Richard Gumshoe wakes up at 5 a.m. He quietly slips on a nondescript pair of jeans and black t-shirt.
He jealously looks at his wife sleeping in bed. Before he is able to make it out the door, he hears her voice call out from the bedroom.
“Don’t forget it’s your turn to make dinner tonight,” she says.
He winces. He’s a horrible cook. He’ll have to get creative.
He recalls the call he got from his boss last night.
“We’ve got an insurance company who is pretty sure that their claimant is making a fraudulent claim. I need you to get over to his house by 6 a.m. to trail him,” his boss had said.
Richard checks his watch. He’s got ten minutes to grab a box of donuts and head across town.
In the donut shop, he briefly considers buying glazed donuts for dinner. ]
“Boy, my wife would go bananas, but I’d love it,” he thinks. His wife is a real health nut. He’s been able to hide his secret sweet addiction from her by employing what he’s learned over the last ten years of being a private detective. First, you never buy donuts with a credit card. It has to always be cash. Secondly, you must frequent a shop far from her usual hangouts. Once, he almost got caught buying a donut at their local coffee shop. He had to slip the donut in his back pocket without her noticing.
Richard parks down the street from the house of the claimant (someone who makes a claim to try to collect from their insurance company). He gets his camera and video camera ready. According to the insurance company, Mr. Lee Tigious is suing for workman’s comp. Lee claims that he slipped in the hallway and can no longer work or use his neck. It’s a classic whiplash case. Whiplash is one of those injuries that are difficult to prove, because muscles and ligaments don’t show up in x-rays.
He sees Lee walk out of the house wearing a neck brace. Richard snaps a couple of photos. Lee jumps in his car and pulls out of the driveway. Richard follows him to a beauty salon.
“Weird,” he thinks as he snaps pictures. He gets out of his car, so he can take pictures from across the street. Lee sits down at a chair as a stylist cuts away at his hair.
“Everything here looks kosher. Speaking of kosher, what is that smell?”
The smell of pastrami drifts from a deli. Richard figures that he can run in for a minute to grab a sandwich.
When he gets back, he looks for Lee. He runs down the street to his car. Lee’s car starts to turn out of his line of sight. Richard quickly drives after him with one hand on the sandwich and the other holding the camera.
Lee is gone by the time he gets to the light. Using the web browser on his phone, Richard looks at the traffic report and figures his target will get stuck a couple of blocks ahead. Sure enough, he sees Lee rocking out to Bon Jovi in his car. Richard snaps some photos.
Lee drives to the mall. Richard is hoping he will do something stupid like go to a batting cage, so he can get back to the office and look up some healthy recipes for tonight. No such luck. Lee goes into a department store.
Richard pretends to shop in the women’s department as the suspect mills around the men’s department.
“Umm… can I help you with anything?” a sales girls asks.
Richard notices that he has wandered into the lingerie department.
“Yes, I’ll take two of these. I’m making dinner for my wife tonight and I’ll need a gift for her after I’ve burned everything,” he says.
He sees Lee leave through the front door as he’s buying socks. Richard throws money at the sales girl and sprints out the front door. He notices Lee is looking through the windows of his car.
“Oh, no. Am I busted?” he asks himself. He walks over casually.
“Can I help you with anything?” Richard asks. Sometimes the best way to handle confrontation is to get it out of the way.
“Yeah, where did you get your sandwich? It looks delicious,” Lee asks while pointing at the half-eaten sandwich on the windshield.
Richard gives him directions to the deli and waits for him to leave before following him over there.
He pulls the car up next to the deli. From across the street, he is able to see Lee sitting down with the sandwich. Lee is unable to get enough mobility to bring the huge pastrami sandwich up to his face. He takes off the neck brace, and Richard starts videotaping. The owner of the deli walks up to Lee. He sees Lee grin, shake his head vigorously, give a thumbs up and throw his arms around the owner.
“I don’t blame the guy. That deli makes some good sandwiches. Not worth blowing your case though,” Richard thinks and drives back to the office.
Richard’s boss, Ardie, sees him walk through the door. Ardie is an ex-police officer, which explains his no-nonsense policy around the office. He wants every case done by the book and only hires private detectives with a degree in criminal law.
“What did you get?” he asks Richard.
“A really good sandwich,” Richard says while walking into his office.
He spends the next couple of hours working on an adopted kid case. A 19-year-old is looking to track down his biological parents. Richard goes through the information he has accumulated thus far in his efforts to find them – a series of old addresses and phone numbers (he has a simple computer program he got a student to write for 300 bucks that reads out phone numbers so that he doesn’t have to manually search sheets like he did in the old days.)
Finally, he’s successful in his efforts to find the boy’s father. Unfortunately, he’s passed away, but the good news is that he died rescuing six people from a burning building, which should fill the kid with inestimable pride and take some of the sting out of his loss.
Richard glances at his daily calendar and notices that he has an interview with a witness for another insurance workman’s comp claim. Ardie’s agency primarily handles the needs of small insurance companies. Richard finds himself trailing people all hours of the day. It’s taken its toll on his marriage. Now his wife had to get her kicks at kickboxing class.
Richard interviews the witness at her place of work, which happens to be a bakery. He figures that scarfing a couple of pastries couldn’t hurt. He’s already ruined his diet today anyway. The witness gives her account of the accident. According to the story, the claimant was piping icing on a wedding cake when she slipped on a banana peel.
“It sounded weird to me, because we made banana bread two weeks ago. What’s a banana peel doing on the floor for two weeks. I have my doubts.”
Richard records the interview and goes to his next appointment. He has to trail a claimant, fill out paperwork, get photos developed and conduct some research before he can even look for a dinner recipe.
His boss gives him some paperwork to fill out for a court case. Richard has to make sure all of his findings are carefully organized for the lawyer. The receptionist pokes her head into his office.
“Hey, I have to leave early today. My boyfriend is out of town and I need to go find a rat or something to feed his iguana.” she explains.
It gives Richard and idea, “Hey, did you bring in lunch today?”
“Yeah, I didn’t eat it. You want it. It’s lentil soup and spinach salad.”
Richard grabs her lunch out of the refrigerator and checks the time. He’s got enough time to race home to throw her lunch into some bowls before his wife comes home. It pays being this resourceful. On his way home, he can’t stop himself from having one more sweet.
He picks out one of the largest chocolate chip cookies he’s ever seen. Walking out back to his car, he hears a voice behind him.
“This is why you aren’t losing weight,” his wife exclaims.
Richard sighs. He forgot she took spin classes on Mondays. Like the many people that he’s busted over the years, his greediness got him caught.