Death by Parking – Chapter 11 - Where I Fit In
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As I drove home from the dinner party at Maryann Leyman’s home, I considered what I’d seen and heard. It was pretty straightforward. Jansen’s bank was up to its eyeballs in the project, and if the project failed, so would the bank. Betty Beeson was being squired around by William Francis Smith with hopes of buying her parking company, while Maryann was trying to get my slimeball Lieutenant out and Betty in as parking operator at the new project. Jack McKinney was exactly as he seemed, a former cop, a PI, and someone connected with everyone in LA. A good source.
That was what I had seen at Maryann’s, but what wasn’t there? It all seemed too perfect, too planned. Maryann called it a set piece. Was I being taken for a ride by my employer?
There was one person who knew everything about everything at S and L. That was Ray Stevens’ assistant, Barbara. I wonder if I could get her to spill a few words about what was really going at the developer. The next morning, I was standing in front of her desk at 8 am.
She held up one finger, picked up the phone and dialed. When someone answered, she said “Paul Manning is here. Is it time?” She got her answer and hung up the phone.
“I’m hungry, buy me breakfast.”
We walked across the street to an upmarket café. When we walked in, the woman at the counter smiled at Barbara and nodded toward a corner booth in the back. It was perfectly positioned so we could see the room, and talk, but not be overheard by anyone. I know when I have been set up. Barbara was good at it.
After the coffee arrived, and we ordered, I turned to Barbara and began to speak. She put her finger over my lips and smiled.
“Let me see if I can read your mind. You have spent a week talking to all the players here at S and L and, although all have been cooperative, you aren’t really getting anywhere. In fact, you feel like you are really working on a project much larger than just investigating your arch nemesis, Frank Cosner.
“You had dinner with Maryann and she introduced you around, but neglected to really fill you in on your role. She is very enigmatic. She likes to drop little hints here and there but not come out and lay it all out. It’s just her way. It keeps her in control and in the loop, if you will.
”Let’s see if I can get some of the fog to lift a bit.
“When Ray hired you on the recommendation of that police sergeant Bill Vose, we really didn’t know a lot about you. My sense was that you were OK, but we should move a little slowly until we read you in on just what was going on. If we kept you focused on parking, and you didn’t work out, no harm no foul. It took you no time to find the problems we were having on the site.”
She smiled as she added the next line. “I even got to do your dry cleaning.
“You had no problem grasping the financial issues floated by Maryann, you seemed to fit in well with the Jansens and already knew Betty, and, tangentially, William Francis Smith. Plus, you accepted Maryann’s quirks with Bogie without running screaming from the room.”
I had to laugh at that line, since Bogie was intertwined with my life, too. Maybe it was his good offices that got me past the first hurdle at S and L.
“The phone call I made this morning when you arrived was to Ray. We agreed I should fill you in on the larger picture.”
She took a breath and gave me a chance to say a few words.
“I appreciate it and the trust. Please understand that what I see here is actually a search for a mole, a traitor who is in your company and attempting to take it down from the inside.”
Barbara was quiet for a minute. She took a sip of her coffee and then went on.
“I was sure when I met you that you had great insight. Yes, that’s exactly the problem. We simply don’t know who to trust. Ray and Maryann felt it better that the details of the problem come from me. We simply don’t know how deep the rot goes, and who is behind it.
“Ray was stunned when he found out about the contract with Cosner. We already had problems on the construction site, and the death of the policeman brought it to a head. There are also issues with the design, contracting, and just overall hijinks. Frankly, we haven’t had this much trouble with any of our previous projects.”
“What’s different about this one?” I asked.
“Well, it’s the first time we have used Jansen’s bank, and the first time we have been involved with Cosner’s parking company. Plus, our office manager retired and the new one has been on board only since we broke ground. The architect and engineering firms are the same ones we have used before, as is the general contractor on the site.”
I was beginning to get an idea of where I fit in. They needed someone from the outside to find the reasons for the ‘troubles’ and recommend solutions. I could do that.
“OK. Give me the name of the new office manager, call Maryann and let her know I’ll need to see her again in the office for more input on Jansen’s bank. I’ll do a little deep research on Frank Cosner’s company, and dare I say it, William Francis Smith. I’ll definitely be bringing in Jack McKinney.
“It’s obvious since my little ‘accident’ on the job site that I have at least brushed up against something or someone. I think it would be a good idea to keep ‘brushing.’”
Barbara nodded. “OK, we have a plan. I’ll keep Ray up to date. Can we meet again in two days and see how it’s going. Is that enough time?”
I told her I was pretty certain that in two days I would have turned over enough rocks that something would surface. I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t take even two hours.
When I reached my car, mob enforcer Dandy Giovianni was leaning against the driver’s door. And he didn’t look happy.
To be continued
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