Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Free Fiction: Served Cold Part One (a Brody Chen serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

I felt like writing about a new, very unique character that operates in a world we PI fans all know and love but is very different from my guys like Vance Custer, Noah Milano or guys like Spenser, Scudder or even girls like Milhone and Warshawski. Here's Brody Chen...

I had my feet on the table of my new desk when Carl Rogers told me he was going to quit my dad’s process serving firm as well. Technically, after my dad died it’s my firm. Carl, a fifty-something burly guy in a suit told me, “Sorry, Brody. It’s nothing personal. You know I love you, but I can’t afford to stay working for you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Why should you be different than the other guys, right?” I said.
“I’m really sorry. If you need something, just give me a call.”
“I need you to stay on,” I told him.
He studied his shoes. “Sorry, Brody.”
“Sure, sure.”
Carl left my office. That was the last one to go. Three weeks ago my father died, leaving me his company and a whole lot of debts. It turned out my dad hadn’t done too good a job handling his finances and owed a lot of people a lot of money. The only thing I could do to pay of his debtors was sell the house. I kept the office. After all, without my dad I had no other choice than to try and continue his work. I dropped out of high school years ago, earning some money doing freelance journalism jobs for metal zines in print and online. It nowhere earned me enough dough to make a living though. So I sold the house where I used to live with my dad and started living in the office.
The employees of my dad apparently had little trust in my ability to lead a company. And who could blame them? I was just an eighteen year old high-school dropout with a weak spot for leather, tattoos and heavy music. Not exactly CEO material, admittedly.
I leaned back in my chair and chucked the empty can of Monster Energy in the waste basket. Now what was I to do? Run this company all alone or just give up. Shit, I’d been thinking about just giving it all up and just hang myself or something a lot since my mom died. But now, five years later it seemed stupid to quit. I mean, I didn’t go through the hell of coming to grips with mom’s suicide to just end it now, right?
I turned on the stereo, Carnifex blasting their deathcore through the speakers. This kind of music always fueled me with the energy to go ahead and tackle my problems instead of submitting to them. I used to tag along with my dad on some of his jobs when I was still a kid and he couldn’t get a babysit. I’d picked up some stuff. Maybe I could do this job. Maybe I didn’t need Carl or the others.
I switched on the laptop. There was a picture of me in my younger and happier days as a wallpaper. I was going to replace that with a picture of Bring Me The Horizon or something. I couldn’t bear to see the old me, still innocent, still happy. Still fucking weak and stupid.
I went through dad’s e-mail, his password still my name and date of birth. Not very careful for a guy in his kind of business. As I went through the e-mails I found, among the many e-mails from people he owed money to, a message from a lady wanting to make use of dad’s services. It looked like a fairly easy job, so a great one to start with. The writer of the e-mail, Cheryl Hill, wanted dad to deliver her husband the divorce papers. She added he’d refused to accept them from her, so she now was looking at affordable process servers to deliver the papers for her. Her husband, one Tom Hill owned an auto wrecking business in Brooklyn and she suggested to deliver the papers to him there.
I wrote her back, attaching the standard contract that was on dad’s laptop. Now to wait until I got a signed copy back. I passed gathering as much information I could about the business details of the job. Luckily dad had left an amazing number of documents describing those things. That was probably the work of the office worker he’d hired a few years ago. She’d already left the firm a few months before his death though, going back to college. I never really had the attention span for education. It took me a huge effort to go through the documentation without letting my mind wander off to the concerts I wanted to see, the confusing feelings I had about dad’s death and the sheer panic at the thought of having to make a living all by myself, the office couch for a bed.

Three hours later I got a scanned and signed copy of the contract in the e-mail. Time to see if I actually had what it takes to do this job.

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