Junior Moleray rubbed his large hand against the jet-black stubble on his square jaw. His feet were on his desk, and a dead pint of Old Croup Whisky was in the dumpster. It was quiet in the Moleray detective agency. Too quiet.
Moleray specialized in medical insurance fraud. It had been a week since he had solved the last case. A cagey bird had been collecting disability payments on five different accounts. Moleray caught up with him on a double black diamond run at Jackson Hole. Case solved. It had been too easy.
Junior thought about how he’d gotten into the detective racket. It was an improbably sad story. He’d been a detective on the Philadelphia police force and quit to become a medical student—the second doctor in the family.
His older brother, Maurie, had just finished an internal medicine residency and had signed with a clinic in Punxatawney—an outpatient internal medicine and pain clinic. Things were great for Maurie those the first two weeks. He was still getting his feet wet when his boss, Dr. Rock, went on vacation and disappeared while climbing in Malta. Shortly thereafter Rock’s widow showed up at the clinic with legal papers in hand. She offered to sell the entire practice for $10,000 cash just to be done with it. It was a beautiful office and a busy practice. Dr. Rock’s misfortune was Maurie’s stroke of luck. The deal was closed in 24 hours.
A week later, moving men came for the furniture (it was all rented and payment was overdue). Then the building manager evicted Maurie because the rent was also unpaid. Within two weeks he was accused of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and prescription peddling and named as a codefendant on six separate malpractice cases. The malpractice premiums hadn’t been paid in months.
Mrs. Rock was nowhere to be found. Maurie had been framed. His license was suspended. His debt was magnificent. His career in tatters.
Junior got to his brother’s house just in time. He found Maurie knotting ties together into a noose.
Junior quit medical school to track down the wife. After months, he found Mrs. Rock living in a shotgun shack in St. Bernard Parish, La. It didn’t look like the home of a rich widow. When he saw Mrs. Rock, his draw dropped. She was a tall drink of water, and he wanted to be the straw. Later he couldn’t remember what her face looked like. She invited him in.
“Come on in, honey” was the last thing he heard as he stepped into the room. He woke up hours later in an empty room with an occipital goose egg. There was nothing left except some half filled out forms in a precise handwriting. It was a cold trail that he swore he’d pick up again one day.
The ringing of the phone was a welcome relief.
“Moleray, it’s your dime,” Junior barked into the receiver.
“Hey Mole,” came an annoyingly familiar voice on the phone, “I got a hot one for you.”
It was Benny “the Weasel” Rabinowitz from the Mutual International Reinsurance Corporation.
“We’ve got a hospital that just submitted some numbers that are hard to believe, perfect numbers,” said Rabinowitz. “Unless we figure out their scam, we are going to have to fork over a cool million in pay-for-performance bonus fees. I smell a rat.”