Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Amber and Chrome Part 2

I spent the next hour scouting out the home of Richard Lockwell. Two story mansion uptown in the kind of fancy neighborhood that has it’s own surveillance drones, visual and electronic monitoring from the looks of it. I suspect they don’t appreciate two bit peepers hanging around so I found a building a kilometer away and set up a telescopic mini cam focused on the front door of the house. Ideally I would go for audio as well, except those drones would pick up the beam in a minute or two. I left the beam set up and turned off, just in case. Next on the list Highland General Hospital. The good doc did keep to only the best of company. I could barely afford to get in the door of this place. With all the security it is time to resort to an old fashioned tail. I left another minicam focused on the doctor’s entrance to the hospital and took off before anyone noticed I was there. “Sarah monitor both those cameras. You know what to look for. Then send me the doctor’s three most likely routes between home and work.”

“Information sent Detective. I presume the surveillance is causing a problem for your investigation.”

“It is. Any thoughts?” I set the auto drive on my car looking over the doctor’s most likely destinations.

“Nothing legal comes to mind. Unless Mister Lockwell could be convinced to take up a less secure residence.”

“Noted.” Sarah had a number of useful functions but an occasionally irritating programming directive not to break the law except to save human life. Then again an AI randomly deciding to ignore electronic law would almost certainly end up dismantled. Luckily I know several people with far less scruples if it comes to that.

I grabbed coffee and a bagel while waiting for my case to leave work and give me something to actually do. Then took a moment to consider whether coffee while staking out was a work expense. Seemed a bit cheap even for me. Realizing there was no way to monitor the doctor from across town, I finished off my day by finding Ralph’s economy hotel. A dive oddly located in the middle of luxury. That one will be an job expense. After a few hours analyzing the information Ms. Lockwell provided me on her husband and trying to fill in the gaps I was amazed it took Rochelle Lockwell this long to suspect something was up. As the sun slowly went down and day turned into night I indulged myself in a small whiskey followed by two large ones, then drifted off to sleep. Sarah could keep an eye on the cameras without me and the Doctor started his day early.

The next morning I was up early with only a cup of coffee and a plate of eggs to comfort me. The waitress was certainly nothing to look at and about as friendly as your average mob enforcer. At least the eggs were not to runny and the coffee was good. I had just finished my second cup as Sarah flagged me that our mark was on the move. I paid the lady and even left my enforcer a tip as I hurried out to the car.

It didn’t take long to pick up the Doc’s trail and just in time as he took a hard left off course and I bit back the urge to dash after him. I was still early in this project and didn’t want to get made by a rube on day two. There is an issue of reputation to consider. It took me another few minutes to pick up his trail as he weaved back and forth through side streets and the occasional alley. While halting a moment at a stop sign Sarah’s voice lit up the comm system. “Detective, I Have been observing your car’s cameras and they have picked up the same two cars four times now.”

“Show me.” My mechanical eye scanned the local traffic as Sarah lit up a pair of shiny new luxury cars one blue and one green. I had seen them before today and once yesterday if memory serves. The green one took a left as the blue headed straight on following the Doc. I wasn’t the only one following Doctor Lockwell and unless my new friends were completely incompetent I was within a couple minutes of being made.

I decided that caution was the better course and bailed on the tail for the moment, making my way back to the office to regroup. Setting the auto drive I flicked the comm on. “Given how little Rochelle Lockwell was thrilled about hiring us, does it seem likely she would hire another outfit to follow her husband?”

“Doubtful, I have identification on the cars and have a request with the police station for information.”

“Let me guess, they are still angry with us over the dock incident and somehow the request is taking a while.”

“Well angry with you anyways. I do not believe they recognize me as anything to be angry at. The rest is correct however.” I made a metal note to figure out just how self aware Sarah’s AI was one of these days.

“Either way we have a new player of the field. And a fairly well funded one from the looks of it. This is starting to look like something more than a cheating husband. Unless he is having an affair with a mob bosses daughter.” The Fairlane pulled slowly towards the Regency Bright building. “I’ll be in shortly.”

“Confirmed Detective. And I believe were he having relations with such an individual he would be in the Pacific rather than followed.”

“ A fair point.” A few minutes later I passed through the office door “Get me a map of the area where Doctor Lockwell was heading to. That should give us a place to start.”

Sarah blinked into view opening a map on my computer screen. “Here is the neighborhood he was heading to. He could have been going farther on of course.

“I doubt it. A man trying to sneak out and get back without being noticed doesn’t take cross country road trips. Let’s assume for the moment he is not going to the residence of a mistress.” I turned in my chair focusing on the map. “How many commercial buildings in the area?”

“Thirty. Also Doctor Lockwell’s car just entered the hospital.”

“That is enough to start with. The Doc is tucked in his hospital nice and safe so I can do some research. How many if we filter out all the ones we can confirm to have been in operation for several years?”

“Working.” Sarah spent a moment filtering data. “That brings us to eight.”

“Time to work then.” I hopped in the car looking forward to a very dull day of looking for a needle in a haystack. It was driving by building the red brick of number six where something caught my eye. The building sign said West Coast Construction but it was dead quiet. “Sarah, focus the laser microphone on that building and deep scan for sound, specifically heavy machinery.”

“Someone is inside. However no signs of heavy machinery.”

“Looks like we found our location.” I parked my ride a couple blocks away and gave the place a walk around on foot. No way to see in from any direction and infrared scans picked up what appeared to be a state of the art security system. All I needed was one good view of the Doc coming into the building and I could skip tailing him. Even if all this panned out. it still left the problem of what to tell his wife. I doubt she would accept the building he was going to as my job being completed and he still could have a mistress in there it was just looking a lot less likely. I planted one more long range camera focused on the building entrance then got out of there. If anyone put this much effort into making a building look nondescript, they were almost certainly on the lookout for interlopers.

I let the auto drive take me back to the hotel as I looked over the public data on West Coast Construction. Not the most creative cover name, but I suppose the point is not to draw attention. My musing was interrupted by Sarah’s voice over the intercom “Detective, Behind you.” A glance in the rear view showed the same green and blue sedans from this morning. I let the fairlane slowly roll up to a light that was about to turn then kicked the auto drive off and slammed on the gas. My tires squealed as I made a hard right over the curb. “Spoof the signals out of the car, I don’t want them tracing me.”

“Taken care of detective, although I am not sure how much it will help. Your car is rather distinctive.”

“It should at least make them work to find me.” I watched as the goons behind me blew right through the red light, setting off the sensors and attracting a tail of their very own from the Los Angeles police department. That should at least keep them off my back for an hour or two. “I think we are going to need a little less than honest help with this one. I’m heading down to the docks to talk to Orange. Find out if Asiru Ishamoto has an opening in her schedule.”

“Confirmed Detective, good luck.” 

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