The Case of the Slacker Private Eyes

by

12/25/2009

Neighborhood: Midtown

By the third day of working on the case with Ray we were comfortable enough around each other to drop our professional facades and start slacking off a little. At first neither one of us knew how career-minded the other guy was so we kept using industry terminology relevant to the case. It was really tiring; I was so pleased when the charade ended.

The job had us scheduled to shadow a businessman in midtown for two weeks to try to determine if he was sleeping with another woman. At first he seemed innocent of any wrongdoing. He just went to work, to long lunches and then back home. It was a lax schedule that allowed for Ray and me to spend most of our time in the bakery across the street from his office.

“This guy loves eating, but not cheating,” Ray said on the fifth day. “If he was a cheater I would know.” Ray cared a great deal about screwing around on his girlfriend and since he had spent a lot of time concealing his cheating ways he seemed to be somewhat of an expert on the matter.

“If you mess around you must carry this.” He told me, revealing a small canister of Febreeze and several bottles of cologne in his satchel. “The girl that I’m with now, she’s like forty, her face is ‘eh’ but her body is great. No, her face is ugly.” He frowned, humbled by his honesty.

“But she never catches you?”

“No, I met her at the bus stop. She is Haitian so you know, they are always suspicious, and she can do the voodoo curses, so I have to be real careful.”

“What do you mean, what has she done?” People had begun to leave the office building across the street for lunch.

“You know, I can’t leave any of my stuff lying around her house or she’ll use it to curse me, like my underwears and stuff, I have to make sure none of my hair is ever left on the bed and I always take the used condoms with me when we are done or she can use the sperms against me. She asks me to give her the condoms to throw away but I don’t let her. Also I won’t take any food from her if it is opened. She brought me a can of Sprite to drink, but it was open so I threw it away when she didn’t look.”
“So you take the used condoms away? Like in your pocket? She can get you when you’re asleep.” This idea bothered Ray, he must have thought about it before but to have someone else say it really drove it home. Across the street our guy came outside, looked to his watch and walked up Sixth Avenue.

“That’s him right, so many people in that building look the same.” I stalled for a moment because I wanted to finish my cake.

“Yeah, let’s go.” Ray hopped up. There was enough of a cake piece left that I didn’t want to throw it away, but I also didn’t want to carry it outside in the drizzle. The only option that I felt was reasonable was to shove the remaining amount into my mouth. It wouldn’t be enjoyable but I knew I would be unhappy either way so I went for it. Frosting skidded to a halt at the corners of my mouth as I choked down the slab but at least I hadn’t wasted anything. We followed behind our guy for several blocks before he turned left on 54th. He was average height with graying hair and a suit which made him pretty similar looking to many other businessmen so we had to stay close. Ray crossed the street and ran ahead of the guy so he could get video footage of his face. After a few more minutes the guy entered a bar and grill on the corner of 8th.

“Did you tape his face?” I asked Ray outside of the restaurant, I giggled to myself imagining Ray putting duct tape over the man’s eyes and mouth.

“Yeah, but he looked at the camera, so you go inside and see if he is alone.”

The inside of the restaurant was much more dimly lit than the outside even though it was an overcast day. I had trouble making out different people.

“Just you sir?” The greeter asked. I told the girl that I was trying to locate a friend and she let me go free to roam about. Our guy was nowhere to be found on the first floor so I climbed the stairs to the second level. There, in the farthest corner from me, he was seated at a booth. He was facing my direction and speaking to someone on the opposite side of the table. The other person was obscured from my view by a high backrest. It was the perfect seating scenario for a secret rendezvous. There was no veiled way that I could see the other person since their table was the only one in the corner. If I got too close then my face might be noticed and possibly remembered. It was unlikely since my face isn’t really memorable but I was still reticent to get near the table.

“This guy is damn good.” I told Ray when I got outside.

“Look at this.” He held his cell phone screen up to show a digital photo of a woman’s naked ass. “That’s my girl.”

“Ooh, that’s nice. Do you think we should call and give this guy’s wife an update?”

“Yes, you call.”

The wife was a wealthy woman. She was told by Arty that we would keep her aware of any developments. When she answered the phone I said, “This is Granger, with the Silver Agency.”

“Yes, hello, what is he doing?”

“He’s at a restaurant. He’s with someone but I can’t see who it is yet.”

“Oh, I bet I know who it is, is it a woman from Jersey?”

“I don’t know.” Ray held another phone picture in front of my face, this time it was breasts. “We’re gonna wait and see who the person is though.” There was silence on the other end. I wished I had more explicit details to report.

“Okay.” She sighed, “Let me know.” She hung up. I sighed loudly but Ray didn’t ask what had happened.

“Hmm.” I hummed, “I used to be better at this job, in Connecticut.”

“Really,” Ray glanced up for a moment from his phone “not me.”

“Yeah…me neither.” Out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was our guy exit the restaurant. I grabbed Ray’s shoulder and turned us both to face a brick wall. There we stood for about ten seconds.

“What’s up?” Ray whispered, “Is it him?”

“It’s him.” I mumbled. We turned around and saw a man who slightly resembled our guy walking away. “It’s not him.”

“There he is.” Ray grabbed me and turned us toward the wall again. When we turned back around our guy was walking away, hand in hand with a skinny, blonde haired woman. The two of them walked to the end of the block before the woman kissed our guy lightly on the cheek and they parted ways.

“I’ll take the girl, you get the guy.” Ray said. We split up and I followed the guy north on Eighth Avenue. He was headed in the direction of his apartment. A couple of times during the walk he stopped and looked down at his phone or looked around the street but I was always able to duck behind something or someone larger than me. It was a short trip from the restaurant and after about twelve minutes the guy entered his building. I pulled my notepad out to document the time, when I looked up I was surprised to see the blonde woman, followed by Ray, walking toward the building. Once she got inside the door Ray dropped back and we regrouped across the street.

“They’re gonna do it.” I surmised.

“Yep, but we need to get a shot of her face.”

“Yeah, that’s what he said.”

“Huh, oh yeah, right, the sex.”

One of the doormen stared at us through the large plate glass. He had begun to notice us skulking around each morning and now again in the afternoon.

“That guy is gonna make trouble for us.” I pointed at the doorman. Ray looked at the door and then around the street like he was bored with the idea of trouble. I wished I had pictures of naked girls on my phone to show him, but I didn’t so I called the wife.

“Hello.” She answered.

“Your husband is in the apartment with another woman.”

She gasped at the news, “Who is it?”

“She’s blonde, and thin.”

“I knew it, I knew it, I’m coming there now.”

“No, no.” I wanted to drag the job out as long as possible, “Wait, don’t come, wait until we get some more video.”

She considered for a moment before agreeing that more evidence would be best, “Okay, follow them today and tomorrow, then I’ll confront them.”

“Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say so I said ‘okay’ again, and then hung up. The doorman was still watching us and pointing us out to another doorman. “Ray, let’s go across the street where that guy can’t see us.” We walked to a subway entrance next to the building and crouched down in the steps.

“How much longer do you think you’ll do this job?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I been with John and Arty now for like twelve years.”

“Have they given you a lot of raises?”

“It’s okay, I do alright, I did a case once for fifty hours straight, lots of overtime.”

“Daaaamn!” I tried to sound jealous.

“Yeah, I got a Playstation 2 and I’m probably gonna get a Playstation 3.”

“So you’re gonna do this forever huh? That’s cool, to know what you want.”

He shrugged, “I remember my first case, I was ducking down in the bushes, trying to take pictures of people in a canoe, and a bird, a water bird, kept coming up to me.”

“Can I help you gentlemen?” The doorman had come over and was standing at the top of the steps.”

“No” I said, “We’re waiting for the train.”

“Okay, on the stairs?”

“No.” Ray stood up and started talking to the man in Spanish. The doorman understood what was being said and nodded. I reached into my bag, pulled out some mints and ate them while they spoke. My mouth began to sting with freshness. There were too many mints but I wanted to look busy while they talked to each other in their language. A disheveled man staggered up the steps and bulged his eyes, not just at me but also in general. After him came a fat child. The boy’s face looked like that of a CPR dummy, mouth slightly agape, lifeless eyes. At first glance the boy appeared to be holding a golden fried funnel cake, poised to take a bite. On second look the cake revealed itself to actually be the boy’s chubby, segmented hand with the index finger extended upwards and at me. Taken off guard by his insulting gesture I laughed, but he held his hand position the entire way up the steps, never lowering his eyes. As he passed by me I threw a mint at his load-burdened knees. The candy struck its target and bounced down the stairs and out of sight.

“…And him too?” The doorman pointed the reception antenna of his walkie-talkie at me.

Si, el sabe lo que esta haciendo.” Ray said.


Granger Greenbaum lives in Brooklyn, owns a small business, and writes he can. Some work he’s made can be seen at goldenboynatural.com
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