Death by Parking
Death by ParkingBook 2: The Rendezvous
Chapter 13 - I had been wrong for 30 years
My mind was reeling. This was all wrong. It couldn't possibly be happening. Over thirty years ago I got my start in the detective business by saving a girl from the gas chamber and getting a treacherous mob boss jailed for the crime. That girl was an innocent from Iowa who was working in a garage where the murder took place.
I put Maria LaFlonza (with the help of the LAPD) in jail for the murder of Gilberto Quintana. She didn't get a lot of time because it was a "crime of passion." She had returned to LA and taken her old place as head of the LA mob.
My client at the time, Betty Beeson, through my good offices, got her start as the co owner of a parking company and was now head of one of the largest operations in the city. She was also cozying up to one of the biggest scum in town. I had to think about this.
The best thing to do was get out of there, meet up with Bill Vose, and think.
Vose and SWAT had set up a base camp a couple of ridges over. It was a short walk. I guess I looked shaken when I walked up.
"Is everything OK, Any word on Paul?" he said.
"No, no change. I'm sure he's still OK in the basement of the house. There is another complication. Smith arrived, and he had a guest. Betty Beeson."
"What, he kidnapped her too?"
"No, she wasn't kidnapped. She acted like she was his daughter. She held his hand and kissed him on the cheek."
"That makes no sense," responded Bill. "She hates Smith. He's her biggest competitor. Why would she be cozying up to him now, after all these years?"
I had to think about it. Something didn't make sense. LaFlonza and probably Smith had come within a hairs breadth of pinning a murder on Betty. It was only when LaFLonza thought she was going to get away with it (and kill me) that she told the story that she had killed Quintana in a lover's quarrel. It was only because Jim Walsh of the Bel Air patrol showed up a few minutes earlier, heard the whole thing, and saved the day (and my life) that she didn't get away with it.
LaFLonza was the LA representative of some pretty shady characters from New Jersey. She was also a Grade B actress and for all we knew, was one of Howard Hughes' mistresses. When we caught her she was living in a mansion owned by Hughes' studio.
I had always figured that Betty was just someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a good patsy. I did think her story about Gilberto tripping on a rubber plant and her discovering a laundering operation at the garage was a little thin, but I put that off to her being young. The fact that she was and is blond and beautiful didn't hurt in clouding my judgment.
Plus, Betty was the one that recommended auditor Marilyn North who had helped us get the goods on Smith. Why would she have done so if she was in cahoots with him? I made no sense at all.
All that aside, I knew we still had a problem. My son Paul was being held by these cretins. We had to get him out. Once he was safe, we could deal with Smith and his crew.
I told Bill that the safest way to get Paul was to do it on the quiet. I knew there were only two guards. If we could get them distracted, we could grab Paul and be out of there.
Bill wanted to storm the place and arrest everyone in sight. I mentioned that if we did that we might have a couple of Smiths gunsels on kidnapping, but all Smith had to do was deny deny deny and he would be out of it. Plus LaFlonza wasn't even there yet.
If we could make Smith believe that somehow Paul got out by himself we could keep our investigation on course.
Bill wasn't happy but he agreed to try it my way.
We were going to have a patrol car start down the road to the house. Hopefully the guards would stop it and they could chat for a while. While they were, I would go down to the entry to the basement, which fortunately was outside, grab Paul, and hightail it out of there.
It was amazing. When the patrol car started down the road to Smith's house, the two guards walked over and stopped it. The cops told them that they were looking for the driver of a car that had been abandoned up the road (Paul's) and asked them if they had seen anything. They had instant memory loss. The conversation continued for a few minutes about the Dodgers and their prospects and the cops left.
That gave me enough time to get to the basement door. It wasn't locked, but simply had a large bar across the outside. I removed it, got Paul, and replaced the bar. These idiots would think he teleported himself out of the room.
Paul was fine but angry. He let himself be suckered by these wise guys and wanted revenge. I told him there would be time enough for that later.
After we got some food at the police base camp, we decided to go back and watch the house.
The next arrival didn't surprise me a lot. It was LaFlonza, and Marilyn North was with her. They were pretty chummy, too. I wondered how LaFLonza knew exactly where we were when she accosted us at Paul's house in the Venice Canals.
Just then, one of the gunsels when to check on Paul. About 30 seconds later everyone was in the front of the house and Betty was screaming her head off. She wasn't frightened, she was angry.
"What kind of incompetents do you employ, William. And you, Maria. How can you constantly let these Manning guys give you the slip?" She was mad as hell.
It was like the all worked for her.
Then the fog began to lift. I had been wrong about a lot of things. I had been wrong for 30 years....