by Frank Martin
Reggie parked his battered vehicle in his stall and shut off the engine. He felt good; a good night's rest, money in the bank, and a future that didn't necessitate taking any more disagreeable assignments. He unhooked his seat belt, opened the door, and started to get out, when he noticed a little black 35mm film canister stuck in the space between the seat and the door. He picked it up and opened the container. There was an exposed roll inside. He snapped the lid back on, stuck it in his pocket and got out of the vehicle. Was this left over from the Dobson case?
Reggie frowned. If it weren't for the money, he would never have taken the peeping job. Franklyn Dobson had suspicions that his lovely wife was stepping out on him, and he wanted proof. Reggie gave it to him... in full color, 8 by 10 photos. The whole thing left a sour taste in Reggie's mouth. "Well, what the hell," he muttered. "Three thousand dollars for playing peeping Tom for twenty four hours." The price of my pride, he added silently. He punched the elevator button and waited, the film container forgotten.
Reggie entered his office to find an agitated Marie, his secretary, talking to a policeman. The office was a mess. File cabinet drawers had been removed, their contents scattered on the floor. The desk had been overturned and its contents dumped out.
"What the hell happened, Marie?" When he spoke, the officer looked up from his notebook.
"Hey, Reg. Looks like someone decided to rearrange your office. Nice decor, eh."
"Hi, George. Did you get busted or something? I thought y'all were a dee-tective."
"Sit on it, Reg." The officer growled. "I'm just filling in for the day. You know how Hanson is, wants us all to spend a few days in uniform so we won't forget what it was like." The officer snorted. "As if we could ever forget!"
Reggie laughed. "Yeah, I hear that. I've pulled my share of uniform duty before I retired."
"I hate to interrupt this mutual masturbation, but can you guys reminisce some other time?" Marie snapped. "I'd like to get this crap cleaned up. " She glared at them for a moment and stalked into Reggie's office.
The officer looked at Reggie and raised an eyebrow. He waited until Marie shut the door. "You pay her to work for you?"
Reggie chuckled. "She's a good secretary, George... and cheap, if a bit testy." George just shook his head.
"So," Reggie continued, looking around the room. "What happened here? Doesn't look like the usual burglary."
"Yeah," George nodded. "Looks to me like someone was looking for something. " He glanced at Reggie. "You got the goodies on some bad ass, Reg?"
"You know better than that, George." Reggie glared at the officer.
"Just kidding, Reg. Jeez, don't be so touchy!"
"Sorry, man." Reggie shook his head. "It's just that this is a hell of a way to start the day." He glanced around the room and frowned. "Hmm, that's funny! They didn't even take my camera." He went over to a pile and picked up his 35mm camera. The back was open, the film missing.
"Your witch..., I mean your secretary says that nothing valuable appears to be missing." The officer pointed to the computer. "If it was a simple burglary, they wouldn't pass up that. Those things are easy to peddle." He went over to the door and pointed at the lock. "And this lock was picked, not broken - Slick job too. You can barely see the scratch marks." He glanced at Reggie. "You want me to get some of the boys down here and dust for prints?"
"Hmm", Reggie pondered for a moment. "Naw, George. If it was a professional, I doubt there would be any. Don't waste their time."
George finished scribbling on a pad, tore off a sheet and handed it to Reggie. "Well, here's the police report and number. You know the routine. If anything turns up missing, just add it to this report. Try not to pad it too much, Reg, or your insurance company will get suspicious." He winked at Reggie's scowl, and left the office.
"Has Bobo the clown gone yet?" Marie called from his office.
"Yeah, Marie, you can quit hiding now." Reggie looked at the disaster and shook his head. "Let's get this mess cleaned up."
It took three hours before the office was back in order. Marie found a check in a pile of papers. It was the advance check from Karl Bradshaw, a very wealthy man who hired Reggie to install an elaborate security system on his estate.
"Jeez! Those dildos even left this check!" Marie looked up at Reggie. "What's going on here Reg?" She waved the check in his face. "Who would pass up a check for ten grand?"
"It was made out to me on a check-writing machine, Marie. Those are difficult to kite, especially for that amount of money. Also, I stamped and signed it on the back." He shook his head. "I think they were after something more important to them than a check."
"What?", Marie rasped. "What the hell is more important than ten grand?"
"Damfino, Marie." Reg shrugged. "Anyhow, get this check in the bank, will you? I've got to get busy and order Bradshaw's stuff. He wants it in place by the first of the month. He's going to give a party then." Reggie laughed. "He wants to show off his security equipment."
Reggie spent the rest of the day running around ordering electronic equipment and making arrangements for the actual installation. It was well past ten o'clock in the evening when he returned to his apartment. He was just getting ready to take a shower, when his doorbell buzzed.
Who is that at this time of night? he wondered, as he threw on a robe and answered the door. It was George.
"Hullo George. What are you doing up past your bedtime? If it's about the burg..."
"It's not about that, Reg," George interrupted. "Can I come in?" His face was serious.
"Look, George. It's past ten and I'm bushed. Can't this wait?"
"You know a Franklyn Dobson?"
Reggie stared at the man for a moment. "I might," he said cautiously. "What's up?"
"Dobson's dead, murdered, Reg. His check register indicated he wrote you a check for three thousand bucks on the day he was murdered."
Reggie stared at Potter for a moment, stunned. "Murdered?" He shook his head and stood aside. "Yeah, I guess you better come in."
George went over to the overstuffed chair and fell into it.
"OK George, what's the scoop?" Reggie sat on the nearby couch.
"Well," the detective drawled as he leaned back. "Dobson's body was found around seven this morning, floating in the Ronald Bog Pond, North of here. He had obviously been shot, probably somewhere else, and his body dumped. We notified his wife when we found his identification. She was pretty broken up...."
"Yeah, I'll bet she was." Reggie interrupted, "real broken up."
George sighed and shook his head. "I can guess what you were hired for. In any case, we'll need to see your records." George looked at Reggie. "Did you take any photos?
"Sorry, George. Part of the deal was that I turned everything over to him, including the negs. What records I kept are mostly financial. You can have those, but I doubt they'll help much. What happened to the file I gave him? That has all the information in it."
George sat up. "We didn't find any file, Reg. The only thing we had was your name in the check register. What was in the file?"
"Time reports and photos concerning his wife and Raphael...."
"Louis Raphael. I had a dozen photos of her and him together."
"Jesus! That scumbag! - A runner for the local mob. What did she see in him?"
Reggie shrugged. "I'm a detective, George, not a mind reader."
George sat back and yawned. "Lord, I'm tired, Reg - First that robbery and killing at Fredricks Jewelry and now this. Between the two I'm being run ragged, what with a bunch out with the flu and whatnot."
"Robbery? What are you doing on a robbery case? You're Homicide."
"Yeah, but you remember? Fredricks on Broadway, the jewelry store. It was robbed last week and the proprietor and a guard were killed."
"Oh, yeah, I remember. That Da Vinci thing, what was it called?"
"The Chronus Medallion. It was the only piece of jewelry Leonardo Da Vinci made, worth a fortune, several fortunes to be exact."
The detective got to his feet and yawned again. "Why don't you come down to the station tomorrow and make out a statement and bring whatever records you have. Maybe we can tie that scumbag Raphael to the murder." He turned to Reggie and smiled. "At least I'll have the fun of hauling his butt in for questioning. Probably won't do any good, though. He'll have a perfect alibi."
The next morning, Reggie went to his office and picked up the Dobson file. He conferred with Marie about the equipment order and installers. Things were set to go on the first of next week. So far, everything was on schedule. There were a few unusual items that Reggie had to pick up personally after his visit to the police station, so he left matters in Marie's capable hands.
He went down to the garage and got into his car. He was about to insert the key in the ignition when his door was yanked open and someone thrust a gun in his face. Simultaneously the other door opened and someone stuck something hard in his side. Both men wore stockings over their faces. "Don't do anything stupid, Blackwell," the one on his right snarled. The other one grabbed the file folder that Reggie had put on the seat. He flipped through it and spoke to the other man.
"This is it. Let's get outta here."
Something slammed into the back of Reggie's head and everything went black.
Reggie's head hurt like blazes and George's insistent questions didn't help.
"I don't know what this is all about, I told you," he said, grimacing at the pain and leaning back on the hospital bed. "They apparently wanted the Dobson file. What they wanted it for... I don't know. There's nothing in it that's of any use to anyone except my accountant."
"Goddammit Reg!" George growled. "No one sticks a gun in your face and socks you over the head for your accounting records. Think! Has Raphael something to do with this?"
"Raphael? I don't know. What have you got on him?"
George sighed and shook his head. "As expected, he has a perfect alibi, he and Mrs. Dobson, that is. They make no bones about their relationship now."
Reggie shook his head and immediately regretted it. "Ow! Dammit George! My head hurts and I'm tired. Let me think about this and I'll get back to you as soon as I can."
"OK, friend. I'll see you later."
You're right, old friend, Reggie thought after the detective left. No one would go to this much trouble for nothing. Something's up and I intend to find out what it is.
The next three days were hectic as Reggie orchestrated the security installation. When everything was in order and he was satisfied and the workers knew what they had to do, Reggie took off, went down to the Arboretum and wandered the paths, as he often did when he wanted to think.
What the hell were those goons after? he wondered. They weren't ordinary thugs bent on robbery. They were professionals and they knew what they were after. The Dobson files. What was so important about them and where did that asshole Raphael fit in? He tried to remember all that he had seen while he was photographing and observing Dobson's wife with Raphael. Deep in thought, he stuck his hands in his coat pockets - and felt the film container. He drew it out and stared at it. The Dobson files, the photos. Did I film something important? He wished he had kept a copy of the pictures. He rolled the canister over in his hand. If this was a Dobson film, maybe there was something on it that would clue him in.
Several hours later, back in the office he was staring at a dozen five by seven color prints of Mrs. Dobson and Raphael. As far as he could tell, there was nothing that was revealing, except for Mrs. Dobson. She revealed all in several poses. Reggie nodded appreciatively. She was a beautiful and well endowed female. Raphael's leering face was in the background.
"Looking at dirty pictures again, Reg?" Marie had silently come into the office.
"Nah. I was hoping that one of these pics would give me some clue as to why I was attacked, or Dobson killed, but I can't see anything that helps." He tossed the photos on the desk.
Marie came over and shuffled through them. "What is it about big tits and blond hair that men go ga ga over, Reg?" She glared at him.
Reggie shrugged. He didn't know how to answer that.
"What's she wearing on her big chest anyway?"
"Here," Marie said pointing to one photo showing the woman in a full frontal pose. She was wearing a large ornate, bejeweled pendant. "She's certainly got the taste that goes with her profession."
"Now Marie, be charita.... Let me see that!" Jack grabbed the photo and peered at the pendant. "Where's that magnifying glass, Marie. I want a closer look at this thing."
Marie reached over the desk, pulled open the middle drawer and handed Reggie a glass. "Some detective! If I had known about you while you were on the force, I would have had some trouble sleeping nights."
Reggie ignored her and concentrated on the photo. Under the glass, the medallion stood out clearly. It was an elaborate jeweled clock on a gold necklace. Reggie recognized it from the newspaper photos - The Chronus Medallion. That photo would certainly tie Raphael to the robbery and murder. Dobson must have confronted Raphael with the photos. That's why he was killed and why they wanted the file. Reggie picked up the phone and dialed his friend.
"Hello, George - Reggie here. Listen, I think I have some information that will solve a couple of murders for you....
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