Can a grey-bearded old hippie computer hacker stay one step ahead of the police...and a killer?
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R.C. Bellicki calls what he does "subversive internet research." Lt. Dan Snyder of the Wichita Police Department calls it "hacking" and he hates Bellicki enough to put the heat on him for a homicide. Now, the grey-bearded old hippie who wears Hawaiian shirts has to find the real killer. Throw in an unexpected reunion with an old flame and we have a cross between classic crime fiction and screwball comedy.
I’m not overly concerned when a prospective client questions me in any great detail. After all, I’m not a book whose dust jacket you can read or a song you can download from the internet after listening to a sample. And often, looks are deceiving and things are not what they appear.
But this guy was pissing me off with his incessant attitude and his repetitive questions for which I was forced to give him the same answers. Over and over again. You would think he was deaf or had some kind of a short-term memory impairment. He came across as a guy who couldn’t make a decision even if it were wrapped up in pretty pink ribbons.
“So, it’s Bellicki?”
“It’s pronounced Bell-Itch-Key.”
“What is that?”
“No. The name is. I’m American.”
“And what does the ‘R.C.’ stand for?”
“Is this germane?”
“Germane. Relevant. Important. Does it have to do with anything that we’re discussing?”
“Well, Mr. Bellicki, I’ve never hired a private investigator before and I’m just worried…”
“And as I told you on the phone,” I droned, irritated that I was mentioning this all over again for the umpteenth time, “I’m not a private investigator. I do research for various firms. Background checks for businesses or employment agencies. I find hidden bank accounts for divorce lawyers. I provide information services and dossiers for actual, real private investigators and sometimes even law enforcement agencies. But I don’t go around in a London Fog with a fedora pulled down low over my eyes, walking the rain-soaked streets of Wichita. I sit here most of the day at my trusty computer. Occasionally I go to the library or the Epic Center. More often than not, I go to Old Town for lunch and a beer. But I figure it’s within walking distance so it’s easy to stumble back here.” Yes, there was a bit of snippy sarcasm in my voice but it was designed to make a point. One final point.