There are two kinds of cops in this world... guys like me that keep their heads down, their mouths shut and put in their 20 so they can retire with a small pension and either look for an inexpensive place to live with a cheap golf course- or become a gumshoe like me to supplement their pension. Then there are the "juicers"... the guys that take the "juice," the payoffs from the dopers and hoods. Needless to say they make grade faster and have fatter pensions and a lot of them open private security companies to provide bodyguards for celebs and other not-so-honest individuals... often the people were being paid to lock up. Don't get me wrong, I ain't complaining and I never snitched on anybody... there's just something about having clean hands that appeals to me- hell I even made Detective 3rd Grade before I retired.
I arrived at the bank just in time to see the long-legged Elnora Pimpledick putting a sizable box into the trunk of a Bentley convertible- the contents of the safe deposit box I presumed... correctly as it turned out. She smiled nervously when I pulled up.
"What have we here? I asked with a smile of my own, "A little spring cleaning?"
"I-I was about to bring this to your office," she stammered, her smile looking like it was about to fall off.
"Well, it's a good thing I showed up then," I said sweetly, "I'll save you the trip."
"Philip called and told me you were coming here," she lied. I didn't tell Philip where I was going, but I played along. "I wanted to be there when you read through the files... to see if there was anything that would help to find Harold. Why don't I meet you at your office?" She suggested.
"Why don't you let me take that box?" I had some suggestions of my own. I also suspected if I let that box out of my sight I would never see it again. "Or better yet, why don't I ride along with you- I can come back for my car later."
She was stuck. If she refused I would know for sure she was up to no good- not that I didn't know already.
"What a wonderful idea," she managed a grimace. "Maybe we can have dinner later and talk about what we find." She started the Bentley and headed for my office downtown.
Elnora was fairly quiet on the way, except to keep adjusting her skirts to give me a better view of those pins... she was scared of something- most likely something in that box she didn't want me to see. I kept my mouth shut letting her stew in her own juices. When we arrived I took the box from the trunk to carry upstairs- it was heavy... apparently she hadn't had time to go through it and remove any incriminating evidence.
"Do you mind if I go through it first?" She asked. "There might be some personal things in there... you know."
"No, I don't know," I snapped. "Look lady, you hired me to find your brother and so far all I've got is the run-around. In fact why don't you go home and I'll call you if I find anything."
Her face dropped like she'd been slugged in the gut. "But..."
I took her elbow and steered her toward the door. "I'll be in touch later," I told her. "I have another client coming in and you shouldn't be here." I was lying and she knew it, but there was nothing she could do.
"Maybe hiring you wasn't such a good idea," she said. "I thought you'd be a little more cooperative."
"You thought I was a sap," I shot back, "maybe I should just turn this box over to the Feds."
"Never mind," she mumbled and turned on her heel and strode out of the door.
The contents of the box turned out to be a goldmine. There was nothing at all about Harold Pimpledick, but Police Commissioner Robert Graves had the goods on everyone from Hollywood to Washington DC. This guy had his fingers in more pies than Little Jack Horner and Mrs. Smith put together. Apparently, our boy Harold had been keeping the books and there were plenty of books to keep. Graves was either involved with, or putting the arm on half of LA... the upper half at that. I called Flora in and instructed her to make three copies of everything in the box. One set would go to Elnora- I didn't know if she was smart enough to detect that they were copies or not and at this point I didn't care. I needed some insurance... this stuff was definitely hot enough to get somebody killed- and I was determined that someone wasn't going to be me.
"Flora honey, do you have any vacation time coming?" I asked.
"I work for you, or did you forget," she laughed.
"Look, babe, I'm serious," I said looking her in the eye. "This could be dangerous and I don't want to have to worry about you getting hurt. Take a week or so off... do you need some money?"
"Nothing doing," she said firmly. "I'm in this for the long haul and I'm not going anywhere... whither thou goest, your highness, I goest as well."
"I'm not kidding honey," I told her. "This whole thing could blow up and I don't want you hurt."
"I don't care," she pouted. "I'm sticking."
Well that was that. She finished making the copies and I had her drive me to my bank so I could deposit the originals in my own safe deposit box. Then I had her drive me to see my lawyer who I gave the "only open if something happens to me" speech. He looked quizzically at me but didn't flinch. In a world of sharks, he was a dolphin. On the way to pick up my car, I called Elnora Pimpledick. "I went through those papers and there wasn't much there," I assured her. "Mostly just accountant stuff- no clues as to where he might be. I'll bring them by in about an hour if that's alright."
I could feel her relief as she assured me it was fine, she would be at home. When I got to my car, I noticed the driver's door of the old ZX was unlocked. I never leave my car unlocked, this is LA and unlocked cars don't stick around very long. I knew better than to open the door, so I crawled far enough underneath that I could look up and see an extra wire attached to the coil... very unprofessional. I called an old pal who was on the bomb squad and told Flora to take off, I would be ok. She wouldn't have any of it and stuck it out the thirty or so minutes until Mike, my pal showed up. There was enough C-4 packed in there to blow me to San Diego and half way back. Things were getting serious now.