Tuesday, 20 November 2012

204: Toast and PI

Tammy picked a place near the window, put her tray down on the table and slid into the seat.  She had followed all the tricks for keeping watch.  Her back was against the wall, she could see all of the exits and she was blending in.  The tray contents were for that.  A pot of tea, two rounds of wholemeal toast and apricot jam made sure she looked like any other casual morning shopper in SupaValu.

But she wasn’t a normal, casual morning shopper.  No, Tammy was a PI.  Tammy Woznik, Private Investigator.  And she was on a case.

There had been an advert in the local paper.  Train as a Private Investigator, excellent earning potential, exciting work and plenty of job satisfaction.  Tammy had signed up straight off, borrowing the £500 enrolment fee from her mother with a promise of repayment once the big jobs started rolling in.

£500 bought you a plastic brief case containing a file of notes, tips on trailing someone, a short list of contacts for special help, notebooks, pens and a cheap digital camera.  Tammy had read through it all in one sitting and wondered who might find such a paltry training pack sufficient for their new career.  She began practising some of the techniques on her family and friends and started to think about launching her own Private Investigation business.

Business was slow and most of the work she got was looking for lost pets, where the pay wasn’t that good.  At least she needn’t employ stealth and blending into the background for those jobs but sometimes she did, just for the fun of it.  The job satisfaction was great if Tiddles was returned alive but animals that had been run over caused her a lot of upset.

So when she received a call from a client called ‘Terry’ who believed his wife Janey was having an affair, she jumped at the chance of a proper PI job.  Terry thought she was meeting someone in SupaValu of all places and provided a holiday snap of her.  Tammy was quite happy to sit in the café and watch in case an errant couple should be so hard-pressed to find somewhere to meet that a supermarket was their choice of location. Terry wanted dates, he wanted times and he wanted a photo so he knew who the man was.  Janey drove a Smart car and Terry had rung to tell Tammy she had just left the house.

Not a single Smart car had driven into the car park so far.  Tammy had driven round the whole place to check when she arrived and there hadn’t been one since she was sat at the window with her tea and toast.  Her camera was in her open bag next to her and she only appeared to be reading a magazine, when in fact she was looking at every car that arrived.  If Janey was coming here for an affair she wasn’t here yet.

Outside the window a blue car started reversing out of its space.  A red car, driving quite fast for a car park, came up behind and clipped the rear end.  Shoppers and staff all stopped what they were doing to watch the spectacle.  All except of course for Tammy.  A diversion like that would be perfect cover for Janey to slip in or away with her lover, so Tammy paid extra attention to the rest of the cars.  She saw a Smart car arrive, but it avoided the bumped cars by driving up the rows of cars and across the car park.

Tammy took her camera out of the bag and clicked off a few images.  But there wasn’t really much to see.  The car was parked alone next to the recycling banks.  Nobody got out of the car and nobody got in.  Maybe it wasn’t Janey but someone who had come to help save the planet but forgot to bring their bottles.

A crowd had formed around the cars outside the window and even more had accumulated inside the café.  All of the tables were now taken with strangers, some sharing tables so they could all get a good view of the expected arguments outside.  It made Tammy’s job somewhat harder and meant there were lots of people around who might wonder what she was doing making notes and taking pictures.

The Smart car began to move and worried she might lose her quarry, Tammy stuffed her camera and magazine into her bag ready to make a swift getaway.  Instead the car parked near the entrance and the female driver got out and walked towards the store.  It was Janey.  Tammy recognized her from the photo but she was alone and she seemed to be coming shopping.  Tammy slurped down the last dregs of tea and tried to look ordinary as she left the café to trail Janey around the store.

Her report back to Terry later that day was disappointing.  Janey arrived at SupaValu alone, parked her car, entered the store and shopped for the following: Jey cloths, window cleaner, bathroom sparkle, disinfectant, red bucket, mop head, Marigold gloves, bleach.  The shop cost £23.50 and took approximately 15 minutes, whereupon Janey returned to the car and drove off.  Photos of her car in car park attached.  Please advise if I should track her again.

And the best bit was the tea and toast was on Terry’s expenses bill too.

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