I heard the sound of a car engine revving up and of tyres on gravel as I made my way to the front door of Mrs Fredrickson’s house. I jogged down the hallway and was just in time to see a black Voisin C7 roaring out of the courtyard, kicking up plumes of dust before fading quickly out of sight. Eva’s goons maybe, or some crooked cops; the services of the local toy patrol could still be bought for a price.
I sauntered down the steps to the yard and strode over to my car. One of the tyres had been slashed with a knife but they’d left the others, maybe I’d spooked them and they didn’t have time for the rest which was a good thing because I only had the one spare. They’d slowed me down some though which was the last thing I needed, and the last thing Peter needed.
Two and a half hours later I was cajoling my elderly Cadillac into dragging its sorry carcass to a parking space outside Betty’s diner. I was damned if I was going to leave it outside my office where some mook might be waiting to bump me over the head again and I didn’t have enough money for a mechanic, not yet anyway. It was time to see Mrs Fredrickson’s lawyer.
Twenty minutes stroll brought me to the offices of Finklestein and Meyer, in the upmarket part of town naturally. The place was swanky, all granite and glass outside and marble and brass inside, the kind of building which would always stay outside of time, ageless. I made myself known to the receptionist, sat myself down in the waiting area and picked up a newspaper.
Horoscope said there was trouble ahead – go figure.
It wasn’t too long before I was woken from my musings by the sweet voice of a smartly dressed woman, hair imprisoned in a bun of steel, and led to an elevator which took us all the way to the top floor. Mrs Fredrickson had probably been their best client and no doubt had them on a retainer, the largesse of which they were clearly still feeding from like carrion.
The elevator went ‘ping’ and the cage door slid open on greased wheels at the porter’s merest touch. A plush red carpet absorbed the sound of the iron maiden’s stilettos as she marched down a hallway towards a pair of heavy wooden doors. She grabbed a fat brass handle on one of them and pulled the door open to reveal an office bigger than my apartment, with a near panoramic view over most of the city. Nice. A wide oak beast of a desk crouched in front of the window on curved legs. The elderly man who was sat behind it stopped writing with his expensive looking pen, looked up and smiled at me before nodding at the woman who promptly left and closed the doors behind her on her way out.
“Good afternoon Mr Devine I am Mr Meyer, so pleased to make your acquaintance. The police have just informed me of Mrs Fredrickson’s unfortunate demise so I know that you’ll be here to collect your payment. Do take a seat, would you like a cigar? Coffee will be brought in shortly.”
That was quick. How did the police know to contact Meyer? Who had tipped them off? Maybe it was their corrupt friends down at the precinct. If the police had informed Meyer this quickly then he had good connections, and the money to keep them.
“Don’t mind if I do” I replied, taking off my hat and lowering myself into the comfy leather of the chair opposite.
“Before she was murdered Mrs Fredrickson told us of her concerns regarding Peter and informed us that she had hired you to find him. Might I ask if you, at this moment, have him in your care?”
Damn. If he was asking me that then I wasn’t going to get paid, not the full fee anyway. I might be able to get expenses, but this thing wouldn’t be settled until I brought Peter to Meyer’s office.