“Sylvia why don’t you go on over to the Cloak and meet with Alvin the Auditor. Give him this thumb drive and let him go on out to River Landing. He can do his thing out there, just as well as here. You can answer any of his questions about working here better than I could to be honest.” I suggested
“Sure, what exactly do I tell him to do,” she suggested.
“Find any stock purchases or money transfers that don’t seem to be accounted for by his salary or previous investment income,” I suggested. “Anything that looks suspicious we want to hear about.”
“Got it boss,” she said.
While she was gone I awaited the arrival of the boys. Vlad and Jerrod were on their way back from Tryon, while Peter was on his way from god alone knew where. Since his breakup with Sylvia, I had no idea how or where he spent his time. I didn’t figure that it was any of my concern, unless he asked for some help. If he did that, I would try to help him as best I could. After all he was a part of the team. The team that didn’t really exist.
Peter actually arrived first. “So how is it going Peter?” I asked.
“It is going great. Have you seen the comic strip yet?” he asked.
“I did see it for the first time a couple of days ago and I like it very much. Your drawings are great and you managed to keep it fairly believable. I realize that you are still doing the whole visual arts storytelling thing, that can’t be easy to juggle. I am proud of you.” I actually had seen the strip once a few days before and it was just fine. It had about ten advertising links, so Peter was making a buck or two at least. I was happy to see that as well.
“Thank you Maxine, that means a lot to me,” he said.
“So when Vlad and Jerrod get here, we will try to take care of what they need first, then I want you to run out to The River Landing Suites and work with Alvin the Auditor. I want to pin down the Judge’s finances. Then I want you to go to work on Lydia’s finances. Recheck to be sure she isn’t hiding anything. She doesn’t seem like the type to keep a secret, but who knows.”
“She does seem like a dumb blond with dyed black hair at the moment,” he agreed.
I was having coffee and a donut while I awaited the arrival of Vlad and Jerrod. An hour or so earlier Harvey had gone out in his car to gather impressions of the town. It was all background information, he called it. I was concerned about what he might find, or what might find him. I had even asked him not to go, but he absolutely refused to be cooped up any longer. He promised me that he wouldn’t do anything to get himself noticed.
Vlad and Jerrod came in several minutes after Peter and I finished out conversation. We were both getting antsy when they showed up. “So what do you have?” I asked abruptly when they got settled in with coffee from the Mr, Coffee or coke from the frig.
“We are reasonably sure that she is spending a fair amount of time unaccounted for. Where she is spending it, we aren’t sure,” Vlad said.
“Peter can you go back and track when, where, and how she used her cell phone,” I asked.
“The information for the last couple of days, will be easily available. but you know where she has been for that amount of time,” he said.
“You know we allowed her to use her cell phone since yesterday. I would bet my ass she called the boyfriend, just to hear his voice or leave a message on his cell.” I said.
“Now that I can find,” he said. Since he had used the time before their arrival to lay out his laptop and assorted other tools, my dining room table was covered with crap, so he began to punch things into the keyboard inside the jumble of wires.
Not only did he type crap in, he added more things as information popped up on his screen. Peter was the equivalent of an electronic bloodhound. He was tracking our girl Lydia.
“Lydia made three calls to a prepaid cell phone,” he said.
“Fucking burner,” I said angrily.
“Ah, but the cell phone has not been burned yet. It was purchased at Wal-mart three months ago and is still active,” he said.
“Can you give us a location for it right now?” I asked.
“Unit 321 of the Aster low income housing project,” he said.
“Which explains why she shows up at the Aster regional hospital with the black eyes,” I said.
“Great work Peter,” I suggested. “Now give me the number and lets see who owns the phone. But first Vlad get over there and sit on the address. Call us when you are there.”
A couple of minutes after I got their call, I dialed the number and a female voice said, “Hello.”
“Hello is Lydia there?” I asked.
“Who the fuck are you?” the voice asked but not angrily. She actually seemed pleasant enough, though surprised.
“This is Judge Timmons’ Secretary, who are you?” I asked. She instantly killed the phone.
I called Brother Harold’s private number. “Hello,” he said.
“Brother Harold, I need a favor,” I said.
“If I can,” he said obviously recognizing my voice.
“You can I’m sure. I need to know who lives in unit 321 and what she is up to if you know that,” I replied.
“I don’t even have to look it up,” he said. “Sumatra Lewis is her name. She is running some kind of prostitution call out thing. We can’t prove it, but we are damn sure that’s what is going on there.” he said sadly.
“Thanks,” I said pretty confused. I had no idea what Lydia would be doing calling a madam. Still something was going on with her. If Lydia had something going on with the madam, the judge, was most likely not the source of her injuries. That something with the Madam was most likely the reason for her fear of further injury or death. Then again she might be worried that the judge would find out and have her killed. Whatever happened to her was tied to Sumatra the Madam. If she had been beaten by her husband, she most likely would have ended up in a Tryon hospital, not the Aster Regional Hospital.
“Find her car registration,” I said to Peter.
“She has a 2012 Bentley,” he said.
“She has a new Bentley and lives in the project. I guess she really does know how to stretch a buck,” I said. I called Vlad’s Cell phone. Do you see a Bentley there?”
“Yeah a pretty silver colored one.,” he said.
“Okay slip out of there for now. I don’t want them to make you,” I suggested.
“So what are we going to do now?” Peter asked.
“we are going to find out how to put a bug inside that house. I don’t care how we do it, but I need the whole house monitored. Then find me a tracking transmitter that I can put on her car, and a camera I can put across from her house. Do all that before you go out to river landing.”
“Damn that’s a lot to do,” he said smiling. I knew that he wasn’t really complaining.
“Nobody said life was going to be easy,” I said. “I’m a bitch to work for, but I do pay well.”
“Yes you do,” Peter agreed. “Way more than anyone else would.”
“Too bad it won’t be tax free much longer. You are about to meet my new auditor, who will be setting the company on a real business footing. No more of me paying everyone’s taxes for them.”
“Shit, I liked it better before,” he said with a smile.
“I just bet you did. Now find out what is going on at Sumatra the Madam’s house,” I demanded.
“So are we going to stake out her house?” Jerrod asked.
“No, but we are going to watch her ass 24/7 We need to get a camera on her place,” I said. We discussed it a few minutes and decided on a Camera placed near a Cablevision junction box on the pole nearest her house. The job called for Lucas or one of his people. Lucas was running a much bigger and more detailed legal support company, than I ever had. He still knew how to set up a surveillance camera I was sure.
Once I called to explain what I needed his response was, “I have just the thing for you. I can even put it on the net for you, but it doesn’t come cheap.”
“Not even for an old friend?” I asked.
“I would give you the friends and family discount, except that you are going to pass this on to some rich asshole,” he said.
“Guilty, send me a bill, I’m good for it, but I need it up there tonight,” I said.
“By sunrise for sure,” he said. “I’ll call you with the web address for your viewing pleasure.”
“Now Peter get me a tracking device for her car,” I demanded.
“Okay but you are going to have to be close for it to work,” He said.
“We can figure out something,” I said. “But Peter how do we get audio?” I asked.
“What about your favorite, the bug, bug?” he asked.
“We need to somehow get it inside, she doesn’t seem to be the type to let me just walk through,” I admitted. “Hold on let me make a call,”
“So Eddie, does your uncle still have the pest control business?” I asked when I got the paramedic on the line. I had slept with Eddie, so I was pretty sure he would help without asking any questions.
”Sure,” he replied, ”Bug Be Gone.”
“Good I need his number.” I wrote down his response and promised that I would show up at the Cowboy’s bar a grill very soon.
Eddie’s uncle agreed to treat the units on Sumatra’s block and to drop two bugs in the house for me. He didn’t have any qualms about it at all. At least not after I agreed to pay him a hundred bucks for shooting the other houses in view of hers and another hundred to shoot bug juice in Sumatra’s place. He also had to leave a bug behind the sofa and one in a corner of the kitchen. What he didn’t have to do was shoot anyone who had any objections or the house of anyone who wasn’t home at the time of his first visit.
With the promise of the owner of Bug Be Gone to do it first thing the next morning. It looked as though we would have Sumatra the Madam all hooked up by noon the next day.
I was almost ready to go over and confront Lydia, but I didn’t have any proof. It was going to cost a lot to get Lydia hung up to dry, but it would be worth it. Never ask a question unless you had at least some idea what the answer would be. didn’t really apply but I did need to know what to ask her, at least.
I almost called over to River Landing to tell Alvin to go home, but what the hell. I should be able to see what he could do, even if he came up dry. It would still be a good test case for him. With all my plans set for Lydia and Sumatra I turned my attention to Harvey. He hadn’t come back from his sight seeing trip. and I was worried about him.
Before I could arrange a search party, I got a call from Peter, “Maxine this guy is brilliant. He already found three transactions that can’t be accounted for,” Peter said it all excited. “He is showing me what to look for, so that I can flag a transaction as suspicious. We can’t prove that the stocks were part of a conspiracy or anything, but the money used to make the purchases can not be traced back to the Judge. It isn’t a smoking gun or anything but it might hold up in an ethics inquiry. It would also give him motive.”
“It’s interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything. Get the purchase dates of all those questionable purchases and we will cross check them with his rulings in the cases he was adjudicating at the time.
“Maxine Stone?” the female voice on the phone asked.
“Yes this is Maxine Stone,” I admitted.
“Are you familiar with a Harvey Middlehouse?” the voice asked.