Lenny Parker was in the Thai restaurant that he used as his office, eating Mister Janpongs’s famous soup.
“Good to have you here again,” Mister Janpong said. “Long time ago, yes?”
“Yeah, I’ve been on tour for a few months with The Texas Sons. Cool band. Just returned yesterday in time to catch the Bad Citizen Corporation show tomorrow.”
“You are talking about music, yes?” Mister Janpong didn’t keep very up to date about the latest metal and punk music.
“Indeedy-do,” Lenny said. “Thanks for playing my answering service again when I was gone.”
“My pleasure. In fact, a client is on his way no,” Mister Janpong told me.
“What? No shit? You take good care of my side business!” Lenny Parker supplemented his income as a roadie working as a part-time private investigator.
“I think he is coming in right now,” Mister Janpong said, pointing at the door. Lenny knew the man was probably right. When you weren’t a regular, you had to be one of my clients or someone looking for directions. Janpong’s wasn’t the most popular place in San Diego.
The man coming in looked to be in his late twenties, white pants, experty creased, pullover and well-combed blond hair. Since Lenny and Janpong were the only other people in the room it was easy for him to assume I was the man he was looking for.
“Lenny Parker?” he said, hesitantly extending his hand.
“In the abundant flesh,” Lenny said and shook the hand with his chubby mitt.
“Oh. Okay. I figured you had to be but, eh…”
Lenny smiled. “I know, I don’t look like the prototype of a PI.” He was referring to his tattoos and Slayer T-shirt.
“I left my fedora at home,” Lenny joked. “Have a seat and let me know what I can do for you.”
“Sure,” the man said and sat down. “I’m Thomas Whitman. Tommy.”
“Nice to meet you, Tommy. Can Mister Janpong fetch you a drink? He stocks Singha beer. It’s really good.”
Lenny took a sip of his own bottle of beer and said, “Go ahead…”
“Yeah… It’s like this… I had this thing going with this wonderful girl, Jill. We’ve been engaged for half a year now, had the wedding date set and all. Then she broke up with me a week ago. Just out of nowhere, without any real reason. We’d been already living together ever since our engagement but she just moved out.”
“What do you mean when you say no real reason. Did she give you the old it’s-me- not- you speech?”
“Not even that. She told me she thought it would be better if we didn’t see each other any more. She gave me a hug and a kiss and just started to pack her bags.”
“Sounds pretty weird. Sometimes they really seem to be from Mars, right?”
“I guess. It’s just that… It’s not like her, you know?”
“Not really. I don’t know her. But listen, I’m the last guy you should ask about relationship advice. I haven’t been in a relationship longer than half a year. I’m a private dick and a roadie, not a relationship counselor.”
“I know, I know. But you could maybe investigate why she left me, right?”
“Huh? Can’t you just ask her?”
“She isn’t picking up her phone or reacting to my e-mails. I don’t even know where she is.”
Lenny sighed. “All right. I’m a real romantic at heart, you know? Let me see what I can find out for you. I’m going to need some more information, though.”
“Sure, whatever you need.”
“I’m going to need a picture of her. Names and addresses of friends and family. Where she works, places she used to frequent. You know, bars, clubs, restaurants, shops.”
“Sure, sure. I’ve got her picure right here,” Tommy said and produced a polaroid from his pants. He put it on the table.
Lenny whistle through his teeth, reddening and apologizing immediately. Jill was beautiful. Milky white skin, auburn hair, incredible green eyes.
“It’s okay. I of all people appreciate how beautiful she is.”
“I can imagine you want her back.”
“It’s not just about looks. She’s really funny, warm and intelligent.”
“I’m sure. Well, that takes care of that. Now how about the rest. Her work?”
“She works at the reception desk of a hotel. But she hasn’t been at work all week. I checked.”
“Give me the address please,” Lenny said and Lenny asked Mister Janpong for a pen. He used a napkin to jot down the information Tommy gave him. Then Lenny asked Tommy about Jill’s family members and friends.
“She always told me she didn’t have any family she was still in contact with. She’s from Ohio originally but couldn’t get along with them. It’s one of the reasons she moved to San Diego. She had a friend from work she sometimes had coffee with, though. Tina Tristam. I’m not sure about her address though.”
“That’s it? That sounds a bit weird? No friends, no family?”
“I guess she didn’t need much of those, the way our relationship was going. I guess my family and friends became hers.”
“Yeah, guess so then. Fine. Let me see what I can find out for you. I’m yours for 300 bucks day plus expenses. I will email you the contact.”
“Okay, fine. Do think you can find out why she left me?” Tommy asked eagerly.Lenny shrugged. “Don’t know, buddy. But I will sure as hell do my best.”
TO BE CONTINUED