Prologue The buzzing of the alarm woke me from a deep sleep. It was hard for my eyes to focus …
“What is it Andy?” Andy pointed inside the cave. Not waiting for an answer I walked into the cave. It …
Little Miss Fisher Stakeouts are one of the most boring things a private investigator can do during a case. It …
Tony Gavel crouched down behind one of the wooden crates that were scattered about the warehouse. He popped the clip …
Sunday Evening I pulled into my driveway just as the sun was beginning to set. My watch said it was …
I awoke in a panic with sharp pains running through my body, gasping for breath. I looked around the room …
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 was hung over from my buddies’ retirement party last night. I’m sure I had one too many southern comfort shots. How could I say no? It was a party for Christ’s sake. I didn’t want to stay late knowing I had to go into the office to finish up some paperwork on an important case. Stan sure knows how to throw a good party.
I exited the elevator on the 3rd floor and made my way down to the office.
“I hate working Sundays.” As I got closer to my door I could see the writing stenciled in the glass.
I noticed that the door was jimmied open.
“I don’t need this shit. I should have stayed home.”
Listening to the door, I pulled out Louise, my trusted .38 special.
Not hearing any movement inside, I slowly pushed the door open with my foot, 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 looks like every file was tossed onto the ground. A quick check in the bathroom showed that no one was still in the office. I slipped Louise back in the holster and planted myself in my chair and thumped my head down on my desk. My hangover wasn’t helping matters. 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 and black dress slacks. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion as they scanned over the room and than fixed on me sitting at my desk.
“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 than took a look at me. I was not ready for clients today. My hair was a mess from my late night 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 and made a path for her to one of the chairs across from my desk.
“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 am sure I have some around here somewhere.”
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 is not 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 is not happy with me. But I assure you. I’m ready to help you if I can. What is it that I can help you with?”
Merissa looked around the room one last time and than fixed her eyes on me. I could tell she was nervous about something the way she kept fidgeting in her seat and clenched and unclenched 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 and 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 has gone missing. I was supposed to meet him Friday night and he did not 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 is 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 was not talking and 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 and didn’t want to bring it to the attention of my husband.”
“What was this information? And why wouldn’t he go over it with 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 than she was telling me.
“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 never showed up for our appointment, I called his cell phone and there was no answer. I tried again on Saturday throughout the day but got no answer as well. He never went to work on Saturday either. 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 am 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 this was a real missing person’s case why wouldn’t you just call the police?”
I could tell while I was speaking that 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 am 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 to just not meet you. You are a married woman. 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 and 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. We were both looking forward to this meeting and that was all we talked about on the phone all week, whenever we spoke to each other.”
I looked her over and could tell that she was worried for this person. I believed that she was telling me the truth and I was sure I could help her discreetly.
“I am sure I can help you Mrs. Talbert, but I don’t come cheap. It will be $500 dollars up front, than another $100 a day plus expenses, payable on 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 am not sure I carry that kind of cash on me but I am sure I can go to an ATM and get you what you need.”
She took out what ever cash she had and handed it over to me. It was three hundred dollars. I took the money from her and 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 will 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 get a hold of you. If you could get me the rest of that money by tomorrow, I’d appreciate it.”
“Is there anything else you would like to add or that I need to know?”
Merissa shook her head. I gestured around the room at the mess.
“There is 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 than gave me a once over 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 spent the next few hours getting my office back in order picking up all the papers and putting them where they belong. Off hand I couldn’t see anything missing but maybe the person just had a grudge against me or maybe made some copies of something. Either way my office was in order, I had some money in my pocket and a new case to crack.
Hope you enjoyed it. If your interested for the rest of the book I have it selling for the