W. Slammer, Private Eye
February 24, 2013
Once I make myself comfortable in one of those big leather library chairs, I watch Marlene doing the same, amazed by what she can do with those legs.
“We’ve been reading this thing all wrong,” I say, “and like I told you right from the start – I need all of the information or I won’t be able to help. I’ve got it now – finally. I missed the one thing that kept me from seeing what was really going on here.”
“And that is?” says Marlene, doing the raised eyebrow bit.
“It isn’t about who’s getting your father’s dough. It’s about the dough your father was getting – and now he’s not.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s more to the conspiracy theory than we’ve been told. The truth? Of course there are a number of people who didn’t want your daddy dead, but another bunch who did.”
“What are you getting at? Are you saying that father was leading a double life?”
“That’s one way of putting it. You father was a very wealthy man all on his own – a real businessman – making smart investments that paid off – he knew how to read the cards - when to bet and when to fold. But he got in deeper water without a life jacket. Money was coming in – and a big chunk of it required laundering. Because he’d always been a straight better, he didn’t realize that the pot was dirty until it was too late.”
“I don’t understand … ” Marlene is clearly confused.
“The guys in those SUVs weren’t hired by your brother. They’re part of a cartel operating on this side of the border. Your father had been laundering their money for the past two years and was trying to get out of their business. They didn’t like that idea. They also didn’t want you to know what was in that safety deposit box – they guessed that your father had hired a detective agency – they got to the agency and paid-off the guy at the top – and that’s not Mr. Davies. He is as misinformed as you and me. That report was edited. Your brother – dumber than mud – thought he could take over daddy’s ‘business’. He’s lucky to be alive. They’ve been out gunning for him just like they were gunning for you. That’s the reason he hasn’t shown his face.”
“Slow down, Mr. Slammer – please – this is too much information. Are you saying that my father was doing business with a drug cartel? He’d never do anything like that.”
“Not intentionally. But he got involved before he realized where the money was coming from. Charles, to the credit of his nature, found out and told your father. Charles was confronted by the bad guys and told to mind his own business. Serving your father was his business, and I expect that it could still cost Charles his life. This is one caper where I can’t say, ‘The butler did it.’ ”
Marlene looks at me dumbfounded. “I can’t believe this.”
“You better,“ says me, “or you’ll be as dead as your father. These guys are serious about protecting financial interests, and what you, Charles and your brother know could put them behind bars for a long, long time.”
“What do we do?” she says, a lot of the usual spunk knocked out of her, a note of desperation in her voice. “What do we do?”
“We get to the cops – at a level above the ones who investigated your father’s death. It’s obvious that someone there was bought off. That’s what got me off the track. Money talks – and sometimes it’s dirty words.”
“But who can we trust?” Marlene is sitting on the edge of her chair, twisting her fingers together.
I think it over. “I have a detective friend in the department. He gave me a boost when I wanted to get my private detective license. He’s straight. He’ll get this to the right people – and fast. They’ll get the bad guys – maybe not all of them – but the police will put a serious dent in their business – it’s the kind of break that honest cops have been hoping for. It’s too bad it’s too late for your father to appreciate. I think he was trying to do the right thing and it got him killed.”
We call Charles into the library and tell him what we’ve found out – make the call to my friend, then call the gate man to tell him that an unmarked police car will be arriving very soon.
Arrangements are made for a police guard on the premises, and until the bad guys are in custody, a police car to follow Marlene where ever she goes. The two detectives leave three hours later. I’m feeling very relieved. One more case solved without blood being shed – especially mine.
Marlene takes me aside. “I can’t thank you enough, Mr. Slammer. That’s the truth. Let me pay you a lot more than I’ve given you.”
We quickly agree to a most generous fee. After handing me a check and some very green cash, she hesitates, then, arms around me, gives me a very long, very warm hug.
“Let me take you out to dinner,” she says, looking into my eyes as though seeing me for the first time. “Please – I’d love to go somewhere nice this evening, and there’s no one I’d rather dine with than you.”
I’m not unused to these confessions. Like I said before, I have this kind of effect on women. And who am I to pass up a free meal? Just the thought of eating makes my stomach growl. Marlene looks at me, waiting for an answer.
“Great idea,” I say. “I’d love to spend the evening with you.” My stomach growls again.
“You animal, you,” she whispers. “I can’t wait!”
Either can I – my stomach can’t either.