Monday, February 20, 2012

The Cell Phone...

Here is the first part of another story I submitted for the writing contest and another entry that was not chosen. It's called The Cell Phone. The picture of the cat has absolutely nothing to do with the story.

The Cell Phone

Detective Fox entered the small interrogation room. The smell of bad coffee and sweat filled the room, a room built to reveal secrets. In his hand he carried the file on Hector Soudeer, the same folder he was given only an hour before and the one he’d read while downing his McDonalds breakfast only minutes earlier. It was going to be a long morning, the detective thought.
“Hector, I’m Detective Fox,” the career policeman said. The detective’s first impression of the man being questioned for auto theft was, short, but as Hector extended a tattooed hand attached to a tattooed arm, Fox noticed immediately the bulging muscles underneath his colorful shirt. Short, but works out, Fox thought. Fox also noticed the absence of any gang tattoos…at least he didn’t have that to worry about.
“I guess you know why you’re here,” Fox said as he sat in a chair opposite Soudeer.
“Mr. Fox, this is all a misunderstanding. If you would only give me back my cell phone, in 10 minutes all this,” Soudeer stretched his painted arms. “All this will go away.”
“Later,” Fox said curtly. A misunderstanding…how many times had Fox heard that excuse to explain everything from infidelity to murder? “First, let’s just start at the beginning. Tell me about Mrs. Lamia.”
“What do you want to know?” Fox took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He felt a headache coming on.
“Well, for starters, when did you first come in contact with Mrs. Lamia?”
“The first time I ever spoke with her was last week, Tuesday. Out of the blue I get a call at home, like at 9 o’clock. I see it’s an international call from Mexico. I don’t know who it is, but I have family in Mexico so I pick up. I’m curious, you know...”
 “And the call was from Mrs. Lamia?”
“Yeah, that’s right. She tells me her name, but I don’t know her. I ask how’d she get my number and why’s she calling me?”
“And what did she say?”
“She said I ask too many questions. I’m about to hang up when she says she’s got a job for me and it will be worth my while if I take it. Now, at my car lot, a job can mean a lot of things…pick up a car, drive it to California…stuff like that. But I don’t know what she means. So I ask her…what kind of job?”
“Did she tell you?”
“Yeah—kind of. She starts in on this story that she’s in Mexico and her husband’s gone missing in Tijuana. I know Tijuana—missing’s not a good thing in that town. She says she went down there to find him and now she can’t come back to the States…some problem with customs or something. She says she needs someone to go to her husband’s warehouse and get something for her. She says she needs her cell phone.”
“That’s all—just a cell phone?”
“I swear—that’s all. So now I’m wondering what’s really going on with this lady. I say I’m not going to help her unless she tells me how she got my cell number—I don’t give it out to too many people—and why is she calling me. She says I did some work on one of her husband’s cars…a ’71 Camaro, a few years ago…says her husband’s name is Antonio. Then it clicks—I did work on that car…sweet car, that Camaro. I ask her why one of her friends can’t do it for her—get her phone, I mean. She says she doesn’t know anybody in Salt Lake, cuz she splits time between Phoenix and Mazatlan. She found the invoice for the work I did on her husband’s car and she called me. She said my cell number was on the invoice. I do that sometimes.”
Soudeer looked around the small room. “Can I get some water?”
“Later,” Fox said wondering where all this was going. Soudeer looks annoyed but he begins again.
“So since she’s told me how she reached me, I ask her what’s she mean by worth my time. That can mean different things depending on who’s deciding.” Soudeer gave Fox a sly smile to which Fox only nodded.
“She tells me her husband borrowed her phone on his last trip to Utah, but he left it in the warehouse. She needs it and all I have to do is go to the warehouse, get the phone, and send it to her. That’s it. I ask her what’s in it for me? And she says, ‘look, my husband’s missing and is now God knows where. I need that phone and if you do this for me, you can have anything in that warehouse—just get me my phone.’ I say, ‘lady, if your husband’s warehouse is anything like my warehouse, all I got in there is parts to cars they don’t make no more and crap I can’t fit in my garage.’ Then she says, ‘Mr. Soudeer, my husband collects cars…exotic cars. That Camaro is one of his least-valuable acquisitions. The warehouse is full of his cars.’”
Fox straightened up in his chair. The department assumed Soudeer broke in and stole a car but giving him a car for just sending back a cell phone was new.
“Hector, you’re saying Mrs. Lamia said you could have anything in the warehouse for just getting her phone to her?”
“Damn straight! Look, I’m not dumb. I wouldn’t just break into a place when I’m pretty sure they have cameras and stuff all over.”
“So what’d you tell her?”
“I told her, yeah…I’d do it, but I didn’t have a way in. She says no problem—it’s got a keypad lock. Once I’m there I call her and she’ll give the combination and I’m in. So I drive to the warehouse…it’s on 70th West just off 21st…” Fox nods—he was there just last night. “When I get there I call the number she gave me and she gives me the combination. Just like that I’m in.”
Fox watched Saudeer’s eyes light up and knew exactly why. He had been in that same building and saw what Soudeer saw.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. I thought I’d find some old Chevys, maybe a half-built Porsche... The guy had a few Austins, a Bentley, a Rolls—no, two Rolls Royces. There must have been 20 cars in that warehouse. I was like a kid in a candy store.”
“Then what happened?”
“So I call Mrs. Lamia back and she says again that all of these cars mean nothing to her. She says if her husband is really dead, she’s going to donate them all to charity anyway. I’m thinking if he’s missing in Tijuana, he most likely is dead so I look at the cars again. I see the one I want, if this is really on the level—I’m taking the Benz. She’s still on the phone and she asks me if I’ve found the cell. I tell her no because I was looking at the cars. She tells me to find it, so I go into the little office and there’s the phone just sitting on the desk. I tell her I got it and now I ask just how do I get paid.”
As Fox listens, many of his questions are being answered. Fox knew Soudeer accessed the warehouse with no forced entry. He knew also that one car—the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG was missing, the same car found last night in Soudeer’s garage.
“And what did she say?”
“She said in the office safe are the keys every car there. She says she’ll just give me the combination to the safe. But I start thinking…if these are her husband’s cars and he’s got the titles, she can’t just give me one. So I ask her about this and she says all the cars are in her name. Her husband’s a Mexican national and she’s an American citizen so every car he collected he put in her name to avoid any problems. I still can’t believe what’s happening. She says to just tell her which car I want and she’ll get me the title. All she wants is the phone.”
“You open the safe?”
“You bet I did. She gives me the combination and I open it…” This answered yet another question for the detective. The safe was actually left open by someone who knew or had access to the combination. “And there they were, all the keys. I find the ones to the Benz and I’m about to leave when I remember the cell phone.” Soudeer laughed at his own memory lapse.
“I call her and tell her I got the phone. She gives me the code to open the garage door, and I drive my new Mercedes-Benz out of the warehouse.”
“Then what happened?
            “I leave my Chrysler there and take the new car straight home—I’m not taking any chances with this car—don’t want to get pulled over or anything. I mean, what would you think if you stopped me driving a $80,000 car and all I got is this story?”
“Good point,” Fox said returning Soudeer’s smile.
To Be Continued...

1 comment:

  1. But what a cute pic!
    Again. So happy to see you putting your stories here. I really do love them.