board and started to put the outline on that. I sat back and studied it for a bit, then reached over and dialed Linda Shank's cell number, she came on and I told her about the drug report and that David was being release in the morning. I said I would be there to talk to him and asked if she could meet me there, she said she would. I hung up and shortly after my cell phone rang, it was Trapper.
"Hey chief, what's up?"
"Did you name a dog after me?" was all I heard through the phone.
I laughed out loud, and said yes.
"You know Richards, sometimes I think you want to make me nuts. Why did you have to put my name on such a small dog, you couldn't get a pitbull and name it after me, but a Yorkie, good god man, it's embarrassing," he was moaning.
"Yeah, but it's a mean Yorkie. How did you find out so quickly? Penny and I just got the dog last night."
"I talked to Buck at Truedell's dog wash business. I came by to check on Becker and Buck was more than happy to inform me I was now a Yorkie. Damn it, had to be Buck telling me." He was moaning again, then changed the subject, "I see Becker did good on the collar of the informant. What's your take on it?"
"You covered it, he did good. He saw through the guy's demeanor and tripped him up with good interrogation." I said.
"You mean he got lucky." Trapper laughed.
"Well, luck did have something to do with it, and coincidence. But Barry held up well, give him some credit."
"Well, the guy is not talking till he gets a deal, then he says he'll squeal on the hit man and the person who hired him. Maybe this case can get closed up soon and I can put Becker back on the streets."
"You better get Becker into the detectives, or I'll name a poodle after you."
Trapper just swore and hung up.
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I got home and was greeted by Willy doing a little happy dance just as Penny came out of the hallway from the bedrooms, seeing me did a little happy dance too. Willy and Penny were both dancing around the living room and then she picked the dog up and came to me, planting a big smooch on me, then holding Willy up for a smooch too. I said I don't kiss dog lips. She laughed and took Willy to the kitchen, I followed. She said Willy hit all the papers today, and not one poop on the floor. She had taken him out in the backyard earlier and Willy did his business there, too. She was so proud of our new son.
She put the dog down and opened a bag that was on the kitchen counter and took out a leather looking purse and came to me, slinging it over my shoulder and head. She then reached down and picked up the dog and inserted him in a pocket in the front of the thing. I now understood what it was, a small dog carrier. Willy stuck his head out the front opening and yipped once.
"I saw it at the pet place at Macomb Mall and had to get it. Now we can carry him where ever we go." She smiled and ruffled Willy's little head, then kissed me.
"Yes, this is nice, but you get to wear the purse." I protested.
"Aren't you confident enough in your masculinity to wear this in public?" She grinned.
"Maybe. I'll try it and see what reaction I get." I grimaced.
"Good, because we need to do some grocery shopping, so if you have no big case to work on for the next couple hours, we can go." She went off and got her purse and offered to drive her car. I looked at Willy staring up at me and asked him if there was enough room in there for me to crawl in.
We got back about an hour and a half later and Penny was ragging on me about all the women in the store flirting with me and the dog. I said they liked the dog, not me, and it was her idea for me to carry the doggy purse. I secretly enjoyed the attention. She just said next time she'd carry the dog.
We had dinner and went to crash on the couch. I told her about my day and she told me she had been in the Cayman Islands a few years ago, it was beautiful and she would love to go back there one day. I thought to myself, it may be soon. The three of us packed it off to bed and slept well.
I went to my office first to check on the answering machine, and take another look at my crime board to refresh my memory. I blame old age for my memory lapses, people tend to accept that. I called Linda Shanks and she said she had been waiting for my call, I said I'd meet her in front of the police station in a half hour, so I closed up and headed west to Madison Heights. I arrived and saw Linda standing by the front doors and I parked in the lot. I approached her and we exchanged greetings, went in to where I asked the watch Sargent for Richmond and he called him. We were told to go in since I knew where to find him. He was sitting at his desk pouring through a pile of paper.
"This crap never ends," he said looking at the mess on his desk. He stood and shook my hand and acknowledged Linda. "I had a little talk with Paul this morning and he fessed up to the real story of his affair with Webster. He gave me info that matched your statements yesterday," he said to Linda, "so everything is fitting a little better."
He looked to me and said, "We now have to find out who drugged Paul and how was it done. And why was this planned so poorly. The keys from the car and the mysterious steak knife, nothing makes sense. Someone must think the police are really stupid to accept up this crappy set-up."
I asked if I could talk to him and Richmond agreed, he made a call to have Paul put in interrogation room two and led the way. I asked if he could watch from observation, I wanted just Linda in the room to make him more at ease. He agreed and opened the door for us and then went to the other side of the magic mirror. Linda and I sat for a bit then the door opened and a big guard brought in Paul. As soon as he saw Linda he rushed to her and they embraced. I stood and asked him to sit.
"David, we haven't met yet, I'm Jim Richards, the investigator hired by your wife to tail you." He gave me a scowl, they he relaxed. "I had nothing against you, just did the job I was hired to do. Now I'm trying to help by finding out who pulled this stunt on you." I paused while that sunk in to his grey matter. "I need to know everything that happened after you entered the motel room on the night in question. You need to be honest with me or I can't help you."
Linda spoke, "Dave, tell him everything, it won't bother me, Mr. Richard is a good man and wants to help you." She was remembering how I didn't turn her in for the attempted gun stunt yesterday.
He was quiet for a bit, I gave him the space. He looked to me and said, "We got into the room and we.. relaxed." He looked to Linda with an almost embarrased look, then continued. "Around 10 p.m. I went out to get a bottle of some good scotch and came back. We had a couple of drinks, I was going to see if I could loosen her up a bit to get any info from her about the money transfers and where she kept the account numbers and pin code for the account. She didn't want to talk about it, I didn't push it at first. I had seen her note on a pad of paper in her apartment one time when I was there and it had the name of the bank she was dealing with. Couple of months ago Linda and I took a little trip down to the islands and I made some inquiries about the account but they weren't real open about it without the numbers. Marsha said she was almost done with the program she inserted in the bank's computers and in another week we could run off and all the money would be ours. I wouldn't have killed her before I got the numbers, it would be real stupid." He went quiet again.
"Why did you two get a motel when Marsha had her own apartment?" I asked.
"Marsha was already out that way and we agreed to meet at the Gazebo, then I suggested that rather than run all the way up to Mt. Clemens, we just get a room nearby. She liked the idea so we went there."
"You say you fell asleep in bed and then woke the next morning in jail. Any idea at all how this happened?"
"I remember after we had a couple of drinks, I was feeling woozy and Marsha suggested we lay down for a bit. That was he last I remember of that night."
"Where did you get the booze at." I asked.
"There was a party store near 13 mile and Stephenson Highway, I got it there."
"So the bottle couldn't have been tampered with. How else could you have been drugged?"
He sat looking lost, "I have no idea, I don't think Marsha would have done it, what would that prove. She wouldn't murder herself and try to make it look like I did it."
"Who else may have wanted her dead?"
"I have no idea and I'm baffled by how they would have known where we were staying, other than they followed us, like you did."
I was wondering about that also, I hadn't seen anyone following me or them, so how did someone know where they were.
"Did you or Marsha call anyone from the motel?"
"Not while I was in the room, Marsha may have called someone while I was getting the scotch. I don't know."
"OK, why didn't you just give the information about the embezzlement to the bank dicks, why go to the trouble to go south and contact the bank? And why the phone calls to Germany?"
Paul looked a bit surprised, then said, "If I had told them of the embezzlement without finding the transfer bank account, I wouldn't have gotten the finders fee. They would just say they made the paper trail and I wouldn't be intitled to the fee. I called the bank headquarters in Germany to see if I could get anything from them about the account. I even told them I was a bank official here in the states where we suspected embezzlement involving funds being transferred to their bank. The Germans weren't very friendly."
"OK, a sensitive question here, why didn't you just hang in with her till the transfers had completed and all the money would have been yours. You would have had so much more money that way?"
"Mr. Richards, I'm not crooked. I also had suspicions that her embezzlements were suspected. If she had completed the transfers the police would have moved in and we both would be in jail."
I told him I may need to talk more later, I looked to the mirror and said I didn't have anything more to ask.
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I went into observation leaving Paul and Shank alone in the other room, we could still see them through the mirror glass. I sat and looked to Richmond, "What's your take on this?" I asked.
"I was hoping you'd figured it out, I'm wearing down on crime fighting, this job is starting to get to me. All the bodies I see, stabbed, shot, hung, mutilated, whatever. All the perps I have to deal with, all the long nights without sleep following a lead that doesn't pan out. Do you know how many cases don't get solved.. way too many. This case is hinky, nothing makes sense, unless there's another crook with his hand in the pie who did this for gain. I was really hoping you could solve it for me." He grinned widely.
"I could solve it, then phone it in to the tip hotline and collect a reward," I laughed.
"Yep, taxpayer dollars at work. Want my opinion?" he asked.
"Do I have a choice?"
"Nope, I think we're being set up. Paul knows more than he is saying." Richmond looked to me with weary eyes.
"I was thinking that too. The whole fiasco is a bit looney tunes. Maybe this is his way to really throw us off of him, make it look like a frame job. He probably has the numbers, already got them from Webster and then set up the kill to look like she was murdered without telling anyone where the funds are. He went to the islands to check on the account and he's now in the clear for the murders. I'm not going to take him off the top of my list of suspects."
"You have suspects?"
"Nope, just him so far." I smiled.
We sat and watched Paul and Shank make kissy face, then Richmond stood and said he was going to cut Paul loose before they started taking their clothes off. I stood and followed him out the door. He took Paul out to be processed and released. I told Linda that I would keep in touch and departed the place.
I thought about just leaving the case to the cops, I wasn't getting paid for it, but then the voice in my head said that I had screwed up by not hanging around the motel that night, it may have solved this sooner. I guess I felt guilty about it, now it was personal.
I was in my car and called Trapper, he came on with his usual friendly snarl and I asked him if Bruce Hardy was questioned yet.
"The D.A.'s office is dragging their feet, as soon as they get the time to handle menial cases like this they'll make a deal. Becker's been chomping at the bit all morning. I've never seen him so wired since he got in this morning."
"I'm at a stand still on my case at the moment, I thought I'd stop by and watch Becker apply the rubber hose to Hardy."
"I'm afraid Becker will kill the guy with the hose. I may have to tie him to the chair during questioning. I haven't heard if Hardy has a lawyer yet, so that should be a surprise. Why don't you stop by and we can chew the fat while we wait."
I said I was on my way and headed there. I was wondering what Buck was up to, so called him.
"Jimmy, how's your morning going?" he answered happily.
"Lousy so far, but I see brighter sky's ahead," I joked. "How's things at doggy central?"
"Good, Mrs. Truedell is feeling much better this morning, I guess since she now knows her dog is safe, but I have to remind her that she's not. I talked her into hanging around the house till this blows over, she's not happy, but then she could be dead. Any word about Bruce Hardy?"
"Justice is moving slow this morning, no word. I'm heading over to Clinton Township to watch Becker question Hardy, as soon as they cut a deal with him. Hopefully we'll have a name on the person who hired for murder. Until we know and find him, stay on your toes out there."
"No problemo, me and my .38 are on guard." He smiled.
I said good-bye and hung up. I got to the station and went in the side door straight to the homicide bullpen where I found Trapper talking to Becker. Becker got a big grin when he saw me, I came up to them.
"We just got a deal cut with Hardy and it's a go to questioning him. We were just heading there." Becker offered then went off to interrogation.
"How much caffeine has he had today?" I asked Trapper.
He laughed and said too much. We went to the observation room and sat. There was the usual suit in the room with us, I smiled at him and then remembered he was the one who blew his lunch when the mistress murderer blew her brains out over in Roseville precinct. He smiled at me weakly, he must have remembered me, too. Hardy was already seated on the other side of the looking glass, Becker hadn't made his entrance yet.
The interrogation room door opened and in walked another suit, must be Hardy's lawyer. I heard Trapper whisper an obscenity, and said to me this lawyer is a pain in the ass. Trapper said he may have to go rescue Becker if things start going south.
"Why would there be any problems, Hardy already got a deal to skate after his testimony. What more can this lawyer do?"
"He's a hard nose, he may make waves over anything. We'll just wait and see."
Becker entered the room and sat across from the two. He asked if Hardy was given his rights and if he minded the video recording of the questioning. Both questions were answered positively by Hardy and his lawyer.
Becker looked at the lawyer and said, "We've already cut a deal with Mr. Hardy for his open testimony, facts on the table, so I don't see anything that you can object to in this questioning. Is there Mr. Gordy?"
Trapper exhaled a breath and said Becker was going for the throat.
The lawyer sat for a moment and said, "I'm here to see my client gets a far shake without the crap you cops throw around."
"Well, maybe if your client hadn't crapped on this case he, and you, wouldn't be here now. So let me do my job, and you can hold the toilet paper."
Trapper made a little applause and said "That's my boy." I just laughed.
The lawyer sat back and made a wave with his hand, a sort of 'it's your show'.
"OK, Bruce we did a little digging, seems you have quite a criminal record, in and out of Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, you've done time for armed robbery, B & E, attempted murder, and assault on one of your lawyers," Becker glanced at Gordy and smiled, "seems Mrs. Truedell didn't dig deep enough in your job resume."
"What's that have to do with the inquiry?" Gordy asked.
"Just establishing our footing here. It means that I'll take Bruce's answers with a grain of salt and lots of investigating."
Gordy grumbled a bit then went silent.
"Bruce, yesterday at Truedell's dog grooming business, you admitted to me, two patrol officers and a private investigator that you were involved with the attempts on Truedell's life, is that correct?"
Hardy nodded after looking to his lawyer, who also nodded.
"You understand that you are to be given immunity on the conditions that what you are going to tell us is the complete truth and with nothing held back, leading to the arrest of the ring leader of this crime, is that correct?"
Again with the nods.
"OK, Bruce, spill it from the beginning. Why were you involved, who else were you working with and who hired you."
"I just got out of Ionia Correctional and needed a job. I saw the classified for a van mechanic in the Macomb Daily and answered it. Yeah, I fudged my application, no sense in scaring the old lady right off the bat. She hired me and I started that week." He paused and took a drink of water from the paper cup on the table that he asked for earlier. "Around the time Truedell got her dog to start showing and breeding, I got a call, from someone who wanted Truedell dead, but didn't want to make it look like she was the victim, just an innocent bystander in a crime. That was important to the caller. It had to be clean, not that she was the intended murder victim." He drank again. "I started calling her with threats on the dog, figuring if she got killed in the line of fire, it would have looked like collateral damage. I even took a couple of shots at the dog and his big bodyguard to set-up the kill. I didn't want them dead, just to start the ball rolling."
"You were a prison buddy with Ed Jackson, is that why you got hold of him?" Becker asked.
"Yeah, he and I knew each other and I contacted him to do the kill, but not right away. We had to wait until it was established that the dog was the intended victim. Ed convinced Truedell's last driver to move out of the area, he did, and Ed got hired. We waited about a month until I started the threats. Ed had the bomb gag set-up and it would have worked if that damn bodyguard hadn't queered it and pulled her away from the car. Things started to fall apart after that. I stuck around to see if we could continue the kill but Ed screwed up with the box. I think he planted it after he was discovered to be the hit man. Just to fuck me over." Another drink.
"Sounds plausible so far, now who hired you to set-up the kill?" Becker sat back and waited.
WANT TO KNOW WHO HIRED THE KILLER, AND WHO IS FRAMING DAVID PAUL?