I sat in the wooden office chair with my feet up on the oak desk. It was real oak, not some veneer covering particle board. Both had belonged to my father when this office was his. When I took over the business, I didn’t change a thing. Since I was Dexter Thorn, Jr., I didn’t even need to change the name on the door.
Back when dad was alive he was known as a “private dick,” and “hard boiled” at that. These days, with all the political correctness we don’t use those terms any more. I’m a “Licensed Private Investigator, LLC.” The LLC means my business is incorporated to keep the lawyers and accountants happy. Doesn’t do a thing for me. I’m too much like my dad – old school – not very happy with all the modern attitudes.
I was still on the police force when Dad was shot. I knew who did it, the cops knew who did it and the judge knew who did it. The case was thrown out on a technicality and the murderer walked; unfortunately the technicality didn’t do squat for my father. I turned in my badge and gun that day and went into the family business.
The private detective business isn’t anywhere near as glamorous as they show on TV – it’s a lot of pre-employment checks, routine surveillance for divorce cases and such. You’d think that by the 21st century people would have figured out how to keep their hormones under control, but they haven’t and their indiscretions pay my bills.
I’m not a complete Neanderthal; my office does a lot of white collar crime investigations and computer forensics. I don’t do it myself, of course, I farm it out. I guess being a PI these days is more like being a general contractor – I find the people who have expertise in a specific area and dole the work out to them taking my piece off the top.
But today was going to be different. It started when the door opened without a knock.
“Well, if it isn’t junior trying to fill his daddy’s shoes,” he said as he walked in unannounced.
“You’ve got a lot of balls coming here,” I replied.
“I’m as safe as I would be in my own home,” he replied with a sneer. “You can’t touch me. No one can touch me and you know why?”
“Because the law is an ass?” I offered, quoting Dickens.
“True enough,” he replied. “But more importantly because people are stupid. They only believe what they see on TV. That’s why I’m safe.”
“You kill my father in cold blood, you come into his office – MY office and you think you’re safe?”
“Of course I’m safe,” he laughed. “Double jeopardy protection with regard to your old man, and with a good team of lawyers, I can do just about anything. Jurors today think life is like television. If you ain’t got DNA, you ain’t got a case, and trust me, I’m real careful with my DNA.”
I realized that I hated his laugh even more than I hated him.
“Look at you,” he continued, “You turn in your badge and get a license; you file reports and you pay taxes. I don’t gotta do none of that stuff. You gotta have a permit to carry your gun, but me…,” he reached into his coat and pulled out a Baretta 9 mm automatic and began waving it around. “You think I care about gun laws?”
There was the report of a revolver, followed almost instantly by the door crashing open as two uniformed officers, guns drawn and a detective with his badge on a chain around his neck busted in. They looked at the body on the floor and the smoke still curling from the .38 police special in my hand. I laid the gun on the desk and pushed it handle first toward the officers.
“Now why’d you have to do that, Dex?” Detective Kwiatkowski asked. We knew each other from when I was on the force. I pointed to the Baretta still clutched in the weasel’s hand. “Well, it’s a cinch that you didn’t have time to plant that gun on him. ”
“You better check,” I offered “maybe it’s legally registered to him.”
“Right,” Kwiatkowski answered, returning his weapon to his shoulder holster. “We’ll probably find the paperwork next to his Eagle Scout certificate and his Good Conduct Medal from the Army.”
“We’ve been following him,” the detective continued, “and when I saw him head for your office I knew it wouldn’t end well. I called for backup.”
“The uniforms?” I asked.
“Nah – they happened to be in the neighborhood and thought an old man like me couldn’t handle things. No, I called for these guys.” The door swung open again and the crime scene folks walked in, pushing a stretcher with equipment cases stacked on top.
“Okay, everybody, this is a crime scene and I don’t want anybody contaminating the evidence.” He began stretching yellow tape around the room. “What kind of DNA samples will we need?”
“DNA? You can collect it but I doubt we’ll need it,” replied the detective.
“You mean I’m the one that’s going to have to clean up the blood?” I asked.
He looked at me and his brow furrowed, “You know I’ll have to take you down to the station for a statement, and I’m taking the gun as evidence.”
“Yeah, but I want the gun back. It was my dad’s and has sentimental value. Oh, and my statement will be short. The clown who killed my father came into my office and pulled a gun.
“So I shot him.”
It’s what Dad would have done. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.