October in the Big City was usually cold and damp and today was no exception. It was just starting to rain and it didn’t help that I got no sleep last night due to my buddies’ retirement party. I didn’t want to stay late knowing I had some important paperwork to finish up, but Stan could talk people into doing anything.
I exited the elevator on the 3rd floor and made my way down the hall. There were a few paintings along the wall that the landlord put up a few months ago. He said he wanted to add some class to the building.
“I hate working Sundays.” I mumbled as I walked down the hall. As I got closer to my door I could see my name stenciled in the glass.
It took me a long time to work my way up in the business to own a office like this in one of the nicer sections of town. I noticed that the door was jimmied open.
“I don’t need this shit. I should have stayed home.” I said as I pulled Louise, my 38 special from the shoulder holster.
I put my ear to the door and listened for a few moments. Not hearing any movement, I slowly pushed the door open with my foot, and entered my office with Louise leading the way. The office was a mess. My filing cabinet was open and papers were scattered every where.
I looked around the office. It looked like every file was tossed onto the ground. A quick check in the bathroom showed that the office was empty. I slipped Louise back in the holster and planted myself in my chair, thumping my head down onto my desk. I heard a noise at the door and looked up. Standing in my doorway was a raven haired beauty; dressed in a black, form fitting, turtle neck sweater with black dress slacks. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion as they scanned over the room.
“Excuse me. I was looking for Tony Gavel. I must be in the wrong place.”
“I’m Tony Gavel. You got the right place. The maid had the day off today.”
It sounded cheeky when it came out of my mouth but what did I expect. Women were not my strong suit. She gave the office a dubious glance once again and then looked at me. I was not ready for clients today. My hair was a mess and I could feel the stubble on my face. It was definitely not one of my best first impressions. I quickly got up and started pushing papers away with my foot making a path for her.
“Have a seat miss?”
“Talbert. Merissa Talbert.”
“Have a seat Miss Talbert. Can I get you something? Would you like some coffee or tea?”
I turned to look for the coffee pot I kept in the office and noticed it was broken on the floor.
“It just keeps getting better and better Tony.” I mumbled to myself as I looked over at Miss Talbert. Her eyes were scanning the office and she had that look of someone not sure if she was doing the right thing.
“Nothing for me thanks. Are you sure this isn’t a bad time? By the look of things, you seem to have your hands full at the moment.”
I slumped back in my chair and looked around the office one more time and took a deep breath. Her nose twitched with disgust as the stench of alcohol could be smelled throughout the room.
“I’m sorry about the mess. I just walked in myself. Someone’s not happy with me, but I assure you I’m ready to help you if I can.”
Merissa looked around the room one last time and then fixed her eyes on me. I could tell she was nervous about something by the way she kept fidgeting in her seat and clenching her hands. I wanted to put her at ease.
“Ms. Talbert. You came here for a reason. I can’t help if someone broke into my office. I know the way I look right now leaves a lot to be desired. I was at a retirement party last night. Regardless, I can still perform my job and will help you the best I can. I just need to know why you came to me today.”
“I am looking for a man.”
“I am not a dating service.”
Merissa gave me a withering stare.
“I know that Mr. Gavel. I heard that you specialized in missing persons and a friend of mine is missing. I was supposed to meet him Friday night and he didn’t show up.”
I took out my pad and pencil from the desk so I could take some notes.
“What was his name? What does he do for a living? Do you have a picture of him?”
“His name is Jim Cooper. He’s my husband’s business partner. They own a chain of storage unit lots. Save Space Inc.”
As Mrs. Talbert was talking I was drawn to her full ripe lips. Her almond shaped eyes, the color of smoked glass, were looking at me as she continued to tell her tale. I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of this woman sitting before me. My eyes drifted down her body and I noticed myself staring at her overdeveloped breasts. She was definitely not lacking in that department. After a few moments I realized that she stopped talking. I quickly looked up at her and smiled sheepishly.
“Save Space Inc. I heard of them. Your husband owns that? I see them all over the place. Why were you meeting Jim on Friday night? Where were you supposed to see him? What time was the meeting?”
Mrs. Talbert looked at me annoyed and began speaking once more.
“If you were paying attention to me instead of looking at me like a piece of meat you might have gotten that information Mr. Gavel.”
Another blunder when it comes to women. When am I going to learn?
“I was supposed to meet Jim Friday night around eight pm at the Crossroads Diner. Jim usually gets out of work around seven or so and we were meeting to go over some information he had found out, but didn’t want to my husband knowing about it just yet.”
“What was the information? And why wouldn’t he tell his business partner? Something doesn’t add up here.”
I could tell from her body language and the way she spoke Jim’s name that there was something more going on.
“I have no idea what he was going to tell me. He called me again Friday afternoon to confirm our meeting. He sounded urgent on the phone and didn’t want to say anything until we were face to face. When he didn’t show for our appointment, I called his cell phone and got no answer. I tried again on Saturday throughout the day, but got no answer as well. He never showed up for work on Saturday. I went to his house around one thirty in the afternoon, but I couldn’t get through the gate. No one was answering the buzzer. I’m worried that something may have happened to him.”
I looked at her skeptically.
“Let’s cut to the chase. You were sleeping with the guy and he stood you up. When you tried to hunt him down on Saturday, you couldn’t get a hold of him. If he was really missing why wouldn’t you just call the police?”
I could tell I hit it right on the head. Her face got flushed and she began fidgeting in her chair.
“It’s true. I’m having an affair with Jim. I’ve been having one for about a year. He’s never missed a rendezvous, so thats why I’m worried. I would like to keep this secret and not get the police or my husband involved. I’m really worried for Jim. Do you think you can help me?”
“Did you guys have a fight? Maybe he was going to break it off with you and decided not to meet you. You are married. Maybe he just wants something more attainable and moved on?”
“I assure you that’s not the case Mr. Gavel. We planned this night all week. We were both looking forward to it. My husband was going to be working late and we hadn’t seen each other in over a week.”
I looked her over and could tell that she was worried about Jim. I believed she was telling me the truth.
“I’m sure I can help you Mrs. Talbert, but I don’t come cheap. It will be $500 dollars up front, and another $50 a day plus expenses, payable upon closure of the case. I’ll give you a detailed report of my findings and check in on you every couple of days to give you a progress report.”
Merissa pulled out her check book.
“Do you take checks Mr. Gavel?”
“Cash only. I’ve had problems in the past with bad checks. I’m not saying that there will be a problem, it’s just that I prefer cash. It comes in handy for paying people for information and other things that arise during the investigation.”
She reached into her pocketbook and pulled out her wallet.
“I’m not sure I carry that kind of cash on me, but I’m sure I can get what you need by the end of the day.”
She took out whatever cash she had and handed it over. It was three hundred dollars. I got out my receipt book and filled her out a receipt for the money.
“This will do for now and help me get started. I’ll need his address and phone number, cell phone number, date of birth. If you have a picture of him it will help me a great deal.”
She wrote down the information I requested and handed me a picture of him.
“I want to remind you to keep this between us Mr. Gavel. Theres no need to get my husband involved. Any information you find, you can call me on my cell phone and leave a message.”
I wrote it down on the piece of paper.
“Is there anything else you need?” Merissa asked me.
I took a look at the piece of paper and the notes I wrote and shook my head.
“This will do for now. If I need anything else I’ll call you. If you could get me the rest of that money by tomorrow, I’d appreciate it. Is there anything else I need to know?”
Merissa shook her head. I gestured around the room at the mess.
“There’s something I have to do first. I should be able to get started by this afternoon.”
Merissa Talbert stood up. I got out of my chair and walked her to the door. She looked around the room one more time and shook her head.
“I hope to hear from you soon Mr. Gavel.”
With that she walked out of my office and never looked back. I took another look around my office and sighed. This was going to be a long day. I took the money off my desk and stuck it in my pocket. If only I hadn’t stayed at the party so long.
I ran a background check on Jim Cooper while I started cleaning my office. It took me a few hours, but I got everything cleaned up. All my files were back in order. I couldn’t find anything missing and I noticed that the copy machine was still off. I assumed whoever did this never found what they were looking for. I brought up my last case to finish up the paper work. I had to track down a missing spouse. A dead beat dad left his wife and three children with no warning. There was a judgment against him, but he never showed up in court. It took me a few days, but I found him holed up with a college buddy and served him with the papers. The wife was happy with my work and tried to give me a bonus, but I refused. The man was lucky to have found love and threw it all away. If I had what he did, I would cherish it forever. I would make it work, no matter the cost.
Once I was done writing up my report, I checked on the progress of Jim Cooper’s background check. The credit header information came back first. Credit header information is information from the credit bureau that pertains to a person, but does not directly relate to credit. They sell this information to “Data Suppliers” who turn around and sell it to private investigators. The different types of information that could be found is as follows: Name and previous names, date of birth, social security number, current and previous addresses, telephone numbers, relatives, current and previous employment, etc… If you know where to look, you could usually find out most things.
I looked over the report.
James Douglas Cooper was born 03-12-69. It had a few addresses that I wrote down in case he might be hiding out. It listed Save Space Inc as his current job, before that he worked for Edger and Son’s as a sales manager. He had no relatives listed on the report. It had three phone numbers listed, so I wrote them all down. The report also showed some other pieces of information that Data Suppliers throw in from time to time. Jim Cooper owned a boat named “Magpie” and a Mercedes-Benz. He’s never had a lien or judgment against him and has never claimed bankruptcy.
I gathered up my notes and headed out. All in all, It was looking to be a good day. I had some money in my pocket and a new case to crack.
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