CHAPTER SIXTEEN 4TH THURSDAY Mike is up at four thirty and showering. He can't sleep. He goes back and shuts off the alarm so it won't sound out later. He gets dressed and goes to his office. He pulls the files and studies them then throws them into his briefcase. Grabbing a light jacket he quietly lets himself out the side door.
He pulls in at Trudy's at seven. He raps lightly on the door. The curtain is drawn back then the door flies open. She draws him inside. A light robe is caught over her shoulders and she throws her arms around Mike.
She whispers, "Come." and beckons. He follows her to her bedroom and soon they are busy in the bed. Afterwards she gets Crystal up and makes breakfast for them all.
Before they are finished the baby sitter arrives and they are on their way to POCO by eight forty. She slides over close to him and sticks a finger in his ear. She wiggles it and says, "I like your early morning surprises." "Can't hear you. There's something in my ear." She laughs and kisses his ear instead. She whispers, "I think I love you, Michael Claymore. Did you hear that?" "I hear you, my mistress." "Don't you want to say something back to me?" "You make a good breakfast." "Anything else?" "Uh.
.I can't think of anything." "You louse!" She cuffs him on the back of his head. They pull into POCO and around to the realty office where Ron Harrison works. They enter the outer reception area and pose as a couple seeking a new home. They say they have had a referral to seek the help of Mr. Ron Harrison. The neat gray haired lady in her forties tells them he will be in around noon. She asks if they can come back then. They say they will try and leave.
In the car Mike uses the cell phone to try the number from the matchbook cover again. On the third ring he hears the sound of the phone being answered but no one says anything. He says, "Hello. Hello, are you there?" No answer.
He hears a click and the connection is broken. "Damn!" He dials the Royal Columbian Hospital and asks for Roger. "Good morning, it's Mike. How's our girl this morning?" "I just got in. I see a report here on my desk that Bob came here late last night in an inebriated condition and left again before there was any need to call the police. He did not get past the lobby." "I expected." He hears Roger talking to someone who just came into his office.
"Did he say she was suffering from complications?" "Oh, Mike, No. It's not serious. She put in a bad night and some infection has set in around her ear. They've changed her dressing and treated the infection. It looks like they caught it before any danger.
She's doing well now. Are you coming in?" "Not unless I have to. I've got other work this morning. Has she asked for me?" Roger confers with the other man in the background. "She's asked about you, but has not specifically requested you come in." "Well, maybe I'll try to come by sometime today.
You have my cell number. Call me if you need me." "First thing, and don't worry." "See you later." He punches the 'END' button and speaks to Trudy. "Do you want to meet her?" "Can she talk?" "She should be able to now, without too much difficulty." "Let's go over there." "First things first.
Do you think you can handle this Mustang?" "Of course I can. Why?" "I want you to drop me in the alley behind Flo's house and come back in forty minutes exactly; no sooner, no later. Got it?" "Right. What if they've found the door and it's locked?" "I always have my lock picks." "Let's go." She slides across behind the wheel as he gets out.
He comes around to the passenger side and gets in. He's thrown back against the seat as she peals rubber pulling into the street. She laughs as she sees the expression on his face. "I'll behave." She slows and drives around to the back of Flo's. He gets out and checks his watch. She checks hers and salutes as she drives away. Mike shakes his head and turns into the back gate.
He walks briskly across the back lawn and steps up to the door into the carport. It's either locked or stuck so he goes around and walks inside the front. He notes the car tracks are disturbed and splashes of plaster of Paris litter the floor in the area. He steps to the door and tries it with thin gloves on his hands.
The knob turns and the door opens. He listens. Nothing. He slips inside and listens again. All clear. He crosses the kitchen and peeks into the living room. Then he tiptoes to the bedroom and all is as he last saw it. He checks the bathroom and spare bedroom. No one. He goes back to the kitchen. He pulls out and goes through every drawer.
Tea towels, dish clothes, cutlery, he checks it all. Grocery list pad; he takes a pencil and using a flat side of the lead carefully blackens the top page. In white he spots words forming. He does the same with the back page and sees words forming there, as well. He doesn't finish it. He drops the pad into a baggy and puts it in his pocket.
In the drawer he finds the instruction manual for a microwave. He looks around but there is no microwave here. Studying the plugs and the counter he searches for marks. Sure enough, at one time a microwave has rested on the counter.
The slight indentations in the counter are clear. He bags the manual and puts that in his pocket. That is all he can glean from the kitchen so he moves to her bedroom. He goes through all the drawers there. He comes up with a coin, a lira. Italian. He puts that with his other items. He goes through her jewel box and cosmetics.
Nothing. In her closet he checks the pockets of all her clothes and the linings. He gets a package of book matches and a card from the "Viet Kitchen" restaurant in Vancouver. They are in a heavy winter coat inside pocket.
On the shelf above the clothes is a hat in a bag from a hat shop in Vancouver. He pockets the bag and the receipt that's in it. The receipt is dated February 14th, this year. Next he goes to the spare room and comes up empty. He checks his watch and sees he only has a few minutes. He turns up the cushions in the couch and chair in the living room. Nothing. He heads for the back door.
He stops and turns back to lift the phone. Under it is a thin small pad of yellow stick on notes. He lifts the top one and bags it then rushes to the back door.
As he crosses the back lawn he pulls off his thin gloves and waves to Trudy, pulling up to the back gate. He jumps in and says, "Take it easy, but take us out of here." She pulls smoothly on through the alley and out onto the street. "Did you get anything worthwhile?" "Won't know till I check it out." "Where to?" "Out the River Road. I'll tell you where to pull off." They drive out along the Pitt River and Mike indicates the pull off that takes them down under the willows.
"Park here anywhere." "You sure know some neat parking spots, lover. I like this one as well as the one by the falls." He's busy emptying his pockets. "Hand me my briefcase, please." He pulls a legal size folder out and lays it on top of the briefcase. Next he lays the notepad on it and, using his pencil he works on the surface of the paper. Soon it is evident he has uncovered a shopping list. "Shit!" He turns the pad over and starts working on the words on the other side.
This is not a shopping list. It's a note. Carefully he shades the paper and the words come up in clear white letters. "My dearest Italian Stud, Meet me after work tonight. I crave your touch, your loving touch." It's signed, "Your songbird, Flo." Trudy exclaims, "Do you think she wrote that the day she died?
Oh wow! But how did she get it to him?" "That wouldn't have been difficult if he had a key and stayed over with her once in a while. She could just leave it on the counter. He would drop by the Gardens during the evening, smile and say, 'See ya later.' Then wait for her after work." "Do you think that's what happened?" Mike shrugs his shoulders, "Don't know. It could be." "Your thinking of Vanuetche, aren't you?" "He's not the only Italian around, but yes, I am thinking of Tony.
But why would he do it? Do you feel he might be the one?" "I don't know. Didn't Ray say that Tony was in the Gardens that night?" "Yes, he said he saw him talking to some of the guys early on." "What else did you get?" Mike puts the yellow paper on the folder. Once again he works with the flat side of his lead to shade the small page. This time he comes up with a phone number. He checks it against the one on the matchbook he had taken from his first visit.
They match. He puts these items aside and pulls out the bag with the receipt. He asks Trudy, "Have you ever been into this hat shop on Robson Street in Vancouver?" "Only to sight see. I couldn't afford a hat from there. What did it look like?" "Fairly plain, conservative, the kind of hat she would wear.
Light veil over brim on dark straw with white flecks in the crown. Looked expensive." "Mmmmm, I wish I'd seen it." "I can't imagine why anyone would pay $179.00 for it." "Mmmmm, I wish I'd seen it." "You said that once already.
Can't you say anything else?" "Mmmmm, I wish." "Alright, already! You would have liked to see it. Now, sometime in the winter she dines at the 'Viet Kitchen'.
This card and matches were in a winter coat. Sounds more and more like Tony, doesn't it?" "You think Tony was seeing her a lot more than he's letting on, eh?" "It's all circumstantial to this point, but I think that might be the case. But where does that get us? So she was dating Tony for quite a while. So what? The note to meet her could have been from any time, not necessarily from the fatal night." "Got anything else?" "A micro wave oven instruction booklet." "What about it?" "She didn't have a micro wave." "Oh.
So?" "There are marks on her counter where a micro wave has sat. She had one but it's not there. I don't know if it means anything or not. I found it curious." "Mike, lend me your pencil." He gives her the pencil and she starts shading the yellow slip some more. Very faintly she uncovers another telephone number that must have been a page higher in the pad. Mike studies it and says, "That number looks familiar." "It's not Tony's number, by any chance. No, I know it's not. I looked them up for you, didn't I?" "Yeah.
.but I know that number. Let me think." "Check your cell phone. You've got a lot of numbers in the memory. Over a hundred, eh?" "Never thought of that. I'll try it." He busies himself checking numbers and when he comes to it, changes over to the alphanumeric readout. "It's POCO RCMP. She must have called them about something or meant to call them.
Stranger and stranger. I don't know what to make of it." "That's everything, eh?" "That's it. I'll itemize and do a report on each piece tonight. Let me just jot down a few notes here." "Are we going for lunch soon?" "Yeah. Then we'll drop in on Mr. Harrison." "Can you do those notes while I drive? I'll find us a restaurant. Will the White Spot do?" "That'll be fine.
Go ahead." "It seems such a waste to leave this beautiful spot untouched, and I don't mean the spot is untouched, I mean me." Mike grins as he writes and mumbles, "I know what you mean." After lunch they return to the real estate firm. They are shown into Mr. Harrison's office. He is out for a moment doing some photocopying. He comes in and greets them, "Hello, folks." He comes forward with his hand stuck out and a big smile on his face.
"You've come to the right place at the right time. Now, just what are you looking for?" Mike grabs his proffered hand and says, "We have been looking for you. We're with a major movie producer, we can't divulge the company at this time, and we are interested in access to the house where the young lady was living who was murdered recently.
We'd also like to get your take on the murder itself. We understand you yourself are one of the suspects the police are investigating.
Would you like to comment?" Ron drops Mike's hand and steps back with a frown. "Your Mike Claymore, aren't you? My wife told me you visited our place with a short blonde.
What do you want?" "Some answers, old boy. Flo had you in her black book for a reason. You balling her on the side and your hoity toity wife catch on? If you and Scanlon are such buddies, you ain't no social butterfly. Tell me what went wrong between you and the prosty?" "I don't know what you're talking about. My relationship with Flo is none of your business. Our relationship is also none of your business. Now, you can get out of here." Trudy steps forward and takes over, "One minute, please.
My partner has been rather rough on you. I'm sorry but he is anxious to solve this case. Can't we humor him a bit? I think Flo was murdered by some sex pervert but the list of suspects held by the police does not include any. We would like to eliminate the names on the list and clear them so the police can start looking elsewhere." "That sounds reasonable.
How can we clear my name?" "You could start by telling us where you were the night Flo was killed." "I was playing cards with a friend all night. We went over there to Tony's about nine thirty and we never got home until seven the next morning. I'm sure he will vouch for me." "Did you tell the police that's where you were?" "They sent an idiot to speak with us and we told him we were socially engaged.
I think Tony's name came up. I can't remember for sure." "They list you as not having an effective alibi. I, on the other hand, know about that night and the Harrison Motel at Harrison Hot Springs. Room 24, I believe." Ron stands dumbfounded. He wrings his hands and says, "Who else knows about that?" "Just Mike and I, oh, and our informant." "How unfortunate if word of this were leaked to the press.
The Minister could lose his seat, likely would be banished back to his home riding for good. And she would end up facing at least a divorce and all the ensuing mess.
She certainly would lose her position in Victoria. How terrible. But what has this to do with Florence?" "It means you are covering for Tony Vanuetche. You weren't playing cards at his place if you were in Harrison, were you?
Now do you see?" "But I wasn't in Harrison, my wife was. She was with the judge, His Right Honorable Judge Grant Forester. I was playing cards with Tony and the judge's wife was with me. We had swapped that night, you see. It was all quite above board and legal. The other couple that joined my wife and the judge are the ones that can be hurt most if this becomes public knowledge." A slow smile creeps across Trudy's face and she says, "You guys really do swing, don't you?" Ron grins as well.
"Maybe you and Mike would like to join us some evening, my dear. You certainly have the attractions to be of interest and my wife seems to already have her eyes on Mike." Mike speaks up, "Let's get back on topic here. If what your saying is true, we can eliminate both you and Tony as suspects. But I don't think that's the case. Tony's your supplier of the drug of your choice.
I think your covering for him to safeguard your supplier." Ron turns hard eyes on Mike. "You grate on my nerves, little man. Stay out of things you know nothing of, I warn you.
I think you both better leave now." He gets up and opens the door, steps outside and wait's for them. Trudy goes out the door and as Mike passes Ron he says, "Flo threatened your supply as well, didn't she. Is that why she's dead?" For an answer Ron turns on his heels, re-enters his office and slams the door.
Trudy looks up at Mike and whispers, "Smooth move! Do you have to practice much to be that abrasive?" "Shut up and let's go." They return to the car and discuss Ron's statements. Mike says, "I don't know yet if we've gotten the truth out of them.
It certainly is confusing." "I think it's time we visited Tony again." "He's working today. He won't be home until this evening. Let's go over to New West and see Marie." "Can I drive?" "You just stay where you are. I'll drive. You'd probably detour by way of the River Road, if I know you." "Your no fun. Your getting pretty good at mind reading, too, you know." They laugh together as Mike heads for the freeway and the Municipality of New Westminster on the other side.
Within half an hour they are at the hospital. Mike gets nods as they go in and up on the elevator. Marie has become quite a hospital celebrity and Mike is gaining fringe benefits from it. They go right to the secure ward. Mike raps on the office door. The guard peeks out at him and opens the door. Mike introduces him to Trudy and he asks about Marie. "She was sleeping after lunch but I think she's awake now. The nurse was just in checking on her." "All okay?" "Right as rain." "Good, come on Trudy." They go into the room that contains two beds.
Marie is still and Mike says her name. She responds immediately, "I thought I heard your voice." "So, have you been a good girl and done as the doctors tell you?" "Crank my bed up a bit so I can see the room.
I'll tell you if you move it too high." Mike cranks the bed slowly and her eyes come up where she can see them. She says, "Who's your friend and tell her I don't mind her wincing when she sees my face. Oh!
That's far enough." She sighs as he winds it back a bit. "Thank you, Mike." "Hi. I'm Trudy." She whispers, "I'm his mistress." "Marie, this is Trudy. She's my assistant in the investigation. Often a woman can illicit cooperation from an individual where a man can't. She's a great help to me, although her weird sense of humor often troubles me. Are you up to answering some more questions for me today?" "I feel much better today.
I want to thank you for saving my life. Don't look so modest. Not many people would have broken into our house to find me. I don't know why you were in our neighborhood, but I think you're a guardian angel." "I only did what I could. I wish I'd come sooner. I wish many things but that's neither here nor there. You told me that Robert returned home the night that Flo died at about six thirty in the morning. Do you remember telling me that?" "No.
But it's true. He was very drunk. I think he was too drunk to harm anyone. He was falling down drunk." "That may be, but he would have got off work at midnight and he wouldn't have been that drunk at one or two, when the crime took place." Trudy says to Marie, "Would you mind if I asked you a question or two?" "No. What can I tell you?" "Has Robert given you any jewelry since that night? I'm thinking specifically of a necklace." "No.
He brought me flowers the next day but got drunk that weekend and threatened to kill me if I didn't say he came home early the night his ex died.
I got scared and took off on Sunday to stay with a friend. I thought maybe he did kill her. But now I don't think he did. He got so scared when he hit me." "I don't remember things too well but I do remember him trying to wash the blood off me in the bathroom. I can see him sort of blurry and I now know I was coming and going in and out of consciousness.
He was crying. That I remember." "Do you know if Robert ever worked at CPX? Maybe in the warehouse?" "I think he worked there for a few month's a few years ago but I'm not sure." "That would be when he was still with Flo?" "I guess. It seems to me he talked with a guy in the mall one time about working there in the warehouse. For some reason I thought he was only referring to a short period of time working for them." Trudy starts chatting with Marie and she seems to have run out of questions.
Mike listens for a while but goes into the office when Roger comes along. Roger greets him with, "I heard you were up here. How are things going in your investigation?
By the way, I see your friend that your trying to clear was in the news. Did you see it?" "No. I haven't been watching the news lately. Too busy. What did they say?" "His lawyer has won him a stay of proceedings. His case won't be heard until sometime early in August. The crown allowed the stay, saying new evidence has been turned up that may lead investigators down another trail. They're conceding they may have been hasty in arresting him. I guess they couldn't have had that much evidence against him." "On the contrary, they had some pretty damning evidence.
I wonder what Lindross is up to now? Maybe I'll give Ray's lawyer a call." "You go ahead. I'll step out anyway. I'm just leaving." Mike calls Ray's lawyer. They chat for a moment then Mike asks him if he knows why the Crown backed down on going ahead with the hearing.
The lawyer chuckles and says he had the main evidence, the coveralls and boots, disallowed in the hearing.
There is no way to prove they are his. Thanks to him never having a lock on his locker, anyone could have put them there and taken his. The judge concurred with that reasoning and the evidence was thrown out. Without that they don't have much of a case. "Then why didn't the judge throw out the whole case?" "Witnesses statements, including yours, and the tapes in his possession where enough to show probable cause.
They will try to get more evidence on my client. I don't think they have a chance of convicting with what they have. They're scrambling, that's for sure. How are you making out?" Mike brings him up to date where he can and they close with him saying, "Well, keep in touch. Thanks for all your efforts, Mike. Good-bye." Mike goes back into the room and shares the latest on Ray's situation with Trudy. She just smiles and says, "I figured that would happen.
You should have seen it coming. You checked his locker." "Well, if you two hens are finished cackling, we have to go get some work done. Do you want me to wind that bed back down for you, Marie?" "No. Leave it for now. My body guard here will do it later." She smiles at the guard.
He nods with a slow grin. Trudy and Mike go down to the car. He asks, "Well, what do you think of Marie? Is she being straight with us now?" "Yep. She's telling it like it is. She's awfully young to be in all this trouble. He really did a job on her. She still loves the guy, but she's in no hurry to see him yet.
She knows he has to change a lot before she can ever trust him again." "Let's go around by CPX. We can check and see what time Tony will be in. I guess I better start thinking about getting you back home, too." "No rush. Last night was my last shift. I'm finished out at Laidlaw. I start Monday at the Husky in Sardis." "Oh wow! I better get you moved this weekend then." They pull into the CPX parking lot. Mike drives on through into the yard and pulls in down by the lunchroom.
He goes up the steps into the warehouse and a couple other drivers who have watched him pull in, grin and nod as he passes.
They crane their necks to see Trudy in the car. Mike goes up to dispatch. "Hi Jerry, has Tony come in yet?" "Nope. Called in a while ago. He's in a lineup to unload down by Chinatown and will be late in tonight." Mike says thanks and goes back down to the car. Trudy is chatting with about half a dozen drivers who are collected around the car. He jumps in and says, "We're out of here." As they back out she says, "You work with the nicest bunch of guys.
I know some of them from the truck stop. Isn't Tony in yet?" "Nope. He's tied up downtown in Chinatown. Not far from the Vietnamese section. Coincidence or what? I wonder if he's stocking up for the weekend trade?" "Doesn't anyone check his truck when he comes in?" "What's the use? All he needs is a drop box somewhere between here and there.
It could even be his girl friend on wheels. He could drop the goods to her anywhere." "I guess your right. Where to now then?" "Abbotsford. I have to pick up some files from ABC Security. They have two cases for me. That's my bread and butter. Actually, if you are going to get anything from me in the way of compensation, shall we say, it'll come from those cases.
If you want to be a kept woman we better go out and check on them." "You're serious? You're going to keep me? Do you know what I'm worth? Ha! I thought not. Here's where I get a chance to dazzle you with my footwork." She goes on in this vein as Mike heads out the Lougheed for Abbotsford.
As he passes Mission and heads south he tells her, "You will be in Chilliwack. I'll start to get cases for ICBC for the Chilliwack area as well as Abbotsford. We'll keep the paperwork at your place and yours will be my Chilliwack number.
When I'm not on a run, I'll come over to Chilliwack each morning to work on insurance cases. That way you can help me with the cases and we'll be partners. We'll split fifty/fifty on the profits. There won't be enough at the start for you to quit work, but surely between the two towns it will build up to enough for us both.
What do you say, partner?" "Can I still be your mistress, too?" "Always, my love." "It's a deal." Mike goes into the office of ABC Security Services on South Fraser Way near the airport. He checks with the secretary and she hands him three files. He studies them at the counter over a quick cup of coffee. The top case is the skip-tracing job. He grins as he realizes it's work for the same finance company that Jeff heads up in town. He looks down the list of names and details on each.
He decides to take it and let Trudy see what she can do with it. The other two are ICBC claims. One is theft from an auto and the other is an accident of questionable nature.
He tucks the files into his briefcase and speaks to the girl behind the counter. "Grace, is the boss in?" "He went home about an hour ago. I don't know if he'll be back today, he didn't say. Want me to call him?" "No. Don't bother him. I just wanted him to know that I've decided to take on cases in the Chilliwack area if he has any.
Can you tell him that?" "I'll make a note of it. We don't get many inquiries. I guess someone in Chilliwack must be in the business." "Probably, but when word gets around that I'm over there, the work will come. Thanks. I'll see ya." Mike asks Trudy what she thinks about the skip tracing when he gets back to the car. She takes the file and studies the details. "Wow! Are all these people trying to get out of paying off their loans? You want me to find out where they have gone, eh?
I'd love to give it a try. I'll find them. All I need is a phone." "I thought you might like that. Your so good at getting the same type of information for me." Mike pulls around to a long low building with trees and shrubbery surrounding a parking lot in front. He says to Trudy, "Study that file if you want. I'll only be a minute." "This is the Matsqui justice building, isn't it?" "Yep. That's Family Court through those doors, and Magistrate's Court is in the center.
I'm going to this end to the Matsqui Police Office. Want to see a friend about these cases. Be right back." Mike goes into the building and turns right. He steps through double glass doors and speaks to a receptionist. "Is Ken in his office?" She smiles and says, "Mike. How have you been? I'll check." "Keeping busy." He watches her step to Ken's door then return. "He's on the phone right now. Want to wait?" "Yeah, I'm just as happy here where I can flirt with you." He grins and winks at her.
She turns pink and lowers her eyes to a report she's reading, "Oh Mike, you flatter all the girls. I hear them talking about you in the coffee room. If you were half as bad as they make you out to be, I'd be scared of you." "Hey! What do they say?" "Never mind. I shouldn't have said anything." She is really flustered now.
"Awww, come on. Tell me." He leans across the counter and looks down at her legs. She pulls her legs back and crosses them then uncrosses them in consternation. She rolls the office chair back behind the desk where her bottom is out of sight.
"Mike, your awful." Just then Ken takes a step to his office door and says, "Come in, Mike. Leave the girls alone. It's a wonder to me how you keep from having to fight off harassment suit's, the way you tease the girls around here." "It's all a matter of charm, Ken." He laughs as he joins Ken in his office.
They close the door. "How is it going with the young auto arsonists?" "Good. We've got a case, thanks to you. That jackknife produced a clear thumbprint on the blade of one of the fellows.
It clearly establishes they were there where that car was burned. It's going to court in July. We'll need your testimony. I'll call you when I have a definite date." "Good. Glad to help out. I got a couple more cases here and I wanted to get your side of the situation. I see you signed one of the cases. It's a stolen stereo case." "Let's see the file." He studies it a moment then says, "Yes, I remember this one.
It was a typical case of smash out rear quarter window to gain access. In and out with the stereo in less then three minutes. The questionables on this one concerned the situation. The vehicle was parked for three days without the owner checking it. It was parked in an area of high risk. It seemed funny to me that he hadn't checked his vehicle sometime during the three days. He said he was using his bike to ride back and forth to work, but the weather had been lousy.
It just didn't seem to ring true. Also he had trouble remembering if he locked the car. Since the window was broken we determined he must have had it locked. But there was an alarm system in the car and he had failed to set it. The case just didn't smell right, know what I mean?" "Yeah. I guess that's why they flagged it and sent it down to me. Was the victim cooperative?" "As I recall he was nervous but seemed to be cooperative.
His live in girl friend wouldn't give us a statement. She said something about it not being any of her business." "Okay, this other case is not signed by you. It's signed by. .oh hell, I can't make out the signature." "Let's see. That's Cpl. Dixon. His first name is Barry. See the large 'B' sprawled across with an 'on' after it. What's this one all about? Oh yes, we discussed this one. Car crash, both burned. We checked to see if other crashes in the area ended in flames.
We only had one other case that was similar, but Langley reported a similar case and there was a rash of crash fires in North Vancouver area. We checked for similar names but none were common to more than each case. The funny thing was there didn't seem to be any reason for them to catch fire. These two, I mean. Our findings and the findings of the fire marshal were causes unknown." "I guess they want me to find the cause." "Have fun. If you need any help, don't hesitate to call.
Anything else?" "No. I think that's it. I'll get out of your hair now and you can get back to your work. Thanks for the time, Ken." "Any time, Mike. My door is always open to you." "I know. I just wish the RCMP could sit down with me the way you and I do. Most of the guys I worked with in the past are all transferred out of here.
Some to the Prairies, but most to Ontario and Quebec." "Having trouble with them?" "It's that murder in POCO a few weeks back. They have a fellow driver, who's also a friend, charged with it. I don't believe he did it and I'm doing my own investigation to try and prove them wrong.
Staff Sergeant Lindross is in charge of the investigation. He's a hard man to work with. He had me under surveillance for a while. He even stopped a friend of mine's car and had it searched because I was with her." "Sounds like you rubbed him the wrong way.
Lindross, I seem to recall that name from somewhere. Oh yes, he sent us an inquiry on you and a girl. what was her name?
Tracy, no, that's not it. It was something like that. We had to tell him we had nothing, but I confirmed you were licensed to carry out investigations in the province of British Columbia. That seemed to satisfy him. Is your friend's name Tracy?" "No. The girl I was with is his secretary, Nina.
We had an affair going." "No wonder he was checking up on you. I'd check up on anyone spending time with my secretary, too." "I guess your right. I'm going so take care." Mike goes out to the car and they pull out for Hope. Mike relates the latest on the cases to Trudy as she studies them.
As they pass Chilliwack, Trudy says, "It won't be long and this will be my home town. I'm really looking forward to this move. Most moves in the past have not been so happy. When my husband and I broke up we were living in Vedder Crossing. He moved onto the base and I had to get something cheaper. That's how I ended up out in Hope." "How is it going with your divorce? I always forget to ask.
Is he going to contest it?" "No, but I have to pay for it. I can't so it's up in the air. That's the only drawback to coming back to the Chilliwack area. He's right here at the base." "Does he keep tabs on you?" "Not really. I guess he knows where I am most of the time. He's supposed to see Crystal once a week, but he never has.
His money for her upkeep comes directly from his pay before he sees it. I think he's forgotten us. Crystal hardly ever mentions him any more, but I know she wonders. Sometimes when you tell me about what your kids are doing, I wish you were her father. You really care about your kids." "They mean a lot to me." "I know.
When we're screwing I sometimes think I'd like to have babies with you.
I know it's impossible now, but maybe in the future when I'm settled in Chilliwack and my divorce is getting under way we could think about it.
Crystal should have brothers and sisters before she gets much older and I would like to have more kids before I'm much older. You're the only man for me.
I could live with you part time and share you with Marlene." "You've been giving this a lot of thought, haven't you?" "I have. I dream about you, you know." "Wet ones?" "Are they ever!" "I care for you a lot, but Marlene and the kids are my life. Let's not lose sight of that, eh?" "I know." She stares sadly out the side window as they drive into Hope.
As they near her house she perks up and says, "Are you going to pick me up in the morning? You could come early again." "We'll have to see what the morning brings. Kiss me." She waves and blows kisses as he leaves. He heads back to the freeway and home.
As he passes by Chilliwack he thinks of her. She shares so much of his life anymore that sometimes he has to catch himself from too strong a commitment. It would be very easy to commit to her. He loves her free spirited ways, her wantonness in sex, her easy charm with others.
He knows he also loves her for just being herself. He has never told her, but he loves her and he knows it. That does not diminish the feelings he has for his helpmate, Marlene. She is strong, often a challenge and cares for their children as no one else could. She's like a lioness protecting her cubs and home.
He finds her an exciting bedmate as well, up to try anything and often initiating the action. Sadly he thinks it's because of his sustained absence and her strong sexuality that she ever became involved with Jeff. A complicated affair, that one and now Nina is likely pregnant. Just as well he's seeking a transfer to Ontario, if he will only accept her pregnancy, now. Even at this time, he still considers Jeff a friend, or more like a fellow conspirator, even if a reluctant one.
Deep in thought he approaches the Abbotsford exit, when he notices a tan van that has been running along side of him for quite a ways. As he comes upon a bridge crossing a canal near to the exit, the van swerves and comes hard against the fender of his Mustang.
Mike desperately steers the car away from the van, conscious of the bridge abutment so near to his right hand side, and applies the brakes, but the van slows and forces him closer to the edge. Mike sets his jaw and turns the wheels towards the van, as he hit's the accelerator.
The van rocks as he hit's it then speeds away on up the highway past the Abbotsford exit. Mike notes the plate on the van as he tries to regain control of his vehicle. He makes it across the bridge and flies down the bank beside the canal. As he brings it to a halt sliding in the grass, he realizes how close to the bridge abutment he has come. Inches from a horrible accident and probable death, he feels a cold fury building inside him.
That was too close to have been accidental, he thinks. He pulls out his cell phone and calls Ken's number at the Matsqui Police Station. Ken picks up on the third ring. "Ken, it's Mike. I'm out at the Freeway exit coming into Abbotsford from the east. Someone just tried to run me off the highway in a tan Dodge van, B.C. license number WSW325. I'd say the van is about a 1992, maybe a year or two each way.
It was the panel type, no windows. I couldn't see who was driving. It's heading east on the freeway. It seems to have been a purposely-carried out act, not just someone cutting in too close. He slowed and tried to force me into the bridge abutment out here. I'm down in the ditch by the canal." "I'm having the description radioed to our cars right now and I'll alert the Freeway Patrol.
Are you okay?" "Yeah, just shook up. Can you send out a tow truck?" "Will do, Mike. Talk to you later." Mike sits waiting for the tow truck. He decides he better call Marlene in case she hears of it from someone else. He rings her on the cell phone. "Mike! Oh Mike! It's you. Are you okay? I've been so worried! Where are you?" "Uh, I'm okay.
What's wrong? Why do you think anything's wrong with me?" He hears crying in the background. "What's going on there?" "It's Nina. When I told her about the phone call she broke down. She says that she warned you. What's going on, Mike?" "Hold on. Settle down, now. What phone call?" "A man called. He had a funny accent, like Chinese or something. He asked for you and I said you weren't home yet. He said if you made it home to tell you not to be so nosy.
Then he hung up. Why did he say 'if', Mike? He has us all so worried. I had to try and make the kids stay in their rooms. Would they hurt our children? Who are they, Mike?" "I don't know. I wouldn't worry about it.
Just some crank caller. I just called to tell you I slipped and drove off the freeway. I'll be home before long but I thought I should let you know in case someone seen me and got you all worried about me. I'm okay and will be right along as soon as the tow truck gets here.
Tell Nina to stop worrying. What's for supper? Any leftovers?" "We been pacing the floor and all you worry about is your stomach. I'll find you something.
Just get your ass home here, where it belongs." "Yes, dear. As soon as I can." Still no tow truck so he rings Trudy. He explains what has happened and says, "I guess we better lay off for a day or two. I'll have to get some work done on the car tomorrow so I can move you on Sunday. I'll get the strap on ball here in Abbotsford on Saturday, so all you have to get is the trailer." "You think it was an attempt on your life?" "Yes, I do." "Those bastards!
Those low down sneaking, slant eyed fucking bastards! It's them fucking Vietnamese drug dealers in Vancouver and you know who set them on your trail? That pussy footing, prissy, cunt faced prick named Harrison! I'll scratch his God damned eyes out when I see him again!
I will, so help me God!" "Whoa! Whoa, take it easy. We can't prove anything yet and we never will if you go off half-cocked. Cool down. We'll let them think they've scared me off. I have to go now; the tow truck is here.
I'll call you later." Mike stands by as they pull his car back up the bank and onto the roadway. He looks it over. One crumpled fender to get straightened out and a headlight. He looks underneath and groans. Sod and dirt cling to everything so he can't tell if there's damage, but it doesn't look good. He asks the tow truck driver to drop the car at his mechanics shop and catches a ride with him into town.
He lets Mike off by the hospital and he walks the three blocks home. As he walks up his drive Nina comes running out of her place and heads for him. Marlene steps out the front door and comes down the steps towards him. They both stop and glare at each other. Jeff steps out on his doorstep and calls, "Nina!" She slows and calls, "I'm so glad to see you're alright." She turns and slowly goes back to her house.
Marlene takes his hand and walks up the drive with him. "Much damage to the car?" "Won't know until tomorrow. Looks like a fender to replace, but maybe my mechanic will be able to straighten it out. Might be some damage under the car. It scraped bottom on the bank before it went over." "What ever were you doing?" "I was distracted thinking about the new insurance cases I just got and a van cut me off. Quite accidental, I'm sure. Anyway, the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the ditch.
I wonder if ICBC will get me to investigate my own claim?" He laughs. "I don't think it's funny. What with that crazy phone call today and now your accident, I will be happy when the day's over." "Not before I get something to eat, I hope." "Come on, I'll fix you a nice hot beef sandwich with gravy and hash browns. How does that sound?" "Not only the best looker in Abbotsford, but also the best short order cook with leftovers." Mike eats supper and tries to put the day's activities out of his mind.
Later in the evening Ken calls him from home. "One of the fellows just let me know they have found the van that forced you off the road. It was abandoned in Aldergrove. It was stolen earlier today in Langley. No prints and stripped clean. Scars on right side indicate a lot of damage and red paint.
I guess that matches your Mustang, right?" "Yeah, just as I expected. I guess that rules out an accident, it was aimed to put me out of commission.
I must be getting close to the killer or killers. Guess I'll lay low for a bit. No use pushing them too hard. Thanks for calling, Ken." "You take it easy and watch your back. It looks like their not fooling around.
Night, now." Mike reads for a while then heads up to bed. Marlene has the kids tucked in and soon follows him. She snuggles up to him and whispers, "You know what your doing, right?" "I'm careful. I don't plan to let anything happen to any of us." "Then hold me close. God, your arms feel good around me. For the first time, I think, I was really frightened today.
I would be lost without you." She holds his head in both her hands and kisses him with a burning frantic desire. Mike pulls her body against his so she can feel his equal ardor. Pulses quicken and a pounding of blood can be felt in their chests as they hold each other. Time stands still and the world is forgotten as they consummate their union. Much later they sink into oblivious sleep.