Thanks to Roz Kaveney for introducing me to Veronica Mars, to Booster for setting the pace with his excellent story California Screaming, and to numerous web sites especially Google Maps and various Veronica Mars fan sites for a lot of the details.
by Marcus L. Rowland
I suppose I should begin by saying that I never met Cordelia Chase. Talked to her on the phone a few times, but we'd never actually met. I had an impression of someone older than me, maybe twenty or so, clever, with a snarky sense of humour. Once I put her name into Google, got hits on the name and pictures on a web site for aspiring actresses. One of the contact numbers was the same as Angel Investigations, so I know it was her. She was gorgeous, claimed to be twenty-two, and as far as I know was never on screen for more than a few seconds in any show, which was weird considering some of the bozos you see in daytime soaps. I think I saw her once in a sunblock ad and once in a crowd scene in Scrubs, that was about it.
Actually that doesn't really explain much. Let's go back a little.
When you're a detective agency with one detective (Dad) and one less-than-official under-age assistant / secretary (me) you're a little limited in what you can do, especially if what you want is well outside your own back yard. One of the ways to get around that is to build ties with other small agencies - the big ones generally charge too much - and get them to help you out. Sometimes it's done on a fee-paying basis, sometimes the entire job gets farmed out to another agency, but both of those cost money. If possible the preferred method is barter, a favour for a favour. Let's say, for example, that Mars Investigations in sunny Neptune wants information about someone who lives in slightly less sunny Malibu, Los Angeles, and can't find everything we need through credit agencies and our other usual sources. The less-than-official under-age assistant / secretary (me) looks in a directory of agencies and finds that the nearest one to that address is run by someone called Jim Rockford. She calls Rockford, flirts with him for a while while pretending to be a few years older, and hopefully talks him into finding out what she wants. Some time down the line Rockford needs info on someone in Neptune, phones us, and we try to help out. That's the simple method, but it can be a lot more complicated, with requests passed on from one agency to another until they reach someone who can help. Amazingly it works reasonably well, provided there isn't a conflict of interests.
Anyway, Jim Rockford is a fictional character and LA is a big city. In reality we had contacts with at least a dozen agencies there, and one was Angel Investigations, "we help the hopeless." Never did quite understand what they meant by that. Their web site was truly bizarre, as well as the usual private eye stuff they had links to a couple of dozen New Age and occult sites. Oddly they never charged or asked for any help in return; when I asked Cordelia about that she did a pretty good Godfather impression and said "Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me..."
Cordelia was always my contact there. I got the impression that we had things in common - for one thing she was from Sunnydale, a town that had been about the same size as Neptune - and she always seemed to have time to chat. About guys, TASERs (she used the same model as me), clothes, shoes, the importance of moisturising, and school. She'd soon worked out that I was younger than I pretended, and although she always treated me as an adult, she casually mentioned some awesome ideas on how to manipulate a school's faculty and students, some of which were adaptable to situations at Neptune High. Despite the chat she was incredibly efficient; more than once she sent me what I wanted while we were still talking. I won't say I was crushing on her, we didn't have enough contact and I'm not gay, but I certainly planned to meet up with her if I was ever in LA and had the time. In hindsight maybe I'm glad it never happened. In hindsight maybe I should have guessed that when she wanted her 'service' it would be a biggie.