# 13 – Red Rhino

rhino_eraser“I haven’t been able to find out what FFF stands for but I think I’ve discovered more evidence of a business linked to the monstrosity,” I told Buddy a few days later.

Buddy had just accosted one of the employees (or video gamers if you believed the folks at Building and Safety), telling the black-clad, messenger bag carrying guy to park somewhere else. The guy cowered, got in his black Honda and drove further down the street. We could see him making his way back up the block but he’d crossed the street to avoid further confrontation with Buddy and his big stick. Who wouldn’t?

“What did you find?” he asked.

“There’s an ad on Craig’s List looking for developers.”

“Developers of what? Hopefully not housing, ‘cuz look at that thing. If they want clients to think they have good taste, they shouldn’t be operating out of that.”

“Software developers,” I said. “And there was another ad for copywriters.”

“So do they build websites? That would fit,” Buddy said. “I don’t really care. I just want them gone.”

“They could be building websites but I just took it to mean they’re doing something online. Maybe coming up with a new way to spam us. Or maybe all the employees are hackers, stealing our credit card information. The parent company is called Red Rhino and they’re based in Colorado.”

Buddy snarled. “If they’re responsible for killing rhinos, they not only need to be shut down, they need to be shot.”

“If they’re selling rhino horn to rich, misinformed assholes who  think it’s going to turn them into great lovers, we’ll take ’em all down. But I bet they’re just trying to capitalize on the strength of the animal by creating an Internet brand name.”

Buddy growled.

“Anyway, if it’s an Internet company, that would explain why it’s so difficult to prove what’s going on in there. It also explains why the employees are carrying messenger bags; they all have laptops.”

“Can you print out what you found?” Buddy asked. “You know, something that lists the address with the name Red Rhino?”

“Already did that but is it enough evidence to shut them down? We’ve already learned not to expect logic and reason from the boys at Building & Safety. Just when we think they can’t get any stupider, they do.”

Buddy sighed.

I smiled back at him. “But if they don’t shut them down this time, I’m going to start blogging about the whole thing. Maybe we can embarrass our elected and appointed officials into doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Another car pulled up, right in front of us and a 25 year-old young woman got out, messenger bag in tow.

“Park down the street,” said Buddy. “Your boss should have told you not to park in front of my house.”

The girl looked frightened, got back in her new red Juke and drove off.

“You’re very effective, Buddy. Maybe you should just scare them all into never coming back.”

A small smile formed on his lips. “Don’t think I haven’t thought of it.”


#12 – The Doofuses at Building and Safety

Unknown“What’s the point of having laws if they don’t enforce them?” I said to Claudia (sans Bob) and a new and very pregnant neighbor, Stephanie, the following day as I brought them up to speed on recent events. “Plus, if it’s the bureaucrats’ job to enforce the law and they’re not doing it, can we get them fired?”

Stephanie wailed. “Oh, I hate hearing there’s a problem. I don’t think it’s good for the baby.” Stephanie was taking her belly out for a late third trimester walk. Like a lot of mothers she believed a negative thought could permanently damage her unborn child’s psyche.

“Theoretically we should,” said Claudia. “If the City of Los Angeles was a publicly traded stock, these fools would have been fired a long time ago. I mean, who’s looking out for shareholder value?”

“Whatever illegal business is being run out of that house is not helping our property values any,” I agreed. “It’s obvious to everyone that something wrong is going on in there but rather than deal with it, they claim they have no proof—as if people admitting they’re employees and all the cars isn’t enough. I mean, can’t they look up a license plate then cross reference it to bank accounts and see who issued the checks that get deposited on a regular basis? Don’t tell me in this age of Net footprints and facial recognition software, they can’t do that.”

“Buddy told me he’s going to start spying on them,” said Claudia. “He’s putting up cameras and has a microscope pointed at the house.”

“You mean a telescope?” I asked.

Claudia hesitated. “Yes, that’s what I meant. All this activity has me not thinking clearly.”

“Don’t worry,” said Stephanie. “I get things confused all the time. Do you notice how the employees all wear black and carry laptops? Do you suppose they work for the government?”

“No,” I said. “They’re too smart.”

“Well, I’m glad Buddy’s doing something,” said Claudia. “Somebody has to.”

There was that “somebody” again. What we needed was a dedicated investigative type who had nothing better to do than find the evidence the city claimed they didn’t have. Buddy could have been that guy but he had a screw loose.

“I think we’re going to more than pictures of people going in and out,” I said. “I mean we already have pictures.”

“You’re right,” said Claudia. “Unless we get some major proof or more likely a lot of major proof, those doofusses–doofi?– at Building and Safety will go on saying the people getting out of all these cars are playing video games inside that hideous house and do nothing.”

“Well,” I said, “I’m doing a little investigating of my own. Last night I Googled the address of the monstrosity and found a business with that address.”

“Really?” said Claudia. “What is it? Is it porn like we thought?”

Stephanie gasped. “Okay, I’ll see you guys later. I’m gonna get going. But I’ll mention all this to Troy. He might have some ideas.”

We waved goodbye and watched Stephanie waddle down the street. I was quite happy not to be expecting the arrival of a newborn, adorable as they can be. I had no energy for anything more than what I was already doing.

“I don’t know if it’s porn,” I said. “It’s called FFF Enterprises. My brain instantly went to the F-word but that’s just the way my brain works. It could be some kind of front.”

“A front for what?” asked Claudia.

“That’s what I still need to find out.”