I phoned Tom Forsythe.
“Forsythe,” he said as he answered the phone.
“Jake Curtis here,” I said.
“How are you doing?” Tom Forsythe asked.
“Fine,” I said. “Vanessa and I are planning to be up there either Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, probably Thursday. I was wondering if the state lab people found out anything about the skeleton?”
“As a matter of fact they have,” Tom Forsythe said. “From the bone structure the lab boys officially confirmed what the ME said in the speakeasy; that our skeleton was a male and the lab boys also said that he was five ten to six feet tall. They think he’s been dead seventy years, give or take a few and probably murdered. The center of the forehead is not the usual place where people off themselves. It’s a very inconvenient position to try and press the barrel against. It forces the wrist in an very unnatural, uncomfortable and unstable shooting position.”
“So he could have been there since, say, December 1933?” I asked.
“December 1933?” Tom Forsythe
“The end of Prohibition,” I said.
“Could be,” Tom Forsythe said.
I used to check with the utility companies for any payment information I can get on the applicants but I went to the expense of joining the three major credit bureaus where I can get more detailed information once I figured out their complex codes to the true facts. If the applicant has no credit history, I check out the credit of the next of kin. I can verify most applications on the computer from my comfort of my desk. I also Google them. Occasionally I have to do some field investigation on an applicant but it doesn’t happen that often.
Both Ms. Muncy and Ms. Young came through the credit bureaus and the Googling with flying colors. Later that afternoon, my contact at the MPDC called. Ms Young had no outstanding warrants and no police record. Ms. Muncy, while having no outstanding warrants, had spent seven years in a Wisconsin women’s prison for manslaughter in the death of her abusive husband and is now out on parole. My contact told me off the record she claimed self defense at her trial as she said her husband used her as a punching bag one time too many. This time he beat her because his dinner wasn’t on the table when he wanted it. She wrapped her hand around the wooden handle of the big carving knife from the nearby counter she just used to prepare his dinner and plunged it into her husband’s chest – twenty-three times. It was the excessive knife plunges that prompted her mostly male jury to convict her. I can imagine the male jury members mentally clutching at their family jewels when hearing about the twenty-three stabs. At her request, her parole transferred to D.C. Ms. Muncy conveniently forgot to include this information on her employment application. It’s not my job to judge any the applicant but to give the client all the facts that I can find and substantiate then it’s up to them to make to make their own decisions. I made out my report on each applicant and called the client. Unless it’s important or a rush job, I don’t like to give reports over the phone. I told the client I was going to fax him the reports and my bill and that he might want to stand at the fax machine as the reports came in.
My desk was clear and I could now think about the skeleton in the Primrose Hotel speakeasy.
I think she fell out of love with me. I sure as hell couldn’t tell Vanessa about the kiss. She’d kill Debbie for kissing me and then kill me for being in here in the first place.
I finished my breakfast, paid the check, left a very generous tip, what else could I do, and started up to my office. A wooden sawhorse barricaded my path to the elevator. A metal “out of order” sign fastened with screws to the horizontal member of the horse told me that I would have to do my stair climbing exercises when I used the stairs. A wooden wedge driven under the steel outer elevator door propped it open. The car was not visible in the open doorway. I tried to look down into the opening but from where I stood, all I could see was nothingness. I turned and started up the stairway to my office. After turning the lights on and booting up my computer, I made a pot of coffee and retrieved the two Connors Corporation employment applications from the file.
Connors Corporation seems to turn over employees regularly, which is fine with me as I make money on each application I investigate. It’s not a lot of money on each application but, as the expression goes, I make up for it in volume. The first applicant was June Muncy. The second was Amanda Young. Ms. Muncy applied for an outside sales rep position and Ms. Young applied for an accounts payable supervisor position
I called my contact at the Metropolitan Police DC who will occasionally do police checks for me, as long as I don’t ask him to check out the entire telephone book at one time. Part of my long standing agreement with him is that if there are any outstanding warrants against an applicant, I give the police everything I have on that person; name, address, social, phone, next of kin and future employer’s name. Because of our agreement, information I’ve provided my police contact led to the arrest and conviction of three wanted felons. It made my contact look good in his supervisor’s eyes and a contact who has been made to look good in his supervisor’s eyes is a happy contact indeed and willing to help me again in the future.
“Jake, I haven’t seen you in a while. Where have you been?” Shelly asked. Shelly happened to be Debbie’s cousin who waited on the booths along the far wall and the tables in the center of the floor. Shelly was also five feet tall with dirty blond hair tied in a ponytail down to her waist. Today she had on an old and washed out black into gray Led Zeppelin tee shirt, without a bra. She really didn’t need one. Her erect nipples poked out from her tee shirt. Her angelic face accentuated by the thin rectangular shaped black plastic eyeglasses perched on her cute nose. Her jeans also had holes at the knees and dirty Nikes shoes on her feet with white ankle socks.
“Vanessa and I’ve been out of town for a week or so,” I said.
Debbie, overhearing my conversation with Shelly, slammed the mug of coffee on the counter in front of me and walked back to the grill. Hot coffee splashed over the top of the mug and ran across the counter and cascaded to the floor at my feet. I held my piece and pulled a handful of napkins from the holder and used them to mop up the spilled coffee. When the pancakes finished cooking, Debbie slammed my plate on the counter so forcefully the stack jumped up then fell back down on itself like in a cartoon.
I knew Debbie had a crush on me before Vanessa and I were married. I never encouraged her but I guess I never discouraged her either. I guess I was kind of flattered, I don’t know. Maybe if I hadn’t started dating Vanessa when I did, I may have asked Debbie out. Mental shoulder shrug. Besides, she always talked of somebody named Timmy who she said was her boyfriend. I tried to remain professional. I guess this is her way of venting her anger and frustration. To paraphrase my childhood idol, Popeye, the Sailor man, ‘I can’t takes no more’.