I made a detour back to my place for a shower and a change of clothes. I hoped none of the gang bangers were dead, but it wasn’t out of concern for the good of their souls, or mine. If they lived, they would probably murder their grandmothers before the month was out. But if a body was found in that burned out room, my fingerprints would be on every charcoal smudged surface in the place.
The more I thought about it, the more surprised I was that they had come after me. I had known that more than Davis, Susyn, and Allen/Alan were after Raven, but I had not expected an organization with enough resources to stake out Jacks’ burned out office.
I had Jacks’ home address from Joe Dias, so I went there next. It was a plain one-story brick house on Vicente. Most of the houses on the block seemed to have been built by the same builder, maybe fifty years ago. The lawn was small, brown and close cropped, like a Marine haircut. The front door was overdue for painting. There was a low chain link fence, but no dog or child to be kept back by it.
The woman who answered the door was small, dark, and wiry. There was a touch of gray in her black hair; her eyes were bright and suspicious. She would not remove the chain from the door until I passed her my card, left over from a previous life, that showed my name under the logo of Dias Investigations.
Once I got inside, she was friendly enough. Whatever grief she felt at losing her husband, she was showing no signs of it. She said her name was Laura Jacks. She sat me down on the couch, fed me coffee, and listened to an abbreviated version of my story.
“I don’t know much about Harvey’s current business,” she told me. “He kept that strictly to himself. He would occasionally mention a client, but that was about all. He did say that he was working for a big-wig’s daughter from Sacramento. He didn’t say who.”
“Did he say why she hired him?”
“Did he tell you what he found out?”
“No. He never said nothing. I told you that.”
And so on. Eventually I ran out of things to ask, and “No” was the only answer she seemed to know.
“Did your husband keep any records at home?”
“Oh, sure. Mostly on old cases that he was finished with. Nothing valuable, or he would have hidden them. Harvey hid everything, and he never told me where.”
She sighed deeply and shifted her weight on the chair. In the ten minutes of our conversation, he whole pose had changed. The initial stiffness had had gone out of her, as if she were melting. She had a small, muscular body; very trim for a woman of forty. As I watched, she slid deeper into the embrace of the chair and the lines of her face softened with interest. “Did you know,” she said, “that I am about to lose this house? Harvey made lots of money, but he always squirreled it away. He had bank accounts all over the city, and I can’t find any of them. All his bank books burned up with his office. Now I should be a rich woman, and I’m about to lose my house.” more tomorrow