The woman stood at the edge of the Stratosphere tower looking out over the Las Vegas valley. From her vantage point she had a real nice view of the city, and all its people moving around like ants. Of course being almost a thousand feet in the air helped to make the people look like ants and right now the woman could care less about all those people. At that moment she was more concerned about how she would look after she hit the ground below. Maybe this wasn't the best way to kill one's self. She thought about going back in the building and maybe buying some rat poison and do herself in that way. But what if she didn't take the right amount? She'd end up getting her stomach pumped and being put away for observation to see if she was stable enough to be let loose again. She hated the institution she had just gotten out of; she had been there because she had tried to slit her wrists, which she botched.
Okay, jumping off the tallest structure west of the Mississippi was something that even she couldn't botch on her own, so this was the way to do it. She looked down, something she shouldn't have done, but took a huge breath and did a beautiful Swan dive out from the footing. Her body floated downward being pummeled around a bit by the high winds that came across the valley every so often to make life miserable for the city. She was now floating over towards the busy Las Vegas Boulevard below instead of the parking lot she had hoped to hit. As she watched the ground below coming up in seemingly slow motion, she wondered what points of her life would flash before her eyes; she wanted to re-live a few things that she had enjoyed in her miserable life.
Her body was now directly over the busy boulevard of tourist cars going on their way to gamble or watch an expensive show. She didn't care, she just wanted to die. By the time she had made impact, a household furniture moving truck had pulled up below her and she crashed through the top of the cargo portion into a pile of mattresses that barely cushioned her fall. She was not in good shape, but she also wasn't dead, she lay there hurting badly and just mumbled, "Crap!"
Penny had already started to plan on decorating the home we purchased just on the west edge of the city of Las Vegas. The home had this fantastic view of the entire Vegas strip, all it's casinos and hotels standing tall, and the mountains looming up behind the strip. We were almost on the foot of the mountains behind us; we had a good sized backyard but since it started to go upwards to the high cliffs behind us, we had no great view back there, but it was private. The wall of rock also provided a natural fence so we couldn't be attacked by pirates from the rear, unless they rappelled down the face of the mountain. Willy, our pet toy Yorkshire terrier, was loving the large area to run, it was peaceful and fairly secluded. The next neighbor to us was about a city block away on the long, winding road that led over to Mt. Charleston. We were a bit out of the way from the city, but it would be nice because of the seclusion.
Our good friends, and a couple of Las Vegas Metro Police's finest detectives, Deacon and Lynn had been busy helping us take stuff from the moving truck into the house. I had paid my son to drive the moving truck out from Michigan, with my Crown Vic being towed behind and he helped with unloading the truck also. He saved me from having to strain my back.
Penny and I had driven back out to Vegas in the Lincoln limo and the trip took us just four days of travel which was nice being in the comfortable car. We had gone back to Michigan to sort out our lives and bring back with us just what we needed. Penny and I decided to let my son, his wife and our grandson move into the Michigan house while we were out in Vegas, until next summer when we would go back to stay a couple weeks with the family for a visit. My daughter-in-law and grandson were presently staying in the house until my son went back, so the house wasn't unattended. After we had emptied the moving truck, we took it to the nearest U-Haul rental place to drop off, then we drove my son to the airport and he flew back, being picked up at Metro Airport in Detroit by my brother.
Buck had decided since everyone was deserting him, and with coaxing from Maria, he would also move, but keeping his house and options open for going back. He had his brother help him pack a small moving truck and towed his classic T-Bird in back. He wanted the car with him in Vegas to be able to really enjoy his "ride".
Penny and Lynn had made a number of shopping trips to the huge mall not far from us, another factor in Penny's decision that we buy the house. They made a number of trips in Deacon's big Chevy truck and then I was finally asked to go with Penny to pick out some furniture. We found a nice store on Lynn's recommendation and bought a houseful of furniture, to be delivered in the next two days or it would be free. I'd like to see them make good on that promise, the furniture cost a fortune.
The house was now taking on a little shape, Penny had bought curtains and we spent a couple hours putting them up. Deacon was handy since he was taller than all of us, so he had the job of putting up the hardware for the curtains. We manage to cover the front of the house to keep prying eyes out, but I doubted there would be many eyes out here. Penny was like me when it came to windows being uncovered at night, we liked the curtains closed.
It was just before night fall and we all sat in the front yard watching the sun's light slowly move down the mountains across from us. The lights of Vegas were just coming on in full force and it was a beauty to behold. The beam of light from the Luxor had been turned on and I remembered our first trip out here when I was shot and I hallucinated that I sat on the top of the pyramid.
"So without bedroom furniture, where you two going to sleep tonight?" Deacon asked as he laid back on the chaise lounge Penny and Lynn had dragged home from Wal-Mart along with the rest of the lawn chairs they could get in the truck.
"We're camping out. I had our gear thrown in the moving truck from Michigan and we are pitching the tent and rolling out the sleeping bag." I replied as Penny smiled next to me. "The camping stuff will come in handy as we plan on camping a lot up on Mt. Charleston."
"It's going to be cold tonight." Deacon warned, "It's still winter here you know, and at night the temperature can drop in the low thirties."
"We're camping in the living room, so we'll be warm and toasty with a roaring fire in the fireplace." I answered.
Lynn's cell phone rang and she answered, listened for a minute then hung up smiling widely. "Want to hear something really different?"
We all waited for her to speak, "It seems a woman took a nose dive off the Stratosphere and landed in a truckload of mattresses. She lived and she's mostly stunned, she's lucky. The big deal was she left a suicide note saying she was killing herself because she couldn't bear the shame of a murder she thinks she committed. She's not in shape to explain tonight so I've been assigned to go talk to her if she comes around tomorrow."
Penny looked to me and mumbled, "Murder rears its ugly head again, don't even think about going near her or you'll sleep out with the rocks."
I laughed and said I'd stay away. I looked down the road and could see Buck coming up in his T-Bird with Maria, and after they parked the two of them came over to us with a magnum of champagne. "A little house warming gift." He grinned. I thanked him and said we didn't have any glasses yet. Penny said to hold on and went into the house coming back out with a box of glassware she had bought earlier today on one of her shopping trips with Lynn. She opened the box and handed me the first glass after I popped the cork off the bottle. I poured the liquid and handed them out to everyone. Buck had his small bottle of Sprite and we toasted.
"To good friends, good house, good weather, good life, good night," and I drank.
After it was finally dark and the lights of Las Vegas were brilliant on the floor of the valley, along with the beam of light shooting up from the Luxor Pyramid, everyone was tiring so they all left. Penny went into the house and brought a couple more beers from the fridge and we sat relaxing, listening to the night air blowing around the hills. It was a more gentle breeze now, better than the howling winds earlier. We held hands as we sat watching the circus of Sin City moving and glittering before us.
"Why didn't we do this a year ago?" Penny asked.
"I don't think we were ready for it. You had to finally decide to get away from your show and I had to get away from my family. It was the right time now and I'm not regretting it at all."
She suddenly stood and kissed me on the top of my bald head. "I'm getting a bit chilly. I think I'll go in and start a fire, care to join me? You can pitch the tent and we can cuddle." She gave me her evil little smile and said, "Then we can christen the house."
She went off into the house with Willy following her, I sat for a moment longer just feeling the atmosphere of the place, I was home now.
I guess it was morning; I was prone on the floor, in the totally silent house. Willy wasn't even licking my face. Penny wasn't either. We had christened the house last night, and then we christened the floor, the walls, the tent, the sleeping bag, the new curtains and any other object we could think of. It was a night of christening our brains out. I sat up realizing I was naked, my clothes were strewn around the floor. I had no idea what time it was, my watch was strewn somewhere around my clothes. I stood carefully, since my back was feeling a slight twinge from the air mattress we slept on. I was used to my bed and this new mattress needed a little more air. Damn I hate getting older.
I had managed to find my BVD's and put them on while I hopped to the kitchen to see where my wife was off to. She wasn't in the kitchen, but the patio door was open off the dining area, so she must be in the backyard I deduced. That's why I'm the private eye, I make these deductions. I went out and could hear water splashing, Penny was in the half-sized Olympic pool we had in the back, just past the ugly fountain that stood in the middle of the courtyard. The fountain came with the house; it was one feature I didn't care for. It was of some Grecian God pouring water from a pitcher into the small circular pond full of koi fish all waiting to be fed. I reached in the can by the feet of the water God and grabbed a handful of pellets, tossing them to the giant goldfish that devoured the feed like piranhas.
I came around to the pool and saw Willy, our toy Yorkie, sitting quietly on a lawn chair shaking. He usually shook when he was excited, frightened or hungry. He shook a lot. But I think he was shaking now, watching Penny swim back and forth in the pool, hoping that he wasn't going to be in the water also. I came over and he saw me, shaking harder now as I sat in the lawn chair next to him, petting his head.
"Don't worry buddy, I'm not going to throw you in. It's the last place I would be myself." I had this thing about water, well, being in water. It was not something I cared for. I watched Penny doing her strokes back and forth then realized she was naked. I almost jumped in with her.
She finally brought her head up and saw me, she waved. I waved back and told Willy to wave to mommy. He didn't. Penny went to the steps coming out of the pool and came bouncing over, literally, to me. She had great breasts that held up very well for a woman a year from being sixty. She picked up the towel from the bench and started to dry off.
"About time you got up, are you feeling okay this morning?" She asked as I studied her body.
"I'm barely alive and barely dressed. How long have you been up?"
"About an hour, I decided to start my day every morning with a swim, since we have it. We need a whirlpool spa now, right over there." she pointed to a bare spot of backyard that just screamed to be fill with a spa.
"I'll call the pool people today and have one brought out, just for you." I replied.
"So, you wouldn't even sit naked with me in a whirlpool. We used to do it back when we stayed at the MGM Grand during the convention, or have you forgotten?"
"I have no problems with being in a whirlpool; I just don't care for deep water that one can drown in. Like the pool." I replied.
"You can't swim can you?" She accused.
"I never learned, and have no desire to."
"Well, I'm going to teach you, that's an order. I took swim class in school, remember?" She laughed.
"Oh I remember, it was the one area of the school I loved to take pictures, at least that's I told the teachers, I was taking pictures for the yearbook, I lied."
"Well, you are going to learn, and then we can both get up early and go for a nice swim."
I mumbled to Willy, "There's nothing nice about early or a swim."
"What did you say, Sweetie?"
"I said that it would be nice getting up early for a swim." I smiled.
"Yeah, that's what I thought you said." She stuck her tongue out at me and sat on my lap, still naked. "Shall I do a lap dance for you?"
"Have you taken a swing around your new stripper pole yet?" I asked looking to the pole that was embedded in the concrete just off the pool. It was part of this property that was formerly owned by one Brett Wallis, a famous burlesque producer and entertainer. He had a great show running on the strip that I had seen when I worked here. I got to know Brett and a few of the topless dancers from the show since I would get them tickets to see Nick North's show. I thought about the man I had worked for and wondered if Nick was entertaining in prison now. Brett used to have some great parties here and the stripper pole was installed to provide entertainment for his guests. Penny saw the stripper pole when we first came to view the property with the real estate guy, and she knew it was a sign.
"Yes, I did a few maneuvers on it earlier; it's a much better pole than what I had back in Michigan. I like it."
"So did the real estate guy when we came out here and you attacked the pole and did a number of maneuvers around it then. His jaw dropped to his belt."
"Well, between the gigantic mall, the pool and the pole, I just had to live here." She smiled as we heard the property alarm go off. Penny jumped being startled and went to get her robe. I went into the kitchen to the control panel for the security equipment and turned on the TV monitor and saw Deacon and Lynn in the drive. The entire property had sensors installed so if anyone walked onto the property, alarms would sound. The driveway had another alarm to warn if someone drove in. It was a nice system and would let us run around naked until someone invaded us.
I went to the family room and gathered my clothes to dress, by that time Penny had slipped into a jump suit and was at the door greeting our friends.
"We came up behind a furniture truck coming up the road a few miles back, I sped up to warn you they were coming." Deacon said just as the truck pulled up to the front of the house, three big men got out and one came to the door. I went to greet them being disappointed that they beat the schedule so my furniture wasn't going to be free. I took the invoice he had and said to start bringing it all in. Penny took command and Lynn fell in behind her to direct the men as to where the furniture would go.
About an hour later, everything was in the house, I gave the men a nice tip and they left. Penny said she had to do some rearranging to make it look better, so we spent another hour moving furniture around so Penny could see where she liked it best. Deacon and I had just finished with moving furniture when Buck and Maria walked in and Buck asked if he could help.
"Good Timing Buck, we just finished." I laughed.
We all sat on the new living room furniture and Lynn told us about the tower diving woman. "The woman, Lacey Lee, was barely awake when I got to the LV Medical Center and she had quite a tale to tell. Seems about five months ago she woke in a man's bed at some motel off the north end of the strip, and found the guy dead next to her. She had a knife in her hand and blood all over her. She went to wash the blood off and clean up, she said she was using the toilet and fell asleep sitting there. When she woke, she went back out to the room and there was no body or blood. She also said it wasn't even the same room she was in earlier. She claims she had to have been moved. She called the police and they did a look-see of the motel and found nothing. I talked to the primary officer on that case and he told me they found no evidence of foul play or murder in any room of the motel."
"Did she know who the man was?" I asked.
"No, she doesn't even remember going to the motel or where she was. They took her in for psyche evaluation and she was getting really paranoid now. She was having bad dreams about the murder and could see many people in her dream stabbing the man. The hospital she was in said they worked with her for a month then her hospitalization insurance was running low, so they cut her loose."
"Oh sure, just let the insane wander the streets now, that's where most homeless people come from. Patients being turned loose by mental hospitals because they have no money to pay for treatment." Penny grumbled.
"I'm afraid you're very correct about that, most homeless are people who need treatment. But that's a whole other debate. This woman wasn't homeless, she was a dealer at one of the smaller casinos over by Boulder highway. But her health insurance was cut back and she didn't have enough funds to be given further treatment. She said she started having really bad dreams and she had become despondent about the whole incident so she tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists. Unfortunately, or fortunately, she didn't quite cut her wrists properly for her to bleed out, she missed the vein. She was found by a friend and taken back to the hospital and the whole thing went around again. The woman said she had it with medical people poking and probing her, she wants the police to investigate, but without a crime we could do nothing. That's why she took a nose dive off the Stratosphere. It's sad really."
Penny looked to me, "I see wheels turning, you aren't thinking of looking into this are you?"
"Well, if there was no real murder, how can I not help this poor woman?" I smiled.
Deacon finally spoke, "Well, before you do any investigating, you'll need to get your P.I. license established here in Nevada. I'll help you with the paperwork when I can, just come on down to the precinct and we'll get you set up with a CCW also. Don't carry till we get it all official. I can go with you to talk to the woman if you want, just to make it official for now."
"Thanks Deacon, I appreciate that."
Lynn looked at Penny and said, "If you could have seen her, it was heart wrenching to listen and then check out her story. She seems like a really sweet girl who's wrapped in a mystery and as a cop I can't help her. Maybe Jim can."
"Since you're not doing your show now, you can come along with me to help." I said to Penny hoping that would make it easier to get away with taking the case. She sat there looking like she was deciding to or not.
"Do I get a license too?" She asked.
Everyone laughed and I said, "I'll get you a junior detective badge that you can flash when in trouble."
"All right, it's a deal." She smiled.
We all went out to the backyard and I headed over to the huge barbecue monolith that was off the side of the yard. It was made of adobe bricks and looked like a nuclear reactor. I opened the hood and it was filled with charcoal briquettes that looked just right for burning. I found a can of starter and poured the liquid on, then borrowed a lighter from Lynn, which she said she had for emergencies, and lit the thing. The ball of fire that rose up from the pit was enough to rival the beam of light from the Luxor. I was sure it could be seen from outer space. Penny came to me and asked if I had a permit to operate an incinerator and then said "What are we going to B-B-Q?"
I had a few surprises up my sleeve and went into the house to the huge double door refrigerator and pulled out the container of steaks that I smuggled in yesterday when I went to the store for more beer. I brought them out to the cheers of everyone and Penny said she was going to whip up a side dish. That scared me, but she was a fairly good cook. She and Lynn went into the kitchen as I watched the steaks sizzle on the grill.
As we ate our meal and I commented on wondering what Trapper was up to, I said I'd have to call him. Deacon said he missed Trapper every so often, all the funny things Trapper would pull around the precinct. "Vegas has something going on all the time in the way of crimes, but it's so routine. The last time we had a real laugh was when Trapper and Becker were running around Vegas pulling all those pranks on Captain Weber when you guys were out here for your wedding."
"So you haven't had any real serious crimes or murders since Jim left Vegas that last time?" Penny asked making a stab at my curse.
"Oh, we've had murders, mostly gang bangers or tourists who went into the wrong part of town for a little action, but no serial killers or mass murderers. So, no, we haven't had any real good murders since Jim left." Lynn was in on the joke now.
I picked up my empty paper plate and said, "Fine, you can joke about my predilection for having good crimes to solve, and I usually have a few following me, but I get the job done." I went to the garbage can in the box on the back of the attached garage and dumped my plate. "I plan on starting my P.I. business out here and if I happen to run into a crime that the Vegas police can't handle, so be it."
"Sweetie, you have me now to help solve your crimes, like "McMillan and Wife" with Rock Hudson. We'll be the new husband and wife crime fighters." Penny looked serious when she said it, I just cringed.
We spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing; Penny, Maria and Lynn decided to spend most of it in the pool. Maria and Lynn fit well into one of Penny's dozens of swimsuits; I had none since I wasn't a pool person. Deacon, Buck and I just sat and watched the women frolic.
Around six everyone was heading out so we walked them to their cars. Deacon said he'd come by tomorrow morning to take Penny and I to the hospital to see Lacey Lee. Penny said she'd be ready, I said I'll try to be up early. After our friends had all left, Penny and I went into our new home to see what we could do with the new furniture.
We sat on the new couch in front of the humongous LCD TV that the men had installed on the wall. Willy was a bit confused by the new furniture and was trying different places to lie down. We had his favorite chair that we brought with us from Michigan but it was in the bedroom. He settled on the new recliner and claimed it for himself.
"We've been out here almost two weeks, mostly staying in Caesar's Palace, but we haven't even gone to any of the shows yet. Now that we are settled a little, let's start taking in all the places we haven't visited in the past." I said.
"I want to see Celine Dion first." Penny asked.
"She left last year, its Cher now. But Celine is coming back I hear."
"Good, that's where I want to go, to see Cher."
"You got it. So what is your take on the tower diving woman?" I asked to see if she was still interested.
"Lynn told me a few more details on her while we relaxed around the pool, I think you'll have something interesting to solve if what I hear is true." She told me very little more than what Lynn had already said, but I gave her my full attention. We sat quietly then I looked to her and said, "Let's go check the new bed, we haven't christened it yet." She grinned and ran off to the bedroom, I followed.
We spent the next morning relaxing on the new mattress admiring the new bed set and talking about what we wanted to do with the furniture in the rest of the house, just as the phone rang. I reached over to the bed stand and answered, it was Deacon.
"Good morning, are you up and raring to go already?" I asked.
"I'm just getting up; I'll pick you guys up around noon, that's when they let cops interrogate patients. I'll see you then." He disconnected and I put the phone back on the base.
"Well, we have a couple of hours to kill, pardon the pun, is there anything else we need to christen?" I said, and then Penny laughed and jumped out of the bed.
"No, not right now, but I'm going to teach you to swim, so get up!" She ordered and I just groaned. "Now or you'll never christen anything in this house again."
I swung my feet over the side and stood begrudgingly; I followed her down to the pool, both of us still naked. We stood at the narrow end of the pool looking down the long body of water. "Now you need to know some things about swimming." She said.
"You mean, like this." I said as I did a dive off the concrete into the pool and did two complete laps in speedy time. I came back to her and bobbed up hanging on to the edge.
"You sorry son-of-a-bitch, no offense to your mother, you can swim!" She yelled down to me.
"Yep, I still hate water but I did learn about two years before we met. It was a challenge I made to myself. So, want to come in and fool around." I reached out and grabbed her leg and pulled her to an off-balance state and she tumbled in. Making love in water is something everyone should try once in their lives, we tried it twice, maybe more.
Around eleven-thirty we were dressed and ready to go. Penny smacked my behind and said I was a bad boy for not telling her I could swim. I said I was waiting for a good time to rescue her from drowning to show off my swimming skills. She asked where I practiced after the lessons; I said I would go to the YMCA in Mt. Clemens. She just made a face and said I was still a bad boy and would be punished severely. I couldn't wait.
Just before noon, Deacon pulled in setting off the driveway alarm, and Penny and I went out to greet him. We drove over to LV Medical Center and parked. We went up to the floor where Lacey Lee was at and started to go into her room just as a nurse asked what we were doing and Deacon flashed his badge and said police business. She smiled and said Miss Lee was awake. We entered the room and found her sitting up eating from a tray, it didn't look appetizing.
She looked up and her eyes got wide, "Hey, you're that lady from the TV, what's her name, Martha Stewart?"
Penny laughed and said, "No, I'm Penny Wickens."
"Oh, yeah, that's it, the talk show lady on the CW. I know you now."
Penny went to her bedside and said, "I'm not doing the show anymore, I've retired and living here in Vegas."
"Wow, and you're here to see me. I know the big guy, he's a cop, but who's the old guy?" She asked. I was offended.
Penny got a big laugh out of that, "He's my husband, Jim Richards. He's a private investigator."
"Oh, yeah. You're the one from that TV movie about the killers of the cheerleaders. You solved that case."
I went to the bed and said, "Yes I did; now I want to help solve your case."
The woman was more of a girl, barely 23 and acted like a teenager, kind of a bubblehead. She was cute and had a voice that reminded me of one of those mice in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, high and squeaky.
"Miss Lee, I'm going to try to help you find out what happened that night you say the murder occurred. But I will need your full cooperation if I'm to help. Can you do that?" I asked.
She thought for a couple of seconds and said she would. "Wow, a famous TV lady and her detective husband, I'm psyched. Are you going to investigate too?" She asked of Penny.
"Yes, I'm going to help." Penny laughed and pulled a chair over, placing it next to the bed and sat, taking Lacey's hand she asked, "Lacey why don't you tell us about yourself?" I thought Penny was going to interview her like she did on her show, which wasn't a bad idea. It would make the girl relax and be more receptive to our questions.
"Sure, I was born here in Vegas and lived with my parents until they divorced when I was five. I lived with my mother since my dad had a gambling problem and never had enough money to take care of me let alone pay child support to my Mom. I had to start working early to help with bills. I worked for an uncle of my mom's, he's a pit boss at the Silver Dust casino, it's a small casino over on Boulder highway. I've worked there for four years now, it helped take care of my mom, but she passed away last year from cancer." She paused and looked like a tear was forming in her eyes; Penny grabbed a tissue from the stand next to the bed and said to take her time.
"Thanks, the house we lived in was paid for by her uncle and he let me live there after my mom passed, I still do." She smiled now and Penny asked, "Moving up to the night just before you woke in the motel room, do you remember what happened?"
"That was a crazy night, I remember getting off work at the casino around ten in the evening and then going into the lounge to have a couple quick drinks, just to relax, then I went out to the employee parking and got my car. I drove out Boulder Highway going to the freeway to go home but I felt a tire starting to go flat. I don't know how to change a tire, so I pulled into a parking lot of a closed auto parts place and stopped the car. Right behind me was this big SUV and there was this guy in it. He got out and asked if I needed help. Well, duh! I told him I didn't know how to change a tire, he said he would if I could just open the trunk. I did and he started to change it for me. He was on the ground putting the tire on when he stopped to unwrap one of those round Dum-Dum suckers on a stick, he asked if I wanted one. My mother always told me never take candy from a stranger, but he was so nice to help, so I took one. I unwrapped it and put it in my mouth but after a while it tasted funny. That was the last thing I remember."
Penny looked to me, I looked to Deacon. He said, "When they investigated Miss Lee's claim of the incident, the primary officer took his men to the parts store and after searching the parking lot they found a sucker stick on the ground. Forensics said it had been laced with a fast acting sedative. The store owner pointed out her car saying it was just parked in the middle of the lot when he came in that morning; he had his employees move it to the side. CSI was called and dusted the car but found no prints other than Miss Lee's and a few from the store employees."
"Yes, I remember, he wore gloves the whole time he worked on the car." Lacey offered.
I looked to Deacon and asked, "Has she given a description to a sketch artist?"
"Yes she did," he said as he brought up the manila envelope he was carrying and took out a copy of the sketch. He handed it to me; I showed it to Penny then turned it towards the girl. "Was this the man who changed your tire?"
"That was him or as close to him as I remembered."
"Was this also the man you found murdered in bed the next morning?"
"No he wasn't, I really didn't get a good look at that man's face but it wasn't the same guy. I was so shocked by all the blood and the body; I just looked briefly at him then went to the bathroom to throw up. I was in the bathroom the whole time until I woke up on the toilet and I was somewhere else."
"How did you know you were someplace else?"
"The room was different. The walls were brighter and the door was on the right instead of the left. I know because I looked to the door to see where I could get out. The bed was all made and clean, no blood anywhere in the place."
The door to the room opened and the nurse came in explaining she had some routine checks to do on the patient. Penny moved so the nurse could get to Lacey. We stood back while the nurse did the usual blood pressure and temperature checks.
I turned to Deacon and asked if she was going to be released anytime soon, he said he'd ask. "I'd like to revisit the motel and take her along to see if there's anything that may jog her memory. How much did the primary officer investigate on this?"
"There was no murder crime scene, the drugging was about the only thing they really went into as a possible kidnap and rape, but the rape kit came up negative. So they didn't focus on it much. According to Detective Mason, the investigating officer assigned, they had a ton of other case loads to take care of and this girl wasn't a high priority. Mason treated her like a hooker who had a bad night with a john."
Penny said, "That's tragic, this girl needed more attention than just a brush off."
"I know Penny, but sometimes even the best cops are jerks. I don't excuse it, but it happens." Deacon offered.
"Well we are going to help this girl. Aren't we Sherlock?" she smiled to me.
The nurse finished and Deacon asked her how long before she would be discharged. The nurse asked him to step out of the room; I followed as Penny went back to Lacey.
"Uh, Detective, the patient is going to be transferred to the psyche ward for evaluation due to her suicide attempt. You'll have to talk to Dr. Stevens about this. I brought you out here to tell you so not to upset her." The nurse smiled and went off to do her job elsewhere.
"I wonder if we can bust her out of here and get away with it." I said.
"I'll have a talk with this doctor and see if we can place her in protective custody on suicide watch. It's worked before, may work this time, especially if we can help her to get over the ordeal." Deacon said. I thanked him and we went back in the room.
Penny was talking to her as we came up, she turned to me and smiled, "We were just making small talk. She was asking me about a few celebrities I had on my show."
"We are going to see if we can get you released and go back to the motel to start from there. Would that be alright with you?"
"They aren't going to take me back to the nut hatch?" she asked.
"We're going to see if we can avoid that, but we may have to tell them we will assume responsibility for you, so you'd have to do what we say, is that going to be a problem?"
"I have no problem with it, I can't seem to take care of myself, it will be nice to have people worry about me." She finally smiled.
"All right, we will be back when we can get you out of here, so hang in there. Sorry, I didn't mean it like that." I said remembering her dive off the tower.
She actually laughed, probably from a release of relief, "I was stupid for that stunt, but I was hurting too. I mean hurting before the jump, well, it was more of a bigger hurt after. Did you ever face death from a thousand feet up?"
I went to the side of the bed, sat on the edge and told her about my near dive off the Stratosphere back during the showgirl murders when someone tried to push me off the tower. "Yep, I looked down that same drop you did, but I hung on for dear life, I didn't want to fall. I have to say I admire you for the guts that it took to do it, but it was foolish."
She was quiet and said, "I have lived in terror since the day I woke in that room. The dreams kept coming and I couldn't get anyone to help make them go away, I was getting desperate. I had this hole in my life and it was terrifying me. Please help me."
I stood and said, "We will, just put some faith in us. We'll do our best, and stay away from the roof." She laughed, it sounded good.
Deacon asked the nurse where we could find Dr. Stevens, she gave us directions to his office and we headed that way. We found the door with his name painted on it and entered. There was a secretary typing at a small desk and Deacon asked if Dr. Stevens was in, flashing his badge. She squinted to read the shield.
"You're lucky, he just came in. Shall I say what it's about?" She did her job well.
"It's about a patient. We need to talk to the doctor about getting her released." Deacon said.
"One moment please." She picked up her phone and made a call. She listened then a door off the side of the room opened and out came a smallish, round man, no hair, pointy nose, bulging eyes, he reminded me of Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.
"May I help you?" He asked, then saw Penny and said, "Aren't you that woman from the TV?" I thought having Penny around didn't hurt, it loosened people up.
Penny smiled and said she was, holding out her hand to shake his and pulling him near enough until she was almost touching his body. I could see he was enjoying it and I figured Penny knew how to work people. I tried not to laugh.
Penny said, "Dr. Stevens, we have a dilemma. This tall gentleman is Detective Frank DeAngelo, with LVMPD, but you can call him Deacon. The other man is my husband, the famous private investigator, Jim Richards. You may have seen the mini-series, Classmate Murders; he lived it and wrote it. Now we need to ask you a favor." He was looking so distracted now, looking into Penny's eyes he would have agreed to free surgery.
Deacon came forward to make the request official, "Dr. Stevens, you have a recently admitted patient who we need to have released to help her with a murder she thinks she has committed."
"Ah, Miss Lee. Yes, she is a hard case for her two suicide attempts. She has a deep rooted psychosis about the supposed murder, which hasn't been proven yet. But how do you think you can help her if we haven't been able to?"
I spoke now, "Dr. Stevens, we are going to help her by solving the problem that is tormenting her. You and your staff work from in her mind but we will work to bring her the closure she needs to stop the nightmares. We want to find out what happened that night. But we can't do that if she is in this place, we need to take her back and help us."
The doctor stared at me for a moment, "You're the guy who caught the two psychopath serial killers in Michigan aren't you?"
I looked to Deacon and then said, "Yes, I was one of the people who solved that case. In fact, Detective DeAngelo here helped on that also. Now we need to have Miss Lee released when she is physically able, but you want her to go for psychiatric testing. So there is a problem."
"Well, she needs competent care to help her with her mental state." He grinned.
I decided to try a small lie, "Well, her insurance is getting really low, will you help her here pro-bono?"
He stood staring again, and then said, "I think we can work out a release date for her as long as her body is strong enough to carry her out of here and you take responsibility for her." He smiled, I smiled and we shook hands. He said he'd check her to see if she is well enough to travel and we could take her. He excused himself and went out.
I laughed and turned to my companions and said, "Shall we go get our little ward?" We went back to Lacey's room and found the good doctor checking her over and telling the nurse that she was ready to be released. The nurse looked concerned but did what the doctor told her to do.
I took Penny aside and said, "Would it be a problem to let her stay with us in the guest house, till we know the situation?"
"Oh hell no, it won't be a problem, in fact I was going to suggest it myself." She kissed me and we went back to Lacey's bedside now as she was getting dressed by the nurse. She was still hurting from the fall into the mound of mattresses that saved her, but she was feeling better. After a bit of paperwork, she was put in a wheelchair and we pushed her to the lobby while Deacon went to get his car. I asked if they had an extra wheelchair that we could use and the nurse who had to accompany her to the door smiled and said we could take this one. As long as we brought it back. I said we'd get a new one and bring it back as soon as possible.
Lacey was helped into the car and the wheelchair was folded and put in the trunk. Deacon drove us back to our home and Lacey was amazed by the view we had from the front of the house.
"Lacey, do you swim?" Penny asked. God, she was going to get everyone into that pool I thought. "It will be good for your therapy by being in the pool; it helps you with motor skills, the healing ability of hydrotherapy is well documented, and reduces impact on the body, allowing for better exercise without stressing the body." I looked at my little doctor and smiled. Lacey said she loved to swim; she had a small pool at the house she was living in. That brightened Penny up.
We pushed Lacey to the guest house just off the side of our house and took her in. It was mostly one room with a kitchenette and a separate bath. It was a pleasant room, bright colors and lots of windows that faced the view of the valley. She said she loved it and we got her out of the wheel chair and she stood for a moment, and then got a bit dizzy, so we sat her in an easy chair by a small coffee table. "I'm sorry, but I haven't stood since the fall. I'll be all right in a while."
Deacon came in, said he had to go back to the precinct and asked if we needed anything else. I thanked him and said no, but to come back when he could with Lynn so we can plot out our attack on this case. I may need some advice. Deacon said he called a friend in licensing and he'd have my paperwork ready to get my P.I. license set up for here. He explained that I would have to retake the qualifying gun test to get my CCW, but it was nothing, just fire at a target, as long as I hit the thing they would pass me. He said he would call later to set up a time, I said I would be ready. He left after saying good-bye to Lacey; she shook his hand and thanked him.
The temperature outside was still in the low seventies, a nice comfortable temperature for winter in Vegas. Penny had opened a couple windows of the guest house to let some air in. Lacey was trying to stand; I helped her and told to take her time.
"I don't want to be a burden on you; it was so nice of you to want to help. I don't know if I can repay you for doing this, I don't have a lot of money."
Penny came to her to help her walk a bit. "You are no burden on us, and forget paying us; we do this because we like to help people. Don't we Sweetie?" she said to me.
"Yep, we just enjoy the chase, as long as no one gets hurt." I smiled.
"You said you have a pool?" she asked looking like a child wanting an ice cream.
"Yes we do, I think it wouldn't hurt to get a little swim time in, if you think you can handle it." Penny said happily, I knew she and Lacey would get along well. Penny said she would go in and see if she had a smaller swimsuit and she went off. Lacey spent a short time walking around the room, getting her bearings as I steadied her.
"Lacey, I think we'll take it a little at a time, you just get settled in and then we can go over the details of your ordeal." I offered.
"Thank you, I appreciate it. The police were so rude back when this all happened, they think I was hooking and things went bad. I wasn't honestly; I'd never prostitute myself for anyone."
"I'm sure you wouldn't, so enjoy the swim, get better and then we'll get into the case." I looked to the door when I heard something moving, it was Willy.
He ran in just before Penny came in and he went straight to Lacey bouncing around her feet. She was amazed by the tiny dog and squealed in delight picking up Willy as he wiggled to lick her.
"I think Willy is pissed that we left him here alone, but it wouldn't be a good idea to take him to the hospital, too many bad diseases floating around there." Penny explained to Lacey and held up a couple swimsuits for her. I asked if she was going to bring out her million suimsuits to show Lacey, Penny gave me a dirty look, I excused myself while they did their thing and went out.
I went to the little room that I claimed as my office, where I was setting up a place to write, work on my computers and any other hobby I might want to indulge in. Penny had a room also where she could do her thing, but she hadn't decided what that would be yet so the room was still empty. I already had computer desks and my computers set up and one nice desk with a laptop for my writing. The window in my room looked out on the backyard, mostly the pool and stripper pole, so I could enjoy whoever was lounging around there. I sat at my desk and brought the laptop out of sleep mode and turned to the internet. I thought maybe there was something about this case that made it to the web. I brought up Google and typed in Lacey's name, but nothing came up on her.
I looked out my window and saw Penny wheeling Lacey in the chair to the pool. I got up and went out the door from my office to the back in case they needed me. Penny helped Lacey to stand and she walked slowly to the pool's edge and made a beautiful dive into the still water; her dive barely made a ripple in the water, and then she came back up looking like a happy child.
Penny took a dive into the pool. She was wearing a one piece suit, I hoped for a tiny bikini but she was being modest for our guest, I guess. I sat on one of the plastic lawn chairs and watched the two of them swimming around in the cool looking water. Lacey seemed to be getting some strength back to her legs and arms. I can imagine when she hit the truck; it must have been a shock to her body to stop abruptly from the 130 story fall. She was one of those really lucky people who fell from great heights and survive. I remember reading about some guy whose parachute didn't open and he hit the pavement of the airfield, getting up with only a few bruises; amazing.
Penny got out of the water and came over to me, plopping down her wet body on my lap. I winced but she felt good all wet and slippery. She kissed my nose and said, "You want to come in?"
She knew my answer, but I said I may try it later when it warmed up a bit more. I asked if she had turned on the water heater and she called me a wussy. I defended myself saying it was winter and I didn't want to freeze. She looked behind me, on the side of the house was a huge round thermometer and said, "The temperature is now at eighty-two, you'll hardly freeze." She got up and dove back into the pool making a big splash that had me running. Willy was hiding under another lawn chair, shaking as usual. I called him a coward worse than I and sat back down next to his chair. He came over and wanted up so I put him on my lap and we watched the girls play.
Lunch time rolled around and I pulled out some pre-made burger patties and hot dogs and fired up the incinerator as we now called it. I grilled the dogs and burgers while Penny finished the potato salad she had started last night. Lacey was sitting, wrapped in a big towel, holding Willy on her lap. They both looked very contented.
We had just sat down with our food at the picnic table next to the pool, when the driveway alarm went off. Lacey just about went out of her skin when it sounded; Penny explained what it was. Lacey said it reminded her of an alarm that went off when she was a child and a fire had started in her home. They got out safely, but half of the house was destroyed. I was at the monitor and could see Buck in the driveway. I called through the intercom and told him to come around the back. He did.
I introduced him to Lacey and explained why she was here. He grinned and said he read about her dive off the Stratosphere in the papers, she blushed.
"You are one fortunate young lady," Buck said in his charming way. He asked if there was any help he could give while we were on the case, he said he was getting bored sitting around while Maria was off rehearsing or working at the Tropicana.
"What about your idea to start a guard service?" I asked. He looked to me and smiled.
"I was hoping you were still interested in that. I have been making some inquiries about places to guard. It seems there are a number of places in the north area around where Maria and I are living that would need my services."
Lacey spoke, "If you're talking about North Vegas, there's usually enough crime there from the gangs and the junkies to keep a guard service going nicely."
Buck looked to her and asked, "You know anything about security guard services in that area?"
"Well, I have a friend who used to work for Retcho Guard Service and he had to guard a party store there. It was a dangerous job but he was big and didn't take crap from anyone." She replied.
"Does he still work for them?" Buck asked.
"He got into an argument with the owners over them wanting to cut his hours. He didn't like them anyways, so he quit."
Buck took a business card from his pocket, for our P.I. firm, it had his cell phone number on it and asked, "Have him call me, I'd like to see what the climate is for another guard service."
"There's always room for more guards, you have the gamblers who go broke and rob gas stations to the junkies who need quick cash for a fix, there's enough crime for everyone." she responded.
Buck looked to me and smiled. I said, "You may have started something. Deacon is going to get me all official with my license here, and then I think we need to look for a nice office somewhere to set up our business, my investigating and your guarding."
"I like." Buck grinned and then we cleaned up the mess we made on the table and went inside. Penny was showing Lacey around the house, since Lacey seemed to be getting her bearings back now and was walking better. Penny came to us a few minutes later as Buck and I sat at the snack bar talking business, she said, "I'm taking Lacey to her house to get some clothes and women things, we'll be back shortly." They went out; Penny took the new car we bought for her since we left hers back in Michigan for my son to use.
"Is this girl paying you to help her or is this another charity case?" Buck laughed.
"Hey, I like to help people, and Penny is all for it, so we investigate. Besides it's something to keep my hand back into doing my job. So how's your love life?" I asked changing the subject.
"Maria and I are doing good; we get along well, and have the same tastes. She babies me to the point of being nauseating but I'll survive. Penny still putting up with you?"
"We wouldn't be here if we weren't getting along, now would we?"
"Well I'm sure she is hanging on to you because she wants your insurance money when you croak."
"Hey, I told you that in confidence, you better not tell her about it." I warned.
"I would never tell her she would be a millionaire if you walked in front of a bus." He snickered.
I got up and went to get the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper from the couch and brought it back to the snack counter and opened it to the classifieds. I skimmed down the listings of business offices for rent and Buck and I circled the ones that sounded good. I took out my map of Vegas and we checked the locations of a few that had decent rent and I wrote down the numbers to call, and then put the paper away. My cell phone rang and it was Deacon.
"What's up super cop?" I asked.
"I got you an appointment if you can get down here quickly to fill out the paper work to establish your Michigan investigators license for use in Nevada." He said.
"Where do I go?" I asked and he gave me directions and I told him we would be there shortly.
I wrote a post-it note to Penny and put it on the front door. Buck and I went to my Crown Vic and we drove into the city up to the county building and found Deacon waiting at the front door.
"That didn't take you long, did you speed?" He asked.
"No I was lucky with the traffic. Now what do I do?"
He took us into the office of licensing and was greeted by a fairly attractive older woman at the counter. "Francis, how are you today."
"I'm fine and don't call me Francis, please." He turned red.
"Well, Lynn calls you that." She replied.
"Yes, when she's pissed at me. Are you pissed at me, Mary?" He asked.
"No, Deacon, I'm not. Now, is this the famous P.I. from Michigan?"
"Yeah, if you can finish the papers so he can help a girl to find out if she murdered someone." He said.
She looked at him, then to me and asked, "Does this have something to do with the girl who took a dive off the tower?"
I smiled and said, "You're very observant."
"I've worked around cops way too long. Now let's get you official." She pulled out a small pile of papers and we worked on them for about a half hour. I showed her my Michigan P.I. license and she made a copy of it. She did a few official stampings on the papers and said, "I have to fax this to the Nevada Office of the Attorney General for approval, but don't worry, they hate the paperwork, so they will just rubber stamp my papers and your new license will be mailed to you this week, this is a temp for you to show that it's in the works, but hang on to your Michigan licence if needed."
I thanked her, and she said, "I hope you can help the girl, I read the story and the word is she got a raw deal from the cops on the job. It's a thankless job but sometimes victims fall through the cracks. Good Luck."
I thanked her and then Deacon took us to another building where we met with the LV police armorer and he gave me a routine test, firing a couple hand guns at targets and then he pulled a paper, filled it out, handing it to me and said, "Don't shoot yourself or Deacon. I need him for poker night." He laughed and I thanked him. He said to be sure to register any handguns I may carry, I said I would.
As we went back to the cars, I said to Deacon, "You're pretty popular around here."
"It's my pretty face and my gigantic body. I win people over or crush them." He laughed and asked us how it was going with Lacey.
"Penny and she are getting along great. Buck and I are plotting to find an office to start out, so if you know of a place let me know."
He grinned and said to follow him. He went to his car while Buck and I got in my car and followed him out Tropicana again, over the freeway just past the strip and then turned left on Industrial Road going down a short distance then into an office plaza with a west side view of the back of the huge casinos and hotels of the strip, it looked really nice. He took us into a small office and there was a man at a desk who stood as we came in.
"Deacon, my man, how's it going?" the man spoke loudly.
"I'm good Larry; I need an office, cheap, lots of room, cheap, good view of the city, cheap." Deacon said and introduced us.
"So you want a cheap office but prime everything, what do I look like, a genie?" Larry smirked.
"Larry, you owe me big time, I'm calling in my marker. My good friend Jim needs an office and you got too many sitting vacant. So we're making our wish, make it so genie."
Larry stood for a moment, "I got just what you're looking for. I'll take you there." He got a set of keys from his desk and took us out to the front of the long strip of offices, mostly empty. We got to one and he opened the door and we went in. He showed us around and I looked out the window at the strip, it was a good view.
I turned to Buck and said, "Welcome to the new office of Richards Investigations."
"And Security." Buck added.
Deacon said he had to go save Lynn from Captain Weber's weekly meetings, he said good-bye to Larry and left. Buck and I went with Larry to fill out a few papers for the lease and paid him the rent. He gave me the keys and welcomed us to the neighborhood.
Buck and I went back to the office and checked it out more thoroughly this time. When a client entered the building they would find that there was a counter to the left and behind that sat a nice metal desk and chair, next to a row of low filing cabinets. To the right of the door was a small waiting area, with two genuine Naugahyde Danish modern couches flanking a low table for magazines. Off the side were two bookcases, now empty, but I had enough books to fill it. There were three hanging plant ropes, also empty, but Penny would have those filled as soon as she saw the place. Maybe one of those tree things in the corner, I'd leave the decorating to Penny. There were windows all across the front of the building so the lighting in the place was ample.
We walked down a long hallway going to the rear of the building. On the left was a nice office, no windows, but with a skylight which brought in the ever present sunlight. I claimed it for myself. Across the hall from that room was another office, Buck called dibs on it for himself and his guard service, I agreed. We found two more rooms that were empty, but could serve as storage or conference rooms, we could do whatever we wanted with them, but we'd figure that out later. Larry came back into the building as we arrived at the back door.
"I just wanted to see if you had moved in yet." He grinned at his bad joke. "Now that door leads out to the back secure parking area for the whole building." I opened the door and we went out. The parking lot was large and had an eight foot tall fence topped with barbed wire going all around the lot. At the back, off a small service road was a gate, now opened with a small guard shack next to the opening.
"Do you have a guard posted at the gate?" I asked Larry.
"We had one but he quit last week, said it was too boring back here. He wasn't much of a guard, just some guy who needed a job. I guess he didn't need it that badly."
I looked to Buck and said we may be able to help him with that. I explained what we were setting up here and he smiled, saying that it was an asset to the neighborhood, a P.I. and guards running around, he liked that.
"Yes, the travel agency and the floral store will be good neighbors too, for you I mean." He grinned. I looked around the lot, there were about a dozen cars parked, probably the employees of the other businesses in the strip mall.
We went back in as my cell phone rang, it was Penny. I went off to the side of the building to answer. "Hi babe, I'm official now, got my license and an office all since you've been gone."
"Am I gonna have to decorate this office too?" She asked knowing the answer.
"It wouldn't hurt, could use a woman's touch."
"You have your P.I. license now, so we can really get to investigating Lacey's case?" She asked.
"Yep, but I have to get a business license and my gun registered so I'm going to be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The two of you can lounge around the pool while I work." I said.
"What makes you think we aren't already in the pool?" She said then I heard a splashing sound.
"You're going to turn into a porpoise if you spend all your time in the pool."
"That's all right; I'll see you when you get home. I'll be the porpoise floating near the surface." She laughed and disconnected.
I turned to Buck and Larry, talking about the building's past tenants and told Buck I had to go get the business license and asked if he wanted to come. He followed me out the door and Larry went back to his office. We drove up to the county building again and into the clerk's office where I filled out the paperwork for the permit and then we went down to the police precinct to find Lynn and Deacon. Buck said he was going to stay out in the car and wait for me. The desk sergeant remembered me from the last time I was in Vegas and waved me through. I had my 9mm Glock in its case and took it with me to Lynn's office.
"Hey P.I. how's it going?" Lynn yelled as I got in her door. Deacon had seen me coming down the hall and snuck up behind me and blew in my ear. I jumped and almost clobbered him with the gun case. He smiled and I told him I brought my Glock in to be registered. Lynn came around her desk and the three of us went to take care of it.
As we walked down the hallway, Captain Weber stepped out of an office and saw me. "Damn, Richards, are you back in town? I hope Trapper isn't with you." He chuckled remembering when Trapper and Becker pulled all their little pranks while we were out here back when Penny and I got married. Weber was a strange man, all business, but he had a good side also.
"Nope, Trapper is still back in Michigan, but Penny and I have moved here, so be ready for more serial killers." I joked. He gave me a stare and said, "I don't think we can handle that, so you are on your own. Every time you get involved in a case here, it cost us money. Well, good to see you again and we'll talk." He skittered off down the hall.
"He hasn't changed." I observed. We went to get my weapon registered and I clipped its holster to my belt and put the gun in. I now felt complete.
"Where is this cop who was primary on Lacey's investigation?" I asked.
Lynn said, "He's up in North Vegas PD precinct. Which is lucky since Deacon has to go there to take some paperwork, don't you bunny bear?"
"Stop that, if anyone hears that I'll never live it down. Sometimes you can be mean." He said quietly, she kissed him on the cheek and said to get moving.
Deacon turned to me and said, "Yeah, let's get out of here now, before I do something I may regret later." As we walked away Lynn called "In your dreams bunny bear."
Deacon slipped out the exit door quickly before any of the other cops knew the identity of bunny bear.
"She having her monthly visit?" I asked cautiously.
Deacon laughed and said, "She's a little pissed at me today about not making her coffee this morning. I insisted that she make it once in a while."
"Ok, that's grounds for divorce, even though you two aren't married yet."
"Where are you parked?" He asked.
I said in the front and Buck was in the car. I said to hold on and pulled out my cell phone. I called Buck and asked him to take my car back to the house, I'd meet him later. Buck knew where I hid the spare key to the Crown Vic and I trusted him to drive it. Besides if he wrecked it, I get to take a sledge hammer to his T-Bird.
Deacon grabbed an unmarked car out of the motor pool and we drove out Tropicana Avenue and up the strip. All the traffic heading north suddenly started driving at the speed limit, I observed.
"Yep, an unmarked cop car has that effect on traffic." Deacon laughed.
We crept along till traffic finally cleared around Charleston Avenue, so Deacon got a little heavy on the accelerator and we whizzed into the North Vegas PD parking lot shortly after.
We went into the back entrance by the police parking and Deacon took me to an office where there was an older, heavy set woman sitting at a desk surrounded by folders in varying piles. "Hey Jane, here's the files you requested from Lynn."
The woman gave him a big toothy grin and said, "Lynn just called and said you were on the way, along with the famous P.I. who saved matrimonial bliss from the Bridezilla killer."
Deacon introduced me to the woman, Jane Meerblad; she was an assistant DA and was at the North Vegas precinct to gather some info for a big case coming up. I smiled to her as she shook my hand.
She went on talking while she rummaged through the file Deacon had handed to her, "I remember when you were chasing down the killer, caused a bit of damage in the suburbs." She laughed and I knew now what Captain Weber meant when he said I cost the city money, but I was just part of the police chase, I didn't start it.
Deacon asked if there was anything else she needed from us, and she said no. He gave her a thumbs up and wished her well on her trial, then we went down the hallway to a room marked Homicide. We entered the door and I could smell coffee brewing, the life blood of the morning people.
"Don Mason should be here, I called ahead to make sure." Deacon said as we went through the maze of cubicles for what the detectives called offices. We came to one and there was an older, balding man sitting with his feet up on the desk, half asleep. Deacon whacked his feet and the man jumped.
"Crap, don't do that, I thought you were the Captain." He stood and was about a head shorter than I was. Deacon grinned and introduced us. Happily he didn't say anything about the Bridezilla killings; I was going to have to live that down.
"Lacey Lee, I remember her," he said as I asked him if he remembered her. "Yeah, she was a psycho who dreamed up a killing to implicate some John giving her a hard time. We never found the guy; we assumed it was all made up."
"Well, I have to believe the girl was telling the truth, at least I believe her story. I wouldn't keep trying to commit suicide if it was just a scam."
Mason just gave me a dirty look, "Well, Mr. big shot P.I. that's your opinion."
"I'm not challenging your take on it, Detective; I'm just going to look into it a little further. I value your opinion and would like to hear what you found during the investigation. I don't want to step on anyone's toes." I offered when I realized he was getting defensive.
He made a face that told me nothing, the guy must be good at poker. He sat back down and opened a folder on his desk. "When Detective DeAngelo called, he said you two were interested in the case so I pulled the file. Not much really to tell, she called in to 911 and said she had murdered someone, but by the time I got there she was just sitting in the room, no body, no blood, no crime. CSI checked the bathroom, found no blood anywhere and did a check on the girl's person. They found nothing, but the girl said she had cleaned up. If she had cleaned up there would have been trace in the bathroom. As I said they found none. We did a door to door search of the motel and found nothing, but a number of annoyed people. We did go to the parking lot where she said she picked up the guy who changed her tire. Now we did find a sucker stick with tranquilizer residue backing her story of being drugged. She came up negative on the rape test kit and there was not much else to go on. My team had a case load up the ass that week and it wasn't high in my wish list to follow up. Sorry, but that's all I can give you." He went quiet and closed the file, then handed it to me. "Here take it and just get it back to me when you're done with it."
"Thanks, I appreciate your candor. I realize it's hard to chase a case without a crime. I'll keep you informed of my progress, maybe I can stir up something she may have missed." I offered to get him on my side. We thanked him and were just leaving when he said, "Hey, I gotta say you did good with the bride killer. My people were in on the end of it, thanks."
I nodded and we left. We got out to the car before saying anything. I spoke first after getting in, "That didn't tell me much more than Lynn already told me." I said as I opened the file.
"Well, there wasn't much to tell, it all was a mystery plain and simple."
"Yep, the kind I like." I smiled as Deacon put the unmarked car into gear and we sped out of the parking lot. Traffic wasn't much better around the car heading south as it was going north. We finally got to Tropicana and over to the precinct and into Lynn's office. She smiled and asked bunny bear if he delivered the file.
"If this doesn't stop right here, I'm gonna tell everyone you wear granny undies." He stood firm.
"All right, I'm done. So how was your visit with dickhead?" she asked referring to Detective Don Mason.
I replied, "Nothing more than you told me, this will be a puzzle. I hope once I get Lacey back to the scene of the crime we may come up with something."
"You're on your own now, I have a couple of gang related shootings to investigate and I need bunny ... sorry, Deacon to go along to protect me, that's all he's good for."
"Oh yeah, now I'm the gang slayer." He grinned and I said I was leaving before they started yelling.
They were going back and forth as I left, going out the front entrance to the public parking, when I realized I didn't have a car. I stood in the parking lot just as Buck drove up and smiled at me. "Did you stay here waiting for me?" I asked.
"Nope, I tailed you guys, just to see if I could do it in such a big car. You two were easy to follow." He laughed.
"Well, I'm glad you did." I said as he got out of the car and I slid behind the wheel. He settled in the passenger seat and I drove out of the parking lot for the long journey to my new home. We arrived and Buck said he had to go pick up Maria at the house and take her to get some food at Sonics. I sort of envied him getting those good burgers and onion rings. He went to his T-Bird and drove off as I stood looking at the front of the house. It was modern with a touch of ranch to it. It was a tri-level house with a half level for a second floor that had the bedrooms in it, a short walk up a few stairs so as not to give me a heart attack climbing steps. This second level had two complete bathrooms so Penny and I could get ready in the morning without climbing over each other. The lower level was considered a rumpus room, or as I told Penny since the previous owner was a producer of a burlesque show, they probably had orgies down there. We were going to set it up as a rec-room and put a pool table, some arcade games and a couple pinball machines down there, but it wasn't high on the list of to-do's for now.
I went to the front door as Penny flung it open and I could hear the drive alarm droning on. Penny yelled that she couldn't get it to stop, so I went to the panel in the kitchen and shut it off. I showed her the proper procedure to kill the thing and she gave me a kiss on the cheek saying I was a good little security expert. I could see Lacey sitting out by the pool and Penny was still in her swimsuit.
"Is this the standard clothing to wear now?" I asked.
"It is for now but when we are alone, clothing is optional." She gave me a big tonsil search and went off to the pool again. I followed her out and sat next to Lacey and Willy while Penny took another dive into the water.
"How are you feeling now?" I asked.
"Much better now, and thank you so much for wanting to help me, it's kind of you." She replied with her cute little voice.
"Tomorrow we're going to go to my new office to get it set up. Are you okay with holding off a day or two before we started investigating?"
"Sure, I think maybe a day or two would be good, so I can get my body back in shape. May I help with getting your office set up?"
"I think Penny would like that, she'll be doing a little shopping for decorations for the office." I smiled remembering how she had such a good time decorating my office back in Michigan. I had taken the blow-up picture of her in the bikini that I put up on my office door back in Michigan and was going to hang it in my office here.
"What about your job at the casino?" I asked.
"My Uncle has put me in for medical leave to hold my job, but no pay. He looks out for me like a father." She answered. "I hope I don't lose my job, it's not the greatest but it helps to pay the bills."
I still had a great deal of money in my bank account from past cases and from my book sales of the Classmate Murders, so I asked, "How would you like to work for me while you're recuperating? I'll pay you a small salary, for things you need to get by. You'd be considered as office help."
She looked a bit stunned and I could see she was going to get teary eyed, "I would love that, thank you so much."
Penny was hanging on to the side of the pool, listening to me talk, then she said, "Yes, but he will make you work hard for the money. He's a mean boss. I work my ass off for no pay, just crumbs of food when he thinks about feeding me."
"Speaking of feeding, get dressed and I'll take everyone to Sonic's for burgers and onion rings." I said thinking about Buck going there. Penny loved that idea and jumped out of the pool and took Lacey so they could get dressed. Willy and I sat on the plastic lawn chairs just staring at each other; I told him he could go with us also. He started his shiver and this time he let out a hearty yip, and gave me a tail wagging.
We finished eating our food, delivered by waitresses on rollerskates, and it was still early so I drove us over to the new office. The lights of the strip were just coming on full force as we drove along Industrial Road, making it appear like a circus was on the edge of town. We got into the front parking lot and I was surprised to see the lights on in the office. I told the women to stay with the car, while I checked to see what was going on. I went to the door and quietly put the key in and opened the door; I had my hand on my Glock as I entered the front of the building. I could hear loud noises coming from the offices in the back and I drew my Glock now. I quietly came down the hallway as the door to the back room opened and I could see the front end of a cabinet being moved out. I thought that we were being robbed, but we had none of our own things in yet, just the office equipment that was already there. I wasn't about to lose anything that we could use so I moved close to the edge of the door and brought up my gun just as a man came out looking down the barrel my gun.
It was Buck.
"What the hell?" was Buck's reaction until he saw me on the other end of the gun. "Jimmy, what are you doing here?"
"I brought Penny and Lacey here to show them the office; I guess you decided to start getting your office ready?" I laughed. "Hold on while I get the women." I was coming down the hall when Maria popped out of the office, she looked startled and then realized it was me. We said our hellos and I went out to the car.
Penny and Lacey were looking around as I gave the tour; Buck was busy getting his office set up. He and Maria had come back after they ate and started to work on it. Penny was eyeing the lobby area and was whispering something to Lacey. I was worried.
"I need the car keys; I'm taking Lacey with me to get some decor for this place." She said.
"Do you know where to go? Do you know where the nearest Wal-Mart is?" I asked.
She stood there for a minute thinking and quietly said no. Maria said she would take them in her pickup since she needed a few things too. I couldn't argue with her, she knew the town even better than I did. The three women went to the back door and out to her truck. Buck and I took a break and sat on the couches in the lobby. Willy was looking lost in the big building and he finally came over to me and wanted to be picked up, I did.
"I guess we're going to be here a while," I said. Buck smiled and went to the back room and brought out a television set he had brought in earlier and set it up in the lobby on the table in the corner. There was a cable for the TV behind the table and Buck hooked it up and turned it on. We had a picture.
"How do we have cable already?" I asked.
"When I got here, Larry was still around and said he had cable for all the offices, it was a package deal." Buck answered.
"I don't know Larry all that well, but I have a suspicion that he may have illegally tapped into the cable. We'll wait and see what happens." I said as we flipped through the channels. Buck said he brought the television out from Michigan but had no place to put it in Maria's house, so it works here.
About an hour later, the girls came back, Buck and I were volunteered to unload the stuff they bought. I brought in two big hanging plants, imitation of course, and placed them with Penny's help into the hanging ropes. A half hour later we had the front all decorated up nicely and ready for business.
"Are you going to start advertising in the papers?" Buck asked.
"That's the start, then maybe those little billboards on the bus benches. With a picture of you and me looking tough." I laughed. It was now about ten in the evening and my cell phone rang. It was Deacon.
"What's up, bunny bear?" I asked, and didn't hear anything for a second or two.
"I'm really going to ignore that. Now, I called to see what you were up to?" He growled.
"We're in the new office getting it decorated and ready for the hundreds of clients that will come streaming in soon." I smiled.
"I hope you can handle all those people. I got some good news and some not-so-good news. We have identified the guy who drugged Lacey at the parts place, that's the good news. The not-so-good news is he got away from us."
"I presume they're looking for him and how did you find him?"
"Well, Vice had a sting set up for catching Johns and one of the undercover females finished her shift and was leaving the Flamingo Hotel and heading south on the Boulevard, when her car tire started to go flat. She pulled in the parking lot by Frye's Electronic store and then a big SUV pulled in behind her. Luckily she remembered the M.O. and called for back-up. She stalled up to the part where he offered her the sucker and she badged him, pulling her gun. The back-up was just getting there but the guy managed to run around the car and disappeared into the parking lot. They got a BOLO out for him with the police woman's description and they pulled out Lacey's sketch and posted it on the LEIN. SUV was registered to one Paul Martinez and we have cars at his house now. If he goes in the wind, at least he does it without a car or his personal things."
"Well that's a step in the right direction. Sounds like this guy does this regularly, he had it planned out. Maybe grabbing women for prostitution or slavery. Lacey may have been lucky that she got away from him, but why the murder? I'm wondering if Lacey may have done it in self-defense and blanked out on the killing. Hopefully if we take her back it may jog her memory."
"Whatever, we now know that part of her story was true. Maybe the rest will be found to be true also. Hope you can find out. Well, gotta go, I'm taking Lynn to the scene of another gang shooting; it's getting bad with these guys. Nothing to worry about, it's just internal fighting within the gang. We're keeping it contained and not spilling out to the general public. Fine way to spend a night, eh?"
"Hey, how did Martinez cause the flat tires?" I asked.
"CSI said the tire was shot out. Probably Martinez used a silencer and shot the tire from the rear of her car. That's the best we can come up with for now. Gotta go, take care."
"Have a good time and I'll talk later." He disconnected and I called everyone out to the main room. After everyone was sitting in the waiting area, I told them what Deacon had related to me. Lacey looked relieved that they now knew she wasn't making it up. I said that we would start investigating her case tomorrow, but we needed to get some rest now."
I asked Buck if they were staying, he looked to Maria and said they were done. I said to lock up and took the women to the Crown Vic and headed back to the house. We pulled in and Penny said she was taking a midnight swim and asked Lacey if she wanted to join her, Lacey was all for it. They got out of the car and I pulled into the garage. It was nice now having a garage for all our cars, even the limo was just able to fit in with the door closed. We now had a three car garage and all three cars were safely out of the harsh sun of the day.
I went in and Penny had disabled the alarms and they were just heading out to the pool. The temperature had dipped a bit, it was now around sixty but still warm enough for the swim, especially since the water heater was turned on. When summer arrived I probably would indulge more in the pool, which would make Penny happy. Besides, midnight skinny dipping sounded nice.
I went into my home office followed by Willy who had enjoyed the Sonic burgers as much as I did. I fired up the laptop and sat writing more about the Dominatrix Murders, since I had finished with the Vegas Showgirl Murders and my publisher was debating if they were going to take on the book. I didn't care, I had enough money to start my own publishing business and cut out the money grabbing middlemen.
I looked out my window and watched Penny swimming around in the pool. She looked so beautiful and graceful in the water. I was amazed she was still with me, thinking back to that first day we rediscovered each other during the classmate murders. Forty years of not knowing she had a serious crush on me back in high school and she wasn't disappointed when we met again. Forty wasted years but we were making up for it now.
My cell phone went off and I saw it was Deacon again, I answered but this time I wasn't going to call him bunny bear. "Hello." I said simply.
"Well, they found the sucker guy, he's dead."
"Did the cops shoot him?"
"Nope, they got a call that there was gun fire at a motel up off the strip and patrol rolled in to find him in a room dead on the floor. He had his wallet which identified him as Martinez. He was shot execution style, one to the back of the head while he was on his knees. CSI didn't get much to go on, but they still have some testing to do. We won't get much from him."
"Was it the same motel that Lacey woke in?"
"No, this one was down the road a ways from where she was."
"This is sounding like there's much more to it than just random grabbing of women. There's someone else involved, maybe his partner's angry that he almost got caught, this could be dangerous for Lacey, since she got away from them."
Deacon was silent for a moment, "True, but they've had time to go after her since that day she called us in. Although, nothing was mentioned in the media about her involvement other than there was no crime. Maybe they figured she doesn't know who they are, she may be safe."
"I hope so, with the murder of Martinez this could go bad since he was the one to grab her, they must know her. I'll have to be extra careful now. Thanks for the heads up on it." I said and we finished the call.
I sat back in my chair looking out the window at the women frolicking in the pool. So happy and so unaware of what could be brewing. I decided to wait till morning to tell them of this latest news, no sense in spoiling their evening. I went back to working on my story.
The fat man sat back in his office chair glaring at the man standing before his desk. "What the hell were you two thinking, Mosh? Did you have to kill him in the motel? Why didn't you just drive him out to the desert and kill him?" He went silent waiting for Mosh to answer.
"He was making trouble for us. Willis was barely able to get him down on the floor to do him; he wasn't going to go quietly out to the desert. After Willis fired the gun I heard people yelling, so we panicked and ran. I'm sorry boss, but Martinez would have been picked up by the cops eventually and the weasel he was, he would have ratted us all out."
"Fine, now he's dead so he can't rat anyone. What about the girl? Has she gotten back her memory?"
"I talked to a few of my people inside the hospital and they said that she was released into the custody of some P.I. from Michigan. I don't know what it's about, but I was told she still doesn't remember anything."
"Well, keep an eye on her, if she even gets a flicker of remembrance, do what you have to do. The bitch almost ruined the whole set-up by disappearing before we could implicate her. It was better that we had let her live so the cops think she's just some whack job. Too bad she's lousy at killing herself; we may have to help her try it again. Now go take care of business and get outta my sight."
The fat man sat back again as Mosh went out. He picked up his phone and buzzed his secretary saying, "Get Mason on the phone."
I was up early, looking out to the backyard; I saw Penny and Lacey doing the porpoise thing in the pool. This was going to be a daily affair now, I guess. I went to the kitchen and made two pieces of toast, I felt hungry this morning, and then I watched the girls play from the dining room. Willy was still inside at the patio door watching out; I guess he must have hid when Penny said they were going out to the pool. He's no dummy. I finished my toast giving Willy a portion when he saw me eating; I stood and went out the glass door followed by the dog. I stopped to feed the goldfish under the ugly statue still pouring water and went to sit on the plastic chairs by the pool.
Penny saw me and swam over splashing me a little with her hand. "Stop it, I don't need this." I complained.
"Wussy, a little water won't hurt you. So what's on the agenda this morning?"
"I thought we'd run by the office first to organize and then head to the motel where Lacey ended up." I said this as Lacey swam down the long pool towards us.
"Good morning Mr. Richards."
"No, call me Jim. I'm not an old man."
Penny smiled and said under her breath, "Like hell you're not."
"I heard that."
"Sorry Sweetie, you're as young as you feel."
I asked them to get out of the pool; I had something to tell them. They both came up the steps and grabbed towels to dry. They then pulled chairs up to sit by me.
"Deacon called me late last night to say they found the sucker man dead in a motel up off the north end of the strip. He was identified and he was killed execution style, so there has to be a bigger picture here for this to happen. I'm concerned for Lacey's safety now, so we have to be alert."
Penny's mouth tightened and said, "I need to get a gun."
I looked to her and thought a moment. "That's actually not a bad idea. I'll call Lynn and see what we can arrange. Have you ever fired a gun?"
"You mean other than when I shot your enemy Nick North? Yes, I used to go hunting with my father. He was a big supporter of the NRA, card carrying gun nut he was. I was shooting at targets since I was fourteen, he insisted on it."
"You have so many mysteries about you, why haven't you told me about this before?" I asked.
"Why didn't you tell me your little secret that you could swim before this," she mimicked.
"Okay, we have some serious talking to do about our little secrets. Anyway, we can get you set-up with a weapon, I'd feel safer." I looked to Lacey, "We're going to have to take you back to the scene of the crime to see if we can jog your memory, that won't be a problem for you?"
"No, the faster I get these nightmares out of my head the better. I actually slept well last night; I think it helped because I was here."
"Tell me about the nightmares, describe them." I asked.
"They're always the same, I'm in the room of the motel and there are two men dragging a body towards the bed where I was lying. I was groggy, I think I was waking from the drugs the sucker man gave me, but I was pretending to be asleep. The two men put the dead guy in the bed next to me and then they started to stab him with the knife, many times. I felt one man reach over and put the knife in my hand and they walked out. I looked over to the body and that's when I would wake up every time from the nightmare."
"Actually it sounds like you may be describing what may have really happened that night. You've only seen this in dreams, no memory about it?"
"No, just the dreams, over and over again. Maybe I'm trying to remember and my mind is playing it all over again."
"Well, we still have to find out why you woke in the room with no crime scene."
"If we are going to start our day, we need to get dressed," Penny said to Lacey. They got up and went off into the house leaving Willy and me alone with our thoughts. I had no idea as to Lacey's condition, but hopefully we could go through the steps at the motel to get her memory working.
I got up and went inside to get my equipment to go with me, my Palm TX, pocket knife, cell phone and my Glock in its holster. I was ready for most anything. I thought about getting Penny a gun, I'd have to call Lynn to see if we could get her a CCW. I took my cell phone out and dialed her number, she answered after two rings, must not have been busy.
"Hey Fearless Fosdick, how are you today." I laughed at her reference from back when we kidded about the characters from the old Dick Tracy comic strip.
"I'm fine Tracy, I need a favor. I want to get Penny a small gun to carry for protection; God knows she needs it the way she gets kidnapped. Can you start the wheels going for a CCW?"
"Sure, go over to Flamingo and Pecos, there's a small gun shop there and the owner knows me well so he won't cheat you. Drop my name and pick out a suitable gun for her, then she'll have to sign up for the classes and fire the thing so she can get the permit. He can get her pushed through the classes and we'll get the gun permit and CCW all taken care of at one time. Has she fired a weapon before?"
I told her about Penny's father and she laughed. "Good you two don't have many secrets."
"Yeah, I'm a little frightened of her right now. But I'll get everything taken care of and keep you informed, thanks." We finished up and Penny came out of the bedroom dressed like she was going on a safari, khaki shorts, khaki military shirt, and hiking boots. All she was missing was the Pith helmet. "Where'd you get that outfit?"
"I had to dress like a big game hunter on one of my shows when we had an animal handler so I got this outfit." she smiled and kissed me.
I looked past her out the huge picture window and saw Lacey coming around the front to the door. Then I saw a car drive by a little too slowly and the driver was watching Lacey. I went to the door quickly, out to the porch, then walked down the driveway quickly towards the car. The driver saw me and sped away. I got to the road in time to see his plate number and wrote it down on my Palm PDA notepad to give to Lynn. Penny was on the porch with Lacey asking me what was wrong.
"Probably nothing, some pervert watching Lacey but I got his plates, so we'll see." I walked to the garage and keyed in the code on the pad to open the overhead door to the Crown Vic's berth. I went in and drove the car out letting the women and Willy get in.
We pulled out the drive and were heading down the road, I was watching my rearview mirror for the car to come around, but didn't see him until I got more into the city where traffic was making it easier to tail me. He was about five cars back but it was him. I pulled my cell and put it on speaker after dialing Lynn.
"Sorry to bother you again, but I got a tail."
"Animal or human?" She asked with a laugh.
"Not sure, but I got his plate number, want it?"
"Shoot." I gave it to her and I could hear her typing something. "The LEIN says it's a stolen car. Where are you now?"
"I'm on Sahara just coming up to Buffalo Drive, what do you want me to do?"
"Stay on Sahara and try to get stopped at each light while I call for a couple of patrol cars. Keep the phone open. I got the make of the car, a Ford Escort, is that correct?"
"I don't know one car from another."
Lacey said from the back seat that it was, she had heard the conversation and looked back to see the car. I thanked her and Lynn had heard her through the phone. She made the call, I presumed she was in her car so I just snailed it on down the road. I watched for the patrol cars to come screaming by us, as I drove on slowly making a few people mad around me. I saw a number of middle fingers. She asked through the phone what was going on, I said nothing at the moment. Then I saw them in my mirror as they came up behind the car. The driver must have seen them also and he quickly turned right, speeding down Decatur Boulevard being pursued by the cops. I kept on going and decided to go get Penny her gun, we may need it. I told Lynn what we were doing and where the pursuit was going, she thanked me and we disconnected.
I turned right on South Valley View Boulevard and down to Flamingo, then heading east out past the strip and finally arriving at Pecos pulling into the plaza where the gun shop was. Penny got all bouncy and asked if we were getting her a gun, I had to chuckle watching her get excited. We went in and found the owner, Bert Randle, and I dropped Lynn's name. He smiled taking us to the side where he had all his hand guns in a display case after I told him what we needed.
"This here is a nice little number; it will fit in a purse and is light enough for the little lady."
"Hell with small and light, I want firing power. Let me see that Smith and Wesson .38." I was trying not to laugh as he looked surprised and brought out the gun. Penny spun the cylinder, looked down the sights and asked if she could fire it. Lacey, carrying Willy, was a little surprised that they had a firing range in the back. Bert set up a target for her and gave us ear protectors. Penny took stance and fired off a number of rounds in quick succession hitting the target in a nice tight two inch hole. I was shocked, so was Bert.
"Well I guess you've had lessons," he spoke happily. "Shall I wrap it or you going to pack?"
I laughed and said, "She's not licensed to carry yet. Lynn said you'd get her into class and get her through the process."
He looked around and said quietly, "I can fluff the permit and get her registered sooner."
"What's this going to cost us?" I asked.
"Hey, you're friends of Lynn's so nothing, but just put in a good word." He gave me a toothy smile and I said it was fine with me. He took the target and signed it as her firing test, took us up front and pulled out the paperwork and did a bit of writing. He stamped it and said to take it to Lynn and she'd process it from there. I wondered if this was legal and he said it wasn't the first time this was done. "Hey, it's Vegas baby, lots of things happen here and stay here. That's why Lynn sent you to me." He gave me the toothy smile again and I thanked him, then paid him for the gun and his time.
We went out to the car and drove down to Tropicana and over to Lynn's precinct. We took the gun in and found Lynn. She welcomed Lacey and had us come into her office. She said, "The officers pursued your tail until he pulled into a shopping plaza, jumped from the car and disappeared, but we got CSI dusting the car for prints, maybe they'll get lucky, if he didn't wear gloves. I'll let you know what we find. Now you went to see my buddy Bert, what happened?"
I handed the paperwork to Lynn.
"Bert said you condone this?" I asked her.
She gave me a grin and said to keep our mouths shut and go with the flow. Penny said it was fine with her, I agreed. Lynn took down the serial number and processed the form we gave her. She looked at the target and gave Penny a stare, "You actually shot this?"
"Yep, with my eyes closed." She replied.
"I hope you stay on our side. So you can carry now. Just don't shoot the wrong people, too much paperwork. I have a question." She asked looking at the target Penny aced, "When you shot at Nick North back when you were out here for the convention, you could have taken him out, right?"
"I didn't want to kill him; I wanted him to suffer in jail, that's why I shot him in the gun arm." She gave me her evil little smile.
"Okay, that's good to know. Let's see the gun." Penny took it out of the case and handed it to Lynn. "Nice piece, good choice. Now make good use of it. So where are you guys heading now?"
"I thought we would go to the motel to start Lacey's therapy for recovery." I smiled. "I hope we aren't going to be followed again."
"Well, keep me on your speed dial, and keep me informed as to anything you can find." We thanked her and went out. Deacon was coming down the hallway with another cop hauling a handcuffed gangbanger to interrogation. He waved and went into the room.
We got to the car and Willy was bouncing all over, probably cussing us out for leaving him alone. He jumped on Lacey in the back seat and curled up. I looked to Penny and said, "Looks like our baby is deserting us."
We drove up to the motel using the address that was in the file I still had from Detective Mason. We pulled in and went to the office finding a young woman behind the counter.
"Hi, my name is Jim Richards and this is..." She started screaming, "Oh My God, you're the woman from that TV show aren't you?" She was bouncing up and down like Penny was one of the Back Street Boys.
Penny went to her and took her hands to settle her. "Yes I am, now we need your help. Do you think you can take a breath and do that?"
She was wide-eyed and nodded her head vigorously. "Yes, I can, what do you need? Anything."
I had consulted the file and found out the room number. I asked if there was anyone in that room at the moment. She looked at the registry and said it was unoccupied and I asked if we could see it. I showed her my temporary P.I. ID and introduced her to Lacey.
"Oh wow, I remember you, I was here the day the cops all came swooping in and checked all the rooms. They found nothing though if I remember." she bubbled.
"Right, good memory, but now I'd like to find out who was registered in that room the night it happened." I asked.
"I can tell you now, there was no one registered in that room, which I thought was strange that she was in that room."
"So you're saying she was in the room and no one was supposed to be in there?"
"Yeah, that's the deal."
"Can we look in the room, is that permitted?"
"Well, no one is in there so I guess you don't need a warrant or anything." She smiled and grabbed the key, yelling into a door behind her that she was going out. A younger man came out looking like he hadn't slept well or was drugged up. The girl, who told us her name was Sissy, took us to the room and opened it up. I went in followed by Lacey, then Sissy, Penny held back watching the parking lot. I smiled at my little P.I. and thought I would have to get her bonded and licensed too. This may be a new career for her.
I looked around the room and asked Lacey to sit on the bed and think back to the day it happened. She stared at the room for a good two minutes; I wasn't going to rush her. She started to look sad, I said to try and remember that we are here with her.
"Think about your dream, does this room look like the room in your dream?"
She was still silent and then quietly said no, it wasn't. I asked her to close her eyes and describe the room from her dream.
"It was done in a darker color, dark green walls, and really bad pictures on the wall. The type you'd buy at a yard sale. The bed spread was red and smelled musty. There was a lamp on the table; it was the only light in the room. The carpet was a rust color and dirty. That's all I can see." She opened her eyes and looked at the room. "This isn't the room."
Sissy was standing next to me and said, "That room she described sounds like the Wayfarer Motel, they have rooms like that."
I asked, "Where is the Wayfarer Motel?"
She pointed out the front window at a motel across the street. The sign said Wayfarer Motel. I thanked her and told Lacey to follow. We went back to the car and I gave Sissy a tip and thanked her again. She looked at the twenty and gave me a big grin, then she yelled to wait. She ran into the office and came out with a pad of paper and pen. She asked Penny for her autograph and Penny signed the thing. Sissy thanked her and went back to the office.
I drove across the road and into the Wayfarer parking lot. We got out and went to the office, this time there was an old woman with grey hair and thick glasses standing behind the counter. I introduced myself and asked if she remembers a murder that was supposed to have been committed across the street. She stared at me and said, "You got the wrong motel mister, a murder happened here, not across the street. I know because I called the cops that night I found the bodies. Two people, a man and woman, both dead by stab wounds. The cops said the woman stabbed the guy and committed suicide."
I looked at Penny and asked the woman, "Did this happen on February 10th of this year?"
"Close, I found the bodies on February 12th, but the cops said they were killed a few days earlier, so it may have been on the 10th."
I took out my cell phone to call Lynn, saying, "We got a new mystery."
Read the rest in the book!