The room was full of stars. The sparkles twinkled in a grid that hung up in the air in thin lines, straight up and down, like a curtain of lights at Christmas time. It was a web woven by magical pixies. But this was 1940 and they didn’t have pixies in 1940, at least not in Los Angeles. All of the pixies had moved out because of the traffic noise.
“Okay, Eddy,” I said. “You're a tough guy. Six feet of steel, one hundred and seventy pounds of muscle, with your hair cut and clean shaven, and no glass jaw. You’ve been smacked down and dinged on the head until you saw stars. For you, this is just routine, right? Just another day on the job for Eddy Hart, L.A.’s hardest working and most underpaid Private Detective, but now you have to do something really difficult. You have to stand up, or at least try to stand up, but you’ll settle for just rolling over.” But the rest of me disagreed. There was no point in standing up because I would probably just fall back over again. This was not the first time I’d had this conversation with myself. I had a similar one when I was playing football for U.C.L.A. back in my college days. I remember having the ball and running towards the goal when there was a grunt, a thud and the lights went out. I had awakened on a table in the training room with several people looking at me like I needed the Last Rites. I’d survived that one and I’d probably survive this one, but, at the moment, standing up didn’t seem to be a good option. Besides, the floor was comfortable. The floor was safe and, above all else, when the shooting started I would already be where I wasn’t the big target I had been. “I think I’ll just stay here for a while.”
At least when it had happened to me at college, I’d known who to blame. It had been a player for the other team named Tosh Koslowski, also known as “The Crusher.” The other person to blame was myself for being stupid enough to be running and holding the ball within reaching distance of Crusher Koslowski. This time it was different. This time I didn’t know who hit me. Therefore, I could only blame myself for letting someone get close enough to smack me over the head. That long ago hit had ended my football playing days. The after effects of this hit were yet to be determined.
It had all started yesterday. It was normal. At least the first part had been. I was talking to Bowman.
Karl Bowman was my partner, or least his name was on the door. “Hart & Bowman – Private Investigators.” Bowman had been a crooked cop who got caught and busted out of the department. In a department like the L.A.P.D. that meant he had taken something and hadn’t given his Watch Commander his cut. That was political suicide in the department and was an offense second only to being an honest cop who wasn’t on the take. Under the current administration not being on the take was tantamount to laughing in the face of tradition. It was no secret that I didn’t much like Bowman. He was untrustworthy, shifty, his wife hated him and he would never get a humanitarian award. In his favor, however, was that he was a hell of a detective. He knew the ins and outs of every back alley and side door in L.A. and he could track a flea through a pack of dogs.
My mind drifted back to Bowman. I remembered that Bowman and I were in the office we shared, discussing a divorce case we had just wrapped up. I didn’t like sharing an office with Karl, I didn’t like sharing anything with Karl, but the tiny office was all we had to work with and Karl was my business partner. The office was designed for one person and by the time you got two desks, a couch, a couple of chairs and three filing cabinets in it, it became claustrophobic.
Karl had been seated on the couch smirking at my reaction to his photographic efforts, his thin pencil mustache twisted into a snarl revealing a gold-capped canine tooth which only served to remind me of a pimp I had busted when I was with the D.A.’s office. I was seated behind my desk still wondering if I should show the husband all the pictures Karl had taken of his wife and her paramour. Some of it was grounds for divorce and a few of them might be considered a defense in a justifiable murder case should hubby get that notion into his head. I didn’t need that on my conscience. I was deciding on showing only the less pornographic ones to the husband when Claire knocked on the door and then ushered a potential new client into my office.
Claire smelled of soap. She always smelled of soap, as if she had just bathed and the scent followed her around like a puppy. Claire Marie Olson had been my secretary for…how long had it been now…almost a year. She was an attractive girl in a plain sort of way. She was about twenty-five years old, blonde and blued eyed with a youthful energy that was tightly packed inside a 5’ 3” frame. She had come to L.A. from somewhere in the Midwest, Iowa I think. Unlike so many other girls from the Midwest, she hadn’t come to L.A. to become a movie star. She came to L.A. just to get away from the Iowa farm where she had been raised. Because she was smart and didn’t expect to be “discovered” she hadn’t fallen victim to phony movie producers promising to make her a star, for a price, or slick-talking con men posing as talent agents only to lead the poor girls into another, much older, profession. No, Claire was just happy not having to wait tables in a truck stop in Des Moines while she waited for Mr. Right to come along. Like I said, she was smart. She was also the backbone of the office, keeping all the records, paying the bills when we had the money and, in general, being the chief cook and bottle-washer for the agency.
Claire had a streetwise sense about her and a no-nonsense quality that belied her freshly scrubbed, farm girl persona, which is why I hired her. This is not a job where you put a wide-eyed kid from the sticks. Being a private detective in L.A. meant that you mixed with all sorts from the rich, uptown swells looking to get the goods on each other in a divorce, down to finding runaway pups of all sorts. You mixed with bartenders, con men, hookers and thugs on a daily basis and, when you were through with them, you went out and dealt with the real underbelly of L.A. No, this was not a job for someone squeamish, easily shocked or naïve. I didn’t know much about Iowa, but Claire didn’t seem to me to be exactly fresh off the farm. You don’t get her level of street smarts growing corn.
Claire walked into the inner office and introduced a woman as Mrs. Elizabeth Allison then turned and left, closing the door that separated my office from the outer office. Both Karl and I stood and introduced Karl as my partner. I offered Mrs. Allison a seat at one of the chairs facing my desk while Karl took the other one. She was a statuesque woman who I guessed to be in her middle thirties with a look that was more New York than L.A. Where the people in Los Angeles, regardless of station or bank account, had a certain kind of casualness about them, people from back east were more formal in dress, posture and speech. Elizabeth Allison possessed that stiffness you only got from living in New York’s upper west side, educated at Bryn Mawr or some other school where they didn’t like using “E’s” in anything they spelled and a distinct nasal tone when they spoke as if they didn’t want to inhale around their lesser…and everyone was their lesser. That’s not to say she wasn’t attractive, quite the opposite. Even around the beauties in Hollywood she would have stood out. She wore a tight-fitted dress that showed off every curve and she had plenty to show off…and in all the right places. I looked over at Karl and could tell by the gleam in his eye that his interest in Mrs. Allison was not only as a client. This was one of the reasons and I’m sure there were many others, why Karl’s wife hated the S.O.B. He treated philandering like a sport. If it had a skirt and a heartbeat, Karl would chase it.
“How can we help you, Mrs. Allison?” I asked, as I sat down.
Without saying a word, she pulled out of her purse a letter and handed it to me. It was postmarked two weeks ago from Los Angeles and addressed to her at a Sutten Place address in New York. So far, I was one for one. There was no return address on the envelope.
“I received that from my brother a couple of weeks ago. He wrote me that he had something very important to tell me but didn’t want to write it or tell me over the phone.”
The tone of her voice and that distinctive nasal tone told me that I was now two for two.
“He asked me if I would come out so that he could tell me in person. He said that I could use the sunshine and we could have a nice time catching up, as I hadn’t seen him since he moved out here a year ago.”
I nodded and she continued.
At this, her eyes started to tear and she paused for a moment and dabbed at her eyes with a monogrammed hankie.
“I sent him a reply in care of General Delivery which gave him the date and time of my arrival, but when my train pulled in he wasn’t there to meet me.” Another dab at her eyes. “I just assumed that he became busy and was delayed. I waited almost an hour and he still didn’t arrive. I had nowhere to begin to look for him, so I checked into a hotel and waited. The next morning, I still hadn’t heard from him. I’m worried that something might have happened.”
“Have you gone to the police?” I interrupted.
“Yes, I did, but the man at the front desk told me he had to be missing for forty-eight hours before I could file a missing person’s report on him. I’m very worried, Mr. Hart. This isn’t at all like him. That’s why I came here.”
“So, you would like us to find him for you?” I asked stating the obvious.
“Yes,” she answered and, reaching into her purse again, withdrew a photograph. “His name is Walter Dodgeson. I’ve written his last known address on the back. He hasn’t lived there in some time but I thought it might be a starting point for you. Do you think you can help me? I’m beginning to get frightened for him.”
At that, Karl reached over and patted her hand gently. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Allison. We are very good at what we do and I’m sure we can help you find your brother.”
I was surprised that she didn’t recoil from the sudden touch. Despite Karl’s calming demeanor, even someone raised in a mountain top convent in Peru should have smelled a rat…and a smarmy one at that. Yet, she didn’t seem to notice or take offense.
“Thank you,” she said. “You are very kind.”
Karl leaned back in his chair looking like the cat that just ate the canary. He knew my rule about hitting on a client, but he also knew that she wouldn’t be a client forever and Karl was a patient man.
“We can get started today,” I said, leading the way toward mentioning our fee. She was a step ahead of me and, again reaching inside her purse, pulled out two hundred dollars in crisp, new twenties and set them on my desk, making sure to spread the bills out so that I could count the amount.
“This should get you started,” she said without emotion. “If you need more, I’ll be staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel.”
“I should have something for you by this time tomorrow,” I said, not looking at the money, then added, “Just to be on the safe side, tomorrow you should go back to the police and file a missing person’s report. Ask for Detective Wallace and tell him I sent you.”
We all stood up with Karl taking Mrs. Allison gently by the elbow. “Allow me to show you out, Mrs. Allison.”
She turned and looked at me smiling. “Thank you very much. You’ve been so very helpful.” Then with more of a pointed tone said, “I hope to hear from you tomorrow.” I nodded and Karl took Mrs. Allison into the outer office, shutting the door behind him.
Her smile stayed with me for a moment. It was the smile of someone who had practiced smiling to hide fear. It was a smile that stayed on the lips and didn’t travel to the eyes. Something was wrong here. I didn’t know what it was but it was there. I looked down at the money on my desk. That somehow looked wrong too, but money was always something that smoothed out my doubts. If a client could pay up-front for a week’s work it had a way of chasing away my doubts about a case.
Karl came back in grinning like he’d just hit a grand slam. He came over to my desk and took the photo of Mrs. Allison’s brother, turned it over and read the address on the back. “Hmmm…pretty nice address. I’ll check it out.” He turned to leave, then, almost as an afterthought turned back and grabbed one of the twenties. “For expenses,” he smiled. “I should have something in a couple of hours. I’ll call in and let you know.”
I nodded. “Say, Karl,” I asked, “Did anything hit you funny about Mrs. Allison?”
He thought for a moment. “No,” he answered, the grin returning to his lips. “She looked just like she sounded, a poor damsel in distress and in need of a knight in shining armor.”
“And you don’t care that this damsel has a husband?” I queried?
“Divorced,” he said, the grin widening into a sneer. “I asked her. That’s what we used to call good detective work,” the sneer turning into a smile.
“Just remember that we work first and play later,” I added. “That’s what we used to call good business.”
He nodded, grabbed his hat off the rack and without another word left the office.
That had all happened when? “That’s right,” I said out loud to no one, the fog faintly clearing. It had all happened early yesterday. I had been waiting for some word from Bowman last night about the Allison case when I got thumped. I touched the back of my head. The bump was still there but it wasn’t as tender as before. It now only throbbed every time I blinked, which was an improvement. “It’s a good thing that you have a hard head, Hart,” I said to myself. For a brief moment I thought about standing up. Some footsteps, walking on the hard wood floor of the outside office, made my mind up for me. I decided to play dead. I didn't have to be much of an actor.
A woman’s worried voice came at me from above. I took a chance and opened one eye. Above me stood Claire, and she looked ashen. “Oh my god, Eddy. Are you alright?” she fretted.
Claire helped me to sit up and I had managed to get to one knee when the room started to spin again and I flopped over onto the office couch which most of the time doubled as my bed. Claire touched the back of my head. “You have a bump the size of a goose egg,” she sighed, being clever enough not to touch it. “Do you want me to call a doctor?”
“Yeah. Get me Doctor Feelgood. I have a bottle of him in my desk, bottom drawer.”
This was the first time I focused on the office itself. Someone had tossed it and wasn’t fussy about putting things back. File drawers were pulled out and their contents were spread all over the place. Just for the joy of it they had broken my lamp and cut open my chair cushion with a razor. This wasn’t just a ransacking, this was a personal message. Whatever they thought I had, they were telling me that I’d better get it back to where it came from before they returned looking for it again, which meant that they were coming back to either finish the job or finish me. I wasn’t looking forward to the reunion.
Claire returned with my pint of Walnut Hill Rye and a wet cloth. She put the cloth on the cue ball on the back of my head and I almost spit out the whiskey when the pain hit. I say almost because there was no point in wasting good whiskey.
“You’re not bleeding and you won’t need stitches,” she said with relief. “What happened?” she finally asked. “This place looks like a tornado hit it.”
I stood up on wobbly legs. Right now that was a major accomplishment for me. I moved back to the window where I had been standing before I got hit. The sunlight streaming in didn’t help my head. This was like the worst hangover times ten.
I sat down in what remained of my chair and tried to think of how many people I had gotten mad enough at me to do this to my office…not to mention my head. I finally had to narrow the list down to those who I had made enemies of in the last six months. After narrowing the list down even more, I gave up. Apparently, I made people angry just by showing up. It was easier than it sounded. In this business you made enemies out of cheating wives and out of the husbands who wanted you to prove it. The husbands generally ended angrier at the man holding the pictures then the wives that were in them. More than once I had shown the aggrieved husband the photographic proof of his mate’s infidelities only to have to duck a punch like it was all my fault their wives were unfaithful. Needless to say, the list of people who would have liked to trash my office and make my head into a milkshake was a lot longer than I would have liked to think it was.
Claire was kneeling on the floor picking up the scattered files. “Where’s Karl,” I asked, wishing that talking wasn’t so painful.
“I haven’t seen him since yesterday. He came back in the afternoon while you were gone. He then got a telephone call and rushed out. He never checked back in and he didn’t mention where he was going.”
She gathered all the files off the floor and put them on the corner of my desk. “I’ll go through these today,” she said, “and see if anything is missing.”
I nodded hoping that my head wouldn’t fall off as I did so.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to call a doctor?”
“No, but thanks.” I put the bottle of whiskey down as Claire turned to leave. “Say, Claire,” I asked, “Why did you leave Iowa?”
Claire turned and gave me a wry smile. “Have you ever been to Iowa?”
“No, I can’t say that I have.”
“Well, if you had been, you wouldn’t have to ask the question.” She turned away and walked out and into the outer office closing the door behind her.
I stared at the pile of what had been my files and tried to think of anything that someone who wasn’t desperate for reading material would want with any of them. As detective files went, these were duller than most. There was nothing anyone could possibly be interested in, so it had to be something someone thought I had and didn’t. Whatever it was, they weren’t too happy that they hadn’t found it.
The intercom buzzed. At first, I thought it was just inside my head. I flipped the switch and heard Claire’s voice say that there was a gentleman to see me. I almost answered back that I didn’t know any gentleman, but thought better of it. “Bring him on back,” I said.
The door opened and Claire, still holding on to the knob, showed in a weedy little man in a suit who smelled of lilacs. She quickly shut the door. I knew why. This man didn’t just smell like lilacs. He smelled like a whole field of the flowers. I wanted to open a window. My eyes started to water.
He held out his hand while looking over the debris scattered around the room. I could see that he was deciding whether to stay or to run.
“We’re doing some remodeling,” I offered. “It makes a hell of a mess.”
In a voice that made it seem like each word was being squeezed through his front teeth he said, “Indeed.”
He was thin and well dressed. He sported an equally thin mustache that wasn’t so much hair as it was a line of mascara on his upper lip. He removed his homburg and offered his hand, then thought better about it and withdrew it as if he might catch some disease if I shook it. “My name is…,” he hesitated, “not germane to the task at hand.”
“Okay,” I said. “It’s your dime, you make the call.”
The little man looked around for a clean place to sit and decided that wasn’t any better of an idea than shaking my hand. “Frankly, Mr. Hart, I need someone of your talents to accompany me on an errand this evening.”
“What sort of errand?”
“The sort that must be treated with the utmost discretion.”
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this guy was being blackmailed and it was even easier to guess what he was being blackmailed about. This was L.A. after all and guys like this were an easy mark. The beaches were full of tanned, well-muscled men with no visible means of support that used guys like Mr. Lilac here like an open bank account. Occasionally there would be a spat and that usually ended with a lump sum payment as a parting gift of sorts. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t. When it didn’t, Detective Wallace showed up to put a chalk line around the body. It was just one more story in the on-going drama that was the City of the Angels.
A man of my talents, I thought to myself. This guy just wanted to be sure that he had some muscle with him. I was about to tell him that I didn’t do babysitting when he said. “I will pay you a hundred dollars to accompany me.” That easily made me the best paid babysitter in town.
“Okay,” I said. “When and where?”
“Do you know a place on the pier called Etta’s?”
I nodded. “Well, I know a place under the pier called Etta’s” emphasizing the word “under”. Would that be the same place?”
The little man gave a curt nod and a small smile formed on his pinched face. “Very good,” said the little man hopeful that I might know more about it than I was likely to brag about. “I’ll park near the pier. Meet me and we can walk down to Etta’s together. Ten o’clock tonight.”
Etta’s was a well-known hang-out for these types of assignations. It was secluded, being located under the pier rather than on top of it like the other bars and fish houses in the area. It was also away from any prying street lights and the roar of the ocean washed away most of the sounds. It was exactly the type of place you would pick if you wanted to cause some trouble without drawing any attention. Even if someone heard or saw something they wouldn’t want the world to know that they had been within five miles of the place, much less close enough to be a witness for the police to question.
“Ten o’clock,” I confirmed.
He reached into his breast pocked retrieved his billfold and handed me a mint fresh hundred-dollar bill. I didn’t see many of these in my line of work and was tempted to hold it up to the light to see if it was real or not.
“Ten o’clock,” he repeated nervously. “Don’t be late.” He paused and asked, “Do you carry a gun?”
“Yes,” I said, then added, “…And I have a license to go with it.”
“Well, you won’t need it tonight.” With that, Mr. Lilac turned abruptly and left. He was obviously as happy to leave as I was to see him go. I was tempted to turn on my fan but with all the paper lying around it would just stir up a bigger mess.
I looked at the C-note. This had been a profitable week so far. I moved around and sat down at my desk tucking the hundred into the corner of the blotter. I then reached down and opened the bottom drawer. I pulled out my Colt .45 automatic and tucked it in my belt. I learned a long time ago that when somebody tells you not to bring your gun, it’s the time you make sure to bring one that was loaded.
The intercom buzzed again. For some reason, I didn’t answer it. Instead I got up and went to the door that separated my office from the outer office and waiting room where Claire had her desk. The lilac smell was finally fading. Claire had her fan going and that was doing the trick. As I opened the door, Claire looked up. She had the phone receiver in one hand and was covering the mouth-piece with the other. “It’s Mrs. Bowman,” she said. “She sounds very upset.”
I wanted to give my office a chance to air out so rather than taking the call in my office, I took the phone from Claire. “Yeah, Mary, this is Eddy. What’s up?”
“Oh, Eddy,” she sobbed. “Karl didn’t come home last night.”
“Now, Mary,” I tried to calm her. “That’s not unusual. We’ve been working on a case and he probably was doing a stake-out,” I lied. If he was doing a stake-out, it was probably with Elizabeth Allison.
I knew that Mary wasn’t anywhere as interested in Karl’s whereabouts as she claimed to be. Karl was no picnic, but Mary was no angel either. The first time I’d met her, she was working as a B-girl in a dump over on La Brea, hustling drinks. As far as I was concerned they were a match made in heaven…or someplace much warmer. She had as many “friends” on the side as Karl did. It was like they were having a contest. I had no idea why they didn’t dump each other and take off, but that was between them and it was something I wanted no part in even thinking about.
“I haven’t heard from him since he left for the office yesterday morning. I’m very worried,” she emphasized, which translated into that she wanted to take off with one of her boyfriends and didn’t want a husband getting in the way.
“Okay, I’ll tell you what, I’ll go out and look for him. You can check in with Claire later.”
“Thanks, Eddy. You’re a peach.” I heard the phone click and she was gone. Mary could turn her spousal concern off and on like a light switch.
Claire looked up at me from her desk. “Is everything alright?” she asked.
“Karl has gone missing. That’s not the end of the world or anything unusual, but he was supposed to be working on the Allison case and took twenty in expense money. It’s the twenty I’m worried about.”
Claire gave me a small smile. She had been hit on more than once by Karl in the early days until I put a stop to it. Since then he had minded his manners around the office and kept any conversations with Claire to a minimum.
I grabbed my coat, telling Claire that I was going to try and find Bowman and that I’d check in with her in a couple of hours. I gave it a second thought and went back to my desk and retrieved my back-up gun, a snub-nose Smith & Wesson .38 revolver. I walked over to Claire’s desk and handed here the gun. “If our visitors from last night come back, just pull the trigger until you stop hearing the bang-bang and start hearing the click-click, then run like hell and call the cops.”
I thought she would grab it with two dainty fingers like it would bite. Instead, without saying another word, Claire took the revolver, opened the cylinder to make sure it was loaded and then with a flip of the wrist closed the cylinder and nodded. I now had a whole new respect for Iowa girls and made a note never to tangle with one that had a gun.
I left the office and headed down the hall to the elevator. Just as I had gotten there, the elevators doors opened and out walked the last two people on earth I wanted to see right now.
Detective Lieutenant Dudley Wallace was a guy I had known since my days at the D.A.’s office. He was a big Irishman that still had a touch of the brogue when he spoke. He had once been a Captain but because he refused to turn his back on the sort of bribery that was an institution in all levels of Los Angeles, had got sideways with the higher ups. He couldn’t be fired because the city still needed a few honest cops. So for refusing to look the other way he was demoted. We were kindred spirits in that regard. I had the same situation when I worked as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, only I quit before I could be framed and fired. Wallace had always played straight with me and I returned the favor.
His partner, on the other hand, was the weasel poster boy. Detective Sergeant Frank Panier was as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. He was the type of guy that when he shook your hand you had to count your fingers. He had made his career by being a snitch and the bagman for the higher ups. If you wanted a police favor it came with a cost and Panier was the guy who carried the cash from the people wanting the favor to the people who granted it. As a patrolman he could always been seen to carry around a cigar box and there hadn’t been cigars in it since it left the factory. Everyone knew that when he had the box it meant that he was making a delivery to someone on the top floor at police headquarters. Hell, he would brag about it. How this little creep got paired with Wallace was a matter of conjecture throughout the department. Whether it was a good thing or bad thing or who had ordered the pairing, differed depending on who you were talking to. It certainly didn’t help Wallace’s reputation any. To be paired with Panier was to be painted with a broad brush. The stink of corruption rubbed off on whoever was standing too close and Panier was one of the bigger skunks.
“Well, well,” said Wallace as a way of introduction, “If it isn’t the great Private Detective, Big Eddy Hart. You are just the man we came to see.”
“Glad to see you, Lieutenant,” then looking at Panier I added, “And you brought your monkey with you. Were they cleaning his cage at the zoo?”
Panier bristled, “Keep it up, smart mouth, and we’ll have your license.”
“Now, boys,” interjected Wallace, “Play nice.”
I nodded. “What did you want to see me about, Lieutenant?”
“We have a stiff in the morgue and he had your card on him.”
“So what,” I answered, “They give them out with bubblegum.”
“So, we wanted to know how you might have known this stiff.”
“The stiff have a name?” I asked.
“Yup,” said Wallace referring to a notebook he held in his hand. “His name was Walter Dodgeson,” then added, “At least that was the name he went by in L.A. We’ve got him as Brian White in New York and Nick Scarlotti in New Jersey. The guy had more aliases than you have shirts. You know him?”
I knew exactly who he was, or who Elizabeth Allison said he was. I also knew who Nick Scarlotti had been. Neither of which I was prepared to share with Wallace. “No,” I said. “The name Scarlotti rings a bell, but I can’t place it. Didn’t he fight Dempsey for the Heavyweight title?”
“Very funny,” snapped Panier. “You get any funnier and you might be sharing the slab next to this guy.”
I noted the threat but I wasn’t going to panic over it. I looked at Panier, “Relax, and if you’re really good I’ll have the Lieutenant here get you a banana.”
Panier moved to hit me but Wallace stuck his arm out and held him back. It was never a good idea to hit a cop but with Panier I would have made an exception. Panier was guaranteed to fight dirty and I could see his one hand reaching for his back pocket and the blackjack contained therein. The problem with blackjacks is that you had to be able to get to them before you could use them and I would have broken his nose long before that would happen.
As if nothing had happened, Wallace picked up the conversation. “So, you don’t know where this guy would have gotten your card?”
“My card reads Hart and Bowman,” I answered. “Maybe Karl gave it to him, or maybe he just found it somewhere. They get passed around a lot.”
“Okay,” said Wallace. “Where’s your partner then?”
“That’s a good question, Lieutenant. I was just headed out to see if I could find him. I haven’t seen him since yesterday, but when I see him, I’ll tell him to call you.”
“You do that,” he said. He pressed the button on the elevator and the doors opened. He stepped aside and gestured. “After you.”