G is for Gumshoe - Page 5/98

"Six months is a long time to let this ride."

Her cheeks tinted slightly. "I'm aware of that, but I kept thinking I'd hear. Frankly, I haven't wanted to brave her wrath. I warn you, she's a horror, especially if she's on a tear. She's very independent."

I thought about the situation, scanning the possibilities. "You mentioned that she has no regular address. How do I find her?"

She reached down and picked up a leather jewelry case she'd tucked under the chaise. She removed a small envelope and a couple of Polaroid snapshots. "This is her last note. And these are some pictures I took last time I was there. This is the trailer where she lives. I'm sorry I don't have a snapshot of her."

I glanced at the pictures, which showed a vintage mobile home painted flat blue. "When was this taken?"

"Three years ago. Shortly before Clyde and I moved up here. I can draw you a map, showing you where the trailer's located. It'll still be there, I guarantee. Once someone at the Slabs squats on a piece of land-even if it's just a ten-by-ten pad of concrete-they don't move. You can't imagine how possessive people get about raw dirt and a few creosote bushes. Her name, by the way, is Agnes Grey."

"You don't have any pictures of her?"

"Actually, I don't, but everyone knows her. I don't think you'll have a problem identifying her if she's there."

"And if I find her? What then?"

"You'll have to let me know what kind of shape she's in. Then we can decide what course of action seems best. I have to say, I chose you because you're a woman. Mother doesn't like men. She doesn't do well among strangers to begin with, but around men she's worse. You'll do it then?"

"I can leave tomorrow if you like."

"Good. I was hoping you'd say that. I'd like some way to reach you beyond business hours," she said. "If Mother should get in touch, I want to be able to call without talking to your machine. An address, too, if you would."

I jotted my home address and phone number on the back of my business card. "I don't give this out often so please be discreet," I said, as I handed it to her.

"Of course. Thank you."

We went through the business arrangements. I'd brought a standard contract and we filled in the blanks by hand. She paid me an advance of five hundred dollars and sketched out a crude diagram of the section of the Slabs where her mother's trailer stood. I hadn't had a missing persons case since the previous June and I was eager to get to work. This felt like a routine matter and I considered the job a nice birthday present for myself.

I left the Gersh house at 12:15, drove straight to the nearest McDonald's, where I treated myself to a celebratory Quarter Pounder with Cheese.


By one o'clock I was home again, feeling smug about life. I had a new job, an apartment I was thrilled with…

The phone began to ring as I unlocked the door. I snatched up the receiver before my answering machine kicked in.

"Ms. Millhone?" The voice was female and unfamiliar. The hiss in the line suggested the call was long-distance.


"Will you hold for Mr. Galishoff?"

"Sure," I said, instantly curious. Lee Galishoff was an attorney in the public defender's office in Carson City, Nevada, whom I'd worked with some four years back. At the time, he was trying to track a fellow named Tyrone Patty, believed to be in this area. An armed robbery suspect named Joe-Quincey Jackson had been arrested and charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a liquor store clerk. Jackson was claiming that Tyrone Patty was the triggerman. Galishoff was very interested in talking to him. Patty was rumored to have fled to Santa Teresa, and when the local police weren't able to locate him, Galishoff had contacted the investigator for the Santa Teresa public defender's office, who in turn had referred him to me. He filled me in on the situation and then sent me the background information on Patty, along with a mug shot from a previous arrest.

I traced the subject for three days, doing a paper chase through the city directory, the crisscross, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, death certificates, municipal and superior court records, and finally traffic court. I picked up his scent when I came across a jaywalking ticket he'd been issued the week before. The citation listed a local address-some friend of his, as it turned out-and Patty answered my knock. Since I was posing as an Avon sales rep, I was fortunate I didn't have to deal with the lady of the house. Any woman in her right mind would have known at a glance I didn't have a clue about makeup. Patty, operating on other instincts, had shut the door in my face. I reported his whereabouts to Galishoff, who by then had found a witness to corroborate Jackson 's claim. A warrant was issued through the Carson City district attorney's office. Patty was arrested two days later and extradited. The last I'd heard, he'd been convicted and was serving tune at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.