102 Picture Day

On Tuesday morning, before another endless week – even only a four day one – of holing up with Herbie for the next round of tutoring, Kitty nipped down to the office to collect her first paycheck. First of every week, Herbie had said. As she was pre-signing on her unit today at Whyte, Choyce, and Wong, with the ceiling repairs to be paid out of proceeds, she informed Herbie, once inside the daily torture chamber, that he had to plan a shorter session for today. He looked grieved at the news.

“This isn’t going to be a regular appointment, I hope? We’re on a tight schedule.”

“Probably not.” She thought she should keep her escape options open.

A seller must provide assurance of 'clean' title, one free of restrictions or 'cloud' on title that would preclude the transfer of the property. Here is a sample form.

A seller must provide assurance of ‘clean’ title, one free of restrictions or ‘cloud’ on title that would preclude the transfer of the property. Here is a sample form.

  • * * * *

“Miss Hayes?” Gina turned to see a clerk standing in front of her desk. “This piece of mail arrived over the weekend. It’s different but it scanned clean. We found no prints on the contents. The only address is ‘Martin, Milwaukee Police’. There are several people around here with that name, so we’re asking you.”

Gina took the already opened envelope and examined the contents, to see if she could figure out which Martin it might be for. It was a photo of a car taken inside a garage, and was printed on an plain piece of white copy paper. There was no writing on the back of the picture, and other than a camera designated date, no marks on the face.

It was five o’clock and she was ready to go home. The day after a long weekend was always a catch-up day and she was tired of dealing with details. She placed the photo back in its envelope and was about to toss it in her ‘In’ tray to deal with tomorrow when on a whim she took it, walked down the corridor and looked in at the M&M’s doorway.

“Hey, Martin, don’t you ever go home?” Martin looked up, distracted from a spread of scribbled notes he appeared to be consolidating onto a calendar page, and grinned at her.

“Only if you would come with me, gorgeous Gina.” They did this schtick together, feeling safely separated by her more advanced years and her disregard of his still boyish charms. They only did this when in private for their own amusement, mindful of other, prohibited interpretations.

“In your dreams, lucky boy. Look, I’ve just been handed this from the mail room. It’s clean but sent anonymously to a Martin, Milwaukee Police. You’re a Martin. You deal with it. I don’t get paid enough to think, like your overpaid detective class of cop.”

“What’cha got there?” Gina set her burden down on top of his papers, adding layers to his evening workload. He observed the minimal address on the standard envelope and extracted the meager contents. “This it?”

“As you see. Is it yours?”

“Might be.” Martin inspected a picture of the back of a car, on the driver’s side. Apparently taken inside an underground garage and at a fairly wide angle, there was a partial Wisconsin license plate visible. The car was an older import that meant nothing to him but the date imprinted on the photo and the layout inside the garage began to ring his bells. “Enough to run for matches, for sure. Thanks, Gina. Ask your sister if she took any pictures in the POPS garage, would you, on the off-chance? I don’t remember seeing any.”

“Aw, you just want me to call you back later, don’t you? Night, sweetheart, and I’ll tell all in the morning.”

Gina did go home meaning to ask Georgia. As it was a Tuesday night, she expected to find her sister alone and relaxed, her nieces away with Greg, for the last time before their amended schedule changed yet again the following week, this time for all of summer vacation. Gina had arrived home on Monday night later than she had expected, as her day of touring at Asphodel Meadows had delightfully segued into a lengthy dinner. There’d been no time at all to talk with Georgia. Gina was hoping for this leisurely chance to bring Georgia up to speed on her rural encounter with Bert. She didn’t know that Georgia had her own news to divulge.

Nobody was home. Georgia had left a note saying she was called in to work and to expect Greg back with Poppy and Pansy at the usual time. Gina sighed and rummaged in the refrigerator for leftovers. What she found failed to inspire and she wistfully remembered yesterday at this time, the feast of courses that Bert had so handily prepared while an enclosing evening mist swirled up against the windows. Tonight, it was a lovely evening so she went for a walk around the neighborhood before resuming her Aunt Gina role. Greg arrived just after seven.

“Where’s Mom?”

“Gone to work. It’s just me tonight, you poor things.” Gina gave Greg a quick smile.

“Awwwww. I wanted to show her something,” Pansy moaned briefly before distraction set in and she occupied a living room couch.

“Don’t even think of turning on the TV,” Gina shouted in that direction. “You have school in the morning.” She’d soon have to think of another excuse. School days were numbered now.

“But it’s so early and it’s not even dark!” Poppy protested, in the way that children do on the beckoning evenings of early summer.

“Then go outside and play for a few minutes.” The girls escaped out the side door, and soon Greg and Gina heard the bounce of the basketball on the driveway, and the shrieks of the other kids joining in the game. Greg turned to move his endangered car out of their way.

“How was your holiday, Gina? They said that you went to experience country life.” He refrained from telling her they’d been chanting ‘Old McSteinhardt’ for days.

“How the other half lives, mostly. Yours?”

“We had a really good time together.” Gina looked dubious. “At least, I hope that’s what you’ll hear. Maybe we were all a bit surprised. We’ll talk again soon about summer schedules.”

  • * * * *

Chapter 102 Picture Day

Martin finished up his tedious syncing of R.M.’s promptly sent and self-reported visits to the POPS and set that fizzled out line of inquiry aside in favor of this new clue. He came up with half a dozen possibilities for vehicles with that partial number and only one came close to the older, tan colored import in the picture. It was owned by a Peter Pentalent. That was the name of the trainer they’d interviewed at Rusty’s club. How many of those could there be? Martin searched, checked for a previous record on this name, and found nothing.

He was itching to get back into that garage, get a visual match on the layout, and hoping that once you’d seen one underground garage you hadn’t seen them all. There must be something he’d be able to find to nail down that identification. He supposed that if he really had to, he could summon up one of the residents to let him into the building or as R.M. had suggested, to just stand around outside and take his chances on meeting somebody at the door. It was too late to talk to Gervase. That would have to wait until morning. It would be a long day tomorrow. Martin locked up the photo in his desk and headed out.