Clint flicked through his photos on the computer. Some of them would be worth something but they were all fairly standard and dull. It had been several months since he’d managed to get anything even semi exclusive. Of course, it had also been several months since he’d really tried.
In frustration at both the pictures and himself, he slammed the laptop shut and pushed it away from him.
There was a knock on the door and Clint got up to answer it, happy for the distraction.
The knocker was a man. He was dressed in cheap suit and tie and held a briefcase in one hand. When Clint opened the door, the man straightened and smile, holding out his hand.
“I’m Josh Richardson. Good to meet you.”
Clint shook the hand but didn’t answer. Richardson didn’t seem put off.
“Are you Clint Morgan?”
“Excellent. I have some questions I have to ask you. I’m here on behalf of Mrs. Linda Atwood-”
“Ex-wife, yes. I work for her lawyer Stan Cook.” He handed over a business card. “Could you spare a few minutes of your time?”
Clint stepped aside and let the man in, curious now. He led the way to the couches and they both took a seat.
“What’s this about?” asked Clint.
“I am trying to locate Mr. Atwood.”
“Is he missing?”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
Clint frowned, not liking his question ignored. “This weekend.”
Richardson appeared very interested by this but attempted to hide his enthusiasm. “You went and visited him? Where?”
“Lionel?” Clint laughed. “No. We work…well not together but in the same field.”
‘You are both paparazzi?”
“Yes. Look if you’re working for Linda Atwood why don’t you just ask her for his address. I’m sure she has it.”
“Mr. Atwood has not been there for a couple of weeks. I’m trying to locate him for our client.”
Richardson ignored him again and continued. “Mrs. Atwood gave us the names of a few of his acquaintances and friends that might know how to find him. Among them was yours.”
Clint laughed a second time. “Between you and me I can’t stand Lionel. I only know Linda because I ended up having dinner with them a couple of times when she decided it would be good for them to have friends who were couples. I was dating a waitress and we were the easiest couple Lionel could find. We broke up three months later and they divorced three months after that, so I guess it didn’t do either one of our relationships any good. But those have been the only two incidents I’ve spent time with Lionel in any social capacity outside of work. So no,” he glanced down at the business card, “Josh. I don’t know where he is.”
Richardson seemed irked at the use of his first name and stood up. “You have my card. I’d appreciate it if you’d give me a call if you hear anything or see him at…work.”
Clint didn’t like the tone the man said ‘work’ in, so he grinned and tossed the business card onto the coffee table. “Right Josh. I’ll remember that.”
As the door shut behind Richardson, Clint pulled out his cellphone. He’d collected the contact information for quite a few paparazzi while looking for a photo of Layla and Alan. He went through the list now.
It took a good many calls before he found someone who both knew and was willing to tell him, but two hours later he was driving down the highway, taking the next exit and pulling into the parking lot of a dilapidated and unattractive motel.
He found room 13 and knocked. There was a yell of ‘just a minute’, the sound of someone clomping around, and then the door opened.
“Clint!” Lionel’s expression was one of complete surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“Bulwer told me where you were,” said Clint, entering the motel room. It was messy, with all the contents of Lionel’s suitcase strewn around. “You better hope Richardson doesn’t talk to him, because that man is like a leaky sieve.”
“Lionel shut the door. “Who’s Richardson?”
“Josh Richardson? He’s working for your wife and her lawyer and he’s trying to find you. He was at my apartment earlier.”
“And I was hoping,” continued Clint, “That you could tell me what was going on because I don’t like people showing up at my door when I don’t know what they’re after.”
Lionel popped open a warm beer and flopped down on the bed. “Sorry about that. It’ll blow over soon. I’m a bit behind on the child support.”
“To the point Linda’s sending someone out looking for you?” asked Clint skeptically.
“Okay, maybe more than a bit behind,” shrugged Lionel. “Look I lost some money eight months ago. I invested in a business and it flopped. Big time. And I got some debts from it. I’ve only got so much cash to spread around. Linda just had to wait.”
“So Richardson is here to make you pay up?”
“And you’re just hiding out in a motel instead of paying the child support?”
Lionel chuckled. “You don’t have to sound so offended. I’ll pay up. I just don’t have the money right now. Something Linda would never believe. She always was a nag. But I have some money coming in soon. A lot of money. And then I’ll pay her. First thing. Then this Richardson guy can go back under whatever rock he crawled out from and you don’t have to worry about any of it. But until then I’d rather stay out of her crosshairs.”
“You have enough coming in to pay for six months of child support?”
Lionel looked pleased with himself and nodded. “Yeah. Let’s say, I got a pretty good scoop.”
“Just get this wrapped up quickly please. I don’t want to get mixed up in your mess.”
“Hey. You were the one that came looking for me,” pointed out Lionel.
“Because I was worried about Richardson. Now that I know what this is about I want nothing more to do with it.”
Lionel rolled his eyes. “No reason to get on your high horse. Face it Clint, we’re not that dissimilar. In ten years, you’re me.”
“Sure you are.” Lionel picked up the remote from the nightstand and turned on the TV. “And hey, I for one don’t think it’s that bad.”
Clint walked out.