Otvos Inquisition, Part 2
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 by Josh Lee
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Editors NoteAlex Sigel, the private investigator, closes the adultery case, buys a new car, and just as soon is thrown into a completely new case, completely new in more ways than one. Its now up to him to figure out whos behind it, what they want, and most importantly why
Chapter 4
      I suppose I should tell you a little bit more about the man Id collected from to buy my new car. That was a small job by my standards. Small in two ways: it was a case of adultery, insignificant in any big picture, and the pay was a measly twenty five thousand. Chump change. Peanuts. Only enough for a Toyota.
      Darwin James Holt, sixty-four, a Sagittarius, an executive at the legal firm Holt, Hollis, and McCabe in downtown Los Angeles, married Gabriella Shawn Estavon, twenty-six, a Virgo. It was an extravagant wedding to say the least. To the tune of two million dollars, they sailed a jumbo yacht out off the coast of Maui, said their vows, and promised to love and cherish each other in sickness and in health until death did them part. Well, once life got back to normal, he was in the office about ten hours everyday while she was a housewife. She spent money like there was no tomorrow. Of course, she could because he was bringing it home by the wagonload. That was her plan, after all. Well, lets face facts: how is a sixty-four-year-old supposed to satisfy a twenty-six year old? He was never home and its just my guess that he was past the age where he could perform as well as she wanted or was used to.
      So she got a boyfriend on the side, George Matthew Martinez, or Georgie as she called him, to fulfill the need for a sexually and visually competent man. Shed tell Darwin that she was going on a cruise with her girlfriends to the Caribbean. Shed have the driver take her to the port and after hed left, shed dash onboard and sail away with Georgie. Then theyd have two weeks of nothing but sunning and sex.
      Sure, they had to hide, but it wasnt a shitty deal for him. He got to travel on the finest cruise lines, dine at the finest restaurants, drink the finest champagne, she even bought him the finest car: a brand new SLS-AMG. I thought it was funny because in reality, it was actually Darwin buying his wifes lover a sports car. 
      So yeah, the case was entertaining. It renewed my belief in love being fake and overrated. And it bought me a new car. But it wasnt what I enjoyed doing. It wasnt why I did what I did. Dont get me wrong, I dont fancy myself a superhero or any such narcissistic figure. I try to do things for the greater good, really, I do. I try to dig deep into the minds of the corrupt company executives, hardcore criminals, gangs and their hit-men and then blow them up from the inside out. Spencer called me Superman but that was far, far from the truth. Im human. I have material desires. And sometimes money talks and morals walk and I take jobs that may involve me helping one of the above. As long as what I hand over to my employer doesnt lead to, influence a decision to, or in any way lead to a killing or death, I can drink it away and shower it off. That was the first requirement for my commitment. The second was that I have no affiliation whether personal or professional with any party involved. You know that age-old never do business with friends rule? It was one that Id adopted a long time ago. 
      So when I opened my email and found a message that broke both my conditions, I was immediately intrigued. It was only fourteen words, but my eyes widened and my breath became short. I read it over two times, three times, four times, just to make sure I read it right.
      Im going to take down Otvos Exposition and kill Spencer Otvos. I need your help.
      I sat there for a few moments.
      The logically inclined half of my brain was running on overdrive.
      Here was the problem:
      Clients that came to me always had to be referred to me by someone else. They wouldnt know how to contact me if they werent. They had to know and play by my rules if they were serious about getting me onboard. That meant they had to state their name, the name of the company or organization that they represented, their full social security number, the individual or company they were targeting, and a full, clear, and detailed motive.
      This person did none of the above. Even the email was a generic hotmail address. Traceable but not worth the time. Anyone could visit some public library and open an account. And sure, I could trace the specific computer, the login ID, the time, and then probably even pick up some fingerprint or DNA trace from the computer peripherals, but that wasnt nearly worth my time.
      Ordinarily I would have waved this person off as a waste of time. Had the subject of their email been in regards to any other request for or from any other company I would have waved it off and tossed it into the virtual trash can. But this wasnt just any other company. And it wasnt just any other request.
      I turned around in my chair. I glanced at the doorway. My first intuition was to tell Spencer. But I paused. Was that the right thing to do? Involve him? My second was to then reach out to one of my back door buddies at the LAPD. But then that would involve an entire investigation and there were things that Id be required to turn over that could land me in prison for a term longer than the survival of the human race.
      I looked back at my screen. I wondered if this person knew that Spencer was my closest confidant. I wondered if he or she purposely sent me a mysterious email because they knew how close the two of us were. I thought it could be a joke. But again, if they were able to even get their message into my inbox, they had to have some pretty high up friends.
      My mind went back to the LAPD. Could this be someone cracking into my game? Was I getting played? I quickly opened up a program Id coded a while back to scan my entire computer for any signs of foreign monitoring software, even those crafted by the government that big brother require be omitted in programs sold by anti-virus companies to the masses.
      Nothing found.
      I clicked scan again. I trusted my own design but I had to be certain.
      Nothing found.
      I looked down at my shoes.
      I always keep all communication between myself and my clients confidential. I mean, Spencer got to see and hear about a lot of it, but I knew he wouldnt let it go farther than the walls of our condo. In fact, in some of the jobs I took on, making it public knowledge that he even had a hint of anything could have gotten him killed. So he had some motivation to keep it quiet. I talked to him for the same reason that women gossip and men share anecdotes. Sometimes you just need to tell someone something. Sometimes you just need to bounce ideas off of someone else. And to bounce an idea as successfully as a Laker dribbles, the sounding board needs to know the general outline of the problem.
      But the thing was, if Spencer knew about it, hed go ballistic. Otvos Exposition was his life. His whole life. If he ever got even the slightest inkling that someone wanted to attack it, hed build a wall longer, taller, and stronger than the Great Wall of China to protect it.
      I turned back around in my chair. Spencer wasnt going to hear about this until I had done a proper threat assessment and could present him with an entire case file.
      The first step of that was figuring out who the hell this was.
      I traced the emails origin and the senders computer. Pulling up the coordinates on Google, I traced it to an approximate location just outside of Jakarta.
      I sat back and grinned. This person was just having some fun with me. Sure, they could hide their true location in a first run search, but I was better than that. And they knew it too.
      I reentered the data into a program that a friend of mine had designed based on one used by the FBI. Bingo. The real location and identifiers appeared onscreen.
      I pinged the IP address of the device it was sent from. Judging by the number sequence I made a guess that it was an iPod Touch. I traced its location data and pulled up its most recent logging. Once again, I returned to Google. I watched as the beach ball on my computer screen swirled around. The screen flashed and zeroed in on an arrangement of pixelated blocks on a blurry green canvas. As it cleared I made out a rather large home with a porte cochere and a three-tiered pool in the back. I clicked on the little pin that had fallen into the street in front of it.
      There, in front of me on the screen, were my plans for the evening.
      I jotted down the address on a piece of paper and then grabbed my surveillance backpack.
      I had to know who this was and why they wanted to hurt my best buddy.
Chapter 5
      Half an hour later I was grabbing my keys and heading out the door. Spencer knew by the jacket around my shoulders and the backpack on them what I was up to.
      Whore you checking out tonight? He looked up from his work.
      A potential client. I replied.
      Where are you headed? He asked.
      Beverly Hills.
      Take my car. Spencer threw his keys across the room. I caught them in my hand.
      Your mom van wont work there. He grinned.
      Thanks. I dropped them in my pocket.
      Ill hear more about them later? He asked.
      Definitely. I replied, pulling the door shut behind me.
      Let me just say this much: its hard to freak me out. Really hard. Halloween doesnt do it, horror movies dont do it, witnessing death doesnt do it. So as much as I hated to admit it, whoever the hell was playing me was pretty good.
      Id always chocked up that clich looking over your shoulder as you walked through a garage at night move as one of those things you only saw in corny movies. And yet I found myself doing it as I headed for the sleek black sedan.
      I hit the button on the fob and the car beeped to life. Bright xenon lights clicked on and little lights on the door handles shot light down at my feet. I pulled open the drivers door and slid in, tossing my backpack on the passenger seat. The smell of new car, leather, and a faint trace of Spencers cologne hit me. Soft european leather cradled my ass and shiny instruments and a huge widescreen stared at me, waiting for my command.
      The car started with a roar. I pulled out of my space, careful not to rub against the side of my van as I did so. As I pulled out onto Wilshire, I quickly scanned the pedestrians on the street. No one of particular interest caught my eye. But then again, someone good wouldnt.
      I punched in the address into the cars GPS system and shot off into the night.
      As I glided down the road, I looked around me. Spencer was right. My van would have stuck out like a sore finger in this neighborhood. Almost every car in the school of fish swimming down Wilshire was a luxury import. Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, BMW; all the greats were present.
      I turned left onto Santa Monica boulevard and then left again onto Rodeo. I didnt think anyone was tailing me, but just to make sure I cut in and out through the grid until I was the only one on the road. The cool glow of the headlights illuminated the road ahead of me.
      You are now arriving at your destination. It is on the right. The woman in the radio announced as I approached the beautiful Beverly Hills mansion Id seen earlier on my screen.
       I drove by, keeping my speed up, glancing to the side. Tall, manicured shrubs lined the front of the property, though I could see that there were lights on inside. A three-car garage was recessed behind a pair of sculpted gates. All three doors were closed and there was a Mercedes SUV in the driveway just outside.
      I doubled back around and pulled over across the street. I pulled the key out of the ignition, triggering the interior lights to my dismay. I tapped the lock button on the key fob and the entire vehicle locked down, interior lights, headlights, taillights, and courtesy lights all fading away.
      I moved to the back seat and sat there for a while, quietly observing, every now and then glancing up and down the street. Beverly Hills was a relatively quiet neighborhood. The well to do usually had something better to do than roam the streets at night. The fit GQ-worthy men and Vogue-worthy women sometimes jogged through the streets or walked their prize winning purebreds but other than that all was quiet. It helped that Spencers rear windows were as heavily tinted as California law provided and the interior was a palette of black on black on black on black.
      I pulled out my phone and pulled it down to its dimmest setting. I took note of the time. Surveillance was so boring. It was probably the least fun part of the job. Every little movement made my heart jump. Maybe, just maybe, I was going to catch something exciting. But nothing.

      An hour passed, then two, and three.
      I glanced down at my phone. Notifications ran down my lock screen. Texts, emails, Facebook updates. I took my eyes off of the house long enough to skim them.
      An email caught my eye. It was from the hotmail account Id just traced.
      I slid my finger across the screen and entered my password. I sat there impatiently waiting as the phone loaded the message.
      I sat up so fast I slammed my head into the ceiling with a bang.
      Youre looking at the wrong house.
      What on earth?
Chapter 6
      I looked around. I scanned the bushes, the lawns, the sidewalks, the houses, the roofs. It was so easy to hide at night. I knew I wasnt going to see this person with the naked eye. I probably wouldnt even have been able to find them with heat seeking, infrared goggles.
      Who the hell was this? How did they know what I was doing? And I still didnt have an answer to the most pressing question: why?
      I climbed back into the front and started the car up, pulling out slowly, scanning the street in the beam of the headlights. No one was around that I could see.
      I continuously scanned the cars around mine as I drove back out onto the main road and set my course for home. It was one of those moments where everyone looked suspicious. Truck drivers, old grandmas in Buick's, twinks in A4s, everyone.
      My eyes darted from mirror to mirror. I detoured a bit, snaking through Century City for a bit, going all the way down to the coast on Santa Monica, and then back inland on San Vicente. I wandered around the streets of Brentwood and Westwood before finally pulling back out onto Wilshire and heading back to the condo.
      I processed everything in my head as I walked out of the garage, through the lobby, and up the elevator.
      Spencer was still up when I got back. It was nearly eleven. I was secretly glad. I wasnt going to talk to him about what had just happened, but I was halfway to freaked out and coming home to a dark apartment definitely would not have helped me any.
      I need to go to work with you tomorrow. I stated.
      He nodded, Ten-four. 

       With that I retreated to my room.
      I opened up my laptop and ran a trace on the latest email. Same thing. Random origin.
      I ran the trace again. And then again. And then a third time.
      There had to be something I was missing.
      I sat back in my chair and looked out at the view over Los Angeles. Tourists see it as a glamorous, shimmering, sea of fancy cars and beautiful people. Ignorance is bliss, they say. Theyre right.
      This was serious. And for the first time in a long time, I wasnt in the drivers seat.
      And that freaked the fuck out of me.
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