Chapter 9…

Smug satisfaction, beamed straight from the office window.
Slyly, I reached up to adjust my seat belt, and brushed the sugar off with my sleeve. Smooth. It takes a few years on the planet to be able to effortlessly extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing spot, and we consultants are uncannily resourceful.
” Hey, there’s a box of Kleenex in the glove compartment if you want to get that off your jacket.”
A wry smile, and a not particularly small measure of smug satisfaction from the driver’s seat. Maybe Roland had more of a foothold here than I thought.
I considered possibly switching to plain crullers, but only for a moment. Besides, I thought the sugar might go nicely with the Thai hot sauce stain that was already there. I got a tissue and dabbed a little, not being sure which one she was referring to.
” Thanks…I wouldn’t want to get powdered sugar on the carpeting. Or hot sauce…or barbecue…or weiner sauce from Haven Brothers…and look, on this arm I’ve got marinara from Marchetti’s.”
I got what I wanted. The wry smile turned into a laugh. A deep, comfortable, confident laugh that surprised me by sounding so much like her sister’s.
” What, nothing from Outback?”
” Girl, please. That’s a franchise. We consultants hold to a higher calling. ”
Actually not true at all. Outback serves an excellent broiled T-Bone with bleu cheese that I was quite fond of. But one should never reveal all to a potential client.
Another of those intoxicating laughs, and I couldn’t help but joining in.
And then, uncomfortable silence.
” We shouldn’t be having this much fun, I suppose.”
” No, that’s OK. No harm done. Feels good to relax a little. But I’m getting scared now. I’ve got to find her.”
“We will. Can I ask you a few things while we drive?”
” Yes, of course. I just don’t know where to begin.”
It was time to start piecing this thing together.
We took a right onto Dorrance and headed for 95 North.

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Chapter 8…

Consultant, really. Amateur part-time consultant. Private detectives need a lot of licensing, mainly so that their actions will stand up in court if necessary. I’m just a citizen that happens to be pretty good at a few things, and manage to get paid for a couple of them. Although most of that goes towards 9- Lives and powdered crullers.
Janice was parked on Westminster by the Roundtop Church, and of course had a ticket on the car. There are only six or seven guys in Providence who don’t get tickets on their cars. Apparently the meter maid was unaffected by the pleated skirt and red high heels. Or maybe it was all the yellow curbing.
I glanced back towards my office window as I opened the car door. Roland was beaming his typically poignant metaphysic mix of love, hatred, territorial domination, and lunch in our general direction. And through a surprisingly clean window. We consultants maintain a high standard.
I beamed back a metaphysic message of love, hatred, territorial domination, and the smug satisfaction that comes from being in the passenger seat of a red Fiat two-seater with the ex- bosses’ sister. Hell, in Rhode Island, we were practically related.
” Ok, first can we start with the house itself? Has anyone else been there? And did you touch anything?”
” Well…yes, I did. Of course. She’s my sister. I was looking for…anything, really. I still have the car keys, and I locked it when I left.”
So…where the investigating would likely start from, there would already be several sets of prints. The trick would be to find the ones that didn’t belong. I would have to be careful not to add my own to the mix.
And having left Roland to guard the home front, I saw myself in the door mirror as she backed into traffic.
And there it was. Still there.
Powdered sugar.
Dammit.

P.S….

OK, just one more intermission, and then back to The Book. BTW, The Book is still open to collaboration, if anyone chooses. As long as your addition seems to advance the storyline downfield, and doesn’t just go sideways. No extraneous guitar solos, if you will.

Anyway. I am out of work these last two days, having recently had big burly men hold me down and extract an old wisdom tooth. And, I asked for it, and paid for it to boot. This proves that for as dumb as I was pre- extraction, I am now dumber still. And, I now have a total aversion to tools of all sorts. Especially vice grips.

So. Have been noodling all day, while the 24/7 Perpetual Television plays in the background. The View has been on, and I have just observed…that a scott is a scott is a scott. And that is a joy to behold.

I speak of Denis Leary. He’s out promoting something, and is doing all the talk shows. He is a scott of the first order.

And in stark comparison to the edgy, dangerous vibe you generally get from younger scotts, Denis is older, much more in control, relaxed, and an absolute master of All Things Scott.

All the tools are still there, and being used so skillfully that you anticipate his arrival, thoroughly enjoy his effortless dominance of the environment, hope that you might be the object of his skillful deployment of such, and find yourself wanting his visit to last even longer. He told a great story about meeting President Obama, and managed to sit beside Barbara Walters with his hand on her knee.

Flawless. Owned it completely, and gracefully relinquished control back to the View girls as he left.
Late last night, I watched him do the same on the Seth Meyers show. Seth is a roger of the first order, and had the good sense to play the support role, ceding the workspace to the clearly more experienced professional. Fabulous.

A good scott is a beautiful thing.

A Brief Intermission…

Just a short break from the steadily increasing ( Ha! )suspense of my first ( Ha!!! ) detective novel…
While I figure out what to do next…

Anyway.

In the real world, in my real job…I work for a giant multi- national corporate security firm. And one of my evolved functions at my particular job site over time has become…being the world’s oldest, crankiest, and ugliest front-desk receptionist. Certainly not the perky twenty- something attractive model-in-waiting that job applicants are always hoping for. No. Much closer to Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, although admittedly a bit better organized.

So, the point being that I ‘ve seen job applicants of every shape and size make every conceivable mistake when arriving for their interview. Most people actually don’t make these errors, but you always remember the bad ones. So, I’ve compiled a Top- Five Mother- of- God You Can’t Be Serious List
for your perusal and entertainment. This is a direct result of having seen the absolute worst ever, just this past Monday.

5) Do not be late; and then park in a clearly marked fire lane, because that is apparently what fire lanes are there for…and supplement this with a ” whatever, I’m here now ” attitude. Bad Santa has the number of a local towing service, and after respectfully asking you to move your vehicle, will pull that trigger. And he remembers one particular applicant who replied with ” Why, what are you gonna do, tow my car?”

4) Ditto, for handicapped parking. Because Bad Santa is in position to have to watch people who truly need those spaces struggling to get to the building entrance because of you.

These above two have nothing to do with your actual appointment, and yet speak volumes about your chances. These are often the very people who have surprisingly short interviews…

Bad Santa recalls six people once interviewing for a very high- level Metlife position. All six perfectly qualified, and yet Bad Santa knew ” the guy” even as he arrived to sign in and be received. A magical quality, whatever that is…and somehow indescribable. The ” guy” was actually a mid- thirties woman from Bridgewater, New Jersey who is now a vice president, and has a nicely situated corner office. Flies home on the weekends.

3) Arrive at the correct address, with the correct contact information. Hard to believe, but yes. Many will arrive with no information at all, and have to wait while Bad Santa uses his considerable psychic powers to determine where they should actually be.

2) Do not arrive too early. Rather than make a positive first impression, this actually puts pressure on the interviewer to hurry through their schedule. Always seems to result in a short interview.

And the very best for last…yes, this actually happened. Bad Santa swears to it.

1) Do Not Bring Your Dog To Your Job Interview. Even if he is small enough to ride in your handbag. Even if you have a long and deeply self- involved story as to why you had to bring him with you. He is not a seeing- eye dog. And do not become argumentative when your respective employer insists on his leaving the premises. You have already destroyed your job prospects in the immediate sense, and will probably never understand why you have likely never been gainfully employed. But Fluffy sure is a cute little guy, isn’t he?

Well, there it is. Bad Santa thanks you for your indulgence. And now back to the surreal prospect of me being a private detective.