Sunday, June 7, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 14

I got to Things Past at two-thirty. Philip was helping a customer so I took a look around. Lots of furniture, most of which to my unpracticed eye looked like things you'd find in any middle-class home. Guess that's why I'm the PI and he's the antiques dealer. There were also plenty of dishes and such that reminded me of my grandmother's house when I was a kid. The stuff she warned me to be careful not to break when I was playing or helping her do dishes.

On one wall there were two cases full of jewelry. A clerk stood close by as I looked at what they held. I had the feeling he thought I'd try a smash-and-grab since I was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a cargo jacket with large pockets---not slacks and a button-down. I chuckled to myself, wondering what he'd do if I did. 

Someone touched my shoulder. Turning, I saw it was Philips. He suggested we go into his office so I followed him there, telling him quietly before we entered that I was going to look for any bugs while we talked. "Keep the conversation strictly to why I'm supposedly here. Act as if you're getting the necklace from the safe and give me the appraiser's address. You can mention the break-in since that's the reason you're having me do this, but as if you're just reiterating something you already told me. They undoubtedly know, or have surmised, that you did come to my place in person to hire me. I wouldn't be here otherwise."

He nodded and we went into his office. It was pretty much what I expected—a space to work. The desk was utilitarian. The table holding a coffeepot and assorted cups was something you'd get at Target. The only fancy thing was a bookcase along one wall. It was probably mahogany was my guess, glass-fronted—with locks on the double doors—and full of old books. When I asked— while using my detector to check for any listening devices—he said the books came from various estate sales. "They're more valuable than the ones we keep in the showroom. Thus the reason they're in here, under lock and key."

After that we talked business, while I went through the rest of the room. It didn't take too long to find what I was looking for. One bug was in the phone, not unexpectedly. Two others were in light-fixtures, and the last one was hidden in the kneehole of his desk. I left them all where they were. Removing them would just give Caiazzo's people a head's up that I might be expecting trouble from them. Not that they'd think otherwise, since Philips had hired me, but no sense in adding more fuel to the fire.

Fifteen minutes after I'd entered the office I left, carrying the box that had originally held the necklace in one of my jacket's deep pockets. Outside the store, I carefully scanned the area for potential trouble even though it was too soon for any of Caiazzo's people to have arrived. I hoped. The plan wouldn't work if they tried something before I got to—and left—the appraiser's. Well now that I think about it, it would. But not the way I wanted it to. Having someone stick a gun in my back and relieve me of the box, and then take off, would not give me a chance to have a face-to-face with them. And that's what I wanted. I owed them. Besides which, with luck, I might learn something about Caiazzo's theft ring that I could take to the cops. Something like—what happened to the man who brought the necklace to Phillips and where did they bury the body?