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DEATH BY PARKING – Episode V: The Shakedown We KnowWhyMiguelW BY JVH

Mary had confessed the affair to Paul just before he had been hit over the head and ended up in theHartisons’ living roomwith Hartison thinking Paul was cheating with his estranged wife. Before Paul could say anything, hewas frog-marched out the door to a truck and later dumped in the desert.Hewas saved by another PI, JamesNelson,who for his own reasonswas also trying to bring downMoncriefHartison.They returned to Paul’s office.They had determined thatMary’s son also was Nelson’s. “I don’t thinkMary is ‘with’Hartison,” Paul told Nelson. “I think she is there out of fear and would leave in a sec- ond if she thought she could. She doesn’t know what to do, particularly as it relates to her, or your, son. “But parking, what does all this have to do with parking?” “I don’t really know,” Nelson said. “I just know there was a lot of cash and it was goingmissing.” Then a man entered the office, talked with Paul and Nelson, and hired themto take downMoncrief Hartison, pub- licly. Parking operator ownerWilliam Jefferson said Hartison was using the company to steal money from his cus- tomers and launder ill-gotten gains. Paul picks up the dialogue:We had a clientwhowas paying us.We could get the accusedmurderer, Larry Levinson, off the hook and take downMoncrief Hartison, while freeingMary fromhis clutches. We set a meeting with all the players at my home.We needed a cop and I invited my former LAPD boss, Lt. Bill Vose,who had arrested Levinson. Butwhen I sawBill’s reaction tomeeting Larry atmy place, I realized I had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

T I began my explanation to Bill by

topping up his Laphroaig. I needed all the help I could get. Bill just stared at me and took a long sip of that wonderful amber liquid. If onlymy story went down that smooth. “We need to make some assump-

tions,” I said. “First, Bill is wrong about Larry; he didn’t killMiguelRodriguez, his garagemanager.” Bill cleared his throat.

“Hold on, Bill, hearme out. “Assume Larry is a hothead

but innocent. Someone was stealing fromthe garage.Miguel was involved, but his conscience got the better of him.He came to me for help, but before I could get involved, he was killed. “There’s an obvious con-

operator owner William Jefferson. He needed to show the world thatmost opera- tors were legit.) “But we also need some proof that

Hartison is involved in the killing at Lar- ry’s building. To get some background on Hartison, we need to talk toMary, the one person who knows everything about him. “Nelsonmet with his andMary’s son, Roger, this afternoon to try to get him to

and he graciously offered his services.” said Nelson. Mary ran to Larry, and there was a

clinch right out of a movie. I cleared my throat, and they blushed and separated. We had all the players. Now we just

needed for this soap opera to start tomake some sense. We divided into groups – Shirley, Lar-

“I knowI led you down the primrose path, but Iwas frightened and didn’t know howmuch I could trust you.”

nection toMoncrief Hartison – his ex-wife and Larry’s girlfriend, Mary. We assume she is being blackmailed by Hartison to remain ‘close’ to him. The blackmail is a threat against Mary and JamesNelson’s son,whomHartison hates. “We need to nail Hartison publicly to

take the pressure offMary” (and, I said to myself, tomeet one of the requirements of our only paying client in this case, parking


convince her to join us in our little quest for the truth.” Right on cue, therewas a knock at the

door. Shirley opened it. Nelson walked in with Mary Hartison and followed by Jefferson. “I called Jefferson and asked himif he

could help uswith some information about how people steal from parking facilities,


ry and Jefferson sat down at the kitchen table and starting talking park- ing. James, Mary, Roger and I sat in the living room and began to discussMoncrief Hartison. Bill circled between the two

groups and the bar and the bot- tle of Laphroaig. “First, let me apologize to

you, Paul,”Mary said. “I know I led you down the primrose path, but I was frightened and didn’t

know howmuch I could trust you.” “Moncrief has threatened to kill

Roger if I didn’t stay with him. Now that James is back in our lives, I feel better about it andwill dowhat I can to getMon- crief. Right now he thinks I’m out shop- ping, but I’m not going back,”Mary said. “Roger and Iwill staywith Larry, if hewill have us.”

HE BOSS OF CRACKERJACK PI PAUL MANNING’S GIRLFRIEND Shirley, had been jailed for the murder of a parking garage manager. Paul was trying to help and discovered that the boss, Larry Levinson, was hav- ing an affair withMary Hartison, wife of the very jealous gangsterMon- crief Hartison.

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