Quincy’s client arrived just as Buster was putting the well-charred steaks on our plates. No one noticed him at first as he quietly walked around the corner of the house. I sensed someone behind me and turned to find myself facing a slightly pudgy man with light brown skin, limp grey hair with a hairline at the top of his round skull, dressed in an expensive blue suit, and sweating despite the coolness of the evening air.
“Uh, um, excuse me,” he said. His voice was nasal and reedy. “Is this the Mayweather residence?”
“Yeah it is,” Buster’s booming voice said from behind the grille. “But, it’s a little late in the day for door-to-door salesmen, ain’t it?”
The man took a step back, raising his hands defensively.
“That’s okay, Buster,” Quincy said, stepping over to stand beside the man who was looking as if he’d just been hit. “This is Jacob Treworthy, a client of mine. I hope you don’t mind.” He looked imploringly at Alma, who looked blankly back at him. “I asked him to stop by to speak to Al. I know I should have told you before, or asked if it was okay, but I got caught up at work and forgot to call.”
Buster made a snarling sound, but Alma walked over and laid a slim hand on his beefy forearm.
“That’s no problem, Quincy,” she said. “Mr. Treworthy’s welcome to join us. We have more than enough food. Would you like a drink, Mr. Treworthy?”
The man smiled and nodded.
“Yes, if you don’t mind,” he said. “A glass of water would be great.”
Alma turned on Buster.
“Go get the man a glass of water, Buster,” she said. Buster frowned, but put the big fork he’d been using on the meat down and headed toward the kitchen.
“You want ice in it?” Buster asked over his shoulder.
“No, thank you,” Treworthy said. “That won’t be necessary.”
Alma had put a steak and some coleslaw on a plate and walking over to Treworthy she pushed it into his hands.
“Here,” she said. “Why don’t you find yourself a place to sit and eat this? You look like you haven’t eaten in a while.”
“Why, thank you, Mrs. Mayweather, I presume,” he said. “I had a light lunch, but this looks and smells great.”
He took the plate over and sat on the wooden bench attached to the picnic table Buster had built in his garage. Quincy and I took our plates and sat on either side of him.
“Jacob,” Quincy said. “This is Al Pennyback.”
“I sort of figured that,” Treworthy said. “From what you told me about him; a pleasure to meet you Mr. Pennyback.” He held out a pudgy hand.
I shook his hand. Surprisingly, for such a soft looking person, he had a firm handshake.
“Same here,” I said. “Considering the venue, why don’t you just call me Al? Quincy said you had a problem you wanted my help with.”
“Al it is, then. I’m Jacob,” he said. “I like that; you get right down to business. I do have an issue that requires some delicate handling, and Quincy said you’re probably the best person to do it.” He looked down at his plate. “I need to give you some background, so you’ll understand fully what I need done.”
“That’s not a bad idea. Always helps to know what you’re getting into,” I said.
“My wife Elizabeth and had only one child, a daughter. I’m afraid we probably spoiled her terribly. Allison; that’s her name; grew up into a headstrong woman, always had to have her own way. She married against our wishes. Not, mind you, that we didn’t want her to get married, but she married a man that I never trusted. I think he did it just to get at her inheritance, you see.”
“So,” I said, interrupting him. “You want me to check him out, is that it?” For someone who appreciated getting down to business, he took a long time to get to the point.
“Well, not exactly; uh, that is, yes, I suppose I do want you to check his background. But, I have to finish telling you the background.”
“Sure,” I said. “Go ahead. Sorry for interrupting you.”
He ignored my apology.
“Anyway, Allison married this man against our wishes; about a year ago. About two weeks ago, they went to Jamaica on vacation. There was an incident; they were on an auto tour of the island when they were car-jacked. Allison was killed in the incident.”
“My sympathies, Jacob,” I said. “It’s terrible when you lose a child, especially violently like that.” I knew the pain of losing a child. “So, what is it you want me to do, then?”
“The Jamaican police wrote the incident off,” he said. “They’re still looking for the men who did it; there were two of them; but, they aren’t really looking in the right place.”
“I don’t understand. This sounds like something out of my league. If the police in Jamaica are investigating the crime, what does that have to do with your son-in-law?”
“I think; no, I know, that Gordon had my daughter killed,” he said. “I want you to prove it.”