The elevator seemed slower than usual on the way underground to the parking garage. My slow steps echoed across the damp concrete as I found the way to a red and black 1957 Ford Fairlane. Not the real thing of course, but a few car companies had started selling brand new plastic and polymer cars with the body shapes of old. I kicked the auto drive off and started to roll out of the aging garage.
Sarah’s voice came through the communication unit on the dashboard. “Directions uploaded detective, and I do wish you would stop turning off the autonav feature on your car.”
Sarah had a routine in her program to try to keep me out of dangerous situations. Part of me was tempted to turn it off but it had kept me away from a couple unfriendly bullets in the past, so I decided just to deal with the occasional hen pecking. “Relax Sarah it’s a short trip and I have not hit anyone in years.”
“One year seven days detective, and good luck” Sarah’s voice faded as I pulled out into open ground the sun streaming through the windows as I picked up speed sliding onto a crowded freeway toward the Los Angeles public docks.
As I left the Fairlane behind and headed into the docks proper on foot I was stopped by a pair of BULS units, they must be having security problems again. Another time I could go into how much money Timothy Bulworth made selling the model for Bulworth Universal Law-Enforcement System to the city of LA but for now suffice to say I was staring down a pair of steely grey humanoid robots looking me over with lifeless red eyes. “Access to the dock is restricted outside of normal business hours.”
I flashed my private investigator’s ID “Samuel Sloan, I am here to meet with my client James Tepin.” Jimmy was an old friend that had been working city property for years and since I had got him out of serious trouble a few years back he was willing to cut me a favor here and there.
The red eyes flashed as I watched the scanners take in my face and check my admittedly hastily thrown together story. “Cleared for entry, have a good day sir.”
Most of the docks were automated these days, but mechanical intelligence still was weak in the creativity department so a few actual people still worked here and there. I found my way to a short muscular man in his fifties with a metallic right arm shaped to match the defined muscles in his natural left. “Sam, you know one of these days you are going to have to stop dropping my name to open doors for you.”
“Yeah I imagine I will, but not today.” He turned reaching out as I shook his hand. “Or they won’t have a use for an old man like you around here anymore.”
Jimmy shrugged turning away from me. “Eh they toss me out the door these lifter bots will be dumping crates into the ocean in a week, sometimes I think they all share one brain and it is broken. You looking for Orange?”
I nodded “Yeah case that may involve a few less than savory types, which probably means he knows someone they know. The weasel in his office?”
“As always, feel free to let yourself in.”
“Don’t mind if I do” I tipped my hat in his direction. “ Take care Jimmy.” It only took me a few minutes to find the out of the way shack that served as a base of operations for ‘Orange’ Julian Redgrave. The poor bastard never had lived down the docking accident that had given him a new skin color for several months, but I never called him Orange unless I was trying to annoy him.
I let myself in without ceremony. “Jules, how do you feel about doing a little favor for an old friend.”
I was met with a slightly annoyed shifty eyed look from a short man wearing a cheap suit and too long sideburns rather badly. “Sam why do I feel like I am only your friend when you want something.”
I walked up to the small desk he was using to move electronic files around and set my hands on it looking down on him. “The same reason you only help me out when I am offering cash or you think it might be useful to call in a favor later.”
Julian leaned back in his chair. “All right Sloan what is the deal.”
“A Jade frog was stolen from an upscale mansion belonging to an Arthur Dowles, no one by chance tried to sell such a thing did they.”
Julian typed up an account number on his screen. “Money first, information second.”
I tapped the miniature com unit in my false eye. “Sarah could you arrange for a transfer of funds to our friend Mr. Redgrave, and try to make it not look too much like a bribe.”
Sarah’s voice came back in response. “Done detective, I used the private account.”
“Thanks.” I clicked the com off “Ok Julian, spill.”
Julian looked at his account balance with satisfaction. “There were a few inquiries this morning about moving something that matches that description, but moving high end art without a buyer set up, not for me. Plus the guy asking sounded like a complete amateur.”
“You know I don’t learn any names I don’t need to, it’s healthier than way.” Julian turned to go back to his files. “But since we are friends now I’ll give you a freebie, I did a little research of my own on your man when I heard the offer. The man’s old lady has been making a bit of a splash at the Century Club, might be worth looking into.”
The little weasel was starting to get on my nerves at this point. “If you hear anything else, give me a call. I might have a little more cash for you on this case.”
“Always a pleasure to take your money Sloan.” I didn’t bother responding and made for the door.
I got back into the Fairlane, and spun the wheel around heading back towards the office as Sarah’s voice echoed in my car. “Detective there has been a problem at the home of Arthur Dowles, I recommend redirecting to that location immediately.”
I reset the autonav to take me to my client’s home. “What do you have Sarah?”
“Several police units have been called to Authur Dowles home. Details are not available at this time but at least one homicide detective has been called in.”
“Great…on my way.” This was going to be a long night.
Post a Comment