In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories

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Chapter Eleven

I dropped Norm off at his lot within an hour of our conversation. He must have thought I was overreacting because he didn’t seem to be very concerned for his safety.

“I don’t think anyone’s gonna connect me to anything,” he said. He may have been right. I just crossed my fingers and told him to be extra careful just in case. I didn’t feel like arguing with him and I didn’t think it would be productive. His mood had been a little strange, but I chalked it up to the heavy drinking last night. For now, I’d let him take care of himself. He was a big boy.

I drove back to my office, finally ready to put in a call to Rita

Gofski. I was unlocking my door when someone walked up behind me and asked, “Rona Shively?”

I turned to find two uniform Wausau County cops standing in the hallway. I hoped the look on my face was the complete opposite of the way I was feeling. I was not equipped with a poker face. “Yes,”

I said, “What can I do for you?”

“I’m Detective Davenport, and this is Detective Waylen, perhaps we could move the discussion inside?” he said.

“Sure, no problem,” I said, opening the door and stepping aside to allow them to enter. I asked, “Would you like me to make some coffee?” Ordinarily, I would never do this, but since it was the police and I had nearly witnessed my best friend’s murder, I figured I should be polite.

“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary, but thanks,” Detective Davenport said. He seemed to be fairly nice. He hadn’t tried to come across as a hardass and I was grateful for that. The other guy hadn’t said anything yet. Maybe he was just there for show.

“Do you mind if I make some for myself?” I asked, “I didn’t quite get enough at breakfast.” I started running water in the pot before he answered, hoping that he understood the necessity of a good cup of coffee.

“No problem,” he said, “We just need to ask a couple of questions.”

“Fire away,” I said, hoping the choice of words wasn’t too flip for the situation.

“Do you know a Gilbert Delvecchio?” he asked.

I turned away from the coffeepot and looked at him. This question caught me off guard. I was sure he was here about Kimball. I looked from one officer to the other and said, “I met him the other night, is something wrong with him?” I hoped they weren’t going to tell me that he was dead.

“Mr. Delvecchio is involved in some dealings that recently showed up on our radar,” Waylen said, speaking up finally. He took off his hat and exposed a thick head of sandy, brown hair. His sparkling hazel eyes were hard to ignore. “He recently acquired some property that we believe belongs to a local crime boss.”

“Janus Gofski,” I said. It had to be. I knew Delvecchio had been lying to me about something. He said he hadn’t had dealings with

Gofski and that the only way he knew about him was through

Janetti.

“Yes, that’s the one,” Detective Waylen said, “How did you know?”

“It was just a hunch,” I said, turning back to the coffeemaker and putting together a pot. I flipped the switch to turn on the machine and turned back to the discussion.

“We know that Delvecchio contacted you, what we don’t know is why,” Davenport said, “We had a couple of undercover guys at the bar and they saw Delvecchio point them out to you, can you tell us what that was about?”

I thought back to the discussion. Delvecchio had pointed out two men, but he had said they were Gofski’s men. Gofski did have some cops on his payroll, but without looking through Kimball’s notebook, I wasn’t sure who they were. The only thing I could do was tell the truth. “He was telling me that those guys worked for

Gofski.”

“And…?” Davenport coaxed.

“And, that’s pretty much it,” I said, “I actually hired him to do some accounting for me.” Why not stick to the original lie? After all, it wasn’t necessarily the worst story she could tell.

“Accounting work?” he said, narrowing his eyes to show that he didn’t believe a word of it.

“Yeah, I had some trouble with taxes and stuff last year so I decided to get an accountant.”

“And out of all of the reputable CPA’s out there, you picked

Delvecchio?” Waylen asked, incredulous.

“I don’t know much about the CPA’s out there,” I said, throwing in the first shred of honesty in my story. “A friend of mine referred me to him, he said that Delvecchio needed to bring in some business and I figured that if he was cheap enough, it really didn’t matter who he was.”

“So, did you check him out at all before you let him look at your books?” Davenport asked.

I thought for a minute, trying to look appropriately puzzled. “Well, no, not really,” I said, “I don’t really have enough money for anyone to steal from me, so I guess I wasn’t concerned, please don’t tell me this guy’s a thief.” I was trying to get a fix on their interest in

Delvecchio. I thought they were buying the act, but I couldn’t be sure.

“Well, he’s not exactly a thief, he’s more of a con artist,” Waylen said. “He likes to get people on the hook and then find some angle to screw them out of their dough, pardon my French.”

“Hmmm,” I said, “He didn’t seem very interested in my money other than talking about needing to see my receipts for the last six months.”

“Did he happen to ask you to fill out any paperwork, anything with your personal information on it?” Davenport asked.

I bit my lip, shaking my head to show that I didn’t think so. The coffee was done perking by this time and I offered both detectives a cup for the second time. Both declined. I filled my mug and added a little creamer to it before taking a tentative sip.

“Well, then, he just hasn’t gotten that far with you,” Waylen said.

“When are you supposed to meet with him again?”

“I don’t know, I told him to call me and I haven’t heard from him,” I said, “I’ve been working on a couple of cases and hadn’t really had time to follow up.”

“Oh yeah,” Davenport said, perking up, “Anything interesting?” This was what I had been watching for. Why would two detectives care about my caseload when they came to ask me about my accountant?

“Not really,” I said, “Mostly just genealogy stuff, I do some of that on the side and lately there’s been more a demand for that than the

Private Investigator stuff.”

“That’s interesting,” Waylen said, “So you look up ancestry and that kind of stuff?”

“Yeah, I do a little,” I said, wishing I hadn’t opened this up. “I get the leads on surnames and take it as far as people want to pay me to investigate. Most people don’t care to meet their relatives, they just want to know how far back their name goes.”

“That’s pretty interesting,” Davenport said. He was an older man, probably close to retirement age. His balding head ringed with what was left of his silver hair, he turned to Waylen and said, “My exwife had all of that stuff researched, that’s how she found an old boyfriend.”

“That happens,” I said, trying to sound sympathetic. I was really thinking about where my gun was. I didn’t trust these two cops for a minute. They just acted funny. I was sure they were Gofski’s guys digging around for some info on Delvecchio.

“So, getting back to Delvecchio,” Waylen said, “Is there anything else you can tell us about your conversation with him?”

“I don’t think so, that’s really all it amounted to,” I said.

Detective Davenport reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a business card. He handed it to me and said, “If you should think of anything, please give us a call, the number’s there on the bottom.” He pointed indicating the bottom line on the business card.

“Sure thing,” I said, “I’ll be sure to call.”

The two thanked me for my help, said their good-byes, and headed out the door. I sat down in my desk chair, letting out a sigh of relief that they were finally gone. I wondered if I still needed to call the detective who had called my apartment. For now, I would let it sit. I wasn’t quite ready to talk to the police about Kimball and since this visit hadn’t led to any mention of it, I figured it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.

I picked up the phone, ready to dial information when I realized that this phone probably wasn’t secure. I thought for a second and then decided that I had only one course of action. I had to buy a damned cell phone. Jesus, I hated the thought. A few years ago, I had been tied to a particularly shitty contract and when it was over, I vowed never to let it happen again. Those bastards were just as bad as the other crooks in Vegas.

I drank the rest of my coffee, poured the remains of the pot down the sink and turned off the coffeemaker. After looking around to make sure I hadn’t left anything out, I slipped out the door, locking it behind me. I headed to the nearest shopping mall to look for a suitable phone. I knew I wasn’t going to sign up for anything big, so that limited me to either the kind that you have to reload with minutes every week or so or the tin can on a string.

The girl behind the counter of the cell phone shop couldn’t have been seventeen. She had her hair in a ponytail, and she wore a blue polo tee shirt with an embroidered patch on the sleeve that read,

“Gibson Telecommunications.” She was chewing her gum in a manner that made her look like a lazy cow. I stood there in front of her for several minutes watching her thumb through a trash tabloid magazine. Finally, she seemed to figure out that I wasn’t leaving until she helped me. She folded up her paper and smacked them down on the counter with what I considered to be inappropriate

force.

“Can I help you?” she said, still chewing.

“I don’t know, you think?” I said, using this as an opportunity to unleash the smartass that lives within.

She huffed as if to show that she too had an inner bitch. “Yeah, I can help you if you have some idea what you need.”

“Well, I need a cell phone,” I said, “And I don’t intend to pay for a bunch of crap that I don’t need.”

“Oh, I get it, a cheapo,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, a cheapo,” I said, “What kind of pay as you go deals do you have?”

She went on to explain the different scenarios that were available. I could pay $100 a month for 500 minutes and have all of this nifty stuff I didn’t need or I could buy this bulky, outdated model and purchase the cards to put minutes on in denominations of $10, $25, $50 or even $75. I opted for the latter. Within fifteen minutes, I had forked over about a hundred bucks to pay for the phone and a $50 card. After being such a hag throughout the transaction, the girl had the nerve to say, “Have a nice day and come back,” as she handed me the bag containing all of the paraphernalia that was included with the deal.

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