Before I could drift off again, someone started pounding on the door. I didn’t bother to get up or to ask. “GET IN HERE ALREADY, BARTLEY!” I roared, immediately regretting it.
As the door opened, Sonia was in full roar letting the young lieutenant have it with both barrels. The combination of Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, English and a smattering of fluent cursing in all four would have probably intimidated anyone else. John Bartley just smiled politely, looked appropriately chagrined and backed into my office. He knew better than turn away from her while office supplies were at hand and she was that mad. Ironically, he’s the only one that needs to know better.
Little sleep and more alcohol than I like did not go well with yelling, at least not as far as my now aching head was concerned. I glared at him as I got up to go to the minibar.
“Please tell me you just forgot to ask something and how to use the phone.” I growled as I fished out the aspirin from the bottle.
“Sure, would that make you feel any better?” he asked like the bright eyed smart alec he is. John Bartley was born in the wrong decade. Square jawed, good looking, all American poster boy of a bygone era, he’d fit perfectly into any movie from the Forties or Fifties. His lifestyle fit as well – cop with wife and 2.5 kiddies at home.
“Probably not.” I admitted, downing the aspirin and OJ chaser. “So, what do you need? I gave up everything I could last night…”
John watched me rinse out the glass. He’s not the nervous sort but he wasn’t happy to be asking for favors. “Well, we ran down the addresses you gave us but they’d already been cleaned out.”
“How’s that? What tipped them off?”
“Nothing. The kid you caught said they were already moving out – had been a couple days. Your girl was the last one – just happenstance you got there when you did.”
“You believe that?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
He shrugged, “About half, maybe. I think they were already moving – we found a few witnesses that back that part up at least. You said fifteen minutes, right?”
I nodded, leaning on the cabinet, “About that, yeah.”
“Then either she was last or…”
“They hadn’t moved far.” I finished the thought. “And you have no complaint, and no warrant, right?”
“I got hundreds of complaints, just none I can tie to this.” Bartley snapped. “Anyway,” his tone softened, “we were wondering…”
“If we just might have an extra tidbit in reserve? Sorry, no. And I don’t do pro bono, you know that.” I finished my OJ and headed for the desk. “Got nothing for you. Someday you’re gonna have to start working for a living.”
He just watched as I slid behind my desk, and listened as I berated him for police incompetency, being a mooch and having bad taste in baseball teams. I dialed a familiar number, and added a glare at Bartley for effect.
Someone picked up. “Hey, Max, it’s me. Sonia give you the news?… Good, good. … Say listen, there’s a dumb jerk cop in my office that wants to track down the rest of those kids but has his thumbs all tied in the Constitution so I thought I’d warn you not to get bored and try finding the new place then accidentally dump the address in that private shared file thing. The cops might find it and that would be bad for the Constitution and stuff.”
Max grunted on the other end something about young people having no respect for elders and for me to get off his lawn, then hung up.
“He says get off his lawn.” I told Bartley.
“I’d have to buy him one first.” Bartley replied.
He was turning to go when Sonia buzzed me. He eyed the door a bit more cautiously – staplers hurt when hurled by irrational secretaries. I picked up, listened. Listened some more. Listened a lot more. Both of us sat down and I kept listening.
After what seemed an hour, Sonia finally made enough sense for me to get the gist of it. I finally dared to speak, “You know, you could ask him….”
I didn’t chance that again. Five more minutes of listening and I meekly promised to do as requested. Some battles you can’t win – and some you shouldn’t try.
“You may want to use the elevator in the office.” I told him. “Friday, I wanna know what the heck you did. Anyway, she wants to know when Melinda is due.”
“End of next month.” He grinned, “The twenty-eighth is when they plan to induce if the munchkin doesn’t come sooner. We’re gonna call her Emily Sonia – I swear, it’s Melinda’s grandmother’s name.”
“You told her?” I asked incredulously.
“Sure, when we thanked her for the diaper subscription. I can’t decide if she’s happy or not. About that anyway – obviously not happy now.” Bartley explained.
“Okay, fine.” I texted the date to my irate secretary, “It’s on her calendar…” A reply came. “You need a sitter for the boys?”
“My sister is supposed to come – would she mind being backup?”
I texted, she replied, I relayed and he left through the private elevator. Not the most insane day I’ve ever had at the office, unfortunately. I went back to my desk and dutifully checked my email. I didn’t want Sonia any madder than she already was and I really didn’t want to think about what the heck a ‘diaper subscription’ might be.