When I got to work Tuesday morning, I was worried about what would happen. My fears were unfounded. In fact, quite the opposite. When I finally ran into Mr. Hobfield around eleven, he seemed almost apologetic. He even gave me a raise out of the blue! Gotta love rich people, whenever there’s a problem, their first instinct is to throw money at it. Not that there was a problem, or at least I didn’t think there was a problem at the time, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The next week was fairly normal, but something still seemed a little bit off.
It was election day, and Obama had just won. The whole hill was buzzing with Massachusetts liberal delight, but there was a small undercurrent of distress from the old-timers. Maybe a twinge of racism buried under that coat of white guilt. I know Mrs. Hobfield was as racist as the day is long. She was always railing about every race being inferior, except the Guatemalans and the Irish, at least not in front of Pima and me. She made me cringe with some of the slurs that she used, some of which I hadn’t heard in years. And all within two blocks of the church where the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison had railed against slavery a hundred and fifty years ago. Boston was funny like that.
A few days later, after things had settled down and everyone’s Hope hangovers had passed, Mr. Hobfield announced that they were taking a two day trip to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. This immediately struck me as odd. For one thing, they usually went the other direction when they traveled, and besides, it was winter. From what I gathered, once winter set in they rarely left the house. After I loaded the Range Rover up with their stuff (since it was a two day trip they only needed the smaller, fifteen piece luggage set), they rolled out of the garage down Chestnut Street with Mr. Hobfield at the wheel, and I just had a weird feeling. First of all, why wasn’t Chet, their gardener and part time chauffeur driving? Maybe they just wanted to get away alone. When I got back inside, Pima looked worried.
“Eets not like theem to travel in theese snows.” She said. “Thee other night I heerd them talking. Monees trouble.” I bet she had heard a lot through that vent that was either lost in translation or that she erased from her memory intentionally.
The economy had tanked big time, and I assumed that the Hobfields must have had too much tied up in real estate. Hell, Harvard was even in trouble. They had frozen all their construction projects, and were talking about raising tuition, the blood suckers. I knew the Hobfields had tons of assets, but they were almost definitely having cash flow problems. Maybe it was from reading one too many Elmore Leonard novels, but my natural curiosity took over. Something was up and I had to find out what was going on.
When I got back to Southie that evening I headed down to the Cork House where I used to work. I didn’t know any barfly brokers or bankers, so I couldn’t spy on the Hobfields finances, but I did know a barfly toll worker, so I could get some info on where they were going, that is if they took the turnpike to the Berkshires like they were supposed to. Tommy was in his usual chair, bitching about the Bruins, or whatever local team happened to be in season at the time. I bought him a Coors light, the poster beer for pussies and pseudo drunks, and asked about his hideous wife. Well, I asked about his wife, the hideous part was just a side note for you. After buying him another Coors light, I gave him the Hobfield’s FastPass number, and made up a story about lending the boss’s car to a friend and I wanted to see where he went, bla bla bla. The beers had succeeded in convincing him, and he said he’d look into it. On my walk home, I already felt guilty about snooping, and I hoped nothing came of it. Shit, Tommy had probably already lost the slip of paper. That’s why I was surprised when the phone rang first thing the next morning.