“So, does he have a record?” I asked.
“Juvenile sealed record, nothing I could do with that. He is clean otherwise. He also doesn’t appear to have any real regular email or cell phone contacts. I think he is a loner,” Wilson said.
“After last night I imagine I could get to be his friend real quick. Keep an eye on the B&B bars footage to see how often he goes back looking for me,” I suggested.
“You really think he is going back looking for you?” he asked.
“I’ll bet you a hundred bucks he is there either tonight or tomorrow night,” I said.
No bet, if you gave me a blow job, I might stalk you as well,” he said.
“Ah Wilson, you say the sweetest things,” I replied.
I used my cell phone to call EZ. Since he didn’t pick up I left him a voice mail. “EZ this is Sylvia. I need the number of a man who is good with small engines. One who has time and will make house calls.”
“Come on Wilson get with it find something,” I said.
“If there is anything to find, I will find it,” Wilson said.
“Meantime I’m going to buy some gas for my airplane,” I said. I drove to the downtown area of New Wales. Most of the convenience stores that sold gas were on the outskirts, but the one chain auto parts store was in the middle of town for some reason.
I was able to park right in front of the store. “Hey guys how about fixing me up with five quarts of SAE 30 motor oil,” I said as I approached the counter.
The clerk said, “It’s on the back wall.”
“So it is. I will never get used to a downtown store being self service,” I said walking back to the rear wall. I passed a three pack of funnels of various sizes so I got the pack as well. I left all the items on the counter, then went back and bought three, 3 gallon gas cans. After swiping my credit card, I loaded the cans in the rear and my other purchases in the passenger seat. After a stop at a convenience store, to fill up the gas cans, I went back to the airstrip. It was getting to be mid afternoon so I decided to wait until I had all day to fly the plane. I put the gas cans inside the plane and drove back to the barge.
“I’m glad you finally got back. I have found the thing that couldn’t be found,” Wilson said.
What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.
“Random Ralph the big bald man at the B&B,” he said. “I know what he was into that got him the juvenile record.”
“You hacked his sealed court records?” I asked.
“No they don’t enter them into the data base, so there is no chance of that happening. What I did was get an approximate date. Then I searched his hometown newspaper’s morgue. Two teenage boys were accused of peeping and stalking a teacher. It was about the right time, so I called and asked the teacher who it was. I gave her some cock and bull story, and she gave it up. She was pissed, a real prim and proper type,” Wilson informed me. “It’s not proof of anything, but it’s the kind of thing that could lead to other things.”
“Well hot damn, we got ourselves a suspect,” I said. I was more than happy to have someone to look at.
“So how you want to handle it?” Wilson asked.
“He told me he lived in the downtown within walking distance of the B&B,” I explained.
“Yes he lives at 107 Broad St in an apartment,” Wilson said. “It is the number two apartment.”
“We need to bug him,” I said. “Can you make me a pest control signs for the truck doors?”
“Sure we got printers that can do anything but print guns,” he said.
“Then you need to do it for tomorrow. You also need to get his schedule for tomorrow. I don’t want to have a shootout, because we got his days off wrong,” I said.
“You know we are going to get caught one of these days. That damn Peppermint candy red truck isn’t exactly common,” Wilson said.
“You are absolutely right, I’ll take the Honda,” I suggested. “Get me some bugs I can put in his lamp or something.”
“I’ll have you a package ready for tomorrow. He should be out of town by noon for sure. I expect it will be safe to plan your Watergate style breaking in tomorrow,” he said.
“Wilson I know the name Watergate, but I never knew what it was about,” I said.
“They were a bunch of 2nd rate burglars going into an office to plant some bugs, but they got caught,” Wilson informed me. “It brought down a president.”
“I knew that part,” I explained. “Anyway get your package ready and I will hope I have better luck. I’m going to break into the apartment in plain sight. With my little coveralls and baseball cap and false beard. I’m going to push my androgynous look toward the masculine side.”
“Cool, then you better go buy the coveralls and baseball cap. Be sure to get something you can toss in a trashcan on the way home,” he said.
“Sounds to me like some damn good advice. I think I’ll drive the thirty miles up to the Wal-Mart store. Just in case the cops try to track it down for some reason,” I said.
“Be careful of the CCTV,” Wilson suggested.
“Yeah, I’m going to do a black head scarf like a Muslim lady. I think that is about as far from me as I’m likely to get,” I said.
I went to bed that night with images of what was in store for me the next day. I was up at seven as usual and took the trike out for a ride. I stayed on it for a couple of hours but stopped in for breakfast along the way. I probably only rode slightly over an hour. I stopped a lot to breathe and look around me. The main thing the trike did was cut down on the pounding my body took when I ran.
Back at the house at nine, Wilson hadn’t stirred at all. I didn’t mind at all since I had my own plan for the day. His chore was to be sure that mine stayed safe. It required planning and monitoring both me and the target. It sounded simple but his was every bit as difficult as mine. I showered and dressed for the day so that I was ready to head out into the world before 10 AM.
I wore a respectable skirt from my days as Sheriff. I hated to admit it but I bent my androgynous look toward the feminine side occasionally to meet the press, or some county official. For that I had one business suit. So I wore the skirt and little jacket with a white tee underneath. I carried a black scarf which I had purchased, when I went into the private investigator business. Nothing hid my distinctive bad hair like the Muslim head piece.
So, after the thirty minute drive in the Honda I walked into the Wal-Mart. I wore the head piece to cover my hair and most of my face. I also wore glasses with windowpane lenses.
I bought the baseball cap and three sets of small blue pin stripe overalls. Then from the patio department I picked up a gallon plastic tank. The kind the exterminators used to spray for roaches and water bugs. The purchases were well under a hundred dollars. It was a small enough amount, so that paying with cash was not noticed at all. I had counted on it so that I would not be singled out for more examination.
I drove back to New Wales to begin the operation, if Wilson was ready to go by that time. I called him when I was half way back to town. “So Wilson is Randy Ralph working today?” I asked, when I got him on the phone.
“He is working and has half a dozen stops along the way,” Wilson said. “No matter how fast he runs it, you should be good till noon even if he has a breakdown.”
“Good get our gifts ready for him,” I said as I continued to drive toward the barge. I arrived with nothing for Wilson. The prick could either eat cereal or get his ass out of bed earlier, I thought.
When I drove up he was in the office with a cardboard box filled with tiny electronics. I quickly moved them from the box to my new exterminator’s tank. I was ready to go in minutes.
“You want to put the black ones under light bulbs in lamps if he has any if not you might have to climb to the ceiling fixtures if you want to use them. Look for things like clocks to put the silver ones inside,” Wilson was trying to school me.
“I get it,” I said. “You just keep your monitor of me turned on.”
“I’m going to be monitoring your cell phone the whole time,” he said. “Monitor the burner. I might have to leave it behind to throw them off.”
With that I left for the apartment of Randy Ralph. His apartment was the top floor of an old house built in the twenties. It had fire escape type stairs leading to a butchered entrance. There had to be an entrance and an emergency exit. So there were stairs on the one side and an escape ladder attached to the outside wall on the other. It was a pretty good system but would never work for an older person, the kind of tenants most likely to occupy the small one bedroom apartments.
Once I slipped the lock, which was easy to manage, I was just the exterminator going into the apartment. I guess I was counting on Ralph trying to fly under the radar, and being a little anti social. Also if he noticed the bugs, he wouldn’t be likely to report them unless he was truly innocent. We had no proof just a gut feeling, which was just as often wrong as it was right.
I sucked it up and went about installing the bugs. The surgical gloves made it just a little awkward work, but not impossibly hard. I found that there was only one table lamp in the apartment which didn’t surprise me. The apartment was only two rooms and a bath.
I opened the plastic spray tank which held my bugs not bug killer. I thought it was a huge joke by the way. I placed the one bug in his living room, with the unmade day bed. From there I went into the kitchen where I placed one behind a picture hanging on the wall.
I didn’t immediately beat a retreat. I took the time to look around for anything obvious. I found nothing in the kitchen drawers, so I moved on to the closets. The one in the kitchen held mostly cleaning supplies and some pantry type foodstuff.
The one in the living/bedroom was filled with clothes. I checked for god only knew what. I found nothing. Then I went into the bathroom and looked in the medicine cabinet. There was nothing unusual in there either. I wouldn’t expect there to be. If Ralph was dealing Ruffies, he most likely would have had them well hidden. Probably in his car since he obviously wouldn’t be needing them in the apartment.
After the search I left the apartment after a quick sweep to make sure I left no visible signs that I had been there. The one thing I found in the kitchen that might or might not mean anything was a knock off Colt revolver. The no name brand .38 probably came from a gun show or a yard sale somewhere. I decided that I would tread softly with any dealings I had with Randy Ralph.
Edited by Walt