Mick the Dick Ch. 07bymysteriousquill©
We locked up the office and went to my truck. I started driving towards downtown. There is one Mexican restaurant in the area that I would consider exceptional. Coincidentally, it only a few blocks from the Armacost Building. "By the way, I have to make a quick little stop on the way. You don't mind do you?"
"You're buying lunch, got me out of the office for an hour or so. Why would I mind?"
I explained my plan to Carla. In essence we were going to have lunch with David Schmidt Sr. He just didn't know it yet.
I pulled into a parking spot just outside the Armacost Building. Come on you can go in with me. Consider it lesson 2 in how to be a private eye.
We got out of the truck, fed the meter, and went inside the building, being careful not to attract the attention of the guard. I didn't want him to recognize me. We went to the elevators and I pressed the up button. We took the elevator to the 6th floor and went to room 608. The sign outside said, Schmidt & Schmidt. We walked inside and were greeted by one of their secretaries.
"Good morning, can I help you?"
"Yes, my name is Pheury, Mick Pheury." I handed her one of my business cards. "I'm an old friend of David's. Senior. Is he in?"
"Yes he is, Mr. Pheury. Is this business or personal?"
"Personal. I was just in the building, saw the name, and thought I'd stop by and say hi. If he's busy..."
"No, no. I mean, he's always busy, but let me see if he can see you."
She got up from her seat and disappeared in the hallway behind the reception area. A few seconds later she came back out. "Mr. Pheury, Mr. Schmidt said he'll see you." She pointed up the hallway, "Second door on the left."
"Thank you." Carla followed me. As I got to the door I poked my head around the corner. "Pheury, you old son of a gun. How the hell are you?" David Schmidt walked over and shook my hand like we were old high school buddies.
"I've been doing well. This is my sec... assistant, Carla."
Carla held out her right hand and shook Schmidt's hand, "I'm glad to meet you Mr. Schmidt."
"I'm very glad to meet you, Carla." He gave her a good, slow, once-over. "And I'm sure you only hired her for her investigative abilities."
"That's correct. That and she can shoot just as well as me. So don't push it."
"So, how's the P.I. business?"
"It keeps food on the table, the mortgage paid, and gas in the tank."
"Well, who needs anything more?"
"That's for sure. David, I have to talk to you about something, but I need it to be, shall I say, unofficial. Did you have lunch yet?"
"Unofficial, huh? As a matter of fact, I was just getting ready to go out and grab something. I have to be back in court at 2."
"How about Mexican? My treat."
"I love Mexican." David stood up from behind his desk, walked over to the door, and put on his suitcoat. "Let's go."
I looked around the office while David put a few folders back together on his desk. He has several photographs of his wife around the office. She is a very attractive woman. On his desk is one of those glamour photographs you can get done professionally in the malls. I think some folks would consider her a "trophy wife", one you take around with you to show off. She appeared slightly younger than David, but considering their son was old enough to be an attorney...
"Is that your wife, Dave?"
"Yes it is. Stacy. Lovely isn't she?"
"Yes she is, very. She doesn't look old enough to have a son old enough to be an attorney."
"Well, two things come into play with that thought. First, my son is very bright, just like his dad. He went straight through college and passed the bar exam his first time up. The second thing is, she isn't his mother."
"Oh, that explains it."
"Dave is from my first wife. She's an old bat now. I had to trade her in on a newer model." David noticed the strange look he was getting from Carla. "I'm sorry Carla, I didn't mean any offense."
Carla smiled, "Yes you did. But being it was only offensive to your ex-wife, I'll let it go."
The three of us walked out to the reception desk. David told his secretary that he was going out to lunch and would be back before court.
David held the door for Carla and then me. The three of us walked to the elevators and went to the lobby. After we left the building, we walked past my truck and I put a couple more quarters in the meter, just to give us a little extra time.
"David, what I am about to ask you may sound strange, but I have to ask and I want you to keep it in the utmost confidentiality."
We had covered about a block when I finally figured out how to ask him about Armacost. "I understand you and your neighbor don't exactly get along."
"Armacost? What, did he hire you to dig something up on me?"
"No, no, no. Nothing like that. I was doing a little checking into him and it came out that you and he don't see eye-to-eye."
"You can say that. He's an asshole. Pardon my French."
"Last night, for example, he was hiding somewhere in his house until 11. His wife couldn't find him, his daughter couldn't find him. But he claims he was there."
"Oh, I see now. His wife hired you to find out what he's doing."
"Actually, his daughter. But keep that to yourself."
"Oh? The daughter? What's her name, Holly or something like that, right?"
"Yeah. But keep it quiet, right?"
"Of course. She's cute."
"Yeah, she is."
"You didn't see him get dropped off or anything like that last night, did you?"
"You said that was around 11? No, I wasn't home until almost 11:30. I had a club meeting last night until about 11 and it usually takes a half hour or so to get home."
Oh oh! I wonder? No, that would be... I don't even want to think about that. "Oh well, I was hoping somebody would have seen him getting out of a car or something. Anything but just messing with his wife's head like that."
"I wouldn't put anything past that jerk."
"Why doesn't he like you?"
"Oh, you know the way he is. Just because he's been somewhat successful, every time he walks into a courtroom he thinks everybody has to do things his way. Well, you also know me. When I'm prosecuting a case, I don't necessarily do what the defense would like me to do. While I was with the D.A.'s Office, I didn't give him the time of day. I made him earn his money. Now that I'm in private practice I still have my fair share of wins against him."
I figured it was something along those lines. We went to the Mexican restaurant and had a nice lunch. The one thing about Mexican, it doesn't cost a lot to act like a big shot. We talked a little more about Armacost. He feels the same way that I do on why Armacost doesn't like him, Dave is too straight. Dave also told us about the times Armacost has called the police when Dave has cut the grass and the mower blows some of the grass on his side. He said Armacost also called one day when leaves, supposedly from one of Dave's trees blew into Armacost's yard. He actually wanted the police to test the leaves to see if they were in fact from one of Dave's trees.
"Why the hell did you move in next door to him?"
"I lived there first. He moved in about a year or so after me. He didn't even know it was me until after he had settled on it. Hee hee! He'd like to shit when he found out."
"And who says there's no justice in the world."
I picked up the tab and we walked back to the Building with David. "Dave, just remember, not a word to anybody about Armacost."
"Not a problem, Mick. I hate being nasty, but I hope you get something on him. He's an asshole."
"I'm starting to find that out, Dave. I'll catch you later."
"Okay, don't make it 10 years this time. By the way, mind if I keep your card handy? I do use Private Detectives once in a while."
"No, not at all. Please call. With a little more business, the next time I treat to lunch, we'll do Ruth's Chris."
"It's a deal. Good seeing you. Later." He turned and looked towards Carla, who was waiting a little closer to the truck. He waved and she waved back. "By the way, you getting any of that?"
"My relationship with her is strictly professional."
"Liar. I know you're no fool. A liar, maybe. But not a fool. That is one good looking woman you've got there."
"Thanks. I think so too. I'll be in touch."
I walked back to the truck and hit the unlock button on my key fob. I opened the door for Carla. There I go again.
"What did he ask you?"
"There at the end, when you were getting ready to walk away."
"He... ahh... asked me what our... ahhh... relationship was."
"He wanted to know if you were banging me, and of course, you told him you were, right?"
"No. As a matter of fact, I told him our relationship was purely professional."
"No! Really. That's what I told him. And he said that you were one good looking woman. I did agree to that."
She smiled as she got in the truck and I closed the door. I went around and got in the drivers side. I drove to the office taking a more scenic route. Carla and I talked about the case and only the case.
We got back to the office and went our own ways. She took care of the answering machine, nothing pressing. Then I called my one buddy who owns one of the biggest limousine rental agencies in town.
"Chuck, buddy. It's your favorite cop."
"Hiya Mick. How's it hanging?"
"It's hanging just fine. I've got a big question for you, Do you have anybody running somebody up to the Armacost place Friday night for a shindig?"
"I think so. Let me see." I could hear him going through some papers. "Yeah, hear it is. Freddie Castillo is getting a lift up there in one of my stretches. Why? You need something?"
"Did you commit a driver to it yet?"
"Why? You want me to cancel it?"
"No. How about if I drive him?"
"You? Sure. But how come?"
"I need a ticket to the party and that would do it."
"Okay. You got it. You pick him up at..."
"Let me guess, the Armacost Building?"
"Yeah, how'd you guess?"
"Just a wild guess."
"Pick him up at 7:30. And take him home afterwards. His apartment downtown. Okay?"
"That works for me."
Chuck and I talked a little while, catching up, and then we hung up. I finished a couple of reports I wanted to clear up on the computer and answered a few emails.
I was having a hard time keeping my mind on the reports I was working on. I kept trying to find a reason why I was wrong about who I thought Armacost was fucking. The more reasons I tried to come up with why it wasn't happening, the more reasons it seemed logical that it was.
I started working on a little spreadsheet with the pros and cons. In one column I started listing all of the reasons Armacost would have an affair with Schmidt's wife. What I needed to do is list the reasons why Schmidt's wife would fool around with Armacost. In another column I listed the reasons why she couldn't be the one. Right off the bat, the Pros were way out in front of the cons. One question kept popping in my mind, "why would a woman married to a nice guy like Dave even consider fucking around on him with anybody much less an asshole like Armacost?" My every instinct was telling me I was right. But why?
Of course, I guess I could ask the same thing about Carla, huh? I wouldn't put myself in Armacost's category, but she sure could do a lot better than me.
"Hey boss, don't forget your meeting with Holly."
Carla startled me. I was so deep in thought that I lost track of time. It was almost 5 o'clock.
"If it's okay with you, I'm gonna get outta here.", Carla waited for my response.
"Yeah, sure. I'll lock up on the way out. What do you have planned for tonight?"
"Nothing. I might rent a movie or something. I might even go down Murphy's for a while."
I don't know if she just threw that one in for effect or what. "Okay, you be careful down there, if you go."
"Oh, I will. You be careful too, with that little hussy."
"Little hussy, she's your age.", I said laughing.
"Yeah, but she's after something Mick, just watch yourself. Call it female intuition."
Carla turned around and walked out, almost slamming the door. Jealousy? Maybe.
About 5:30, I had finished my quantitative method of trying to disprove my theory. It wasn't working. I shut down my computer and turned out the lights before I locked up the office. I put on my old leather aviators jacket. I figured it was going to be a little chilly. It's old and a little worn. It kind of looks like the new ones that they call "distressed", but mine is aged naturally. I keep it sprayed with that junk that helps waterproof leather. Carla left the bear on her desk facing my office door. Tell me she's not trying to tell me something.