Sept. 22, 2015
Our neighbor is showing improvement. She told Vicky her tailbone doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as it did yesterday. Meanwhile, I’ve asked Vinnie to check around with some of the lower-end motels in the area and see if Hogelmeyer is staying in Porto Cielo.
Sept. 21, 2015
As I mentioned the other day, I heard from Jack Daniels, who’d like my help on a skip-trace case she’s investigating. She sent me the details. Guy’s name is Pete Hogelmeyer and he’s three months behind on his car payments. The bank wants to repossess the car but he left Chicago before they could seize it. According to Jack, credit card transactions showed he came to Florida, specifically Sarasota. He’d lost his job a while back, and his wife threw him out of the house. Jack thinks he has a girlfriend he might be traveling with.
Sept. 20, 2015
Our next door neighbor in the condo complex tripped over her cat last night and landed on her tailbone. She says there were no broken bones, but she’s in a lot of pain, especially when she bends over. Vicky’s promised to look in on her constantly and help out as needed.
Sept. 19, 2015
The Buckeyes win and play poorly. Perhaps it’s time Urban Meyer name a starting quarterback and stick with him instead of this game by game nonsense. And they playcalling needs to go back to basics — give the ball to Elliott and ram it down the opponents throat. And a shout out to the Ohio U. Bobcats who are now 3-0 on the season.
Sept. 17, 2015
Been a rainy couple of days down here and more of same tomorrow. Weather guys say it’s the remnants of Grace and a low pressure system moving through. Has brought a touch of cooler temperatures in the morning, which is perfect for my morning run along the beach.
Had an email this morning from Jack Daniels. She wants to hire me to find this guy who skipped out of Chicago and is delinquent on his car loan. Hmmm, might be something interesting to pursue.
Sept. 14, 2015
A good weekend of football. Although sluggish, Ohio State managed to prevail against Hawaii. Ohio U gained revenge on Marshall. And yesterday, the Tennessee Titans showed the Buccaneers why they made a mistake with their Number 1 pick in the draft last April.
Sept. 8, 2015
I hope everyone had a good Labor Day Weekend!
As planned, Vicky and I drove down to Englewood again yesterday to enjoy the Pioneer Days parade.I’d mentioned earlier that this was the first time we attended this event and enjoyed ourselves immensely. There’s just something about small town parades that brings out the pride and community spirit, and the patriotism that we all feel. The Englewood parade was no different as thousands braved the rain and drizzle to line Dearborn Street and cheer on the participants marching or riding along the parade route. Afterward, we again browsed the vendors in Pioneer Park and enjoyed an elephant ear, one of Vicky’s favorite festival treats.
Last night was the event I’d been awaiting for eight months, the only game that mattered in this first weekend of college football. And the Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t disappoint, demolishing Virginia Tech 42-24. Tech was the only blemish on the Buckeyes record last year, so revenge was sweet. And if you haven’t seen the nifty spin move Braxton Miller made on his way to a second touchdown, check it out on YouTube.
Sept. 6, 2015
After yesterday’s excursion to Englewood, I believe today will just be a quite day relaxing and probably watching some football. Of course, the real excitement comes tomorrow night, when Ohio State kicks off its season at Virginia Tech.
Vicky and I enjoyed the Pioneer Days event in Englewood yesterday, the first time we’d attended the festival. The highlight of the day was the cardboard boat race as somewhere around thirty contestants in various age categories struggled to keep their crafts afloat on Lemon Bay and claim a trophy.
Afterward, we strolled down Dearborn Street to Pioneer Park and browsed the various vendors set up there. Vicky wants to go back tomorrow morning to watch the grand parade, so I suppose that’s what we’ll do.
A NOTE FROM WOLF
Sorry everyone. Life sort of got in the way during August. I’m resuming this rundown on my activities and I’ll try to be more conscientious about posting daily.
Sept. 5, 2015
Vicky asked me this morning if we had any plans for the Labor Day weekend.
“Not that I know of,” I said.
“I’d like to do something,” she said. “I don’t have to be at the club this weekend, so we have plenty of time.”
“Do you have anything in mind,” I asked.
“I know. There’s this festival in Englewood. It’s called Pioneer Days. It’s been going on for many years. Let’s go check it out.”
“All right. Let’s get ready. We can hit Village Inn for brunch, then head on down and explore.”
July 28, 2015
“Wolf, what’s wrong with Patton?”
I looked from the newspaper. “What do you mean?”
“We went outside so he could, you know…”
“But he just turned around and came right back in. Wouldn’t do a thing.”
I looked out the sliders to the sky outside. The deluge we’d been under had resumed.
“Wet grass poisoning,” I said.
“It’s raining. He’s afraid that he’ll get wet grass poisoning.”
“Oh my god. You silly dog.” She patted his head.
The Lab’s tail thumped against the floor in response.
July 27, 2015
As I knew he would from his earlier snooping for me, my friend BB, or Branch Bardillo had the information for me according the email he sent.
After reading the e-mail, I picked up my cell phone and called Daniels.
“The other person on the account besides Eugene is a Theresa Cranfield” I told her. “Of course, we already know the address is fake.”
“I’ll pass this along to Watson. Let him run her name and see if there’s any priors that’ll give us a lead to her location.”
“Tell him to check with FDLE too. Maybe there have been similar cases elsewhere in the state, but he’d probably already know that.”
July 26, 2015
“Can we do something today? It’s not raining and the sun’s out.”
A low pressure system stalled over the Gulf had dumped rain on us constantly for the last two weeks.”Sure. You have anything in mind?”
“Well, it’s supposed to start raining again this afternoon. I’d like to go to a park and walk, but that’s probably out. Tell you what, let’s go see the Sherlock Holmes movie and you can take me to dinner afterward.”
“It’s a date, sweetie.”
July 25, 2015
“Okay, that’s all well and good. But that doesn’t get us any closer to knowing who took Eugene,” Daniels said afterI told her about my revelation regarding his Social Security.
“I think I can find out.”
“The same way you got the fictitious address?”
“Something like that.”
July 24, 2015
Vicky looked up from the e-book she was reading on her Kindle. “What are you talking about?”
“Eugene. He didn’t list his condo in Orlando and that’s gotta be worth a lot of money. So the only other thing of value he might have is his social security check.”
“Okay.” She drew out the word.
“I’ll call Daniels in the morning and let her know.”
July 23, 2015
I was still bothered by Trasker’s questions. Frustrated was more like it.
Who had taken Eugene from his condo in Orlando? How had they managed to get him to leave with him? They being complete strangers as he had no family according to mom. And why? Why had they treated this old man so callously? What was there for them to gain by starving him to death?
July 22, 2015
I met Trasker for lunch at his favorite eatery, The Legal Brief, a hole in the wall near his office in downtown Sarasota.
“Did you make it to the morgue okay,” he asked once we were seated and gave our orders to the waiter.
“Yeah. Thanks for the directions. Turned out, the body was the person Daniels is, well was, looking for?”
“What’s the cause of death?”
“Starvation, the ME said.”
“How the hell did that happen? I thought you said he was living with relatives.”
I told him what we had discovered so far. How our leads seemed to have petered out.
“So, are you just going to leave it in Watson’s hands? Let it become another cold case?”
Good questions. Ones I didn’t have an answer to. I suspected Daniels didn’t either.
July 21, 2015
So the body at the morgue, according to Daniels, was definitely that of Eugene Boucher, the friend her mother had asked her to find on this so-called vacation. According to the medical examiner, starvation was the cause of death.
Ken Watson, the detective with the Sarasota Police Department who’d caught the case, had told us about the discovery of the body.
“we found the vic in a vacant house that’s in foreclosure,” he had told us. “The perps broke into the place and left the body there. The crime scene techs couldn’t find any useful physical evidence. We canvassed the neighborhood but no one saw or heard anything. We’re guessing they entered the premises with the vic sometime in the middle of the night when it was likely that no one would see them.”
That left us high and dry.
July 20, 2015
“Why are you so glum?” Vicky asked as we watched the evening news shows.
“This,” I said, pointing to the TV as the reporter updated the shootings in Chattanooga.”I just can’t believe how easy it is for someone to get a weapon and go shooting up our servicemen. I could understand if it was in combat, but this is our country. What’s wrong with people?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart.”
“And now you have people taking up arms and guarding recruitment centers on their own. This isn’t good, I tell you.”
Vicky shook her head. “Maybe this will wake the politicians up.”
I looked up from the TV. “Possible, but I doubt it.”
July 14, 2015
Congratulations NASA on the successful mission of the New Horizons spacecraft in reaching Pluto. A nine-year journey, travelling some three billion miles with so much that could have gone wrong. Astounding! Can’t wait to see the images tomorrow. And no matter what the stuffed shirts say, Pluto is and shall always be a planet in my mind.
July 13, 2015
“Wolf, come here, you’ve gotta see this.”
I came into the living room as Vicky, remote in her hand, backed up the evening news program to the story she wanted me to see.
“You could call these two the gold digger thieves,” the announcer said as the camera zoomed in from a bank to a pile of rubble beside it. “The pair, who were caught and arrested, used an excavator to haul away the ATM machine at this local bank,” the announcer continued. He went on to say that their arrest came after they were spotted in a nearby town with the ATM in the back of their truck.Video at the bank captured their “construction” activity.
“Morons,” I said to Vicky. “How the hell did they expect to get away with it.”
“Pretty stupid,” she said, hitting the remote again to resume the regular news broadcast..
July 11, 2015
I entered the salon about five minutes before my eleven o’clock appointment.
“Hey, Wolf,” said Charlie Rogers, looking up from the customer in his chair. “I was afraid you’d forgotten all about me.”
“Vicky wouldn’t let that happen,” I said. “She’s been reminding me for the last two weeks that I needed to get my hair cut.
Five or six minutes later, Charlie invited me to take the vacated chair, and draped his plastic covering around me.
“I’ll tell you, I don’t know what to think about people anymore,” he said, picking up a comb and scissors, and starting to cut my hair.
“I spent three hundred dollars the other day to have my rental unit cleaned. The guy who was there, he moved because he bought a place of his own. But he left my place, well, let me just say I wasn’t gonna clean that mess myself. It was worth the money to hire someone else to do it. I just hope he takes better care of his place than he did mine.”
“Some people just don’t respect other people’s property anymore,” I replied.
July 10, 2015
I called Daniels the next morning.
“I was just getting ready to call you,” she said. “Do you know where the morgue is at in Sarasota?”
“No, but I can find out.”
“Good. Can you pick me up? Say around ten? Fred will meet us there. He thinks there’s a body there that might be Eugene.”
Ending the conversation with her, I called Trasker and got directions to the morgue.
July 9, 2015
I was watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory on TV that evening, when Vicky came into the room, picked up the remote, and changed the channel.
“Hey, I was–” I stopped and stared at the image of a Christmas tree on the screen and people singing Christmas carols. “What the hell is that,” I asked.
“It’s Christmas in July on the Hallmark channel. I want to watch this Christmas movie. Come here and sit with me. You’ll like it.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. A Christmas movie?”
“Sure. It’s the lead in to their big reveal of the new Christmas ornaments this weekend. You’ll go with me, won’t you?”
I muttered to myself as I moved from my favorite chair to sit beside her on the couch. “Sure, sweetie, I’d like nothing better than to spend time with you looking at Christmas ornaments in the middle of July.”
“Oh stop being such a grump.”
July 8, 2015
“So, unless this sheriff’s detective comes up with a cold case, I don’t know where we go from here.”
Vinnie, looking like a macaw in his lime green shirt and plaid shorts, had joined Vicky and I for dinner at Kick’s, our favorite restaurant along the beach and just minutes away from our condo. I had just finished telling them about my day with the lovely police lieutenant from Chicago.
“Is there any action in this case for me?” Vinnie asked.
I snagged a French fry from Vicky’s plate—she’d chosen the burger special— and turned to him. “Not unless you know of a dead body in the area.”
He nodded. “Can’t help you there.”
“What about this family?” Vicky asked. “Can’t you find them?”
“We don’t know who they are, and the manager of the condo in Orlando didn’t think to ask. I agree with Daniels at this point. I think something bad has happened to him.”
July 7, 2015
I’d put Daniels number in my list of contacts—something Vicky had recently shown me how to do—and called her.
“It’s Wolf,” I said. “I have an address for Boucher. Can you be ready in an hour? I’ll pick you up and we’ll take a drive up to Sarasota to find him.”
“How’d you do that?” she demanded.
“I, um, have some sources. Do you want to go?”
“Hell yes. You know where I’m staying?”
I did and told her to be waiting outside.
July 6, 2015
Lieutenant Daniels had managed to trace her mother’s friend, Eugene Boucher, to Porto Cielo or Sarasota, she wasn’t sure where. The condo manager of his place in Orlando hadn’t obtained the name of relatives who came and took him away, so her trail had gone cold. All she had was the name of a bank in Sarasota where Eugene’s Social Security check was being deposited. Unfortunately, with no evidence of foul play, she had no probable cause to get a warrant to look at the bank’s records.
I, however, knew of a way to get the information. I’d used this method before when I helped Vicky prove her innocence on the charge of murdering her former employer and lover. To that end, I called my old friend in D.C., Patrice Zinnea, whose husband, Frank, could get me access to the daily Federal Reserve codes, the keys to the hen house.
July 5, 2015
I looked up from the newspaper. “They were, but I don’t think Patton would agree.”
Hearing his name, the big black Lab, rose to his feet and walked over for the obligatory pat on the head. He’d spent the previous evening cowering and whining at the noise made made by the booming fireworks and firecrackers outside. His behavior had put shame to his name.
“Come here, baby. Mommy will love you.”
Patton turned and moved over to Vicky. She took his head between his hands and mummured softly to him.
“It’s all over now, Patton. YOu don’t need to be afraid.”
“Until New Year’s Eve,” I said.
July 4, 2015
Happy Fourth of July everyone, and to all the men and women serving our country and to those who have served, thank you for ensuring the freedoms we celebrate today. And to all my fellow Marines everywhere, Semper Fi!
June 30, 2015
“Wolf, come look. This is awesome.”
Vicky stood on the lanai of our condo, gazing toward the west.”
“What is it, honey?”
“Those two stars. See how close together they are? I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s neat.” She fingered the crystal pendant hanging around her neck, perhaps drawing upon some mystical power I didn’t begin to understand. Vicky and her crystals were a strange land to me.”
“It’s the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter,” I said. “The weather guys have been doing stories about it for the past day or so.” I wrapped my arm around her was and gazed with her. “They say it’s the Star of Bethlehem because it hasn’t been seen since 1 or 2 B.C.”
“Well, I don’t know about all that astronomy stuff, but I think it’s neat.”
With that thought, I had to agree.
June 26, 2015
“Back to my question. How did you find me?”
“Fred Stablien, I think you know him? A detective with the county sheriff?”
“Yes, I’ve met him.”
“I knew Fred when he worked with Chicago P.D. We’ve kept in touch, and when I knew I needed someone down here to help me, I asked Fred for a recommendation. He said you were quite resourceful.”
“Who’s this missing person you want me to help you find.”
Jack took a sip from her glass of water, looked out the window at the beach scene beyond us. With no bad weather, the Gulf appeared almost mirror-like with the sun glinting off its surface.
“It’s an acquaintance of my mother from when she lived in Orlando,” she said, turning back to me. “Apparently, they kept in touch but then it just stopped. I was, um, due for some vacation and she asked me to check on him.”
I noticed her hesitation at the mention of vacation.
“So you’re not really on vacation. You’re working.”
Jack gave me the look. “I’d rather be back in Chicago doing my regular job. But my partner and my boss both felt I needed a break. That I’d become too wrapped up in my cases. I think my mom was in on the plot too and this was just a way to get me out of town. Would you believe that Herb, he’s my partner, actually suggested I go to Baton Rouge. I mean what for God’s sake would I do in fucking Baton Rouge for two weeks. I’d wither up and die like a grape in this sun.”
June 25, 2015
Lieutenant Jacqueline—or Jack as she told me to call her—Daniels was a no nonsense, no bullshit, give-it-to-you-straight kind of woman. Dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, tailored garments that added style and class left me impressed. We’d agreed to meet for lunch at Fletcher’s Landing, a beach-front restaurant along the Gulf of Mexico in Porto Cielo, Florida where I now lived this sultry June day. Summer had arrived a few days earlier, but temps in the low to high nineties had been prevalent since mid-May.
“So, how’d you find me?” I asked after the waitress had taken our orders. “I’m not listed anywhere as an investigator.”
“But you do have your license?” she countered.
I did indeed, at the urging of my friend, Art Trasker, an investigator for the state public defender’s office. We’d met when his office was defending my now-girlfriend, Vicky Agincourt, accused of murdering her former lover and boss. My persistence had ultimately proved her innocence, and afterward, Trasker and I became friends. I now did occasional jobs for his office.
“Good, cause I need to hire you to find a missing person.”
June 24, 2015
Tuesday afternoon found Art Trasker and I driving up to the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport. Trasker was an investigator for the state public defender’s office in Sarasota, and we were heading to the airport to meet his boss, Paul Del Verona, who was coming in from Orlando where he’d been attending a state public defenders’ conference. Paul was flying out to another conference in Chicago and didn’t want to leave his car at the airport, so Trasker had volunteered to drive it back to Sarasota for him.
“Heard you were going to be working on some missing person case,” Art said.
“Yeah, this police detective from Chicago came down to Miami to check on her mother’s friend, and found out he’s missing. She thinks he’s over this way somewhere, so I’m going to meet with her in the next day or so.”
“There’s the airport,” Art said. “Paul said he’d meet us by the terminal.”
I followed the signs directing me to departures, when Art shouted, “He’s over there.”
Paul stood by the open trunk of his car in an area adjacent to lanes through the terminal. I pulled in behind him and Art and I exited my vehicle.
“Sir, sir, you can’t park there.”
An elderly rent-a-cop hurried toward us. “That’s no parking. You can’t park there.”
“We’re not parking, we’re picking up a vehicle,” Trasker said, as the elderly man continued to remonstrate us.
Paul approached with his baggage and carry on. “They’re picking up my vehicle. They’re not parking.”
“You can’t park here,” the man continued to protest.
Paul handed Trasker his keys and he moved toward the car while I returned to mine. I shouted a hurried good-bye to Paul as he strode toward the terminal, the rent-a-cop hurrying to keep up and still bending Paul’s ear.
I looked over at Trasker. “If that’s TSA, then terrorists would have a field day here,” I said.
“Don’t you know it,” he replied. “See you back in Sarasota.”
June 12, 2015
Vicky entered the condo from her shopping trip at Publix. I could tell she had a full head of steam on.
“You wouldn’t believe what happened in the store,” she said.
I glanced up from the latest book by Randy Wayne White I was reading. “What?”
“This elderly lady fell in the store. I rushed over to help her, since I was the only one in the aisle with her. She hurt herself pretty bad, so she gave me her cell phone and asked me to call her daughter since she didn’t feel like driving home.
“Okay. So you’re being the good Samaritan.”
Vicky gave me the look. “Anyway, I get the daughter on the phone. I hear all sorts of noise in the background, tv, kids, you know.”
I nodded, deciding to let her tell the story her own way.
“I tell her about her mom falling, and you won’t believe this. She says she’s too busy to come help her mom. The nerve of some people.”
“How did the woman get home then.”
“Well, while I was talking to the daughter, the store manager came to see what happened. I told him what the daughter had said, and he told one of his assistants to go call a taxi. Then we all helped her up and he took her to his office to wait for the taxi. I heard him telling her that there would be no charge for her groceries and the store would pay the taxi fare.”
“See, for every bad person in the world, you always find someone else who’s better.”
June 11, 2015
She was still over in Miami, but said she planned on coming over to Porto Cielo in a day or so to conduct her own search. She wasn’t sure if the missing person was in Porto Cielo or somewhere else in Southwest Florida.
So, she’d asked me if I’d mind making inquiries of the local nursing homes to see if he might be there.
“Wha’cha doing in here?” Vicky asked from the door.
“Trying to figure out how I’m supposed to help this police lieutenant from Chicago with the missing friend of her mother.”
June 10, 2015
An hour or so later, the heavy rumble of thunder caused me to step out onto our balcony. Below me, I watched the lawn crew scurry to complete what they were doing or stow their equipment. The storm was moving fast off the Gulf, with the wind picking up and rain bands pelting down in the distance.
I still hadn’t decided if I wanted to help the police lieutenant from Chicago. She wanted my assistance in tracking down an elderly friend of her mother’s from the condo where she used to live in Miami. Finding a missing person just wasn’t my cup of tea.
June 9, 2015
I entered our condo, still looking through the day’s mail.
“Can cats plot and scheme?” my girlfriend Vicky asked.
Perplexed at the question, I raised an eyebrow. “I suppose. I don’t know. Why do you ask? We don’t have a cat.” Patton, my black Lab, thought I was calling him. He rose from his position in front the flow from the air conditioner and walked over for me to scratch his head.
“There’s this author on Facebook that I’m friends with. He took a picture of his four cats in front of his door and said they were plotting against him. So I was just wondering if they could do that.”
I shook my head and started toward my office. “Could be,” I said over my shoulder. “Cats are devious creatures.”
June 4, 2015
“Well that’s what you do isn’t it? Get into other people’s messes and fix them up?” Dave asked.
I gave him a thoughtful look.
“Say,” he added, “did you watch the hockey playoff last night?”
“No, I’m superstitious about the Lightning, but I do check the score.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do that either.”
“Because they lost to the Black Hawks last night in the final minutes.”
June 2, 2015
I glanced out the window beside me. Storm clouds were building to the west, not unusual for Florida in the summer. By mid-afternoon, they’d clash with the easterly sea breeze somewhere in the middle of state creating potentially violent thunderstorms. I looked up at Dave.
“This situation, she’s got, it looks like a mess.”
June 1, 2015
A little past noon, I walked into Kicks, my favorite beach-front restaurant in Porto Cielo, to grab a sandwich and beer.
“Hey, Wolf,” said Dave Kingston, the owner. “Usually don’t see you here this early. What’s going on.”
“I just talked to this detective from Chicago. She’s down here on vacation, but got involved in something and would like my help.”