It was obvious when they entered my office that they had problems and were in trouble. It's not that I'm so sensitive and astute and aware of people's feelings, it's that people don't come to see me unless they are in trouble or have a problem.
The paint showing the name on the frosted glass of the door was somewhat faded and peeling. It read:
That's me, Matthew Steele St. Louis, Missouri investigator and security consultant. I'm what's commonly known as a private detective; I also work as a security consultant at times, better known as a bodyguard.
I'll do almost anything pertaining to investigations, from background checks, to keeping the scum of society off your back and away from your body, to following a suspected cheating spouse, to finding runaways. Doesn't matter if it's a wife, a husband, a kid or your enemy; I'll find them; for a price.
I'll do just about anything that's legal, although that can be a fuzzy line sometimes. One thing I won't do is provide muscle to physically assault someone. If you and your neighbor or business associate are at an impasse over something, I won't kick their ass for you. I'll find out things from their past, if there is anything, that you can use to control them but if it's physical payback you want, then go talk to someone else.
It was just before lunchtime and I'd been sitting back in my chair with my feet on the desk, contemplating the world situation when the man and woman came in; actually I'd almost been asleep. Taking my feet off the desk and putting them back on the floor I sat up and waited for one of them to speak.
"Mr. Steele?" The man asked. I nodded and he continued, "I'm Jason Worth, this is my wife Susan, and I need your help."
He sat down without being asked and without waiting for his wife. Jason Worth was about 55 or so. His styled thinning hair, smooth features, the spray on suntan, and his very expensive clothes should have taken years off his appearance, but didn't. He was 6 feet one, muscular build, probably from a gym, and had an air of entitlement. Worth had an attitude that only a lot of money could bring and it surrounded him like a shroud. I immediately took a dislike to him.
Susan Worth is the kind of woman that shouldn't be allowed to walk down a busy street. Her looks would cause men to walk into sign posts or wreck their cars because they'd be watching her instead of where they were going or what they were doing.
Mrs. Worth couldn't have been more than 35, if I was being cruel; about the same age as me. Tall for a woman at five feet ten, she had the type of body and face that could start wars. Hey, it happened back in Troy, it could happen now. Susan would have made Helen of Troy look like an ugly cousin.
She also had a muscular build, but she looked like she did tennis or golf or something instead of hitting the gym exclusively. Susan leaned more toward a toned voluptuous body than runway models. She had a sexy, girl next door face, sort of like Kate Hudson, long auburn hair worn loose down her back, and piercing blue eyes. If she would walk across a bar or restaurant men, and some women, would follow her with their eyes and thoughts.
I watched as she sat down and crossed her legs. Her fashionably short skirt rode up displaying a lot of long beautiful thigh. I sighed and settled back in my chair. Keep your mind on business, I told myself. Myself answered back saying are you kidding me?
Continuing the discussion with myself; the devil side of me said we would fit well together, as I'm 6 feet 3. The devil also said that my hard muscled body, weighing 200 pounds even, would feel good rubbing up against her. The last thing the devil said before I pushed him out of my mind was that my black hair and gray eyes were just the thing she needed to compliment her.
Get thee behind me Satan.
"I've checked into your background a little and I think you're just the man I need," Worth said.
I nodded sagely and thought, ah yes my background. Matthew Steele had been a rising star in the St. Louis Police's Detective Division at one time. I was sure to make Captain by the time I was 35; that was five years ago. A sad set of circumstances led to my, shall we say downfall or should we say being screwed by the system.
My partner and I were on a stake out and something I ate didn't agree with me. When you're on a stake out, you can't be too choosey about food; I should have been more careful. After almost two hours of jumping out of the car, running into the nearby alley and throwing up, my partner suggested I go home.
"Hell, with you jumping in and out of the car, we might as well put up a neon sign saying, 'Police stake out on duty', so go home."
I walked to the corner about two hundred feet away, called the Precinct and asked for a patrol car to pick me up and take me home. The two patrolmen good naturedly ragged on me all the way to my house. Thinking back on what happened, it's a good thing they were with me.
It's an old story and a cliché, but when I got home there was a strange car in the driveway. I entered my house with the two patrolmen behind me. The noises coming from down the hallway to the bedroom couldn't be mistaken. Somebody or bodies were getting it on.
I walked to the bedroom door, knowing what I'd see before I got there; I was right. My wife Johanna and a man were having, I guess a conjugal visit is as good a way to describe it as any. "What the hell?" That was my not very original question; the same one that's been asked thousands of times.
Having seen my share of domestic disputes I planned on telling the guy to get the hell out of my house. In spite of my anger I knew if I started beating on the guy I might not stop and that would lead me into trouble I didn't need; I already had a plate full. That was before I recognized my wife's playmate.
Her boy toy was my superior at the Department, Captain Joe Harper. Harper was a brown nosing, ass kissing hack that only got his position because of political pull. When I saw him stand up, naked, in surprise, I lost it. Still I wouldn't have attacked him if he hadn't gone for his gun lying on the night stand next to the bed. Guess he was as surprised as me and his first thought was about self preservation.
I closed the distance between us before he could grab his weapon and hit him so hard I bet his daddy got a headache. He fell across the bed; I straddled him and started beating on him. Now I swear I hadn't planned on hitting my wife; I don't hit women. But she jumped between Harper and me; I never knew if she wanted to protect Harper or to stop me from going to jail. Johanna caught a roundhouse right hand and went ass over tea kettle off the bed.
It's a good thing that the patrolmen, who had brought me home, rushed down the hall to the bedroom when they heard me yell. If they hadn't I might have killed that piece of crap Harper. They pulled me off him before I became guilty of manslaughter or murder.
No one including my wife, who worked for the local school board and especially Captain Harper, wanted the situation to go public. He didn't bring charges of assault with intent and convinced Johanna not to press a spousal abuse complaint. However, when the dust cleared, I had lost my job and my wife. I did get to keep the house and most of the money.
I complained that it wasn't right or fair that I would lose my job and Harper would go unpunished. It didn't do any good; I was still terminated for conduct unbecoming or some such bullshit. Harper didn't get off scot free; a severe letter of reprimand was put in his file.
Whoop de do, I thought. Major Taylor, the head of the Detective Bureau, told me that Harper would be demoted to Lieutenant and because of that letter and the reason for it, would never get another promotion. Taylor also said Harper would have a hard time with the rank and file of the Department.
"Yeah, but the asshole still has a job," I argued. "Where is his punishment? What has he lost? I've lost my wife and my job. Hell, I've lost my way of life."
"It's a bad result," Taylor said, "but his family has too much political clout for the higher ups in the Department to do much more. If you need a hand or I can help, call me Matt."
"What about my background?" I ask Worth. I was still a tad defensive about that piece of history.
"I know you were a good, maybe even great, police detective. I also know why you left the department." Worth took a gold cigarette case out of the inside pocket of his very expensive sports coat. "Mind if I smoke?" He asked and lit his cigarette before I answered either way. I slid the ashtray I keep for clients across the desk toward him; I don't smoke but it isn't up to me to police people's vices or health.
"Your knowledge and talents as a detective plus your experience with your ex-wife suit you perfectly for this job."
When he mentioned my ex, I thought, I was right; I don't like this son of a bitch. "What's the job Mr. Worth?"
"My wife," Worth squirmed in his chair, obviously embarrassed and angry, "had an affair with one of the hired help."
"It wasn't like that Jason," Susan complained, but she had a sly little smile on her face.
"Shut up," Worth said in anger. "It was like that. You just couldn't keep your hands off him, could you? I still can't believe it; a woman of your station and class rutting like a pig with a damned pool boy."
"Stanley is more than a pool boy; he's a very talented up and coming actor," Susan countered.
.... There is more of this story ...