Paranoia got the best of him, but in a good way. He’d seen shows where bad cops snuck into a person’s home to plant false evidence. That was something he wanted to avoid. The owner of the office building had it set up with four cameras on the corners sweeping in an arc, and one closeup lens over the door.
Dean felt the need for one in his office, so he got a small camera that he set in the southeast corner of the room. It was behind and to the right of the desk, and its fisheye lens had a large field of view from the corner. If someone tried to plant evidence, the camera would record it and the time stamp on the recording would say when anything happened.
He painted the red active light black to hide it better, then hid the recorder in drop ceiling. Cabled like that, there would be no wireless transmission that could be detected, or so he hoped. He bought a battery pack to keep the recorder going at night. It could be pulled and recharged during the day and gave forty hours of service before running out of power. Thus armed for what trouble his paranoia demanded, he felt ready to go back out again.
He got his homeless clothes, some sweats to help change looks, and a reversible jacket. These went into the Jeep. He did a search on the Peak Arms, and got the number of the landlord of the building.
He then went online to get the names of the men in the 3A apartment. Local addresses came up blank, so he tried the city register. Likewise, it had no listing of tenants.
He pulled up the number of the Peak Arms again, and dialed it on his phone. It picked up with the second ring.
“Peak Arms. Who is this?”
“Hello, my name’s David. I’m trying to get information on a tenant of yours. I can’t read their names on the application, but the apartment is 3A. I was hoping to talk to them and clear up the name problem.”
“Huh,” came the answer after a long, pregnant pause. “Why’re you askin’?”
“I’ve been asked to do a background check. The paper I’ve got is filled out, but the names are illegible. I could barely make out your apartment name and number.”
“Hrrm…” Dean heard the man clear his throat and spit. God I hope this works. If he’s suspicious, he may well tell those two that someone’s wanting to look into their renting history. Or maybe he’s pissed at them possibly moving?
“What’s the apartment number?”
Relief flooded through Dean. “3A.”
There was a minute of silence as the man tapped on a keyboard. Dean gritted his teeth as he waited, willing himself not to urge the man to hurry up.
The man harrumphed into the phone and replied after what seemed an hour, “Ayuh, them’s the Villieux brothers, Baptiste and Gilles.”
“Thank you sir, I appreciate all the help,” Dean said gratefully. “I couldn’t have gotten this cleaned up without you.”
The man grunted a ‘you’re welcome,’ and cut the connection.
Dean had names. It was time to go visit Adair and see if he could scare up something on them. If anyone could find out what the brothers were about, it was Adair.
Adair Weston was one of those rare people who enjoyed what he did. As he’d told Dean when he’d started, “I do this for the high from the chase. There’s no bigger rush than finding a bail jumper and hauling him in. I love the chase, man, and I live for getting up in the morning and finding the bad guy.”
Dean drove over to Adair’s office, and was greeted by the official mascot of the firm, Barbie, Adair’s Malamute. The monstrous shaggy wolf-like dog was a big softie, preferring to chase a toy than a person. That didn’t stop the ninety kilograms of dog being totally intimidating simply due to size.
Barbie gave a happy whuff and promptly tried to pounce Dean, who, after having such things happened before, wisely sat on the battered ivory couch before Barbie could knock him onto it. She spent the next minute sniffing Dean to make sure he was who she thought. Once the greeting was done, she moved to the opposite part of the couch and lay down, covering that half of the couch, with her tail happily thumping the cushion into dust-raising submission.
Dean chuckled and leaned back enjoying the familiar feel of the office where he’d work not that long ago. It seemed like he had time to take one deep breath when Adair came out of his office behind the service desk, and strode rapidly up to Dean. As Dean stood up, He enveloped in a bear hug from the huge man.
“Deano! Man it is good to see you! Carny just left to go home! Man he’s gonna be pissed to miss his best bro!”
Adair Weston put Dean down and turned right around. Striding behind the service desk, he bent over and pulled open a low drawer, then straightened with a bottle of Yukon Jack in hand. Dean grimaced.
“You still drink that swill? When are you going to get civilized and get a beer?”
“Beer? BEER!? No just a second, you jump on me for drinking a nice flavorful drink, and you say beer and civilized in the same breath? Give me a fucking break, eh? Beer is for those without refined palates!” The two men were grinning throughout the exchange. To Dean, both Carny and Adair were family. Carny’d pushed Dean to study after they got out of the Air Force, and Adair taught him everything about computers and skip tracing that he’d learned firsthand by doing the business for six years. He didn’t wonder about why they were so generous, he just rolled with it, happy to have such good people around him. Dad was right. You be a decent person, and you attract decent people around you. Your friends are what others judge you by. Dad, I’ve got some good friends.
The two argued for a few minutes more, then Adair made another quick turn and walked back through his office door. “Get in here, this isn’t a social call, even though it is. You got something bugging you about the business.”
Dean walked in after being invited, and took the first guest chair next to the desk. He handed Adair a piece of paper with the names of the brothers, and a flash drive of pictures he’d taken.
“These are the guys I think are behind some kidnapping of the girl I’ve been hired to find. They switched plates on their car with another. I informed the police, but I want to see if there’s more to them.”
Adair nodded his shaggy head. The piercing blue eyes, scar on his lip, and blonde beard gave him the look of a piratical Santa Claus as he gazed at the flash drive for a moment.
“This is going to be pro bono, Adair. The family doesn’t have much, so if they’re dirty, you get to turn it in, and get the reward.”
Adair stopped nodding. His eyes locked on Dean like a pair of glittering crystals. “Fair enough, I’ll be glad to see what these bad boys have on the internet. But we split this like always. You’re my brother’s best friend, Dean. He’d be mighty pissed with me if I didn’t split any reward since you brought it to us.”