Saturday, June 13, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 17

"I can't help you if you're not being honest with me," I said quietly.

"I know," she whispered. "I just… Okay, I think maybe he wasn't telling me the truth about where he got whatever it was he said he could sell. I think… I'm real sure… he stole it from someone."

"Why do you think that?"

She looked at me with worried brown eyes. "If you lost something that was worth a lot, wouldn't you go back to the store to see if they found it?"

"For sure I would," I agreed with a smile. "That doesn't mean you boyfriend would have been honest enough to say he'd found it if the owner did come back."

"I guess. I just had the feeling he was lying to me but I didn't push it. I… didn't want to find out I was right. I mean the story he gave me was bad enough. Right?"

"Yeah. It didn't make him seem like a saint. Question number”—I grinned a bit—"five hundred. The guy you ran into this evening. Did you really run into him by accident or did he come to you."

"I'd just gotten off work and didn't feel like cooking so I stopped to eat at a fast-food place. I looked up and he was standing there. He…" She frowned. "He acted like we were old friends and asked about… Bill. So I told him what was going on and asked if he'd seen him and… well I told you the rest."

"Yep. All except 'Bill's' real name."

"Hugh Williams," she said hesitantly.

"That's better. Thank you."

She nodded. "Do you think…something bad has happened to him?"

What I thought was, she'd been set up by Hugh's 'acquaintance' to come here as part of some scheme of Caiazzo's to find out if I had the necklace—either here or somewhere else. Or she was working directly for Caiazzo and was supposed to get the lay of the land—as it were—before they broke in to look for it. It was late enough now that he or one of his people would have called the appraiser and found out it wasn't there. Either way, I guess, the end result would be the same. She was here and had had a chance to get a good look at the place. Not that there was anything to see. I don't have a large metal box with 'Safe' written on it standing in the corner. I do have a safe, but it was well-concealed in the storage closet off the waiting area.

When I didn't answer immediately, she said with a tinge of anger, "You don't believe me."

I shrugged. "I believe you think something's happened to him. I'm not all that certain you don't know what, or why, other than that it relates to this item he said he had."

"I don't!"

"Okay, take it easy. Tell me about his friends."