I took the time to send Vlad and Jerrod off on projects before I drove to the ER. The automatic door announced my arrival. It was about five steps to the desk of the over worked receptionist.
“I am looking for information on Harvey Middlehouse,” I said quietly. The waiting room was full, as it was every time I had been there there as a patient. Mostly it was poor people with sore throats or the flu.
“Yes Mr. Middlehouse is being treated at this time. The nurse will be out to speak to you in a moment.” the young black woman said.
I nodded, then moved to what I remembered as a very uncomfortable chair in the family and patient waiting area. Since I hardly knew Harvey, I wasn’t all that invested in him personally, but I sure as hell wanted to know what happened to him. If it was suspicious at all, I would have some detective at my door the next day I knew. Since Harvey was alive, maybe it wouldn’t be that evil Thompson, I thought with a smile on my face.
Is now a good time?… the voice in my head asked.
One times is as good as another… I replied.
We ran the judge’s finances, just so you would know how to evaluate your auditor… the messenger said.
Well that was nice of you… I replied… So is the judge dirty.
That is for you to say. We can only tell you that he has over a hundred thousand dollars in stock with one brokerage house. That stock was paid for by one attorney and it was done over the course of one year. Everything else looked either very smalltime or on the up and up…. the messenger said.
So if he is a shark… it was one time or at least one attorney… Just start a file in my memory I can tap into with the details. I have something else taking up my open memory at the moment…
You can do a hundred things at once Maxine… the messenger said.
But I don’t want to do a hundred things at once. I am more comfortable thinking as I did before the change…. I replied. They knew there was no arguing with me when I took that tone.
I was surprised when Sylvia came through the ER door. She had one of my large delta coffee cups in her hand. “Here, I figured you needed this by now.” she said.
“Thanks, but I haven’t been here that long,” I admitted.
“What do you know?” she asked.
“Nothing yet,” I replied. At that exact moment the nurse come through the treatment area door. I knew she was looking for me. I have no idea how I knew, but I did. First she went to the receptionist, who pointed to me.
“You are here with Harvey Middlehouse?” she asked when she stood in front of me.
“Not exactly with him, but I am the only friend he has in town,” I replied.
“Mr. Middlehouse was very lucky. He has previously suffered extensive spinal damage, but this accident doesn’t seem to have done any additional damage. That is not to say there wasn’t damage, but it is minor in comparison to what it might have been. He has a couple of broken ribs and a broken collar bone. There isn’t much we can do for any of it. We are going to hold him here over night for more observation but tomorrow you can probably take him home.”
“Well that is a problem. His home is two hundred miles away. I will figure something out. I would like to see him, if that is okay?” I asked.
“When he gets to his room. It is 2012 in about ten minutes,” she informed me.
Sylvia and I went on up and found seats in the second floor waiting room. It was less crowded, but there were a couple of families whispering. I searched my jacket pocket and found a Snickers. I ate it slowly with the coffee which was only slightly warm at that moment in time. Still it was strong and bitter, so it was drinkable with the sweet chocolate.
Sylvia went to the desk to inform the nurse that we were waiting to see Harvey. Even so it was fifteen more minutes before we were allowed into the room. When I saw Harvey he was obviously under the influence of some good drugs.
“So Harvey you are as poor a driver as you are a writer,” I said trying to be cheerful.
“The other guy hit me from the rear. He didn’t even slow down. He must have been drunk. He jumped out of the car and ran off .” Harvey seemed to be struggling to stay awake.
“You rest Harvey. I am going to leave a card at the desk. I will be back tomorrow, if not sooner.” I said it as I turned to leave.
I sat in the parking lot, inside my truck while my mind raced. So Harvey sees the piece on local TV and is hoping for a story to make a few bucks. He comes up and inserts himself into the investigation. I threaten him and he puts that stupid thing on his blog about looking at me, if anything happens to him. Then sure as hell something happens. Problem is they make it look like a hit and run accident. Of course I have an alibi and they know I do. The mysterious ‘they’ hope to turn my attention away from the investigation of the judge and Lydia. They think I will be too busy trying to clear myself. It really is ingenious, if you don’t give a shit who get hurt even if it just muddies the water a little. The mysterious ‘they’ could have killed or more likely crippled Harvey for life. That was totally acceptable to them but not to me. I felt that way mostly because it would have been my fault, even though I had nothing to do with it.
I called Thompson on the smart phone from my truck. “Thompson someone rear ended that news whore Middlehouse. Someone is trying to make it look like me. It isn’t me. I sure would appreciate it, if you got me a copy of the police report, so that I can do some checking.”
“You ain’t no cop, and you sure as hell ain’t my friend, why should I?” she asked.
“Because I can help clear the case, and I will owe you one,” I said. “You know that the system all works on favors in a small town.”
“I pass,” she said hanging up on me.
‘Bitch,” I whispered. I ran the online yellow pages through my brain as I drove my truck toward the Downtown house. I found the tow truck on the third try. “Billy and Joel Towing,” the man said.
“You guys towed one of the cars involved in a hit and run a couple of hours ago?” I guessed.
“Sure we towed in the Ford SUV. It really fucked up that compact big time.” he said.
“I am on my way out there. I really need to take a look at that SUV,” I said. “The cops have obviously released it.”
“Yeah, but only cops can poke around that thing,” he said.
“Right,” I drove out to his impound lot anyway.
There was a different man on the gate at the lot. He called in and a still different man walked out. I showed him my Private Investigator license then I made up a bullshit story about insurance and gave him a hundred bucks. It was that simple to see the evidence, such as it was. Remember Aster isn’t New York City.
The SUV was empty inside as I expected it to be. Since there were no plates on it, I memorized the serial number from the dash. The airbags had been deployed and were hanging loose. Most likely they were either the auto emptying type or the cops had cut them so that they could dust the SUV for prints. After all the guy who hit Harvey had run.
I switched my vision to high contrast and found the residual finger print powder. I made a file in the back of my mind and put the prints into it. Sometimes it was good to be a roboslut.
I found a convenience store nearby to fill my delta coffee cup. I sat with a cup of weak coffee and a bag of those chocolate wax mini donuts, while I ran the serial number, then the prints. The SUV was owned by a Dentist. I didn’t think he would be involved, so I went on to run the prints.
The Dentist’s prints along with those of an unidentified person were in the car. That someone was not in the system. The unidentified prints were most likely his wife’s. The real find was a very nice 14 point matched print. It belonged to Raphael Lewis. I sat there with a look of pure wonder on my face. Someone had set that up on a moment’s notice. They had no more than two days to arrange it. Either the judge or Lydia could have tipped off Sumatra who figured it was just a matter of time. So she decided to set my ass up, and of all the stupid things she could have done, she used what had to be a relative to do the work. All those guys in the projects were clannish.
If I was a cop, I would have waited for the bugs and video to give me some evidence, but I wasn’t a cop and I didn’t give a shit if anything I did held up in court or not. So I did more researching all by myself and found the address for Mr. Lewis in the parole records. I drove my beat up old truck to a neighborhood where it fit right in.
It was 10PM by the time I kicked the fucking front door in. I had my steel maglite flashlight in my right hand and the .38 in my left and of course I was wearing a ski mask. I found Raphael and two of his buddies with a bag of pot and a digital scale. They were measuring the pot for sale. It was my lucky day. I had a cover for the ass whipping I was about to deliver to Raphael.
“You two can go, I said to his friends as I waved the .38 toward the door. Go now and sin no more or I will be back. Don’t you fucking move Raphael, or I will kill you where you stand.” When his two henchmen had gone, I put away the .38 and I even put the Maglite in my jacket pocket.
“Now Raphael we need to discuss you trying to put me in the jackpot,” I said moving toward him menacingly.
“You just a fucking woman,” he said. It was true that I had female parts, and it was true that he out weighed me by a hundred pounds, but he had no idea who he was about to fuck with. The idiot drew back as if he was going to slap me. He must have thought he had Lydia twin sister. As he started to pull back his hand, I quickly jabbed him in his adam’s apple. He went down like a tree on Axemen. While he lay there gasping for air I Jerked the electrical cord from a table lamp.
“You do know what I’m about to do don’t you.” I asked even though he couldn’t answer me. “I’m about to make an electrical torture device. I’m going to break both your hands first, so don’t even consider trying to hit me again.
At that point I stomped, as daddy would have said, on his right hand with the heal of my shoe. Actually I enjoyed it so much that I did it two more times before I moved to his left hand.
“God damn bitch, just take the pot and leave,” he begged.
“Oh it ain’t that simple asshole. You personally drove an SUV into the rear end of a friend’s car. Put him in the hospital and put me behind the eight ball. Now you are going to tell me who is behind it. Or I’m going to make sure you don’t ever have anymore kids, or fuck anyone again. I am going to fuck you up so bad that Viagra won’t help.” I used the box opener to strip the wires.
“I don’t guess you ever seen a man with 110volts on his balls dance. It is a sight you never forget. I imagine it is worse, if you are the man.” I smiled my most evil smile.
“My sister told me to do it,” he said thinking I would buy that.
“No asshole Sumatra don’t give a shit about me, or my friend, you are going to have to do better than that,” I said. He suddenly tried to stand so I kicked him just as hard as I could in the balls. He was back on the floor crying like a baby.
“You really need to feel this,” I said putting the wires onto his exposed forearm. That will teach him to wear a muscle shirt, I thought.
He jerked around and then he begged.. “I don’t know who told her to do it,” he said finally.
“Oh you know who she works for hon. It’s just a matter of whether you tell me or you die first. If it is the later, I will just move on to her.” I said smiling at him again.
“Some foreigner is all I know,” he said.
“Like a Russian, a chink or a wetback I asked.
“Arab,” he said. “Honest that’s all I know. I don’t know who it is.”
“I don’t guess you want to call the cops, but just in case I’m going to hold onto this bag of pot with your prints all over it. Who knows when and where it will show up,” I said smiling at him again. I wanted to say checkmate, but I knew he would think it was some kind of payday loan store.