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Authors: Roy Glenn

Private Deceptions

BOOK: Private Deceptions
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Chapter One

"Okay, Nick, you’re free to go," Detective Kirkland said.

I stood up and looked at my watch. For the last seven hours I had been in the interrogation room with Wanda, answering all of the questions that Detectives Kirkland and Richards had to offer. Kirk opened the door for Wanda and they walked out of the interrogation room together. I followed them.

Thinking.

"It’s really not necessary for you to walk me out detective," Wanda said, and looked back at me.

"These halls are filled with dangerous criminals." Kirk always did have a thing for Wanda, so he had to escort her out the building.

Dealing with Kirk was nothing new to her. "I’ve played this game with Kirk before," Wanda said once we were out of the building. "So don’t worry, I got this."

I wasn’t worried. I’ve known Wanda Moore since I was eleven. She’s a good lawyer, and like she said, she’s played this game with Kirk plenty of times during his attempts to make a case against Mike Black. Ten years ago I was an enforcer for Black. He controlled a profitable gambling, prostitution and number running business. But that was then, now Black is semi-retired and living the good life in the Bahamas. "Thanks for hanging in there with me," I said, as I started to walk away.

There were still too many unanswered questions that I had to have answers to. The most pressing of which, is how I got to be the only suspect in four murders.

I needed to think, retrace my steps; do something, anything to get myself out of this. Or maybe I’ll just go straight to the airport and catch a plane to the Bahamas to become Black’s new permanent houseguest.

"Not so fast, Nick." Wanda grabbed me by the arm. "You’re coming with me. You need to tell me everything. Not those covert army, need to know, bullshit answers you just fed Kirk. The whole story."

I looked at Wanda, thinking about giving her some covert army, need to know, bullshit answer, and hailing a cab.

But I knew she was right.

Wanda led me to her car and she drove me to her house in the old neighborhood. It had been ten years since I’d driven through these streets. A strange kinda chill came over me that started me thinking about the old days.

"Black know about this?" I asked Wanda, but I already knew the answer.

"Of course he does. Who do you think put up your bail? You know anybody else with a million dollars? He wouldn’t turn his back on you when you need him. Even though you ran out on him when he needed you. First Jamaica, then you."

"Lighten up on me, Wanda. I’ve been draggin’ around that burden for the last ten years."

"I’m sorry, Nick. I didn’t mean to go there. I just—"

"It’s okay, Wanda."

"What happened, Nick?" Wanda asked as soon as we got in the house.

"There must be something I missed," I said and sat down in the first chair I got to.

"What is it?" Wanda sat across from me.

"I don’t know."

"Start at the beginning, Nick. Don’t leave anything out. Even if you didn’t think it was important at the time."

"It started when Mrs. Gabrielle Childers sat down in front of me. No. That’s not right, it really began two weeks before when Uncle Felix called and said he had a job that required our talents. ‘A simple job,’ he called it, and it was.

"You see, Wanda, until about a year ago, I’d been a part of a special operations unit. Things went wrong on our last assignment and only three of the members of our unit got out alive. Jett Bronson, Monika Wynn, and me. We were flown back to Fort Brag, where we were promptly debriefed and processed out. Uncle Felix approached us the day after. He recruited us to do jobs for him that required our skills. Jett’s specialty is electronic surveillance, computers, and all that high tech stuff. Monika’s specialty is munitions. The girl really gets a rush out of watchin’ things blow up. Me, my specialty is weapons, commando tactics."

"Commando tactics?"

"You know, Wanda, the killer."

Wanda smiled. "Oh. Go on, Nick."

"At Felix’s request, I convinced Jett and Monika to come with me back to New York. Felix set us up in a front business as private investigators. To maintain our cover we actually did some surveillance jobs. Some insurance jobs, a few skip traces. Nothing major, but it paid. Besides, the real money was in doing those little jobs for Uncle Felix."

"Whose uncle is he?"

"What?"

"Uncle Felix. Whose uncle is he?"

"Nobodies, that’s just what he said to call him."

"Okay," Wanda said and rolled her eyes. "Where did you run into him?"

"When they processed us out Felix walked up on us at a bar. He said that General Peterson recommended that he talk to us. Felix told us just what we wanted to hear."

"What was that?" Wanda asked.

"He was talkin’ real money for doing the same things we’d been doing. Hack into computer systems, some light demolition and the occasional termination. We would do the jobs that couldn’t be done though normal channels."

"What was the job this time?"

"Just acquire the target, a guy named Norman Vogel and deliver. A walk in the park. And it was. A simple surveillance to get his pattern down and decide when to snatch him. Jett installed a remote video system in his house. Once it was installed, the system used standard phone lines that provides transmission and monitoring in real time at 28.8 kbps."

"In English, Nick."

"Sorry, Wanda. It operates at high speed, so the transmission provides clear color images at up to fifteen frames per second over a single phone line."

"Thank you, Nick," Wanda said.

"I’ll try to keep it simple." Wanda let out a little laugh. "What’s so funny?"

"Nothing," She laughed. "I just remember when you could hardly read."

"Yeah, well, things change."

"Go on, Nick."

"It went off just the way it was planned. We picked him up at his house, and then Monika blew it up so there wouldn’t be any trace. She made it look like there was a gas leak that caused the explosion. We made sure that the house burned to the ground so there wouldn’t be too much looking for a body. Then we left him alone, as instructed, in a car on pier 17 off of Fulton Street."

"Did he explain why he wanted the his guy brought there?"

"Nope. And we didn’t ask. It was a mission like any other."

"No questions asked."

"Right. We were soldiers, Wanda, trained to follow orders."

"So the three of you kidnap this man and deliver him to who ever. What happened after that?"

"The next afternoon I went by the office to type up my report for Felix and get out of there. But I was tired, so I sat back in the chair and before I knew it, I was asleep. I had been asleep for at least an hour before I opened my eyes and there she was, standing in the doorway."

Thursday, July 9: 3:47 PM

 

"I’d like to hire a private investigator." Her voice was deep.

"That would be me. Come in. Please, have a seat."

In my dimly lit office, it took my eyes a minute to focus while I shook off my nod. She walked toward me. From my vantage point, I could make out only that she was very well dressed, tall and slender, but not skinny by any definition I’d ever heard. She had the type of legs that I’d probably enjoy watching when she walked out, but I couldn’t tell much more about her. "Tell me what I can do for you, Miss?"

"Mrs.," she said with attitude. "Mrs. Gabrielle Childers. And I’d like to hire a you to find my brother."

I started to tell her that I don’t handle cases like that.

But I didn’t.

With my eyes now focused, I could see her face. I wanted her to stay.

Mrs
. Childers, huh?

The way she said it, with so much attitude about it. So I decided to have some fun with it. "How long has he been missing,
Mrs.
Childers?"

"About two weeks."

"Any possibility that he could have just gone out of town? Took a vacation and not told you?"

"It’s possible, Mr.?"

"Simmons, Nick Simmons." I liked the sound of her voice. It was soothing. "Please call me, Nick."

"Okay,
Nick
. It’s possible, but it’s not like Jake to be gone like this. Neither me, nor my sister, Chésará, have heard from him. Jake is kind of — well, anal. You know, everything in its place, all about details."

"Have you gone to the police,
Mrs
. Childers?"

"No. I haven’t gone to the police."

"Mind if I ask why?"

She looked at me for a while. She had pretty eyes, but they weren’t soft. They were cold and distant. But there was something enchanting about the way she smiled. She shifted around in her chair and crossed her legs.

She dug around in her purse and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. "You mind if I smoke?" she asked, almost as an after thought.

"Please, be my guest."

She lit up. "I think my husband might be involved."

"All the more reason to go to the police."

"I don’t want to go to the police until I’m sure that he’s involved. That’s why I want to hire you to prove that he’s involved in it."

"Are you afraid of your husband?"

"Yes," she said quietly and looked away. Her fear came through loud and clear. "My husband is a very dangerous man, Mr. Simmons."

"Nick. Please, call me, Nick. What’s your husbands name?"

"Alvin, Alvin Childers."

I laughed to myself, thinking how dangerous could somebody named Alvin be? "What makes him so dangerous?"

"He’s involved in drugs. If he even thought I was talking to you about him or his business he’d —"

"Has he hurt you before?" I asked, and she dropped her head a little. I had taken notice of the dark circles under her eyes that her makeup didn’t quite hide.

"I don’t see what that has to do with anything." The fear in her voice quickly gave way to attitude.

But I like a woman with a little attitude.

"Look, you want me to prove that your husband is involved in your brothers disappearance, and prove it to the police at that. You have to tell me everything."

She took a deep breath. "All right. What do you want to know?"

"Answer my question."

"Yes, he’s hurt me before."

"Once, twice, daily?"

"More than once, and let’s leave it at that," she said quickly, and defiantly.

"All right, Mrs. Childers. Tell me about Jake then. Where he lives, where he works, his girl friends, who he hangs out with?"

"He has an apartment on Bronxwood." She wrote down his address and handed it to me.

"You got a key?"

"No
.
"

"Know of anybody who does?" I asked.

"Jake is too particular about his things for him to let a lot of people have a key."

"He have a girlfriend?"

"Lisa Ellison," Mrs. Childers replied. I could tell by the way she said it that she didn’t like her.

"What about her? She got a key?"

"I don’t know."

"You know if she’s heard from him?"

"I don’t know."

"You ask her?"

"No."

"Why not?"

Mrs. Childers rolled her eyes. "I don’t like her." At least she was real about it.

"What about friends? Anybody he hangs out with?"

"I don’t know," she said quickly. Then she said, "He’s got a friend, Rocky. He grew up down the block from us in Philly. Him and Jake hang sometimes, but not that often."

"Do you have a picture of Jake?" Mrs. Childers reached in her purse and handed me a picture. "Looks like the bomb party. What’s the occasion?"

"Jake’s last birthday. We never had birthday parties when we were kids. So we really make a big thing of them now."

"How old is he?"

"Jake’s thirty."

"He the oldest?"

"Yes."

"Whose that in the picture with him?"

"That’s our sister, Chésará."

"Him and Chésará close?"

"Yes." She sounded offended by the question. "All of us are very close."

"How old is your sister, Mrs. Childers?"

"Chéz is twenty-three." Mrs. Childers leaned forward and went cleavage on me. "Are you trying to find out how old I am — Nick?"

The way her voice dropped when she said my name.
Nick.
It overcame any objection I still had about taking her case.

Since I was trying to find out how old she was, I asked. "How old are you?"

"I’m twenty-seven."

That sounded good too, but not as good as,
Nick
.

"When was the last time you saw Jake?"

"About two weeks ago, he came by the house. He told me that Chilly had been looking for him."

"Chilly?"

"My husband."

"Go on. What did your husband want to see him about?"

"He wouldn’t tell me. But Chilly wantin’ to see Jake was unusual. Jake doesn’t have much to do with Chilly."

"Is your brother involved with drugs too?"

"No. Jake is a chemist at Frontier Pharmaceuticals."

"Any reason to think that your brother is dead?"

"No!" Mrs. Childers said.

I wasn’t sure what to read into the way she answered, but there was something about the look in her eyes that screamed that there was something she wasn’t telling me. I knew then that this was something that I didn’t want to get involved in. But still, there was something about her that cried out for my help.

"All right, Mrs. Childers, I’ll look into it. Give me a day or two and I’ll get back to you."

"When you need to contact me, leave me a message on my voice mail and let me know when and where I can meet you. Or call my sister; she’ll give me the message. I really don’t want to come back here." Mrs. Childers reached in her purse again, this time to retrieve her checkbook. Without asking what my rates were, she wrote out a check and handed it to me. "I hope this will cover your fee, or at least get you started. Money isn’t a problem, so if you need more — "

I looked at the check. "No, Mrs. Childers, I think ten thousand dollars is enough to get me started." She stood up and I escorted her to the door. As expected I enjoyed watching her walk. "One more question, Mrs. Childers. Why do you think that your husband is involved?"

"Just a feeling. But that
is
why I hired you."

I left my office thinking. Not about the case I had just taken on, but about Mrs. Gabrielle Childers. I found her to be a very attractive woman to say the least. Thinking about how any man could do anything to hurt someone as beautiful as her, or any woman for that matter. The way she sat there with confidence and poise. Until she started talking about her husband, then her whole mood changed. Whatever he had done to her had left her with a lasting impression.

Now I had a real missing person’s case. We’d done a few skip traces, but this was different. My first thought was to tell Jett and Monika about it, but it made more sense to find out what, and who, I had gotten them involved with. Suppose Mrs. Childers was right? Suppose her husband was involved?

This could get hectic with a quickness.

Jett and Monika grew up in the burbs. They came from nice middle class families and knew nothing about the dope game. But not me. I knew the game all too well, being a soldier for Vicious Black before joining the army two weeks after André Harmon, who ran most of the illegal activity in the area met his untimely demise.

I drove to Jake’s apartment to have a look around. I put on my gloves, let myself in, and proceeded with my search. The place was immaculate. Everything in place, just as Mrs. Childers said it would be. I ran my finger across the coffee table. Very little dust. I went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. The date on the milk bottle had expired ten days ago. The bathroom was next. Sink and shower were bone dry. The toilet had that blue water in it, so I flushed it. It came back even bluer. I moved on to the bedroom. There was nothing out of place in the closet. Bed was made. It was a safe bet that no one had been there in at least a week.

I went back into the living room and turned on Jake’s computer. Once Windows finally opened, I went into all the items on his desktop. I used an old DOS command to show hidden directories. Then I ran a search on all documents modified in the last thirty days. There was a directory filled with word document files, and a directory with spreadsheet files. There was one file in each directory whose last modified date was eight days ago. I tried to open them, but they were both password protected. I turned the computer off and decided I would come back tomorrow with Jett. I felt someone come up behind me. "Ouch!" I got hit in the back of the head and was out like a light.

BOOK: Private Deceptions
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