Jake put down his pen. “I’m listening. Shoot.”
“Why leave the Ford? Was it for you? She knew you had no money.”
Jake shook his head. “Not likely. She kept on me to get a job.” He penciled a remark against his notes. “No, the Ford was too conspicuous. If she left the Ford, she would simply disappear, no police trace. Nothing. Same with the cell phone. She would buy a new one and transfer the SIM card details.”
Anna nodded. “Yeah, makes sense, but why travel to Longfield?”
“Easy, she needed to keep track on BG and make sure he coughed up.”
Anna hummed and amended her script. “Okay, I’m through. Time to compare.”
“Okay, let’s see what we got,” replied Jake, looking at their notes. He picked out the obvious.
Bees in Longfield for two weeks, and mailed in Longfield. Emmy knew their schedule, she could be in town. She could have taken a short term rental. Bank account. Wells Fargo, Longfield 2nd Street. She could pick up cash there.
Anna put her notepad down. “That wraps up what we got. Not a lot really.”
Jake shook his head. “Disagree. We narrowed it down, if we’re correct. As I’m the one who could recognize Emmy, I’ll stakeout the Fargo branch while you check out the rental agencies; say a friend of yours rented from them.” He grinned at her. “Better call BG to wire our money.”
The stakeout had seemed a good idea at the time.
It isn’t working out, said Jake to himself. The realities of crime investigation work were hitting home. Two boring days sitting in Philly’s coffee bar overlooking the bank, pretending to read a newspaper. He had counted the off-white ceiling tiles twice; twenty-two large ones was the latest. Four needed replacing, seven were cracked and there were several discolored ones above the counter where the three pots of coffee percolated. Twenty-seven people had come and gone that day. A few newcomers were still there...
Apart from the waitress harassing him to move on, Emmy could walk in and out of the bank while he was in the john having a dump or pissing away the coffee. He shifted his coffee cup around on the frequently wiped-clean table, and squinted outside into the afternoon sun.
“You want another refill?” asked the teenage waitress. She busied herself wiping his table again. Third time that day. Her nametag said Vanity. “Maybe a cookie or something?”
“Yeah why not,” he replied, offering his empty. “A chocolate chip cookie.”
She perched by his side, hands on hips. A questioning look on her face. “You waiting for someone? Sure been here an awful long time.”
He tapped his lips and smiled at her. His disarming smile. “Stakeout. Between me and you, ok?”
Vanity took a step back. Looking impressed. “Wow, that’s awesome. Are we going to get hit or something?”
He quickly shook his head. “No, no not here. The Fargo branch.” He wished he hadn’t said that.
She gave a squeal. “Bank robbery, like in the movies, huh? Are we going to be on TV?”
He motioned for her to keep quiet. “It isn’t like that. You just keep it quiet, ok?”
She pointed to her nametag. “Just remember my name Vanity. Vanity Capistrano, ok?”
“Yeah sure. Now can I have my cookie please, Vanity?” It was going to be a long wait with Vanity around. What we need is a change of direction, he thought. And some luck. Maybe Anna would manage better.
Anna didn’t have any luck; none of the rental agencies she’d seen uptown had rented property to a young girl recently.
“You could try Surelet,” said the helpful young man at White House rentals. “They do short term stays, then there’s always the downtown Motels, but some are not respectful for regular girls, especially night-time.”
“Where’s Surelet?” asked Anna.
“That’s downtown as well, Strange street, off the walkway.”
Anna took the bus. Mid afternoon, she’d be safe enough. The walkway was busy with shoppers; some harassed mothers with kids eating candy and generally running around. Teenagers on roller blades weaving in and out of the pedestrian traffic, walkways vendors selling hot dogs and ice cream, a few billboard men handing out leaflets. She took one. It was an invite to the Bees game the following Saturday. “Fireworks and all for the family,” said the man. “Best show in town.”
There wasn’t a lot of time to locate Emmy if she was in town. A big if. Surelet was two doors down Strange street. She looked at the window display. Many lets had been taken up. A few properties were being marketed with special offers. From the photos, they looked run down and uninhabitable. She opened the door and went inside. Two desks. At one, a man was talking like an animated cartoon character on his phone, and at the other a young girl was entering details on her laptop. The name plate on her desk showed Amelia Robinson. She looked up, smiled and waved Anna to take a seat. “Be with you in a minute, just finishing up. Help yourself to coffee,” pointing behind her. A row of cabinets behind the desks, a small table used as a coffee stand. Anna filled up a plastic cup and added milk from a carton. No sugar, not today. She moved back to the desk and sat down opposite Amelia. Her thoughts wandered while she waited.
Anna Lewinski, age twenty-two, same as Jake Thackeray. Independent, college grad from Montana, now backpacking around the country, that was, until she met him. The ‘catcher in the rye’ had intrigued her, a mixture of naivety and awkwardness struggling to adjust to the adult world. He had confessed his drug habit, but since he met her that was past history. Now he had ambition and desire in his eyes. To realize his dream of being a first rate crime scene investigator. He had the latent talent; and she enjoyed the work. Best of all, DD wanted her. She felt the same about him. Corn fields in Kansas, huh?
“How can I help?” Amelia asked.
Anna danced away from the corn fields into the present. “Friend of mine recommended your agency, I think. Name Emerald Parton, calls herself Emmy. About my age.”
The girl hesitated, and shook her head. “Client information is confidential, sorry.”
Anna sipped her coffee. God it tasted awful with no sugar. She tried another tack. “I’m looking for a one-bed short term, where’s best?”
“Not much about right now, town’s been pretty busy awhile.” She shrugged. “Bees’ groupies.”
“Yeah, I heard. Where they hang out?”
“Mainly around Smithsonian, downtown where most of our lets are. Plenty of take-outs and bars.”
“Okay, thanks.” Anna got up. Left the half-finished coffee cup on Amelia’s desk.
Amelia pointed to a few leaflets on her desk. “Don’t you want to look at what we got left? I can get you first month rent free.”
“It’s ok; I’ll wait. No hurry.”
“And your name is?” asked Amelia Robinson as Anna opened the door.
Anna turned and smiled. “That’s confidential information, sorry.”