G is for Gumshoe - Page 6/98

Galishoff came on the line. "Hello, Kinsey? Lee Galishoff. I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time." His voice was booming, forcing me to hold the receiver eight inches from my ear. Telephone voices are deceptive. From his manner, I'd always pictured him in his sixties, balding and overweight, but a photograph I'd spotted in a Las Vegas newspaper showed a slim, handsome fellow in his forties with a shock of blond hair.

"This is fine," I said. "How are you?"

"Good until now. Tyrone Patty's back in county jail, awaiting trial on a triple murder charge."

"What's the story this time?"

"He and a pal of his hit a liquor store up here and the clerk and two customers were shot to death."

"Really. I hadn't heard that."

"Well, there's no reason you would. The problem is, he's pissed at us, claims his life was ruined the day he was put away. You know how it goes. Wife divorced him, kids are alienated, the guy gets out and can't find a job. Naturally, he took to armed robbery again, blasting anybody in his way. All our fault, of course."

"Hey, sure. Why not?"

"Yeah, well, here's the bottom line. Apparently, couple weeks ago, he approached another inmate on a contract murder plot involving the two of us, plus the DA and the judge who sentenced him."

I found myself pointing at my chest as I squinted into the receiver. "Us, as in me?" My voice had gotten all squeaky like I was suddenly going through puberty.

"You got it. Fortunately, the other inmate was a police informant who came straight to us. The DA put a couple of undercover cops on it, posing as potential hit men. I just listened to a tape recording that would chill your blood."

"Are you serious?"

"It gets worse," he said. "From the tape, we can't tell who else he might have talked to. We're concerned he's been in touch with other people who may be taking steps we don't know about. We've notified the press, hoping to make this too hot to handle. Judge Jarvison and I are being placed under around-the-clock armed protection, but they thought I better pass the information on to you. You'd be smart to contact the Santa Teresa police to see about protection for yourself."

"God, Lee. I can't imagine they'd provide any, especially on a threat from out of state. They don't have the manpower or the budget for that." I'd never actually called the man by his first name before, but I felt a certain privilege, given what I'd just heard. If Patty was the plotter, Galishoff and I were fellow plottees.

"We're actually facing the same situation here," he said. "The sheriff's department can't cover us for long… four or five days at best. We'll just have to see how things stand after that. In the meantime, you might want to hire somebody on your own. Temporarily, at any rate."

"A bodyguard?" I said.

"Well, somebody versed in security procedures."

I hesitated. "I'd have to think about that," I said. "I don't mean to sound cheap, but it would cost me a fortune. You really think it's warranted?"

"Let's put it this way-I wouldn't chance it, if I were you. He's got six violent priors."


"Oh, indeed. The insulting part is he isn't even paying that much. Five grand for the four of us. That's less than fifteen hundred bucks apiece!" He laughed when he said this, but I didn't think he was amused.

"I can't believe this," I said, still trying to take it in. When you're presented with bad news, there's always this lag time, the brain simply unable to assimilate the facts.

Galishoff was saying, "I do know a guy, if you decide that's what you want. He's a local P.I. with a background in security. At the moment, he's burned out, but I know he's excellent."

"Just what I need, somebody bored with his work."

He laughed again. "Don't let that dissuade you. This guy's good. He lived in California years ago and loves it out there. He might like the change of scene."

"I take it he's available."

"As far as I know. I just talked to him a couple days ago. His name is Robert Dietz."

I felt a little jolt. "Dietz? I know him. I talked to him about a year ago when I was working on a case."

"You have his number?"

"It's around here someplace, but you might as well give it to me again," I said.

He gave me the number and I made a note. I'd only dealt with the man by phone, but he'd been thorough and efficient, and he hadn't charged me a cent. Really, I owed him one. I heard a buzz on Galishoff's end of the phone.