Just The Facts
The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
With many assurances that my apartment “wasn’t that bad,” the members of 3 Cool Chicks Cleaners (Motto: “You won’t recognize the place when we’re done with it”) were packing up their gear and headed out. Two-thirds of them had left when an SUV pulled up and parked behind the remaining car.
The SUV was gray, both indescript and foreboding at the same time. You might not notice it if were next to you on the street, but you sure as anything would notice it if it was specifically parked behind your car to prevent your leaving. Make no mistake: the parking was intentional. This was no “in the middle of the parking lot” stop. It was parked where it was parked for a purpose.
A man emerged, walked around the front of the vehicle, and stood near its passenger door.
“Excuse me,” he said. “Are you _______?”
I didn’t quite catch the name he said, but it didn’t sound anything like my name, so I said I wasn’t.
“How long have you lived here?” he asked.
“A year and a – well, two years this summer.”
“Why am I telling this guy anything?” I wondered.
“Who lives next door?”
“Uh, I don’t know any of my neighbors’ names.”
“How long have they lived here?”
“That one was empty for six months or more, and the people moved out of this one in November. These new people have only been here a little while.”
“Why am I still telling this guy anything???”
“Oh. Well, I’m a private investigator and I’m tracking down ________,” he said, as he started moving back around his SUV toward the driver door.
“Oh. Well… good luck.”
“We’ll get him,” he said, climbing into his SUV and closing the door.
A bunch of thoughts ran through my mind:
- First, this guy was no Thomas Magnum.
- Second, while I was aware that there were actual private detectives hopping around, it was still weird to have this kind of reminder.
- Third, why did I tell him anything?!?
- Fourth, why is he doing this detecting at 9:30 at night? Is this like a second job for him so this is the only time he can do it? CPA by day, detective by night! (Really, though, by the looks of him, it would be “gym teacher by day.”)
- Fifth, what did “the guy” do? Did “the guy” really used to live where I’m living? Should I be checking my apartment for hidden compartments full of cash? Maybe the guy left behind his elaborate schemes mapped out in specific detail. You’d think I would have stumbled upon any of that by now, but I’m not the most observant person. I’d make a lousy P.I.
TV shows have done the private detecting business a great disservice, I imagine. Being a P.I. isn’t all about the shoot-outs, car chases, and charismatic one-liners. Nope. Even dudes driving SUVs around at night can do it, I guess.