She started in on telling me what she wanted me to do. I had to interrupt her. I don’t let my clients tell me what to do. I can’t work that way. I got into this business so that I wouldn’t have some nagging boss hanging over my shoulder. So I sure don’t need some middle-aged house wife telling me how to do my job. And I like to get payment matters out of the way before we discuss anything about the case. I guess it is kind of crude, but I need to pay the bills just like everyone else. So I asked what she wanted to spend.

I always ask my customers what they expect to shell out for my services. Sometimes you get a sucker who goes way over what you would have asked for. Usually though, they hem and haw about it until you just get bored and quote a price. The number Helen Pallas gave me was exactly what I would’ve charged, so I added five percent to avoid looking like an easy mark. She wrote a check and we were on our way.

The first things I wanted to know were about her husband. Did he have debts? Nothing major. Did he gamble? Occasional poker nights. What about enemies? Not that she know of. Where could he be contacted? - This was a dead end. - Mrs. Pallas didn’t want her husband to know anything about this matter. Wives never want their husbands involved and husbands never want their wives involved. Who know why? I always agree to this stipulation, but go behind the clients back as soon as possible. The first person I wanted talk to was Cyrus Pallas. If anybody would know who wanted him out of business, he would. And, once the case was wrapped up, his wife would forgive me. If not, so what, I already had her money. She never got a chance to forgive me, I guess.

Anyway, this is what I found out;

Cyruss Pallas age 62. Greek immigrant. Came to America over 30 years ago. When all his buddies were starting up greasy restaurants, he got into the shoe business. First he was just hammering soles and heels on, but he saved his money and within 6 years had his own factory, within ten he was a millionaire. Has a son, Adrian, from his first wife who died over 15 years ago. Pallas is larger than life. He thinks he is outgoing and bold. Many people consider him pushy and obnoxious.

Randy Oldemeyer. Sits on the Pallasson board of directors. Pallas hired him away from his largest competitor, Blackbird Boots, years ago. Oldemeyer oversees the financial aspects of the company. He’s neat and organized, not well liked by Mrs. Pallas. She considers him a “cold fish.” Blackbird Boots owner, Rick Black, never forgave Oldemeyer’s defection. A professional rivalry became a personal one.

Ruth Bunis. Started out with Pallas from the beginning. She was hired on as his personal secretary the day the company opened for operation. In twenty-four years she has gone from secretary to vice president. Pallas puts his complete trust in her, taking every opportunity to express his gratitude for her loyalty. Although unschooled, she is incredibly savvy and has an almost supernatural sense for business. I got the feeling Mrs. Pallas was jealous.

Larry Hunty. This guy’s a mystery to me. He’s a big old redhead. Runs the warehouse. I guess he does a good job, cause he’s worked for Pallas for years. He isn’t officially on the board, but Pallas always listens to his advice. He has a wicked temper. I‘ll tell you more about him later.

And the final member of the board. Dan D’Minte. They call him Danny Dynamite. Hired straight out of college to run the design and marketing divisions. He’s young and full of piss. Wants to lead the company away from work boots and get into basketball and running shoes. Calls his ideas “the march of progress."

So this is basically all she gave me to work with. I mean, she talked about a lot of other stuff too, but most if it was bullshit. Disgruntled gardener, some driver she fired last month. I pretended to listen, but figured the group at Pallasson was enough for a good start. As she left, Mrs. Pallas stressed how much she wanted to keep he husband out of it. I assured her that I could do my work without involving him. “I’m sure he’s a busy man and doesn’t need this extra stress. Yada yada. "

Guess who I went to talk to first.

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