Kingston Riley had his back to them as they approached. He was overseeing the dance of the riding lawnmowers. His long hair was braided half way down his back in a neat plait. Hector raised his voice in order to be heard. “Kingston Riley?”
Turning he nodded to them both and reached out a hand to them. “Hey, I’m Kingston, but folks call me King.”
Hector and Elissa shook his hand in turn, “Detective Fredericko, my partner Detective Putnam, we need to ask you a few questions.”
Kingston was 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 was burly, “Sure, what can I do you for?”
“How long have you worked on the Hamilton estate?” Hector reached for his note pad. Elissa handed it to him and he nodded his gratitude distractedly.
“Couple of years now,” Kingston scrunched his face. “Maybe longer… I’d have to check the books to give an exact date.”
Elissa watched the crew work their gardening magic. “Have you ever witnessed anything odd at the Hamilton estate?”
He smirked, “Odd is a relative term Detective you’ll have to be more specific.”
“Affairs, fights, those types of things… odd… defined as unusual behavior by an average person’s standards.” Elissa grinned up at the man.
Kingston laughed, “Okay, fair enough, no nothing like that… exactly…” He got 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 piped in.
He pondered for a moment and shrugged 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 rang. She gave Kingston an apologetic smile and answered her phone, “Putnam.” Her whole demeanor changed at the sound coming from the receiver. “Oh, I um…” She grinned, “right,” and grew quiet listening. She took a few more steps away and bit her lip as her face blushed. “I see.” She turned her back on them both and lowered her voice a bit. “This is so unfair, I can’t…” Her hand flew over her mouth, her eyes widening, her blush deepening. “Oh.” The word came out as a whimper.
Hector cleared his throat and Elissa jumped. “I have to go. Now.” She paused and laughed. “Good-bye, Jenson.”
Kingston smirked openly when she blushed at the two men. “Nothin’ beats midday sexy talk.” He gave her a wink and laughed whens Elissa blushed again. “Was there anything else? We’re about done here, just the clean up now.”
Elissa turned 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 walked over to the vibrant plants. “The plants benefit from different mulch. We can’t use lawn clippings or it chokes things.” His crew was busy raking and clearing the lawn leaving it immaculate. “And that’s how it’s done.” He called 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 watched as the four workers piled 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 looked at Hector for a moment as a thought struck him.
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 as he staggered forward. “Fucking A, man. Too fucking loud…”
“It is not too early. Our scheduled time is - and always has been - at 7 am 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 shook 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 gave him a side glance watching his face screw up as he concentrated.
“Hamilton was one of our first customers, we’ve been in business for just over five…” Kingston paused and blinked. “Really, five years?” He grinned and chuckled. “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.”