Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Faceful of Lies, continued yet again

I have no Deep Thoughts about any of the disasters, present and in the foreseeable future, that should occupy a serious blogger. Therefore it is your misfortune -- and I hope nothing worse comes your way today -- that this posting resumes A Faceful of Lies, an account of the latest case of private detective David Pflug. Earlier episodes can be deplored here and here.

Chapter II

Anne-Lisa Cato and I parted on the best of terms, with her check for my extravagant retainer fee in my desk drawer -- even I wasn't gormless enough to take out my wallet and stick it inside -- making me feel like a Person of Substance. We had concluded our interview with my probing for more information about her late husband Sigismondo and his executive secretary who, according to Anne-Lisa, was also his very personal assistant. Nothing very helpful turned up but it gave me a chance to share another pour of CĂ´tes de Fort Lee '99 and survey her ferociously lovely eyes.

There was still the matter of whether to address her by her first or married name. It was like the French trying to decide whether the tutoyer moment has come around. Well, why not, this isn't a Henry James novel. "Anne-Lisa, where can I touch you -- I mean, get in touch with you?"

If she noticed my gaffe, she didn't give any sign. Nor did she draw herself up like a cat stretching after a nap and say, "You can call me Mrs. Cato if you like." She said, "The phone number, and even the address, are on the check I just signed. You'll probably remember to remove it from the desk. If you don't, you're not the man I take you for."

Was that a compliment to my powers of recollection or a dig at my shameless money grubbing? By the time she and I would conclude our business (pleasure?), I expected to be able to update William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity with new discoveries.

Just to make sure the information would be secure, I took the check out and wrote down her address. Not surprisingly, she dwelled on the East Side in the 70s, where the condo doormen deliver their best Christmas-bonus smiles to residents. I understand they no longer carry whistles to summon taxis, but use these new phone cell things.

So far my only lead was the alleged suspect, Olympia Fibonacci. Wait a minute. A suspect doesn't have to be "alleged." Suspect contains the built-in uncertainty. "Alleged suspect" is as redundant as "potentially dangerous." And as I was to learn in time, this suspect was potentially very dangerous.

There were 14 Fibonacci numbers in the Manhattan phone book, none prefixed by "Olympia," or even "O." The online White Pages gave me an additional three Fibonaccis. To judge strictly by addresses, at least half seemed unlikely as the setting for a love nest where a president and CEO would frolic with his mistress. I called all 17 numbers anyway. Got 17 answering machines with no names in the greeting, just a welcoming, resigned, or surly voice reciting the phone number and allowing a message to be left. Manhattan isn't a place where people run to answer their phones themselves, or give out classified information like their names.

Well, they don't call me a detective for nothing. Except "they" don't call me anything usually. I call myself a detective. I picked up my desk phone and rang a guy I knew on the force, an official detective, the kind with a badge attached to his belt. The phone rang a long time before someone answered. This soon after what people were starting to call "nine-eleven" the police were as busy as juggling octopi, fielding calls from distraught relatives desperately hoping for some news about their relatives who'd been in the Twin Towers and other problems connected in one way or another with the attack.

Eventually I was connected to Detective Bentley Yugo, who made a costly effort to be polite though his voice revealed an aggravated assault on his nervous system. "David," he said. "You okay? Your office is only a few blocks from the towers, isn't it?"

"Actually, I was on the 91st floor of the South Tower when the plane went in," I said. "Luckily, I'd brought my parachute with me. Like to keep it handy, you never know. Still, the air around my office -- "

"You must be breathing in more people than you've bought drinks for in your life. Look, I gotta million things ... what's up?"

"Bent, I'm looking for a woman -- "

"You and me both, pal. You heard me and Marilyn have irreconcilable differences, she says? The main difference is, she wants more money than I got, ha ha."

"No, no, I'm talking about a professional -- " 

"Jeez, David, your social calendar's not exactly full, huh?" I wondered if he ever let anyone finish a sentence. New York. Time is money. Even if you don't have much money, and no one has time. "All right, listen, I'm up to my eyeballs but I owe you a couple favors so I want to wipe the balance sheet clean 'cause I don't like owing nobody. You'll owe me for this, big time.

"I know this place, classy like, almost in Gramercy Park, where they specialize in Korean-Italian broads. Best of both worlds, you know what I'm sayin'? Only Korean-Italians, and they'll show you a time you'll remember even after they've read you the last rites and put you in the ground. You gotta have a reference like, but I'll introduce you."

He probably would have warmed to his subject even further if the post-9/11 turbulence wasn't raging in his patch. It took a few more sentence fragments but I finally made him understand I was looking for a woman called Olympia Fibonacci. No, as far as I knew, she was not a Korean-Italian. Just a name in a case I was working on. He didn't have time to be curious about details.

Detective Yugo promised to use the search capabilities of the New York City Police Department for finding what he could about Olympia Fibonacci. "If she ever stepped on a street in New York, even Staten Island, ha ha, I can serve her records up for you like the Blue Plate Special."

And, within a couple of days, he did. That was when trouble really started.

To be continued sometime


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