"Is that her handwriting?"
I took another glance at the card and shook my head. "Hers is more…delicate for lack of a better description. Look, why don’t you come inside. You know I'll tell Ricky everything anyway. At least this way, he can hear the rest of it firsthand."
Tom paused then agreed. When we got inside, he nodded to Ricky before sitting on the chair across from the sofa, taking out his notepad and a pen. I sat my usual place, next to my soon to be housemate.
"Before you continue your conversation," Ricky said, "I heard almost everything you two were saying so you don't have to fill me in." He turned his full attention to Tom. "Do you think Walt had something to do with the woman's death? Because if you do I'll swear he never left the house after he got here, and that was around five-forty-five."
"Real quick drink at the bar, then" Tom commented, glancing at me before answering Ricky's question. "There's nothing that puts Walt at the scene of the crime and I suspect he can prove what time the two of them left the bar."
"Actually, she left before me but yeah, a couple of the regulars that I know were there. They can vouch for us coming in together and leaving separately."
"Next question. What did she hire you to do?"
"To find her son." I filled him in on the bare details.
"At any point, did you get the impression she thought she might be in danger?"
"Quite the opposite. She struck me as being the type of woman who was totally in control of her life and wouldn't let anything faze her."
"That didn't quite answer my question," Tom said.
"Okay. No. If she had been, or thought she was, I suspect she'd have told me."
"She didn't seem nervous or…wary, this evening?"
I almost laughed. "I think I was the nervous one, since she was coming on to me."
That raised Tom's eyebrows. "She didn't know about you?"
"There was no reason to tell her." I heard a disgusted sniff from Ricky and patted his leg. "Well there wasn't, since I did my best to rebuff her attempts as nicely as possible, without playing the gay card."
"Okay," Tom said. "You mentioned the man who was—is the boy's father. Did you get in touch with him during your investigation?"
"Yes. We've talked twice. Both times at my office. As a matter of fact, he hired me to do a background check on her."
"For the same reason I was willing to do it. We both wanted to know what prompted her to suddenly decide she had to find the son she gave up over twenty years ago."
Tom looked dubious when I said that. "She didn't give you a reason?"
"She said she wanted to make amends. There was just something…iffy about that. When I found out that the kid stands to inherit a fair sum of money, I had to wonder if she knew. It made a hell of a lot more sense that was the real reason behind her search."
"I take in the boy's father agrees with you?"
"Yeah." I left it at that. I wasn't going to reveal that Carlo knew where his son was, unless it became necessary. True, it was sort of moot now, with Ms Engel being dead and all. Still, it wasn’t my story to tell as the saying goes.
Tom leaned back, looking at me. "What's the father's name?"
Since he'd find out anyway, I told him. "He seems like a good man, from what I can tell," I added.
"Even 'good' men have been known to kill off women if they felt threatened in some way. If he didn't want his family, or his wife, to know what happened…"
"His family knows, and he's not married. However, I did discover Ms Engel was, or had been, apparently. I haven't pursued it past learning she was once Coleen Engel Whitmore. I was planning on following up on that Monday morning."
"No, Walt. You're out of it now. With her murder, this becomes police business."
"How did I know you'd say that?" I replied dryly.