The Perfect Setup

by Joe Hesse

The Perfect Set Up

I

Pick a Patsy

The sign on the door read "McCann & Dugan Private Investigations". Jerry, my partner of 25 years on the force and now in this office for nearly six years were doing pretty well considering we had no idea what was ahead after retirement. Well it turned out to be more of the same thing we did for the force with less risk. We both had gone through two marriages and decided that permanence in a relationship wasn't something our work hours supported. We both dated but I think Jerry was dating the same woman for the last several years sort of on and off. With my last name every one calls me Mac or the shoe man. I do have a lot of shoes so I guess it fits, or, maybe they thought I was Thom.

It was hard to see when it all started. I took on a case that seemed like pretty much a hundred cases before. He was sure she was not being the good wife. Although home life for him was described as "wonderful" he somehow developed a sense that someone else was putting on his well maintained greens. I took a retainer and told him I would get back to him with what I discovered. A good start to what seemed to be a slow week.

The next afternoon I get a visit from, you guessed it Her. She states that she is sure he is spending money maintaining another residence and woman. No proof, just a feeling. Now a dilemma, if I take a retainer from her I am working both sides, If I don't she will probably find another agency and I won't know which one really has a Ouija board if either one. Well tailing him to see where he calls home will be easy enough and Jerry, my partner can set up on her.

We started daily and nightly surveillance with no real results for a week then I get a call from Jerry to go to the residence immediately. I walk in the open front door calling for Jerry and I get a blow to the back of my head that puts me down. I wake up and there stands Lt Carter, Denver homicide waiting for the answer to a question I never heard. I look around and see Mr. Randolph laying on the carpet in front of the fireplace in a pool of blood and his wife Sandra sitting on the divan sobbing and babbling some wild story to another detective while managing to look like a model, posing. No sign of Jerry though his car was down the road in a position to observe the house and grounds.

That's when as I listened to her story and found out she was saying that a man she described that seemed to be Jerry had killed her husband right in front of her. She said that the man then stated she had to split the life insurance with him now that her philandering husband was out of the way, that then I came in and shot him and when I went to see about her, he hit me from behind and ran out. Knowing the story wasn't the truth, though my gun was missing, didn't seem to be the thing to get me information about Jerry or his condition at this time so I continued to look dazed, which wasn't hard with the lump on my head, and said nothing. The Lieutenant looked like he was still waiting for an answer so I covered up by saying "huh". Our old boss did not look happy when he repeated his direct question, "what the hell happened here Mac?"

While we hadn't compared notes for a few days I knew there would be a copy of everything up to today on the case computer in the office. I was sure the husband was working and going home to her every day. Some day's work went on till late evening but home is where he headed when it was over. That night he went home at five so I was in the office catching up on paperwork and paying business bills. I had waved at Jerry an hour or so before the call and commotion after I followed Mr. Randolph home. My plan became to say as little as possible till I had a chance to figure out what did happen and where my partner was if he was still alive. We did have a dead body to keep the police busy for a while.

The medics checked me out and said there could be a concussion. I wasn't supposed to sleep for 8 hours or so. I hadn't planned to, I needed access to Mrs. Randolph for some answers and a chance to check Jerry' notes. The LT was still waiting for answers. I told him she was a client we were doing a job for that involved the possible infidelity of her husband. That set him off in another direction and took the heat off me for the time being. She refused to look at me and I wonder if I was supposed to have been hit a lot harder. Then the beautiful blue eyes turned to me with a please help me look. I sat beside her and asked what had happened. She shook her head and looked scared then started crying begging for help in a small voice that only I could hear. At that time the police took her downtown for a statement. I was released and told to come in the next day to make my statement.

I went straight to Jerry's car and looked for notes or his recorder. Both were gone along with the keys. I popped the trunk and checked the spare wheel well and found the video camera smashed to resemble a crushed beer can. I brought it with me and headed for the office to check the case computer. I didn't understand her plea for help but I was going to find out what she needed help from and what happened to Jerry.

The office door looked okay till I pushed my key into the lock and it swung open without turning the key. The office was trashed and the case computer wasn't where it normally is, as a matter of fact it was nowhere to be seen. The cabinets were forced open and rifled through with files all over the floor. Now I hoped that the backup Jerry had set up through the magic of wireless something or other had worked. I felt better about Jerry because the only computer taken was the one in the outer office which meant he told someone that's where his notes were on open cases. I logged on to my desk computer then onto the server and found the file marked Mrs. Randolph. The first few entries were normal rhetoric for tailing a subject then it got interesting. One of her trips to the beauty parlor included a stop at the office of an attorney that only worked for the connected people in Denver. A high dollar mouthpiece that worked exclusively for less than honest, upright clientele. She spent more than an hour there before returning home. No entry on a follow up visit so I made a note of the address then found a home address through the magic of the internet. I felt I had a starting point and hoped it wasn't too late for Jerry. I called and woke up John the electronic wizard and told him about the camera. He said to bring it by and he would see if there was any recoverable data. He said it might take a while but he would get right on it. I thanked him and headed over to drop it off.

After two left turns and stopping for a paper I was sure the dark blue car was tailing me. It wasn't the police so I cut through the mall parking complex and lost them at the exit onto Main St. by shooting the light at the last minute and watching them stop, caught by the heavy early morning traffic. That's when I realized the night was gone and a new day was upon us. I made sure the tail was gone and dropped the busted camera off and replaced it with a new one from John's shop.

II

Find a reason

I called for an appointment with Barry Cline esq. only to be told he was not available till next week. I changed direction and headed for the home address. It was a gated community and the morning gate guard was a retired detective from our old squad. I told him who I was looking for and he said it showed he was in. The log also showed three visitors signed in for his address earlier that morning. Only one name, a name that we both knew from our previous employment, that came up a lot in connection with shady dealings. Now I needed to research both the dead Mr. Randolph and his beautiful blue-eyed widow. There might not be a connection however coincidences are rare when it comes to homicides. I did a drive by and took down license numbers. I noted a way in beside a pond which the fence did not close in. It would mean a walk but no record of the visit. I drove out and headed for the office. The door was fixed and the bill was on my desk. I checked the email and one for Jerry showed an ID check request on both the Randolph's. The results were on the fax machine so he had asked for hard copies. It seemed that a background check only went back 5 years on her. Less than a year before she had a wedding day. His went back like one should and showed his training and job made him a bank auditor. I was starting to develop an idea that someone needed to control how some audits went and she could have been the control.

I went downtown to make my statement and asked the LT if he could find out what banks in the area were scheduled to be audited. I got that don't tell me why look with a nod. He knew if I connected something I would bring him in fast. He asked how Jerry was doing and all I said was he was busy and in the middle of a case. Not a false statement but not everything I knew at this point. I was handed a list with the name of two banks scheduled for audit the next month. Now to find a connection between the dots I had managed to hang out in space. I really needed a lot more information on the widow Randolph so I called. I left a message telling her I needed to see her thinking she must be taking care of funeral arraignments. A return call was immediate so she was screening calls. She said to please come right over, she wanted to explain what was going on. I got my backup firearm and headed for what I knew would be quiet a tale of fiction if not another chance at me.

This time the door was closed and she answered after a small wait. The fear was still in her eyes, showing through the obvious signs of crying. She said it must have been her fault. Then asked what I had found out. I told her that there were no strings attached to him. He worked and was coming home to her every day. Then I asked what must have been the scary question because she tensed up and her eyes went teary. Why asking her what really happened had that effect was probably the fastest way to Jerry. She looked around like we were being watched and said the police had her statement. I asked why she had visited the office of Barry Cline and thought she was going to pass out. When her composure returned or seemed to she broke down and through the sobs told me a story that should have been told to the police. I guess they didn't know where she had been. It seems the cline agency knew all about her real past and was instructed to make sure she knew that they knew.

Her life before the current one was centered in Reno, Nevada. She was a small town girl caught up in the seamy side of the escort service. The owner of that service and several others was the client of Cline. They trained her for a life of pleasure giving and according to her forced her into the life. No wonder her husband had described home life as wonderful. She said once she had money she took off and ended up in Denver looking for work. She met her deceased husband when she applied for a job at a bank he was auditing and it was like they were looking for each other. A whirlwind courtship ended in a marriage that gave her the good life everyone wants. The identity change was to stay missing from the Reno crowd and was the only part of her life she never told him. Now I started to understand the fear in her eyes and knew I had to step up the pace if I wanted to see my partner's ugly face again. I pressed for the reason she visited the Attorney's office. She said he had her called and told to come in, the caller used her true given name. The conversation was short with no way to misunderstand that she was to bring her husband into a life he despised. She knew there was no way to make that happen so she decided to tell him the secret they were trying to use as leverage and see what happened. When she told him that night he was speechless, and then said they had to contact the Federal authorities. As they talked about what their future would be the door burst open and three men came in. She said Jerry came in and was hit then dragged out the door. She was told what to say and that they would be back and they were gone, I still felt there was more to the story.

I asked what she had worn to the office. I told her to get everything she had on or with her and bring it to the kitchen and not to say anything while she did it. It didn't take long to find the bug. attached to the bottom of her purse. It was a limited range device and seemed to still be active. I knew she needed protection so I called Lt Carter and told him we were on the way in. I filled the Lt in and let her tell the true story of what happened that night. He was mad but the concern for Jerry showed through. I remembered a way past a pond to Cline's house and left her at the police station.

III

Shake the Trees

As I passed the pond into the back of the next door lot I could see activity at Cline's house. The light on the second floor corner room was on and a shadow seemed to indicate someone standing by the window. The darkness was my best friend though it did not look like anyone was looking out. I got close enough to see a large tree that would give me a good view into the upper floor. I climbed and there in a chair, looking the worse I had seen him was Jerry. He looked unconscious and was bleeding from several places on his face. I called the Lieutenant and told him the rest of the story all of it. We needed a rescue and quickly. I climbed down from the tree and once again my lights were put out by a blow to the head. I woke up tied in the sitting position in a chair next to Jerry. I wondered why I woke up anywhere. I called Jerry's name and with his head still down he answered. He started telling me about millions of dollars being cleaned through one of the banks being audited next month. He had videoed a conversation when three men had gone into the Randolph home and explained to him how the audit was to be done. He had listened until the end then flat refused to do it. That cost him his life and got Jerry caught. He told them he had transmitted the video as he took it and that was probably why he was still alive and being thumped on every time they thought he was awake. About then all hell broke loose. Sirens, loudspeakers, doors being broken open and windows being broken out. We were suddenly in a room filled with people we knew led by the Lieutenant. Now we had some splaining to do and were both glad of the relationship with Denver P D.

IV

That's a wrap

After several hours of telling our story and having the widow Robinson make a corrected statement we were offered coffee and donuts. A sure sign all was well. The Lieutenant wrapped up a murder and informed the Feds of the money laundering scheme at the bank. It seems the city got a percentage of the confiscated monies for crime fighting. We had definitely made him a hero and we had no regrets. When we opened the office the next day our best surprise was a bonus check from the senior Mr. Robinson for helping his daughter-in-law and finding his sons killers. We also had a copy of what was left on the video camera from John. The perfect picture of a big foot stomping down on the camera. Oh well, back to the shoe game. That would be the gumshoe game. The door opened and in walked a redhead looking concerned. Here we go.

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