The Google Earth Murders-Chapter 2, 3
One Week Earlier - Chapter 2 – The Divorce?
Patricia Davenport sobbed as she slammed the door shut and turned back to her two sons, Tyler and Max. Her husband Roger Davenport stood outside the now locked door of his condo at 131 Riverside Drive. He closed fingers around a key in his right hand, and held a large rolling suitcase in his left.
His jaw dropped from clenched teeth, and Roger raised the hand with the keys in it to knock, but he lost his nerve when he heard the voices of his sons, thick with crying, yelling something at their mother. He didn’t understand what they were saying, but it no longer mattered. He wheeled the suitcase down the hall, and pressed the button for the elevator.
On his way out of the building at 131 Riverside, his home for the past 12 years, he said goodbye to Albert, the gaunt and expressionless doorman.
“Good night, Mister Davenport,” said Alfred, not understanding the gesture of Roger’s ‘good-bye.’
“Good-bye, Albert,” said Roger again, accentuating the ‘good-bye.’ “Have a nice weekend.”
“It’s only Sunday night, Mister Davenport,” said Albert. “We’ll be seeing each other during the week . . . before Friday.”
“Doubtful,” said Roger.
Roger walked to the corner of 86thand Broadway; took the 1 Train downtown to Pennsylvania Station; waited for the stationmaster’s call of the NJ Transit line for Roselle Park; and boarded for the 30-minute ride to the suburb of Newark.
On the train, Roger called his longtime friend, and boss at the advertising agency, The Tip of the Spear, Gary Kaplan. He told Gary the day that might arrive had indeed arrived. Roger would need the apartment in Colfax Manor, one of the company’s corporate housing properties, in North Jersey in the likely event that Patricia asked him to leave, which she had.
“Do you want me to pick you up at the station?” Asked Gary.
“No thanks. I remember the way to the apartment,” replied Roger.
“Okay, call me back if you have any issues getting inside,” continued Gary. “And you can use either bedroom.”
“Thanks, Gary. I’ll see you in the office tomorrow.”
The conversation paused. Gary cleared his throat.
“You don’t have to come in to work, you know,” said Gary. “I think we can handle the subjective demands of our clients for a day without you. And it’s the week before the Memorial Day Holiday. Won’t be that busy anyhow.”
“Hang on, Gary.”
Roger reached into the side pocket of the rolling suitcase, and pulled out a small bottle of eye-drops. He placed a drop in each eye, both of which were red. He noticed a little girl in the seat across from him. She was staring at Roger, and tugging at her amber curls.
“Allergies,” he explained to her. It satisfied her curiosity, and she returned to staring at her mother, another redhead, her gaze transfixed on the Review section of the Wall Street Journal.
“What allergies?” Said Gary.
“Sorry,” said Roger. “But that comment wasn’t meant for you, and if I don’t come into work tomorrow, I’ll spend the day staring out the window of the apartment and looking at that empty ballfield across the way, and you wouldn’t want that on your mind, would you?”
“Not a chance.” Gary replied. “Come on in, but do NOT mope around the office all day, or I will send you back to New Jersey. Deal?”
“Deal. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Roger hung up his cell phone, and closed his eyes for a moment. He jerked awake when the train hit a rough patch of track. He looked out the window and saw the sign for Westfield. He had fallen asleep and the transit line had now passed four stops beyond Roselle Park.
Just one of those days.
Roger grabbed his suitcase and ran out of the train, just before it pulled out. He need not have rushed. The next northbound one would not arrive for at least an hour, if it arrived on time.
He pulled back his arm to hurl his suitcase across the platform floor, but stopped. He set the luggage down next to a bench in need of a facelift. He dropped onto its uncomfortable surface and waited.
And, of course, the train pulled in 35 minutes behind schedule.
By the time Roger got to the Roselle Park station, the digital clock on his cell phone said 12:03am. The apartment building, fortunately just a ten-minute walk from the train station and through a public baseball field and park, sat on a street named Colfax Manor.
“Manor? That’s rich. Actually, it’s not rich. It’s anything but,” he said as he walked through the park.
Roger, surprised to find the duplex-style apartments of the post-World War II era had been replaced by pine-colored stucco two-story buildings. Their facades greeted him after he breached the baseball field and crossed the street. There were even side alleys between all the units. No shared walls.
He rolled the suitcase up the walkway. Small patches of green were on either side of it, and a healthy looking oak tree grew in what passed for a front yard. He stopped at the front door and found the key to it on his key ring.
“Things could be worse . . . and they will be.”
As a reminder to just that, as he stuck the key in the lock, a fob that also remained on the key ring that read ‘131 Riverside’ flashed in front of his eyes.
He shoved open the door and walked up the steps to the second floor. Roger decided to take the bedroom upstairs. His New York City apartment laid out, as most did, on one single floor. If he had to climb steps upon his arrival at the end of the workday, that is all the better, so as to not remind him of what he had left behind.
He trudged up the steps; found the bedroom; and collapsed on top of the mattress. He fell asleep seconds later.
Roger did go into work the next day, Monday. He took the New Jersey Transit Line in and out of Manhattan, and then walked to and from Penn Station to his office and 16th Street and 9th Avenue. Spring weather had become very pleasant, and the hot summer, while not far off, still remained almost a month away.
That Monday afternoon, just prior to the Memorial Day Holiday, he walked to Gary Kaplan’s office and observed the interior, his boss’ Spartan desk dominated. As per usual, only Gary, the world’s tiniest laptop, and a memo pad the side of a credit card in front of him occupied most of the surface’s workspace. Behind him sat a single bookshelf on a white credenza, which had no function other than to support the empty bookshelf.
Gary, his headset looped over one ear, conversed with someone in German. He noticed Roger leaning up against the doorjamb, which had no door. Gary motioned him in with a single crook of his finger.
Roger sat on the one three-legged stool that Gary would allow in his office. A way of keeping meetings and visits short.
Gary finished his call with a single, ‘Tschus.’
“How goes it, world’s greatest creative director?” Gary asked Roger.
Roger shifted his weight forward, though it had nothing to do with taking a more aggressive posture with his boss. He needed to make sure his legs didn’t fall asleep.
“I’m ready to move back to Manhattan,” he said.
Gary placed both index fingers next to each respective eyebrow.
“I didn’t think Patricia was ready to have you back after less than a few days?” He asked.
She isn’t. The only time I’ve spoken to her is when she needs something for Max and/or Tyler, and it usually involves me schlepping back into the city after I’ve already taken the train out to Roselle Park,” he answered. “And I won’t keep doing that during the course of our separation, so I have to figure out some way to get an apartment in the city.”
“Alright,” said Gary. “How can I help? I don’t have any available corporate housing in the city right now. I will after the summer, but that’s not doing you any good.”
“But you do have a real estate agent you like?”
“I do. He’s mostly commercial and residential purchase, but I could put the arm on him for a rental. I’d have to call in a chit, but I’d do it for you, world’s greatest creative director.”
Gary reached inside his right pants’ pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He started looking through the contacts. Roger let it go for a moment, but couldn’t contain himself.
“For God’s sake, Gary,” he blurted out. “I’m sitting right across from you. How about you give me his phone number and I call the guy?”
“That’s what I’m doing. I’ll text it to you.”
Roger got off the stool and grabbed the Munchkin-sized memo pad; he took the four-inch pen that was magnetically attached to the pad and shoved it at Gary.
“Either write it down on one of these precious pieces of paper on this pad, or tell me what it is and I’ll write it down.” Laughed Roger. “Gary, you are something. Have you ever used this memo pad for an actual memo, or is it just a prop like everything else in this office?”
“Including me?” Asked Gary.
“Don’t give me a straight line, Kaplan. I haven’t had that many laughs in the past month and I would certainly take the opportunity if presented.”
“Okay. Okay. Here it is.”
Gary scratched out the number along with agent’s name and handed it back to Roger, who tucked it into his pants pocket. He left his boss’ office and walked back to his own.
Chapter 3 – Southern Manhattan
Roger procrastinated calling the real estate agent, but he relented when Patricia phoned him at 6pm that Monday night, just after he’d arrived back at the Roselle Park apartment. She insisted that he attend Tyler’s awards ceremony, this evening at 8pm, for the end of the sports year.
The ceremony, something Roger would have been thrilled to attend, happened to also be an event that Patricia could have let him know about prior to Roger commuting back to Roselle Park that evening. He exhaled after hanging up the phone, and headed out the door to catch one of the last trains to the city.
On the way into Manhattan, Roger pulled the note from his pocket and dialed the number.
An annoyed voice answered the phone. Professional, but annoyed.
“Rick? My name is Roger Davenport. I work for Gary Kaplan at Tip Of The Spear Advertising. He said you might be able to help me find a good temporary rental in Manhattan. At least for the summer.”
“Davenport? I-uh. Oh yes, Gary mentioned something about it to me. You’ve had a little trouble on the home front.”
Roger bit his lower lip and felt a headache coming on. His boss, lovely man, could not keep his mouth shut about anything, especially someone’s personal life. He gripped his cell phone tighter, and pressed it closer to his mouth and ear.
“Yes, leave it to Gary to divulge everything. People could save a lot on email and cell phone services, if they would just tell my boss not to say a word about something. It would immediately go out on the wire services, if there were still wire services.”
“How old are you, Mister Zeifman?” Asked Roger.
“Does it matter?” Came a swift reply.
“No, I guess not. Would you like to talk at a more business-like time?”
Silence from the other end of the line and Roger contemplated hanging up when the annoyed voice came back.
“I’ve just sent a few options to your email, which Gary gave to me. Take a look and let me know what you think.”
“Now?” Asked Roger.
“No, of course not,” said Rick. “Take your time. You know how long decent properties at bargain prices stay on the Manhattan rental market. Oops. There they all go.”
A sharp laugh, like a Chihuahua bark shoved Roger’s ear away from the phone.
“Tomorrow morning at the latest, Roger,” said Rick. “I’m holding onto these as a favor to Gary, but I’m not the only agent with access to these and you are going to have to move fast. The larger of the two is at 90 John Street. If size is a factor, and you’ll have to move in this week.”
“John Street? Isn’t that – “
But Rick Zeifman hung up.