“So Wilson how you like the restaurant business?” I asked.
“You know it really is okay. I was surprised that I could do the shaking hands and talking to the people, but I am doing just fine at it. At least Mel tells me I am,” he said.
“Good for you, how are you doing with the TV people,” I asked.
“Oh they really don’t want me. They want Mel. They also want her to run around half dressed, even in the winter months,” he said.
“I guess that means you aren’t the only one who finds her sexy,” I said. I could see that she would stand out among the old men. I think they tried to keep the cast to a minimum so she would likely be the only female for a while.
Since they were filming season two, it was the ideal time for me to go play cop again. It looked as though I could be bad cop without being bothered by a good cop tagging along. Wilson nor I seemed to want a working relationship after all. He seemed happy doing what he did and I figure Happy Gilmore could get me anything I needed. It might take longer, since she would want it to be untainted, but that might be okay. It might be a good lesson in patience for me, I thought.
The time past slowly until it was time to go meet Happy Gilmore. I drove the Honda to Chattanooga Tenn. It was the site of the Electric Car Company. The Mission statement of the ECC stated that it was to be a manufacturer of affordable Electric Vehicles. It didn’t give the definition of affordable. It also hadn’t been able to put a single car out the door during the first Six months. There was a plant and employees so there had to be a reason, right?
The excuse for the lack of production ran from a poor untrained labor pool to the unavailability of components and several other lesser excuses. My opinion, after meeting the owner and CEO of the company, was poor management and probably fraud. Now it was up to me to prove it.
While I did it I couldn’t tell anyone it was for the Senator’s office. I guessed that was so that he could spring it on them in a hearing. I had no idea and I didn’t care. I was going to do a Sergeant Friday. I was just going to gather the facts. Nothing anecdotal just the cold hard facts.
First thing I did when I finally got to the town of Chattanooga was find a drive thru restaurant. In the case of Chattanooga it was on a kind of service road. Even so it was on a well traveled one. The Service road was also home to an unimposing, locally owned motel, as well as a couple of fast food restaurants. It also looked like I could get a five mile run in by running up to a busy road then back tracking to the next busy road a couple of times.
Best of all the Electric Car Company was about five miles away. It was within reach on the bicycle, which I had loaded into the rear of the Honda SUV for the trip. I preferred the bike the last few years. Running did a number on my knees. Just proof that I wasn’t getting any younger, I told myself.
I drove the Honda to the Electric Car Company. I noted there were about twenty cars in the parking lot. With so few employees it hardly seemed necessary to have a security guard on the gate. I did remember that Evans was worried about theft. I had to wonder what the employees could steal that was so valuable.
Happy was supposed to be bringing a copy of everything the Senator knew about ECC. Mostly it would be right off their grant request. Still it was a place to start. The other place would be the plant itself.
I knew that I had arrived too late for anything more than a fact finding mission. To do that I checked into the Motel. It was one of those that looked a lot like a warehouse. It might be considered one come to think of it. It just warehoused people, some of whom were not so nice, I assumed. It looked a lot like a welfare motel to be honest. One that accepted emergency vouchers from Social Services. It would fit my cover, which Happy would be supplying.
She was bringing me the first part of the background, but there would be more details add as we went along. Hell working for Washington had to have some perks.
As for me I checked into the Motel, then made a call on my cell phone. I called the ACC to ask what time the personnel office opened the next day. “I’m sorry hon we aren’t taking any more applications. We got a full staff and a big ol file of people already on the waiting list,” the woman who claimed to be Director of Human Resources said.
“Okay thanks very much,” I said. I settled in for the night. The room had a small cook top and a small dorm sized refrigerator. It also had the prerequisite microwave. It was a lot like the box house and the barge house except it had a nicer shower than either. I had unlimited hot water. That being the case I took a long shower and washed my hair about ten times.
The next morning I was up at 6 AM. It was a compromise, at County Seat I was up at five and running or riding the bike. At New Wales I was up at seven so as not to wake Wilson. In Chattanooga I was up at 6 AM with no real plan whatsoever. That being the case, I took off on the bike, after all it was almost full daylight. I rode the bike to the ECC plant. I saw that there were no cars and only the gate guard on duty. He looked to have his head down on the desk and sleeping.
When I got back to the motel I took another hot shower that lasted way too long. I also scrubbed my hair which didn’t need it at all. Then I dressed in my androgynous Dyke look, before I drove about half a mile to the nearest fast food restaurant. I chose the one that wasn’t a McDonald’s. I had a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. It was only a fair biscuit but everything inside it was satisfactory. I could handle it, if it was the only one available, but I decided to keep looking.
I tried to find the Electric Car Company on the Internet but was not very successful. I kept at it till it was time to meet Happy Gilmore. I drove to the restaurant on which we had agreed. I found Happy sitting at the table alone. “Hell Happy I was expecting you to be with the Senator. On second thought, if I get hung out to dry he would have to be able to deny any knowledge before the fact,” I said.
“You do know how it works. So what is our first move?” she asked.
“Payroll records for the employees. I want to know who is on the payroll and what their salaries are,” I said.
“Mind if I ask why?” Happy asked.
“Yeah I do mind. It is all just guess work right now. I don’t want to look foolish if there is nothing to it,” I said. “Now do we need a warrant to get that information?”
“I’ll check, hold on,” Happy said. She put in a cellphone call to someone presumably in DC. After some talking, some waiting, then some more talking she seemed ready. “Well we are going to pull the IRS records for the company. They should contain the information you require. As long as we don’t use them for anything nefarious we should be okay.”
“Okay happy get them as soon as you can. Now I want to set up a surveillance camera for the plant. I’m going to put the camera outside the plant somewhere so that we can see who comes and goes for a while. You want to get me a system, or do you want to use some law enforcement agency?” I asked.
“I do not want to use a law enforcement agency. We have no reason to investigate the ACC,” she said.
“Of course you do, we are just playing ‘Gotch Ya’,” I said. “I don’t care just so long as you don’t put me in the jackpot.”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It means you don’t want to try to use me as a scapegoat,” I explained.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” She said. She tried to look very sincere and almost pulled it off. The fact that she didn’t look me in the eye was a small problem.
“So get the equipment to me and then if we need a warrant get it.”
“I have been assured that you don’t need a warrant since you don’t work for a law enforcement organization,” Happy explained.
“I see. Since I’m not a member of law enforcement, I just get the hell sued out of me. Well I could if I didn’t have a valid ID that said I was on the staff of the good senator. So as an employee that would make your boss the one who got sued.
Alright you want the names and address of all their employees and a camera system you can setup outside the plant. So what else?” she asked.
“I’m going to need the number and authorization to use your computer whiz,” I suggested.
“If you want a hacker, we don’t have one,” she said.
“Happy love, everyone has a hacker these days. You can give me access to yours or this gig is over now,” I suggested.
“We don’t have one but let’s say that I knew one personally, could you live with that? I mean going through me to get your information. I will give you a phone number where you can leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I have the information you need,” she suggested.
“I guess we can do that. So tell me who all can inspect the plant without notice?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Happy said.
“Then get me an ID for OSHA,” I said. “I am going to want to inspect for safety violations. I am also going to want to leave a few reminders behind. I want to leave some bugs in the plant. I want someone to get them up to the Internet, so we can review them at our leisure.”
“That is going to take a couple of days at best,” Happy said.
“Bullshit you can make it happen right now. You just want to have someone else make the decisions. That doesn’t speak well for our future relationship. There will be times I can’t wait three days for information. I’m going to need it very quickly to solve a life or death problem. We are talking my life or death here,” I said.
“I know, but it’s the best I can do,” she said.
“Well it’s not good enough. I wrote Wilson’s name and number on a napkin. Get in touch with my former partner. Tell him he can have all the computer equipment if he will work for you on this matter. If he agrees I can get most of what I need from him.”
That would put Wilson in direct competition with the Swamp’s nerd. I didn’t care. I needed someone with me as his top priority. Wilson was the obvious choice. I could work with him as a contractor without getting pissed, if he was waiting tables for Mel when he wasn’t actually doing shit for me.
Edited by Walt