Friday 6 November 2015

Too busy to ponder.

I had worked straight for three months without a day off. I was starting to feel normal once again. I still missed Joe, a day never went by that he was not in my thoughts. Work was my therapy.
My business was steady and growing, I had hired a part-time secretary, she came in everyday for four hours and kept track of my clients did all the paper work. Susan was a middle-aged woman who had lost her husband a few years back and just wanted to get out of the house and stay active. Leo also spoiled her with cappuccinos in the mornings. He had taken a shine to her and she enjoyed the attention.

Arriving late on Monday morning a tall lanky man was waiting in my office. His dress told me he was a cop. Susan was chatting away as I opened the door. He introduced himself as Jeffery Brown from the F.B.I. Would I answer some questions off the record?
“Why off the record?” I asked. That seemed to take him aback for a minute, I could tell he was a newbie.
 “Well I just wanted it to be informal,” he stuttered.
“I prefer formal when dealing with police, what do you want?”
That is when he took out a picture of me from Brazil, blond hair loads of makeup, laid it on my desk. The picture was out of focus and taken from a distance. 
“Well who is this?” playing dumb.
“Her passport says her name is Susan Graft.”
“And why are you here asking me about her?”
“Because Susan Graft is no where to be found, she seems to have disappeared.”
“Are you asking me to find her, I am sure the F.B.I. has more resources than me.”
That is when Leo walked in, I introduced them, and Leo never missing a beat asked Jeffery if he was a new client. He obviously over heard the conversation before he came in the door.
“Leo seems like this girl Susan Graft is missing and I am not sure why they want me to find her.”
“I am sorry if you misunderstood, we don’t want you to look for her.” Again stuttering.

“Then why are you here bothering this nice lady then?” Leo keeping his voice low.

“A lady in Brazil thinks this woman had something to do with her boyfriend’s murder. And your partner was killed by this man.”

“Is she an American citizen? What do the Brazilian police say? Are you accusing me of being Susan Graft?” I laughed.

“When was this man murdered?” Leo nonchalantly asked.

When Jeffery stuttered out the date of the murder. Leo started to smile.
“Well, Meg that was when we went sailing for the week.” You must have had twenty witnesses that week of sailing, guess you have plenty people to vouch for you.”

Jeffery thanked me leaving and apologizing for taking up my time. Leo’s look, told me not to say anything.
“Meg a client of mine wants to meet with you at dinner tonight, are you free?”
“Where and when?”
“Same place as we met Gilbert at eight.” Leaving he turned telling me he would have the list of the people’s names and phone numbers that sailed with us if I needed it. Leo was always thorough.

Tom called asking to meet for a drink tomorrow, same place same time. I messaged back I would be there, looking forward to seeing him.

Dinner was the usual five-course meal with no business discussed until coffee was served upstairs.
Daniel Markus was in his mid sixties, greying hair, with dark brown eyes a paunch showing over his belt. I would not call him handsome, but had a pleasing face. His skin tanned from being out in the sun. He was very polite and well spoken with a hint of a European accent. He explained why he wanted to hire me.
His wife, Sally, was being blackmailed by a man that she knew when she was a prostitute twenty years ago, she wanted to be an actress, but never making it she had gotten into the wrong crowd. This man had hooked her on drugs and exploited her. She had been upfront with Daniel before they married as she wanted to start out with a clean slate with him, she had not touched drugs since she married.
She had told Daniel right away when the man contacted her for fifty thousand dollars, saying he would expose her to all Daniels business associates and had a reporter willing to follow up her story. He wanted me to track him down expose him and scare the hell out of him.
I looked at Leo, “What am I missing? You could have one of your men scare him off easily.”
“Daniel is the owner of the ship we were sailing on and I have to stay clear of any connection here in case we are being watched by the F.B.I. Meg.

Daniel said with an inside smile, ”The week on my boat was me looking you over for this job.”
He passed me a folder and envelope, “This should help you get started, Meg.”
When I arrived home, I filled another paper bag putting it in my old suitcase. I had to open a safety box soon. Going through the papers the one on top had twenty names and phone numbers people that had been on the ship with me, all had written a statement saying I never left the ship for the whole week.

A man name Martin Kline was the blackmailer, Daniel supplied his address and cell phone. A picture showed a sleazy man in his forties, sitting beside a pool holding a drink. I would get my friend downtown to run him through the database. Then start following him until he made his first mistake. I hoped.

The next night I met Tom at the pub, he hugged me as I came to sit down beside him. “Is this our special place for meeting?” I chuckled.
He surprised me by ordering two beers. “Has Lawrence turned you to drink?”
“He is intolerable Meg and I only started to have a drink since he came to the office.”
“Then I am glad I got out when I did.”
We chatted, ordering a second beer, and then he got serious. Lawrence had asked him, what kind of clients I dealt with? Did he know I had been seen with the drug dealer Leo and my office was in his building? Did Tom know if I had been to Brazil in the last year?
“It is none of Lawrence’s business who I associate with or who my clients are.” I said with a smile.
I explained to Tom that a Jeffery Brown had came to my office asking questions about a Susan Graft who apparently was a suspect in the murder of Mathew. He knew Mathew had killed Joe. Fortunately, the week that the murder occurred I was out sailing and had twenty witnesses to say I never left the ship.
Tom sat back relaxing, with a huge smile. “Meg, I am thinking of retiring next year, so until then if I can be any help.

Martin Kline’s rap sheet was waiting for me at the office when I arrived the next morning. Susan and Leo were enjoying their coffee and she poured me one. Leo seemed to have a lot of time on his hands lately.
Martin had a few arrests for assault and a list of misdemeanors, the women always dropped the charges before he was charged. Stolen credit card fraud, spent a year in jail. His last address was about a mile away, so telling Susan I would be gone for the day I left them talking about Spain.
Martin’s house was a small rundown place, his yard a mess grass that needed to be cut. A neighbor was out trimming his flowers. He nodded as I went up to the door, calling he was not home. I walked over complimenting on his beautiful yard.
“Always one in every neighborhood looking towards Martins place,” he said.
Asking him a few questions, knowing he was not on a friendly terms with this neighbor. In addition, would probably never mention the questions I asked.
Martin had parties most weekends with women and men coming and going all night. His garbage can filled with liquor bottles.The police had made many trips here over the last year that he had lived here. But he told me they never did anything about the parties. One woman had been taken away in an ambulance, apparently from a drug overdose. He asked me to wait as he went inside and brought me a page of license numbers he had kept track of. The last one belonged to the woman taken away. I thanked him and left.
I sent a bottle of good Scotch to the home of my good friend from the station with a list of these plates. He had them waiting for me the next morning.
Lisa Shank - 1248 Leland Drive
Mac Grain – 3478 Shanty Street
The list went on mostly woman that lived in the surrounding area.
A woman answered when I called Lisa’s number, the person sounded older and told me she was in the Sea-View hospital. The nurse asked if I was a relative, lying I said I was her sister.
Lisa was hooked up to medical instruments and had a bandage around her head plus a black eye. I told her who I was and asked how she received the damage to her head. She mistook me for police, right away saying she would not lay charges against Martin.
I assured her I was not a cop and asked, “Why would you protect a man that hurts you?”
Her shakes turned to sobs. “He threatened to kill my Mom if I said anything against him.”
“I can help protect you and your Mom as I am a private investigator and working on a case against him.” She wrote out a statement and signed it. I got on to a couple of retired cops that I knew did security work and had them, watch over the Mom and her. Until I had Martin in jail.
Mac Grains wife answered the door, telling me Mac was at work. His office was downtown and I circled the block until I found a parking spot. His secretary asked if I had an appointment, saying no she told me he was in a meeting. I wrote down Lisa's name on a piece of paper and handed it to her to take it to her boss.
Two minutes later, she showed me into his office.
“Your wife gave me your work address.” I smirked purposely.
“You went to my house.” He yelled.
 “Yes a lovely women you have, how long you have her is up to you.”
“What the hell do you want from me?”
“I want to know every detail about Martin, how he operates his services.”
An hour later, I had a list of his clients, Mac used his services for woman when his clients from out of town wanted a good time. He occasionally joined his clients at Martins house. Martin had blackmailed him for over two years to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars to keep the men coming. He had gone to the house the other night to say he was no longer going to supply his clients and not going to pay him any more money. Martin threatened to tell his wife. Mac called his bluff and Martin told him fine he had another source to fleece.But he wasn't finished with Mac.
“Does my wife have to be told about any of this?” Mac asked.
“Not as far as I am concerned.” As I left him, he sat looking overwhelmed.

Martin’s lights were on when I drove up, he answered on the first knock as if he was expecting someone. Introducing myself, I told him who my client was and why I was here, he opened the door wider, looked outside before letting me in. I explained that I had two written statements one from Lisa the other from Mac, explaining everything about his girls and customers.
“Guess you could call yourself Madam Martin,” I said. “Oh by the way, Sally has no plans to pay the blackmail money neither does her husband. If you bother her again, everything I have in writing will go to the authorities.” I asserted.
His face grew crimson as he came towards me.
“If you want to go back to prison for assault, I will gladly give you the chance.”
That is when he lost it and picked up a pottery vase from the table, throwing it directly at me. As I sidestepped, it crashed into a wall behind me, as I drew my gun from my holster, he looked shocked I was so quick.
He was seething with anger, “You have not seen the end of me lady.” 
Susan called me at home the next morning, to tell me the office had been broken into, paper scattered all over, nothing seemed to be missing except my computer. Should she call the police?
Telling her not to bother I knew who it was, and what he was looking for. The statements I had gotten were at home. Martin thought if he destroyed them, he could scare Lisa and Mac into repeating them was my guess.
I went straight over to Martins house, had my gun out when he opened the door. He backed up and that is when I kicked him hard in the groin, when he bent over I hit him with the barrel of my gun. He was out cold as I took the rope from my purse tying his hands and legs. Getting water from the kitchen, I threw it at his head. Looking up groggy he started to swear.
“You are going to regret this lady, I will hunt you down and kill you,” he started to try to wriggle out of the ropes. He had one hand loose was trying to get free. I had to make a move before he could get to me.
“Blackmailers are the scum of the earth Martin, if you try it again I will come back and do worse than what I am going to do now.”
I then stuffed a kitchen towel in his mouth. "Lisa told me what you did to her and other women with a hammer.
I started methodically at his feet, breaking his toes with my hammer that I retrieved from my bag. His kneecaps were next, he passed out until I got more water dousing him. Then to his elbows and fingers behind his back. The last to break was his nose that is when the blood started spurting down his face. I untied him taking my rope the water glass and the kitchen towel. Picking up my computer from his desk, wiping the door as I left. Calling back to him cry good and loud Martin.
Stopping on the way home, I threw the glass and towel and my rope in a dumpster, heading home for a Scotch. I phoned Daniel and Sally and told them they would not be hearing from Martin again. Ten minutes later Leo called to congratulate me, his bodyguard had watched from across the street as Martin had been taken away in an ambulance. Apparently, his nosy neighbor had told him that Martin had multiple broken bones.

“Leo have you been following me?” I asked laughing sipping my drink.

Leo told me not to celebrate to much as he had another big job for me and would see me at  my office in the morning.

All he would say was it had to do with my old boss Lawrence. 

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