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Jack Collier: Private Eye

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Three can be found here.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Four: Just Looking After You

From Alice Liddell’s Journal

 

 

            I was called into Jim’s office today to talk about my relationship with Jack. That was not a fun time. I didn’t know why he had called me, but when I saw Paul Krendler sitting in the other chair I knew it was going to be trouble. I felt my guts twist up and all the blood in my body just went straight to my cheeks.

 

            “You wanted to see me?” I asked.

 

            “Yes Alice, come on in.” Jim said, trying to smile a little. “Have a seat.”

 

            I sat down in the only free chair in front of Jim’s desk, glancing at Krendler as I did and watched his eyes. He didn’t really watch me though, he looked sort of embarrassed. I looked at Jim again and he tried to smile again.

 

            “Relax Alice.” He said, trying to be reassuring. “You’re not in any trouble. It’s just we’ve got to talk to you about something.”

 

            “What is it?” I asked. These two men looked so worried and embarrassed I wondered what it could be that was going on if I wasn’t in trouble.

 

            “You’ve been going to Michigan quite a bit in the last few months.” Krendler told me. “Six times in the last four months.”

 

            “Using my own funds.” I said. “On my own time. Weekends and a holiday break.”

 

            “That’s not the problem.” Jim interjected.

 

            “You’ve been seeing quite a bit of a certain private detective.” Krendler announced, looking more uncomfortable. I know heterosexuality makes him queasy, but he should be able to deal with it better.

 

            “Is there a problem with that?” I asked. “How do you even know? Have you been following me?”

 

            “Of course not.” Jim said, smiling his big wide aw shucks smile at me. “We have been keeping tabs on Mister Collier though.”

 

            “Why are you keeping tabs on Jack?” I asked, “He’s not an interesting person to the bureau, is he?”

 

            “Not as such,” Krendler said rubbing his knuckles together, “But we have kept tabs on him since that seven with one blow incident.”

 

            “Why?” I asked. “Or am I not supposed to know about that?”

 

            “We’ve just made sure that we know about him.” Krendler said, “He made some powerful enemies and we would like to know if anything develops around him. We have the police look out for him, particularly since he got out of the hospital.”

 

            “Since the man who shot him was released, he might be in some danger.” Jim smiled. “Unless you think that it was that little girl that shot him.”

 

            “So why does that lead to you asking me to come in here and talk about my relationship?”

 

            Alice.” Jim tried to sound paternal, which always comes off as patronizing. “We’re just a little worried about something. We want you to be aware of a few things.”

            “What?” I asked. “What about my relationship with Jack Collier interests you?”

 

            “Are you aware that Collier has other women of significance in his life?” Jim asked.

 

            “Other women?” I asked.

 

            “His secretary spends at least three nights a week at his home.” Krendler said.

 

            “Debbie nursed him back to health.” I said, feeling that pit in my stomach reach its way into my intestines.

 

            “Then there is another woman, a psychologist who deals with troubled teens I believe.”

 

            “Karen is an old friend of his.” I said, and I must have been nervous because I started adding unneeded details. “She understands him. They discuss some of his issues. I suppose if you’ve built up a jacket on him you know he’s got some depression issues.”

 

            “Oh Alice.” Jim sighed and I could see him sort of deflate as he did so. “Come on now.”

 

            “Okay.” I nodded. “Suppose I say I know, then what?”

 

            “You know?” Krendler asked.

 

            “What if I do Mister Krendler?” I asked him, looking directly into his eyes. “What then? What do you want to do about it then?”

 

            “Well that would make photos useless.” He smiled, but it looked fake and worried.

 

            “Are you watching him that closely?” I felt the worry growing again, they say they don’t do that sort of thing anymore but one never knows. “Have you been spying on him?”

 

            “No, no.” Jim smiled and laughed and was trying his damnest to give me the country boy charm that made him really a very likeable boss. “Just one or two shots of who was coming and going. All legal to check up things.”

 

            “What is going on Jim?” I asked. “Why are you looking into Jack Collier? Further more, why are you telling me about it? And why is Mister Krendler here for you to tell me my sort of boyfriend might be cheating on me?”

 

            “Mister Collier has a somewhat erratic history.” Krendler said. “He has annoyed some people that don’t take kindly to being annoyed. We can’t prove it, but we’re fairly certain that he was in Texas the day Cole King killed himself. Just the suspicion of that should have Red King hunting him down with a platoon of gunmen. He turned up in Chicago with Cole’s cousin who was suspected of being with Cole before his death. He then managed to out tough one of Red King’s scarier lawyers and the girl is still with Collier’s people in Chicago. In surveillance of Pete Piper, Collier turned up yesterday and we think accepted a commission to recover Piper’s daughter, who was kidnapped three days ago.”

 

            “And what does all this have to do with you telling me?” I asked.

 

            Alice.” Jim abandoned all pretense and let his voice take on seriousness. “I need to know that you know about these developments in Collier’s life. If you’re feeling betrayed by him.”

 

            “I don’t think it’s anyone’s damn business for me to look into my private life but me.” I snapped at him.

 

            “I know you’ve always kept your private life private.” Jim said. “I’m trying to look out for you.”

 

            “That’s very noble Jim.” I said. “But I don’t need looking after, I’m a big girl.”

 

            “I know.” he said. “But you’re also one of the better agents in my office. I just want to make sure that no ones going to hurt you.”

 

            “No one’s hurting me sir.” I told him.

 

            “Maybe we should have a few moments Paul.” Jim told Krendler.

 

            “I understand.” Krendler stood and left the room, and it wasn’t until the door closed behind him that I allowed the tears to burst forth.

 

            “What the hell Jim?” I asked as the damn started to burst.

 

            “Krendler brought it to me and I didn’t know quite what to do with it.” He said. “I’m sorry. I should have thought of a better way to tell you.”

 

            “What business is it of anyone’s?” I demanded. “I’ve never used bureau funds, I don’t even flash my I.D. to get through the lines at the airport faster.”

 

            Alice.” He waved a reassuring hand in my direction.  “It’s not that at all. I just wanted to make sure that he wasn’t hurting you.”

 

            “Well, what if I know?” I demanded again as I snatched at the tissues on his desk. “Huh? If you know about Karen you know how she lives. You know she’s got two children by the guy she lives with who is married to another woman and they all live together and as I understand it all sleep in one king sized bed together. I mean what do you think is going on there?”

 

            “I didn’t know about that.” He said, his face reddening deeply. “I only knew she was a shrink who helps teens.”

 

            “Sexually confused teens.” I told him wiping at my nose. “She helps kids who don’t know if they’re gay, or straight or bi or what decide what they want to be.”

 

            “Oh.” He said. “And you know about them spending all night?”

 

            “Yes.” I nodded. “You guys didn’t notice that while I was spending my holiday vacation Debbie spent half the nights at Jack’s place while I was staying there?”

 

            “Didn’t watch him that week.” He said sort of sheepishly. “We’ve only been watching sporadically. It’s just he’s been doing things this week so we know about him.”

 

            “I’ve just outted myself, haven’t I?” I asked, thinking that years of being very careful just went down the tubes in ten seconds.

 

            “It’s not like I have this room wired for sound.” He said. “No one knows you’ve said anything but me.”

 

            “I know that I’m not the only woman in his life.” I told him, forming my words carefully. “It’s not a problem and I doubt it will lead to problems in the future.”

 

            “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

            “No.” I shook my head. “I want my private life to remain just that. Private.”

 

            “They didn’t mean to pry.” He apologized. “They were supposed to keep an eye out for anyone hassling Collier, happened to notice by mistake more than anything.”

 

            “I understand.” I told him. “It happens sometimes. If we could though, I’d rather this remained a private matter. I promise I won’t let it interfere with my work.”

 

            “I’m not sure how possible that’s going to be.” He said. “The other thing that I wanted to talk to you about was this new Piper kidnapping and the fact of who we suspect to be behind it.”

 

            “And the fact that you think Jack is involved there.” I said.

 

            “I’m not sure.” He said. “Collier sent a bunch of his people to Banbury Cross again, I guess they think she’s being held down there, but that’s not our information. However, as long as you’ve worked on Red King I don’t want you off this case because of a personal issue.”

 

            “We can keep it quiet.” I said. “Just between us.”

 

            “Not forever.” He said.

 

            “But for long enough, surely.”

 

            “I suppose so.” He said looking at the files in front of him.

 

            “Thanks Jim.”

 

            “If you want to talk about it sometime, I am here.”

 

            “I know.” I said. “I’ve gotten as far as I have by keeping myself to myself.”

 

            “Makes people think you’re cold.” He repeated the line he’d said to me a thousand time. “Wouldn’t hurt to warm up once in a while.”

 

            “I keep my warmth for home.” I told him, because he’d be disappointed if I didn’t by this point. “But I appreciate that you cared.”

 

           

 

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