“Methinks a boat ride is in order.”
Whenever the boss started speaking in Shakespearean English, Sean knew something was up.
“OK, I’ll bite. What’s going on?” said Sean.
“Won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?” Mrs. Robinson sang.
“Mrs. Robinson, I believe you’re trying to seduce me,” Sean said, smiling.
Sean had been working at Applied Diffusion Research, (known in the industry as ADR) for over six months. Most of the cases were routine: deadbeat dads, disappearing embezzlers, sex offenders with new identities—all those people who, for reasons good or ill, didn’t want to be found. He would locate them and notify the interested parties. Sean would also ‘research’ the clients as well. After he showed them all he knew about their actives, they never questioned the billing. There was another class of cases, however, cases that involved political intrigue. Those accounts were strictly a cash+expenses deal, with a big chunk of the money upfront.
Sean had heard of the boss’ ‘sea cruises.’ They were usually done when only the highest level of secrecy was needed. The boss had a little runabout that she kept in the marina behind the Naval Reserve building on Seattle’s Lake Union. When you were out on the water with the motor running no one could overhear or monitor your conversation.
Later that afternoon, Sean boarded the small watercraft. It was known in the office as ‘Fleet ADR.’ The small craft was a classic: a teak-decked motorboat with a divided windshield and a small canopy. The interior was spartan—two wooden seats, a wheel, and a dashboard which held only an ignition switch and a throttle. Mrs. Robinson gave the interior a thorough examination before casting off. The motor sputtered, then caught, and soon they were heading out in the direction of the Gasworks Park, on the other side of the lake.
“You went to school with Senator Clarkson’s son, is that not so?” Her overly formal style of speech led Sean to believe that this would not be an idle chat.
“Yes, I knew him, I knew him as well as anyone.”
“We need your special knowledge for this case.”
Billy Clarkson. Sean’s old roommate—his doppelgänger. They were dead ringers for each other. Billy had a way with women but suffered from a mental block when it came to English Lit. Billy’s myopic instructor never figured out that it was Sean who had taken Billy’s finals for him, in the process raising Billy’s C- average to a solid B. As a reward for this, whenever Billy had two dates for an evening—which was often—he would offer Sean one. Billy had never really cared for any of the women he dated; he was a ‘Four F’ kind of guy, all he cared about was the conquest. Billy would steer Sean to those girls who he thought wouldn’t ‘put out.’ Sean, for his part, played the role of the perfect gentleman. He later found out that most of these young women weren’t really interested in Billy, or in him. They were just lonely, but wanting someone to do more than just talk. Sean would oblige them.
“As you know, Senator Clarkson is running for president. His son has become a potential liability,” said Mrs. Robinson.
“What is it that he has been up to? How bad could it be?”
“We’ve been contacted by the Senator’s people. They’ve lost contact with him. William Clarkson Junior, as you know more than anyone, has a penchant for indulging in illicit liaisons. They think he may jeopardize the campaign if one of them were to emerge in, shall we say, an inopportune occasion.” Mrs. Robinson’s demeanor remained impassive.
“Do we have anything on him?” asked Sean.
“Almost nothing since he left college—that’s why I want you in on this case. You know him better than anyone. We need to make sure that Billy remains a non-factor until after the election.”
“What would we do with him when we find him?” Sean was wary of taking on an open-ended case like this—too many things could go wrong, there were too many players involved. Sean‘s relationship with Billy meant that there was also a lot at stake for him—in a personal way.
Mrs. Robinson had been steering the boat in a lazy figure-8s. They were nearing the point from where they had started.
“Well, that depends a lot on what he’s been up to. You might have to babysit him for a while.“ Mrs. Robinson gave Sean a look which he read as: “You can't say no.”
Location work. Sean knew that Molly wouldn’t like this. They had gotten real comfortable in their living arrangements over the last few of months. This would be the first real test of their relationship.
After they tied up the boat, Sean and Mrs. Robinson walked back to her car.
“You’re in, of course?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m in,” said Sean.
“It’s time get to work,” Mrs. Robinson said.