After lunch, Pauline looked over at his partner.
“Ready to take a drive?”
“We got to get back to that school. Sweat that Assistant Dean some more.”
“You think there’s something there?”
“Great, we can stop and get a slurpy at 7-11? I think they’re having a summer special on the giant size.”
In the car, Raul was slurpy noisily on a giant Blue Freeze.
“How the hell can you drink that stuff?” Pauline looked at him, winching.
“Nectar of the Gods. Helps with the heat.”
Pauline shook his head.
Morales continued. “You think maybe something between the Dean DeLeon and the deceased?”
“Maybe, just a feeling.”
“It’s been done before,” Morales added.
“It’s been done by you before,” Pauline added continuing to drive.
“Not anymore. I’m reformed.” Raul made a crossing motion over his heart. “I’m a good boy now.”
Pauline smirked. “Til the next time.”
Raul blew bubbles in his drink.
At the school, the three of them were in the conference room. Assist Dean Dan DeLeon was sitting in a chair, his long sleeve shirt impeccable as always.
“Teacher Dodi was a long-term valued team member. She had been at the school five years and was well liked,” he told them pleasantly.
“Was she well like by you?” Detective Raul had put down his Blue Freeze and addressed the Dean.
“Of course,” the Dean answered primly.
“Sir, we have gotten copies of the victim’s cell phone records.”
Dean Dan blanched.
“She had made a number of calls and texts directly to you.” Pauline went on looking at the Dean. “They appeared to be of a highly personal nature.”
They all sat silently for a moment. The only sound in the room the soft wap, wap of the overhead fan.
Dean Dan was like a statute. Suddenly, he put one hand to his face and started to cry.
“My wife will leave me if she finds out. She’ll never forgive me. It was just a short-term fling. Honest,” he sobbed.
Pauline glanced at Morales.
“Tell us all about it, sir.”
They sat back and listened.
Raul and Victor took the slow way back from the school stopping at an In and Out. Raul ordered the Monkey style Burger with Animal fries, a large Coke. Victor settled for a regular Cheeseburger meal and Diet Coke.
“So, what do you think?” Raul asked as he took a huge bite. They sat in the parking lot and ate their food. Pedestrians hurried in and out of the restaurant.
“I don’t know,” Pauline sipped his Coke thoughtfully. “That Dan guy is a marshmallow. I can’t see him for it. The man folds like an envelope. You?” He chewed on some fries.
“Yeah, same. Guy’s a candy ass. When he finally opened up, blubbering, I felt like a priest in the confessional.”
Victor nodded. “The Dean?”
“Don’t know. She seemed more surprised than anybody by what’s happened. Kind of clueless.”
Victor nodded. “The woman is a complete nitwit. Had absolutely no idea of all the crap that was going on right under her nose.”
Raul nodded. “Women managers.”
“Yeah, well, hopefully they’re not all that dense.” He crumpled up his bag and got out to throw it away. “Jesus, did you finish that burger already? Where do you put it?” He held his hand out for Raul’s trash.
“Growing boy, Bossman.”
“Where to now, Boss?”
“That guy? He gives me gas.”
“Yeah, well, one more time from the beginning.”
Pauline put the Chevy into gear and started off.
Raul sipped his Coke meditatively. “You know, that Dan guy seemed genuinely sorry for
messing around with that skinny witch.”
“Yeah, but not as sorry as you’re going to be if Margarita catches you fooling around again.”
“Ah, you cut me boss.”
“Not as deep as she will if…”
“That woman is scary with a sharp knife in her hands.” Raul’s eyes got big.
“Yeah, well she scares the hell out of me,” Pauline added. “But then, that’s me. Why don’t you get a divorce and just do it the legal way?”
“Divorce! Jesus. If I get a divorce who will mop the floors and wash the clothes? Jeese, divorce. What are you thinking?” Raul slurped his Coke.
“Yeah, what was I thinking?” Victor pulled into traffic.
In thirty minutes, they were at the parking lot of Great Western Bank. They got in the elevator and went up to the lobby. A cute receptionist got their names and directed them to the offices of J. A. Greenfield, VP of Customer Services. They had met J.A. once before so were somewhat familiar with the drill. They were directed by another pretty staffer to the walnut door of J.A. The door was open, and J. A. popped up and greeted them.
“Come in, come in, Gentlemen! Have a seat!” He even pulled out chairs for them. “Coffee, water?”
“A coffee for me,” Victor indicated.
“Water,” Raul waved a chubby hand.
“Belinda, refreshments for our guests.” The staffer scurried away.
The two detectives sat and gazed out at the wonderful view of the valley from J.A.’s floor to ceiling windows.
“Great view,” Raul commented.
J.A. spun in his leather seat and looked behind himself. “It is, isn’t it. A great valley. A great place to be from and to be in.”
He sounds like an infomercial, Victor thought to himself.
Belinda came in and set the drinks around. J.A. was having coffee too. The woman, a young, pretty blond, paused behind J. A’s swivel chair, one hand resting on the back.
“Ah, that’s fine, Belinda. Thanks,” he looked up at her fondly and patted her hand.
Belinda glanced down at her boss, smiled, then glanced at the detectives and walked primly out of the room, hands folded in front of her waist.
She could be holding a prayer book, Pauline entertained an idle thought.
As soon as she left, J.A. reached down and pushed a button on his desk. The large walnut door swung shut by itself.
“Privacy,” the man commented.
Pauline studied the man a little more closely this time. At his office, in his own element. The suit was a conservative navy blue; he sported a conservative tie and pocket fold. The haircut was conservative. He wore a little American flag on one lapel and one heavy gold ring on his left hand. Could be a school ring or a Masonic temple emblem on the top. There was a large black armband around one sleeve. Every button properly in place. Over 60 now, he was still looking good.
Pauline coughed a little and opened his notebook.
“It’s great Mr. Greenfield that you can get back to work so soon after….”
“Ah, yes.” The man swept an imaginary stray hair off his forehead. “Work calms the worn and weary soul. I find it comforting.”
There is was again, that infomercial talk. Was this guy some kind of minister or something? Victor glanced at Raul, who was wearing his impassive face, and kept going.
“Well, our inquiries are still ongoing. Would you mind telling me sir, how long you had been married to Mrs. Greenfield and how you met?”
Victor already knew the answer to the first question, two years. But he didn’t know the answer to the second and needed to get the man talking.
“Well, it was two years ago. I met Dodi at a singles’ dance, and we hit it right off. It had been five years since the death of my dear wife, Helen and I was getting…ah…”
“Lonely,” Pauline added.
“Yes, lonely. My kids are all grown you see, and the house was so empty. Dodi was so fun and lively, vivacious. She just seemed to fill up all the empty spaces.” Greenfield gazed into the distance, remembering happier times.
Damn, Pauline thought to himself. Adult children, more suspects to interview. Crap! This might be a very long weekend.
“Right, sir. And how did your children take to their new stepmother?”
“Well,” Greenfield frowned, “they were totally against it at first. Called her some terrible names I won’t repeat. But,” he gazed out again, “when I explained to them, in detail, how much I missed their mother, and how no one would take her place. But that now, I just needed…. company.”
And sex, Pauline thought.
“Right…so, they weren’t happy but got over it, basically,” Pauline summed up.
Greenfield seemed to come back from his romantic trance.
“Yes,” his tone was a bit more businesslike. “That’s it. Came to accept things…as they were.”
Pauline waded in with some of the more difficult questions.
“I believe sir there was a prenuptial agreement.”
“Yes, yes.” Greenfield replied, nodding. “My oldest son Paul insisted on it. So, my lawyer drew one up and Dodi was more than happy to sign it. Told me she was in it for love, not money.” He beatifically.
Pauline smiled too. “But then there were some problems.”
Greenfield frowned and looked unhappy.
“Well, over time…it began to seem that our …. interests in life were not quite the same. I am basically a quiet man and live a quiet life. Dodi was much more, ah….”
“More of a party girl,” Raul entered the conversation, shifting himself up in his chair.
Greenfield looked momentarily startled by the remarks but gathered himself.
“Ah, yes, I guess you could say that. Party girl,” he seemed to roll the words around on his tongue. “Perhaps that is a better description…” He seemed to drift off again.
Pauline sensed that they weren’t going to get much more today.
“Mr. Greenfield, in order to get to the bottom of this, it will be necessary for us to speak to your lawyer. I believe divorce proceedings had begun. Yes?”
Greenfield focused again.
“Oh, yes, that.” He opened his drawer and pulled out a card. Mr. Slavin, Esq. was on the card. He handed it to the detective.
Pauline looked at the card and back to Greenfield.
“Oh, it looks to be the same building as your business.”
“Yes, he’s up two floors. I’ll have my secretary call them and tell them to give you what you need.” He turned to an intercom. “Belinda, please call Slavin’s office and get them to assist these officers.” He then picked up his coffee cup and began to sip with a somewhat vacant look.
The detective stood up and motioned to Raul who stood up too.
“Thanks for your help, sir. We’ll be in touch.”
Greenfield nodded wanly and swiveled around to look at the view, cup in hand.
The two went out to the secretary’s desk and stopped. She was already in the process of making a phone call.
“Mr. Slavin’s office is expecting you,” she told them with a soft purr.
Although the woman was smiling, Pauline sensed a glint in her green eyes of something else. Up close, he could see she was older than he originally thought. Red hair somewhat fading now, pale skin, trim figure nicely dressed. She’d been a real looker once.
As they were leaving, he saw her get up and quietly go into her boss’s office and close the door.
“What the hell do you make of all that?” Raul asked when they were at the elevator.
“I’m afraid to speculate, bud. But it doesn’t feel too good. Nope, not too good.” They rode up two floors and got out.
Ronald Slavin, Esq. was a slim, fit man of about fifty with salt and pepper hair, a nice grey suit and a no-nonsense attitude. He ushered them into his office himself and sat down.
“Coffee?” They both wagged their heads no. He didn’t offer anything else.
“So, you are here about the late, great Dodi Greenfield.” There was a note of irony in his voice. “What can I tell you?”
“Well, we understand from Mr. Greenfield that divorce proceedings have been filed.
“Correct,” the man said crisply. “I have been Donald Greenfield’s attorney for twenty-five years. He told me it was okay to tell you this, so I will proceed. I can’t give you particulars on actual filings themselves, but just general background.”
They both nodded.
Slavin got up and began to pace around the room, his hands clasped behind his back. He looked annoyed. Occasionally, he would stop at a bookshelf and push a book back in place or rearrange a figurine.
“I knew his wife, his kids, his business partners. I held his hand through his wife’s cancer. Was there when she died, attended the funeral, the whole bit. He was broken up and walked around like a zombie for months.” He paused a moment.
“I actually went to undergrad school with his oldest son, Paul. His kids and my kids played softball together.” He turned to them. “You get the picture.”
Solemnly, they both nodded.
He continued. “After a period of time, more like four years to be exact, Donald started to come out of it and get back into life. It was one of his daughters, actually, who suggested the church dance club.”
Both detectives wrote in their notepads.
“It was there he met Dodi.”
“What church?” Pauline asked.
“The big Catholic church downtown. Maybe you know it? Has a huge congregation. Donald is a big contributor.”
Explains the nearly Biblical quotations in his office, Pauline thought to himself.
“Anyway, Dodi found out about the place, passed herself off as a Catholic…”
“Was she?” Pauline had to ask.
“A lapsed one, very lapsed,” Slavin replied sourly. “Anyway, she wowed Donald and knocked him off his feet. He was just ga-ga.”
“Well,” Raul added truthfully, “a man does have needs.”
“Sure, sure,” Slavin waved a dismissive hand. “Everyone knows that, and no one begrudged the guy getting a little and having some fun before he got planted six feet under. Still….”
“Still…” Pauline continued.
“Still,” Slavin continued, “everyone knew her for exactly what she was the minute she showed up.”
“A gold-digger, a user and taker. She didn’t love Donald. I doubt she had the ability to love anyone other than herself. She was after his money, plain and simple and we all knew it.”
“The son, Paul Greenfield, his sisters, my wife, me. We all knew.”
“Paul could see the handwriting on the wall and insisted his dad sign a prenup agreement. I drafted it. Dodi signed it eagerly. She just wanted to get into the big mansion and have her run of the place.”
“She started to have affairs. Paul and I both knew about them. She didn’t try real hard to hide them.”
“The guy at the school?”
“Oh, him. That was a four-week deal. Nothing. One phone call to that guy and I thought he would wet his pants. He ended it with her. No….”
“There were others, “Someone else?”
“There were others. Paul asked me to hire a PI to follow her. So, I did. “
“And the guy hit pay dirt with the pictures. Donald just wouldn’t believe it. So, we showed him. He started to make excuses for her.”
Slavin paused to take a sip of water from a glass on his desk. He stared off into space.
“No, it was the last guy.”
Pauline stopped writing. “The last guy.”
“Yeah, this one was different. Much younger guy, early thirties, skinny, buff, lots of tats. You’re cops, you probably know the type. Bullshit and attitude.”
They both nodded.
Slavin continued. “I started off life as a prosecutor for the County. If that guy hadn’t spent time in the big house, my name is Micky Mouse. No, the PI was still following her. He told me they were cooking something up. He just didn’t know what.”
“And the divorce?”
“After several tapes, Donald finally had to agree she was cheating on him. He’s a very moral guy, couldn’t put up with that. Especially, when he confronted her, and she lied about everything. That was the last straw. The lying.”
“We filed the papers for the divorce. She got herself an attorney and between the two of them, they cooked up a way to get around the prenup.”
“She was claiming duress. That the adult children put so much pressure on her, she was forced to sign against her will.”
“Ah,” Pauline had to admit that was a good one.
“Anyway, Paul Greenfield about went off his nut and the old man was getting a little spacier every day. The stress wasn’t good for his heart. Dodi was coming and going from the house at all hours of the day and night and the entire thing was getting kind of crazy. And then….”
“And then,” Raul put in.
“And then this happens and here we are.”
Slavin seemed to have run out of steam. He plopped down in his big desk chair with folded hands.
“That’s pretty much it gentlemen.”
They asked a few more questions about the inheritance, took more notes and left.
“Whew!” Raul had to say when they got back in the Chevy. “Wow, what a mess!!”
“I’ll say,” Victor returned.
“Dinner?” Raul asked.
“No, I got to go write up some stuff and then have some alone time.”
Continued to Part VI