Death by Parking - Chapter 16 - I Meet with Smith
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OK, I had been threatened before. And by tougher guys than this one. But a midnight phone call telling me to lay off my only client was a little telling. Someone didn’t want me to muck up the works. My only problem was I wasn’t sure exactly what the ‘works’ were. Best consider all this after a good night’s sleep.
The next morning I sat on my deck overlooking the canyon that led to the brand new Hollywood freeway in the distance. It was a typical Los Angeles morning. Cool, overcast, misty. It would all burn off soon and another hot one was in store.
I was munching on a piece of toast and finishing my oatmeal when a coyote dropped by and mooched some toast. I tossed it down the canyon and the beast caught it on the second bounce. The critter seemed friendly enough but you have to remember that they are wild animals and unpredictable.
Reminded me of some goombahs that I knew.
I considered calling William Francis Smith and setting an appointment but upon second thought, a more direct approach might work with him. I’ll just show up.
Snakes like him work late and start late, so I planned an 11 AM assault. I showered, dressed, and filled a thermos with coffee. I took it to Mary Ellen McKinney who was sitting in her car a block away from my house.
She partnered with her father and did most of his field work. She was my shadow. Read that bodyguard.
She smiled as I walked up to her car. I handed her the coffee and she nodded thanks. “I’ve been here a couple of hours. Even us hard bitten PIs need some sleep.” I laughed.
Short, stocky, she was not a beautiful woman. However she had a confidence about her that overcame her stature. I was certain she could shoot straight and probably had a black belt somewhere in her closet. I really REALLY didn’t need back up, but I was glad she was there.
I told her my schedule, and then went back inside. I had a little time to kill before meeting up with Smith. I gave the meeting some thought. He was involved in everything that was going on at S and L. I wondered just how he knew so much. There must be someone on the inside. Finding them would be the next step.
I drove to Smith’s office in a high rise downtown. I kept glancing back to check out if Mary Ellen was back there but didn’t see her. That was good. I knew she was there. If I didn’t spot her, no one else would either.
I walked into Smith’s office. His secretary’s desk was empty so I brushed past it and opened his inner door. She was delivering coffee to his desk. Smith was alone. Couldn’t be better.
I held the door open for her as she left.
Smith smiled. “I wondered when we would be meeting again. I really didn’t expect it so soon. May I offer you a cuppa?”
“Look Smith. I came here to get a few things straight. First of all, pull your gunsels off the three ladies of S and L. I know they came from you. I traced the cars back to your outfit. You are frightening them and there is no need for it. If you want to follow someone, I’m your guy.
“Second, rest assured I don’t scare easily. Midnight phone calls simply disrupt my sleep. It’s a waste of your time and frankly do no good. So stop it.”
I was on a roll so I pressed on. Smith looked bemused. I couldn’t tell if I was making any headway but why stop now.
“Third, pull your fangs out of S and L. My team is looking into your involvement and finding plenty. We could keep it to ourselves or turn it over to the cops. Your choice.” That’ll slow him down.
“Mr. Manning. I suggest you have a seat and we can discuss this matter like civilized persons. Here, have some coffee and listen to my side of the story.”
I figured it couldn’t hurt. Plus, the coffee was hot and good.
He began to drone on about interest rates, partnerships, and the like. I was having difficulty following his words. I shook my head and ran my hand through my hair. The coffee cup fell out of my hand and onto the floor. I looked at it. It was out of focus. I thought I heard the door open behind me. Hands grabbed my arms. I couldn’t move.
Damn, he had drugged…..And everything went black.
To be continued... Return to the Summary Page - click here