Yarrow House

Losing It

The middle-aged guy walked into the Moss and Raine detective agency -"We find things"-with a person-who's in charge air and didn't wait for introductions. "This is going to sound crazy but I don't want you to find something. I want you to lose it," he said.

"A what?" Raine asked. Always a woman of few words.

"And why don't you go toss it into the Sound yourself?" Moss added from behind her computer screen. She handled all the tech side of things. Raine, being an old-school detective, didn't have much use for computers.

"I don't want it gone forever," he said, with exasperation. "I didn't say destroyed, just lost." He looked back and forth between the two, on their opposite sides of the office, not sure which one to talk to.

Moss looked Mr. Lose It over with a cynical eye. His story sounded bogus. Her fingers hovered over the computer keyboard, ready to start searching on him as soon as she had some actual facts.

"So you want us to hide, not find, something." Raine said. She flipped to a new page in a worn notepad and searched through her desk drawer for a pen.

"Yeah, hide," he said. "Hide's a better word."

"Why?" Raine asked.

"I have three ungrateful kids. This is their inheritance, part of it anyway, and I don't want to make it too easy for them to get it." He eyed the metal chair in front of Raine's desk. Sat down on the edge of the worn leather seat. Didn't want to get his nice clean khaki slacks dirty, Moss assumed.

"So only one gets it?" Moss asked.

"Survival of the fittest," Raine commented. She found a pen and made some marks in the notepad. Moss guessed it was the date. But it could have just as likely been the start of a grocery list. She didn't usually make notes on clients. Memory like a hoarder’s house.

"Exactly," said Mr. Lose it. "Of course, if they're smart, they'll do it together, but they've never been all that smart. So how much do you charge?" He pulled out a sleek, leather wallet.

"What are you doing, giving them an IQ test?" Moss said. "Seems like you don't like them all that much. Maybe you should give the whatever to someone you do like."

"What is it, by the way? What you want hidden?" Raine asked. She sat with her hands at rest on the desk. Few words. Even less fiddling.

"It's a 1972 Ferrari Daytona." He said it with smug smile and a raised eyebrow that said you have no idea what I'm talking about do you, lady.

"Must be one of the 1,273 Daytonas built by Scaglietti. Worth around $550k probably," Raine said. Then as if talking to herself, she added what sounded to Moss like genuine details. "Got a V-12 engine, six carburetors, 352 hp, independent front and rear suspension. That's the model that won the 1967 Daytona race." Moss hadn't heard so many words come out of Raine's mouth at one time in quite a while.

Lose It looked taken aback for a moment but couldn't stop from puffing up with ownership pride. "That's why it's called the Daytona."

Moss assessed Lose It. On the surface he was just another of your stocky, balding guys in a yellow golf shirt. Probably had gray hair, but only his hairdresser knew for sure. Clean shaven cheeks, with the red webbing of someone who liked his liquor. Malt, neat, she'd guess, if she had to. Prep school accent. Race driver? In his dreams.

"So, I take you want your kids to be able to find it?" Raine said. "Otherwise I could just stick it in my garage and be done with it." Raine seemed caught up in the challenge of hiding the car.

Moss was more interested in whether it was really Lose It's. She logged into the stolen car registry. Ran a query on 1972 Ferrari Daytonas. Nothing on the list.

"Yes, it has to be findable. So what will you charge for hiding it?" He shuffled through a handful of credit cards. Chose one.

"Oh hiding it's not really a problem. It's leaving clues about where it's at that's the problem. Assuming you want clues left so they can find it." Raine jotted something else in the notepad. More than two items. Getting to be a long grocery list.

"And I assume you won't want to know where it's hidden," Moss added. "Otherwise your kids will suspect you've told one of them where it is. Or maybe you'll accidently give it away. Drinking too much, get angry at one and tell the others where it is, talk in your sleep, something like that." Moss could get carried away with possibilities. In the ten years she and Raine had been partners, it was one of Raine's consistent complaints about her.

"Yeah, yeah. I don't want to know." He didn't sound convinced. He put the credit card collection back in the wallet.

"Do you have a photo?" Moss asked, curious what such a fancy car looked like.

Lose It pulled a glossy color photo out of the wallet.

"Can it be driven?" Moss examined the photo. "It'd be a dream to drive. I'd leap at a chance to get behind the wheel."

He snatched the photo away from her.

"Trailered," Raine answered for Lose It. "You don't want something that valuable to be  on the road."

Lose It turned, pointedly, to Raine. "I want it somewhere safe, you know," he said "It's in show condition. I don't want it to be out in the weather or exposed to hazards."

Moss found the Ferrari in the Department of Licensing database. Not hard to ID since it  was the only one. The owner's address was across Lake Washington in a high-end  section of Medina. Why was a guy like that coming to a couple of low-rent detectives in  Southeast Seattle? Not that she'd tum down the money but the whole scheme sounded wacky.

Raine examined the photo. "Seems familiar," she said. "Wasn't it entered in the Concours d'Elegance last year?"

Lose It nodded. "It received a lot of favorable comments, too." He tucked the photo

 tenderly back in the wallet.

"Aren't planning to enter it this year, I guess," Raine said.

"What do you mean?" He lost his purchase on the chair's edge and slid back.

"Well, how soon are you planning to die? If you die before the Concours, of course, and your kids find it, they could enter it. If they cared. But if you don't die in time, then the car misses this year, you know."

Lose It's face raced through the full emotional spectrum. He tapped the photo on his palm. "Have to think this over," he said, pocketing the photo and heading for the door.

"Get back to us when you expect to die," Moss said to his back. "We'll be glad to accommodate you. Lots of hiding places around here you know."

After he'd left, Moss sat back and regarded Raine. "Sounds like he hadn't quite thought it through."

"Guessed as much." She tossed her pen back into her desk drawer.

"I didn't know you had a garage," Moss said.

"I don't."

One-time reproduction for non-resale purposes permitted with the following credit line: by Judith Yarrow, © 2014