Another Exert from my WIP (4)
CHAPTER 4 Back at Jen’s Office
“So, what’d you find out about Mr. Richards?” Jen asked.
Charlize unfolded a piece of paper from her purse and handed it to Jen. “Not much. I couldn’t find anything with the DMV or any place of business. It’s like he didn’t exist. We decide that best thing to do was to drive down here and see if his wife was still alive or not.”
“So, what did you do? What did you discover?” asked Molly.
“Here’s what we did. I had a week of vacation coming, so I took it, and we drove down here in one day. Got here on Wednesday. We checked into a hotel, and the next day we drove to the post office.”
“You were staking out the post office? What did you see?”
“We sat there all-day Thursday. On Friday afternoon, we saw him. He went inside and emptied his post office box.”
“While he was inside the post office, I placed a tracker on his car—a Honda civic.” Maury interjected.
“Yeah. I had to be careful because Jimmy knows what I look like, so I had Maury do it.”
“You have a tracker device?” Jen asked.
“Well, it’s just a burner cellphone with a GPS app, but it works. I attached a magnet to it.”
“Clever,” said Molly. Whatever works. What happened next?”
Charlize took a sip of her coffee. “We followed him to a large parking garage not far from the post office. It looks like he rents two spaces long term there.”
“Two spaces?” Jen asked.
“Yeah,’ answered Maury. “He parked next to a BMX. He took out a suitcase from the Honda and put into the BMW. He changed cars. So much for my great tracker idea.”
“We followed the BMW,” continued Charlize. “He went to a high-rise apartment building, one with underground parking. We figured they’d have a security-cameras, so we didn’t try to get inside. We staked out the apartment. The next day, he drove out and went to a dry cleaner. Maury was able to place another tracker on his car while he was inside.”
“Then what?” asked Molly.
“According to our tracker, he headed to the parking garage,” continued Charlize. “We waited for his there, and he drove out in the Honda. We followed him to his office. He’s a real estate agent. He works downtown. It’s a real estate agency. Again, we didn’t go inside.”
“Now what?” asked Jen.
“We still don’t know if his wife is dead or alive,” answered Charlize. “I’m out of time. I need to get back to work. We didn’t know what to do, so we decided to get some help. That’s why we came to you. What do you think?”
Jen sighed and folder her hands. I think we’d like to take your case.” She glanced at Molly who nodded. “But we have to reach an understanding first.” Jen paused as Molly pulled out a copy of their standard contract and handed a copy to both Charlize and Maury. “First our fee is $100 per hour plus expenses.”
Charlize reached into her purse and removed and envelope. She handed it to Jen. “Here’s a $1000 to get started. We can pay more later as things progress.”
“Here’s the thing,” continued Jen. “There may be a reward if this Richards guy is a killer. We may be able to work it out, so you get the reward and then pay us. Meanwhile, we’ll keep this money as a retainer. Next, you have to stop the identity thefts.”
“What about Biyu?”
“Go ahead and do what Mr. Richards asked, so he won’t get suspicious, Jen answered.
“We’ll need those cell phones you used for tracking,” Molly said.
Maury reached in his pockets and pulled out two cell phones and handed them to Molly. “The batteries died. I retrieved them from the cars to recharge them, so we aren’t tracking him more. Here’s a picture we lifted from the security tapes.” Jen glanced at the picture and handed it to Molly. The picture showed a middle-aged man with some gray around the temples.
“Also, he knows where you live,” Jen said. “I recommend your find a new place to live until this case is settled. Stay off the internet. That maybe how he tracked you down.”
“Shit,” Maury said. “I didn’t think of that.”
“Just keep in touch and let us know where you are,” Molly said.
“I really need that laptop back,” Charlize emphasized.
After a few more questions and the exchange of information, Charlize and Maury left. Jen turned to Molly. “Charlize said she worked in the Loop. What is that?”
Molly smiled. “I didn’t know either, so I looked it up while she was talking. It’s the commercial center of Chicago. What do you think of these two? Are they legit? Do you believe them?”
“I guess I do,” answered Jen. “Let’s check them out online just in case. We need to be careful, so we don’t end up as accessories after the fact. Log them in and let’s begin clocking our time.”
Jen and Molly spent the rest of the morning researching the background of their new clients. They did not see any red flags other than what Charlize revealed about her side business. Then the two tried to research Mr. Jimmy Richards. Like Charlize they couldn’t find out anything about him. It was like he didn’t exist—a ghost.