Finding Elvis Ch. 03byWine_Maker©
"When I make the call, we might not make it to the bedroom," I said before I could stop myself.
She smiled. "So now it's when, not if. We're making real progress here."
I covered my eyes as she pulled into a bakery parking lot. "That slipped out. Can I have a do over?"
"Nope. You're committed now. Let's go through the drive-through, and we can get working on your mystery. I'm hoping to make an early night of it." The look she sent me caused my panties to smolder, and they would have caught fire if they weren't so wet. I was very afraid that if she touched me, I would cave, but she kept her hands to herself.
Ten minutes later we were on the road, eating steaming hot sausage and cheese kolaches. Sweet bread wrapped around sausage and cheese and baked. They were very good. I'd have to start working out or I'd weigh a ton. I could feel my thighs growing as I chewed.
Falling into the comfortable patterns of work, I took out my cell and started making calls. The city offices had just opened and were able to give me the owner's name and official contact business number and address. Antonio DiGeorgio. I made a side bet with myself whether it would be Big Tony or Little Tony. Men.
A call to his office got me his secretary. It seemed Mister DiGeorgio was in a meeting. Would I care to leave a message?
"No thanks. I'll call back."
I smiled at Gretchen. "Bingo. He's at his office." I gave her the address. "Can you get us there?"
Gretchen shook her head and turned on this little computer screen on the console. "GPS and directions via satellite and computer." She entered the address quickly and the little voice was directing us right to the office. I was impressed.
The office building was a little three story affair that looked normal enough. We parked and went up to suite 201. The door confirmed it was the office of GL Enterprises. Call it a hunch, but I would bet good money that stood for Graceland.
Inside, an older redhead sat at the desk typing on a computer terminal. She looked up at our entrance. "Good morning. Can I help you?"
I put on my best public relations smile. "Sure. We're here to see Mister DiGeorgio."
She kept smiling, but shook her head. "I'm sorry, but he's in a meeting. Can I take a message?"
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid we need to see him. Tell him Detective Hawkins is here with an associate to talk about the fire at his property two nights ago." I kept that same smile in place. I didn't have any jurisdiction; but, I didn't think I would get any flack for putting a little pressure on this guy about a fire.
She blinked at me for a moment and then picked up the phone and dialed. "Tony, the police are here about the fire." She listened, and then hung up. "Go right in."
I smiled more widely. Score one for me. "Thank you. Tell me, my partner and I were wondering, does he go by Big Tony or Little Tony?"
Gretchen cocked her head at me, but said nothing.
"Big Tony," the woman said uncertainly.
"Thank you. You've been very helpful," I said.
Knocking as I opened the door, we entered the office. It was big enough, I suppose, but all the pictures of Elvis and various people trying to look like Elvis kind of took the gravity right out. The man rising from behind the desk was big alright. Over six feet tall and going to seed. He was in a business suit a size too small, and he affected the same mutton chop sideburns as the Elvises staring at us from the walls.
Tony extended his hand. "I already talked to the police, but I'm always happy to cooperate. What more can I tell you?" His accent was more Brooklyn than Vegas. At least it wasn't Elvis.
"I'm Detective Hawkins. This is my associate, Werner. We're following up on the details. It's all routine. Can we sit?"
"Sure. Park it." He gestured to two worn chairs in front of the desk and we sat.
"Let's start off with the simple stuff first. Who was in the place at the time of the fire?" I asked in my professional tone.
"Leo Giovanni and his wife. He did the marrying and she did the witnessing." He pointed to a picture of Elvis on the wall. Like I could tell what they looked like under that getup.
"What's their story?" I asked, looking at the picture anyway.
"Good question," he answered with a shrug. "I haven't been able to get a hold of him. He doesn't answer the phone or the door to his place. Your people are still looking for him."
That was interesting. I leaned forward and fixed him with my best skeptical stare. "That's interesting timing, don't you think? A fire, and poof, they're gone? You have any ideas about why they might move out on you or set fire to your place?"
Tony bristled. "Nobody said anything about setting fires. I'm sure this is electrical or something. I'm not sure where Leo went; but, I'm sure he wouldn't do that to me."
"Let me have his address again. In fact, let me have a copy of his employment application and emergency contact," I said.
Tony looked reluctant but called the secretary for the information. I asked a few other questions about the fire; but, I already had what I wanted. As soon as practical I cut the interview short with the promise to get back to him with any information I could find out, and I left with Gretchen. The application said Leo was from here in Vegas and gave several contacts and references.
In the car, Gretchen looked at me. "Won't we get into trouble for telling him we're cops?"
I grinned. "Probably not. I am a cop and I never said you were. I never said I was a cop from Vegas. For petty arson I doubt the cops here would care. Let's go check out the home address."
The apartments in question were pretty rundown. I spotted two drug dealers before we parked the car. They eyed the SUV from the cover of inter-building walkways. I climbed out and gave them my cop stare and they melted back into the darkness.
"How do you do that?" Gretchen asked. "You look at them and they run away. Like they know they're lower on the food chain than you."
"That kind can smell cop a mile away. Darwin at his worst. I just have to be me, and away they go. Come on." I led the way into building D. At D4, I knocked hard. No answer. I stepped to the window and looked in. Through the corner of the blind that was bent I could see that the living room, such as it was, was disturbed. I frowned. The place looked tossed. I knocked on the door again. "Mister Giovanni. Police. Please open the door."
While I was waiting for an answer I was beginning to suspect I wouldn't be getting, the door behind us opened. I looked back and an old Hispanic woman was coming out on her walker.
"Excuse me, ma'am. I'm with the police. Have you seen the Giovanni's recently?"
She peered up at me through thick lenses. "Leo and Marge? I saw them yesterday morning, early." She had hardly any accent, but did have a tremble in the voice that some elderly people had when speaking. "I was going out to my sister's house and that nice boy from building C drove me. I just got back an hour ago. Are they in some kind of trouble?"
I shook my head. "No, ma'am. Just routine. Do you know where they were going?"
She nodded. "Marge told me that they were leaving to spend some time with her mother."
I consulted my notes. "That's over on the other side of town?"
The woman smiled. "No, I don't think so. They've lived here several years, and I've heard Marge tell Leo more than once that she should go back to her mother in Boston."
Interesting. "Do you know what her mother's name is?"
She shook her head. "No, but I know Marge's maiden name is Lebowski. They left with all kinds of suitcases; so, I think they must be planning to stay a while."
I patted her shoulder. "Thank you for your help, ma'am. Have a nice day."
We walked the woman to a friend's apartment and then went back to the SUV. Gretchen seemed more impressed than ever. "That was just like watching Dragnet. You were so cool."
I shook my head and laughed. "Just the facts, ma'am. Let me call the numbers for references while you drive us out of this dump."
By the time we were back in safe territory, I had confirmed my suspicions. All of the contact information and references were bogus. A call to information had only one listing for a Lebowski in Boston. Paul and Helen Lebowski.
I called the number and an older man answered. "Yeah?"
"Hi," I said brightly. "This is Susan. I heard Marge was back visiting you. Is she in?"
"Naw," he answered. "She's out with that no good slug she calls a husband, getting something for the guest room. Who did you say this was?"
"I'll just call back later. Let me surprise her, okay?"
He grunted, "Sure," and hung up. I smiled. Just my kind of guy. Few words and said what he meant. Odd that they were in Boston while Ted and Lisa were there; but sometimes the odds came out that way.
"Looks like we are going to Boston, if you still want to go sleuthing around with me," I said to Gretchen.
"Oh, I'm going," she answered. "Try to stop me now. Besides I can be a big help. I grew up in Boston and know a lot of people there, too."
"Then we need to pack. I'll call for flight reservations. Looks like we are going on a little trip." I started calling for tickets and she drove back to her place grinning like a kid on Christmas morning.