Mick scanned the search criteria he'd typed out. It seemed to glare from his computer screen mockingly.
This was the meat of his job.......search and research. It was the bulk of PI work, made so much easier than it would have been a few decades ago because of the jump in technological refinement. Many hours were logged in front of his computer for almost every case. It was offset by the time spent questioning 'persons of interest' and possible witnesses, following leads or suspects, and boring stake outs. Add to that the necessary paper work and other such tedious responsibilities, and Mick's chosen career was rarely as exciting as television shows and movies portrayed it to be.
And that was usually how he liked it because it meant things were going smoothly.
But now, staring at the sparse information in front of him that he'd elicited from Michael, Mick realized that this case was going to require more than most did for the most basic of information.
And just when did I start thinking of this as a case? Mick asked himself. It didn't quite fit the parameters of an actual case, because he was personally involved in this one. But he knew that was the best way to approach it, because that was what he knew how to do.
He read the information he'd plugged into the online search software once again.
Name: Jane Smith.
Not likely, Mick knew. Michael had insisted that was his mother's name but there had been a false note to his voice. It wasn't hard to detect a child's lie and Mick could only guess as to why the six year old would lie about his mother's real name.
Age: Twenty-seven, again according to Michael, but Mick wasn't sure how accurate a child's knowledge of his mother's age should be. It could be a wild guess, for all Mick knew.
Occupation: In an office. That, of course, meant Michael didn't know the name of his mom's work place. It was obscure enough to make it useless.
The rest of the application was empty. Michael had not been able to answer questions about his mother's car other than that it was blue, had no idea about distinguishing marks or tattoos, as could be expected. Nothing Mick needed to know could be gained from the woman's son, because he was simply too young to know or care about such details. Mick had learned, though, that she had light brown hair and brown eyes, just like her son.
So he was looking for a woman named Jane Smith with brown hair and brown eyes with a blue car.
Next step, in light of his inability to find out the woman's identity through the search software, was to take alternate measures.
The woman had to have been inside his building, because she'd delivered Michael to Mick's door. At least Mick presumed she had. He couldn't fathom the idea of a mother sending a small child on his way, all alone, to find the place she'd instructed him to go.
Mick knew he hadn't seen Michael's mother at the door when Mick had panned the camera down to spot the small figure that had awakened him by laying into his buzzer, but he decided to rewind and check the minutes prior to that, before he'd opened the door to Michael.
Several minutes later, Mick was disappointed to discover that no adult figure had been with Michael within the vicinity of his door.
Next step, check the building and elevator cameras in the same manner. Mick had less control over those security measures, but a call to the building security office and a few explanations- along with Mick's PI license and status as penthouse tenant- got him what he needed. A set of copied dvds were quickly brought to him for his perusal and Mick heavily tipped the lucky man chosen to deliver them. He also reminded himself to have a bottle of fine wine delivered to Jim, the man that had been on the other end of the phone and had authorized the whole thing. It payed to keep the useful ones happy.
After that, it didn't take long to find what he was looking for. Mick saw the mother and child enter the building, then caught them again on the elevator. As Mick had suspected, Michael's mother hadn't been too far away until she knew her son was safe. She hadn't left him alone, as it might have appeared. Mick was relieved. He hadn't wanted to think of this unknown woman as someone that would abandon her child. Even if that is what she'd done, for all intents and purposes, at least she hadn't left him to find his own way to safety.
He didn't know why he cared, but he did. Perhaps for Michael's sake.
With a facial identity, Mick was well on his way to discovering who the woman really was. He had the best software on the market for such tasks, and it would only take submitting her picture- or video- to get it done.
Then to figure out just what the whole story was behind Michael's claim of bad guys, and the mother's reasons for leaving her son with Mick.
That, of course, would require more than a computer and expensive software.
But knowing who she was would be a start.
The soft voice came from the vicinity of Josef's left elbow, and he tilted his head in that direction to see the kid standing there.
“What?” Josef asked with a frown at the interruption. “Not you,” he said quickly into his phone as his work-related phone companion began to repeat herself. “You,” he amended with a direct look at the boy so it would be clear to whom he was speaking.
“I said I'm hungry.”
Josef's frown turned into a scowl, but it didn't seem to deter his little visitor. “We'll talk later,” Josef said into his headset, then terminated the call without a goodbye. His discourtesy in the way he'd disconnected was not unusual and would not have repercussions because the woman had not been high enough on the hedge-fund food chain to matter to him too much. Besides, Josef always felt it was a good thing to keep people a peg or two below him anyway.
But he still didn't like being interrupted. He'd agreed to let the kid stay with him, not cater to him.
This was an issue Josef hadn't anticipated, but maybe he should have. What did kids eat these days? It was not something Josef had ever spent a single thought on. He barely knew what adult humans ate anymore, never mind the miniature ones.
“Do you have something for dinner?” the kid- as Josef was already becoming accustomed to referring to him- persisted.
“Nothing you'd like,” Josef answered with a small joke of his own as he remembered Mick's statement about not feeding in front of the kid. His small smirk was lost on the child, though, who just looked up at him expectantly.
Josef sighed inwardly. Apparently the kid wasn't going to go away until he got fed.
“What do you eat?”
A thoughtful look crossed Michael's face, then he brightened. “Can we order pizza?”
“Pizza. Sure. We'll order pizza.” Pizza?
“With pepperoni? And olives?”
“Sure, Kid. Whatever. You go.....play or whatever....and I'll get the pizza.”
“Kay,” Michael agreed happily and he wandered back to his previous seat and pulled the hand held game device from his backpack. His attention was focused solely on the images the game produced within seconds as his fingers manipulated the buttons.
Josef was simply relieved that the kid had followed the command, because he hadn't been at all sure it was the right thing to say to get the kid to go away. Who knew how trained a kid that age should be? Up until the kid mentioned being hungry, he'd sat still and quiet, with his game to occupy him, on the other side of the room just as Mick had promised. Josef didn't know the rules to this game and he didn't like having to guess. But at least it had worked.
Now for the pizza.
Josef pulled off his mobile headset and picked up his cell phone.
Mick's ringing cell phone barely pulled his attention from his search and he reached for it without removing his eyes from the information his computer was giving him. He liked having a name and face for the woman that had abandoned her kid at his door and he read the info eagerly.
“Mick St. John,” he answered formally.
“He wants food.”
“What's wrong?” Mick asked quickly, finally focusing on his caller rather than the search results before him.
“I told you. He wants food. Pizza.”
Mick shook his head lightly. “So give him some.”
“I don't have pizza, Mick. You know that. I have freshies. No pizza.”
“You'll need to order it, Josef.”
“You order it. I didn't sign on for this. You know I don't like to deal with humans if I can help it, and when I do it's because they have enough money to make it worth it. You order it and have it sent here.”
Mick shook his head again, this time in annoyance. Josef could really be impossible sometimes. “Fine, Josef. Can I get back to work now?”
“How much longer are you going to be? I'm not a nurse maid, you know.”
“I've only been gone a couple hours, Josef. I promised I'd pick him up this evening and I will. Okay? Now can I get back to work? The longer you keep me on the phone the longer it'll take me to get done,” Mick poked at Josef with a variation of his friend's words from earlier that day at Josef's home, but not too hard. Josef was doing Mick a favor, after all, and could just as easily end it.
“Fine. But don't be long. And don't forget the kid's pizza so he'll quit asking for food. I don't have that kind of patience. And tell them to bring olives and whatever the hell pepperoni is with it.”
A click and then silence told Mick that Josef had ended the call.
It was only after Mick had hunted down his left over food delivery menus from his recent days of humanity and ordered a small sized pizza to be sent to Josef's mansion that he realized why Josef had called him.
Bring olives and pepperoni with it.
His friend had been a vampire for far too long, and from too distant a century. Food delivery was a human concern, and not to be confused with the ease of a rich vampire ordering freshies.
The mighty Josef Kostan didn't know how to order pizza.