It was about 8 p.m. when I got to the parking area near Poubelle's place, but the days were short enough that it was nearly dark. I waited in the car for a while and kept an eye on the driveway. I hoped everyone was home. It was hard to wait. I wanted action!
The beer and guacamole I'd had with Mannie finally put me to sleep as I relaxed, and I woke up with a start a 9:55. All systems GO! Time to "bug" the loving couple.
Would they be in one of those rooms in back now? I cursed myself for snoozing. Was I already too late and would hear nothing but snoring? What if there were screens on all the windows? What if they were silent and were watching TV? Or would they go out? Probably not out. They didn't seem to go out much, except for meals. If they were in mid-house watching TV, I might still have to wait until they finally went to bed. This could be a tough night, but I was emboldened by the righteousness of my mission. And beer.
Dressed in navy blue sweat suit and black tennies, I looked like your average cat burglar, or a demolition expert in an "erotic thriller" movie. I decided against blackening my face, being in the dark anyway, but I did wear my old green and gold coaching cap (SB colors), from an earlier, more innocent time when I never would have thought I'd be doing something as weird as this.
Mannie said I looked like a New Orleans gang-banger or home looter, but I disagreed.
I left my car in the parking lot and took out my tools. "The tools of ignorance," as they call a baseball catcher's pads. You'd think a guy would know better than to play catcher or be a private snoop. But both are where the action is.
I carried my bug with attached mike, lock picks in my little overnight bag, and a small folding stool in the other hand to help me over the fence. I could be an electrician going to work - an electrician who dressed funny.
I took a deep breath and a beer whiz, and headed for Chez Poubelle. Why was I so nervous? I calmed a little as I walked past Whanger and Rocket Man, the homeless guys I'd gotten to know. They probably didn't recognize me in the dark, but I shushed them just in case. They didn't respond.
And there was that black Caddie!
I tippie-toed into the ivy by the brick wall and was excited to see that there was light in one of the back rooms. Dim, but a light. Probably a small lamp. Romantic lighting? Or was someone undressing for bed? Loretta had been running around a lot and she and Carlos were very likely reuniting after a few days' absence. They had some catching up to do.
Here goes, I thought, taking some deep breaths for oxygen and strength. Unfolded the stool and stood on it. Good enough. I'd be able to get a leg up, so to speak, and sort of vault over the wall, dropping carefully to the ground so as not to mangle one of my aging knees.
No one around. Ready? One more deep breath and OOF-ahh. . . I was dragging my carcass over the top, catching my pants on a fence spear at one point and thinking about the fact that I was at least 10 pounds overweight. But I made it, the drop being only a couple of feet, and I crouched, panting by the fence. Very little moonlight. Good. I felt safe. It was dark back here, and I had yet to see a pedestrian on the area walkways.
I pussyfooted across the yard, realizing too late that I was leaving broken flower stalks and footprints … ah the hell with it. Only cops take casts of footprints, and they were my friends -- sort of. I squatted between a camellia bush and a sword fern under the lighted window and was relieved to see that, as with most sliding windows, there was screen only on one side, the sliding side. Both sides were closed, but that shouldn't matter to me, Snoopy the Gray Panther.
I put the mike headset on, peeled the bug cover off, pressed the receiver onto the glass - it stuck! perfect! - and pressed the Record button. I could hear a soft female voice! This was excellent. My first electronic surveillance, and it worked perfectly. Almost too excited, I got comfortable and concentrated, volume button turned to the max.
There was conversation, but I wasn't getting the specifics. Sounded like they were whispering sweet nothings. Or was it kissy-face and they were just slurping on each other? Then Carlos was soothingly talking in a slightly louder voice, reassuringly delivering what sounded like a sales pitch.
Something about a "pickup."
"You've got to go with us," he said. Latin accent. "You know I can't stand to have you out of my sight." She groaned a small dissent, but it lacked conviction.
"I said you're going, goddamit! Tomorrow afternoon!" Whoa, that was harsh, loud and menacing. "Pepe will take care of you, help you out!"
Pepe? Must be the other guy at the boat. So there was Poubelle, and two Latinos, and now a skinny housewife.
Her suddenly whiny voice said "No! I don't. . ." followed by a loud smack, and a distressed "Oh!" from her. It had been a recognizable sound: She'd been slapped, hard, on the face. This wasn't funny. I'd come here hoping for the sounds of athletic sex, not for the sound of a woman getting beaten up.
He snarled something like "Do I have to tell you again?" and there followed two more sharp slaps, maybe a backhand on the second. I felt my knighthood feelings rise. Someone should stop the bastard from doing that -- but no, I had to keep snooping. Loretta was crying and blubbering and I was upset … It wasn't the kind of situation I had signed up for.
Then the creep switched to soothing sounds like someone comforting a fallen child. Loretta was sniffling instead of blubbering, so I guessed the violence was over. Good. I wouldn't have known what to do if he'd really gotten vicious.
They exchanged billing and cooing noises. Gag me.
It got worse. Talk ceased and soon there was the telltale, rhythmic squeaking of someone playing hide-the-salami.
Did this amount to rape? I guessed not, but there was something low-class about the scene. Also fascinating. Gorillas in the mist.
Then the telltale sounds of a male finishing his task, and then silence and what sounded like heavy breathing.
Sitting out here in the jungle, I marveled once again at the animalism of some of us humanoids.
"No one will ever love you the way I do," Carlos finally said in caricature tones of Latin chauvinism. I didn't hear any comment from his lover/victim.
Suddenly I wondered who else was in the house? An audience? What about the Caddie? There had been a third guy on the boat. I looked around - still no lights on anywhere else. Maybe someone was out there in the dark, watching me listen. I had to leave. It wouldn't do to be caught crouched in the flowers like this.
I had what I needed. Loretta sounded like a captive, and the boat was going out to sea tomorrow afternoon.
I took off the headset, snatched the bug off the window and hurried to the gate -- unlocked by a simple lever push -- and out to the path, which I knew well by now. I had the goods. Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!
Thoroughly amped by adrenalin, I was surprised at how fast I could run. I was slowing down near Whanger's hideaway to get a better look at where I was going and POW! Fade to black . . .