Sunday, August 30, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 7

"And we have liftoff," I said under my breath as I ran another search. This time for Mr Donati. There was, unbelievably, only one Giancarlo Donati in the whole country. More amazing as far as I was concerned, he was the right age. At least I wouldn’t have to take a trip to Italy, where there were hundreds. Or rather, I hoped I wouldn't. Working backwards from the information I found on this particular young man, I was able to establish that he had enrolled at Chathington in September of nineteen ninety. The following September he was in school at another college several hundred miles away, majoring in business. That made sense, if his family had put pressure on him to get far away from Ms Engel.

"So who was your family and why did they care?"

"Whose family?" Chelsea asked, coming into my office.

"Carlo Donati's. He's the father of Ms Engel's son, according to her."

"You have doubts?"

"Not really, but she wouldn't give me his name."

"Then how did you figure it out?" I explained and she nodded. "Why keep it a secret though, if she wants to find Benjamin?"

I leaned back, running a hand through my hair as I thought about that. "Perhaps she doesn't want me contacting him. Although why she thought I would, when she made it clear he was out of the picture, is the question. Then again"—I frowned—"maybe he wasn't. Maybe she kept in touch with him. Or he did with her, wanting to know about the baby."

"Or he tried to, and she wouldn't have anything to do with him if he walked out on her."

"Which he did, she said, under pressure from his family. I wonder what the reason was behind that."

"Find out."

I cocked an eyebrow at her. "According to her, his parents told him they'd quit paying his tuition unless he changed schools and, one would presume, left her behind."

"Maybe there was more to it than their not wanting him tied down by a girlfriend and an illegitimate child. Or a wife and child if he decided to do the right thing."

"Possibly. The question is what? And before you tell me to ask him, I was already planning on tracking him down to find out if he's behind Ms Engel's wanting me to find Benjamin."

"Then get on it," she said with a grin. "Oh, by the way, the reason I came in here in the first place? You're appointment for tomorrow canceled. She said something about she'd finally heard from the, as she put it, 'the sperm donor'."

I chuckled. "Undoubtedly an apt description. Just like for Mr Donati."

She left at that point and I went back to finding out more about Carlo Donati.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 6

Research is me. Well, on occasion. Lots of occasions when it comes to doing background checks on potential employees for any one of several clients of mine. This time I was looking for something different. Booting up my computer I began my search. And gave up not too much later. For once it would be easier to do it in person—at the historical society or the local library—because what I needed was a phone directory for nineteen ninety-one.

I got smart and called first. The historical society said I'd be better off going to the library so I took their word for it. When I got there a lady at the information desk sent me upstairs to the history and genealogy department where a nice old man sat me down at a microfiche machine with the directory I needed. I was somewhat taken aback at how many adoption agencies there were, twenty-two in all. I copied down the names, addresses and phone numbers, getting writer's cramp in the process. Then it was back to my office to cross-check and see how many were still in business today.

Nine were, which was a start. I called Ms Engel. She greeted me enthusiastically when she found out who was on the phone, asking if I needed her to come by the office. I politely told her I didn't. That I only needed to run some names by her to see if any of them struck a cord. She made me read through the list twice then, hesitantly, said "Spears-Clemens sounds familiar. I vaguely remember it was names, not some sort of cutesy title, if that makes sense."

I chuckled. "It does. All right, I'll start with them and see what I can come up with. You need to realize they may not be willing to release any information."

"Even if I ask them to?"

"Even then. Not without checking with the adoptee first to get their permission. That would hold true if he was looking for you."

"I understand. At least try. Please. This is very important to me."

I told her I would and hung up. Again I wondered why she sounded so desperate to find him. Maybe Ricky was on to something when he said the father might be pressuring her to tell him where their son was. Perhaps it was time to figure out who said father was.

For the first time today I was actually able to do an online search and find what I needed. I pulled up Chathington College's website and after some diligence and a lot of 'Click here to…' links I came up with student records from the year I needed. I pulled up the freshman class list.

Ms Engel was there, Coleen Maureen Engel to be exact. According to the records, she'd dropped out in April of her freshman year then returned the following fall and graduated with honors three years later. Next I used the 'find' function to look for the first name 'Carlo'. That didn't show up, but on the second page of the roster there was a Giancarlo W. Donati. Like Ms Engel, he was listed as leaving the college before the end of his freshman year. Unlike her, he never returned.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 5

I arrived at the hospital fifteen minutes later, trying my best to look like an expectant father when I asked where the maternity ward was. I guess I passed, marginally, since the woman at the desk told me, after saying, "You don't know?" in a disbelieving voice.

I went up there, suspecting my chances of finding anyone who would, or could, talk to me about the time Ms Engel had been there were slim to none. Among other things, most of the nurses I saw bustling around were my age—thirty—or younger. Then I spotted an older one coming out of one of the rooms. Since she wasn't carrying a baby, I figured I could approach her without her thinking I was a kidnapper or some such.

"Miss"—I checked her name tag—"Franklin, could I speak to you for a moment?" I showed her my private investigator's ID.

She studied me then nodded. "Depending what it's about. I've got a ten minute break and"—she smiled dryly—"for once, I don't have to use the restroom. I'm heading down to grab something quick to munch on. We can talk while I do."

"Thank you. This might only take a minute anyway. I'm trying to find a nurse who would have been working the maternity ward in nineteen ninety-one."

"Oh my. That could be difficult. Who is she?"

"Not a specific one. Just someone who would have been here then."

"Why?" she asked warily as we got on the elevator.

"Long story short, I've been hired by a baby's mother to find out what happened to him."

"He died while he was here? In that case you'll have to take it up with our lawyers."

"No. He was given to an adoption agency and the mother doesn't remember the name."

"If she doesn't, why would a nurse?"

"Good question. I guess I should have figured that out for myself," I replied with a self-deprecating chuckle.

"If I were you, I'd find out what agencies were in business back then and go from there."

"That was my next step, if I didn't find someone here who knew firsthand which one the mother had used."

She nodded then said, "I wasn't working the maternity ward then and I really don't know who was. I could find out, but I doubt it would do you any good. Even if one of the nurses still works here, she wouldn't be allowed to give out that sort of information."

"All right. I figured as much but it was worth a try. Thank you for your help."

She chuckled. "Or lack thereof."

We were on the ground floor by then and I took off, heading back to work.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 4

Chelsea greeted me, when I got to work, with "Ms Engel called. She wants to know if she can come in to get your first report on her case."

"Good lord. I haven't even had a chance to start on it yet. Call her back and tell her I'll be in touch when I know something and not before. And"—I grinned wryly—"be a bit more tactful than I would be. Please."

"On it," she said, laughing as she handing me my messages.

I settled down at my desk to go through them. There was an inquiry from a potential new client, asking if I was available to set up a security system for them. I called the man back, we talked about what he needed and then I gave him a couple of recommendations for companies who would better serve his needs. I can, and have, done that for individuals. But for a business I generally passed. I know my limits.

Another message was from a woman who wanted me to find her deadbeat husband. He was well behind on his support payments for their two kids. I passed her over to Chelsea to set up an appointment for her.

Now on to Ms Engel's case.

Finding Benjamin Engel's birth certificate wasn't hard since I knew what I was doing and where he'd been born. The information on it coincided with what Ms Engel had told me—his name, her name as the mother, no father's name given. His DOB was 07/11/1991. That said he was given to the adoption agency on July thirteenth of the same year.

Now all I had to do was figure out which agency and that wasn't going to be easy. Adoption records are sealed unless the adopted child is looking for their birth parent. Even then, that information may not be available.

I wondered if paying a visit to the hospital was in order. Maybe, if I got real lucky, one of the nurses who was there when Benjamin was born would still be on staff. If so, she would be in her late forties or fifties by now. At least that would narrow things down a bit. I hoped.

I checked with Chelsea to see when she'd set up the appointment with the woman who wanted to find her deadbeat husband. It was for tomorrow so I told Chelsea where I was headed and took off.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 3

"And that's pretty much how she ended our meeting," I told Ricky. I was filling him in on my day while we drove to the restaurant he'd chosen for dinner. A dinner I owed him for what I'd put him through during the theft case.

That's when the green-eyed monster appeared. "She was coming on to you," he said tightly. 

"You think? Come on babe, you know I wouldn't respond to that, no matter what. She's"—I grinned and reached over to squeeze his thigh—"not my type."

"I know," he admitted. "But still it frosts me she'd even try."

"I suspect, from what little she told me about herself, that it's her usual modus operandi. Her words were, and I quote, 'I happen to like men. A lot.'."

"Good lord." He relaxed. "Am I going to have to be there every time she comes to your office to act as a barrier between the two of you?" Then he frowned. "Why didn't you just tell her you're gay?"

"I wanted her to be herself, if that makes sense. The more she told me because she thought I was straight and would understand what she meant, the better."

"I guess." He actually pulled a pout on me when he said, "You'd better remember who's moving in with you in a couple of days."

"You are, babe, and I wouldn't have it any other way."

We put off talking any more about Ms Engel and the case until we were halfway though dinner. Then Ricky asked, "How are you going to find this Benjamin person?"

"I'll start with the birth certificate, to see if what Ms Engel told me was the truth."

"Do you even know where he was born?"

"I have the hospital name."

"That's a start. And his name and his mother's and father's?"

"His and his mother's, since she's the one who hired me. And—again presuming she told the truth—his father's first name."

He nodded. "But not the name of the adoption agency, you said. You're going to have a hard time without that bit of information."

"I know. And the chances are a hundred to one that whoever adopted Benjamin changed his name. Hell, at this point he might not even know what his birth name was."

"Exactly. Why is she looking for him after all this time?" Ricky asked.

"According to her, to find out if she did the right thing."

Ricky snorted. "Twenty years too late to be worrying about that. So…" He took a bite of his steak and chewed slowly—a habit of his when he wanted time to think. "So why is she really looking for him? Inheritance? His father contacted her wanting to find him? She's dying and wants to make amends?"

"Scratch the last one. I think she'd have said so if that's the case. Besides which, this lady looks as healthy as a horse, which isn't surprising since she's a personal trainer."

He chuckled. "Appearances can be deceiving but yeah, that was a bit of a stretch."

"I suspect when I do find him, if I can, I'll have a better idea what's behind her wanting him found."


"Among other things, I'll know who his father is."

"You mean because he'd have to have signed off on the adoption?"

 "Actually, he might not have. He was out of the picture by then."

"But he knew she was pregnant, from what you said. Maybe he is behind her looking for Benjamin." Ricky grinned. "With a name like Carmine…"

"Carlo," I corrected.

"Right. With a name like that he's connected. He wants to bring his son into the business. Isn't that what all Mafia dons dream of? Having their kids follow in their footsteps?"

"You're asking me? I'm pure Irish."  

"Well hardly pure," Ricky replied, waggling his eyebrows.

I just shook my head. No sense in encouraging him. We'd only end up going back  to his place and… What the hell am I thinking? I grinned, muttered, "I'll show you 'pure' as soon as we finish dinner." That definitely put an end to our speculating about Ms Engel and the case. We didn't rush to finish dinner. It was too good to do that. But we didn't tarry either, and soon enough we were in his bed doing very impure things together.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 2

I refrained from pointing out to Ms Engel that a lot of women have gone through the same thing—kept their kids and managed to become great single mothers. I should know. I'm the son of a single mother, although in her case she left my dad when I was two. I turned out okay, I think.

"All right. Now comes the big question. Why do you want to find him after all these years?" I asked. "He's what, twenty-two, twenty-three now?"

"Twenty-three." Again she gave me the teary-eyed look. "I want to know I did the right thing by giving him up. That he was placed with a good family and grew up to be a good young man."

Sure she did. Two decades later and suddenly she starts worrying about that.

"Please say you'll help me," she practically begged. "I have to find…to know he's…that he was in good hands."

Her tears were flowing now and I handed her a tissue. Yeah, I keep a box in a desk drawer for weepy clients. It happens sometimes when a woman gets too emotional about why they want to hire me. After all my years as a PI I've learned to be prepared.

She wiped her eyes, sniffled, and apologized for breaking down. "I'm a woman. I'm sure you understand," she said, resting her hand on my arm. "I'll try not to let it happen again."

I ignored her touching me and got back down to business. "I'll need to know a few things, beginning with what adoption agency you used."

She chewed her lip. "I don’t remember the name. It was one a friend of mine recommended. They sent someone to get him and…the woman was nice. She let me say goodbye and hold him for a minute and then he was gone."

"That will make it more difficult. What did you name him?"

"Benjamin Carlo Engel."


She nodded. "After his father. I… I thought it was only fair, even though Carlo had given in to what his family wanted and moved out of my life."

"Is Carlo listed on the birth certificate as the father?"

"Hell no! Okay, maybe that was a bit strong but, no. I was okay with giving Benjamin his father's first name as part of his, but no way did I want him to know who the bastard really was. Is."

"That would be?"

She shook her head. "It's not germane to your finding Benjamin."  

"Let me make that decision, please. I need all the information you have, including his father's full name. Have you been in touch with him since Benjamin was born?"

She continued shaking her head, muttering, "No way would I have anything to do with that bastard," so I gave up for the time being and asked for the name of the hospital, which she gave me, and if Benjamin had any birthmarks or other identifying features, which he didn't.

"Can you find him?" She asked again.

I looked at my notes. They were scanty at best. "I'm willing to try but I won't guarantee anything." I took two papers from a folder on my desk. "The first one is my rates. I require a retainer to get started. The second one is the contract. Fill it out, including all your personal information."

She read through both, seemingly unfazed by what I charged per hour, other than to say, "I'll want an exact accounting of the hours you spend working on this."

"Of course. I'll send you a report every other day for as long as it takes, listing time spent and expenses incurred."

"Thank you." She filled out the contract, signed it and wrote out the retainer check. I was surprised to see that she worked as a personal trainer for the largest gym in the city. I commented on that and she said with a grin, "You should stop in sometime and I'll show you around. I think you'll like the place and what it has to…offer."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Walt Murphy – Part Two – 1

Now Ricky knows I'm not into women. He's living proof of that. But when I told him about Ms Engel I swear he turned a pale shade of green and it wasn't a good color on him. Okay, just figuratively speaking of course, but still…

To backtrack a bit, Ricky Hayes is my boyfriend/lover/partner. All three describe him. We've been together for six years and counting and I finally decided it was safe for us to live together. Not that I didn't always want us to, but I'm a private investigator and sometimes I run into problems of the physical kind. Like with the last case I had. I got beat up and shot while trying to find out who was behind the theft of a rare and valuable item. The only reason that's relevant is because I worry that someone coming after me might use him to get to me. That made sense to me, but not to him. As he often pointed out—it's not like we kept our relationship a secret.

Anyway, the day after I closed the theft case, and not more than an hour after I'd finally asked Ricky to move in with me, I got a new client. Her name was Coleen Engel, and she said, as I escorted her into my office, "I have a big problem, Mr Murphy. I hope you can help me. I need to find my son."

After she sat down in the client's chair by my desk I asked her to explain.

"To begin with you should know I'm forty-two and unmarried. Always have been. Well unmarried that is." She smiled slightly before continuing. "That doesn't mean I never got involved with men. I happen to like men, Walt. A lot." She paused, just looking at me, and I suddenly got that she was speculating about me at that moment. "May I call you Walt?"

"Yep." I gave a sharp nod. Then I said, wanting to get her back on track, "I take it that somewhere along the line you got pregnant."

"Got it in one," she replied. "I was nineteen and had just started school at Chathington College. I'll admit it, I was far from innocent even then, but I thought getting pregnant could never happen to me because I was careful. Even back then I made sure the guys used condoms. Then"—she grimaced—"I fell in love. Or I thought I was and I thought he loved me. I'm sure you're experienced enough to know how that goes. Meet a man, or in your case a woman, who rings the right bells and you'd do anything for them."

I let that stand as she'd said it, and just nodded so she continued.

"Anyway, long story short, he said I should get on the pill so he didn't have to use rubbers." She shook her head. "Timing is everything and we were young and horny. I think you can figure it out from there."

"You got pregnant before the pill took hold."

"Yes, and before you ask, I thought it was great. Him, me, baby, marriage, family. Talk about starry-eyed innocence. I might not have been a virgin when I met him, but I was more than willing make him the only man in my life from then on. For a while things were good. He was shocked, but once he got past that he acted as if he'd step up to the plate and do the right thing."

"But?" I said, knowing there had to be one if she wanted me to find her son.

"His family had other ideas. They refused to pay his tuition unless he walked away and transferred to a different school. I was six months along at that point, it was the end of our freshman semester, and… he left." She sighed deeply, looking at me with large, teary blue eyes. "I had the baby and two days later put him up for adoption."

"That has to have been hard."

"Very. But what choice did I have? I had no intention of dropping out of school to raise a kid and for damned sure I wasn't going to put that burden on my parents."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 49

Eber's arrest made the morning news, in the paper and on the city's TV channels. Detective Sharp, aka Tom, shared the glory by saying that he'd had the able assistance of Mr Philips, a well-known antiques dealer, and a local private investigator.

"So much for getting some free advertising," I grumbled when the newscaster moved on to the next story. "Local PI my ass."

"Think positively," Ricky said while he finished tying his tie, preparatory to leaving for work. "This way you don't get all the kooks trying to hire you to find or take care of whatever."

"I guess." I grabbed the tie, tugging on it. He rolled his eyes and let me pull him to me. "Dinner tonight?"

"Better than breakfast tonight," he replied, smirking. "Here or at your place?"

"I've been thinking about that." Which I had been for it seemed like forever, but more so the last couple of days. "Our lives would be much easier if you moved in with me."

He looked at me aghast, putting one hand on my forehead. "No. No temperature. Maybe you're a pod person and the real you is…"

"I'm serious," I growled. "It's about time I stopped being so… so protective when it comes to you."

"I agree," he replied softly. "I'm a big boy now. Although"—he grinned—"not quite as big as you."

"So you're willing to?" I asked, ignoring his joking around.

"Walt, I was willing to a month after we met."

"Then that's settled. And to answer your original question, I still owe you a fancy dinner because last night doesn't count, what with Caiazzo picking up the tab. How about The Odyssey?" I had a feeling he'd go for that because it was where we went on our first date a hundred years ago. Okay, not a hundred but…damn…almost six years ago

"Perfect," he said, giving me a hug. "Six-thirty and don't forget to…"

"Make a reservation. Yeah, yeah."

He smiled, kissed me very thoroughly, then said he'd see me tonight, adding, "And this weekend we'll move my stuff to your place."

"Our place," I said in no uncertain terms.

"Our place."

* * * *

I was humming when I walked into the waiting area of my office suite.

Chelsea looked at me, one eyebrow cocked. "Glad the Philips case is over?"

"Yep. And with no major damage to life or limb."

She snorted. "Other than a beating and a bullet wound, but who's counting." She studied me for a moment. "Wipe that silly grin off your face and tell me what's really going on."

"Ricky's moving in with me."

"Well it's about time!" She came over and hugged me. "Still, wipe off the grin. You've got a client coming in… Okay, she's here," Chelsea said when the hallway door opened.

The woman was tall, early forties I guessed and not bad looking. She introduced herself as Coleen Engel and said, as I escorted her into my office, "I have a big problem. I hope you can help me. I need to find my son."

The End 

Part Two - coming on Tuesday.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 48

The first thing Ricky did I got to his apartment was look me over to be certain I really was okay. I assured him I was so, finally, he kissed me. I returned it of course, hoping it would lead to more than just kissing.

He quickly disabused me of that idea when he said, "I called Sanoma's and made a reservation. We're due there in fifteen minutes."

"Afraid I'd back out?" I asked with a laugh.

He grinned. "Well I do know you very well. So, yeah. All your thoughts to the contrary, food first and then bed, not vice versa."

Thus it was that we walked into the restaurant just a few steps behind Mr Caiazzo and a woman I presumed from her age was his wife. Unplanned, but none the less interesting. It became more interesting when he greeted me like an old friend and, after being introduced to Ricky, invited us to join him and—yes, she was his wife—for dinner. I was about to decline. After all this was supposed to be just Ricky and me. My way of apologizing to him for not calling. 
Ricky had other ideas. He accepted graciously for both of us, murmuring as we followed the Caiazzos, "You've told me so much about him, so…"

When we all were seated, Mrs Caiazzo insisted we call her Rosa before asking if we were customers of her husband's. I wasn't quite sure how to reply since I didn't know how much she knew of his side business.

Caiazzo solved that problem by telling her we'd met at Endless Reads when I needed his help in acquiring a certain book. 

She smiled. "Ah. Then I have you to thank for this, Walt." Call me unobservant but it wasn't until she touched the necklace at her throat that I realized she was wearing it. "Nicolò told me you helped him get it back from that awful man."

"I think he did more to help me, and my client, than I did to help him."

"Perhaps. In fact, knowing my husband, I'm sure that's the truth. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have it back. It belonged to my grandmother. A wedding gift from her husband."

"How did Eber end up with it," Ricky asked, looking intrigued.

"He stole it," Caiazzo replied, looking a bit chagrinned. Then he chuckled. "He stole it from me. Can you imagine?"
"Why didn't you just steal it back? Or better yet, turn him over to the police?" I asked.

"I tried to get it back but I had no proof it was him. Just a suspicion because there was bad blood between us, surrounding… Well I won't go into why. He denied he'd taken it—of course—and my people had no luck in finding it. Ergo, I didn't know what he'd done with the necklace until you came to me with your story about Mr Philips."

"Giving you a chance to get a bit of revenge, so to speak."


"Score one for the home team," Ricky exclaimed. Yeah, sometimes he acts like a teenager. I love him anyway.

After that we stopped talking about the case and enjoyed an excellent dinner with the Caiazzos. They are very nice people, and unless you knew better you'd think they were exactly what they seemed to be—a well-to-do bookstore owner and his gracious wife. I had the distinct feeling Rosa not only knew about her husband's side business, but supported his doing it. I even wondered if she was, or had been, one of his thieves. There was something about her—the way she observed everything that was happening with a knowing eye—that said she might be very good at it. No way would I ask though. It was none of my business one way or the other, and I didn't want to chance ruining what I thought might be the beginnings of a close friendship between the four of us.

The evening ended on a good note, with Caiazzo and I promising each other we'd keep in touch. Then Ricky and I returned to his place where the night ended on a very good note.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 47

"You done good, to use the popular vernacular," I told Philips several hours later as we nursed our drinks at my favorite watering hole.  

"I tried to get him to say enough to hang himself," he replied. "Do you think I did?"

"Yeah. And more importantly, so did Detective Sharp or he wouldn't have come in when he did. From what he told me before we left the precinct house, Eber's lawyer is not a happy camper. Of course he'll try to negate what the cops got on tape, but since nothing Eber said was coerced and there wasn't any entrapment, I think he'll have a hard time of it."

"I hope." Philips managed a small chuckle. "I wish I knew who Eber was planning to sell the book to, so I could offer it to them."

"You can bet the price he gave was lower than what the book's worth. Besides, after all we've been through; do you really want to get rid of it?"

"Maybe not. One thing that still bothers me. Since he wasn't in possession of it when he was arrested, will that negate the fact that he stole it in the first place?"

"Good question. I can always ask Caiazzo to have his people return it to where they found it. But then it could be forever until you get it back because it'll become evidence when the case goes to trial."

"But if it's not there…"

"I have a feeling a good prosecutor can deal with that problem. After all, Eber did admit to stealing it. The fact that he"—I made finger quotes—"'lost track of it afterwards', is not your problem."

"I hope."

My phone vibrated just then. It was Ricky, wanting to know how everything had gone and why I hadn't called him. He was upset because, when he'd tried to call me—several times according to him—my phone had been turned off. Of course he knew why, but that didn't do anything to ease his anxiety.

"You should have let me know the second it was over," he grouched. "For all I knew you could have ended up in the hospital. Again."

"I know. I'm sorry," I told him contritely. "I'll make it up to you." I glanced at Philips and saw he was on his phone. I had the distinct feeling he was calling his wife, having heard my end of my conversation.

"I know you will," Ricky said. "Starting with dinner at… humm…"

I could almost hear the wheels turning as he tried to decide what very expensive place he wanted to go to. "Sanoma's," I suggested. It was one of his favorites and it wouldn't put too big a hole in my finances.

"Yeah. I like that idea. You have an hour to get home and dressed before picking me up."

"What makes you think I'm not home already?"

"Maybe the background noise? I bet you and Philips are at Dubb's."

I chuckled. "You know me too well." Then I realized it had to be later than I thought if he was off work, or about to be. A quick check of the time told me I was right. "Okay, I'll see you in an hour. Love you."

"Love you back—now. I was debating it a few minutes ago."

"I know. Honest, I am sorry."

"I believe you," he said softly before hanging up.

Philips looked at me with more than a bit of amusement. "I suspect Ricky was reacting the same way my wife did, so we'd better call it a night. At least I don't have to take her out to dinner. She's got it waiting at home and, according to her, it's getting cold."

"Then we're out of here." I laughed. "And I'll give you a ride home."

"Oh? Oh yeah. I forgot. Again."

"Next time, you drive," I said as we left.

"Next time?"

I shrugged. "Or something."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 46

Philips hesitated, looking at me. I nodded, telling him, "If you don't, the big guy here or his partner will try to take the bag and I really am not in the mood for a fight at the moment. This is a brand new shirt."

"May I ask something?" Philips said as he opened the bag. "Do you have a buyer for the book, Mr Eber?"

"Of course. I wouldn't have gone to all this trouble to get my hands on it if I didn't."

"And that's a wrap," I said as the door burst open and Tom and two more officers came into the room, guns drawn.

The goons, of course, weren't too happy with the situation and went for their weapons. I got a bit of my own back for the beating they'd given me when I sank my fist into the burly one's gut. He should have known better than to take his attention off of me. He didn't go down, but he didn't get to his gun either. One of the officers took care of goon number three while Tom strode across the room in time to stop Eber from pulling a vanishing act. With burly still gasping for air, the second officer had no problem cuffing him.

Eber paled when Tom put handcuffs on him. "I don't know what you think you're doing. We were having a friendly discussion about a book I want to purchase from Mr Philips," Eber whined. "And you have no proof otherwise."

Tom chuckled dryly. "I beg to differ with you. We have your words on tape, so to speak."

"Impossible. We got rid it their wires," number three spat out.

"There are other… Nevermind." Tom rolled his eyes, looking at me. "Some people are so dumb they're only good for one thing. Being hired muscle."

I snorted. "That better not have been aimed at me."

"Not this time," he replied with a smirk. "We'll see about next time."

By then, the two officers were escorting Eber and his goons out of the room, Eber shouting that he wanted his lawyer "Right now!"

I think it finally sank in with Philips that it was over, because he dropped down on one of the chairs, trembling with relief. "Can we go home now?" he asked.

"Not quite yet," Tom told him. "The two of you will have to come down to the precinct to make your statements."

Philips nodded. "A guess I should be glad the shop's closed on Monday's." He managed a smile. "A bit of a non sequitur I know. Okay, if I must, I must."

"You must," I said. "And when we're finished, I opt we go out and have a few stiff drinks to celebrate."

"Now that I can definitely live with," he replied.