Thursday, April 7, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: Cycle 25


A Bo Fexler story


“Imagine my dismay," she said wringing perfectly manicured hands, "when I learned my potential son in law was on the sex offender list. I have to protect my daughter. I need to know what Tony did to get on the sex offender list."

She handed me the color print off. It was not the state-run website, but another popular sex-offender site. His picture and address were the main information on the page. “Do you mind if I take this?”

“No. Not at all.”

"How old is your daughter?"

"Twenty-one. She's just a baby! She shouldn’t even been talking about marriage, but as soon as he did, I made sure to look into this guy. I never guessed I would find this!”

"Did you talk with her about Tony being on the sex offender list?"

"No. I don’t want to alarm her.”

“Right. That makes perfect sense.” Before she fully processed my response, I asked, "Am I allowed to speak with Tony or Louise during the investigation?"

"To him, but not her. I don't want to trouble her with such things. She’s too young for this sort of thing.”

“I see. So, curiosity compels me to ask what you’re going to do the findings of my investigation?”

“I’m not sure, yet. I’m still working on a plan for how to fix this little relationship problem. If you have any ideas, I’m willing to consider them.”

I could barely keep from laughing out loud. I long ago found that it was best to keep my ethics loose and easy. My job is about finding information—like the maker of a hammer, after I’ve done my job, I’m not responsible for what people do with it. I certainly don’t improve the reputation of private eyes. Maybe being a hot blonde woman makes up for it. I cleared my throat and launched into my spiel about hourly rate, retainer, billing process and minimum charge. Next, I produced a contract.

After she handed over the retainer, in cash, which I counted in front of her, I got as much personal information about Tony as I could, including employer and high school.

That was enough for me to get started, so I left. The dealership where Tony worked was on my way home, so I stopped there first. Perhaps I could get the story from the source. Given the circumstances, I was more likely to get a whole lot of sandbagging.

The man standing at the parts counter with a clipboard and a pen over his ear was dark haired with a slight stubble that could have either been a missed morning shaving or an early evening shadow. He carried the stubble look well, though, which may have had to do with his broad shoulders and stocky frame. He was shorter than me by about an inch, putting him around five-foot-eight or nine.

“What can I do for you?” he asked pleasantly.

“Tony Newman?”


I smiled, “Is your girl friend perhaps Louise Miller?”

His brow furrowed. “Yeah… why?”

“Ah, good, you’re the man I’m looking for. Do you also live in the Glen Wood Apartments?”

“No. I haven’t lived their for a couple of months. Got a new place.”

“Nicer than those apartments?”

“Yeah. It’s on a lake, well, a pond really.”

“Thinking of settling down with Louise?”

“Maybe. What’s with all the questions?”

“Just curious.”

“Sure. Did Louise send you to see how serious I am about her or something?”

“That’s a pretty stiff accusation. Is she the type of girl who would do that?”

He thought about it. “No… but her mom might be. That woman don’t like me at all. And she’s scary protective of Louise. Louise can’t do anything without Mom’s approval. You working for her mom?” His lip twisted in an ugly sneer.

“Hey, we all have to pay the bills somehow.” I handed him my business card.

“Private investigator. Never heard of it. So, are you supposed to see if I’m gonna flirt with you or something?”

“No. I’m supposed to get some background on you. Including your spot on the sex offender list.”

His face darkened. “You can tell that bitch to fuck off. And if you don’t leave, I’ll get your ass thrown out.” He stomped a few feet to the left, out of the window, but not far from it. His response was not a surprise. I leaned into the parts counter window.

“You aren’t interested in clearing your name?”

He muttered something at me with the word ‘fuck’ used several times, and grabbed a phone receiver from where it had hung out of my line of sight.

“What if I offered you fifty bucks?” was my last attempt.

That, too, warranted a couple fucks.

I headed back home, not surprised by the outcome, but mildly disappointed. I had Tony’s date of birth from the sex offender list, which was a big bonus. I put it into a credit header search just to see what would come up. If I’m going to pay for the database, I might as well use it.

The sex offender website page that my client had used didn’t show Tony’s offense so I went online to find the missing information.

Tony’s offense was listed as second degree criminal sexual conduct. After some hunting in the online government statutes, I found that it meant touching, no penetration, with someone under the age of 16, with a couple other possible situations and stipulations, such as for a coach or teacher.

The best lead I got was from the credit header, which includes past and current employers. One of his employers was a local school district. So I gave them a call. I confirmed that he worked there as a coach for girls basketball by pretending to be checking on his employment history for a new employer. People don’t question plausible lies.

The sort of information I wanted wasn’t really supposed to be given out during employee background checks. But maybe I could get the athletic director to talk anyway. Lots of men like talking to pretty blond women. And many people like talking in general—gives them a fleeting sense of importance.
The athletic director was an older man, balding with the beginning of a pot belly. He was doing something on the computer when I tapped on his half-open door and walked in.

“Hi—can I help you?”

“I hope so. I’m doing a background check on a former coach of yours.”

His brow furrowed and he gestured to the two chairs in front of his desk. One had a stack of folders and papers, so I took the other one. “You are?”

I gave him a flirty smile. “Bo Fexler. And I’m really hoping you can help me.” I leaned forward just a tad to see if he would take a peek down my cleavage. He didn’t. “Tony Newman is on the sex offender list. The offense coincides with his time working as a coach. Did he get a little too friendly with one of the basketball players?”

He leaned back in his chair and folded his hands atop his extended belly. “I don’t really think that’s any of your business.”

“No?” I took out one of my business cards and handed it to him. “It’s my job.”

“You do your work dressed like that? Not very professional.”

“Most people don’t mind. I’m told I make for nice viewing.” I lowered my eyes.

He took a deep breath and his eyes flicked over me quickly. Perhaps he was too used to avoiding long gazes at young women in his office—it was an occupational hazard in his position. “I really shouldn’t talk about what happened.”

“Not even to clear his name?” I asked, changing tactics. I’m not all blond hair and long legs.

His eyebrows lifted. “What do you know about the situation?”

“Enough. You don’t think he’s innocent?” I countered.

“Oh, I do. I was surprised when the verdict came back guilty, but it came down to he said-she said.”

“What did she accuse him of?”

“Asking her into the office after practice. She claims that he closed the door and touched her inappropriately.” Even using that polite phrase made him uncomfortable enough for his extra large forehead to turn red. “Another student testified that she went into the office shortly after the first girl and Mr. Newman had his pants undone.”

“So, it’s not just her word against his.”

“Still could be. The two girls knew each other pretty well. They said they weren’t friends, but you know how friendships shift amongst high school girls. And there may have been a motive on her part. She got pulled out of a game a couple weeks earlier because she wasn’t playing her best. Rumor has it she was pretty upset, but you can’t prove that.”

I thanked him and went home to write up my report. I would have continued the investigation, but I suspected that my client would have no interested in digging deeper in the story, even with the possibility that the maligned man could be innocent.

Her answer was expected. “Oh, no, this is all I need, dear. Thank you. I knew he wasn’t good enough for Louise.”

“I’m sure there are few men who would be,” I said with a smile that contrasted how I felt.

She flashed a broad smile in return. “She’s my baby. I only want the best for her.”

Tony called the next day as apparently he’d kept my business card, and launched into a lengthy, expletive tirade on how I’d ruined his life and his relationship with Louise.

“Yeah, but would you really want to have to deal with her mother?” was all I said.



Angie said...

The end made me giggle. My favorite line: "like the maker of a hammer, after I’ve done my job, I’m not responsible for what people do with it."

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I found myself nodding at the end, thinking "good point".

This was a really well paced story, nicely done.

Beach Bum said...

This was an outstanding story! I liked how it dealt with those gray areas in life that most want to ignore.

Charlie Wade said...

Great story. I really liked the last line.

RegCPA5963 said...

Nice story! Great name as well "Bo Fexler". Tony just didn't realize how lucky he was.

Doc said...

I have got to say I loved the story. You writing is so smooth and polished. Much like Bo, there isn't a hair out of place. Very, very well done!


Clair Dickson said...

I'm so glad everyone enjoyed. I was feeling kind of rusty and rushed. Thank you for stopping by.

Joyce said...

I have to wonder if he will ever realize just how big a favor Bo did for him. This was a great story. Great job!