Witt Kepler took a long drag off his Lucky Strike, hoping he would not have to use his revolver to finish tonight’s assignment. Most normal private eyes were satisfied with keeping their distance from their target, taking a few photos, writing notes and reporting to either the defense attorney or the prosecutor’s office, depending on who was paying the most, but not Witt. No, he seemed to pull the hard assignments, the dangerous ones, the jobs that required almost face to face confrontation. These were the jobs no one else wanted.
Tonight’s job was tailor made for Witt.
Ivan Vetski was the most notorious mobster in the city. He had paid off politicians, policemen and even a few judges in his attempt to control the whole of illicit activity this side of the waterfront. Now he had a new enemy in the recently appointed assistant district attorney, a young lad right out of law school. There was something to be said for trying to make a name for yourself and this one was smart enough to realize he needed help. Witt got the call last night, after he had finished his fifth G and T.
Vetski was predicted to meet one of his many acquaintances of the fairer sex tonight, and the new Assistant DA, one Thurman Ludlow, Esquire, hoped that the rendezvous might result in a discovery, leverage perhaps, to be used against the woman. Witt Kepler’s job was to discover who Vetski was meeting, what they were doing, and how could the woman be turned informant.
Balancing the cigarette between two fingers in his left hand, Witt was relieved the unfiltered tobacco brought calm to his nerves. With his other hand brushing against the .38 police special resting in his waistband, he took a seat at the bar. The maitre ‘d at Figaro’s, the Italian restaurant favored by the Russian, had given the mobster and his girl du jour a secluded booth in the back of the room.
Witt only wanted to get a good look at the woman, since he could follow her home in the morning, learning her name from the mailbox. With luck, she would be married. Certainly a married woman would rather tell the private eye about any nefarious plans overheard instead of seeing her marriage fall apart in an instant, with no chance of rebounding an engagement ring from her new man. Ivan Vetski was a lot of things, but moral and ethical family man was not on the list.
As Witt sipped his Beefeater gin on ice, “hold the tonic, please,” he almost fell off his barstool when Vetski and his dame decided to leave the restaurant before dessert.
“Witt? Witt Kepler? Is that really you?”
It was Victoria Timms, Witt’s ex-wife.
The plan had just hit a roadblock.
To be continued next Sunday…