“Lucas it’s me Maxine, what the fuck were you thinking, telling Cheryl that we are working on something. There was nothing in the envelope that couldn’t have waited. By the way I already had all those names and more. I did it the old fashioned way. I traded a blow job for them. So call me, I need you to find someone for me.”
That was the message I left on his voice mail. I was sure he saw my name on caller ID and decided to wait to see how pissed I was, before he talked to me. I looked at the dash clock in the cruiser and noticed that it wasn’t quite 11AM. I decided that it was lunchtime anyway.
I drove to a sandwich shop, which specialized in roast beef. Yes that national chain that likes to pretend they have down home flavors. I have no idea what home they are talking about. I’m form the South and I spent a lot of time in the southwestern USA, and I never heard of horseradish on roast beef. Like I said I have no idea whose home they were talking about. I got one Sandwich and an order of their seasoned fries. I didn’t buy their over priced coke.
I stopped at the Quickie Mart on the way to the lake. I was back in the cruiser and about five minutes from the lake, when my jacket pocket began to play the Mag 7 theme. I fished out the phone.
I managed to get hello out before Lucas began to apologize. “I have no idea what I was thinking. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I knew you would get the information quickly. I was going to call to let you know where I left the envelop, until Cheryl jumped dead in my shit. It was then that I realized I had fucked up. I am so sorry.”
“Okay, okay, she was bound to find out sometime. I just expected more from you. That’s really what this is all about.” I said.
“I know and I promise I will never do anything like that again.” he said. “How can I make it up to you.”
“Find me Martha, the hairdresser’s, daughter. She is 19 now. I didn’t want to press her mother, since we are treading on dangerous ground here. So find out who and where she is. I need to talk to her. I’m headed to the lake, if you want to come out for lunch. I have already got my lunch. so you will probably be eating alone.” I said.
“I’ll be there as quickly as I can get through the drive thru at Wendy’s,” he said
“Since I will be finished with lunch before you get here, order me the largest cup of black coffee they have there. I can sip it while I watch you eat.”
The weather had started to get bearable, even if I did have to wear a coat and sweater to be comfortable. At least I needed it while sitting on the marina’s office porch. It was a bit airish as my dad said.
I always enjoyed looking at the water, I have no idea why that is. I can sit for hours on an ocean pier just gazing out to sea. I missed the ocean. I swore, yet again, that if I ever had to leave Aster again, I was headed to some ocean, somewhere.
“Maxine, I just want you to know that I realize, that I screwed up. I won’t let that happen again I swear.” Lucas said even before he sat down.
“Well this time it isn’t really as bad as it sounds. Cheryl will probably be our decoy before it is over. I just prefer to make that decision myself.” I said. You pretty much put me in a corner.”
“I completely understand, and it won’t happen again.” he promised.
“Okay let’s move past it. When can you have the information for me?” I asked.
“ I can do it right now, I think,” he said.
“Eat your lunch first, then we can do it.” I said with a laugh.
“Okay, here is your coffee,” he said.
As I expected, I had finished the sandwich and fries quickly. I knew, I either had to work out more, or eat less but my body wasn’t in sync with my brain on that issue. I sipped on the hot coffee while I waited for Lucas to finish his lunch.
“I talked to Gwen late last night. She said she had been filming you and was lonely. I expect that means you have been up to no good again.” he said with a laugh.
“How can you say that, everyone there said I was great,” I joined him in the laughter.
“I’m sure they did.” He began punching keys on his tiny computer, then added, “Ah according to the city directory Martha has a son name Joshua and a daughter name Catherine. Joshua is in college at the State University and Catherine is a graduate of the Cosmetology Career training center at the community college. She has a certificate and is licensed by the state.”
He stopped talking for a few seconds, so I jumped in. “Can you find where she is working at the moment. Oh yeah, get her driver’s license picture as well please.”
“She works at the Hair Port at the mall. You have probably passed by the shop a hundred times when you walk there.” he said.
“They are never open when I’m there, so I don’t recognize her,” I said after viewing the image from her driver’s license.
“We need to talk to her, I wonder what would be the best approach,” I said aloud.
“I would love to go with you, but I expect she would be more comfortable doing it with just you,” he said.
“I don’t know, but I expect that is the safest approach for now.” I said in agreement. “I kind of hate to bring up old evil. She might not be like Sarah, she might have worked through it, or buried it deeper. I just don’t see any other way to do it.”
“I don’t either,” Lucas said.
“I need to talk to Jen, before I do anything else.” I said. “Okay thanks Lucas. You need to work up an hourly rate for the work you do for me.” I suggested.
“I have been thinking about that, would fifty dollars an hour be fair?” he asked.
“It seems fair from my point of view, will you be satisfied with that?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s fine. So far I have about an hour in,” he suggested.
“Now, unless you need the money, keep a running total. I think you know I’m good for it.” I said.
“If you never paid me, we still wouldn’t be even. I owe you so much,” he said.
I handed him my list of names. Take a look at these name and try to find me their daughters. It might be easier than going through moms.” I suggested.
‘Good idea,” he said.
I drove straight from the lake to Jen’s office. “Hey Maxine, Jen is in court today, can I help you?” she asked.
“I don’t think so, I need a legal opinion. Jen would be best I think.” I said.
“You are right, I’ll have her call, when she comes in this afternoon,” the receptions suggested.
“Good plan,” I said turning to go.
“My husband and I are really looking forward to your TV show,” she said.
“Good, at least I will have an audience of two,” I said with a laugh.
The drive to the mall took about twenty minutes, but only because I stopped for a cup of take out coffee from Mickey D’s drive thru. I was trying to delay the confrontation with Catherine. I had no idea what her response might be. I also might find her with a client and unable to talk. I had already decided how to begin.
“Good afternoon,” the receptionist said to me.
“Hello, is Catherine in?” I asked.
She took one look at my butchered hair then asked, “Do you have an appointment?”
“No, “ I said not revealing anything to the receptionist.
“Catherine is busy this afternoon, could one of the other girls help you?” she asked. I knew then that something was wrong.
“No thanks one of my friends recommended her. When will she be free? Tomorrow maybe?”
“Actually Catherine doesn’t work here anymore.” she said looking around to be sure she wasn’t being watched.
“Do you know where she went?” I asked.
“She is in the county jail awaiting trial,” she said.
“Okay thanks,” I said.
“So would you like to see one of our other technicians?’ she asked.
“No thanks, I really want to see Catherine. Do you know what she is accused of?” She looked skeptical. “So I get an idea of how long I will have to wait,” I explained.
“Some minor drug thing I think,” she said.
I decided, since I didn’t know anyone at the detective bureau any more, to just go see the chick in lockup. I was fortunate enough to be able to call Ed for an intro. He called one of his friends, who was on duty in the lockup. Getting the meeting with Catherine was time consuming, but not all that difficult with Ed greasing the wheels.
“So, “ I said to the teenager in the orange jump suit sitting across the steel table bolted to the floor, “My name is Maxine Stone and I’m an investigator.” She didn’t look impressed. “What are you charge with?’ I asked.
“They arrested me with almost a full key of pot,” she said.
“Well that makes you a drug dealer. Not a good thing to be these days.” I suggested.
“I know, it looks pretty bad my lawyer said,” she admitted.
“So do you wanna help me, and see if I can help you in exchange?’ I asked.
“Why should I?’ She asked.
“Look around, then ask yourself, what do you have to lose?” I suggested. “Obviously I have pull, or I couldn’t have gotten in to see you.”
“So what do you want?” she asked.”I ain’t talking to you about the pot.”
“I have no interest in your pot except to maybe help you out of here. I want to know if you know James Smiley?” I asked.
“I knew him once, when he dated my mom,” she said.
“Tell me what you know and maybe I can help you. But tell me only the truth. You have no idea what I’m looking for, so don’t try to tell me what you think I want to hear.” I looked at her hard. I didn’t need bullshit, I needed the truth.
“You want to know in detail how he popped my cherry?” she asked.
“If he did that yes, I want to know,” I said.
“He came to my room, to talk, every night after he fucked my mom. At first it was just talk. He talked to me like I was somebody special, then he began to touch me. I told him to stop, but he just laughed. I said I would tell mom, but he said she knew.”
“Did she know?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but he came to my room every night right after he fucked her.”she said.
How do you know that?” I asked.
“I could smell her on him,” she said.
“So how far did it go?” I asked.
“Like I said he popped my cherry. He also taught me how to give a blow job. I never could get the deep throat thing down,” she said.
“Did you ever tell anyone?” I asked.
“No, I guess I liked the attention. Most of Mom’s boyfriends just wanted me to stay the hell out of sight.”
“Will you make a statement and testify to all this?” I asked.
“You bet your ass I will,” she said.
‘Okay get it all straight in you head, dates, times, the small details, everything. I am going to have my lawyer come bye to take your statement. She will also talk to you about your case. When she determines what we can do, I will begin working on it. But understand this, if I help you and you renege on out deal, I will have your ass back in jail by hook or by crook.” I said.
“Oh I believe you,” she said.
I knew that she thought she was smarter than me, all teenagers do. So far I hadn’t met the one who was.