I was in my office, minding my own business, when the lady got in without knocking and sat down on the client’s chair. I almost cut two toes with the switch blade knife I was using to get the dirt out of my nails. It’s a great tool: more features than a 50 year old hooker at half the weight of a Swiss knife and less than a tenth of it’s price.
I wouldn’t have accepted this case, but business is slow since the approval of the no-fault divorce laws in New York and I have always had a tender spot for slender women with infinite legs and vertiginous cleavages. Besides, conditions were good.
I’d been cut off Internet by NYCT due to non-payment, so I used the taxi ride to pump Ali for the particulars of this case. I don’t know how he manages to pass by whenever I hail a taxi. Of course it is always possible that they are different guys and they all go by the same name. I’m not good at telling foreigners apart.
Either way, Ali is by my best source by a long shot. I kind of spaced off a little as he filled me in on the political background of this case. Politics always make me sleepy. Seems the guy was at the center of a power struggle in some kind of international fund and his being French was not helping. Neither did his having a personal record that would be the envy of your regular candyman waiting at the gates of the local school. I had a glimpse at the papers that Ali handled me and had to confess that the trench coat was a touch of genius, one has to respect that in a man, even in the General Prosecutor.
Ali explained that this was wrongly being dubbed a tragedy, because the passions moving the characters were too banal, nothing here to defy the wrath of the Gods or the convention of men, rather a somewhat vulgar and sickly compulsion. Besides, the judicial procedure and the media coverage of the case took depth away from the characters…I don’t claim to always understand what he says.
A couple of bucks added to the taxi fare helped mobilize Ali’s network, so that by the time I came to the Shopitel, the usual suspects had been rounded up and waited for me seating in suite 2086. I whistled as I stepped in. The guy knew how to spend it, especially when it wasn’t his, it seemed.
I had little time and no idea where to start, so I tried a classical approach – forcing a confession by describing publicly the motivation and opportunity of the main suspects in turn. Works every single time. At least on TV… I started by the Greek bell boy.
– Nick, you are fooling nobody. You are no more bellboy than I am a passerby when following unfaithful husbands. You are the political attaché of your embassy here and your mission was to punish this man and thwart his attempt to impose stricter terms on your country’s bailout. You sneaked a horse-grade aphrodisiac in the gyros he ordered to room service and when the maid came to tiddy up the room, it did its work. Not that the guy needed encouragement…
– Well I did that, yes, but the guy was taking a shower. I had to leave the gyros by the door and the guy next door must have snatched it.
– How do you know?
– He went naked to the lobby and assaulted a 90 year old lady?
– That means nothing, he’s Italian; Silvio something, I think…
– Good point. But the remains of the gyros were in his room.
I had to concede Nick he had a point. I wondered how came there was nothing in the papers about this other assault, then I remember I was in a French hotel. I checked the hand notes that Ali had slipped in my hand and tried the handyman. His cursive was so beautiful it was difficult to read.
– I knew all this from the start. So Pedro, game’s over. Why don’t you explain that, under the guise of repairing the rooms’ heaters you have been pimping for the government of Spain, your country, just to get to him? You framed him to keep your country from falling into default. The premise was “no rescuer, no rescue”
– You’re good, aren’t you? I’d been working on him long and had him ready. But then the maid came first in and maybe he thought he could save a penny if he just took it from her. I have to charge something, we can’t incur higher deficit, you see?
– Precisely. Which is why I knew from the start it wasn’t you who framed him but you, Juan. Yes, you; drop those tools and come here. I know you understand me, stop pretending to be a poor wetback. Why don’t you explain us how you have been sent by the Ministry of Finance of Mexico to smear this guy and make sure your candidate gets to succeed him? You won’t deny you were after this?
– Screw you, Dick! We don’t do framings, we’re machos, not schoolkids! We take charge of things (he spat in the general direction of the Europeans, who were busy checking their nails). I was marking the guy for our two specialists who were coming from Tijuana to do the job.
– They got nabbed by the Migra…
I was running out of options, so I mumbled something about having to see a man about a dog and went out to the corridor. I called Ali from the payphone for leads.
– Sorry to bother you for this, Rep. Boehmer. Lucky you were occupying next suite. If you cooperate here nobody will need to know what you were doing nor who with. We have it from reliable sources that you framed the guy to keep the fund from squandering resources on Eurotrash countries when we may need them at home soon if the debt ceiling is not lifted (the notes I had scribbled at the phone hadn’t made sense to me, but I read them anyway, and winked to the rest of the people in the room for good measure. They seemed to be in the know!)
– Mr. Detective, I am sure you are a law abiding citizen and a patriot. When push comes to shove, I know you will choose to do the right thing and protect our values beliefs and lifestyle, which the founding fathers…
This was going nowhere. Who would have thought the old man to have so many words in him? I couldn’t make head or tail of his verbosity.
I had no business left in there. After all, the lady had hired me to prove the culpability of the guy. I hadn’t delivered, but my nose told me truth would bail me out. The guy looked guiltier than a catholic priest caught with his pants around his ankles in a Boy Scout camp. And he was French.
I went out and soon Ali passed driving by. Or was it his cousin? I waved my hand. From the front page of Ali’s newspaper, the lady who hired me stared at me as if demanding a progress report. I had to ask Ali.
– Seriously? You don’t know HER? She’s Carla Bruni, a real hottie. Ans she’s married to this President dude… Actually he would have been contending the elections to…
Everything was clear now. Kind of. The maid’s uniform she had been concealing under her trench coat, the French song she sung on a husky voice on her way to the stairs… Next time I went to Paris I would make sure to look her up. Not that I go too often…