Wednesday, July 22, 2009


At first, I knew her only as the "Mailbox Lady."

She owned the little storefront mailing business where I had a P.O. box in a community I used to live in. The good thing about her place was, it gave you a street and a number that looked like a residence, not a P.O. Box. It was a good mail cover for an investigator.

Kim (a culturally-appropriate pseudonym) was Korean, in her late 30's or early 40's, I never asked. She spoke English well with a distinctive Korean accent. She also had a great sense of humor.

She was thrilled when she discovered I was a private investigator. Every visit to drop off or pick up something at my P.O. Box brought a cheerful greeting and many excited questions.

"I work for you?" she used to ask. "I work for you for free!"
I would smile, change the subject, deflect.

Until one day, I took her up on her offer.

When I came in, I asked, "You work for me?"
"Yes!" Kim shouted with delight.

I told her I was trying to catch a cheating husband. I told her he would be mailing letters to a woman named Tatiana, at my P.O. Box.
I told her that I was pretending to be Tatiana.
She understood.
I told her a man, my subject, may come in and check out the place and ask about Tatiana. He may want a description.
She responded quickly, "I will tell him Tatiana is a very beautiful and mysterious young woman, with long dark hair, flowing dress and many jewels."

I told her I was impressed with her detective skills, then asked if she'd mind getting his license plate number as well.

The call came within days.
"He here!" she whispered in her phone.
"He here right now! He ask about Tatiana! He left letter. He looking at greeting cards"
I told her I'll be right there, to stall him if she could.

I was nearby but not near enough. So the only photo I got was the rear-end of his car as he drove away. Kim was thrilled beyond belief as she gave me a complete description of the man and handed me the letter he gave her to put in my P.O. box.

I opened the letter in front of Kim. It contained the evidence I needed to prove to my client her husband was a lying cheating scumbag who was trying to get a woman named Tatiana to spend a tantra-filled weekend in Las Vegas with him.

I told Kim I was proud of her and I genuinely was.
If I had a gold deputy star, I would have pinned it on her.

Fast forward. A year passes.
I go into the P.O. Box Place.
Only this time, the worm turned.

Kim said, "You work for me?"

I asked what she needed.
She told me she thought her Korean husband of 25 years was cheating on her. She explained why. She wanted me to follow him and find out what he was up to.
I figured I owed her that much.

I followed him. For three days in a row, I parked across from his car repair business. I watched him and his crew close up for the day. I watch him get in his black van and followed him home while Kim still worked at the P.O. Box place.
On day four, I stopped by Kim's workplace and said, "I'm done Kim. Three days, nothing."

She said, "Just one more time. Tonight please. I close early and come with you."

Now, I am not proud of having done this. I was a new investigator then. It was wrong and I would never do it again. For a multitude of stupid reasons, the greatest of which was boredom, I decided to let Kim join me on what I believed was the last night of an uneventful surveillance on her husband. I truly believed he would do what he did the last three nights, get in his van and go home.

I laid out the ground rules.
Kim would lay low in the back seat of my Jeep with deeply tinted windows. I gave her a baseball cap and sunglasses. I pulled into my previous surveillance spot. We waited and watched until Kim's husband locked the doors of his business and drove away in his van. I followed him.
Only this time, he turned right instead of left.... and then into to a convenience store.

This was a first for him.
I watched as he entered the store and walked out of it with an Asian woman, taller than Kim, younger. Kim wasn't looking at the time, she was checking her cell phone. I told her
a woman just got in the car with her husband at the convenience store. She bolted upright at high alert.

"What she look like?" she demanded.
"She look better than me? I hope she fat and ugly."
I told Kim I didn't get a real good look at her and suggested she just chill quietly in the car while I followed her husband's van. They drove to a side lot at a local movie theater.
I parked a few rows directly behind them. We waited maybe five minutes before the van started rocking in "that" way.

Kim was aghast.
"They doing it? Right there? He doing it with her? Right here in the parking lot?"
I turned, looked at her and told her, "Yep, they're doing it."
There was maybe five seconds of silence.
Then she said, "I have gun! I shoot him!"

She pulled a pistol out of her pocket with her left hand and pointed it upward. She was reaching for the door handle with her right hand. Fortunately, I was faster than she was.
I hit the automatic lock button on my door panel and flew over front seat, grabbing the gun from Kim's hand and physically restraining her. She was so angry, she was hyperventilating.
"Time Out Kim" I said.

I told her she was not going to shoot her husband.
Not here. Not ever.
I also told her she had no right to bring a loaded gun into my car.
I was more pissed, however, at myself -- for putting Kim, her husband, his paramour and my business license, in harm's way.
I imagined the headlines, "Investigator Leads Wife to Cheating Husband - Wife Shoots Him and Lover."

Kim and I were locked in a thick, tense silence while we stared at the van. Then it started rocking again.

"Again?" Kim shouted. "They do it again? He never do it again with me! He do just once, then good night! He snore like fat pig."

My Jeep doors locked, the gun secured, Kim had no choice but to sit, watch, rant and rave. While I had no choice but to listen.
Finally, the van stopped rocking.

Then... the final act.

As Kim watched and I photographed it, the passenger door of the van opened, the woman got out, she was wearing a skirt. She lifted her skirt, squatted in the parking lot and peed.

"Ohhhhhh" Kim groaned and moaned all at once.
"What kind of woman take another woman's man and pee in parking lot?"
"A very nasty woman" I replied.

The story goes on and on. We followed them, they eventually saw us. We were burned. Busted. No more surveillance.

It was major crisis management time.
I arranged for two people to be with Kim when she went home and confronted her husband.
I had a marraige counselor waiting for them the next morning.

I also made Kim swear in her dead father's name, she had no guns in her home and she wouldn't harm her husband.
"Men cheat for a reason, " I told her. "Find out why. Maybe it's something you can change."

Kim's husband, confronted, told Kim it was a cultural thing for Korean men to stray. He felt nothing for this woman. He loved Kim and said he will never do it again.

When Kim asked him why he did it, he said Kim had gained so much weight... and she seemed to pull away from him at night... he thought she didn't want him.
The truth revealed, they decided to work out it.

Last time I saw Kim was the day she was closing the P.O. Box place for good. She said she didn't like the hours, it wasn't profitable. Instead, she joined a gym and swam every day.

Things were better than ever with her husband, she said.
In fact, they were planning their 30th wedding anniversary party.

I wasn't invited.
And I haven't heard from Kim since.
Though I never expect to hear from clients once my job is done.
In this case, exposing the affair helped saved their marriage.
It was a happy ending I never expected.

No comments:

Post a Comment