“Yup.” was his curt response.
“ You do realise this was ten months ago? It could have been taped over, maybe it just monitors without recording, or maybe they’ll demand a warrant. “
“Well, fingers crossed on that one, but yes, I’m aware of the risks. I just gotta know.” He handed me the envelope with my $500 in it, and I headed back to Casa Gumshoe.
Two days escape, and I finally get the manager on the phone who manages within his first seven seconds to assure me that the CCTV tapes are never kept longer than ten days, much less than ten months. Now If I could only determine the easiest way to refund 500 spent dollars.
The phone rang five days later, and I could barely say hello before a frantic woman interrupted me with a, “Is this Shamus Fitspuzzel?”
“Have been for years.”
“And you investigate cheating spouses?”
“Whatever pays the bills.”
“Can we meet up? I have to speak to you. Like now, hopefully?” She was upset enough that my biggest concern was if she’d have an aneurism in the meantime.
I learned her location, and picked a restaurant reasonably local that I knew might afford some privacy. “Can I meet you in an hour then?” To facilitate the process, I texted her a professional selfie of my ugly mug so she needn’t look like a crazy person when she was scanning for me.
“That was smart. The only middle-aged white dude in an all-Chinese restaurant.” She said as she nervously plopped down opposite me. “Lemme get to the point.” She continued. “I know you’ve been hired by my fiancee to follow me, and I’m going to pay you to stop.”
I genuinely had no idea who this woman was, as she didn’t look like any one of my current targets, but still, I couldn’t get the word “conflict’’ to stop ringing in my ears like a whalesong through an air-raid siren. “Well I don’t recognise you, so perhaps we can begin with your name?”
“It’s Anoush Minassian. My fiancee Apel, has asked you to follow me. I know that because we live together, and I guess he’s forgotten how to turn his computer off so I’ve read all your correspondences. He’s an evil man, and wants evidence that I’m cheating to send back to Armenia to show my father how much I’ve shamed our name, and he knows my Dad has only got about three months to live. Can you imagine being that cruel? Look, I had a one-night stand with one of his friends at a motel about ten months ago, and I’ve never seen him since.”
Sumebody just turned the light on. And since he only wanted thirty seconds of film, she was wrong on the “following” issue, so that takes care of any conflict.
“I have no idea how much he’s paid you,” she said, as she slid a much-thicker envelope across the table to me. “But he’s tighter than a duck’s ass, so I’m sure it was less than that. There’s three grand there.”
My eyes must have been like hubcaps as I demurely tucked the unopened envelope into my pocket and rose, my hand extended.
“That is indeed a terrible plan, and no I don’t judge. I am now officially uninterested in you.” I assured her, and without another word, left the restaurant to give Apel back his $500. As I closed the file, I found myself $2500 in the black, and there were now three happy people.
… the life of a flatfoot.