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Little Miss Fisher

Stakeouts are one of the most boring things a private investigator can do during a case. It usually involves long hours sitting in some location, hungry, no place to go to the bathroom and very boring. The investigator spends most of his time trying to amuse him/herself while trying to stay awake and watch for whatever they are supposed to be watching. This stakeout was not much different than any of the others I was hired to do.

A few days ago I was hired by a young woman named Joan Fisher. She suspected that her husband Michael was having an affair and she wanted me to find proof if that was the case. This was a common case for private investigators. Most of the time the spouse is usually right and after a few days of surveillance, pictures are taken of the spouse in the middle of the act. Some spouses can be very clever but there is usually a paper trail somewhere that trips them up.

Joan found a pair of womens underwear under her bed one day while she was cleaning the bedroom. She said it wasn’t hers but she didn’t ask her husband about it. She would rather hire me to find out anything I can first before going to him. After getting some initial information from Joan I was able to paint a picture of the situation.

Joan worked the overnights for a small banking firm and her husband Michael worked as a day trader downtown. Joan got home anywhere between 6-8am each day and had two days off during the week. They usually rotated so she wouldn’t know which days until the week before. Michael worked Sunday through Thursday with Fridays and Saturdays off. They’ve been married close to 11 years now with no children. Michael was unable to have kids due to some kind of medical condition that Joan wasn’t quite sure of and never asked. They were a happy couple and spent their time together doing fun activities. They both worked out and were in good physical condition. They both liked to camp and hike and do other outdoors type of things. Everything was going great between them.

I spent the last week following Michael to work and mapping out his day to get an idea of what he spends his time doing. He spent each day going to work until 5pm. Wednesday he went to Joe’s Pub with one of his coworkers after work and left the bar at 8 and went straight home. After work each day he would go to the gym and work out for an hour. I spent some time in the gym watching him, seeing if he talked to anyone or met with anyone but he spent all his time alone. He did his workout and went home afterward. He was mostly a loner the whole week I watched him. If he was having an affair, I had no indication of it so far. The only thing that popped up on my radar was on Thursday after Michael left work. He went shopping at one of those fancy clothes stores that catered to the wealthy. I followed him around inside the store and he was in the womens section checking out dresses. After about 15 minutes he purchased one of the dresses. It was a red strapless dress. It didn’t look like it was that long. Whoever wore it would have a lot of skin showing. I was able to snap a few pictures of him inside the store and buying the dress. Just because he bought a dress doesn’t mean he was having an affair. He could have been buying it for his wife or a birthday present for someone. I never saw him talking to any females for any real length of time during the week.

It was Friday night and Joan left for the evening to go to work and I was sitting across the street watching the house. Joan left around 8pm and now it was close to 9:30pm. It was dark inside and at one time I took a peek through the bedroom window and saw that Michael was asleep. It was close to 10:15pm when the bedroom lights went on. I could see Michael walking around the room before he pulled the blinds shut. After a half hour Michael walked out of the house dressed in black slacks, green collared shirt and a black tie. He had a garment bag slung over his shoulder and his gym duffel bag in his hands. He put the stuff in his car and headed into the city.

He was easy enough to follow and after a short drive he pulled up to a small apartment complex with valet parking and a door man. It wasn’t that large of a building. Only six floors in all. When he got out, the valet came to him with a smile. I took some pictures of Michael shaking his hand and talking to the kid for a few minutes before walking into the building. I took a couple more pictures of the place and the valet before finding a spot to park down the block a little.

I popped my trunk and saw my briefcase of gadgets laying there. I punched in the key code and checked to see what I had handy. Centered in the case was my favorite item. It was custom made from one of my buddies in the military that owed me a favor. A sleek black pair of binoculars that had a built in digital camera with night vision. It came in handy on many occasions. A parabolic sound dish that allowed me to hear conversions from about a mile away. It picked up on any sound that I aimed it at. It was good in rural areas but in the city it was kinda useless. Too many sounds were picked up to make it reliable. I had a spare .38 special snub nose with an extra speed clip and a small box of 50 bullets for it. A pair of handcuffs, a spare cell phone, a small digital camera that I slipped into my pocket. It had a 32gig memory chip inside of it that allowed me to take 1000’s of pictures at high resolution. Six trackers that I used to follow cars. I had an app on my cell phone that allowed me to pull up the tracker on a map to see where it was at anytime. I grabbed one of those and put it in my pocket with the camera. I also had a fingerprint kit and other various kits to check out different parts of a crime scene if need be. I had sixteen small cameras that I used for surveillance that I could place anywhere and the recordings go directly to my hard drive on my computer. I grabbed a couple of those. I had a small case that held sixteen bugs. The kind you can put in phones or in a plant, behind a picture frame or where ever you can find a creative spot to place them. I grabbed a few of those and nodded. They’re illegal in most states unless you got a court order to use them but, they were such a useful combo I used the quite frequently.

I closed the case and trunk before I headed down the block towards the building to get a better look inside. The valet driver was sitting in a fold up chair next to the doorman talking. As I approached the doorman gave me a nod and smiled.

“Nice weather we’re having.” He said as I walked towards the door. “I sorry but I don’t recognize you. Who are you here to see?” he asked with his hand on the door.

In my line of work there are times when I have to go undercover or just think on the fly and come up with a cover story. I am always prepared for any situation. That’s what makes me stand out over some of the other private investigators in the field. I gave the man a smile as I pulled a card from inside my coat pocket.

“My name is Tony Gavel. I’m a private investigator from the law firm Decker and Sons.” I said as I handed him my card.

The doorman looked over my card for a few moments.

“Do you have Identification Mr. Gavel?” he asked.

I showed him my PI license with my picture and he nodded.

“Can I ask what this is about?”

“Mr. Decker sent me here to investigate a claim from one of his clients about neglect on the part of the super that runs the place. I can’t go into specifics about the case but I’m here to check out the clients claims to see if the case is justified or if it’s a waste of my bosses time.” I said as I slipped my id back in my pocket.

“May I ask which tenant hired your law firm?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t give out that information. Client confidentiality and all. In case nothing is warranted I wouldn’t want the client to get backlash. Anyway you can let me in.”

The doorman looked over at the valet driver and the kid smiled. I know that look and they were going to hit me up for some money. I’ve seen it a hundred times and I’m betting this time will be no different.

“I’m sorry but since you don’t live here I’m not allowed to let you in. Unless you tell me who your client is so I can ring her and ask her if she wants you to come up. Otherwise you’d have to come back during the day when the super is here so you can talk to him to let you into the building.”

“You know I cant do that. There would be trouble for my client if word gets out. Are you sure you can’t let me in to just talk to her?”

“I’m sorry. Rules are rules and I don’t want to get fired Mr. Gavel.” The doorman said as he held out his hand a little, rubbing his thumb and fingers together.

I sighed as I pulled out my wallet. I took out a fifty dollar bill and the valet frowned. I grabbed another fifty and he nodded. I handed the money to the doorman. He gave me a smile and opened the door for me.

“I didn’t see you Mr. Gavel. I hope you find what you’re looking for.” The doorman said as I walked into the building.

The door closed behind me and I saw the doorman hand the kid a fifty as he put the other in his pocket. It was all part of the game and I would be able to bill Mrs. Fisher the money I spent so it was no big deal. The building was like any other you find in the nicer parts of the city. There was a small lobby with fancy paintings hanging on the walls. There was a small fountain in the middle of the lobby with a few couches around the place. A couple of end tables were in front of the couches with the days daily papers strewn about them. In the corner of the room was the main desk but no one was behind it at the moment. Behind the desk were rows of post office boxes. I counted 36 boxes in all. There were a pair of elevators across from the desk. I went to the first elevator and it was still in the lobby. The other elevator was on the 4th floor. No one else entered the building since Michael came in so either he took the stairs or most likely he took the elevator to the 4th floor.

I reached into the elevator and hit all the buttons so the elevator would be out of commission for a few minutes. I pushed the button for the second elevator to come back to the main floor and waited. It didn’t take long and when I entered the elevator no one was inside. I hit the button for the fourth floor. After about a minute the door opened and I stepped out into the hallway. It was a small hallway, about 20 paces or so. At the end of the hallway was a door that said house keeping on it. I placed one of the small cameras above the elevator facing down the hallway so I would get a shot of anyone entering or exiting the elevators. There were four doors in the hallway. Michael could be inside any one of them. There was nothing that I could do out in the hallway and I wasn’t about to listen to every door but I needed to find out where he went.

I figured with the camera videoing the hallway I would be fine and went back down into the lobby. I looked around one last time and headed out. The doorman saw me coming and opened the door for me.

“I hope you got everything you needed Mr. Gavel.” He said.

I gave him a smile and headed towards the parking garage around the corner. I had to do this quick before Michael came out. I wasn’t sure what he was doing inside but I wanted to be ready just in case. I found his car and looked around the garage. There were no other people around so I slipped under the back of the car and attached the tracker to the undercarriage of the car and turned it on. Satisfied that the tracker wouldn’t fall off I made my way back to my car and hit the tracking app on my phone to make sure I was getting a good signal. After a minute a map came up with a little green dot inside the parking garage where I just left Michaels car.

It was close to midnight and nothing was happening. His car was still in the same spot and no one entered or left the building. I was going to have to figure a way to find out which apartment he was in for next time. Maybe I could clone his cell phone? I’ve only done it once and was still learning the ins and outs of it. Another private investigator buddy of mine sold me a special app that he made for cloning. I would have to get within 25 feet of Michael and use the app with no other cell phones around. In theory the app would make my phone an exact clone of Michaels. I would get all his texts, phone calls, voice mails, emails, etc… He said it came in handy for cases like this one. Half the time you wouldn’t even have to leave your office. Once you clone the phone you could sit back and listen to all calls and read all messages until you got what you needed. Then you could print it all out for the client and go on your way. I was a tech savvy type of guy but I preferred good old fashion pictures in cases like this. The picture never lies. Phone calls and messages could be faked, or they could be some harmless flirting. You can’t argue a picture with two people in a compromising position.

It was getting close to 12:45 when the doorman walked over to the door and opened it for two ladies. I snapped some pictures of them as the walked out of the apartment complex arm in arm, laughing and talking in hushed tones. One of the women was a very attractive blond. She was wearing a short black dress that looked like it was painted onto her body. Her blond hair went down the middle of her back. She was wearing matching black high heels.

The other lady had long curly red hair and her dress was a low cut red dress that showed all her curves. It was skin tight and made it just above the knees. She looked attractive from where I was sitting but not as good looking as the other lady. She was in good physical shape and that dress accented her body.

They both were carrying small handbags, if you wanted to call them that, and the blond was texting on her phone. They said a few words to the doorman as the valet kid ran towards the garage. About two minutes later, the valet pulled around with a small black Porsche. The ladies thanked him and the blond slipped him some money as they got in the car and left.

The doorman and valet were talking to each other and laughing hard for a few minutes after the ladies left. I couldn’t hear what they were saying but it must’ve been pretty funny the way they were laughing. I thought the doorman was going to have an accident with his bladder. After a few minutes things began to die down and I went back to watching the building. I checked the app on my phone and noticed Michaels car was still in the garage. He would have to be leaving in a few hours if he wanted to get home before Joan did. I was sure he was having an affair but without any proof I couldn’t go to my client and say. I would have to look at the video footage tomorrow and see which apartment Michael left from and maybe see if I could get a bug in there, or better yet a camera.

The night went by without any other incident. The two ladies came back around 3am. They pulled up in front of the apartment complex and the valet took the car and parked it. The blond talked to the doorman for about a minute before the two ladies went inside.

I was beginning to get tired and wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay here watching the place much longer. I had a busy day in court and didn’t get much sleep before I came on this stakeout. I’m not sure why I’m bothering to stay here since I couldn’t see anything to begin with. The clock was getting close to 4:15 when I noticed Michael walking out of the apartment complex. He shifted his gym bag into his left hand and shook hands with the doorman and the valet. He handed them each some money and they both gave him a nod. Something didn’t look right but there was nothing I could really do from way across the street. The valet brought Michaels car around and he got in and left. I waited two minutes before heading out. I had the app on showing me which way he was driving. It looked like he was going home. I followed him to his house just to make sure he wasn’t going anywhere else before I headed home. The video footage would have to wait until I get myself some sleep.

It was close to noon time when my alarm went off. I struggled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. My eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep and my hair was a mess. I took a quick shower and grabbed some day old coffee I had sitting on my counter as I turned on my laptop. I wanted to see if I could get any kind of idea where Michael was last night. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to catch a glimpse of him leaving one of the apartments.

It didn’t take long to pull up the video footage and I started going through it. I saw myself leaving the fourth floor and than nothing. It was an empty hallway for a very long time. According to the time stamp. At 12:40am, the blond and redhead walked out of apartment 4c. I got a better look at the two ladies as they got closer to the elevator. The blond was a knockout. The redhead on the other hand was wearing way too much makeup. She was covering her face with it. In a darkened club she might look okay but up close and in the light there was something off about her.

Nothing else happened in the hallway until the two ladies returned. I knew Michael was going to be leaving soon. I got out my pencil and notepad and waited until I saw him. I noticed the door to 4c open again and Michael walked out of the apartment. I could see the blond in the doorway talking to him for a few minutes. They were too far away for me to hear anything. Michael gave the blond a kiss on the cheek and headed towards the elevator. While Michael was waiting for the elevator the blond came running out of the apartment with something red in her hand. She was shaking it in the air. Michael looked embarrassed and grabbed the red thing from the blond and she gave a laugh as she went back to her apartment. I was able to get a good look of it as Michael put it in his gym bag. It was a red wig.

I paused the video and started laughing. Michael wasn’t having an affair, he was dressing up as a woman and heading out with the blond. He was a cross dresser. I had to follow them one night to be sure but my guess was he did this for kicks and Joan probably wouldn’t approve so he went out with someone else that didn’t care about his lifestyle. The blond probably helps him get ready and they go out after.

It took me about a half hour to find out who the blond was.Her name was Barbara Redding. She worked at the Red Robbin Club. The Red Robbin was one of those classy lounges where they have a house band and singer play on most nights. Barbara had been performing there over the past ten years as the main act. Maybe Michael met her there and they struck up a friendship? I didn’t know any of the details but it didn’t really matter. Joan hired me to find out if her husband was having an affair. I can tell her that those panties she found were actually her husbands. I don’t think she will appreciate it but it is better than the alternative.

Over the next few days I was able to follow Michael and Barbara to see what they did at night. On the two occasions they went out, I saw them go to the Red Robin club. Michael, or should I say Michelle, took the stage with Barbara and sang with her both nights. At no time, while I was there, did Michael ever become unfaithful to his wife. I took plenty of video I would be able to show Joan of Michael’s exploits.

After I was satisfied that Michael wasn’t cheating on his wife, I set up a meeting with Joan to show her my evidence and explain to her my findings. She took it better than I expected and was happy with the outcome of my findings. Joan paid me in full and I never heard from them again. Every now and then I go to the Red Robin club and I see Michelle performing with her friend Barbara and I always chuckle.

That was one of my more odd cases that I called Little Miss Fisher.

The End