Chapter Two: I have to remember to Check an ID
Linda Jackson was a looker, really turned out well, and she shook my had like she meant business.”Nice to meet you Mr. Manning, Larry has told me a lot about you.” Sheesh – No telling what tale Larry has spun. I would have to be careful. I wonder how she met a lowlife like Larry.
“Thanks, is it Mrs. Jackson? And please, call me Paul.”
“Linda, and its Miss.” She was smiling and I was in real trouble. She was wearing a smart green suit that picked up the emerald flecks in her eyes. No jewelry, she didn’t need it. Her hair was the color of spun gold. It hung loosely about her shoulders.
“So how can I help you?” My voice was a little husky. I took a sip of water. I had to get my act together. I was spoken for, in a relationship, and wasn’t looking for any extracurricular activities.
“Down to business, I like that. Larry is a friend of my ex. Let’s just say that my former husband was in some rather questionable businesses in New Jersey. He also owned a limousine service and a number of parking lots here in Los Angeles. When we split, I knew I wanted to be as far away from him as I could, and settled for a small stipend and the business here on the coast. Based on the fact that my ex owned it, I know it’s probably a tad shady. I left him because I couldn’t deal with his business tactics. I want to clean up the operation here and make it legit. I need some help. Larry said you are the guy.”
Perfect. Former mob, beautiful blond, divorced, probably a jealous ex, and parking. I knew a little about parking from a case I worked a year or so back. In that one, there was blood flowing everywhere I looked. So add danger to the list above. Just perfect.
“I have had some experience with parking. I know a few people who can help with the accounting and technical aspects. I’m not too sure about going up against those folks from Jersey whose names end in vowels”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, Paul. I have some insurance and I’m certain my ex will leave me alone. If he gets too frisky, I can put him in jail for life. I just want to build a business and get on with my life. Will you help?”
She passed over a folded piece of paper. It had a daily rate on it, and the words “Plus Expenses.” The rate was twice what I normally charge. Attached to the paper was a $5000 retainer, already made out to “Paul Manning, Investigations.” There was also a card with her name, phone number, the name of the parking company and her ex’s name. Plus there was the smile, and she is blond. There was only one thing to say.
“Give me 24 hours to consider it.” I handed back the paper and the check, kept the card.“ I have your number. I’ll call you tomorrow morning.”
Five years ago I would have said yes on the spot. But I’m learning. A few hours will make no difference, but at least I will know how deep the hole is before I jump.
I left her with Larry and drove downtown to the LAPD’s new headquarters. It had only been opened a couple of years and was ruled by Chief William Parker. He had been using a pretty wide broom to clean up a very corrupt LAPD. I was one of the one’s swept out, but didn’t hold a grudge. This was a much better deal than a beat cop. I wasn’t corrupt, but maybe a little too agressive with a suspect. Oh well.
One of my best friends was my former partner, Bill Vose. He’s a sergeant now and would know about Jackson and her ex, Mario Palucci. I got a visitor’s pass and went up to homicide.
“Bill, what do you know about Linda Jackson and Mario Palucci”
“Gee Paul, and hello to you too, and how are you, I’m fine, thanks for asking. And how is Shirley, the wife and kids are fine. You sure know how to make chit chat. What the hell do you want?”
“Sorry, Bill, I’m just concerned about this new case. The client is a woman, Linda Jackson, who used to be married to the Mob in New Jersey. I thought it might be a good idea to get some background before I took the job.”
“Is she a blond?”
“Yes, but I don’t know what that….”
“Shut up Paul. You already have decided to take the case, you are just making an effort to appear professional to your new ‘client’. I don’t know Jackson, but Palucci is a middle level mobster, works for the Camino family. He is a cousin or something. He has his fingers in a few things here in LA, a parking lot and a limo service I think. Small potatoes. We just keep him in our files in case something big comes up.”
I explained Linda’s situation and what she wanted me to do.
“I’ll run a records check on her and make a call to New Jersey. Give me a couple of hours. Meet me at Musso and Frank at 5. I went to my office.
At 3:30 the phone rang. It was Bill. “Come to 1313 Glendenning Place, in the Hills. Now.” And he hung up.
It was a curvy street, narrow, and today blocked with police cars. I gave my name and Vose’s to the cop outside the house and was ushered inside. Vose had a hard look on his face and I had a bad feeling.
The house had been ransacked. There was nothing that hadn’t been tossed, torn, or thrown. There was a body on the floor. A woman, wearing a green suit. She had hair the color of spun gold. I couldn’t see her face, but didn’t need to.
“Paul,” said Bill “Take a look at Miss Laura Jefferson. Positive off her driver’s license. Lived here for five years. You really should check your client’s ID before you take a case.”
I guess a few hours does make a difference.
To be continued.