Episode 78: Sub Rosa

Lana, this is Lindsey - our social media expert, Bettina says.  Hello. Who do you want to ride with you? Bettina asks her.  Levi gets shotgun, Lana says.  Did you bring a talking book for us?  She asks him.  He shakes his head no.  I didn’t know I was supposed to.  Tim, do you have one that I can borrow?  I just finished Mojave Crossing by Louis Lamour; it was really good.  Trade phones?  He nods and they switch.  Need earbuds? He asks.  I have my headphones in my backpack, she replies.  I can hook it up to the car sound system, Lana, Raj volunteers.  She looks at Levi, who nods.  You’re with us, she tells Raj.  We’ve room for one more, Lana says, looking at Lindsey, who hesitates.  What’s the genre?  She asks Tim.  Western. Figures, she says snidely.  Let me guess.  Rugged male individualism on display.  Might makes right and winner takes all.  Actually, Tim says grinning, spoiler alert – he tells Lana.  Ooo-la-lu-la-lu-lay, Lana sings over and over again, with her hands over her ears.  Bettina joins in.  The girl doesn’t get the guy or the gold.  Tim gives her a thumbs up, and Lana uncovers her ears.  So are you riding with us?  Lana asks Lindsey.  I’ll give it until the first rest stop, Lindsey declares.

Lindsey posts on Instagram, a picture of Lana’s long shoulder length hair, as she drives the Tesla.  I40E towards Kansas City reads the sign.

Monday AM blog post: Ride with Bettina or Lana?  Bettina and Tim are all by themselves in the Yukon, as we caravan to the airport to pick up PJ (Senator Johns call sign) and some advisors.  Raj and I opted to ride with Lana in the campaign’s new Tesla X, which is super quiet, and I love the gull wing doors.  Lana - I wasn’t sure what to expect meeting her.  Bettina seems to defer to her, but then she’s such a sweet person.  I have no idea how they became roommates.  She’s aloof and doesn’t say very much, and yet she is the center of attention, effortlessly commanding men to do her bidding.  Samantha is far and away prettier than Lana, who looks more like the girl next door with her long hair.  Her seduction technique is hot then cold.  For example, she insisted that Levi ride shotgun in her Tesla, then faulted him for not bring an audiobook.  Basically, she’s daring him to anticipate her wants.  She traded phones with Tim, so we could listen to one of his audiobook recommendations.  A Western.  Mohave Crossing by Louis Lamour.  I had very low expectations coming in, but it’s actually a pretty good story so far. More on that later.  I think she put it on so Levi and I couldn’t talk.

Monday PM blog post: Mojave Crossing.  Plot: a tall strong homely loner with thirty pounds of gold on his pack mule from his mining “claim” helps a beautiful woman in need cross said desert to get to California.  And no good deed goes unpunished.  She turns out to be an opportunist, although I think she did actually like him.  Left horseless in the desert, his gold taken, he survives and tracks her down.  Only now she’s romancing an old retired pirate whose huge Spanish land grant ranch is being foreclosed on.  Tell Sackett helps the older man (mobility impaired) sneak away in the middle of a night storm and get to his treasure cache, and then back in bed by sunrise, when the repo banksters are due.  Debt paid, and the hero refuses any monetary reward, and leaves, having spoiled the plans of the temptress.

The book ends with a big gunfight, where the hero kills a bunch of bad guys with his revolver, quickly shucked, and the help of his outlaw cuzin, another Sackett. Blood is thicker than water, and they part company – one to his outlaw ways, another to seek his fortune again.  He’s a free man, without the gold that he started the story with, but the premise is that because he’s such a strong and self-reliant man, he can go out and git some more.  The future is bright.

To pique my interest, Tim told me that the girl doesn’t get the guy or the gold.  It wasn’t what I expected, but I did get lost in the story and the miles flew by.  I’d be willing to listen to another one of Tim’s recommendations.  He’s a solid guy – the epitome of the quiet professional. He only has the one tattoo - that of his 82nd paratrooper unit on his shoulder.  Sam said that he was working as a forklift operator in a warehouse before Lana recruited him.  And that Lana thinks of him as the big brother that she always wanted. I miss Samantha.

Monday evening blog post: Hugging Senator Johns.  Raj and I were on hand to see Lana welcome Senator Johns at the airport this afternoon. She actually gave him a long hug, and rested her head on his tall shoulder.  It was like watching a father-daughter moment.  Bettina was waiting at the curb, chatting up airport security.  And Tim and Levi were standing guard outside the vehicles, their sunglasses on and earbuds in.  The transfer went smooth.  Off to the Rotary Club for a discussion with local business leaders.

Monday night blog post:  Airbnb.  Lana and Bettina stayed with a family in the suburbs, who have a Tesla 3, and are letting them charge up the batteries on our Tesla X. The rest of us are staying at an Airbnb rental nearby, with a hot tub on the patio.  I was the only one who tested it out, way too much chlorine, but it felt good after a long day on the road.

Tuesday afternoon blog post:  The Slap. Some jerk came up to Bettina on the street and made an inappropriate advance.  She slapped him so fast and glared at him with such malevolence that he was gone like that.  Good thing Lana wasn’t around.  Don’t mess with Southern belles.  Bettina is the sweetest person I know, but she doesn’t suffer fools.  I talked to her about what would have happened if Lana was there.  And she told me a story about Lana that she heard from her cop friend Toni.  That rookie Lana and her partner were dealing with a disturbance on the street, and called for backup.  Toni and her partner got there in time to see some stoner come up behind Lana, and blow a cloud of smoke right at her.  Lana spun around and brought her nightstick crashing down on the pothead’s head so hard that Toni thought that she had killed him. Thankfully he had a thick skull. I have a temper that I struggle with, Bettina admitted, but Lana has an empathy switch that she’s able to turn off. And that’s why she can do what she does without remorse, without hesitation.


How did you and Bettina become friends and roommates?  Lindsey asks Lana.  She hired my services as a PI, and it snowballed from there.  What kind of case did she hire you for?  To spy on one of her boyfriends?  Don’t defame my best friend, Lana says coldly.  Levi sees her clench the steering wheel.  I wasn’t!  I would never do that!  I just wanted to know.  She looks over at Raj, pleading with her eyes for him to help her.   Lana, if I hired you for a case, you couldn’t tell anyone else what I hired you for, right?  It’s a little more complicated than that, Raj.  First of all, Rolf and I don’t take every case that comes in.  We choose our clients.  How does that work?  Levi asks.  You buy me a rose and I’ll tell you.  Raj and Lindsey look at each other.  Consider it bought, Levi replies grinning.  Now let’s hear it, Lana.  He sees her Mona Lisa smile.  So we all imagine the rose has been given and accepted.  Lindsey, what color is the rose?  White.  Raj, how long is the stem?  Full length. So I take my lovely white rose with its long stem and fasten it to the ceiling as a reminder that this conversation is off the record.  Sub rosa, Raj says.  I get it. I knew you would, Lana says into the mirror.  Do we all see it above us in our mind’s eye?  Sound off if you do.  Yes. Yes.  Lindsey doesn’t say anything and frowns.  C’mon Linds.  Raj pleads. I refuse to be muzzled by some silly convention.  Lana shrugs and pretends to fiddle with the roof, and places her rose on the dash and pats it.  I forgot the question.  What were we talking about?  Raj and Levi burst out laughing.

We were talking about how you and Bettina became roommates.  I would blush to tell you, Lana says.  Fine, sub rosa, Lindsey sighs in defeat.

The client screening process.  The way it works is that you contact me, and we’ll meet for coffee at a prearranged public location.  I’m a woman alone – so I don’t meet clients in cars or hotel rooms.  I’ll tell you that I’m expecting a call from my partner, and I’ll ask you to discuss the nature of your case on background, no names or details, and only using hypotheticals.  Let’s say you want to hire me to track down your college roommate, who went abroad after graduation and fell off the face of the earth.  If I’m satisfied that your motivation isn’t nefarious, we’ll go over my five page work agreement.  If I have suspicions about your motives – you want me to track him down so you can ruin his life for stealing your college sweetheart, I’ll go into a talk about client privilege.  While I guarantee confidentiality and complete discretion, I’m still subject to court orders: my case notes can be used as evidence, and I can be subpoenaed to the witness stand.  This will usually cause you to back out.  If you’re still persistent, we’ll discuss the shape of the negotiating table until Rolf calls, and surprise, it’s drop everything urgent. And I’m outta there.  Before I go, I’ll give you the name of the most expensive law firm in town, and tell you to hire them to hire someone like me, that way you’re covered by attorney-client privilege.  And your eyes will light up with a why didn’t I think of that expression, and you’ll thank me profusely for my advice and insist on paying for the coffee and recommend me to all your friends.  Lindsey and Raj look at each other and chuckle.  So what cases won’t you take?  Levi asks.  Suspected infidelity is the one that we turn down the most.  So what do you tell the prospective client?  I shy away from cases regarding matters of the heart, that I’ve had a bad experience with that once.  And they’ll look sympathetically at me, and I’m outta there.  What was your bad experience?  It’s just a generic cop out, Lana remarks.

So back to client privilege, or more accurately, the lack thereof, Levi says.  How do you guarantee confidentiality?  Simple. I return the case file to the client after the bill has been paid.  So if I get a subpoena, all I have in my records is a paid invoice with the name and contact information of the client, and the dates worked and hours and expenses billed.

Say I get called in to testify.  I won’t let myself be placed under oath.  I’ll affirm instead, but without citing religious grounds, which will let the judge and counsel know that I intend to be evasive.  I’ll confirm that I worked for the client.  What was the nature of the case?  And I’ll tell the court what I just told you, I return all my case notes to the client upon closure.  That’s not what I asked you, the lawyer will badger me.  My memory is clouded.  I sustained psychic wounds from serving as a police officer, and I’ve got a lot of repressed emotions from the time in question that I haven’t dealt with.  Raj laughs.  Judge and counsel will hold a sidebar, knowing that I’m daring them to open a can of worms.  They’ll thank me for my time, and say that they might call me again, and try to ruin my day by making me hang around the courthouse.  And I’ll go back to reading a book until I’m dismissed.

How much do you charge?  Lindsey asks.   My fee schedule is part of my five page work agreement, which the client must sign and date before I take his or her case. You’re not going to tell me, Lindsey states.  Lana fiddles with the roof and places her imaginary rose on the dash and pats it.

So how did you and Bettina become roommates? I’ve used up my quota of words for today, Lana replies.  Levi chuckles and grins at Lana.

Wednesday pm blog post: Diabolically Clever.  Lana Radley is so…GRRRRRRR. By being elusive, she fascinates men.  Raj asked her about being a PI, and she said that she and Rolf choose their clients. Which makes no sense, because she should be waiting for the phone to ring like the rest of us.  Levi called her on it – he’s a smart guy and saw right through that fiction.  And then she says that she’ll only tell him if he’ll buy her a rose.  SHAMELESS.  Consider it given, he replies, grinning at her.  She asks me the color of the rose.  White.  She asks Raj how long is the stem.  Full length. Then she tells us that she’s taking this imaginary rose and putting it up on the ceiling to remind us that this conversation is off the record – which was so directed at me.  Raj said that he got it, SUB ROSA.  And she complimented him, I knew you would.  And she’s just claimed another guy in her fan section.

Does everyone see it in their mind’s eye? Sound off.  Of course, the guys say yes, but I refuse.  She pretends to take the rose down and puts it on the dash and pats it.  What was your question?  I forgot, she quips.  Levi and Raj laughed so hard.  How you and Bettina became roommates?  I would blush to tell you, she responds.  And I give in, fine sub rosa.  And she trapped me with my own words.  She wowed the guys, and even I was impressed.  If I ever needed a PI for something that required complete discretion and total confidentiality, I’d hire her.  I really want to post what she told us, but I know that she’s testing me, and looking for an excuse to kick me out of the Tesla so she can have Levi all to herself.  So after she’s done talking, she takes the imaginary rose down from the ceiling and puts it on the dash and pats it.  I asked her again to tell me about how she and Bettina became roommates.  And she said that she’d used up her quota of words for the day.  And the guys laughed so hard.  UGGGGGHHHHH.