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z-August Turner

World of Darkness: Attrition - Lost to the Night - Part 1, Hired Help [Complete]

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August 17, 2011

“So that’s it,” Javier said, his thin face made longer with worry. “No one’s seen Brad in two weeks.”

“Wow,” Marley said, her eyes wide. “Seriously. Nothing?”

“We had a date last Friday, which he missed,” August told them. That raised a few eyebrows. Brad’s interest in her had been well-known throughout the School of Film. “That’s when I started to think that he wasn’t just laying low after that stupid bastard conned him.”

“He was looking for him,” Gabe told the table somberly.

“Who?” Marley asked.

“The con-artist.” Javier was the one who answered, though Marley was looking at Gabe. “He told Gabe and I that he’d gotten a lead on the guy. Someone named ‘Jackson’ was going to sell him information on the guy.”

“You let him go alone?” August asked, her cheeks flushing as she turned a dire eye on the two men.

“There was no ‘let’, August,” Gabe told her, his brown eyes somber. The Asian American looked as upset as she felt. “We tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined to get his money back.”

Javier crossed his arms and snorted, his wide, dark nostrils flaring as he stated, “Get his pride back. That’s what was messing with him.”

“There’s only one thing to do,” Steph said. She was Gabe’s half-sister, and the resemblance was clear despite her white father’s genetic influence. “We have to take this to the cops.”

“Devon already called the cops, and filed a missing persons report.” Javier didn’t look mollified as he spoke.

“Seriously,” Marley grumbled, “Devon’s just his roommate. He doesn’t care about Brad. He’s probably glad he doesn’t have to share the remote anymore.”

“Is this something we want to get involved in?” Gabe asked uneasily.

“Yeah. Brad’s our friend. Let’s take what we know to the police,” August said. She rose and the others stood with her, pleased that someone was pushing them to action.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Campus security was great for crimes on campus, but no one knew whether the crime had happened on campus. So they went to the West Los Angeles Community Police Station. The group of five had to wait for almost an hour before a detective from the Missing Persons Unit could see them. Their first look was promising; an older man, thick but not fat, with cool, calculating eyes. He introduced himself as Detective Robinson. The five gave their information to him; he wrote it all down and then said, “Thank you for the information. We’ll keep looking for your friend.”

“Wait, is that all?” August asked, her brow furrowing. After their trek, it didn’t seem right that it should end with a five minute conversation.

“Yes, ma’am. We’ll continue to look for your friend, but I’ll be honest – there are a lot of missing persons,” Detective Robinson told them. “We’re doing everything we can. If you’re not satisfied, you should hire a private investigator.”

That seemed to deflate most of them, but August asked, “Do you know a good one?”

“I know lots of good ones, and some affordable ones,” Robinson said, cracking a grin for the first time. “Lemme give you a few names.”

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August 19, late afternoon

Sam leaned back in her chair and basked in the swift currents of cool air coming from the new air conditioner in the window. Having her office in one of the rare buildings in LA without central air was cheap, but it wasn't fun in August. Thankfully a windfall earlier in the month had afforded her the luxury of buying a small window unit that was more than adequate to cool her office pleasantly. It felt nice to be comfortable at midday in her office. It also felt nice knowing that her office would be pleasant for her one o'clock appointment. Jobs were money and so she didn't want to pass up on what sounded like and easy lost and found case, but she had something a little more complicated on her hands as well and that wasn't going to get her much pay unless she made headway. Hopefully the girl who had called would be on time, and hopefully the person she was missing would be easy to locate.

Hopefully.

Sam was considering how even if the client was late she wouldn't mind waiting in a seventy degree office rather than being out in the sweltering heat. The cheap thermometer stuck to the outside of the office's other window was reading 110ºF, in the shade. Sam was about to start getting antsy when there came a knock at her door, a sharp three fold rap on the frosted glass just below where it said "Sam Spaid, Private Detective." Her canvas sneakers hit the floor with a muted thump as Sam bounced up and made way for the door. "Just a moment please," she said crossing the half dozen steps from her desk to the door. Her office was tiny, barely larger than twelve feet square. Between the desk, two visitor chairs, and two file cabinets it was practically crowded.

Sam opened the door, and winced as the heat from the corridor oozed in past the young woman standing on the other side. The cool air rushed out like a tidal wave past Sam's bare legs. "Quick, come in before the cold gets out!"

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August blinked at the woman who was waiting for her. After being referred to a 'Sam' Spaid by Det. Robinson, she wasn't ready to see a young woman only maybe a decade older than her. Yeah, that was still old but she'd been expecting to see a man in his forties. "Sam Spaid?" she asked, frowning.

"Yeah, you found her, get on in here!"

August scooted into the room and rubbed the fine sheen of sweat off her forehead. It was hard to argue with holding the door open like that. The door was closed and a blissful coolness settled over them. "So... uh. I'm trying not to be rude, but you're Sam Spaid?"

The woman sighed. "Samantha Spaid. Sam is what I prefer."

"Sorry," August said, feeling like a heel. "I had... someone else in my head."

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Sam sighed, but offered an uneven and weary grin, "Gee, I haven't heard that before." August started to say something but Sam held up a forestalling hand. "Sorry, pardon my sarcasm. You can call me Samantha if you prefer, and no, my parents didn't have a twisted sense of humor." Sam hesitated, "Though, come to think of it, my dad did seem amused when he found out." She shook her head and moved to the sideboard where a small fridge was tucked under the counter. "Would you care for a water?" she asked.

"No, thank you I ... well, ok. Thanks." Sam passed August a bottle of water, and gestured to the two visitor's chairs as she walked around to the business end of the desk. August took a little sip, but then seemed to settle into a nervous fidgeting with the bottle. "I need your help," she said after a moment of apparent difficulty.

Really? You don't say? Sam bit back the sarcastic retort, and aborted a similar roll of the eyes by casting her glance toward the clock for a moment. Composing herself a little more Sam smiled, "Well, hopefully I can help you. What is it you need today? Something found? Maybe somebody followed? Or perhaps somebody is following you?"

August started and stopped a couple of times before it all came tumbling out, "I need you to find my friend Brad, nobody's seen him in a couple of weeks and the police haven't made any headway and none of us have heard from him and we're really worried cause we think he did something stupid and maybe he got over his head and, and, and ..."

"Woah, ok, slow down." Sam had sat up almost instantly and retrieved a yellow pad and pencil from the side of the deck. She offered her best reassuring smile, "Start at the beginning and tell me everything, but slowly, detail and accuracy are more important than saving five minutes at this point."

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August took a deep breath, trying to get her nerves under control. "I have a friend named Brad Tolliver. He's a business student at UCLA, getting his MBA. He lives off Cashmere, somewhere northwest of the school. I can take you there, but I don't know the address. About three weeks ago, he was conned by a man I know only as Jeremy. Jeremy sold him this." August set the "ring" on the desk. It still looked like a piece of gravel tied around with a wire. "Somehow, Jeremy convinced him it was worth several thousand dollars. Brad believed it until an hour after the sell, when... I don't know, it was weird. Like he could finally really see it. Like it had been an illusion before." August had tried and failed to come up with a reason for that. She still didn't understand, and she shrugged helplessly.

"That's not illegal," Sam pointed out, unsure if that's where this was going.

"No, but I believe that Brad went looking for Jeremy, and now he's gone," August said. "The police have no leads or clues; there's nothing for them to go on. My friends and I raised some money to hire you, in the hopes that you could find him."

"What's the timeline?" Sam asked, still taking notes.

August was heartened by the little signs of her competence. Smiling a little easier, she said, "The sale was August 3rd, Brad and I had a date on the 5th. He didn't show up for that. Some of his friends said he'd found a man named 'Jackson' who had information on Jeremy. That was on the 4th, and was the last time his roommate saw him." She paused and bit her lip, deciding to get Sam ask for further details.

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Sam finished what she was writing. From where August sat she could see that the other woman's hand writing was neat and professional; printed block letters that would be easy to read by anybody. Sam looked up after a moment with her pencil hovering over the pad. "So ... about three weeks ago your boyfriend got swindled by a guy named 'Jeremy' who sold him this little piece of nothing," she indicated the ring.

"He's not my ..." August started.

Sam quirked an eyebrow, "You said you had a date with him set for the fifth, two days after."

"Yeah, but he's not," she saw the look in Sam's eyes.

"And he gave you the ring, at least that is what I am forced to assume he did."

"Yeah, but its not like that..."

"And here you are talking to a private detective, after talking to the police because you are worried and you want somebody to find him and for him to be safe?"

"Well, yes, but," August scowled, "Nevermind. Yes, he bought the ring on the third, I was there, I tried to talk him out of it. He gave it to me later, after he realized it was a fake."

Sam smiled, "Charming, and then you made a date to see him again on the fifth, correct?"

"Yes."

"After which he told some other, mutual, friend that he was going to track down this 'Jeremy' and get him money back, and, that furthermore, he had found a man named 'Jackson' who would be able to help him in that regard. He was last seen on the fourth and the police haven't done anything useful in the past two weeks?"

"Well," August hedged, "we didn't actually go to the police until two days ago. They said he'd be added to the pile and suggested that we hire a detective on the side if we wanted more direct man hours spent looking for him."

"I see." Sam tapped the eraser against the pad lightly. "Well..." Sam looked at the girl, her sandals, shorts, and tee, combined with her apparent age, proclaimed her a college student. "You are aware of my rates?"

August bit her lip, the money she'd gathered from all of Brand's friends wasn't much, "No."

Sam sighed, and grabbing a crisp white business card she wrote something on the back. "Two hundred and fifty up front as a retainer. Your first five hours come out of that. It's fifty an hour after that, plus expenses, and I bill at the end of the week. Cash payment get's you ten percent off." Sam was being overly generous, she hoped that this girl wasn't pulling as fast one on her with the poor college kid routine. Worse still she hoped this wouldn't get out, she couldn't afford to work these rates normally. "My fees are private you understand. Please do not discuss them with anybody you may recommend me to at a later time," she added; it was the nice way of saying, "you got a discount, but don't tell anybody."

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“Right!” August said, doing some quick mental math. “Sounds good.” They could afford the woman for a few days, at least. “Just, ah, lemme know-“

“I’ll keep you updated on what you owe me,” Sam assured her, mentally sighing to herself.

“Thank you.” August’s smile was both grateful and genuine. “I’m not sure how this works, so should I expect you to contact me?”

“Yes, calls to me only eats up my time,” Same said, nodding. “The occasional check-in is fine, but too often and you’re impeding me.”

“Gotcha.” August pulled a wad of cash out of her back pocket and counted out two hundred and fifty of it, handing it to her. “Thanks, Sam. We’re all worried about Brad.”

“I’ll find him as quickly as I can,” the brunette assured her. “I need a picture of him.”

August paused, flushing a little. “I, uh,” she stammered, “don’t have one and didn’t think to get one.”

Sam blinked at her, wondering what kind of woman didn’t have a picture of her boyfriend. “I’ll need one ASAP. Also, a description of this guy 'Jeremy.'”

August quickly laid out what she remembered of Jeremy. “And the picture - I’ll get you that,” August said quickly. “If there’s nothing else…?” Sam shook her head and they said their goodbyes. August saw herself out, leaving Sam to begin the investigation.

[Carver] 6:41 pm: Int + Composure to remember Jeremy's description; spent a WP: 3 sux

Carver *rolls* 7d10: 6+5+9+3+10+3+7: 43

Carver *rolls* 1d10: 8: 8

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Sam accepted the wad of crumpled and worn bills with a suppressed sigh, further evidence supporting the fact that this girl really was juts a poor college kid.. She quickly jotted down August's description of the apparent con-man Jeremy, being as careful and detailed as possible. With that completed Sam saw the young woman out and then sat at her desk. The money came first, flattened out and ordered before going into her purse. Sam was no saint, and so cash customers rarely went on the books. What the IRS didn't know wouldn't hurt them. Next she read over her notes again, underlining or circling important facts as she reviewed things. Without a photo she couldn't just work her "magic" and locate Brad directly so she decided to see about finding this con-artist. She slipper her gun into the holster at the small of her back and covered it with her shirttails. Better safe than sorry, she thought as she headed out the door.

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