I gazed at the note. I had just a name and a phone number. Archer Houston. 832-555-6012. That's all the information I had.
Bill had refused to tell me anything else about this Archer Houston. He had simply told me to call him. I've known Bill a long time, and he doesn't know how to say anything without a joke coming quickly behind it. There was no joke when he spoke of Archer.
I put the note back down on the desk. I slid it to the side where it wouldn't be in my way. I would eventually call him, but I had to sike myself up first.
I turned my attention to the stack of employment applications in the center of the desk. I flipped through them, occasionally shaking my head, remembering all kinds of people that had walked through my doors.
The applications dated back to just a month after my partner died. There were many applicants in the office those first few weeks. Most didn't pan out at all. A few tried the gig for a few days. Others lasted a few weeks. The PI business isn't for everyone, that's for sure.
One guy lasted only a few hours, and I was the one that let him go. He was willing to try, but I just couldn't take it. The guy did not know directions. At all. And, a GPS only confused him further. To top it all off, he was a native Houstonian.
I picked up the phone, completely siked to call this Archer guy, knowing all too well that it was probably a waste of time.
I dialed the number, and I could hear it ringing. It rang three or four times, but he eventually answered.
"Archer Houston here."
The greeting gave me mixed feelings. I could tell he was smiling. You sound different if you answer a phone with a striaght face or a frown. But, there was something else in his voice. "Irritation" was the only word I could think of. I didn't think it was irritation toward me, though. He hides it well, I thought.
"This is Jacob Carter. I recieved your name and number from a friend of mine. Bill."
"Oh, yeah, I know Bill."
The irritation was completely gone. Whatever it was, he had been dealing with it right before he answered the phone. It is amazing what you can learn about a person by just listening to them over the phone.
"Bill told me that you are the person I am looking for."
"If Bill said that, we both know that I am probably not the person you are looking for, but what can I do for you, anyway?"
Okay, so he knew Bill well enough to know his personality beyond the superficial, and he didn't mind saying so, which probably meant he was a guy that had no problem speaking his mind. Archer Houston was sounding better everytime he opened his mouth.
"Well, I am a private investigator, and I am looking for someone to help me out here in the office, managing my clients alongside me. If you think you are the right person for this, I would like to meet with you. Can you come to my office?"