Integrity is one of those big words you don’t hear much in pubs and whorehouses.
I wasn’t in either of those places so I could use that word if I wanted to, but I didn’t because what I was doing was one of those things that I said I would never do.
But that was back in those early days, back when I had dreams and hope and integrity.
Never say never.
You just feel twice as bad when you end up doing whatever it was that you said you would never do.
When Miles Archer and I started this firm, we vowed that ‘getting the dirt on husbands and wives’ was not our thing.
I said it, and I think Miles had his fingers crossed, because as it turned out, there wasn’t anything that he would not do for a buck.
Miles is no longer with us, in that permanent kind of way, so it’s just me now. I left his name on the door for about a year because I thought it gave the business a look of class.
Bennett and Archer; it had a good ring to it.
Inevitably it became time to move on so an extremely bored young man came and scratched Mile’s name off the glass door and put my full name up in gold leaf.
Gold leaf gives the business a bit of class.
My receptionist’s name is Velma, and she likes to eat and pay her bills so in the end it was her suggestion that drove me to take the Enselmo case. I say suggestion, but to be more precise I think her exact words were, “You haven’t paid me for three months so if you don’t take the next divorce case that comes along I’m going to sell all the furniture, set fire to the office and tell your girlfriend that you have carnal knowledge of small horses.”
I knew she was kidding because the office furniture wouldn’t raise dick and we don’t have fire insurance, but even so I took the next case that came through the door.
Victor Enselmo sat in front of my desk and made the place look untidy.
He was carrying a few extra pounds in much the same way as a young elephant would and he chewed his words. He thought his wife was cheating on him and at that moment I began to like his wife. He wanted the usual; times dates places and photographs.
It seemed that Mrs. Enselmo was loaded, and Victor wanted a good chunk of the booty when the case went to court.
There is nothing a jury likes better than a bunch of graphic photographs.
Catching them in the act was way too easy. It was almost as if they wanted to get caught.
Their favourite meeting place was the Hotel Excelsior.
They would meet at the restaurant at about 8 pm; drink, eat and drink some more. They talked until the waiters started to stack the chairs on the tables and then retired to their room.
For some reason, they usually stayed in room 808.
This room didn’t have any windows so there was no way I could get any shots of them in bed without breaking down a door. I didn’t like that idea very much, so Victor was going to have to settle for a shot of them in the restaurant.
It was a classy joint, the sort of place where the guys never took their hats off, and the females drank red wine and smoked French cigarettes. No one got in without cufflinks or pearl earrings — a real classy joint.
I developed the photographs myself in our darkroom. There wasn’t a lot of light in the restaurant, so the negatives were thin. I used a grade five paper in an attempt to bring up the contrast.
They were just photos of a mark, so I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in the background.
I blew them up nice and big and passed them on to Patrick Jameson.
Patrick is a particularly fine painter, a real artist and his ability to hand colour prints is second to none. Like the rest of us, he is addicted to eating, so he does jobs for me between creating his masterpieces.
It was Patrick who pointed out the guy hiding behind the pillar.
I didn’t notice him on the night. In the shot, you can see him reflected in the mirror, and that would have meant he was behind me.
I must have led him right to them.
It got messy after that and Enselmo stiffed me on the bill, but I paid Patrick, even though I never saw a dime.
It seemed like the classy thing to do.