T is for Trespass - Page 115/144

“You’d have to ask the new owner. The building’s thirty years old. I know there’s a bunch of boxes in storage from back when, but who knows what’s in ’em.”

“Why don’t you give her Mr. Compton’s phone number?”

Startled, I said, “Richard Compton?”

“Yeah, him. He also owns that building across the alley.”

“I do business with him all the time. I’ll call and ask if he objects to my searching the old files. I’m sure he won’t mind. In the meantime, if you hear from Ms. Tasinato, would you let me know?” I took out a business card, which Norman read and then passed to his wife.

“You think her and this Rojas woman are the same?” she asked.

“Looks that way to me.”

“She’s a bad one. Sorry we can’t tell you where she went.”

“Never mind. I know.”

Once the door was closed, I stood for a moment, relishing the information. Score one for me. Things were finally making sense. I’d done a background check on Solana Rojas, but in reality I was dealing with someone else-first name Costanza or Cristina, last name Tasinato. At some point there’d been a switch in ID, but I wasn’t sure when. The real Solana Rojas might not even be aware that someone had borrowed her résumé, her credentials, and her good name.

When I returned to my car, there was a white Saab parked behind me and a fellow was standing on the sidewalk, his hands in his pockets, looking at the Mustang with a discerning eye. He wore jeans and a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches: middle-aged, neatly clipped brown beard laced with gray, wide mouth, a mole near his nose and another on his cheek. “This yours?”

“It is. Are you a fan?”

“Yes ma’am. It’s a hell of a car. You happy with it?”

“More or less. Are you in the market?”

“I might be.” He patted his jacket pocket and I almost expected him to take out a pack of cigarettes or a business card. “Are you Kinsey Millhone, by any chance?”

“Yes. Do I know you?”

“No, but I believe this is yours,” he said, offering a long white envelope with my name scrawled across the front.

Puzzled, I took it and he touched my arm, saying, “Baby, you’ve been served.”

I felt my blood pressure drop and my heart skipped a beat. My soul and my body neatly detached from one another, like cars in a freight train when the coupling’s been pulled. I felt as if I were standing right next to myself, looking on. My hands were cold but shook only slightly as I opened the envelope and removed the Notice of Hearing and Temporary Restraining Order.

The name of the person asking for protection was Solana Rojas. I was named as the person to be restrained, my sex, height, weight, hair color, home address, and other relevant facts neatly typed in. The information was more or less accurate except for the weight, mine being ten pounds less. The hearing had been scheduled for February 9-Tuesday of the following week. In the meantime, under Personal Conduct Orders, I was forbidden to harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault, hit, follow, stalk, destroy personal property, keep under surveillance, or block the movements of Solana Rojas. I was also ordered to stay at least one hundred feet away from her, her home, and her vehicle-the low number of feet apparently taking into account the fact that I lived right next door. I was also forbidden to own, possess, have, buy or try to buy, receive or try to receive, or in any other way get a gun or a firearm. At the bottom of the paper in white letters on a block of black, it said This is a Court Order. Like I hadn’t guessed as much.

The process server watched me with curiosity as I shook my head. He was probably accustomed, as I was, to serving restraining orders on individuals in need of anger-management classes.

“This is so bogus. I never did a thing to her. She’s invented this shit.”

“That’s what the hearing’s for. You can tell the judge your side of it in court. Maybe he’ll agree. In the meantime, I’d get a lawyer if I were you.”

“I have one.”

“In that case, best of luck. Pleasure doing business. You made it easy for me.”

And with that, he got in his car and drove away.

I unlocked the Mustang and got in. I sat, engine off, my hands resting on the steering wheel while I stared out at the street. I glanced down at the restraining order I’d tossed on the passenger’s seat beside me. I picked it up and read it for the second time. Under Court Orders, in Section 4, the box marked “b” had been checked, specifying that if I didn’t obey these orders, I could be arrested and charged with a crime, in which case I might have to (a) go to jail, (b) pay a fine of up to $1,000, or (c) both. None of the choices appealed to me.