Authors: Mick James
Bobby’s cell phone rang
a few minutes before nine. He was at his desk on his second cup of coffee and the third Morris Montcreff file.
“Bobby?” It was a rough-sounding voice and she cleared her throat after she said his name. “It’s Christine.”
You could have fooled Bobby. She didn’t sound anything like the woman he spoke to last night.
“Christine, nice to hear from you. I hope you can help us out.”
“I think I found a way. We had a power failure in the building last May, the twenty-sixth. You remember it? The first tornado of the season, weather folks completely missed the forecast and it knocked the power out across most of downtown.”
He did remember the storm. Just to make things worse he’d still been in the halfway house and the power outage gave staff the opportunity to sit everyone down for an additional group session.
Bobby suddenly had an unpleasant flashback; sitting in an unlit conference room at four in the afternoon listening to someone drone on about personal responsibility while Bobby begged the battery-operated clock to tick faster.
“Yeah, last spring. I do remember, I think a good part of downtown was off the grid for a couple of days.”
“Right, we were one of those offices, shut down for two more days. If your document was dated for that day, the twenty-sixth of May, I think I can help you out. We didn’t shut down until about three that afternoon and we lost everything for the day. It’s still causing problems. Every once in a while something shows up we have no record of and sure enough, whatever the document, it was originally filed on the twenty-sixth.
“Of May?” he said writing the date down.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“I’ll get it drawn up with that date, Christine. You got time to meet me tonight?”
“I could get away this noon,” she said sounding anxious.
“I can do this noon. Is that little bar still around the corner from your office, I’m blanking on the name.”
“The Aces High?”
“Yeah, I’ll meet you there at noon. I’ll have the documents.”
“Don’t be late, I only get thirty minutes for lunch. You don’t have to buy me anything.”
“You just be there looking like your usual pretty self and that will be good enough for me.”
“Will you talk to Prez before? You’ll bring everything?” she whispered and placed an added emphasis on everything.
“I’m sure you’ll be well taken care of.” he said.
“See you there, please don’t be late,” she said, then hung up.
He phoned Prez.
“I need to see you this morning a little before noon.”
“You don’t need more…”
“Yeah, we better just to play it safe, but it apparently worked. I’ll get the proper date on the documents, I’ll need you to sign them. Christine found a date she can file it under. They had a power failure last spring and lost the records for the day. She can slip it in and we’ll be good to go.”
“Would I be calling you if I wasn’t? I have to meet her downtown. You know where the Aces High bar is?”
“Yeah, never been in the place, but I know where it is.”
“Meet me on the street in front of the place, eleven-thirty. I’ll get your signature and we’re golden. How’s your tenant?”
“Still working on it,” he said not sounding at all positive.
“I’ll see you later this morning. I need you to be on time, she has about five minutes to meet me.”
“What about what I might want?”
“No, I don’t need you there complicating things. Let’s get this document filed, then go ahead and do whatever you plan on doing with her. Just don’t tell me. I’ll see you there,” Bobby said and hung up.
Prez waltzed down the
street at 11:45. Right on time in his world.
“You’re late, man,” Bobby said.
Prez gave a look that suggested he didn’t understand.
Bobby opened the manila envelope with the power of attorney, a trust and the wills for both Prez and Arundel and pulled out a sheaf of papers.
Prez made an unpleasant face and said, “I’m ‘sposed to read all that shit?”
“Take it easy, all you have to do is sign where I tell you and then get out of here. I’ve already put Arundel’s signature on everything.” Bobby had listed Bennett Hinz as the attorney of record, borrowed one of the paralegals’ notary stamp when she was away from her desk, notarized the thing, and forged Bennett’s signature along with Arundel’s.
“Here, you just need to sign this thing at the bottom, date it the twenty-sixth of May, and use this pen, it’s a different colored ink from the others.” he said and handed Prez the pen.
“Turn around, let me use your back to sign my name, man. And I don’t need to read this shit?”
“No, you just need to sign the damn things, wherever those little red flags are you sign.” Bobby said turning around, hoping Prez would just sign the damn things and not see the adjustments he’d thought to add at the last minute.
“Done,” Prez said a few minutes later and handed the documents back. Bobby placed everything back in the envelope and then said, “Thanks.”
“You buying lunch?”
“No, I’m getting your document filed so you get Arundel’s house free and clear.”
“With that little crack-head? The chick with the nice titties you lined up last night?”
Bobby gave him a quick glance after his comment, then recovered. “You mean the one who’s gonna pull this off for us. Make it work. That the woman you’re talking about? The woman we got everything riding on?”
“Calm down, okay. I’m just joking with you, man. No need to get all defensive. I’m missing you is all. Ain’t seen you around and it’s starting to weigh heavy on me.”
“Prez, we need to have these filed. It’s a risky operation, very risky. Now, with Christine I think we found a way to do it. It will result in a lot of money going right into your pocket.” He poked him where a breast pocket would have been on his T-shirt. “So let’s just stay focused on the task at hand, okay?”
“Easy, Bobby. Remember, I was your bitch last night when you needed help.”
“Yeah, I remember, Prez. I do, and this is the result, success. Or almost. We just have to let her slip this into the files, do whatever else she has to do to log these things into their system and we’re home. So let’s just stick to the task at hand, if you don’t mind. Now, I’m gonna need one more thing from you.”
Bobby took a deep breath, swallowed, then said, “I need five grand.”
“Five grand. I don’t need it this minute, but I’ll need it by the end of the day. It’s the cost of doing business.”
“The cost of doing…where am I supposed to get that kind of money?”
“Hey, I was with you the other day when you unscrewed the ends off those pipes. Remember?” Bobby looked around to make sure they weren’t attracting any attention. “Now you are about to take possession of a home worth probably a hundred and fifty grand. I just want to make sure I got this straight. You’re telling me you don’t want to put up five grand to get that. Is that correct? Because I can just tell Christine when she gets here that we’re sorry, but it was all a big mistake. That what you want me to do?”
“No, I was just…”
“Prez, this is some serious shit. I’ll need that money, tonight.” He saw the look of doubt on Prez’s face and tried to smooth it over. “Look, it’s what she charges me and there’s nothing I can do to change that. Let’s meet, say at six. Otherwise, well, this isn’t going to happen. Okay?”
Prez stared for a long moment. Bobby thought maybe he was weighing his options, he wasn’t sure. He was sure of one thing, Christine was due in the next ten minutes and he didn’t need Prez adding any complications.
“I’ll call you as soon as I hear everything is in place. Okay?”
Prez nodded like he understood, then said, “Make sure you do.”
“Now you got a little something to encourage the lady to get the job done?”
“Yeah, I got something for her. You give here this, tell her thanks for everything.” He held out his hand and palmed four rocks to Bobby as they shook hands. Then turned on his heel and walked away. Christine came around the corner just as Prez disappeared.
She saw Bobby about the same time he spotted her and she picked up her pace. As she got a little closer he noticed the bags under her eyes and her unkempt hair, not quite together. She looked like she hadn’t slept. She wore a short skirt that was slightly askew with a cream colored top half tucked into her skirt. As she came closer she pulled her arms across the front of her chest as if she was attempting to hold herself together. A large purse was slung over her shoulder and bounced against her hip.
“Christine, nice to see you again, it’s been too long.”
She nodded nervously and quickly glanced left and right. She was clearly strung out.
“You got something for me?” Her eyes looked dilated and she didn’t appear to be wearing makeup.
“Christine, I need you to get these documents filed, like we talked about. Do you remember, May twenty-sixth?” He said and held the thick envelope with the files out to her.
She snatched the envelope, stuffed it into the large purse hanging at her side. “Yeah, I told Prez I’d take care of it. Did you happen to bring anything else?” she asked, then glanced around nervously.
“Maybe. I need to…”
“What?” she shrieked, and a number of heads walking past turned to look at them. Not the sort of attention Bobby wanted.
“Come here,” he said and grabbed her firmly by the arm. He led her around the corner of the building into an alley. “Look, I need to have you get these documents filed on that May twenty-sixth date. Now, I think I’ve got what you want, but pull yourself together for Christ sake. You look like shit. Does your husband suspect anything?”
“I didn’t go back home last night.”
“What?” it was Bobby’s turn to shriek. “Have you talked to him? Is he looking for you? Has he called your office? Christine, this is not the sort of low profile I need you to maintain.”
“I know, I know. I just need a little more to get me over the hump and then I’ll stop. I promise, God. I sort of lost track of the time and then all of a sudden it was morning and I had to get to work. I ran home, my day care provider was there, so I just threw on some clothes and, and didn’t have time….” She fidgeted and stared at the sidewalk.
“Look at me. Look at me, damn it. Christine, I want you to go back to your office and I want you to file those documents. Do you understand?”
“What day is it to be filed, Christine?”
“Jesus, the twenty-sixth of April.”
“I mean May, the twenty-sixth of May. Okay. I’ll do it. I’d just like to be appreciated a little.” She raised her eyebrows as she said this last part.
He reached into his pocket, took out two of the rocks from Prez and placed them in her hand. “We appreciate you, Christine. Now…”
She glanced at the two rocks in her hand, then looked like she was going to cry. “This is all? Prez promised…”
“I’m sure there’s plenty more for you once you get that paperwork taken care of. You let me know when you have that filed. What’s the date?”
“May twenty-sixth, Jesus.”
“Okay. You call me once you have that filed. Got it?”
She nodded anxiously. “I’ll do it, I promise.”
“I want you to call me just as soon as that’s filed. Okay, you do that, file and call me and look,” he said holding two more saran-wrapped rocks in the palm of his hand. “Just the thing for nice girls who do as they’re told. As soon as it’s filed and registered. And what’s the date?”
“May twenty-sixth, got it. I’ll go do it right now,” she said and nodded vigorously, then turned and began to walk away, by the time she reached the corner she was almost running. His only hope was she would file the paperwork before she got high. He figured she’d probably be out of a job and served with divorce papers by this time tomorrow.
It was just a
little after one that afternoon when Bobby’s cell phone rang.
“Bobby, it’s Christine, it’s filed,” she whispered.
“Great, Christine. You’ll send me a receipt reflecting that date?”
“Already in the mail,” she said.
“Thank you. We’ll have a little something for you at the end of the day. Why don’t we meet in the same place?”
“I’m finished at four-thirty,” she said
Bobby hung up and dialed Prez.
“It’s done, all nicely filed and ready to go. There’s a receipt in the mail to me I’ll have it early next week. You’re about to become the legal owner of that property, Prez.”
“None. Now we’re going to wait a few weeks, review Arundel’s estate in a timely manner and all that nonsense, but in all honesty it’s just a matter of counting off the days so it doesn’t look like we’re rushing to grab this. What I’ll need from you is the matter we discussed earlier.”
“The five grand?”
“Yeah. I’ll need it tonight.”
“And if I don’t?”
“If you don’t? Pretty simple, this woman will go into her office on Monday morning, pull all your documents, tell her boss she caught a mistake and bottom line you’re screwed. Don’t fool with this Prez, you’re getting off easy and this is the County we’re talking about. They are quite capable of making life very miserable.”
Prez thought he just might be getting screwed right now, but there was nothing he could do about it. “All right if we meet around six, if that works? And yeah, I know, not your place. How ‘bout in front of Arundel’s?”
“You mean your new place,” Bobby said.
“Yeah, my new place,” Prez said and liked the sound of that.
Bobby caught movement outside his office and saw Noah Denton heading toward his door. “Got to go, Prez, see you there at six,” he said and clicked off his cell just as Noah knocked and popped his head in the door.
“Spare a moment?” he said. He didn’t wait for an answer but stepped into the office and closed the door behind him.
“How did things go with Miss Bandon?” he asked.
Bobby had a number of comments on the tip of his tongue but thought wiser and instead said, “Very well, I appreciate your help.”
“And I see you’re reviewing the Montcreff files.” He indicated the stack on Bobby’s desk and the open file spread out in front of him.
“Yes sir, he’s certainly run a lot of work through here.”
“Everything’s on the up and up.” Noah said making a statement and sounding a little defensive at the same time.
“I’m really just getting started.”
“Any questions you’ll let me know.”
“Actually, Mr. Montcreff told me to get in touch with him and then he would review everything with you. Is there something out there I should know about?”
“No, certainly nothing I’m aware of. It’s just the intricacies of the law. Well, and a client not too well-versed in some of the finer points. I guess I don’t have to tell you, you can well imagine the potential for misunderstanding.”
Bobby nodded thinking in other words you’ve pulled something, I’m probably going to catch it and you’re going to be in big trouble
He changed the subject, slightly.
“I heard you had some car trouble the other day.”
“Nothing major,” Noah said and dismissed the comment with a wave of his hand.
“Oh, I thought someone said it caught fire or something.”
“Who said that?”
“I don’t recall, it was on the Evening News, I think.”
Noah suddenly looked flustered and raised his voice. “The damn thing was burning right out in the driveway. If the fire department hadn’t responded as fast as they did I could have lost the entire house. Thankfully it didn’t explode, but it could have. My wife, my daughter, the dogs. A bit of an overreaction, don’t you think?” he said, sounding like he was accusing Bobby.
One of the paralegals strolled past, glanced in the window when she heard the raised voice, saw who it was and picked up her pace.
“What are you suggesting?” Bobby said and stared at him. It was one of those defining moments, a power shift where nothing else really had to be said because it suddenly was understood.
Noah glanced uncomfortably around the small office before he reached for the door and said, “Please, I’ll expect you to keep me advised on the Montcreff issue.”
Bobby could have suggested he didn’t know there was an issue. He could have reminded Noah that Morris Montcreff insisted Bobby deal with him directly. He could have told him he was on a first name basis with Morris ever since he’d clubbed that thug to death in the wine cellar. Instead, he just nodded and smiled as Noah Denton closed the door on his way out. Bobby watched him storm back to his corner office, heard him close the door, maybe a little too forcefully, not quite a slam, but almost.
He reached for the first file he had reviewed. There was something, somewhere and he started over from the beginning, paying a lot closer attention to detail. His cell rang a little before four.
“Hi, Bobby, it’s Christine, I’m leaving early.” Even though she was whispering her voice sounded rough.
“Oh, Christine, is everything all right?”
“Yup, just peachy. Can you meet me?”
“I can, same place?”
“Out front of the Aces High works for me. I can be there in about five minutes.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can, Christine.”
“Hurry, I’ll be waiting. Please don’t be late, promise. Promise?” she said.