Episode IV: Part V - The Case of the Conniving Gun Mole
The driver of the caviar colored two-door Lexus sedan turned the street corner, the luxury car slowly making its way toward the asphalt driveway in front of its intended dwelling. The operator noticed Matt approaching the same home — the one he resided in.
Who the hell is that? He stopped parallel to the curb, unaware Matt’s vehicle was parked several houses in front of him.
Pushing the doorbell button, Matt could hear the muffled two-toned chime. Waiting the usual length of time, he pressed the button a second time, followed by a light knock on the door. After another minute, Matt leaned with his face against one of two decorative side door windows, both with venetian blinds and both partially closed. No lights were on, and there was no indication of activity.
Either no one’s home, or they’re not answering the door, Delia thought, alternating between checking her cell phone and watching Matt fidget around the concrete porch. Completing an about face, Matt sauntered down the concrete steps and onto the the walkway. Strolling back toward his vehicle, he opened the driver's side door.
“No one’s home,” Matt grumbled as he slipped behind the driver’s seat.
“Or maybe someone didn’t want to answer the door.”
“My gumshoe instincts are telling me no one’s there.”
“So now what? Delia posed.
“We contact the owners,” Matt blurted, pulling away from the curb and onto the residential street. “The landlord might be helpful … if we couch our approach and questions carefully.”
Waiting for Matt and Delia to near the end of the street, the Lexus driver moved away from the curb, knowing the vehicle in front would have to stop at the t-junction ahead. Careful not to accelerate, he allowed his vehicle to slowly close the distance behind Matt’s car. “Got it,” he mumbled, memorizing the plate number. Turning in the opposite direction, the luxury car driver removed his cell phone from its mounted holder. Tapping a recent call, he yelled out, “Hey, I need a favor -- run this tag number and get back to me. And get it done … today.”
“Like I've already said, I really don't know too much about the tenants,” the owner of the home told Delia over the phone. “My property manager handles all those details. A pause. “So, what’s this all about?”
“Well, my colleague and I were driving through the neighborhood today,” Delia explained in a cheerful tone, “and your home really caught our attention. I had no idea it was being rented until you mentioned it.”
“I leased it for the first time two weeks ago to these tenants via the Property Management Company. Hmm ..., you said no one answered when you rang the doorbell?”
“Yes …, uh, I mean no,” Delia replied, correcting herself. “No one answered. My colleague and I figured you and your family were off to work, school, et cetera. We just wanted to introduce ourselves and …"
“Wait a minute,” the owner abruptly interrupted, “a neighbor friend of mine called earlier and mentioned something about a Quick Cab Taxi parking in front of the home and helping a woman leave the house with several bags. He also said he saw a man standing on the front porch afterwards. Was that your colleague?”
Delia swiveled her chair around, glancing at Matt. He was leaning against the door frame of his office and listening to the conversation. Nodding in response to the question, she craned her head upward and grinned, adding a thumbs-up gesture.
Pushing away from the door frame, Matt walked around the front of her desk. He was eager to hear the news.
“Uhm, uh, yes, Mr. Moore,” she replied. “And that explains why no one answered the door. Well, thank you for the chat,” she began speaking hurriedly. “You and your wife certainly own a lovely rental home. It was nice talking to you, but I’ve got to run — thanks again for your time.”
“Hey, hold on a minute,” the owner of the home pleaded. “You haven’t mentioned your name or the name of your …" he continued as Delia gently placed the receiver back in its cradle.
“Great job,” Matt applauded, lightly clapping his hands. "He could see your smile and feel your charm right over the phone. Now you know why I wanted you to talk to Mr. Johnson.”
Delia chuckled. “It took longer to find his phone number than our conversation,” she reckoned.
“So, what did Mr. Moore tell you that put such a revealing smile on that lovely face?”
“According to a neighbor that called, she left in a Quick Cab Taxi about half an hour before we arrived.”
Matt snickered. “Sounds like something my neighbor would do.”
“You mean Jim,” your neighborhood watch commander”?
“I should introduce those two,” Matt replied in a sarcastic tone. Walking aimlessly around the front of the office, he rubbed his chin in a pensive manner. Stopping in front of Delia’s desk, he muttered loudly, "Quick Cab Taxi? Hmm, I’m somewhat familiar with the owner," he mused. "She drove my former partner home from our favorite watering hole on a few occasions when he had one too many."
“You mean, Seth?” Delia asked.
Matt exhaled deeply. “Yeah, Seth,” he answered in a sullen tone.
Delia pursed her lips, aware the mention of Matt’s former partner conjured up a lot of unpleasant memories regarding his murder. “You plan on paying a visit to the owner of the cab company?”
Matt nodded. “Time for yours truly to employ his subtle blend of wit and charm.”
Delia rendered a sideways glance. “Wit and charm?” she curiously repeated. “What do you mean?”
Matt’s mouth twitched slightly, followed by a smile.
A pause. “Oh, I get it. So, what's her name?"
“Fonda Petting, a former dancer and burlesque club owner.”
“Oh, puh-leeze," Delia snickered.