Fiction: Other Interested Parties

“The customer you are trying to contact is currently unavailable.”

Detective David Moore frowned at the pleasant female voice on the other end of the phone.

“Is your girlfriend still not answering the phone?” David’s partner, Ray Sanyo squinted at the report he was typing. He’d never get used to the electronic forms. As usual, he had entered the wrong information into the wrong field. He cursed and jabbed the backspace a dozen times.

“She’s not available.”

“You mean she’s still avoiding your constant inquiries and you got her voice mail again?”

“No, I mean she’s not available.”

Ray glanced away from his monitor and across the desk. He sighed and saved the file. “Fine. Let’s go.”

They didn’t find Dana Spelman at her condo. The domicile was locked and Ray saw no indication that anything out of the ordinary had happened there.
That didn’t deter David. “I’m just saying, the grounds crew had been by. You saw them up the street. They could have cleaned up.”

“Cleaned up,” Ray repeated.

“They wouldn’t have known better. Crushed plants, mud on the steps.” David twisted the cruiser’s mounted computer toward him to peruse the morning’s calls. He shook his head. “I’m telling you, something’s up.”

“Or she dropped her phone in the toilet and isn’t available until she gets a new one.”

“I think it’s Benes. Benes is a loose cannon. You heard her say the same things I did.”

Ray shook his head. He had indeed heard the same answers from Dana Spelman.

Felix Benes had gone missing five days ago. Without explanation, he hadn’t shown up for his usual Thursday night dinner with his cousin Milos. Milos had a key to Felix’s apartment and was distressed by what he found.

To Ray and David, the apartment didn’t look like anything was out of place. According to Milos, the place was a mess. Felix’s laptop sat open and unplugged and had virtually nothing on it. That, according to cousin Milos, cinched it. Felix never left without his laptop.

The follow-up had led Dets. Moore and Sanyo to Dana Sullivan, a lawyer representing Felix in a case against Felix’s former employers. According to Spelman, the man had become increasingly unstable. His original claims of stifled research had become paranoid delusions. The last two meetings she’d had with him had concerned her. Well, David took her reaction as concern. To Ray, she had seemed perhaps too emphatic. She didn’t play it hysterical, but her fear for her personal safety didn’t quite ring true.

“I know what it is that bothered me,” said Ray as he eased their unmarked cruiser on to the I-15. “She sounded just like my ex-wife when she’d guilt me about the job being dangerous.”

“The job is dangerous,” said David.

“Yeah, but Marla would get this tone.” Ray shrugged. “I don’t know. Spelman had that tone. Anyway, I bet you lunch that she’s safe and sound in her plush, air-conditioned office.”

The receptionist at the front desk smiled with false cheer as she informed Ray and David that Dana Spelman was no longer employed at Devine, Chance and Merit.

David put his elbows on the counter and leaned forward. “Is there any other information you can give us? Like date of termination? Reason for termination? Forwarding information?”

Her glossy lips curved again. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have the authority to convey those facts. If I knew them.”

“Logically then, since we are the LVPD, you should point us to someone who can answer those questions.” He showed his badge. She was unimpressed.

“Just one moment.” She worked the phone and quietly explained her predicament to whomever she’d decided had authority. “Mr. Felts will see you. 5th floor,” she said finally.

“Thank you.” David’s smile didn’t meet his eyes either.

Mr. Felts let them wait ten minutes in his pseudo-lobby: three fairly comfortable chairs next to the desk of an older, steely-gazed, receptionist. While waiting, Ray perused the office bulletin board. An orange flier caught his attention. He read it twice before Mr. Felts showed them into his office.

“Detective Moore and Detective Sanyo, yes? I’m Richard Felts, a partner here at Devine, Chance and Merit. How can I help you? You are with the LVPD, yes?”

“That’s right,” said Ray.

Felts wasn’t more than five-ten. The color of his finely tailored suit matched his mouse gray hair. He was slim and fit for a man old enough to have hound-dog wrinkles.

“What can I do for you?” He congenially sat on the edge of his polished redwood desk. David and Ray took seats in gleaming leather chairs.

“We’ve been investigating the disappearance of Felix Benes,” David began.

“Dr. Benes, the cancer researcher.”

Both Ray and David nodded.

Mr. Felts went around his desk and shuffled several files. When he didn’t find what he was looking for, he checked files that lined a desk drawer. “I believe that we’re no longer handling that case, and that we’ve already been cooperative with the LVPD on the matter of Felix Benes.”

“Yes,” said David. “We spoke to Dana Spelman previously. Unfortunately, we need to do a follow up with her and we haven’t been able to contact her.”


“We were informed by the young lady downstairs that Dana Spelman is no longer employed here,” said Ray.

“That’s correct. Ms. Spelman left our employment two days ago.”

“Was the Benes case reassigned before it was closed?”

“We closed it before Spelman left.”

“Was Ms. Spelman let go from the firm because of her performance on this case?”

“No, and she didn’t mention the case in her exit interview.”

“She left?” David asked. “I guess I was under the impression that Devine, Chance and Merit were the ones that terminated her employment.”

“No. Ms. Spelman received a better offer elsewhere.”


“I would tell you if I knew, but she was not under any obligation to share that information.”

Ray rose and dug a card from his wallet. “Well, my partner and I would like to talk to Ms. Spelman. If your HR department can help us out any further, we’d appreciate it.”

“Of course.” Felts pocketed the card without looking at it.

“I noticed,” said Ray, “a post on one of the bulletin boards. About a guy that’s been causing some problems for your security staff?”

Felts grimaced, for effect. “That.”

“Is there a reason you haven’t called us in to help out on this?”

“I think that the pride of our security chief is mostly the reason we haven’t turned to outside help. Rest assured, that man is fairly harmless. There’s been a mild case of trespassing. Nothing more.”

“Well, you have our card if you need us on that count too.”

In the elevator, Det. Moore shook his head. “It’s Benes. He’s schizo and he decided to kidnap Dana because she wouldn’t help him.”

“That’s your theory?”

“Yeah, so what’s yours?”

Ray waited until a young woman in a business suit left at the third floor.

“Everything Spelman said sounded like a lie.”

“Yeah, yeah. Like your ex. She’s a lawyer, maybe she just sounds that way.”

“No,” said Ray. “Spelman had something to do with Benes disappearance and now it’s getting a little too warm in Vegas and she’s skipped town.”

“And that’s your theory.”


“You still owe me lunch.”


Yesterday, I posted my first version of this scene. Does this one work better? In any case, thank you all for reading!

  • jt spoke:
    20th/08/2010 to 8:51 AM

    Very cool to see a scene go through rewrite. I think the second version works better than the first, but that may be because the changes are exactly what I suggested in my comments yesterday. 🙂 Excising the landscapers moves things faster w/o sacrificing anything.

    It’s a little hard for me to keep track of who is who (whose apartment, whose voice-mail, whose employer), but I’m pretty sure that is a direct result of viewing Mr. Luck’s emerging world through a tiny peephole (or two tiny peepholes).

    Very cool public exercise. Thanks for posting them.

  • Katherine spoke:
    20th/08/2010 to 2:30 PM

    Thanks, JT. Glad you’re enjoying it, warts and all.

    Sometimes when I write I kind of go into a holding pattern until new ideas pop up. The conversation with the landscapers was one of those. I just needed to keep writing until I could move on.

    I’ll take a look at my transitions between events and things. I might be a little vague when I don’t need to be.

  • Valerie spoke:
    20th/08/2010 to 9:03 AM

    I think the first version had some character elements that you might want to keep. Not sure if you need to conversation with the gardeners but it adds a little something. Some of the dialogue with Felts makes him seem a little more glad-handy politician sleazy, which might be good. At the same time, he would probably be close-lipped on certain details, which works better in this version. Methinks somewhere in between lies the best option.

  • Katherine spoke:
    20th/08/2010 to 2:36 PM

    Thanks, Valerie.

    With the landscapers I think it comes down to whether I can justify the bit it adds with the possible lag it causes in conjunction with the part at her door. But, it could be that “summing” that makes the transition to the office too harsh. I need to let it sit for a while. 😉

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About This Blog

In July of 2010, Katherine and Eric Nabity began work on a novel featuring Mr. Luck. This blog includes some proof-of-concept vignettes, progress notes, "alternate takes", and commentary on the collaborative process that Eric and Katherine engage in.

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