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“I’m sending the file right now,” said Bacon.
The email arrived in a blink. I started reading the attachments. I poured a whisky to help me concentrate.
Dillon K. Looby. The “K” was for “Kirkland.” I rolled the name around in my imagination. Dillon Kirkland Looby. How does someone get a name like that? Haut bourgeois with aristocratic pretensions. Yet cloddish. Three straight trochees. Most of the photos showed him at frat parties. Athletic-looking guy, debonair, lots of chicks around him. Some profs went to his parties. Wonder if they got laid. Their names were mentioned in the papers when the place was busted for noise, drugs, various accusations. No indication on file how that ended up. After three years the school gave him a degree anyway. His old man was a big donor. Dillon’s major, if that mattered, was business economics.
Next thing is he becomes vice-president in one of the family branches, a chain of high-end menswear outlets. These rich kids, they get an expressway while the rest of us have to bump along on dirt tracks. He made his pledge about that time, $90,000. You’d figure someone named Dillon K. Looby could just dash off a cheque for that amount. But the file showed a list of the contributions he actually sent in: two money orders adding up to $76.50. So Dillon was short $89,923.50.
That’s more or less where the file ended. That was five years ago.
It was office closing time. I stepped out into the reception area. “Sally,” I said, “Are you free this evening?”
“Yes,” she said, seeming to anticipate that I would suggest something.
“I need some research fast,” I told her.
She made a sour face.
“Sweetheart, we’re going to make a wad off this,” I promised.
I made a coffee for Sally and one for myself and retreated back into my office to study the internet for an hour. When I felt sufficiently prepared, I grabbed my car keys.
“I dialed the men’s wear firm,” Sally told me on the way out. “It was after hours, but they have an answering system that lets you spell people’s names, and it didn’t accept Looby.”
I noticed she seemed to lay stress on the words “after hours.”
“Call you later,” I said.
I chugged up to the Looby estate in my old beat-up ex-cop car. The place was north of King City. I hadn’t been up that way since years ago when I worked on the Horse Polo Case. I hated that job. Spent most of my time hanging around stables.
I made a wrong turn despite memorizing the route, so it was dark by the time I pulled up at the gatehouse. The guard was a young guy. I flashed my private eye credentials, which some people mistake for police ID. I told him I was going to see the old man. “Top secret,” I confided.
The kid lifted the barrier and I drove through.
It's a mansion, chateauesque style, with extended three-storey wings. It stands at the top of a hill. There were lots of lights on. Remembering the aerial view, I veered off the main driveway onto a narrow strip of blacktop that slipped through a highly manicured woodlot. The kid at the gate would lose sight of me at this point and start panicking, he’d be calling the main house right now. I passed the stables and a gardener’s cottage and a four-car garage and came up round back of the east wing. A line of tall windows seemed to indicate a large interior space. I stepped up to a set of French doors, normally a weak point but they would probably be wired. I turned a handle without applying pressure, just to check the resistance. The door swung open easy as pie.
There was someone standing there as if waiting for me. A stout fellow with a chin-line beard that I suppose made his face look bigger than it actually was. He was wearing a business suit so I figured we weren’t going to have physical fisticuffs.
“Good evening,” he said.
I straightened my tie. “Good evening.”
“Why are you snooping around here?” he wanted to know.