San Diego's newest private eye, Forrest Greenley, makes his debut in a new series of detective fiction. The real estate business owner is hired to find a missing waitress who uncovers a homemade money laundering scheme which nearly costs the woman her life. A maturing skeptic and military veteran, Forrest uses his 'free' time to navigate the societal cracks and crevices of 'America's Finest City'.
It hadn't rained for quite a while in San Diego, but people were still driving like f**king nuts on the slick streets. As I drove home, I kept a watchful eye a patch of dark clouds hovering over
me. Like massive balls of soiled cotton, they pre-empted every inch of northbound Park Boulevard. Squalls of heavy rain skipped randomly across sections of the city. The monstrous clouds and me were in a race, as if to see who would get to the next stoplight first. Remarkably, the day's sun was fading over my left shoulder.
I listened to Howlin' Wolf chant and wail about 'evil going on' while the moist air buffered against a restless worry somewhere inside me. Even with the daily dose of California's sun, it was always easy to feel uncomfortable about something. You just didn't know what was coming your way. It could have been forgotten bills, or the presage of a mysterious event. Whatever it was, it turned the moist, breezy winds into a raging tempest.
I rolled up the car windows and drove cautiously down University Boulevard. I felt more trustful of the words from the mechanic at the auto shop when he said 'everything was perfect'; especially when I thought about the amount of money I spent to get the suspension tuned back in order.
I was returning home from downtown after having a meeting with a prospective business partner at a small restaurant. We were discussing the possibilities of starting a small trading company together, bound by our common interests for making our first million dollars. We had been talking for several weeks about the deal before we finalized our partnership. I turned into the driveway; the smart phone began to buzz like a stifled, angry bumblebee.
"Hello? Forrest Greenley?" "This is Forrest."
"Mr. Greenley?" the woman's voice asked again. "Yes?"
"You still do the P.I. stuff?" "Excuse me?"
"I'm sorry. Do you still find people who are missing?" "Yes. Yes, I do." The caller had a southern-tinged voice. "Well, I'd like use your services, sir."
"Can I ask what this is concerning?"
"I would like to know if you can find someone for me." "A missing person you mean?"
The female caller hesitated and blew through her lips lightly.
"Yes. Someone's that missing. She's one of my employees, or at least she was." "How long has she been missing from work?"
"About a week?" The female caller began thinking aloud. "Yeah. About a week." "About a week, huh?"
"You sound as if you don't believe me, Mr. Greenley."
"It's not that I don't believe you, miss. It's just that something like this should be reported to the police," I offered as calmly as I could. "I'm a private investigator. I'm not the police."
"But I've already called the police." "Really?"
"How long ago was this?" "About two days ago."
"What have they told you so far?" There was another pause on the phone. "They said that they're working on it." Another pause.
"Well, why can't you go along with that?" "Because...well, because I don't believe them."
While listening, I watched a humongous, shiny black bug slowly crawl up the middle of the windshield. It had pinchers that looked like lobster claws and large dewdrops on its Teflon back.
"Well, miss? I really don't know what else I can tell you. Are you helping them the best way that you can?"
"I don't know. What's the best way to help the police?"