"Hey, Ricky. Did you decide to quit your job and join the firm?" Chelsea asked with a grin when he and I walked into the waiting room of my 'palatial'—yeah sarcasm there—office suite.
"I wish," he replied. "Or not. I don't think I'm cut out for the danger involved."
She looked at both of us, one eyebrow arched. "Now what happened?"
Ricky told her while I picked up the phone messages from the corner of her desk and went into my office. There were only two. One from a regular client, the other—I sighed—from Detective Sharp. I had the distinct feeling he knew what happened last night and was planning on reading me the riot act.
I was in the middle of calling the client when Ricky came in, taking the chair by my desk. When I finished the call, he asked, "So who have you narrowed it down to?"
Since that could only mean one thing, I told him, "Carlo Donati, Frank Milano, or Ben, whose real name we don't know."
"Can you find out where Donati and Milano were last night?"
"I can call and ask, but it doesn't mean they'd tell me the truth, if it's one of them."
Ricky nodded. "Wouldn't they have to be staying somewhere in the city? It's a hell of a long ride back and forth every day for either of them, and they've—well one of them—has delivered a message three days in a row. If, of course, it wasn't a real dumb burglar last night."
"Having second thoughts about that?"
"Not really, I guess. It was too coincidental. But the cops will probably figure it was, when they stop to think about it."
"Somehow I doubt that. Detective Sharp wants me to call him."
"Yeah. Anyway, what you said makes sense, if it is one of those two. Even for Ben, if I'm right about his living close to his father. But if he's here in town, then it would be easy for him to be engineering this."
Ricky nodded. "You think he is close by?"
"I think—and it's just a feeling I got from Carlo Donati when I asked him whether his son lived around here—that he does. He hesitated before replying."
"So 'near' could mean in Carlo's town, or at least in this part of the country."
"Yeah but I'm thinking it's here. Why? No real reason, just a feeling from the way Carlo reacted to the question."
"Then he might suspect Ben killed her?"
"That, or he's so used to keeping Ben's whereabouts secret, that it's instinct to deny he's anywhere within a thousand miles of the city."
"Damn, this is so convoluted."
I chuckled. "No kidding."
"So what now?"
"I should call Sharp but I'd rather put it off for the time being. So first, I need to go have a heart-to-heart with the client I was doing the stakeout for last night. Then, I take you out to a place I know and teach you the rudiments of shooting and how to defend yourself."