Sometimes at our detective agency my husband-PI-partner and I wrap up a strange process service and we say, “Never again.”
One reason we can say this, and even pretend we’re going to no longer accept process services, is because husband-PI-partner is now also a lawyer and, fortunately, his caseload is growing.
But we’re still running our investigations agency, and recently another request came in for a process service. I was chosen to be the server because we both thought I’d have an easier time getting the woman to answer the door, maybe even open it, so I could serve her papers. We’d been informed that this woman had a serious drinking and drug problem. So bad, she’d lost touch with friends, family, and even reality according to neighbors who’d seen her at odd hours doing odd things. She’d also lost an excessive amount of weight in a short period of time, so the drug problem appeared to be serious.
I debated whether or not we should even attempt this service. We’ve had our share of people who go off the deep end after being served papers. Another woman, after receiving divorce papers, followed my husband, pounding her fists on his back as he walked away. He didn’t stop, didn’t turn around, didn’t speak to her…just kept walking and got into his car. You see, a process server in our state was murdered a few years ago after serving divorce papers. The process server got too involved. He entered the home and tried to intervene in a domestic squabble. The husband, to whom the divorce papers had been served, killed the process server with a baseball bat.
So we know better than to get involved with the people to whom we’re serving papers. We serve and leave.
We’ve had people throw the papers back at us. Okay, fine. It’s still a legal service. We’ve even had a public government official get so furious, she shoved the papers back into my husband’s face. He calmly placed the papers back on the official’s desk and left. That official is no longer sitting at that desk. Last we heard, that official was reassigned to a basement office where she has little contact with the public.
We’ve also had dogs sic’d on us. We’ve never been bitten, but we also take precautions to not be bitten.
As to my own past experiences, I’ve had people toss papers at me, scream at me, but so far I haven’t been hit. I like those odds.
But I wasn’t so sure I’d be that lucky with this particular service. When someone is altering their mind with lots of booze and drugs, and neighbors are reporting “crazy” incidences going on at the home, well…
Without going into particulars, certain law enforcement officers were also interested in this woman being served. So much so, a detective promised to be parked around the corner “just in case.” I did my homework, verified the woman had no guns in the house and confirmed there wasn’t a dog. I contacted the detective, who promised to position his car where he said he would, and my husband drove me to the woman’s home and waited down the street.
I walked up to the woman’s home and knocked on her door. No answer. I rang the doorbell. No answer. Knocked again, rang again, knocked knocked knocked…
Somebody peered at me through a window next to the front door.
I put on my biggest, brightest smile. I called out her name.
She frowned. Her face disappeared. Reappeared in the now-open door.
“Hello [repeated her name]. I have some legal papers for you.”
“No!” she screamed.
I tossed the papers inside before she slammed shut the door.
And I turned and headed down the steps, down the sidewalk, making a beeline for my husband’s waiting car.
I heard the woman’s voice screaming obscenities right behind me. With a quick glance over my shoulder, I saw her dressed in a bathrobe, calling me colorful names in between threatening to hurt me.
I picked up my pace.
I saw my husband look out the driver’s window at me, his eyes wide.
“Start the car,” I called out.
Behind me, more screaming and name calling. I hoped that detective was where he said he’d be.
I hopped inside the car, shut the door and we took off.
I looked out the back car window. The woman stood in the middle of the street, screaming, and damn if she wasn’t holding a frying pan in her hand!
“That’s it,” I said to my husband as we drove off, “never again.”
“You were awesome,” he responded.
“I mean it, never again.”
“You were fearless.”
“I almost got hit with a frying pan. I mean it, never again.”
Today a law firm sent us papers to serve someone. “This should be an easy serve,” the paralegal wrote.
Funny how people who don’t do process services like to say that.
Praise for The Zen Man
"Great humor. Great dialogue. Author did a great job of establishing the relationship between Rick and Laura. It never overshadowed the mystery, but it made the book truly multi-dimensional."
~New York Times best-selling author Dorien Kelly
"A real page turner. I enjoyed this book full of suspense and surprises. I have never read this author before but will look for her next surprise."
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2015 Aspen Gold Award Winner
"I loved The Zen Man and really had fun catching Rick and Laura's first case in the prequel, The Ungrateful Dead. These novels have everything I love in a mystery: smart dialogue, a flawed hero, a little romance and a great plot. Murder at a coroners conference? What could be more fun!"
~ Nancy Warren USA Today Bestselling Author of The Toni Diamond mysteries