Kingston Riley has his back to them as they approach, over seeing the dance of the riding lawnmowers. His long hair is braided half way down his back in a neat plait. Hector raises his voice to be heard. “Kingston Riley?”
Turning he nods to them both and reaches out a hand to them. “Hey, I’m Kingston, but folks call me King.”
Hector and Elissa shake his hand in turn, “Detective Fredericko, my partner Detective Putnam, I need to ask you a few questions.”
Kingston is a large man, not heavy set, simply a stocky man reminding Elissa of a mountain man sporting his plaid shirt with rolled sleeves. Even his voice is burly, “Sure, what can I do you for?”
“How long have you worked on the Hamilton estate?” Hector reaches for his note pad. Elissa hands it to him and he nods distractedly.
“Couple of years now,” Kingston scrunches his face. “Maybe longer… I’d have to check the books to give an exact date.”
Elissa watches the crew work their gardening magic. “Have you ever witnessed anything odd at the Hamilton estate?”
He smirks, “Odd is a relative term Detective you’ll have to be more specific.”
“Affairs, fights, those types of things… odd as unusual behavior by an average person’s standards.” Elissa grins up at the man.
Kingston laughs, “Okay, fair enough, no nothing like that… exactly…” He gets a bit of a far off look. “That pool guy, Knight I think his name is. The Missus spends a lot of time out there with him. One morning as me and the crew were showing up, she was walking out of his pool house… in a robe, one of them short slinky white numbers. Don’t mean nuttin’ but it sure implies plenty.”
“Do you have access to the garage?” Hector pipes in.
He ponders for a moment and shrugs a shoulder, “Not sure really. We are completely self sufficient. All our tools are gas operated and we bag and carry off any clippings that aren’t turned to mulch, so I have never needed to go into the garage.”
Elissa’s phone rings, she gives Kingston an apologetic smile and answers her phone, “Putnam.” Her whole demeanor changes at the sound coming from the receiver. “Oh, I um…” She grins, “right,” and grows quiet listening. She takes a few more steps away and bites her lip her face blushing. “I see.” She turns her back on them both and lowers her head and voice a bit. “This is so unfair, I can’t…” Her hand flies over her mouth, her eyes widening, her blush deepening. “Oh.” The word comes out as a whimper.
Hector clears his throat and Elissa jumps. “I have to go. Now.” She pauses and laughs. “Good-bye, Jenson.”
Kingston smirks openly when she blushes at them both. “Nothin’ beats midday sexy talk.” He gives her a wink and laugh whens he blushes again. “Was there anything else? We’re about done here, just the clean up now.”
Elissa turns her attention to the garden, “So no blowing the grass away, you mulch everything?”
“What we can, sure. It’s better for the environment and the lawn.” Kingston walks over to the vibrant plants. “The plants benefit from different mulch. We can’t use lawn clippings or it chokes things.” His crew is busy raking and clearing the lawn leaving it immaculate. “And that’s how it’s done.” He calls out to his crew. “Great job folks, take five and we’ll head out in a few.”
“Does any of your crew ever speak with your clients or the clients staff?” Hector watches as the four pile into a minivan.
“Nope, I don’t even talk to the client. I deal with their house staff or the missus does. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to any of the Hamilton family, just Cecil and before him it was Rhetta the cook.” Kingston looks at Hector for a moment.
The day was starting to warm with tendrils of yellow sunbeams stretching across the yard. The morning dew had just gone away and the crew was unloading. Kingston grinned looking out over the valley as it woke up to the sound of lawnmowers. His amused grin faded quickly as a string of profanity assaulted his ears.
“What the fuck do you assholes think you’re fucking doing this fucking early in the Gods damned morning?” Travis groaned and gripped his head staggering. “Fucking A, man. Too fucking loud…”
“It is not too early. Our scheduled time is and always has been at 7 sharp. As it is we are already running three minutes late, now if you’ll excuse us and perhaps not stand here in your nethers, we can get back on schedule.” Kingston’s ears were beet red as he held back his anger. “If you have issue with us, I suggest you take this up with Cecil.”
“That pool boy, he had a few things to say once about our arrival time…” Kingston shakes his head slowly at the memory. “He must have complained to someone in the house. Our arrival time was changed to 10 for the first time ever.”
“And you’re sure you only worked for the Hamilton estate for a few years?” Elissa gives him a side glance watching his face screw up as he concentrates.
“Hamilton was one of our first customers, we’ve been in business for just over five…” Kingston pauses and blinks. “Really, five years?” He grins and chuckles. “Well I’ll be. Time sure flies. Like I said, if you want an exact date, I’d suggest talking with the missus. She handles the books.”