Episode IV: Part IV - The Case of the Conniving Gun Moll
“She shops here frequently,” the sales associate divulged in response to Delia’s questions. Perusing through a file of purchase orders, the associate stopped and removed the only two contracts for recent purchase of the entwined hearts double dangle charm, placing the paperwork on the freshly wiped glass counter.
Completing a visual sweep of the store’s interior, Delia pointed out several security cameras throughout the small jewelry shop. “Do you happen to have video of these two people?”
“Our cameras are on a 24 hour loop,” the store employee answered. Tapping the paperwork on the counter, she added, “and since the purchases were made several days ago, there wouldn’t be any video of those two customers.”
“Twenty-four hour loop!” Delia exclaimed. “Are you serious?”
Delia’s friend sighed. “Yeah, I know,” she glumly admitted. “I’ve talked to the owner several times about it, but this is a mom and pop operation, and they just don’t want to spend the money.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Delia quickly entered the name, address, and phone number of the two customers into her iPhone. “Do you remember enough about them that you can provide a description?” she asked.
“Damn, girl,” the sales associate bellowed, “I could get fired for giving you the information I’ve already provided, not to mention civil liability the store owners could encounter. “I owed you one, Del, but as far as I’m concerned, this makes us even.”
Delia responded with a sheepish half-smile, then changed the subject. “Well, it’s time for this girl to add another charm to her collection. Show me your newest inventory,” she requested, gazing at the displays underneath the glass counter.
Relieved the questioning was over, the store associate removed several trays from underneath the thick glass display, placing each one on the counter. With her eyes still on the trays, she mumbled, “one is an older lady, the other a younger female, thirty-something, shoulder length blonde hair, about 5 feet, 4 inches, 110 pounds — pretty.”
Smiling, Delia pointed to a particular charm. “Let me take a look at that one.”
Throwing a suitcase on the bed they shared, she quickly packed several dresser drawers of clothing. He won’t be away very long, she thought, nervously glancing at her watch. Grabbing a pink duffle bag out of the closet, she filled it with toiletries, make-up, perfumes, and other personal items. Pushing a nightstand away from the king sized bed, she kneeled down on the floor and removed a wood panel, revealing a crawl space underneath the raised wood subfloor. Reaching downward, she removed one of several seabags resting on a large tarp spread out on the ground underneath the bedroom. My share of the loot, she thought again, returning the floor panel and sliding the nightstand back over it. Quickly wheeling around at the sound of a knock on the front door, she reached inside the duffel back, removing a semi-auto 9 mm Glock. Walking cautiously into the living room, her Glock at the ready, she yelled out, “who is it?”
“It’s Quick Cab Taxi. I’m here for a 9:30 am pick-up,” the voice of an unknown male hollering through the door.
She breathed a sigh of relief. She had forgotten her earlier call to the taxi company to send a cab. The knock on the door had caught her momentarily off guard. Peering though closed vertical blinds in the living room, she noticed a red, Toyota Avensis SUV parked directly in front of the house, next to the curb, the words, “Quick Cab Taxi” embedded on the side of the vehicle. The driver was a young male, approximately six feet tall, in his mid-twenties she guessed, standing in front of the door, wearing a shirt with the taxi company logo and his name embroidered over both shirt pockets. He was checking his cell phone. “Be right there,” she yelled again, lowering the pistol and returning to the bedroom. She stuffed the Glock back into the duffle bag, then zipped both the bag and suitcase.
Returning to the living room carrying the suitcase and duffle bag, she set both on the floor, then opened the door. Wearing a light green bodycon dress with plunging neckline, she smiled seductively, her lips lusciously painted.
“Good morning ma’am,” the driver pleasantly greeted, returning his cell phone to his right front shirt pocket. “You called for a cab — 9:30 am? “ he asked in rhetorical fashion.
A pause, then, “Wow, you’re cute,” she said flirtatiously, smiling and strolling over the young driver’s face. “Would you be a darling and go into my bedroom and fetch that last bag on the floor?”
“Good work,” Matt commended as they drove in his vehicle to the address provided by Delia’s friend.
“Her name is Joan Russo,” Delia began, reading from the state and FBI rap sheets printed before leaving the office “She’s thirty-four and has a lengthy criminal record. Born in this state. Petty theft, shoplifting, fraud, drug trafficking, assault — all the way to bank robbery. She’s served time in the local jail, state pen, and federal big house. Doesn’t say anything about gang affiliations. She's also known by her nickname, 'Felony,' and probably proud of it," Delia added.
"Not your usual church going choir girl," Matt snorted.
"Her photo and physical description match what my friend at the jewelry store told me.”
"I’ll look at it when we arrive at the address."
“What are we going to do when we get there?” Delia asked. “We can’t just go barging inside and arrest her for bank robbery. We don’t even know who else might be there. The last thing we need is a “Bonnie and Clyde” shootout right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.”
Matt craned his head toward Delia and grinned. “Observation and investigation, like good private investigators,” he replied in a sardonic tone.
Delia chuckled. I’m reminded of the term, “keyhole investigators.”
Matt laughed. “Oh, you mean court papers the old P.I. firms of "Slip, Trip, and Skip" served perps through the keyhole back in the day?"
“Yes, exactly,” Delia howled.
Adjusting the volume on his cell phone, Matt followed the voice instructions provided by the GPS. “Our computer search before we left the office shows it’s a single family home, owned jointly by Jeffrey and Gretchen Moore. We’ll park slightly before and across the street. You remain in the car with your cell phone ready to shoot video. I’ll walk to the front door and ring the bell; when someone answers, I’ll present myself as a local real estate agent and morph right into my phony song and dance asking if they know of anyone who might be interested in listing their home for sale.”
“And I’ll take video of whoever answers the door?” Delia knowingly asked.
“That’s a rhetorical … yes,” Matt answered.
Twenty minutes later Matt turned onto the destination street. Slowing to idle speed, he and Delia began their search for the house. “There,” Delia pointed out, “it’s going to be that one — two houses ahead and on the right.”
“The white bungalow with green trim?” Matt asked.
“Yeah.” Delia leaned forward, cupping her brow and squinting. “I can see the house number on one of the front porch posts.”
Matt gently braked, then parked his vehicle next to the curb. He looked at Delia. “Ready to do this?”
“I’m ready,” she said, placing her iPhone in video mode. “This spot is perfect. I can make it look like I’m checking or responding to text messages or emails like most people do when staring at their cell phone — in case the occupant or anyone else notices.”
Matt smirked. “I’ll keep whoever answers the door so busy with my real estate babble, the only thing they’ll focus on is getting rid me.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Stepping out of the car, Matt walked around the front of the vehicle and onto the sidewalk. Ambling down the pavement and toward the house, Delia checked her phone again. “Okay, we’re good to go,” she quietly mumbled.
The cab driver came to a stop underneath the Hotel’s porte-cochere. Exiting the vehicle, he opened the rear door, helping his alluringly attractive passenger exit the back seat. He walked to the rear of the cab, unlocked the trunk, then removed the suitcase, duffel bag, and out of place olive green seabag, setting each on the concrete curb in front of the hotel’s main entrance. “Anything else I can do for you, ma’am?” the exuberant taxi driver asked.
Flashing a disarming smile, the voluptuous young woman placed her hand on the young driver’s arm. “Yes, there is one more thing you can do for me, handsome,” she purred in a sultry tone. Removing three one hundred dollar bills out of her purse, she gently grabbed his hand and turned it upward, placing the bills into his palm and fingers, then closed it shut with a gentle squeeze. “You’ve never seen me before — understood?” He gawked at her, like a deer in the headlights. Standing on her tiptoes, she reached up, placing her hand behind his neck, pulling him toward her. She pecked a gentle kiss on his check. He could smell the fragrant perfume coming from her perfectly toned body. She stepped back. “Did you hear me? You’ve never seen me before,” she repeated.
Uh, yes … oh, yes ma’am, the young driver laughingly stuttered as if coming out of a trance, his eyes glazed over and appearing somewhat starstruck and goofy-grinned.
She smiled in approval. “Good — now be a darling boy and run along.”
Turning around, she noticed several porters talking near the hotel’s main entrance.
"I need a Bellhop."
Click to read Episode IV Part V "MATT DUGGAN - Detective Series"