How About a Free Chapter? – Pt. 3

Want another tease?  Read on, my friends…

 

Chapter Three

Mayeaux Klynick Private Investigations”

Driving back to the office with Zeph was non-productive—and smelly—to say the least.  Poor city boy. He did not know that you cannot park a Honda Tin Can on mud and expect to drive off, especially on black land soil.  You simply sink if you don’t have a tractor or four-wheel drive.

So, I had to listen to him berate me for taking so long with the coffee and his having to examine a noxious dead cow all alone.  As I pulled into my parking space at Mayeaux Klynick Private Investigations, I said ‘Sorry for the delay, pumpkin and I will never do it again, cross my heart and hope to die.’ Zeph mumbled something like ‘die already’ and stomped off in search of a shower and new shoes as I breezed in the main door like I owned the place. Oh, wait—I do. Well, co-own.

I breezed into the reception area of the office. Decorated in warm tones of burnt orange, gold, red and black, the room definitely gave off the Asian inspired tone I had wanted.  The couch is comfortable suede with pillows in rich colors of red and gold.  The art on the walls were black-and-white photos that both Zeph and I had taken.  They gave a touch of ourselves to the room and made people feel more relaxed.  We kept a variety of magazines and books on the coffee table for clients who failed to be impressed by the decor.

The reception area was always clean and orderly and gave our business a look of professionalism.  Today would normally bring the same feelings. However, as I burst through the door, our receptionist, Geoff, was dancing on the coffee table. His shirt was off and he was dancing to the one hit wonder I’m Too Sexy. It was a sight for a male strip club, not an office.

I calmly walked over to the satellite sound system and flipped the station back to the Serenity Station. I made a mental note to myself to install video cameras on Geoff’s day off so I could catch the whole show next time.  Geoff nearly fell off the table as the beat turned from pop hell to running water and birds chirping.

“Geoff?”  I twitched a finger at him.

He stepped off of the coffee table.

“Yes, boss lady?”  He gave a brilliantly white toothy grin as he about faced.

“What is rule number one?”  I asked sweetly.

“Um,” He looked around, racking his pea-sized brain for the tidbit of knowledge he held therein, “Mayeaux Klynick Private Investigations is not a gay rave or dance club.  Nor is it a pick-up joint for circuit boys or tricks.  This is a business, and as such, we will all act accordingly.”

He smiled at having remembered our last conversation word for word.

“Riiiiight.”  I nodded my head slowly.  “That even includes your downtime, Geoff.”

He smiled and nodded, but I could swear I heard wind blowing through a narrow tunnel.

“Even if the office is closed.  Even if it’s before business hours or after business hours.  We will all act professionally and not dance on the coffee table.”  I added.  “Professionalism should be displayed anytime you are here.  Kapeish?”

He looked confused.  “I haven’t ordered breakfast yet.  Um, do you want me, too?”

I sighed.  “Do you understand?”

“Uh,” He looked around, and then smiled, “yes!”

“Good.  But no, we don’t need you to order out for quiche.”  I headed past reception towards my office, sighing to myself.

Geoff had been working at MKPI for two months and hasn’t the first idea about office etiquette and is severely lacking in secretarial skills.  I think the only reason we kept the Howler Monkey around is because he has a way with the clients.  He also grounds both mine and Zeph’s personalities.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he is very easy on the eyes.  Okay, we also owed his mother a favor.

As much as I love the reception area, my office is my sanctuary. Mine and Zeph’s are right next to each other and we have a door adjoining the two.
We only close and lock the adjoining door when privacy or meditation time is needed—whether personal or business.  Zeph and I built this business over several years of blood, sweat, tears, prejudice, and supernatural interferences.

We are seen as a necessary evil by most of the public, and accepted by others.  A few downright hate us. I just look at it as a pleasure that I’ve chapped someone’s ass somewhere.  As you can tell, I come off as tough as nails with a John Wayne philosophy on the side.  However, I have my softer side that indulges in the dramatics of flowing clothes and fabrics and warm colors.  Not to mention my extensive collection of cowboy hats and boots.  I have a favorite pair of each, but really, what gal doesn’t need boots and hats in every color of the rainbow?

My office is done in a Moroccan style with rich reds, golds, blues, purples and greens with heavy dark wood.  My desk is a deep rich glossy mahogany with no drawers.  I keep my laptop and a discreet phone on the desk.  The only decorative items are a crystal ball resting on an elaborate silver stand that depicts the triple moon and goddess and a silver box with Celtic knots on the sides and lid.  I tell nosey people whom inquire that it’s where I keep the remains of the last person who wondered about its contents.

Behind my desk is a window with a spectacular view of the city given we are only on the fourth floor.  The windows are decked out in heavy purple velvet draperies fringed in gold and accentuated with gold sheer panels for when I want sunlight but privacy as well.  Not that anyone is going to peek in my window so high up.  In one corner is a large, round coffee table with big fluffy cushions around it to sit on when I want to indulge myself with exotic teas and treats.  Sometimes I share.  In the other corner is my working library with the books that I use most often.  We also have a huge library down the hall which is used for tough cases that don’t have obvious solutions.  But it’s nothing like my office, what with its warm decor and the smell of patchouli and leather in the air. Heaven. Pure heaven.

I pulled off my cowboy hat and sat down at my desk to check my emails and voicemails.  Not only was my inbox near bursting, so were my voicemails.  Most were the usual inquiries about our services. Some were hate mail from pranksters asking if we danced naked under a full moon—and if so could they watch? Teenagers and rednecks—gotta love ‘em.

The last voicemail was from the mayor wanting an update regarding the mutilated cow, and he was not happy.  Just as I was picking up the phone to call him and reassure him we were doing all we could until the necropsy results were received, Geoff popped his head inside my door.

“I have some dude on the phone that has called like ten times already saying he’s the mayor…he didn’t say of which city, though…should I put him through or what?”  Geoff announced in his blasé tone.

“Yes, Geoff.  Put him through.”  I sighed, rolling my eyes, and then stopped him before he could prance away. “And Geoff? Anytime he calls, put him through.  To either me or Zeph.  If neither of us is here, send him to my voicemail.  Got it?”

“Yes, ma’am!”  Geoff barked with a salute before prancing away to Never-Never-Land.

I had to wait a few moments, but my phone finally rang, signaling Geoff was doing his job.  I picked up the receiver and immediately went on the offensive.

“Mayor Welch, I literally just finished listening to your message…”

“Let’s cut the crap, Ms. Mayeaux.”  He cut me off immediately.  “When can I expect an answer on this cow mutilation case?”

I took a steadying breath, “Lieutenant Wilson just sent the cow for necropsy and…”

“How long does that take?!?”  He was furious.

“From what I understand it can take up to a week for full results and…”

“Are you kidding me???”  I could practically see his face flaring red.  “Do you have any idea the shit-storm I’m going to have to put up with if the public gets wind that some occult mutilated a cow near Pecan Park???”

“Possible occult mutilation of…”

“Don’t give me that crap, missy.”  He growled, cutting me off.  “We didn’t have any of this kind of nonsense until you and your partner set up shop in this town!  Now it’s a goddamn weekly occurrence!  I’m getting tired of spinning this shit in the press!”

I took a deep breath.  I’d had enough.

“Mr. Mayor.”  I stated evenly.  “I understand your position.  But bullying me is not going to speed the necropsy up.”

“You look here…”

“And you don’t need to bother threatening me with cutting off our retainer with the city.”  I continued.  “We both know that you need our services here at MKPI.  And we both know this nonsense has been going on long before Zeph and I set up shop.  The Woodman P.D. just didn’t know what to do with it.  That’s why they have so many unsolved cases from the last twenty years.”

He was silent.  Which was good.  But I knew it wouldn’t last forever.

“And just like every single case we’ve solved for you, we are going to treat this one as priority.”  I stated firmly.  “But we can’t make the pathologist do the necropsy any quicker.  In the meantime, Zeph and I will do everything else we can to try and figure this out.  We’ll do our best like always.”

“See that you do!”  He grunted, obviously having nothing else that could be said.

“If you have nothing else, there’s a client waiting.”  I sighed.

We said our farewells—which basically meant that he hung up on me—and I pulled up the client list on the computer for the day.  Since we are the only private investigators that can legitimately take odd cases in the area, we keep a pretty steady clientele coming into the office.  We also make a damn fine living at what we do. And that gives us the opportunity to take on a few pro bono cases each month from people that really need the help but cannot afford to pay.

I enjoy our work and the people are always interesting and colorful and you learn something new every day.  Most of the time you trust your gut and don’t believe everything you see or hear.  It is surprising what people will do for the sake of love, money, or power.  A lot of our clients hire us for a thrill, thinking we could never possibly solve their case. Much to their astonishment, I can follow energies back to the source, given the right circumstances and then crack a case like a squirrel with a nut.

Zeph and I began the agency almost seven years ago in a one room office near the Shepard’s Knob District.  That was after the destruction of the coven we both belonged to—but that’s a long story.  We now choose to practice spirituality in solitary, though we both still have physical and spiritual scars from the incident.

Thus, the beginning of MKPI.  We were filled with a passion to solve crimes, missing person cases, scams, frauds and anything else we encountered to pursue justice for the innocent or guilty.  The work is not glamorous, but it is challenging and gratifying and I enjoy most of it.  If it hadn’t been for the magickal antiquities smuggling case at our agency’s onset, we’d be regular P.I.’s.  Sometimes I was sure fate abhorred us.

I buzzed Zeph to see if he was once again presentable and to tell him we had a client waiting that wanted to see us both.  He said ‘yes’ and came trotting in with damp hair and a fresh cup of coffee for both he and I.  I mumbled my thanks and ringed Geoff to take the client to the conference room and to make sure we had coffee and pastries available to help ground us and the client. Carbohydrates are good for that, and they just plain taste great with coffee.

I walked into the conference room behind Zeph and could not help but stare at the woman before us.  She introduced herself as Marlena Cavanaugh.  She was of medium height, slender, pale skin, dark brown hair done in a severe bun and dressed like a crusty old school marm—but with a thicker stick up her butt.  Yeah, she was one of those. I asked Mrs. Cavanaugh how we could help her and waited for the inevitable life story.

“I am not really sure where to begin.  My husband didn‘t come home last night—and that is not like him at all.”

Zeph spoke up.

“Have you contacted the police?”

Mrs. Cavanaugh looked down at her lap.

“No.”  She looked up at Zeph.  “I understand that they will not be able to do anything for twenty-four hours.  And I am pretty sure that something has to be wrong.”

I glanced over at Zeph.  We could communicate quite effectively without speaking.

“Dayl, why don’t I get the details and explain how our investigation will work to Mrs. Cavanaugh while you get the paperwork from Geoff?”  Zeph suggested.

As I quietly excused myself to gather the paperwork needed, I caught a nervous almost fearful look in Mrs. Cavanaugh eyes that worried me.  I tried to convey a look back that it was okay and then her expression went blank as Zeph began asking questions.  I stepped out and went to get a blank contract from Geoff.

Geoff—Goddess help—what can I say about him? He tries, he really does, but he is just not cut out for the job.  Any job, really.  He tells everyone this job is to just tide him over until he gets his big acting break.  He has not gone for an audition since we hired him.  The fact that we’re based in North Central Texas makes finding acting jobs a bit tough, too.  I walked to his desk to find him, of all things, filing his nails.

“Good gracious, what in the world are you doing?” I asked.

“Filing my nails like all secretaries do, jeez.”

“Geoff, you are not a secretary, you are a personal assistant—at the least, a receptionist—and good little assistants do some work.  Like typing, filing, sending out billing invoices, paying office bills, so on and so forth.  As a matter of fact—I need you to pull up the standard contract on your computer and print it out for our client in the conference room. And I need the pricing sheet that explains our fees.  Can you do that or will it interfere with what you are doing now?”

“Easy as pie, lady boss.  I will have those ready in a jiffy and shall bring them to you in the grand ole conference room so you and the big bad wolf can do business.”  Giggling, he once again pranced away.

I don’t care who you are, it just isn’t right for a tall, dark, athletic body to prance.  His look on life is beyond my comprehension most of the time.

I swear he does things just to aggravate me.  The clients love him and find him refreshing.  Go figure.  I walked back to the conference room and sat down, watching both Zeph and Marlena Cavanaugh as the interview continued. She still appeared tense and scared and I could not get a reading on her.  That was troublesome and made me cautious.

“Pardon me while I catch my partner up with what we’ve discussed so far.” Zephyr stopped the interview.

Turning to me, Zeph explained that what we had so far was a standard missing person. The husband, Robert Cavanaugh, was last seen earlier the previous evening.  He had left his house to attend to the closing of the metaphysical shop he co-owned with his brother.  Mr. Cavanaugh is six feet and three inches tall with black hair, brown eyes, and dark complexion.  He was wearing black slacks and a green dress shirt and black dress shoes.  No distinguishing scars or tattoos.  No known nicknames.  So far, his car had not been at the home or store and no one had seen him since closing.

“Not much to go on, yet.” I said, looking at Mrs. Cavanaugh. “Is there anything else important that you need to add?”

I thought I saw a shadow pass across her face but I couldn’t be sure.  Something was blocking my radar and I did not like it one bit.

“No, no there is nothing else, just please find him.” Mrs. Cavanaugh expressed haughtily.

We were obviously already considered the help.

Reassuringly, I said we would do everything within our power, but needed some things from her to help us.  I gave her a list telling her we needed his driver license number, social security number, credit card information, cell phone numbers, business contacts, names and addresses of friends and a recent picture.  She seemed overwhelmed, so Zeph offered to stop by her house later for more information and to continue the interview.

Just as we finished, Geoff entered, but not prancing, with the papers I had asked for earlier.  He winked at me and turned to Mrs. Cavanaugh and told her she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen beside his mother.  He then kissed her hand, leaving the three of us astonished.  I began to apologize, but Mrs. Cavanaugh waved it off saying it was perfectly fine and not to worry about it.  Told you Geoff had a way with clients.

I nodded in agreement and began explaining the contract and the fees to her.  I hate that part.  I hate appearing as though we’re doing this just for the bucks, but money is part of our reality—and business plan.  I was relieved when she did not even guffaw at the prices and signed the contract and wrote us a check for four thousand dollars, which is double our normal retainer fee. Obviously she could afford it.

I walked Mrs. Cavanaugh to the elevator and gave her our card.  Watching the elevator doors close, I wondered what it was she wasn’t telling us. I could feel it and taste it.  Shaking my head, I had a bad feeling about this case.  The bad thing about bad feelings?  You never know why you have them until it’s too late.

 

 

Until next time…

You can find chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here.

 

 

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