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Private Voices: Part 25

Mike is an amateur writer working on building a hopefully compelling story. He lives in The Village of Lakemore, Summit Country, Ohio.

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The Story So Far

Janice James is a Private Detective haunted by her troubled past and the death of her son and a fractured psyche, forcing her to see her son Brandon as well as others. With the help of her late son and her mentor, a former police officer named Sean, she runs her service, helping people in trouble.

After a ceremony to honor their late son, Janice and her ex-husband Bill prepare to live together again. Janice's assistant, a young woman, named Jennifer Gordon, known as JG, while happy to see them together now must find a way to work around the new awkwardness. Janice's brother-in-law Mike and his son Scott come for a quick visit before taking a long trip. Janice's estranged father sent a letter hoping to put their past behind them before he died.
Three years ago, weeks after the death of her son Brandon, Janice was on the brink of a breakdown when she starts to see visions of her dead son. The visions begin to terrorize her as Brandon changes from a screaming toddler to the twelve-year-old just before he died.


Janice was hired to help a man named Stanley Franco find out why his wife Ava is fighting a divorce. During the investigation, she stumbled onto a unique counterfeiting scheme designed to infect scanning machines allowing the user access to a company's funds. When her client was murdered, Janice turned her case over to the local police. She contacted someone from the secret service with help from her mentor, a former police officer named Sean. In the process, she found herself being watched by the FBI and Ava, a woman that isn't who she appears to be. Ava wants Janice dead for her part in chasing her out of the States, to her Island near Cuba. Ava sent several people to try and kill Janice from her assassin lover to a band of bumbling thugs. The last attempt happened by a con artist running a scheme with an end of the world cult. Terrence Stamps' effort to have Janice killed was forted by an unknown strange.

A Note from Me, A Name I Call Myself

The following chapter will be part of the current (2015) timeline.

Part Twenty-Four or Part Twenty

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Part Twenty-Five, Chapter Seven

Janice sat in a car, waiting for someone to get inside. The back door opened, and a man got in. He showed his identification, and Janice did the same. It was unnecessary, the Mom's Taxi or MT rideshare application has her picture and what car she was driving. What Pierre Combes didn't know was that Janice was following him, making sure she would be the closest MT to him. She knew that when Combes saw she was driving a 2010 Range Rover HSE she bought at auction a week ago, he would hit the accept. The original owner wouldn't need it for about the next twenty to thirty years, and she bought it for just under nine-thousand dollars at auction. The car felt like driving a leather-lined brick, but she knew that Combes would see Range Rover and go for it. She didn't like the jobs like this, but she also didn't like going without work, so here she was testing a wayward husband seeing where he goes when he drops off his tagged car and ventures into the day.


The car was an expense, but it was something she couldn't pass on to the client. Janice would eventually sell the car on eBay or trade it in for something more American. His MT request had her taking him to a family-style restaurant in Smithville called The Barn. This was an odd choice for someone in a tailored suit that cost more than the car they were in when it was new. The Barn was just that an old barn that was converted into a buffet-style restaurant. Along the way, he said very little until about halfway when he asked if they could stop for a second.


He asked, "I can't go in like this. Do you mind if I change?"


When he first got into the car, he had a slight French accent, but when he asked to change, he had more of a southern drawl. Janice pulled over and got out. The original owner had a severe limo tint on the windows, making it impossible to see inside. As the car shifted with him inside, she looked over and saw Brandon inside the car in the front seat.


He said, "Oh my god, he's putting on a hockey mask."

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The back window came down, and Combes said, "Thank you."


Janice got back into the car and saw he had gone from the fancy suit to a pair of jeans, a green and blue flannel shirt, and a pair of old work boots.


Combes asked, "I know this goes against the rules, but could you wait for me? I won't be more than an hour or so, and I will pay for you to have something to eat?"


Janice replied, "It's not a problem. I could use a break, and it's not like I will find a customer down here."


Janice joined MT to work this job and was on the edge of being let go because she was passing up on every connection waiting for this man. As she said she wouldn't find a customer, she noticed how her phone lit up with local requests. He got out and walked over to a pickup. Combes walked up to an older woman and embraced her. The contact was more familiar than sensual. As she passed them, a man got out from the front that looked like an older version of Combes.


Pierre said, "Hey, dad."


It hit her like a bad joke. Sandy "Grey" Combes's French husband was from somewhere in the American south. He was a fake.


Brandon asked, "But why?"


After being burned by more than a few clients, Janice had a series of questions and requirements before she would take this kind of job. One of them was a copy of a marriage certificate and any prenuptial agreements. Sandy was the daughter of a car dealership owner in Twinsburg. She was set to inherit the business when he died, but Sandy had an iron-clad prenup that left Pierre with nothing if he broke the terms of the agreement. Janice sat in a seat near the Combes family and listened to them talk about their lives or what Pierre claimed was his life. From what she could piece together, he told his parents he was working on a boat that ships merchandise from Cleveland to Canada. His parents talked about the farm in Zanesville and his brothers and sisters. Pierre never mentioned his wife or children. Janice felt a little sad that these seemingly good people didn't know they had grandchildren so close to them. Soon their dinner was over, and he signaled to her it was time to go.


Janice got up and looked back at the table where she saw Brandon had covered the table with playing cards.


He said, "And yes, they are all on the table."

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She came back to the car to find Pierre had changed back into his suit. When she got out before going into the restaurant, she hit the child locks on the back doors securing the doors. Janice pulled over and handed him her business card. He looked at it, confused.


Janice said, "I was hired by your wife to find out who you were cheating with when you disappeared, leaving your car back in Hudson."


He looked at the card then back to Janice then back to the card.


Janice asked, "Why don't you tell her the truth? I would think those good people back there would like to meet their grandchildren?"


Pierre looked out the window, and for a second, it looked like he wasn't going to say anything.


He eventually said, "At first, it was a gag. A friend dared me to use my accent I picked up from my grandfather to hit on the first girl that came into the bar. That first girl was Sandy. That night something clicked, and I didn't want to lose her, but if she knew I was a fake then…."

He trailed off.

Another three miles went by when he asked, "She thinks I'm cheating on her?"


Janice said, "You aren't giving her much of a reason not to think otherwise, and in a way, you are cheating. A lie is a lie, no matter what it's about."


Janice looked at the ring on her finger. A few nights ago, Bill had asked her to marry him again, and she said yes but for another reason than her wanting to get back together.


Brandon said, "Or in your own words, a lie."


They drove nearly all the rest of the way back to his car in silence until Janice said, "Think about what I am telling you. She hired me. Most wives that hire me are looking for just cause for divorce. The lie is about to become known whether it is from me or divorce court."


Janice pulled up to his car.


She hit the unlock then said, "Tell her the truth tonight, so it comes from you and not me."

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Pierre got out without saying a word. He got into his car and drove off. About ten minutes later, her phone dinged, and he had given her a one-star rating with a complaint that she was too noisy. Janice didn't care; this was her last trip with MT. Janice drove to her office, where she saw JG getting out of her car. She had a 1983 Honda Civic that was mostly primer and rust. JG saw Janice in the ivory and pearl colored Range Rover.


She said, "Ok, if things are going this well, then I want a raise."


Janice handed her the keys to the Range Rover and asked, "How about a car instead?"

The Next Part

© 2020 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron

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