War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch (2 page)

BOOK: War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch
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"Not Warnwit, like a name or one word.
It's W-a-r Capital N W-i-t," he spelled out.
"War-N-Wit.
Inc., to be official."

"That's unusual. Who's War?"

"Oh, that's me."

"Who's Wit?"

"Silent partner.
But I'm expecting an appearance real soon now. Much sooner than I'd
figured, I think."

"Oh, I see," I said, not seeing
at all. "Well, that was great service. Well above and beyond the call of
duty."

"Just earning my lunch with you at
Carrabba's," he said cheerfully. "Keep me in mind if anybody needs to
find somebody. Or any other type of PI service. I'm based in Quitman, right
above the Florida
line, center of the state, real near I-75. I do Alabama,
Florida and Georgia. You'll get your money's
worth. I don't
deliver,
no charge."

"For
real
?
How
do you stay in business?"

"I'm
good
. Send you some cards and fliers with the bill."

"For sure.
I'll spread the word. Thanks for your help."

"Anytime," he affirmed, and hung
up.

I stared thoughtfully at the phone. Damn.
Intelligence.
Humor.
"Just
earning my lunch with you at Carrabba's," he'd said.
Nothing
like a charming flirt who knew how to do it perfectly to make a girl's day.
I had no idea in hell that my life as I knew it had just begun to end.

 
 
 
 
 

Chapter Two

 

October moved to November and the beginning
of what was usually a busy time in a law office. I'd never understood it, never
will, but let Thanksgiving and Christmas and year-end loom on the calendar, and
damn near every attorney I've ever known decides to start working cases they
haven't touched in six months. My current three weren't so bad about that,
especially Anderson,
who certainly didn't plan to be in the office much at all during either Thanksgiving
or Christmas, but there're always attorneys on the other side of the case.

True to form, one of Anderson's car accident insurance defense
cases reared its head—or rather, the plaintiffs' attorneys did—and started
yelling for the deposition of the driver's passenger. A deposition is where the
attorneys for both sides get in the same room with whichever witness whose
story they want in front of a court reporter and swear to tell the truth, the
whole truth and nothing but the truth, just like in court, except there's not a
judge.

Sounds easy, I know. Not. Depositions are a
pain in the ass to schedule under the best of circumstances since nobody's ever
available at the same time. Every deposition has to be scheduled at least five
times. It's a law. This one was worse. We didn't know where the hell our
insured driver's passenger was. We did know if we found said insured driver's
passenger, she probably wasn't going to talk to us since ex-boyfriends and
ex-girlfriends tended to be pissy.
Which meant she'd talk
plenty if the plaintiffs' attorney found her first.

Plaintiffs and their attorneys had one
thing in common. They
really
liked to
settle their cases near Christmas. It's like extra money from Santa Claus. And
this particular plaintiffs' attorney was a bitch to deal with, both in gender
and personality. Had a good case, though, and she knew
it.

"Well, we just have to find that
passenger," Anderson pronounced in typical Anderson fashion, leaning
back in his chair and gesturing grandly. "Get some of the young boys on
the internet
looking.
"

"We've already done that, Anderson, they
can't."

"Sure they can. Anybody can be found
in this day and age—"

I put my brain in neutral and let it cruise
and hit on the solution to the problem at the exact time he finished up with
his standard, "—and all we can do is all we can do. And if we can't find
her, then we might just have to hire a private detective. 'Cause I can't let
Sandy Rozier find her before I do and talk to her without me, our insured says
she hates his guts. It'll crucify us, policy limits here we come, get out the
checkbook."

I chewed my lip a bit.
   
"Actually," I said "I've got
just the man for the job. But I'm not sure how much it'll cost."

"Well, let's see. Insured in this case
is a
doctor.
With
an umbrella policy.
Sandy Rozier's got three plaintiffs in that car, one
of 'em's an eggshell plaintiff. We got over a million dollars sitting on the
table. I don't think a PI'll cost that much. Whoever it is, get me the number.
And any last known addresses we have. Handle it!"

"I'm on it!" I exclaimed, fleeing
his office and running for the file.
And one of Chad
Garrett's cards, patiently waiting in my desk drawer.

I flew back in and deposited all on Anderson's desk. Ash's
line started ringing so I missed Anderson's
conversation with can't beat the price Chad Garrett, but hung up just as Anderson called through
the door.

"Hey! Here's the email address. Send
him the addresses we have, he's waiting on it!"

I went in to collect the material, sat back
down, proceeded to forward it to
[email protected]
and was rewarded with an almost immediate reply:
"Got it. When I find her, do I use kid gloves or brute
force?"

Cocky much?
"
If you find her
,"
I sent back, resisting the urge to italicize or underline the 'if',
"kid gloves please. You did a job for
us, well, me and another attorney, a few weeks back. I told Anderson how you went above and
beyond,
don't know if you remember it or us. Did Anderson explain she's
probably going to be a fairly hostile witness and won't be very
cooperative?"

The response came within seconds.
"I remember you. When I find her,"
it read, and he hadn't resisted the urge to italicize,
"I'll have on my best pair of kid gloves and charm her right into
cooperation.
Report later."

Well, alllllriiighty, then! I smiled and
turned to the massive pleadings indexes waiting to be updated in one of Anderson's medical
malpractice defense cases. I wouldn't hear from him for a few days. I gave it a
fifty-fifty shot either way. And wondered how his voice would sound if he had
to call in and concede defeat. I didn't think that happened often.

The email came in something slightly under
an hour.
"Got her.
Back at the Shellman Bluff address you had
for her before she flipped up to Ohio
for a while, but she's pretending real hard not to be.
Headed
there now.
I'm about two hours away and then I'll have to work the
charm. Please make sure I have a phone number that'll get Mr. Halloway. I'll
put her on the phone with him."

Holy.
Hell.

"Anderson!"
I called through the door, while hitting the reply button to supply Anderson's cell number.
"He's got her! Be sure you keep your cell phone
with
you and
on
."

Anderson
came and went with impunity. And he used his cell phone like he
used his computer.
Only when he wanted to.
He was
forever leaving it in a coat pocket or turning it off. His voice mail wasn't
even set up. It was already four o'clock. By the time Chad of War-N-Wit had her
on the phone, he'd be long gone. It was unusual for him to be here this late.
"Says he'll have her on the phone with you in probably three
hours."

"Well, if he's got her, why doesn't he
just give me the number and let me call her?"

"Had a lot of luck with that so far,
have you?" I asked. "You wanta' spook her so he'll
never
convince her to talk to you?"

"Hell, no!"

"Then let the man do the job we hired
him for, why don't you?"

Anderson
came out of his office with his coat, grumbling mildly as he passed
my desk.

"Gets real annoying, you being right
all the time, you know," he said, adjusting his hat.

"Dirty job but somebody's got to do
it," I responded. All my guys were special, but Anderson Halloway was a
legend, the last of his breed of gentlemen attorneys. The legal world would be
the poorer when he departed the practice of law, which I was sure wouldn't be
until he departed this world. "Now, do you have your cell phone and is
it—"

"Yes, I've got it, and yes, it's on,
and yes, I'll keep it with me."

"Good man. Can't wait to hear how it
goes."

 
 
 
 
 

Chapter Three

 

I didn't even have to ask. Anderson was gushing when
I came in the next morning.

"I don't know where you got that guy's
name, Ariel, but he's a miracle worker. Had a real long talk with the girl,
she's cooperating about the deposition, won't hurt us too bad.
Sure as hell not as bad as she'da hurt us if Sandy Rozier'd gotten
to her first."

"Good to know," I replied,
stashing my purse under my desk. "What time did he call you?"

"'Bout 9:00 last night, I think. Get
this—major problem we had with getting her to talk to us is she's gotten
married. So with an ex-boyfriend in the mix and all, she didn't want her
husband upset and the new husband doesn't want her upset. So our guy sat with
the new husband for an
hour and a half
while the dude grilled hamburgers before he'd let him talk to her!"

"Well, I did tell him to use kid
gloves," I said.
"Must have a really soft
pair."
The mail hadn't been distributed yet, so I pulled up Outlook
and started through the emails. War@war-n-wit wasn't too far down in the mix:

Our Ms
Tiffany Leigh Andrews Hartwell, date of birth 8/12/78, social security no.
xxx-xx-8723, 5-3, 120, blonde with help as evidenced by the dark roots, no
glasses, don't know about contacts, is back at the 1380 River Cliff address in
Shellman Bluff, Georgia. She works at one of the local restaurants and I would
imagine with the tourist trade coming, does pretty
good
on tips.
Home phone 555-8742, cell phone 555-3815.
She
has a new husband of a little under a year and believe me when I tell you he is
very protective of her and very resentful of the way the insured driver in this
case treated her and I will leave to your imagination the descriptive phrases
utilized in expressing that resentment. I sat on their patio handling with kid
gloves while he grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for an hour before he would
consent to permit her to come out of their bedroom where she was watching
television. I then called Mr. Halloway on his cell and handed it over to her.
Consequently, this assignment is complete with this report to Anderson Halloway and his secretary Ms Ariel
Anson.
Invoice to follow by mail for one skip trace in the
amount of $200.00 and one service for $175.00, for a total of $375.00.
Please note that War-N-Wit, Inc. stands ready for the next assignment. Have a good
day.

Was this man
real
?
Obviously.
But maybe I could
fictionalize him, and my fertile brain which had not so sub-consciously stored
him away as the base for a future character back when Mark's case went into
overdrive. I hit the reply button.

Did
they at least offer you a hamburger or a hotdog? You are awesome, and they
should do a reality show on you! Anybody in the firm needs anything doing in South Georgia, believe me, you da man! (And we're a big
firm, look us up. I'll see what I can do about getting business your way for
sure.)

I went through two more emails before his
response popped up. And this time, it wasn't from
[email protected]
. It was from
[email protected]
. He'd switched me
to his personal Email?

Yes,
actually, they did offer me a hamburger, but I declined as I felt it breached
the level of professionalism I was trying to maintain and besides, I didn't
want the kid gloves to wear through as I much prefer being totally straight
which is sometimes translated as mean. Further, please note that War-N-Wit,
Inc. services all of Georgia,
Alabama and Florida,
not just South Georgia. You can run but you
can't hide. Thanks for the kind words, but I was just beefing up my chances of
lunch with you at Carrabbas.

I'm a closet writer, remember? I'm going to
pass up the chance to chat with a guy with a sense of humor, an obviously high
IQ, a made-for-television career, and enough charm to blow the top off a
charm-o-meter? Give me a break. I don't think so.

Of
course they offered you a hamburger! Southern hospitality dictates that you
offer a burglar a glass of ice tea. I stand corrected, your area of service is
noted, and if anybody needs anything doing in the firm, I'll certainly steer
'em your way. You can run but you can't hide is what I tell my guys when I
track 'em down in the men's room, by the way. (Not really, but they're not too
sure I wouldn't if I really needed 'em.)

BOOK: War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch
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