What did that mean? “Tattoo. Why would her last word be tattoo?” For a split second, I called my hearing into question by thinking that maybe she had said fuck you, but I knew what I heard. She clearly said “tattoo.”
There was a pretty good possibility that the ex-Navy Seal had a tattoo. Was she trying to let me know that he was the one who killed her? That didn’t make any sense because there had to be at least twenty or thirty people who witnessed her death and from what I could recall in my state of shock, he had no visible tattoos.
As they were taking her away, it occurred to me that possibly she had a pet named Tattoo and wanted to make sure that someone knew.
The proper paperwork as far as search warrants for her home and car were in order and I made sure they were done correctly. Not that it made any difference. It wasn’t like we were looking for evidence of a murder.
I, along with one of the other partners and two seasoned detectives arrived at her residence. I was expecting all the accouterments she had so richly described when the woman asked her how she slept at night.
As we walked through the house, I remembered the first time she absolutely crushed me and the smug look on her face when she handed me the “Understanding the Law for Dummies” book. It infuriated me then but the truth is, I actually read the book and it still sits on one of my shelves. What sat on her shelves was a different matter.
There were no Rembrandt paintings, no Fabergé Egg collection and no 24k gold sheets. She lived modestly and by that I mean, you would have almost thought an ordinary middle class person lived there. It was neat and tidy but nothing extraordinary.
We couldn’t find any pets, nor did we uncover anything that made any reference to someone named “Tattoo.” There were no cards or letters or pictures anywhere. It was almost like being in a hotel room. There was nothing personal at all.
We forced open her file cabinet and it revealed very well kept records as well as a sealed envelope addressed to Morgan Ayers Harville, Esquire.
I looked at my partner and asked if he had ever heard of the guy. He said “hmm. I haven’t but if he’s an attorney in this state, it will be real easy to find him. If he’s in another state, it might take a few more minutes.”
I took the letter and began my search. I handed it off to a clerk who after a couple of hours, knocked on my office door. She smiled and said “I found Mr. Harville.”
She just stood there like a statue so I finally looked at her and rather abruptly said “okay. Are you going to tell me?” I think I angered her with my flip answer but she smiled and said “he’s listed in The Chamber’s Legal Library.”
I said “are you fucking serious? The Chamber’s Legal Library? Do you know how hard it is to get listed there? WOW.”
After I collected myself, I said “alright. Get him on the phone. Tell him it’s in reference to Parker Carolina Patterson. Maybe he’ll take the call.”
Later that afternoon, Mr. Harville and I were on the phone. I introduced myself and told him the reason for my call. There was a pause before he responded with a broken “I’m sorry to hear that.” I waited for him to say something else but he was quiet. I was wondering if he was crying. Finally he said “I’ll take care of it. Her final wishes were pretty straight forward and I’ll be on the next flight out.”
Hearing of her death seemed to hit him hard and I wondered if he had been in love with her. I woke myself up with a metaphorical slap to my face and said “not unless he’s as big an asshole as she was.”
He asked how it happened. I told him exactly what happened and any other time I would have probably concluded my account with “and she deserved exactly what she got.”
I wondered, “did this man know her at all?” If he did, he couldn’t possibly be sad about her death. She was considered to be the devil incarnate and it was my opinion that she had dodged a bullet…or knife…more than once. Still, we all have our own opinions.
He gave me instructions about her wishes and asked that I have them carried out immediately.
I picked him up at the airport and considering where he was “listed” and the reputation that accompanies that list, he seemed to be just an ordinary man. No flash. No pretense. No query about the lack of a limousine for transportation.
There was a sadness about him and he was clearly not in the mood for mundane chit-chat when I asked how well he knew Parker. Without even looking at me, he said “I’m not going to answer that.”
During the entire ride to the hotel, the only other words he uttered were “is everything in order?” I told him that to the best of my knowledge, they were. He surprised me when he shook my hand and thanked me. We agreed to meet at the burial site the next morning.
When I arrived at the shabby cemetery where she had chosen to “spend eternity,” to say that I was speechless would have been an understatement. It was unkempt and most, if not all the tombstones appeared to have been there for centuries. The plot marked for her was on the outskirts of the cemetery. It was just a hole in the ground.
I will admit that Harville intimidated me and I was hesitant to ask if there would be any kind of marker. I decided that if nothing else, I could outrun him so I asked. “Not what she wanted,” he said. “She was very specific.”
I looked at him with what I’m sure was amazement and said “but why? Everyone wants to be remembered.” Harville looked at me and said “she didn’t.”
I think that I was so overwhelmed with the whole ludicrousness of things, that it took a while to realize that there were only three people at her funeral. I was there. Harville was there and some pay by the hour preacher was there, doing his best to pronounce the words that he had obviously never seen in the Bible. He couldn’t even remember the usual “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” He stumbled around and was finally able to say something about “dust eventually turns into ashes.”
For some reason, I thought Parker would find that amusing but I don’t know why. I realized that none of us had brought any flowers and mentioned it to Harville. “Not necessary,” he said. “She wouldn’t have wanted it.”
Harville was a man of few words but the words he did say definitely had an impact. He was succinct and to the point.
As we were leaving the cemetery, he said “you do know that Parker had a sizable estate, don’t you?” I told her that I knew she commanded a high price for defending….”people.” That was the first time I saw even the most remote sign of a smile from him. He said “yes…people.”
As I walked toward my car and he walked toward his taxi, he handed me his card.
As I looked at the non-descriptive card, he said “call me when you figure it out.”
To be continued________________