|The Best Man For The Job
Author: Manchester PM
A sequel, or perhaps a better word for this would be a continuation of my story 'Que Sera Sera Is NOT An Xander Harris Motto.' A certain private detective in Boston is finishing his final report for an anonymous client.Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 3,425 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-23-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6421141
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On the private detective's desk, Spenser neatly stacked and then placed back the contents of the file entitled "Faith Lehane" into its brown binder, with all these documents in their proper chronological order, which meant the very first sheet of paper on top of all the others regarding this case was the copy of the certified check that had started it all several months ago.
It was for ten thousand dollars.
He'd been more than a bit mystified back then by the delivery of the check at his office. On that day, the only mail left in his building mailbox had been a bill for the office rent, a car-wash circular that had been promptly filed into the wastebasket, and finally a plain white envelope having only his full, disliked name and business address typed on the front, with no return address. A couple of seconds later after opening the envelope, the detective was vainly trying to remember exactly who owed him that much money.
There wasn't anything else in the envelope to explain just why he'd been sent a five-figure check, so the investigator applied his amazing deductive prowess upon this flat pocket of paper itself. Turning over the envelope in his hands, the man in the office managed to ascertain that it had been mailed yesterday right here from Boston and it was made of high-grade paper, the really expensive, old-fashioned kind that virtually nobody used any more. It'd take fingerprints very well, but considering that besides himself, the postman, the clerks at the post office, and whoever else had assisted in delivering this envelope, he had no actual suspect that could be found guilty (of what, exactly?) by this means of identification. Oh, and his name plus the office address had all been spelled correctly, which was really nice of whomever had sent that envelope.
Back then, Spenser had simply shrugged, slipped the check in his coat pocket, and went off to his lunch date with his best friend and his girlfriend. Maybe they'd be able to help him figure out exactly what was going on before the other shoe dropped.
At their table in the restaurant, once the check had been produced and examined by the others, the first thing decided by Susan and Hawk was that he was paying for their lunch. After that, his psychologist girlfriend confessed that other than the money being some kind of late fee, the best she could come up with was that perhaps an eccentric millionaire had decided to bequeath his largesse upon the citizenry of Boston, and her now-richer boyfriend had been the newest lucky recipient.
That facetious suggestion had almost produced a smile upon the deadpan features of Hawk. Instead, Spenser's impassive friend had rumbled in his deep voice that he knew something about the bank named on the delivered check. It had the reputation of being a small, centuries-old financial establishment mostly based in Europe, but which also had branches in several other locations throughout the world, including Boston. Anyway, what had been this bank's main selling point for all of its history was its absolute discretion and confidentiality. It had always zealously guarded its clients' privacies and this institution had continued to do so to the present day. So, there was little likelihood Spenser could get any information out of the bank, no matter what he tried. On the other hand, if his friend was just too damn lazy to spend all that time and effort, he could just go to the bank's branch in Boston, and simply ask.
Opening his restaurant menu, the detective had dryly thanked the other man for that supremely sarcastic suggestion, and then he'd concentrated on what to order for lunch.
Later that afternoon, Spenser, with the check securely in his coat pocket, had strolled into an old-money building, a pre-Civil War brick mansion that was tucked away in a quiet Back Bay street. Despite its history, as shown by the very tasteful décor inside consisting of a great deal of antique furnishings, this banking edifice also had a very modern and impressive security system, with armed guards, cameras, and perhaps a M1 Abrams tank or two, all unobtrusively kept out of sight until needed.
Spenser reminded himself that he was here to play nice, so he went over to the receptionist, a bright young thing who seemed about to actually wiggle in her delight at being able to serve this potential client. Feeling a bit old, the detective produced his check and asked for anyone who could tell him something about why he'd been sent this money. Beaming at the visitor, the receptionist had then twinkled over to her superior deeper inside the bank, a more somber Bostonian of the hawk-nosed, grey-eyed, Yankee stoneface type at his own desk, who glanced up and nodded permission for the detective to approach and take a seat before the throne.
Successfully fighting down the sudden urge to perform a mocking genuflection, Spenser sat in the offered comfortable chair before the desk, with the receptionist then bouncing off to spread joy and cheer elsewhere. A cleared throat abruptly brought the detective's attention back to the banker, and once more the check was produced, along with a gruff request for information, such as why the hell it had been delivered to him in the first place.
A grave examination of said check was then conducted by the unruffled banker, who then somberly requested the detective produce various forms of identification, including among them his driver's license and also his private investigator's license. Sensing this was the only thing that would produce any results, a becoming-irritated Spenser had grumpily handed these over, with the banker then arising from his own chair and asking in a politer tone if his company would kindly wait for a few moments. At Spenser's puzzled nod of consent, the banker had disappeared through a substantial wooden door in the wall behind his desk, taking the other man's identification with him.
As if by magic, the receptionist materialized at Spenser's elbow, bearing a cup of steaming coffee on an antique silver salver, with a small jar of pure cream also placed on this tray. The salver was solemnly laid on the desk by the receptionist now having the air of someone conducting a sacred duty, who then bowed herself away as Spenser sipped at his absolutely faultless coffee. After another minute or so, the door leading further into the depths of the bank swung open, with the returned banker standing in the doorway and courteously requesting that Spenser please accompany him.
Placing his half-empty cup of coffee back onto the salver, a growing-exasperated Spenser rose from his chair, and followed the banker into a narrow, oak-paneled corridor. After taking a few steps down the corridor, the banker opened another door and led Spenser into a small, windowless room also paneled in oak, and with this well-lighted room containing nothing more but a petite, antique wooden table with a chair next to it that seemed to match the time period of that larger item of furniture. The aged chair still seemed to be well constructed enough to withstand Spenser's bulk, and as a puzzled detective stepped closer to the table, he saw that there was a small brown binder placed on the tabletop.
Hearing a throat being discreetly cleared, Spenser glanced over to the banker, who murmured, "Our client asks that you read the file in privacy. Once that's done, it's your decision on whether or not you wish to accept your task and proceed further. Should you decline, either right now without reading that file or even afterwards, you may keep your retainer. The only condition is that you maintain absolute confidentiality about what you've learned, as another investigator will then be employed from the list of personnel we provided to the client that were capable of carrying out his request."
Spenser blinked at this surprising information. In his sudden curiosity, he asked, "Do you know why I was picked for this?"
The banker shook his head. "No, Mr. Spenser, only that you were the first private investigator that our client choose. Well, do you wish to continue?"
Spenser thought about this. What was going on was kind of strange, but he'd had weirder jobs and clients before in his career as a detective, and like the banker said, he could back out anytime he liked and keep the cash if things didn't feel okay. As he made up his mind, Spenser shrugged, "Fine, I'll check it out, and tell you if I'll take the job after I read that file."
"Very well, Mr. Spenser. Take whatever time you need. There are restroom facilities at the other end of the corridor, if necessary, and when you've made your decision, I'll be at my desk." At those polite words, the banker now gave Spenser a courteous nod and then strode out of the room, softly closing the door behind himself.
Shaking his head in bemusement, Spenser stepped over to the table and he warily sat down on the antique chair, which accepted his weight without any kind of protesting creak. Satisfied, the detective reached out and picked up the file with the name "Faith Lehane" printed on the brown binder, opening it and starting to examine the several documents there.
Five minutes later, the file was back on the table, and Spenser was staring blankly straight ahead, clenched boxer's fists with their scarred knuckles pressing down against the tops of his thighs, his entire body shaking with pure rage as the man's overpowering emotions of absolute wrath made the chair he was occupying shudder in place. Finally, taking a deep breath, Spenser managed to calm down a little, as he grimly took up the file again. Flicking it open, the detective glanced at the two checks placed on top of the other documents, and Spenser bleakly thought that the first check of fifty thousand dollars for his acceptance of the job wasn't really necessary, even with the other ten-grand check he'd received earlier.
He'd do this for free.
The detective's anger didn't fade then, only moving to the back of his mind, as Spenser started considering the more puzzling parts of the truly appalling file he'd just read. For one, the total lack of information, reasons, and motives concerning whoever had just hired him. The client had said right out in the anonymous letter placed in the file, typed and printed out in computer-style text, and virtually untraceable, that he (possibly) wasn't going to provide any explanations about this. Though, there had been also in the file a personal, sealed letter holding inside what felt like several sheets of paper with the also-typed words of "Faith - Private" on the envelope. Not to mention that attached to this envelope by a paper clip, there was another check, in the name of that poor girl Spenser had just learned about. For a quarter of a million bucks.
However amazing that might be, the overriding feeling seeing that perplexing financial slip of paper had given Spenser was a strong sense of relief. As outlined in the anonymous letter, that money would really help Faith find a much better foster home. Reading that part of the letter, Spenser had unconsciously nodded in agreement, as he'd also automatically vowed that he'd make damn well sure of this. Susan would be a great help, once he'd told her everything. Not only with her contacts in the psychiatric community to find those foster people who actually cared about their charges, but maybe with offering personal therapy for Faith herself. Who'd clearly need it, once Spenser had found this young girl and removed her from the custody of that child's monster of a mother.
Regarding this, Spenser didn't see all that much of a problem in locating Faith. True, the nameless letter writer had admitted he didn't know Faith's location any better than 'somewhere in South Boston', but with the full names provided of both Faith and her mother, plus a good description of the girl herself, it shouldn't be all that hard. He'd found often enough in his career various missing people based on far skimpier details, after all. Hmm, Hawk would be a help, if asked, and his friend might even find this Faith faster than Spenser, what with that guy knowing the seedier parts of Boston much better than the detective, and also possessing a real incentive to quickly succeed. His blood brother had never talked about his own childhood, but over the years he'd known Hawk, Spenser had sensed that man had endured an hellish upbringing perhaps equal to the young girl they would presently be searching for together.
Several months later, in his office, Spenser put away the file at the far right of his desk, looking with satisfaction at the copy on the desktop of the final report that he'd written and placed in the file. Once signed, this copy would be handed over to the banker that had found and hired Spenser, to then be sent to the still-anonymous client recounting this private investigator's total success.
It had taken just a week to find Faith, plus another day or two to line up the next details. Once that had been done, Spenser, Susan, a Child Protection Services representative, several unimpeachable witnesses including a retired, respected judge, a Catholic monsignor, and Captain Quirk himself plus several other cops to do the actual arresting had swooped down upon an evil woman and her thin, hollow-eyed daughter. Faith had gone off quietly with Susan and the CPS lady, not responding at all to the shrieks of her mother being handcuffed nor to the sudden commotion when that female had then made a break for it, in the process getting within arm's reach of Spenser. That man from Montana ordinarily didn't hold with hitting women, but he was more than willing at that moment to make an exception for this vile creature masquerading as a parent. It had been one of the most satisfying punches of his entire life.
Nearly as enjoyable had been witnessing later a furious Faith cursing out (with a truly impressive vocabulary for an eight-year-old) her mother's lawyer that had offered to not submit that girl to a trial and a severe cross-examination of what had actually happened to her, if the prosecution agreed to let that maternal figure plead guilty to a lesser charge with a shorter sentence. When Faith had finished outlining what she knew about her mother's drug deals and badger games, and swore to tell every seamy detail to the jury, the perspiring lawyer had quickly agreed to a good, long stretch in prison for that child's mother plus permanently giving up her custodial rights.
In his office, Spenser proudly grinned to himself at how a damaged child was putting herself back together as a true survivor. One thing he was really pleased about, besides Faith's cautiously-happy family life with her new foster parents and siblings plus the continuing successful therapy sessions with Susan, was that the investigator had himself suggested something that girl was truly enjoying. Just a week ago, Spenser had dropped in at a martial arts studio where he was friends with the owner, and checked out how a small figure in her spotless, white uniform was joyously beating up much older and bigger children. From what the amused sensei had told Spenser, the constraints of the self-defense training kept Faith mostly in line, while physical competition against other students allowed Faith to safely channel her aggression, toning down her severe hostility to much of the world that had allowed her to grow up far too soon. Hitting other people was also a lot of fun, besides.
Thinking that last over, Spenser sobered slightly, as he recalled something that was not in the report about his latest case. A few days after Faith had been delivered from the misery of her former life, Spenser had been working on the speed bag at Henry Cimoli's gym, until a massive shadow had suddenly loomed up besides the detective. Concentrating on his armwork for the next few minutes, Spenser had ignored a patient Hawk, who hadn't been around since that day when the others had collected the young girl. Hawk had also been there, but lurking a block away, for a very good reason that seemingly hadn't worked out.
After giving the speed bag a last jab, a sweating Spenser had stepped away, and picking up a towel draped over the back of a nearby metal chair, he used this to wipe his face and then Spenser consideringly eyed his friend now starting his own rhythm of punches against the small, air-filled bag attached to the rebound platform. Just as he was about to open his mouth, Spenser was interrupted by Hawk impassively continuing his workout, carefully not looking at his white buddy at all. "I found the shithead boyfriend."
Spenser felt a mild sense of relief at the news that the guy who'd done the unforgivable to Faith had finally been located, asking over the steady whap-whap-whap of the speed bag. "So, he's been turned over to the cops?"
"Nope. Got away."
His mouth dropping open in sheer shock, a dazed Spenser stared at Hawk absorbedly hitting the speed bag, as if this was the most important thing in the world. The investigator's whirling thoughts soon managed to produce a coherent objection in that the entire 101st Airborne couldn't get away from Hawk if he didn't want them to. A cold tingle promptly went down Spenser's spine, as he repeated those last words to himself. *If...he...didn't...want...them...to.*
After a few more moments, Spenser managed to get himself back under control, as he cleared his throat, and then said casually, "Well, that's too bad. If anyone - at all - asks, I'll tell them that."
Still engrossed in his workout, Hawk absently grunted, "Yeah, whatever. Anybody needs to know more, they can find me."
Spenser speechlessly nodded, and then he turned around to walk toward the showers, all while listening to the speed bag still rapidly banging away behind himself, showing the tremendous hitting power currently being done against that innocent piece of boxing equipment that would handily produce deep bruises upon anyone's knuckles. A blank-faced Spenser that knew you had to answer specific questions truthfully to any prosecutor at any trial, but you didn't need to tell them of any idle conjectures that might have crossed your brain without any specific proof presented to yourself. Such as, a certain pedophile might have indeed made a successful escape….from their life, to be exact, and that the body would undoubtedly never be found.
Back in his office, blinking away from his uncomfortable thoughts, Spenser looked down again at the copy of his report that had maybe skimmed over a few minor details that were really nobody's business. Wryly shrugging to himself, the detective took out his pen from his jacket pocket, and Spenser prepared to finish his case by performing one final, if deeply resented, task. Glowering down at where his pen rested at the bottom of this report about to be sent to his anonymous client, the man who definitely preferred to be known only by his surname now grudgingly signed his full, legal name upon the report:
Author's Note: Regarding the name - well, the author Robert B. Parker, before his recent death, often cheerfully acknowledged that he never gave his protagonist an actual first name. So, I bestowed upon Spenser the title of 'Protector of Man', just like a certain someone else. If you think that's a stretch, consider the following: Parker also admitted that he took the name Spenser from the 16th-century poet who wrote the epic allegory The Faerie Queene, one Edmund Spenser. And that writer's first name means, among other things, 'Protector.'