“Yo man, you played checkers with her?” groaned Leron when he heard his partner’s story from the evening before.
They were standing in the line to board the plane, a three-way stop to New York. The woman Gladys at the precinct who booked travel always chose the cheapest flights to save money. Phil thought how ridiculous since the time lost cost more money, but you couldn’t argue with a five-foot tall Asian grandma who ruled the travel budget with an iron gavel. And the verdict was always: three-stops, period. Delta was cheapest, and that carrier stopped in many hubs. Phil and Leron each held two black nylon gym bags and inched forward with the procession of passengers.
“Not checkers!” Phil groaned and added, “Chess.”
“Dude, you’re like some retard who plays chess with a hot chick! What the fuck is wrong with you, man? You’re supposed to bang her with that foot-long of yours,” he said and shook his. “Fuck!”
“We’re working together moron,” replied Phil who did consider how lame he sounded to a guy who got laid every night of the week.
“Tell that shit to your mama,” he replied. “Me, I’d be shoving my massive dick inside her hot pussy,” he said and gyrated his hips a bit. “She’d be begging for more. You, though, what a puss-ass!”
An older Hispanic gal in front of them turned and glared at Leron.
Phil shoved him on the shoulder and whispered, “Shut the fuck up! Grandma can hear you, man.”
Leron waved it off and then leaned forward, “Lo siento, abuela,” he nicely apologized in Spanish.
The older Hispanic woman smiled and stepped away.
“Look, see, you just apologize and shit. It’s all good,” he said and looked at his watch. “Dude, what time you say we arrive tonight?”
“Midnight,” replied Phil.
“Mother suck! It’s gonna be a long one,” complained Leron.
Phil stared at him and thought it would indeed be a long day and evening while Leron babbled about meaningless stuff all during the flight. Phil figured at least half the flight was sure to be about the latest position Evonne was trying for a prolonged orgasm. Phil did find some of the useless sex talk a little insightful. Perhaps he would try some of it out on Tess; she seemed like an adventurous type, but then again not until the end of the case and the book. He briefly rethought it and toyed with the idea of a tryst despite his better judgment.
Once they got on the plane and situated, Phil pulled out the case file. They were stuffed as usual in the very back of the plane in the last row, so no one behind them could see what he was looking at: the picture of the twisted-up body in the trunk. He reread the eyewitness reports and studied all the angles of the photo. Then he pulled the photo of Mia – really good-looking blonde woman who many men would describe as pretty, beautiful or even gorgeous. From all family accounts, though, the husband Paul was a real prick. Mia’s mother said he could be really thoughtful with children and family, but treated Mia like the family dog. He ordered her around, and even would grab her by the shoulders and place her in the kitchen where he wanted her to stand.
No physical abuse was noted, but the emotional abuse sounded pretty crippling. The mother said he called her lazy, slob and made fun of her clothes. What was ironic was that from what he could see, Mia could hardly be described as those two things. One inspection of her tidy, well-organized closet had revealed a woman who wore couture and designer, high-class apparel, fine jewelry, and an amazing array of expensive high-heeled shoes, boots and loafers. Paul’s closet had suggested an uptight guy who had worn nothing but white polo shirts with his company software logo emblazoned on the chest and black pants. No casual clothes were for him just staid, boring uniforms. His clothes and shoes had been piled high in the closet, which had showed a lack of organization, and one might even suggest he was the slob not her. The truth had been that during all of Phil’s interviews with friends and family the universal consensus had asked why she was with him; she could have done much better.
As far as Evan went – no one in the family had known or had heard about him. While they had speculated about an affair, no one could confirm or deny it. It had turned out Mia had been secretive. She told no one how she had felt about Paul or the abuse nor had she mentioned she had been in love with another man. In fact, everyone had said she had put a positive spin on everything. The only way anyone had known there was trouble was the amount of stress he had caused her when he had called and demanded she come home or do something for him. She had actually panicked and had taken care of it like some invisible force had pushed her to move fast.
So when she had asked for the divorce from the husband Paul, it had come as a shock to everyone but most importantly it had come as a surprise to Paul. He had immediately outmaneuvered her and had hid wealth and assets. At the time of her disappearance, he had pretty much left her near penniless and had been suing for full custody of their two girls, who now lived with her parents.