“I tried to get in touch with you. You were traveling around Eruope with your new friends.” Jen said.
‘Ah, don’t be jealous. It was a hide out trip that you negotiated with the feds remember?” I asked.
“Yes I remember but now you are back and you have two weeks to clear out of the apartment and sign the papers.” Jen informed me.
“I guess I better get hustling around looking for a new place to live.” I suggested.
“That would seem to be a good idea,” Jen agreed.
“So, I have two weeks?’ I asked.
“Two weeks from today, if you don’t find a place by then, you will have to move into the street. Cheryl needs it for the women’s shelter.”
I took a ride downtown that very afternoon. I checked out all the abandoned buildings. I had an idea where I wanted to live next. I found an older buildings that I liked. Highest on my list was a two story building which had once housed a small finance company. The downstairs had been the office and the upstairs was one giant storage room.
The building was badly in need of a washing, a paint job inside, and the floors resurfaced. It wouldn’t be cheap to renovate, but it was doable in budget. Especially since I would be reusing my industrial decorating pieces.
I saw it but I wanted to look at some others for price comparisons. After a week of looking all over town it proved to be the ideal place. I immediately put a crew on the floor and the painting. I also had a plumber come to run water and drain to the second floor. I didn’t bother with the bathroom since I could use the one on the first floor with just the addition of a shower stall.
I was able to move in on the last day of my apartment building ownership. “I hope you didn’t feel rushed Maxine. I knew you were in Europe, but before I sunk a lot of money in the place I wanted the paperwork complete.” Cheryl did seem apologetic.
“Oh it’s okay. I really didn’t have anything to do but look for a new place anyway. I’m resting my old war wounds,” I said with a smile.
“It’s good that you could find time to do that. I expected you to be up to you butt in business.” Cheryl said.
“Not this time. This time I’m laying low.” I said it and I smiled. Even as I said it, I had no idea that life would let me rest. I had only a few days left in the apartment, so the work was winding down. The plumber I called the week before to get me a kitchen sink upstairs and a free standing plastic shower stall downstairs, took only two days to complete the work.
While he did that I found a guy who agreed to pressure wash the outside of the building while the plumber worked inside. It took a little work to find someone who would take up the carpet and clean and repaint the floors, but I didn’t want them refinished. I just wanted the loose dirt and the grime cleaned away.
By moving day all the work was done, except for last minute ‘do overs’. And of course the major interior painting. I didn’t plan to buy a paintbrush at all, so I went looking for a painter. Before he retired, I had called Ed for the kind of thing, so I gave Lucas a try.
“Lucus it’s Maxine, I need a favor,” I said.
“How long you been back in town?” He asked. It was not going to be a fun conversation I could just tell.
“A couple of days, I have arranged to buy the old Capitol Finance company building. I need a good painter, do you happen to know one.”
“That’s only a few blocks up the street. So we are going to be neighbors?” he asked.
“It looks like it, I hate rush you but I need to find a painter today,” I said.
“I’ll call around and get someone to stop bye,” Lucas said.
“That’s fine but tomorrow I have to find someone for sure,” I admitted.
“If you find someone first, then it’s a no harm no foul,” He said.
Every morning I made coffee for the workers. I also stopped by Helen’s to purchase takeout for them. Three or four bags a day for a week, was a small price to pay for the good job they did for me. I moved into the new building on the last day. I didn’t have any time left, but the guys had done a good job. The old building looked great, in a vintage kind of way.
When the workmen finished I settled into a comfortable lifestyle. I made coffee, drove to Helen’s from breakfast, went to walk at the mall with my tiny dancer, then searched for fun things to do. It would take a long time for me to get bored, I knew.
Even though the female cop from Tryon had asked about meeting for a talk that weekend, it actually took her three weeks. By that time the place was fixed up enough so that I could have her in without being too awfully embarrassed.
“Hello Ms Stone,” she said as she entered the building.
“It’s Jamie?’ I asked.
“Yes Ma’am,” the younger woman replied.
“Would you like a drink, a cup of coffee or a soda,” I asked.
“Soda would be nice, if you have one,” she replied
“Come on upstairs, my kitchen is up there,” I suggested. Once she had her soda I invited her to sit in the living room which overlooked the street below. As you can guess the big windows made it appear that one was sitting above the action on the street but still a part of it. I just loved that view.
“So Jamie what brings you to Aster?” I asked.
“As I said at the Waffle house I have seen all your TV shows. I need help and you are the best one to do it, I think.”
“You do know a lot of TV drama is fake?” I asked not believing anyone believed any of what they saw on TV.
“But your TV show isn’t staged?” she asked.
“No but it is edited hard. Lots of my warts don’t make it onto TV.” I explained. I saw her face fall, it was kind of pitiful and yes it melted my heart. “Oh hell tell me what the problem is, I can maybe find someone to do something,” I suggested.
A couple of months ago I was involved in a drug raid and some money went missing,” she informed me.
“How much money,” I asked.
“Twenty thousand dollars,” she said.
“And they know the money was there before the raid?” I asked.
“It was there when they videoed the scene and never made it to evidence. There was a lot of money.” She said.
“So what do you think happened?” I asked.
“Huh?” she grunted.
“You were there, if you didn’t take it, who do you think did?” I asked. “This isn’t about being a snitch, it’s about your job and your freedom. Now who do you think did it?”
“I don’t know. Before this happened I would have sworn none of them could do this.” She was on the verge of tears.
“The first thing you have to do is get a lawyer. So do you have one?” I asked.
“No, I can’t afford a lawyer,” she said.
“I’m going to get you one, but you will have to sign over a portion of any money she arranges for you coming from this incident.” I demanded.
“Alright, I just want to keep my job and my reputation,” she confided in me.
“I will see if I can arrange that for you. Now I want you to go home and write me a complete account of the incident. If you can get me your report, and those of any other officers who were there, I would appreciate it.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” she said.
“Leave me your phone number and I’ll have Jennifer call you. She will be acting as your lawyer.” I informed her.
“So, you are going to look into this?” she asked.
“We will look into it.” I said.
“I don’t have much money Maxine,” the younger woman admitted.
“None of us do honey. I can’t promise you there won’t be expenses but the alternative is to do nothing and go to jail.”
“I know. It’s just so unfair. I mean I did nothing at all and here I am being investigated.” she said.
“It sounds pretty unfair when you put it that way, doesn’t it?” I asked. “A great number of bad guys say that as well. Sometimes you have to cast a wide net to catch any fish at all.” Sure I was trying to be conciliatory. I figured, it couldn’t hurt.
She left shortly after. She also left just as she had come in, untouched by me. After she had gone I called Jennifer. “Jennifer how would you like to have me work for you again?” I asked
“Doing what exactly?” she asked. So I explained it all to her. Everything I knew got included.
“So one of the other officers took the cash,” she said.
“It looks that way. It might be dicey to prove, but if we don’t do something they are going to screw this little girl to the wall.” I said.
“If you want to do something, we will do something. I am going to call her and see how far along this has gone. Most likely there isn’t any need for us to do anything yet. That time will come soon enough. Why don’t you find out the names of all the other guys on that raid and check them out for me.” Jennifer said it somewhere in her long rambling speech.
“Hey how is the return home going?” she asked as an after thought.
“So far not too bad. Only a half dozen people have recognized me and they were friendlies.” I admitted.
“You do know that won’t always be the case?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah, I have been warned that there are kooks out there. I’m going to try to stay away from them.” I admitted.
“Good, maybe I won’t have to defend you for killing one of them,” she said with a smile in her voice.
“Yes it is much easier to not be charge, than to beat the rap,” I said.
“So very much easier,” Jen agreed.
Several hours later I got an Email from Jamie. It held a copy of her report on the drug raid, along with a narrative of what she thought she saw. Also attached were reports from two other veteran officers.
All those attachments amounted to a lot of words which meant nothing to me. I needed someone to read them who understood what the words were really saying. I was sitting at home racking my brain when I remembered that even though I hadn’t been there in a while. I knew a ton of cops at the Cop Out Club. The other advantage to moving downtown was that I was two blocks from the Cop Out. It was a decent but not impossible walk, by any means.
I got all my papers and put them in a giant canvas bag before I headed to the cop out. The two blocks walk was good for me. My leg was a little tender when I arrived, but that was good for it. Getting a work out I mean, not the pain.
I was back in the hospital yesterday. I had an adverse reaction to the Vicotin. Went a little spacey and I couldn’t communicate. I was rambling so my kids called my dad who sent an ambulance but I’m fine now. Just had to lay there and let it flush through me.