tagErotic CouplingsThe Case of Carla’s Cheating Husband

The Case of Carla’s Cheating Husband


It was the kind of bar you like when you just want an intimate evening with a bottle of really good scotch; not many people, not too much light, no waitresses in short shorts and tight T-shirts, and no fucking jukebox. I was at Barney’s to drink away the pain in my head caused by having been hit on the head with a pantyhose mannequin. I’m Jase Conford, and I’m a private investigator in Nashville. I’m kind of a laid back guy, no frills, living in my office/apartment above a drugstore, and making a decent living for myself by digging up information other people are willing to pay for; my afternoon’s gainful employment had been to observe a saleswoman suspected of padding her income at the expense of a local department store owner. I had saddled up with my favorite surveillance camera, a very small, digital camcorder, and, by noon, was innocently browsing through the racks of men’s wear across from the cash register of the women’s department.

I had to admit, her method was pretty good... not brilliant, but hard to prove unless the store wanted to take a complete inventory of the women’s department. She rang up each purchase, palmed the cash, and after the patron walked away, she simply voided the sale. My little video friend had recorded it all, and she would soon be looking for a new job, and maybe some jail time if my client wanted to push the matter. She spotted me as I was zooming from her face to the register display that said “void sale, $87.44”, and walked over to ask, “Why are you taking my picture?”

I made my standard “spying in the department store” excuse, which went something like, “I’m a customer service auditor for the home office, and I’m recording each clerk so we can pick our salesperson of the month,” when she said, “You’re a goddamned cop, aren’t you?” She stepped across the aisle, picked up the half-torso with legs, and beaned me with it before running out of the store. Luckily, store security caught her before she got to her car, and I turned over my tape to them as her eyes burned holes through my back. I got paid my hundred dollar fee, and promptly headed to Barney’s to re-evaluate my career choice.

The sign over the door to the stairs that led down to the basement under the appliance store said “Barney’s Grill”, but Barney was really named Joyce, and Joyce was the best friend I had in my own small piece of the world. Joyce had bought the bar from the original Barney several years ago, and had never changed the name. Not that it would have mattered; if you didn’t know where Barney’s was, you would never find the faded sign anyway, and Joyce didn’t advertise. Barney’s was one of those bars supported by the regulars who come in every night for a couple of drinks and one of the best, if not the best, cheeseburgers in Nashville.

Inside, the long, narrow bar was full of character and the comfortable feeling of a favorite old recliner - a long, wood topped bar that you could really slide a mug down, tables with real wood tops, booths with red vinyl upholstery, a dart board on the short wall, and walls and ceiling painted the subtle but refined color of eggshell white mellowed by forty years of cigarette and cigar smoke. I like Barney’s because it’s like I imagine myself - same age, not the greatest to look at, a little burned up around the edges, but full of character and determined not to quit. It’s also only two blocks from my office/apartment, which means I can usually get home as long as I’m in good enough shape to walk.

Joyce is the same as her bar - no advertising with hot clothes or fancy cosmetics; she has that natural beauty that needs no artificial enhancement, and forty plus years of life have mellowed her into the intelligent, graceful, sensual lady she is. Joyce is also a confirmed lesbian, which works out well for both of us; our friendship is the best kind of friendship, uncluttered with thoughts about past, present, or future sexual liaisons. We can talk about anything or have dinner together, and not worry about false expectations or impressions. I always hold out hope that she’ll one day find me more than her body can resist, and drag me into the office to rape me, but hey, everybody’s entitled to their fantasy. I tell her that all the time, and she gets a kick out of the proposition.

As Joyce refilled my glass with more golden, smoky tasting pain killer, she laughed, “Told you not to go taking pictures up girl’s dresses, didn’t I? Serves you right. What was it again... a plastic ass?”

I shifted the hamburger bun wrapper filled with ice to a different painful place on my head. “No, damnit, it wasn’t just the ass, there were legs too, and it wasn’t plastic, more like Styrofoam, but it had this steel frame. And I wasn’t taking pictures of her underwear. I was engaged in the pursuit of a professional investigation of cashier fraud. You could at least be a little sympathetic.”

Joyce patted my shoulder. “Poor baby, let Mommy kiss it and make it feel better.” She planted a hard kiss on the primary impact site, and laughed again when I yelped “ouch.”

“Have this one on me, honey. How’s your ice doin’. Need some more?”

“The ice is doing fine, it’s my head that hurts. Say, I got paid for this headache. How ‘bout dinner tonight? There’s a new barbecue place over on Dickerson.”

“Thanks, Honey, but you know my evenings are for Sheryl. I’d invite you over, but you know how it is. All that girl loves girl stuff, naked, hot bodies and wild sex. Would really hurt most men; probably kill you, and I’d hate being responsible for that.” She laughed again; Joyce’s laugh is one of the reasons I come here. It helps adjust my attitude, along with the scotch, of course. Sheryl is Joyce’s pretty, blonde, close friend-lover-roommate and waitress at Barney’s for the Friday night after work crowd. Actually, Joyce and Sheryl are about like any middle aged married couple, comfortable with each other, and very much in love. Sheryl didn’t like me, at first. Joyce says she thought I was trying to move in on her, but we get along fine now.

I was nursing my free scotch, and the pain in my head, when I saw her walking from the open door to my table. I say walking, but the motion was the fluid sway of full hips on long, long legs in unison with the soft bounce of large breasts straining against the short, tight, white slip dress. Long, dark brown, shoulder length hair, and tanned skin contrasted nicely, I thought, with the dress, and expensive looking jewelry flashed blue and red neon beer sign light from her ear lobes, neck, wrist, and fingers. She looked about thirty to thirty-five, and her face could easily have been on one of the old movie posters that served to decorate the bar walls. I saw Joyce watching; she looked at me, ran her tongue over her top lip sensuously, and then grinned.

The legs stopped in front of my table, and I mentally photographed from the white spike heels to the dark eyes, pausing only to make a professional investigation of the firm, rounded butt and ample bosom.

“Now that you’ve checked out my tits and ass, are you Jase Conford?”

“Yeh, I’m Jase Conford. What can I do for you?”

“May I sit down, or you going to keep me standing here?”

“Sorry, forgot my manners. Have a seat. Would you like a drink?”

“No, thanks. I called your office, and the answering machine said to look here. I had a hell of a time finding it, and now I wish I’d gotten a vaccination first. God, this place is grungy.”

“It’s an acquired taste. Now, what was it you wanted. I have a headache and a lot more scotch to go through tonight, so if you please...”

“You’re a private investigator, right?”

“That’s what my license says. Need one?”

“That’s why I called you.” She paused. “You’re awfully damn full of yourself, aren’t you?”

“Sorry, it’s just that today’s been a bad day. Let’s start over. I’m Jase Conford, private investigator. How can I help you?”

“My name is Carla Hampton. My husband’s in the record business, my record business, to be exact, and I think he’s screwing around on me. I want you to find out and bring me proof. If he is, I’m going to divorce the little bastard, and make sure he doesn’t get anything more from me.”

“Well, I might be able to save you some money. Most of these suspicions turn out to be false; usually, the guy is just working late, or out with the guys at some bar. What makes you think he’s not just doing that?”

“Well, I think an intimate little card with a woman’s handwriting found in his wastebasket is a good, or rather an incriminating sign, and recently, he’s signed some young female artists for record deals that are not really good enough to make money with. The agents will tell these girls to do anything to get them in the door, and he wouldn’t be the first to sign a girl in exchange for a couple lays. Doesn’t cost him anything, but I have a small, niche market recording company, and it costs a lot to find out the singer’s a flop. Where do you think those three dollar clearance CD’s come from?”

“You searched his wastebasket?”

“Not personally, my security did, as they do every other person with the authority to sign contracts. Just a routine security precaution. This business is difficult at best, what with changing music tastes, competition for talent, and all; I can’t have good talent going to other companies, or afford to risk money on artists that aren’t a pretty sure bet. I also have email and phone conversations monitored; surprising what you can find out from those. By the way, his are both clean.”

“Why me? I’m not the best known investigator in town.”

“I called our regular agency, Sanders and Knox, first. They really don’t like doing this sort of work, or so they said. They gave me your number. Said you might be interested.”

Damn that Sanders, anyway. We know each other from the local PI organization. He keeps sending me all the crap they don’t want to do, and I usually end up doing it, because it keeps TV dinners in the fridge and scotch on the bar. I didn’t like domestic investigations either. They tend to require lots of surveillance, which means nights and weekends, and it’s easy to get stiffed for the bill if you don’t find anything, but Carla was a strong woman, and I have a soft spot for strong women. All right, call it a mental handicap, but she seemed to be convinced, and I thought she had enough money that she wouldn’t miss the five hundred or so that this was going to cost her.

“I’ll need three hundred dollars up front, as a retainer, and I’ll need to interview you and have you sign a contract. Can you come to my office tomorrow morning?”

“Why can’t you start now?”

“Sorry, lady... excuse me, Mrs. Hampton, but it’s Friday night, and like I said, I’ve got one hell of a headache, and a lot more scotch to drink before I feel better. Come to my office at ten if you still want me to do the investigation. Eighth and Union, above the drugstore.”

“Call me Carla. Mrs. Hampton makes me feel old. I like your style, Mr. Cocksure, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I started my morning routine, as usual, by falling off my couch when the alarm went off; I really ought to get a bed one of these days, but my method does wake me up fast. A quick shower and shave came next, and by 9:30, I was sorting through my hamper for recyclable clothes. I located a shirt and jeans, but no shorts so zipping up was a carefully done operation. My socks from yesterday weren’t too bad, and my boots covered them anyway. By the time Carla arrived, I had made coffee, and managed to cover up last night’s scotch breath with some foul tasting, blue mouthwash.

Evidently, Carla kicked back on the weekends. She flowed into my office in jeans cut off at the crotch seam and a crop top T-shirt that showed more of her than it covered. She was obviously sans bra, and two large nipples kept speaking to me through the cotton fabric. She wore mules over her bare feet, two painted toenails peeking through each open tip, and her feet connected to legs that my waist begged to be wrapped by. I shook her hand across the desk, and offered her a chair. She slumped down, crossed those long legs, and her white lace panties promptly leered at me from their hiding place inside the half inch long leg of her cut-off jeans.

“I suppose you’re enjoying your view of my crotch, but don’t we have an interview to do? I believe that’s what you wanted me here for.”

I noticed she didn’t change position; she was smiling as she enjoyed my stare. That must be why she dressed this way; she was an exhibitionist at heart.

“Yes, well I need to know your husband’s usual routine, you know, where he goes each day, about what time, where he goes for lunch, does he leave the house at night, that sort of stuff, and if you can manage it, his itinerary for the next few days. If I’m going to catch him at something, I have to have an idea of what’s not part of his daily routine. That way, I won’t follow him when he picks up his cleaning, or tail him to the dentist.”

She dutifully answered all my standard “get to know your suspect” questions, even throwing in some information I would have to remember to ask for when I did the next one of these.

“Now, what was the first thing that made you suspect your husband was cheating on you? Cheating spouses usually aren’t very careful for the first couple meetings; they get more cautious as the risk of detection increases.”

“He left, about ten o’clock, one evening. Said an agent had called him about a new male CW singer at one of the local clubs. I didn’t hear the phone ring, but it could have been his cell phone, I suppose. Anyway, he didn’t get back until two in the morning, and I smelled his aftershave when he crawled into bed.”

“What’s suspicious about that. Doesn’t he have to do that, go to clubs, I mean?”

“He never wears aftershave, so he must have been trying to cover up another smell, like perfume maybe? Also, if you’ve ever been to a country bar, you know that you come home smelling like smoke. He had to have put the aftershave on as soon as he got home.”

This and the card in his wastebasket were the only facts she really had to found her suspicions, but she knew her husband, and I didn’t, at least not yet. She signed my standard contract, wrote a check for three hundred dollars, and promised to send a copy of his appointment book for the next week. I was treated to the sight of cute little soft butt cheeks hanging out of her shorts as she walked out the door.

For a recording industry executive, the guy was amazingly stupid. I guess the old joke about men having only enough blood to operate one head at a time is true. His appointment book said “meeting with Jillian Brogan, agent, 11:00 - 12:30” on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the next week. Two minutes with my phone book told me that there was no agent by the name of Jillian Brogan in Nashville, or at least she didn’t advertise in the Yellow Pages. That’d be as rare as a stripper without silicone jugs. A hunch and quick check of my free copy of the local entertainment rag gave me her standard, hundred dollar publicity picture; she looked about twenty, kind of cute and a lot innocent, with long blonde hair. My call to directory assistance lasted three more minutes, during which time the operator informed me that Ms. Jillian Brogan lived at an address near the local university, and that her phone number was 259-8176. A young female voice answered my call. I completed this part of my investigation in my best lying voice.

“Jillian Brogan, please.”

“This is her.”

“Jillian, I’m a signing agent for a recording company here in Nashville. I think I caught your show at the Roundhouse a while back. Liked your stuff, and been trying to find you. Got your phone number from...crap, got it here somewhere...oh, here... a guy named Phil, Phil Hampton I think it was. Said you were fantastic, and I ought to have another look. Where’s your next gig?”

“Wow, Phil said he could help. I’m at Gerry’s, on Sixth, next weekend, from six to seven on Friday, and six to seven on Saturday. He’s suppose to be here Monday, at eleven, if you want to talk to him. You can come on over, he won’t mind.”

“Hey, thanks for the offer, babe, but don’t tell him we talked. It was supposed to be his surprise, but he forgot to tell me where you were playing. Just thought I’d call for myself. Don’t spoil his surprise, OK?”

“Sure... I mean, OK I won’t tell him.”

Well, gotta go. See you at Gerry’s.”

Funny how a simple device like a phone can make people tell anything to a perfect stranger, isn’t it?. I love investigations like this; fifteen minutes flat and I knew where the little mistress lived, and had confirmed Phil’s arrival time.

I called the local constabulary and told them I would be parked in my minivan near the apartment building where Jillian lived, and that I was conducting surveillance for a client. It always pays to do this; you never know when some block patrolling grandmother’s going to call 911 about the suspicious man who’s been sitting in his car for the last four hours. A squad car can really blow your cover.

Checking the call box told me Jillian lived on the ground floor, and some casual peeping through my compact binoculars yielded Jillian looking out the North window, watching for Phil, I guessed. I had lucked out with a perfect view through her window, and my mini-cam captured her for Carla.

About five ‘til eleven, Phil drove up in his Caddy, and parked a way down the block. As the mini-cam whirred softly in my hand, he walked quickly to the door, pushed her buzzer, and after a moment, opened the door and walked in. As I viewed the window through the zoom lens, I saw him enter the room and walk into Jillian’s embrace. After a lot of wet looking kissing, during which he squeezed her breasts and she rubbed his crotch, she unbuttoned her blouse and tossed it aside. Nice tits, not too big, but nice. He had taken off his shirt, and unhooked her bra while she fumbled with his belt. He took over, and his pants slipped down at about the same time she slipped out of her bra and then her jeans. Really nice tits, kind of perky, with cute little nipples, and a firm little ass. They embraced again, with more sloppy kissing and the same fondling as before, except this time I could just make out her hard little nipples in his finger tips. He was in the process of removing her white, cotton panties when she put a hand to her mouth, and quickly pulled the blind. End of show, but I had enough to guarantee Carla wouldn’t have much trouble with the financials. I called Carla, and asked her to meet me at my office at six to view the evidence. I could get the report typed by then. I could have strung her out for a couple more days, just to keep all the three hundred, but I do have a few ethics; they tend to change, depending on circumstances, but I don’t pad my costs... well, not usually.

Carla showed up promptly at six, and I gave her the report. She read with the concentration of one practiced at reading and understanding quickly. When she finished, she asked to see the tape. As the scene rolled on, she kept whispering, “You son of a bitch, you fucking bastard.” When the screen turned blue, she turned to me.

“Well, you got him. My lawyer will have a ball with this, and that asshole will get what he deserves. How much do I owe you?”

“As my contract states, I charge fifty dollars an hour. I worked on this for four hours, so that’s two hundred. You gave me three as a retainer, so I owe you a hundred.”

“You can keep the hundred. It’ll be worth a hundred to see the look on his face. Say, how ‘bout dinner at that little bar you love. The only thing that did smell good in there were the cheeseburgers. You can spend some of that hundred on me.”

Joyce raised her eyebrows when we walked in, and then smiled. Sheryl was sitting at the bar, and giggled when Joyce whispered something in her ear. I felt a little strange, sitting in my jeans and denim shirt across from Carla in her business suit. I ordered scotch, neat, plus a cheeseburger and fries with everything, and Carla said, “make it two.” We made some small talk about the recording business as we finished the first drink, and I ordered two more when Joyce brought our burgers. Carla was loosening up as the scotch took hold, and we talked about my business.

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