After writing five hundred and twenty words, Rhea hit a wall. She was done. She couldn’t think of another thing to write about donuts and twenty-year-old men or tarts and forty-year-old men. She’d tried her best to imagine it but she couldn’t. What she had wasn’t going to cut it – word-wise and, thus, money-wise. She took a break and decided to concentrate on the Domingos case.
She retrieved her LAPD passwords from an encrypted file and entered them into a department database. She waited, fingers crossed. She got in. Before her were the databases of records; the histories of people and buildings – the pages that told the stories that made up LA. She searched records and more records and more records trying to find any info she could on Domingos, Leland Hays and a bartender named Myrna.
Forty seven web pages into looking at Domingos’ business tax records and scant employee records she’d found little of importance except a three-year-old misdemeanor building code violation regarding the steps leading down to Domingos’s liquor storage cellar. That got her thinking about liquor delivery to the place. She wondered if the bartender signed for the deliveries. She called seven local liquor distributors and found two who had delivered to Domingos in the last year.
Young’s Liquor Distributors had an office and warehouse five and a half blocks west of Leland Hays’s Furniture Import warehouse. The manager – a nice, neat man named Mavery – was on the floor, counting cases of Jim Beam. Rhea flashed her badge – man this was getting easy – and Mavery told her Domingos was one of their smallest accounts but he remembered them well and was “Sorry to see them shut down.”
“Do you remember who signed for the deliveries?” Rhea asked him.
“Yeah…” he thought, “The bartender. A woman. ’bout fifty. Mexican, I think.”
“Do you remember her name?” Rhea asked, trying to push back that little thrill she felt when something just might go her way.
Mavery shook his head, “No. But–” Rhea held onto the thrill and he delivered, “I should have a copy of the receipt.”
Rhea followed Mavery into his office. And there in the middle of a tidy book full of receipts was a messy, scrawled signature: “Myrna Saldano.” Rhea took a photo of it, thanked Mavery and left.
She got in her car and smiled. She had a name! Her first impulse was to call Strickland. It was habit. Every little bit, good or bad, about a case she would share with him. But now she couldn’t. Her momentary high faded. She went back to her apartment determined to find Myrna Saldano.
But Myrna Saldano was nowhere. On paper, she did not exist. After again scrubbing through her best databases, Rhea found no record, no past or no whereabouts of Myrna Saldano. The only hint that the woman existed was that signed liquor delivery receipt and Mavery’s description.
Still… if she did exist and lived in LA, she’d need money. Her trade was bartending. Time to hit the streets.