I dropped Trey off at the place he was calling home and then I headed over to my office. I needed to check on a couple of things and then I was going back to that house tonight to snoop around. The first place I was going to check was in Mrs. Clos’s office. I had a feeling something there might lead me closer to the truth about this case. It was only around eleven-thirty so I had plenty of time to do my research. I had left a copy of the contract at the office, so I grabbed it and headed back towards my apartment.
When I got there, I turned on the laptop and waited for my background check site to come up. When it came up, I typed in Donella Clos and hit the search button. Within a few moments, some names came up on the screen. I looked for one that seemed to be close to her age. There was one that was seventy-three years old, another that was fifty-two and another that was ninety years old. I figured that my Mrs. Clos would be younger than ninety, but it was a toss-up between the other two. I checked the seventy-three year old first. She was listed as living at the same address as Santac, Ltd. That was too easy. Just for fun, I checked the fifty-two year old’s record. She was also listed as living at the same address as Santac, Ltd. That was odd. Maybe they had the wrong information in there.
I switched back and forth between the two records and compared the information. Everything was exactly the same except for the year of birth. This made me wonder so I checked the ninety year old Donella Clos. I could not believe that I was seeing this. Her record was exactly the same as the other two except for the age. This made no sense. I scrolled through each record until I found the name of the spouse. It was listed as Sam T. Clos. Sam T. Clos? This was ridiculous.
None of the Donella Clos’s listed had ever filed for bankruptcy and none of them were listed as employed. Santac, Ltd. was not listed anywhere except as their home address. None of them had ever worked anywhere and there were no children listed on any of the records. So much for thinking that these three could be mother, daughter, and grandmother. I had thought maybe there could be some logical explanation for the three Donella Clos’s and that the spouse listing had been a typo, but I was wrong.
Sam T. Clos wasn’t listed in any database that I could get into so I pushed my chair away from the desk and closed the laptop. I checked my watch. It was about twelve-fifteen. It was still way too early to go snooping around. I was getting impatient and I didn’t think I could wait the whole day to go back to Santac. This was frustrating. The only thing I could do was to wait and possibly get some lunch.
As I sat there looking around my apartment, I glanced across the room at my pitiful, little Christmas tree. I made the effort each year, but there was never anything under it for me or anyone else. I guessed I could go shopping and maybe find a nice gift for Trey. After all, we had been kind of close over the last couple of weeks. Okay, we’d been really close. That had to at least merit a shirt or something.
I grabbed my bag and headed out to my parking lot. I figured I’d go out to the mall and get one of those Philly Steak sandwiches and then look around for something suitable for Trey. The sandwich shop was literally right inside the door of the mall, so I stepped up to the counter and asked for a deluxe combo meal. I gave the lady behind the counter ten bucks and she gave me back a quarter. This sandwich had better be damned good for nine dollars. I sat down at one of the small tables in the restaurant and unwrapped my sandwich. It was smothered with onions and green peppers and smelled just about as good as it looked. What a good idea this had been, I thought.
For a few moments, I sat there enjoying my lunch and when I was finished, I carried my tray to the trash can, emptied it and then set the tray back on the counter. There appeared to be no other appropriate place to put it, so I left. I looked around the mall and tried to think of what to get for Trey without appearing too involved with the idea of us together. I didn’t want him to think I was entertaining thoughts of a relationship. What we had was stressful enough.
I walked through the mall until I finally came to a specialty shop that seemed to fit Trey’s personality. There were all kinds of funny T-Shirts and hats to look at, so I spent some time reading them. I had at least four more hours to kill, so I took my time. After I had read every shirt and hat in the place, I settled on the shirt with the Callahan logo from the movie, Tommy Boy on it. We had watched the movie about a million times together and I knew he would appreciate the reference.
I picked up another shirt for myself. I just liked the whole “More Cowbell” thing and thought it appropriate for the week I was having.
Once I had purchased the shirts, I remembered that Mrs. Shuble was still down the hall from me in the apartment building and that I should probably try to find something for her while I was shopping. I stopped at a shop that looked like it was made for old ladies. There were a bunch of frilly things and porcelain teapots sitting around. Everything looked like something you would see at your grandmother’s house. I found a nice porcelain clock that I thought would be great for her and then I hesitated. If I were really old, would a clock be a constant reminder that my time was limited? I put the clock back and opted for a collectible plate decorated with pretty roses. She liked roses, but she had often complained that she couldn’t keep the real ones alive long enough. This would do.
By the time I finished shopping, I was about a hundred dollars lighter and two hours closer to being able to spy on Santac. I took my stuff back to my apartment and went ahead and wrapped everything with the wrapping paper I’d purchased. This killed another hour. Finally, I decided that now had to be good enough. I put the wrapped items under the tree, including the shirt I had wrapped up for myself. I figured I might as well have something under there. I grabbed a Coke from the refrigerator and headed back out the door.
While driving over to Santac, I got a call from Trey on my cell phone. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was just following up on some things. I didn’t want to tell him where I was. He didn’t need to come back to Santac with me. The reindeer had freaked him out earlier, so I didn’t see the point in subjecting him to further weirdness. I approached the front lot of Santac with caution. No one was there, or at least, it looked deserted. I pulled around to the back of the house and stopped short when I saw a big, red Suburban parked at the door of the warehouse. I put my Jeep in reverse and backed up so that I couldn’t be seen. I quietly got out of the Jeep and crept over to the side of the house to get a closer look.
There, across the lot, was a man in a Santa suit loading items into the Suburban. He brought bag after bag out to the vehicle just as he had done in my dreams the last couple of nights. After a few moments, he disappeared inside the warehouse and I thought it would be a good time to sneak over there and see what he was loading into the vehicle. I hurried across the yard, wishing all the while that it was just two hours later so that I’d at least be hidden by darkness. Not that the light from the Christmas display wouldn’t give me away. Just as I was getting ready to look inside the bags, I heard the door of the warehouse open. I ducked back behind the side of the Suburban. I hoped I was hidden from view as I watched the Santa approach with another bag in his hands.
Just a couple more to go…come back later for more!
Until next time…
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