Death by Parking
Death by ParkingBook 2: The Rendezvous
Chapter 14 - They add Insult to Injury
I came into focus so rapidly my head whipped around and I looked directly at Paulo. My son gave me a shrug. "What?" he said.
"I have been conned from the very beginning. In that first case before you were born, Betty did kill Quintana and for some reason LaFlonza took the fall. You saw the way they were talking down there; it was as if Betty were the boss ... Betty ... the boss."
That was it. Betty Beeson was somehow connected with the New Jersey group, and my guess was that if we did a bit of research, we would find that the only time she had been in Iowa was when the train that brought her to California crossed between the cornfields.
OK, now what? I was sure I was right, but how to prove it? My guess was that Betty called me that morning 30 years ago really in fear. She had killed a man and needed help. She made up a story, which was pretty shaky, but it got me involved. However, before I could get to her, LaFlonza had stepped in and started to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, I kept stirring things up, and the problem wasn't going to go away. Betty must be really connected for LaFlonza to have gone to prison for her.
I turned to Bill and told him my scenario.
"It's pretty shaky. For LaFlonza to have taken the risk that she might get the gas chamber ..."
"Not really," I said. "She had the best lawyers money could buy. She knew that with a 'crime of passion' defense she would get only a few years, plus time off for good behavior. For all we know, the judge was on the take, too."
"Well, it's pretty far-fetched. Betty would have to be somebody's daughter, or something. And I don't think so, with a name like Beeson."
That was it. Bill had nailed it. Betty was the daughter of some capi di capos back east. She probably came out here to get a feel for the family business and got herself in trouble. As for her name, she changed it so she could operate more in the open. She had been running the wiseguy operation here in L.A. for the past 30 years. But Bill was skeptical.
"Sure, it's a theory, and I may even believe it, but we have this minor problem. Evidence. Seeing her with Smith and a few words on the front porch didn't really make a case for the D.A. At this point, we got nothing. I'm sending SWAT home, and my suggestion is that you two go soak off some of that Santa Monica Mountain dirt."
Paulo and I got in the Outback and headed back to the office. To say Shirley was relieved was an understatement. First she hugged us both and then she hit me on the arm. "Why did you let him get into this mess?"
Paulo and I spoke at the same time. When the dust settled, we all agreed that perhaps we needed to be a bit more careful in our actions in the future. Dealing with the crooked-nose group wasn't the same as chasing down payment skips and getting a few incriminating photos through a bedroom window.
There was one thing for certain. Betty, LaFlonza and Smith weren't going to go away. We had one advantage; they didn't know we knew what we did. They hadn't seen me at the hideout in the mountains and may have figured that even if I were around, I was too busy rescuing Paulo and wouldn't have noticed Betty and Marilyn.
Maybe we could use that to our advantage. We decided to call it a day.
I asked Paulo to join us for dinner, but he said he wanted to drop by Cedars-Sinai to see how our current client, Grace Lundquist, was doing. She had been shot while telling us about garage next to the office building where she worked, and that started this little adventure. She and Paulo were becoming close. Paulo was trying, and failing, at keeping an ethical distance from the young, beautiful client. I wasn't worried. She seemed like a nice girl, and Paulo's ethics would stand up to anyone's.
I was looking forward to having an evening alone with my wife. We arrived at the house off Mulholland Drive and all was quiet. Not a car around, no sign of any tampering with the door.
For the first time in almost 24 hours, I began to relax. That lasted about 10 seconds.
We walked into the living room and Betty Beeson, Maria LaFlonza, William Francis Smith and Marilyn North had made themselves comfortable. To add insult to injury, Smith was even drinking some of my 15-year-old Laphroaig. Betty was holding a very lethal looking automatic.
"Hello Paul, Shirley," Betty said. "I have decided that it's time to bring this chapter in our lives to a close, once and for all."