W. Slammer, Private Eye
February 12, 2013
It takes a lawyer to make sense of legalese, but I’m pretty sure I got the lowdown by the time I’d gotten through the Will, a pile of paper thicker than the Sunday New York Times. Brother Charles had been disinherited. Almost. If disinheritance means being left five-hundred grand, I woulda been a very happy Warthog. Maybe Charlie wanted more – the estate was valued in billions. There were others who might-a felt ignored. No mention of gifts to longtime household servants. No lifetime Sheba® Entrées or kitty-litter guarantee for the fat gray Persian cat curled up on a plush leather chair, cleaning its face. And then that single sentence that mentions ‘certain documents for Marlene’.
I look up. She hasn’t moved, but uncrosses and crosses her legs, right over left instead of left over right. I’m an expert when it comes to body language. I know what she’s getting at but this isn’t the time to get distracted. Not when someone is playing with guns. Maybe she can’t help being attracted to me. Women are.
She raises that eyebrow. “Well? Did you find anything to be different than what I’ve told you?”
“No. It’s not what you told me that was bothering me. It was what I haven’t been told.” I left it at that, though I knew I’d be back to the topic before solving the case. Except for that Grandfather clock in the entry chiming eight, the whole place is as quiet as a mortuary waiting room. I get up and hand her the Will.
“I think we better takes a little drive to that berg and have ourselves a talk with the banker. I want to know what’s in that safety deposit box. It can’t hold a billion bucks.”
She stands, eyes still looking me up and down. Mostly down. “I’m going to take a quick shower and change. I’ll have Charles see to your needs.”
She turns and moves from the room like a panther that’s learned to do the runway walk. If I was a drinker I would-a been lookin’ to get me a strong drink.
Charles is waiting. “May I get something for you, Mr. Hammer? A coffee – some breakfast?”
He’s been doing this for a lifetime, and he’s comfortable playing the role. “Thanks for asking, Charles. How about a glass of tomato juice. With a splash of lemon juice, a dash Worcestershire Sauce®, and a couple of shakes of Tobasco®.”
“A Bloody Mary, Sir?”
“Yeah. Virgin. Without Vodka. Too early in the day to start drinking, and I might have to drive somewhere, too.”
Charles smile slightly and nods. “Yes Sir.”
“And Charles – one more thing – does Miss Chamberlain seem different in any way? Upset or worried?”
“No Sir. Other than this dreadful business with her brother.”
“Did they ever get along?”
“I don’t know, Sir. That’s not for me to say. May I serve your juice here or in the library?”
“The library’s fine, Charles. I like the smell of books more than reading them. Tough for me to hold a book and turn the pages. Anyway, comfortable seats in there. Ask the cat.”
Charles raises white eyebrows, smile slightly and nods again. “Yes Sir.”
Fifteen minutes later, I’ve polished-off my Virgin Mary. I’m leaving the digs with Miss Chamberlain walking right in front of me.
“One car or two?” she asks, looking more like a fashion model than a movie star. Large dark glasses and a body that would make a perfect ad for Guess Jeans®. It wasn’t just the ‘to the knee’ high heels boots, and it’s all right in my face. Ah, yes. Did I mention the advantages of being vertically challenged?
“The Lincoln. You dive. You know where we’re going. I’m not bulletproof. The Lincoln’s armored. That might come in handy.”
We’re no sooner through the gates when I spot that big dark SUV pulling away from the curb behind us.
“We got company,” I says. “No hurry. Drive like you don’t know we’re being followed. I don’t think these guys will try anything stupid at this time of day. Too many cars – too many witnesses. Let’s see what’s going to happen.”
This private eye stuff can be dangerous. I got a license to carry, but I don’t tell her I picked up my Glock® and two extra clips of bullets when I changed cars. Can’t remember the last time I squeezed the trigger. Don’t like loud noises, especially gunshots. I got sensitive ears.