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Authors: Edwin Attella

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THE FOURTH WATCH (4 page)

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
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But I digress.

*****

ON THE AFTERNOON OF
the day that Carolyn Whorley visited my office, I
had coffee in the bowels of the courthouse with Walter DeMaris.
Walter is a private investigator that I know well and have on
occasion hired, when I can convince the Court to make funds
available for investigative work. Often times Walter makes more
than I do on a case. You see Massachusetts, that bluest of blue
states, that celebrated home of the bleeding heart, that cradle of
liberty, that safest of havens for the accused, is also the
cheapest state in the nation when it comes to paying its public
defenders. The state is crawling with lawyers, and if you can't, or
won't, find a job in a big law firm, you have to scramble for the
work that the big firms won't take. One of the areas that most big
firms won't go near is public defender work, and so a great many
independent lawyers sign up for the job. If you don't like the pay,
or the endless paperwork that CPCS creates for you, there is
another hungry lawyer waiting in the wings to take your place for
short money. The State will, however, give you money to spend on
investigators (if a Judge so orders), and they don't set an hourly
rate that you can pay them. They will simply give you a specific
amount of money for investigation and let you hire a P.I. to do the
work. I use Walter because he's good, and he's as honest as you
could reasonably expect him to be, and he'll usually finish the job
for whatever the State gives me.

Walter looks like Danny DiVito, but he's not
quite as tall or good-looking. He has the foulest of mouths, and is
incredibly eloquent in his obscenity. His voice is always a loud
bark, which can be a problem considering what he is likely to be
saying, and he eats most foods without the benefit of utensils and
talks while he eats, often splattering his listener. Since he was
having only coffee this afternoon I felt safe.

"So let me see if I got this right," Walter
said. "Broad strolls in out of nowhere, complains about her old man
drowning in his pool, and wants to hire you, of all people, to make
sure no one helped him do it?"

''Pretty much."

He shook his head. "Why do people go to
fuckin' lawyers for everything? She

could have come straight to me. Cut out the
middle man, you know what I'm saying?"

"Actually, you're lucky she came to me. I
might hire you, whereas an elegant woman such as she never would.
She'd be disgusted by the very sight of you."

He ignored me. "She nice lookin'?"

"She's very attractive."

"She give ya any dough?"

"Yes."

''How much?'

"None of your business."

Walter chewed the corner of his lip. "Any
chance she'll throw in a bonus hump for her crack
investigator?"

"Not a chance, now shut up and let me
talk."

"Hmmm, a little testy today are we? Go
ahead."

"Try that name out again."

"The broads name? Whorley?" and then I saw it
register in his eyes. He almost jumped out of his chair. "You got
to be shittin' me! Like in Red Whorley?"

"The very same."

"As in The Loading Docks?"

I nodded.

"As in filthy, obscenely rich? Oh you lucky
bastard you! Ouch!" He pointed a

stumpy finger at me "I'm chargin' full rate on
this one."

"You haven't been hired yet. In fact I have
not yet even offered you a job, so it's

a bit premature to be demanding ...
"

"Full rate" he brayed at me, his beady eyes
rolling.

"But of course," I told him, ''we just have to
agree upon what constitutes full

rate."

"Jesus, Kato, that son of a bitch has got big
bucks!"

Kato is my nickname. I'd like to tell you that
it came from The Green Hornet's sidekick. That I had incredible
martial arts skills, or was a daring driver of sleek sports cars.
But the truth is less exciting. Mike Knight has two K's in it, so
somewhere along the line the kids at St. John's Home, where I lived
growing up, started to call me K2. Over time the moniker evolved
into Kato, and it stuck. Walter was a neighborhood rat at the same
time and we have known each other all our lives.

"Had big bucks," I corrected him.

"Yeah, well he might be dead, but the money is
still around. What does the

daughter think? Somebody killed him for the
money?"

"Claims she doesn't know what to think. Just
'knows' he didn't fall down drunk

and roll into the pool. Says the old man was
acting all crazy for a few weeks or so before he died and then just
before he drowned everything changed back to normal. Said there was
no chance that the old man was going to go out to the pool in his
PJs in the middle of the night; no chance that he could get himself
plastered enough to take a staggering header, and so
on.”

“What do you think?”

“Me? I think she misses her daddy, who was
larger than life to her, and she can’t believe that he was mortal
and died like everybody else. So there must have been some evil
doer around, because it’s the only way he could be
dead.”


Yeah, but your also thinkin’ that
stranger things have happened then a rich guy gets whacked for his
money, or for his business or whatever,” Walter said, “and that,
what the hell, if somebody wants to pay us to poke around, just to
make sure that everything is on the up and up…”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. And I was
thinking I might pay you the full rate of fifty-five bucks an hour
to do some squirrel work for me.”

“My full rate is seventy-five.”

“Well that may be true, but nobody pays it and
I stand on precedent.”

“You can give me seventy-five on this one. You
fuck me on all the state jobs. That wench probably gave you a pile
of dough,” he shook his head, “I got to have
seventy-five.”

“Fifty-five is more than you ever get, and it
is far more then you’re worth.”

“Come on for Christ’s sake, negotiate a little
here. Give me seventy.”

“Fifty.”

''What! Don't you dare start that shit with me
you cheap prick. Give me sixty-

five bucks an hour."

"Forty-five."

"Hey, fuck you I. .. "

"Forty. Pretty soon you'll be down to what the
state is paying lawyers these

days."

"Fifty-five," he said.

"You drive a hard bargain, Walter,” I told
him, “but you wore me down. Fifty-five it is."

He muttered obscenities down into his coffee
cup and ignored my outstretched

hand.

"Alright," I said smiling, "let's not
complicate this unnecessarily. I want you to do the following. Get
over to the medical center and find out who did the autopsy on the
old man, and talk to him. I'll ask for a copy of the report
formally, but I want to know who did it, and if they maybe had any
suspicions before coming down on the side of 'accidental drowning'.
Then I want you to go to the library, or get online or whatever and
go through the papers, all of them. There were reporters everywhere
covering this guy's death. See if there was another angle to this
thing at any point. Then let’s get a formal profile on The Loading
Dock from the Secretary of State's office. Pull a copy of the
Articles of Organization and start running checks on the corporate
officers. Let's see what we got, Okay?"

"Sure, Okay. What are you doin'
all this time, you gonna
probe
the daughter a

little bit more."

"You a sick and offensive little man. No I
think I'll call the cops and get a look at their file, then I'm
going to go around and visit the rest of the family, see what they
think about the fact that Carolyn has gone off and hired herself a
Lawyer."

3

WHEN I WAS DONE
with Walter, I went back to my office, packed a brief case
and headed home. The message light on my office answering machine
was blinking at me when I walked in. I keep my office answering
machine at home because my office is a one room operation, and if
someone calls when I'm with a client, not only will it be an
intrusion, but the message from the client calling would be
broadcast to the client sitting there - and who knows who knows
who? I have an answering machine, instead of telephone company
voice mail, because without the little box and its blinking yellow
LED, I'd never check my messages. The machine's digital display
indicated that there were two messages. I pressed the play button
and the magnificent baritone of Arthur Alexander Andreason filled
the room.

"Kato, where the hell are you? I was hoping to
interrupt you in the process of putting some small time deviant
back out onto the streets of the Commonwealth. Listen, a friend of
mine is going to give you a call. Actually she is the daughter of a
former client. Her name is Carolyn Whorley and she's Red Whorley's
daughter. It's a little weird. She is absolutely stunning! Call me
when you get in."

I smiled.

The second message was from a drunken client
(still drunk as near as I could tell from his garbled speech) to
whom I had been assigned the day before and to whom I had given
specific instructions to call my office next Wednesday, at which
time I hoped to have a copy of the police report that formed the
basis of the government’s case against him. His call, being
premature, resulted in me deleting his message as if I had never
received it. Nobody follows instructions.

I wandered around the house restlessly. I took
a deep breath and let it out slow. It was a good home, warm and
close, but it was our home, not my home and I could always feel
that bittersweet tension. I had been wondering whether or not I
should sell the place and get an apartment or buy a condo or
something. I wanted to stay because I could feel her in these walls
and furnishings, and in the paints she had picked out and in the
stencils she had run around the boarders of our lives. But I needed
to go too, because I could never put it behind me here, with her
gentle ghost rubbing against my soul, close enough to make me throb
with loneliness, but not so close as to give me comfort.

I went back out into the kitchen and took a
look at the giant clock on the wall over my kitchen table. Annie
had picked that clock out one day at a shop in New Hampshire when
we were at the seashore on holiday a couple of summers ago. She had
forced me off the road on the way back from the beach at an antique
shop somewhere around Hampton, and coerced me into buying it. It is
a handsome clock, ornate and detailed, rendered in blond oak with
big digits and wrought iron hands. I remember standing with her, my
arms wrapped around her, her hair damp and smelling of the sea, and
listening to her explain just how perfect that clock would fit on
this wall. She turned her face back and up at me as I hugged her,
her eyes deep and shining with excitement, begging me to buy the
stupid thing because we could spend the rest of our lives looking
at it, and measuring time together, remembering this moment in
those moments. I remembered that moment now, and felt the pain deep
inside me before I could push the memory of it away.

*****

IT WAS JUST AFTER
FOUR
. I wondered if I should go to the gym
and work out, which I surely needed, or if I should go to that
refrigerator over there and open it up and get out an ice cold can
of beer and call Alex the Cat. In the end it was no contest. In
fact I had opened my second beer by the time I was listening to the
sound of the phone ringing to Alex's line. My home is a nine room
colonial on a little more than half an acre of land on the shore of
Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester. I was deciding it was far too much
house for a guy like me. I strolled out onto the deck off the den,
cordless phone in hand, listening to the exchange ring and watching
the sailboats tacking a lazy course along either shore. Lake
Quinsigamond is a long and narrow, but very deep crevice that
slashes its way among and between the cities seven hills. In the
summer it is home to all nature of aquatic activity. Swimming,
snorkeling, sailing, power boating, water-skiing. In the spring
they have the crew races here with all of the state's major
universities and colleges competing, and year round the banks of
the lake, the lake itself and the streams that feed it are clogged
with fishermen. In the summer, all around the lake, young women
parade about the shores in their bathing suits. Nowadays there
seems to be a competition among them as to who can wear the least
and still be considered clothed. Many of my neighbors act as
unofficial judges of this competition. They own high powered
telescopes which sit on tripods on their decks and when the weather
is just right they stand on their decks with cocktails in hand and
scan the shores for skimpily clad maidens to compare. I have a
telescope myself, but I use mine strictly to watch the
fishermen.

The ringing at the other end of the phone line
was broken when a clipped, efficient authoritative voice declared:
"Andreason, Mallack, Windsor & Spree."

BOOK: THE FOURTH WATCH
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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