01-23-2012, 03:23 AM
Jim Meridian drove back to his office with the bundle of mail he confiscated from the Piccucci home. It would mean a lot of weeding and sorting when he got there, but they were his best lead so far. Financial statements left a paper trail of information regarding where and when a purchase was made using a given credit card; all a detective had to do was scan the record on the statement and follow the dates and places it was used. It beat driving around the city, questioning whoever met Pamela before she disappeared, taking up too much of his valuable time from his other cases. Pamela Piccucci was the kind of woman who never went anywhere without a stack of plastic in her purse; finding her should be easy with the bills she left behind.
Meridian pulled up to the station and parked his car in the first spot he could find (it was late afternoon, and parking was at a premium after eleven AM) then climbed out of the car, clutching the bundle of bills and statements. Once in his office, he set down the mail, prepared a pot of coffee in his small coffeemaker by his desk, and settled down to what promised to be a long night of sifting and sorting.
The flashing dot on his telephone called his attention to a message waiting on his voicemail. Almost grateful for the distraction, he punched the Message button and waited.
"You have...one...new message," the robotic female voice he had christened Francine spoke over the tiny speaker. "New message."
"Meridian, this is Springs," the recording played. "I got the scoop about Pamela Piccucci. She's in Hawai'i, of all places, living with some fat-cat billionaire from Canada. I think she jumped bail on ya. I saw it on the computer. Gimme a call when you get in, okay? Number's 555-9768--got that? I'll see you later. 'Bye."
Meridian smiled broadly for the first time that day, if not that week. He dialed Springs' number and waited for him to pick up. One ring. Two rings. "Springer residence," he heard a female voice speak.
"Hello, Casey?" he said. "Detective Meridian here."
"Casey's not here right now," the female voice said apologetically. "This is her mother, Sharon."
"Oh, sorry" Meridian mumbled. "Anyway, I need to speak to Springs--uh, Mr. Springer, please."
"One moment, please," the female voice said.
A pause, then a clicking sound. "It's your nickel," he heard Springs rasp over the line.
Meridian couldn't help but be amused at Springs' greeting. "Springs? It's Detective Meridian."
"Oh," Springs grunted. "How's it goin', gumshoe?"
"Fine, thanks," Meridian replied. "Better, now that I got your message. So how'd you find out about Pamela being in Hawai'i?"
"Well, I started taking a few lessons on how to use those computers everybody and their Uncle Harry has nowadays," Springs began, "and before you can say Bill Gates, I'm clacking away, doin' this and that. Anyway, I come across this news article showing this picture of this Canucky billionaire, and right there in the background, I see this woman's face that looks familiar to me, and then it hits me--that's Junior's wife, Pamela! From the looks of it, I'd say she's been getting pretty cozy with this guy."
"You sure it was Pamela?"
"Damn straight it was!" Springs insisted. "I'd seen her face enough times at those family gatherings The Guys used to have to know what she looks like. I'd know it was her even if she was wearing one of those rubber Groucho Marx noses!"
"You remember the news source you saw the picture in?"
"It was right on the screen, just as you're ready to boot up or log on or whatever the hell you call it," Springs replied.
"You remember the billionaire's name?"
"Ah, it was some Englandy-sounding name--Niles, or something like that. All I know is that he's from Canada and he's richer than Midas, and Pamela's hooked up with him."
Meridian nodded. "Okay, Springs," he said. "I think I can take it from here."
"I owe you a double Manhattan for this."
Springs chuckled. The two men said good-bye and hung up. Meridian called Warrants to inform them of Pamela Piccucci's escape to Hawai'i, and to take all necessary action to bring her back before her trial date. He then stuffed the envelopes into a large interoffice bin for the guys in Evidence to sort through. Pamela Piccucci was their headache now, he thought with a sense of relief. His beat was homicide, not hunting bail jumpers.
Alicia's court subpoena came in the mail two days before Hallowe'en. It was Thursday, and she and Kyle had disembarked from the school bus at the end of the day, as usual. Kyle had dashed home for his daily videogame fix while Alicia trodded behind, her housekey at the ready should Kyle decide to lock her out as a prank. Kyle never bothered to check the mailbox (except when he anticipated birthday cards with money in them from Grandma or other relatives), so mail retrieval was chiefly Alicia's responsibility. She pulled open the little door and took out a stack of letters from inside, flipping through them as she walked up to the house. It was then she discovered the summons.
The official-looking document from the Clark County District Court intimidated her at first, but upon opening it she discovered she was called as a witness in the case of State of Nevada v. Piccucci on December seventeenth. Alicia was both thrilled and frightened: the former because it was two days before Criss Angel's birthday, the latter because she'd never been to court before, not even during her parents' divorce proceedings. Of course, she had to show it to her mother--it was way too important to ignore. But she chose to keep Criss' birthday a secret from her, just in case.
Should she show it to MA? Well, they were BFFs, and not to share such a significant piece of information would be a crass betrayal of their friendship, but it was a court summons, not a party invitation. Besides, she wasn't one hundred percent sure if Criss was going to be at the trial. He has to be, because he was there when Pamela threatened me with that gun and he saved my life! she reasoned. He heard everything she said about the murders, so that makes him a witness, too.
So, if Criss was going to be at the trial, she needed to do something, and fast. The trial was six weeks away, and she had to plan something special for his birthday. Something that she could smuggle past the watchful eyes of her mother, who still bore a grudge against "that Criss Angel person", despite having shielded her daughter from the point of a gun. A simple card wouldn't do, Alicia thought. It had to be something so special, so unique, that whenever he saw it he would think of her fondly, and treasure it forever.
Well, MA has some artistic talent, she recalled. Maybe she could help me out. I bet she'd come up with something really awesome if she tried. I'll even help pay for any art supplies if she needs it. Yeah! Between the two of us, we can give Criss a birthday present he'll never forget!
Criss sat in his office, taking care of his daily correspondence either by phone, letter, or email, when his assistant, Jennifer, came in and handed him an envelope. He was about to toss it in his Read Later pile when Jennifer stopped him.
"I think you'd better read it,"she told him seriously.
Criss looked at the envelope and realized she was right. It was from the Clark County District Court. Oh, Lord, he groaned inwardly, I hope it's not a jury summons!
He tore open the envelope and read the letter inside. It wasn't a jury summons; that was the good news. The bad news was that he was being subpoenaed as a witness in the case of State of Nevada v. Piccucci. Worse, the trial was scheduled to be held on December seventeenth, just before the weekend of his birthday--a buzzkill if there ever was one. Of all the things to come back and haunt him, this ranked up in the top ten. Hell, he didn't even want to get involved in that whole mess in the first place, but, being a sucker for a pretty face, he had agreed to follow Casey Worth on a search for her employer, only to end up a near hostage by some greedy (bleep) who would have shot him, Casey, the old man, and that other girl who had run away from home to go to Loyalapalooza. Thank God that police officer showed up when he did, or else Criss Angel would have been history.
He read the summons again. He had tried to wash his hands of the whole sordid affair for almost six months, refusing to give any statements to the press about it, but there was no getting out of this, he conceded. He just hoped that it would be over and done with before Friday--he didn't want to get involved in an epic OJ Simpson-style ordeal that would drag on forever.
Criss handed the subpoena back to Jennifer. "Take care of this, willya?" he said.
"Bad news?" Jennifer inquired.
"Nah, nothing serious, if that's what you mean," Criss replied. "Just a murder trial, that's all."