Needless to say, Harry is pretty happy to hear that the charges have been dropped. But there is still the matter of his kitchen, not to mention the rather obvious fact that someone is out to get him.
“How’d that body get in my kitchen,” he asks Mike.
“Damn good question. Your back door lock was picked. You really should get better locks, Harry,” Mike adds in an aside to Harry. “An eight-year-old pretending to be Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective could have picked that lock with a paperclip.
“There’s no question that Wilson was killed in your kitchen. You saw the blood. Her throat was cut, right there on the spot.” He consults his notes again. “There was no rigor yet, and very little lividity. She hadn’t been dead long enough. The killer really cut it close (hah, so to speak). You could have walked in on him. Or her, though this doesn’t look like a woman’s crime to me.”
“But how could the killer know Harry was even going to be there?” I asked.
I turn to Harry. “You went home on the spur of the moment, right?”
“Well, not exactly on the spur of the moment, but yeah, I hadn’t planned it. I remembered that I’d left the report on the kitchen table, but I could have just as easily brought it in with me this morning.”
Mike asks Harry, “You didn’t tell anyone you were headed there?”
“Who would I tell?” Harry answers, shaking his head.
“Then the only possible explanation is that the killer was close enough to see you pull up. I’m thinking that your spontaneous stop at the house was a little bonus for him,” Mike says. “He obviously was going to try to frame you or at the very least cause you some serious inconvenience. But your appearance gave him some instant gratification. A quick call to us, and he gets to see us haul you off to the pokey.”
I hadn’t thought of that. “You mean you think he was still there?” I’m a little horrified at the thought. What if Harry had walked in on him?
“Well, you know what my neighborhood’s like, Marty,” Harry says. “It’s Venice Beach. There are people everywhere. He could have been standing across the street, and I never would have noticed.”
“True. I guess it would have been odd if there were no one around,” I agreed.
“Well, I’ve got a killer out there, one who seems to have a hair across his ass when it comes to you, Harry. I’m going to get back to it. I just wanted to let you know in person that you were in the clear,” Mike says as he gets to his feet. “Stay in touch, and keep your eyes open. I’ll let you know if we learn anything.”
Mike doffs an imaginary hat and leaves. Before the office door can close, Steve comes in and hands me my briefcase.
“Is everything OK?” she asks, her brow furrowed.
“Better than OK, Kid,” Harry answers. “Well, all except for my damn house…”
When his wife left him a few years ago, Harry found himself a run-down little bungalow a few blocks from the beach and fixed it up himself. He did a great job with it too. He loved the place when he was done. I’m wondering how he’s going to feel about it now.
Now that he'd been cleared, most guys would have left the police work to the police. But Harry’s not most guys. The next morning, we spend a few minutes filling each other in on our activities of the previous day.
Harry begins. “I went and talked to Miranda’s husband yesterday. He was a little shocked to see me in his office, which kinda shocked me, if you know what I mean. I thought at first it was because he thought I was safely ensconced in a cell in Parker Center. But no.”
He gets up, goes into his office and returns immediately with a can of Dr. Pepper. Who drinks Dr. Pepper for breakfast? Harry.
"Then why was he surprised? You saying he recognized you? You must be losing your touch, Harry.”
“Marty, you’re not going to fucking believe this,” he says as he pops the top from the soda can and tosses it across my desk toward the waste basket. It goes in with a clink, and he says, “Two points; the crowd goes wild.” He takes a big gulp of Dr. Pepper and continues.
“Yeah, so it turns out that the reason Jack Wilson recognized me was because he was having me tailed. I nearly fell out of my chair when he pulled out a bunch of surveillance pics of yours truly.”
“What?” This whole thing has been a little surreal, but now I’m feeling like Alice when she fell through the looking glass. “He was having you followed? What the hell for?”
“Oh, it gets better. These two must have had quite the marriage. She hired us because she thought he was fooling around, right? Well, guess what. He thought she was fooling around.
“Apparently, for the past several months, she’d been acting a little off. Nothing he could put his finger on, but just not like herself, you know? It probably had to do with the fact that she was planning to divorce him, but he didn’t know that. Oh, and that was quite a shock to him.”
“Yeah, but why follow you? How’d he even know about you? Seems like he’d be having her followed if he were that suspicious,” I say.
“Yeah,” he answers. “That’s what I said. Well, he was having her followed. And that, my friend, was how he knew about me.” Harry goes into his office again, and comes out with a manila file folder.
“I got him to give me this, not so hard once he’d heard my tale of woe. Here, take a look.” He hands the folder over to me.
Inside, I find a picture of Miranda Wilson and Harry, leaning toward each other over a restaurant table.
“Good picture of me, huh?” he smirks. “That was the breakfast in Van Nuys I had with the lady a couple of weeks ago. Man, look at those perfect eggs, over easy and ready to boogie. Makes me hungry just looking at them.”
I’m about to say that Harry is always hungry, but ask instead, “And he got this picture because he was having her followed?””
“Yup. And that’s when they put a tail on me. Apparently his PI -- a new guy out of Pasadena, by the way -- thought I was ‘the other man’ and hooked me up right then and there. Must have been like watching paint dry. I can’t think of anything worse than watching another PI watching somebody else. I mean, talk about b-o-r-i-n-g.”
“No kidding. So bottom line?”
“Bottom line is, I don’t think Wilson killed his wife, Marty. I asked him about all the in-and-out-of-the-office stuff I saw when I was watching him. He is having a fling, with the wife’s sister, if you can believe it. Said he was taking calls from her. He’s a sleaze, but nah, he didn’t kill his wife. The guy’s way too much of a wuss.”
I tell Harry about my visit to the Wilson house, and pull out the stuff the housekeeper gave me. All except the muffin, of course, which is long gone. I’d eaten every glorious bit of it myself, waistline be damned.
“The Wine Bar. Huh. I think I know where that is,” Harry says. “I wonder what Miranda and her sister would be doing meeting every afternoon in a bar, given the situation. Let’s go check it out.”
To be continued in Part 4
This was written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory.