By Norman V. Kelly

The retirement party for my father was winding down. The speeches had been made and the gold watch presented. I was bored and ready to go home. My dad might be retiring, but he would still find plenty to do knowing him like I do…I was sure of that. I started to walk over to say goodbye when I saw her! She seemed to come from nowhere and there she was kissing my father on the cheek and smiling at him like she was a long lost daughter. I hurried over there as fast as I could.

“Nolan,” my father said with that little grin of his, “You see something that interested you?” I talked to my dad but my eyes were on the beautiful lady. “You old fox, I always knew you kept the beautiful ones hidden.”

“Molly Sprague this is my rogue son, Eric Nolan, everyone calls him Nolan.” Her full attention was on me and I swear the old heart skipped a beat. She put out her hand and I held it until my dad gave me one of his looks. “Hello, Molly, did you just get here? I certainly did not see you before now.”
“Hello, Nolan. I did. Can’t stay but your father and I are old pals and I wanted to wish him well.”

Miss Molly was truly gorgeous. She had long, beautiful brown hair, and eyes that sparkled. There was a little wrinkle around her nose when she smiled and I liked her instantly.

My dad grinned at me. “I’ll save you some time Nolan, Molly is brilliant, beautiful and single. She is out of your class…so take a deep breath.” He slapped me on the shoulder. “Look out for him, Molly.”

“Oh, don’t worry, if he is your son I guess I better start carrying my gun.” There was that smile again. She was truly breathtaking. We stood together, the three of us making small talk. Finally my father was called away.

“Molly would you like a drink?”
“I thought you’d never ask.
“Would you rather stay here…or go some place else?”
Here is fine, such a classy place, might as well take advantage of it.”
“Any way Nolan the truth is I came here knowing you would be here. I am in need of a sharp private eye…and you’re it.”
“I am? I mean that sounds great to me. I do have an office if you would prefer.”
“Naw…this is fine. I didn’t pay a fortune for this dress to waste it on some dingy office.”
I laughed at her as she took my arm. ‘Well you got that dingy part right.”

I Left her at a table that had a view of the lighted golf course and raced over to get her drink. I was feeling pretty damn proud of myself…you know how fast I moved. As I waited I chastised myself. Wait a minute…she came to see me. I bet it’s just all business and she is engaged to a billionaire…something like that.

I got back to her table without spilling her Manhattan and sat across from her. “Over here…come on over here next to me Nolan. I want this to be confidential”

There it was, ‘confidential’ where in the world can a fella find romance in that damn word? “Sure…sure Molly, whatever you say.” She held up her glass…we clinked and she sipped. I had a Budweiser and clinking with a beer bottle just don’t have much class…if you get my meaning.

“Nolan your dad and I are pals. I worked in the office but had no connection with him. One night he locked his keys in his car and I rescued him. Since then we have remained close friends. He has given me some great advice, not only in finances…of which he is a genius, but boy friends, you know father daughter stuff. We talked a lot about you and I always wanted to meet you. So here I am. But, I have a business proposition for you and I hope we can become partners…so to speak.”

“Well, hell, I like that partner part. My dad mentioned you…well he said he knew this beautiful woman that one day he would arrange to have me meet. But…well it never happened until now.”

“Good. Well since you don’t know anything about me I’ll give you a very quick run down. I lost my parents when I was a baby. My Aunt Sara raised me. In fact she always told me that I was a ‘special gift’ from heaven and that she would teach me everything she knew about the mysteries of being a Gypsy.”

I chuckled. “A Gypsy you mean like voodoo and stuff?”

“No silly. That has to do with a religion down in New Orleans. No, my aunt read palms, dealt Tarot Cards, read fortunes, looked into the future and all that jazz. She made a wonderful living doing that and by the time I was twelve I was as good at most of those things as she was. We traveled all of the United States and many places in Europe. Over there we traveled with a caravan, it was the most exciting time of my life. After she died, I just changed my name and kept the business going to this day. Now I have a beautiful home, a lot of money and I work out of my house. I have an area in my home where I meet my guests, and I have a good reputation. You getting all this Nolan?”

“I guess so. As I stare into that beautiful face and listen to you, I guess I will kill your ex-boyfriend…or whoever it is you want dead.”

She reached over and slapped my hand. “No…Rambo…nothing like that. This business I have meets all the requirements of the laws here in Peoria, Illinois. I make a lot of money. I pay my taxes and I help a lot of lonely and confused people. I am no psychiatrist…no therapist, but I help my clients. Many of them have been with me for years.”

“I still don’t see why you need me…a second-rate private investigator who is always one month behind in his office rent.”
“Well, Nolan, your dad is filthy rich so I admire you for not just hanging onto his shirt tail.”
“We had that talk. I am his only son and he has told me repeatedly that when he dies I’ll be rich. You know Molly I would rather make it on my own. If he leaves me a lot of money…so be it…but until then I am exactly what you see…I am no Mike Hammer wannabee.”
“A Mike who?”
“Never mind…so what is it that you want to do that is different than what you have been successfully doing?”
“I want to be a psychic.”
“Do you have to go to school to be one of those? I can tell you right now I do not believe in ghosts, spirits, Heaven, Hell or the here after. It is all phony and I cannot believe that people still fall for that BS.”
“You’re dad told me you were opinionated. That’s fine with me. I don’t believe in it…not even one little bit. I mean none of it. But it is a great business to be in… if you have no skills, and that defines me.”
“Great, I am glad we see eye to eye on all of that. I still don’t see how your being a psychic has anything to do with my private eye business…but am glad you have some kind of interest in me.”
“Well you are the key to my success. By the way do you have a friend or two in the local police department?”
“Sure…I help them once in awhile and over the years I have become friends with three of them, one is in the dispatcher’s department.”
“Great! That’s what I was hoping for. See, Nolan my clients begin by calling me. If someone comes to my door I will not answer it. I always demand that they call. It is on my business card. Here look at this.
“That’s funny…hell, I spend most of my time soliciting business from phony lawyers, known criminals and married people that want me to follow their spouses. God…what a business. Still, where do I fit in?”
“Nolan do you have a cell phone or do you have a phone in your car?”
“I have both…the car phone is more secure but to tell you the truth I am almost 2 months behind in paying those bills.”
“Never mind that, I’ll take care of that. It is important that you are able to commit a lot of time to this. Therefore for the first 90 days I will put you on a retainer…but I am asking for very prompt response. Think you can do that?”
“Oh, hell yes! Everyday I go into the office and look at my calendar and wonder what I’ll do the whole damn boring day. I do have a few reliable clients, but it has been pretty tough. I often think abut calling my dad and taking one of those jobs he has offered me.”
“Well, I’m glad for my sake that you are available. Now here is the caper…do you guys still talk like that?”
“I will if it helps me get the job.” There was that gorgeous smile again, and I hurried over for another round. I was getting somewhere with her, I was just not sure where that was.

The Caper
“Nolan when my clients call I quickly warn then not to tell me their names or anything about them. I immediately ask them if they would like to come in by appointment.. I tell them the first visit is free. I also tell them that everything we say is confidential and that I want them to be comfortable with me. Hell, it is such easy pickings that sometimes I am embarrassed.”
“Not enough to give it all up I hope?”
“You can bet on that. It is amazing what these people give me in the way of information just that first day. I get them out in ten minutes…after all it is free, then I have my secretary set them up for at least six ‘sessions’ and that is how it all begins.”
“What is my role in all this?”
“Well Nolan, without you all this slips away rather quickly. You see my clients…well clients of psychics want answers. Now these answers must be awe inspiring, not only spiritual…but accurate. I want you to be in a position to watch my house. I’ll give you all the schedules and you be outside watching those cars pull in my driveway.. You get the license plate numbers and run every kind of check on these clients…and potential clients that is known to man kind. Catching on are you?”
“Well now you are talking my language. Hell, to tell you the truth you can belong to web sites on your computer that would give you almost all the information you want to know. But…hey…don’t look a gift horse in the mouth I always say.”
“I have no time to be waste on a damn computer and I certainly do not want my secretary to know anything about what I do. I always give my client a phony first name for her to open a file. I have all the information, the real name eventually but all that is kept in my personal files inside my office and stored in a very strong safe. Remember Nolan, everything that you get on them that they could never imagine me knowing is exactly what I want. Can you do it?”
“Hell yes. This retainer, if you paid me enough I could quit soliciting, but I would still want to maintain my own contacts, you know in case this bubble burst.”
“See there…I knew you were the right guy. This psychic thing is new, but I have been doing the cards, palms and other BS for over twenty years, so I think we’ll last for a long time. Want the job?”
“Absolutely! Now let’s go get something to eat these damn finger foods are for vegetarians…not me.”
“Oh…I forgot, I want you to discretely photograph their homes, check out the area. Do they have dogs or cats? What kind of car do they have and just anything at all. Can you imagine, Nolan, me being able to tell you about your dog, maybe your license number, and the color of your house? Can’t you just see it? I would hope to get in on a police investigation once in awhile. Remember that Greta from Delavan?”
“I sure do. It was amazing. Hell, I listened to her and read some of her ‘findings. As I said, I never believed in any of that and certainly not anything she said. People are so gullible and I am positive there is no such living person in the world that knows any more than any other person about all those things.”
“Of course you are right. People want to believe in us and I just make it very easy for them to do so. Let’s get going.”

The Partnership
I sat in my small office in Downtown Peoria, Illinois thinking over the incredible night talking to Molly. I guess I was thinking more of her goodnight kiss than I was about the business deal we had made. My the lady is generous and I looked forward to paying some bills, including the rent. The old car needed a bit of work done and to think that I could afford to rent a car while it was being repaired made me feel like a million bucks.

I could up grade my computer and get a new pair of shoes. I wanted to meet with my cop friend. He would be taking a chance and I meant to make sure he was paid pretty well for his part in all this. I needed him to just tell me the name of the car owner, and I felt he could do that without too much problem. Hell, if that did not work I would just follow the client home and take it from there. The recorder’s office, the police files, the library… hell, I knew how to get the information. I would do my job and I was damn well certain Molly would do hers. Wow…to make some money, to be able to hire a tax guy, you know all those normal things like eating and having a drink. I had a romantic notion about Molly, but if that didn’t work…there were other fish in the sea, but you have to have something to bait the hooks if you get my meaning.

What was that? My God the phone was ringing. “Nolan.” “Hello partner, were you too excited to sleep last night?” “Hello boss, slept like a baby, up most of the night crying and wetting my pants.” Hearing her laughter was invigorating. “You are funny Nolan. I got something exciting I think. Oh…by the way I hope to get a half-hour TV show on a local TV station here and this caper just might help. I need you to drive up to Benson, Illinois. A lady called and told me her son was missing and I want you to go there and take every kind of picture you can imagine. It could be a kidnapping, a murder, whatever it is I want to get in on this fast. Be sure to photograph any lakes or deep streams around there. Hell…this kid may have drowned and that my friend is a psychic’s bread and butter.”

“That does sound exciting. Do I need to stay under cover or can I approach the police?”
“No, that’s why our connection has to be confidential. Tell them you are a free lance writer, talk to people. Give me a written report and the photos. Oh, find someone out of town that will develop your photos…and…”
“I have a very small lab in the house I rent. I have been a shamus for a long time and photos are my bread and butter. I just rented a car so that will help me in case neighbors get interested in me. I’ll Google that little town as well and get up there soon as I can”
“Great…good luck partner and I hope you can come over for spaghetti tonight…you in?”
“I most certainly am…love Italian hate French.”

Our First Caper
It was a very pleasant day as I drove over to Benson, Illinois out in the farmland of Woodford County. The 2000 census had 408 souls living in this little community but it is probably less now. They had a tiny gas station, two stores that included a hardware store. I pulled beneath the shade of a couple giant oaks and sat there looking around. A few cars, well, mainly pickup trucks parked on the street. I got out and walked over to one of the stores. I mentioned how sorry I was about the little boy missing and got some information from a clerk. I found out that the Woodford County Sheriff’s office patrolled the area but were rarely seen. I doubt the crime rate warranted even a Barney Fife, so I moved on. As we spoke a large search party was out combing the wooded areas.

I talked to a couple young boys that new Bryan Fields, and they told me that they used to fish and swim in a couple of creeks and a few lakes just east of town. I went out and photographed every one of them. I drove over to the little boy’s house and through my telescopic lenses took some pictures of the house, the big Collie dog and the kid’s bike. Funny, I thought, had he gone off on his own wouldn’t he have taken his bike?

I did not want to talk to the kid’s parents so I found out that there were cousins in town so I stopped by every one of their homes. I told them that by talking to me maybe I could generate some publicity, maybe get the Peoria press and TV interested in the case. I left Benson with enough information to write a short book on this poor, missing kid.

The most important news that would excite Molly was the fact that a kid…a kid named David said that Bryan liked to fish and that Bryan had a secret place where he had been catching cat fish. I went back to that lake and concentrated an entire roll of film on that area. Molly stopped by my house out in El Vista, a little subdivision east of Sterling Road, where I had all the photographs ready for her. She was elated.

“My God! Nolan these are incredible. I am going to take a chance and when I talk to this kid’s mom tonight I am going to tell her that her son is right here.” She stabbed her pretty finger nail into a spot that seemed to have a lot of brush growing out of the water.
“Are you sure you want to be that specific? I think that most phony psychics love to be vague and ambiguous.”
“It is gutsy to be specific, but I think I’ll go for it. Anyway they won’t blame me I am just trying to help a poor grieved family in Benson, Illinois. Also my friend over at the Journal-Star was tipped by a friend of mine so I might just get the publicity I need. If I am wrong…well…I’ll just take that chance. Great job Nolan, you have earned a bonus on your first caper. Remember my goal is to get my own half-hour TV show, and let’s hope this is the first giant step.”
“Molly, I did not talk to a Woodford County Deputy, I think they are over in Eureka. Want me to contact them?
“No not yet. I plan to have Mrs. Fields do all that for us. After I tell her where her son is, I’ll tell her to call the 7 numbers I will give her. These are the media people here and the newspapers in Eureka. My friend in the JS will certainly want the TV stations in on this so all we have o do is sit back and wait. Havin’ fun yet Nolan?”
“Indeed I am Molly, indeed I am.”

Benson Boy Found Drowned In Lake
“Well, hell…maybe she is a psychic because late the next day eleven-year-old Bryan Fields was found in three feet of water, his overalls snagged on a sunken tree branch. I mean the TV and other media people were on this like stink on a skunk. It went viral on the internet and Molly was in the middle of all of it. It was sensational and I can tell you her beautiful face was all over the news. There was one shot of her hugging Bryan’s mother that was touching indeed. Sure the poor boy was dead but the news surrounding the entire thing was beyond description. The TV networks did a few spots of her out by the lake as well. I don’t even have to tell you what happened to her psychic business after all that. Truly awesome…as the kids love to say.

I was stupefied to find out just how many fools believe in all the tripe that Molly was selling…but the line was endless. Of course she got her TV show. Now it was not prime time nor was it on the three big networks but she was on TV at 5:30 PM on WTVP, on Sundays there she was her and that face and that beautiful smile. She simply sat there on a couch, her gorgeous legs crossed talking to other people in her business, and of course guests that swear by Heaven above of the psychic powers that Molly had. I was certain that she would end up on Cable or even Fox News before it was all over. It was public television, but Molly had two sponsors that would contribute to the station so there she was. Hell…I never missed it. As for me I was busy six days a week and the money poured in. I quickly bought the house I was renting, upgraded my beat up car and lived very well…thank you. Molly and me had a romantic encounter once in awhile…if you get my meaning, and life was good…well, it was damn good.

Just Another Caper
I was sound asleep, deep in a dream when the phone finally aroused me.

“Hello.” My voice sounded like a dead man being dragged across a rusty tin roof.
“Nolan…Molly here. Did I interrupt you while you were being strangled?”
“Sorry. The phone woke me up. Are you okay?”
“Couldn’t be better. I got a very rich client on the hook, you every hear of Richard Wellington?”
“The big real estate guy…the very rich real estate guy?”
“Exato mundo my friend. That’s the one. Well his wife is coming over, you know Darlene…with her nose held high. That one.”
“Say again what does ‘Exacto mundo’ mean?”
“The Fons…he used to say that, it means ‘exact world’ in Spanish, anyway I want you to be over here soon as you can.”
“Is breakfast in this deal?”
“You got it.”

Molly leaped off her porch and hugged me. “You look a hell of a lot better than you sounded on the phone. Come on in.” We made small talk while I ate bacon and eggs, then took our Bloody Marys into her lavish office. “Nolan you will love this one, Mrs. Wellington wants me to tell her who her husband is having an affair with. Now that is right down your alley, right”

“Sadly it truly is. Now where in the hell were all the wealthy clients when I was starving to death?”
“Psychics are easier to talk to and sometimes these ladies just want to know. With private eyes it is all too clinical…get me?”
“Sure…so fill me in.”

So after talking to Molly I had a case that I could sink my teeth into. A wealthy man running around with another woman, that’s what I call a P.I.’s dream case. I spent the entire day gathering information on this very prominent citizen and that Friday I parked a block away from his office. Well, I mean his building. He had four automobiles and I had the rundown on all of them. I knew he was a distinguished gentleman, tall, stunning white hair that he probably had cut every other day. Hell, anyone in town that had an interest in money knew him so how on earth did he expect to get away with anything other than going to church with his wife? He pulled out in his white Lincoln and drove past me. I pulled in behind him and backed off. A piece of cake I thought.

A brilliant rich man that was so damn stupid I had to laugh at him. I had seen his wife, wow…what a knockout and here he was going after another woman. Jesus…these guys are stupid and they deserve the mess they get themselves into.

He headed north on 150 and a mile out he signaled his right turn into a gas station. Funny he passed up the pumps and parked next to an old Ford parked away from the pumps. I smiled, hell I had seen this move before. Old silver hair thought he was the silver fox. A minute later he was in the Ford and heading north. Wow he was slick.

We got off the expressway and pulled into a restaurant. I passed by then came back and parked as far away as I could get. Sure enough…a cute little yellow Volkswagen convertible pulled in next to the Ford. I zeroed in the camera and watched the gorgeous red head get out of the car. She was a knockout and any idiot would have known that the sly fox had captured this beauty. I drove past the cars got my pictures and of course the license numbers as well. I parked got out and walked into the restaurant heading for the counter. I could see the love birds in the mirror sitting together in the back booth. My God…do these guys all read the same how to cheat books? Pathetic. She was a glamour puss, no doubt. They sat side-by-side and he was quite the entertainer, based on her laughter. I sipped my coffee and watched. Ten minutes later I sensed they were leaving so I hurriedly paid my tab and got back into my car. Off they went.

He headed south again, pulled into the station and got back into his Lincoln. So stupid. Just how hard would it be for me to find out who owned the Ford? If I thought this case was heading for court, I would have had all that documented long before I turned in my report. Instead I just made a note of the license number again and followed the Lincoln down to the Mall on Sterling and right into a business complex to a Red Roof Inn. Not very fancy, now was it?

I got out of the car and walked around where I could see the pretty women get out of the car and go inside. A few minutes later she came out and held up the keys to the driver. She smiled and jingled the keys. They drove around to a rear entrance and in they went. I took more photos before I gave up and got back in the car. The final shot was that silver haired boy of mine carrying his cutie into room 29. What a great wedding shot that would have been huh? God…I love my job.

Molly Is A Happy Gypsy
“Nolan you are the right man for the job. Seriously these are incredible photographs. Look at this one it looks like you could reach right out and touch her.”
“I would have liked to.”
“I bet. Sorry you are stuck with me. I…”
“Molly turn up the TV.”
“Police say a woman now identified as Sandra Doubet was found dead in room 29 at the Red Roof Inn here in Peoria. Police say the maid discovered her body and police worked the entire evening identifying her and investigating her death. Police have no suspects at this time. Anyone that has any information should contact Detective Venice at the police station.”

“My God…Nolan that’s her! Molly was holding the photo of the red headed beauty. “You got that straight Molly. Now what the hell should I do?”
“Nothing yet…don’t you see it Nolan? Why a damn good psychic could reveal a hell of a lot here…If…”
“Wait! Hold on we are talking about murder. Jesus, Molly I have enough evidence to have Wellington in jail within the hour. I sure don’t want us sitting next to him if you get my meaning.”

“I do…but let’s think about this for awhile.” She handed me a can of beer and walked around her office thinking…I suppose. Then suddenly she turned to me, pointing her finger at me. “You are supposed to be the detective so ponder this Sherlock. What time did lover boy leave the motel? Did he leave alone? Did the red head just stay in the motel and call up another one of her boy friends? Is this lady a hooker? After all what do you really know about this woman other than her name and that she has a little yellow car?”

“I do have her address and she is listed in the city director as a hair dresser.”

“Hell, Nolan, those books are printed a year in advance. Listen…I have the opportunity of a life time here and I do not want to blow it. Let’s just cool it, see how the investigation goes. We can always anonymously mail all those photos to the cops. Stick with me on this.”

“Sure…but remember obstruction of justice is a serious felony and that means jail time. I don’t like the sound of that.”

“Me neither. Hell, this Wellingon is well known in town, I can imagine that already they know who rented that room, we have some sharp detectives. Let’s let ‘em do their job, if they falter, well hell, we get the photos to them. I know the chief of detectives; we’ll just mail them to his home. Is that a deal?”

“Deal…what do we do next?”

I am thinking about what to tell Mrs. Wellington. I was ready to reveal what this lady looked like…maybe even her first name, but now that the dead gal is all over the news I’ll have to rethink this. Get outta here while I do some serious thinking. I’ll call you.”

Not On TV?
Yep, that is exactly what she decided to do. She played Mrs. Wellington with some pretty revealing stuff, but decided that she could get the most out of what she knew by playing a deadly game on her TV show. I sat there mesmerized as I am sure most of Peoria did as well.

Molly was seen out at the Red Roof Inn, standing at room 29, and then I’ll be dammed she was actually allowed inside the room that poor woman was murdered in. I know now what she meant when she said she had a friend who was the chief of detectives. God…it was heady stuff and as the camera closed in on her face she appeared to be in some kind of trance. As the camera neared she suddenly ‘woke’ up. ‘I have it…I have the face of the killer!’

WOW! She then sat on her couch and talked to the coroner and one other official. It amazed me how these fools could go on a psychic’s show…but there they were. The next morning there was that beautiful face plastered on the front page. They were playing up this brilliant woman for all it was worth. I tried to call her but it was three days later that she finally called me back.

“Sorry Nolan, I’ve been a bit busy. I have at least six serious new clients so please come over so we can talk.”

I worried myself half sick over the whole damn thing, knowing that I should have handed everything I had over to the police the very day that I developed all those pictures, but I didn’t. So when we finished supper and sipped on our drinks over at Molly’s house, I was prepared to make my case.

“Tell me, Molly, are you really going to reveal the killer in room 29 on your TV show?”
“No…not really. I have a sketch artist drawing the face from the photos you gave me.”
“Well…hell, isn’t that the same thing?”

“Not really. See, the artist will alter his face a bit…oh hell yes, it will look a bit like him…but believe me pal…I will never say his name. You get it?” I shook my head, got another drink. “Molly, what if Mr. Wellington decides to have you shot…or does it himself? This will be dramatic stuff…how many shows will it take before you show the artist’s rendering of the killer?”

“Probably three…you know, I’ll milk this cow for all it’s worth first. Now remember Nolan…Wellington may NOT be the killer. So being as
dramatic as possible, I’ll have the artist do a few sketches in front of the camera…you know tease the people. Then when I think it is right, well then I’ll reveal the face. I’ll conger up the eye and hair color, you know a guess at the age…stuff like that. The only thing I worry about is the police will arrest the guy before I get all that done”

“That is not the only thing to worry about. What scares me, Molly, is the killer…whoever it is, might just be one of those nuts that believe all this BS and just shoot you. Do you even think about that happening to you?”

“Not really. Really, I don’t. After all I can look into the future and I can see me as an old lady pushing a shopping cart in downtown Peoria.”

Hell…that broke me up and we had another drink.

We Are Very Busy
So we continued our little charade as if nothing was coming down the Pike that might kill my partner. Funny…we were not as friendly as we were but we still maintained our business relationship. The money was still pouring in and the town of Peoria was certainly gossiping about ‘That pretty psychic on TV.’

True to her word, Molly had the artist on with his big drawing board and his colored chalk he used. As Molly lay on the couch she put her self in some phony trance. The artist sat near her and sketched as she talked. It was all pretty damn dramatic. Suddenly she would sit up and the artist would stop drawing. ‘

“Next week,” Molly said, smiling at the camera, “Some of my viewers might just know this man. This killer who is in my mind and he is living right here in Peoria, Illinois. We will have a special number you can call and I promise you one of the detectives on the case will talk to you. Also you can call the number on your screen if you would like to meet with me for a private and confidential talk…call me. Good Evening.”

I saw Molly only twice, got my assignments and went about my business. I now had an interest in a divorced lady that lived next door to me and along with her little boy I began to have a very nice relationship. I worried about Molly, but decided that I could do nothing to change her mind and the course she was taking with the killer.

Saturday morning I called, got no answer and tried two more times. I drove over to her house and knocked on the door. I rang the door bell and knocked again. No answer. I peeked into the garage and saw her two cars. I was getting a bit alarmed so I called her land phone and her cell phone. Still no response. I went around back and took the secret key from under the bird house and entered the rear door. “MOLLY!” I walked through the kitchen still calling her name. Her big white cat came out meowing and demanding somebody feed him. I poured some food in his dish and headed down the hall.

Her bedroom door was shut and I shuddered a bit before I knocked quietly on the door. “Molly…it’s Nolan.” I slowly turned the door knob and half entered the room. It was a bright sunny day but all the blinds were shut. I could see her form in the bed and I called out to her. “Hey…sleepy head…you okay?”

I walked over and pulled the drapes open…that bright light could wake a vampire in a second. I shook her foot. No movement. I tucked the sheet down from her face and froze in my tracks. I could see her bloated face, the sickening redness about her throat. Then I saw the thin red belt that had been pulled tightly against her windpipe. My friend Molly was dead!

I stepped out of the room as I got my wits about me. Then I panicked. I rushed off to her office for a look see. The place was is shambles with stuff tossed all over the place. The safe was open but that did not surprise me. Molly rarely slammed it shut stating that she could not always remember the damn combination. Fifteen minutes later I was certain that the Wellington file was long gone. That in and of itself proved to me that Richard Wellington was indeed the killer. I carefully walked about the house giving it a final inspection before I left.

I left by the back door but not until I filled a kitchen rag with a detergent and wiped the door knob and the key clean. I shut the door and drove over to East Peoria and finally found a pay telephone. They are virtually extent by now. I told the dispatcher that there was a dead woman at Molly’s address and quickly hung up.

I Had Some Further Plans
Naturally I was not anxious for the police to find out my association with Molly, but I still was not worried. Molly always paid me in good old cash. I had no worker’s compensation, health insurance or anything really to tie me to Molly, so let them investigate. So…I was her friend. Let them fingerprint the entire house. Hell she had hundreds of people in and out of her place over the past months. I would just clam up…admit we went out together once in awhile. I am sure I would be a ‘person of interest’ as they like to say today, but they had little to go on.

So, I went to my private files in the lab and pulled out all the photos I had taken concerning Wellington and his lover. Surprised? Ha! Since day one every photo I ever took I made a duplicate set. Many times I turned them over to my clients but always had that backup file and pictures. Do I have to remind you that I was a genius?

I set about making myself another copy of the interesting photos and got ready to make my call. Hell, I was well supplied with cells phones from a friend of mine. These phones could not be traced and the moment I made the call I destroyed the phone.

I waited for at least four minutes before I heard his baritone voice. “This is Richard Wellington…who is this please?”
“I am the man that sent you the photographs. Did you find them interesting?”
“Somewhat. What do you want?”
“What everyone wants…money.”
“How much?”
“Fifty thousand in small bills.”
“Fine…where can I meet you?”
“That’s it? No bargaining…nothing?”
“No small talk. Where? By the way will I get the negatives and how do I know you will turn them all over to me?”
“Just trust… Mr. Welling…you will just have to trust me. We still on?”
“Take these instructions down…this is my last phone call. I have a high powered rifle with a night scope…I see anyone or if I get nervous I will just kill you and anyone near you. Got it?”
“Got it.”

Our Final Caper
I picked a spot down by the river where I used to fish. It had a big old tree near the edge and I intended to use that for my cover. The meeting was set for ten that Friday night. I took my big German shepherd with me and got there at eight. We wandered all over the place and then around 9:30 I put him back in the car and walked about one thousand yards to the tree. I didn’t have a rifle, but I did tuck my Glock in the shoulder holster and made my way up the tree. I had a pretty nice roost as I sat waiting. Right on time I saw the black Buick pull into the open space and park near the tree. I used my binoculars to glance around the place as the driver stayed in the car. Five minutes later I dropped down from the tree and stood in the shadows watching the car.

I slipped away and stopped at the rear door of the four-door Buick. I pulled it open.

“Don’t turn around. You got the money?”

“Yes. Here in the brief case.”

“Easy…hand it back… then put your hands back on the steering wheel.

I took the gun butt and smashed the dome light. Wellington jumped but did not move his hands. Stay here.”

I slipped back under the tree and used a tiny pin light to check the money. No bank ink trap and it looked like it was a lot of money so I shut the case. I left it at the tree and gathered up the photos and negatives, taking them back to the rear car door.

I snapped the valise open and tossed it over the front seat. As it landed the contents spilled all over the seat and floor, which is exactly what I wanted them to do.

“Sorry, but they are all there. Hands…don’t move them”

Wellington nodded. “Fine.”

I put the Glock 17 9mm pistol up quickly to his head just above the right ear and fired. He had no idea what hit him as the bits and pieces of his skull and brain splattered onto the side window. Quickly I took the weapon out of my gloved hand and fit it snugly in the bastard’s right hand.

“That’s for Molly and me.”

I then trotted over to the tree and grabbed the briefcase with the money and scampered off to my car. Storm was happy to see me and I promised him a MacDonald’s burger on the way home.

The Aftermath
After I laid it out for the police there in Wellington’s car that evening the police finally pieced it all together. Just as a spectator I went to the coroner’s inquest, me and a lot of other people. I expected that phone call or that knock on the door from some detective but it never came. Of course the police ran down his girlfriend and all of that sordid stuff hit the newspaper and local TV stations. But like always the story faded away. They have a way of doing that about the time that another murder comes along.

I decided to get out of the P.I. business and joined my father in a new adventure of his. I have a company car and spend my time calling on customers. Life was a bit dull without Molly and of course I never killed anyone before. I had my anxious nights but a year later I hardly thought about Wellington or Molly at all. I think I am in love with ‘The girl next door,’ and I am anxious to see where that goes. Me and her son are great buddies. I don’t have to be a psychic to know that I should stay away from those dangerously beautiful women…you think?

Norm is a Peoria Historian and true crime author. This is a work of pure fiction from a retired private eye and a work of fiction.

Editor’s Note: Norm welcomes your comments and you can also e-mail him: