Page 30 of Detective

"I'll have copies made for you right after this meeting." Ainslie faced the others. "Is there any discussion? Any questions?"

When there was none, he pronounced, "Then let's get on with it."

* * *

The surveillance of Elroy Doil lasted three weeks and two days. Much of the continuous twenty-four-hour vigil by detectives was, as always, uneventful and often boring. At other times it was challenging, particularly when they were trying not to be spotted by the suspect. And throughout that time the weather proved the most miserable of the entire year. Shortly before the watch program began, a cold front moved eastward from Texas into southern Florida and sat in place for two straight weeks. It brought high winds and intermittent, drenching rain that made the task of following Doil, who drove trucks much of the time, unusually difficult. If the surveillance vehicle stayed too close for too long, Doil might notice it in his rearview mirror. On the other hand, in heavy rain with poor visibility, there was an equal danger of losing him if he got too far ahead.

In part the dilemma was solved by using two surveillance vehicles, and occasionally three, each communicating with the others by radio. After staying close to Doil for a while, one vehicle would drop back while another moved forward, taking its place. In police parlance, leapfrogging.

The three-vehicle mix, usually a commercial undercover unit and two innocuous-looking cars, was used for several out-of-town journeys Doil made for trucking companies that employed him as a temporary driver. On a journey to Orlando the six trailing detectives, two in each vehicle, all lost sight of him just after entering that city amid pounding rain. The three vehicles scoured downtown streets, cursing the poor visibility. Finally Detectives Charlie Thurston and Luis Linares, using an undercover Postal Service van, caught up with Doil. They spotted him through the window of a pizza bar, where he was eating alone, his massive shoulders hunched over a plate of food. The truck was parked nearby.

After Thurston had reported to the others by radio, Linares grumbled, "Hell! This caper ain't getting us nowhere. Could go on for years."

"Tell you what, Luis," Thurston told him. "You walk over to old Doil and tell him that. Just say, 'Hey, stupid, we're tired of this shit. Stop fucking around and get on with the next killing.' "

"Funny, funny," Linares said. "You should be on switched-off TV."

Apart from the long journeys, most of the surveillance took place near Doil's home, and that, too, presented problems.

When Elroy Doil's mother, Beulah, was alive, the two of them had lived in a two-room wooden shack alongside the railroad tracks at 23 Northeast 35th Terrace, in the Wynwood area. Elroy still lived alone in the same dilapidated shack, and kept an ancient pickup truck for his own use in the front yard.

Because an unfamiliar vehicle might draw attention if parked for too long, surveillance trucks and cars were switched frequently, though less so after dark or during heavy weather. All the vehicles had tinted windows, so there was never a problem about the detectives being seen.

During some evenings the surveillance teams spent long hours outside Doil's favorite local haunts. One was the Pussycat Theater, a bar and strip joint, another the Harlem Niteclub. Both were well known to police as hangouts for drug dealers and prostitutes.

"Christ!" Dion Jacobo complained after three successive rainy nights parked across the road from the Pussycat. "Couldn't the bastard go to a movie just once? At least one of us could sit a couple rows behind." The detectives never followed Doil into bars or any other lighted place, aware that their faces might be known.

After nearly three weeks of round-the-clock surveillance, none of the detectives had spotted anything incriminating or even out of the ordinary. Ainslie, aware that most of his men were growing bored and frustrated with the assignment, tried to buoy their spirits with new information, most of which came from Detective Ruby Bowel

* * *

Bowe had begun her research at the Social Security office in downtown Miami, where she received complete access to Elroy Doil's work records. Concentrating on the preceding two years, she found that Doil had been employed by five Miami-area businesses: Overland Trucking, Prieto Fast Delivery, Superfine Transport, Porky's Trucking, and Suarez Motors & Equipment. Most of the employment was for short periods. Doil appeared to move back and forth among employers. Bowe visited the companies one by one, her umbrella and raincoat barely protecting her from the continual downpours.

She found Mr. Alvin Travino, owner of Overland Trucking, especially helpful. He was a tiny, wizened man in his late sixties who apologized several times for "my poorly kept records," when in fact they were impeccable. With no trouble at all he produced details of Elroy Doil's assignments for the past two years, including logs with dates, times, mileages, and expenses, covering each trip. To save Ruby Bowe the trouble of taking notes, he called in a secretary to make copies.

Travino also talked about Elroy Doil. "From things I heard, I reckoned he'd been in trouble, but figured it was no business of mine unless he got up to some malarkey here, and he never has. Oh, there was an incident or two, but nothing much that affected his work. The main point is, he's one helluva good driver. Can whip a tractor-trailer rig in and out of the tightest spots, never hesitating, and that ain't easy can't do it half as well myself. He's safe, too. Never had an accident, never brought back one of my rigs damaged."

"Those 'incidents' you mentioned," Bowe prompted. "What were they?"

Alvin Travino chuckled. "Weird stuff; almost sorry I mentioned 'em. Well, now and then we'd find a few things in the cab after he'd been driving maybe six or seven dead birds, another time a couple dogs, once a dead cat."

Ruby's eyes widened. "Wow, that is strange. What did you say to Doil?"

"Well..." The diminutive trucking boss hesitated. "We did have a real brawl one time."

"Really? What happened?"

"At first I thought those dead creatures might have something to do with religion, the way Haitians are with goats. Then I decided, hey, I don't want that crap in my cabs anyway, and I told Elroy."


Travino sighed. "Wish I didn't have to tell you this, because I'm beginning to get an idea of what you're after. Fact is, the son of a gun went into a rage. Got red in the face, then pulled out this huge knife and waved it around, cursing like hell at me. Don't mind saying I was scared."

"Do you remember what the knife looked like?" Ruby asked.

Travino nodded. "The darned thing was sharp and shiny, with a long curved blade."

"Did he attack you?"

"No. Because I stood up to him, looked him straight in the eyes, and said loud and clear that he was through. Told him to get out and never come back. He put the knife away, and went."

"But he did come back?"

"Yep. Phoned after a week or two, said he'd like to work a bit. I let him. Had no trouble after that. As I said, he's a good driver."

The secretary returned with a pile of copied trip logs. Travino glanced through the pages, then passed them to Detective Bowel

"You've been very helpful," she said. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell Doil I was here."

A final chuckle. "Not a chance. If I did, he might pull out that knife again."

* * *

At Superfine Transport, Ruby Bowe talked with the general manager and two employees who knew Elroy Doil. There, as with all the companies she visited, they answered questions readily, making it clear they wanted no problems with police.

A thoughtful, articulate black supervisor named Lloyd Swayze expressed what seemed to be a general view of Doil. "The guy's a loner. Doesn't want friends. But leave him alone, let him do a job which he's mostly good at and everything's okay. Has a savage temper, though; saw it explode once when another driver tried to kid him. Doil was ready to kill the guy, I swear."

"Was there a fight?"

"Would have been, except we don't allow that stuff here. I sent the other guy back to work, then told Doil unless he cooled down he'd get his walking papers pronto. For a minute I was sure he was gonna hit me, then he thought better. But the guy could be dangerous, all right, if that's what you're asking."

"Thanks," Bowe said. "You saved me the question."

A burly, rough-tongued Superfine driver, Mick Lebo, confirmed most of Swayze's words, adding, "The guy's a louse. I wouldn't trust him for one goddam second."

Was there anyone among the other drivers, Bowe asked, whom Doil talked to a lot, or might have confided in? It was a standard question, because many murderers were caught after talking about their crimes to supposed friends who later informed or testified against them.

"The bastard never talks!" Lebo scoffed. "Not a word to nobody. If you stood beside him to piss, he wouldn't give you the time o' day 'course, he might piss on your foot." Lebo roared at his own joke, knocking Ruby's arm with his elbow.

As at Overland Trucking, Detective Bowe left Superfine Transport with copies of Elroy Doil's journey records covering the previous two years, and promises from each of her informants that their conversation would remain confidential.

* * *

Unlike the other companies on the list, Suarez Motors & Equipment was not in the trucking business, but repaired automobiles and small trucks, and sold automotive parts. Elroy Doil had been employed there from time to time as a mechanic. However, about a month before, he had quit suddenly and not come back, even to collect his last paycheck from the young owner, Pedro Suarez. When he showed Bowe the check, she asked for a copy.

"Is he a good mechanic?" she asked Suarez.

"Pretty good, and works fast, but what a troublemaker! Picks fights all the time. I was planning to fire him when he quit."

"Would you say Elroy Doil is smart?"

"Yeah. He's smart because he's a quick learner. Explain something or show him how to do it, and he's got it. But he can't control himself."

Suarez went on to explain that the business operated a local delivery service as a sideline. Some of the automotive parts trade was handled that way, and Suarez Motors used two panel trucks to make deliveries for several retail stores in the area with no transport of the own.

"Did Doil ever do those deliveries?" she asked.

"Oh, sure. Sometimes when one of the regulars was off."

"Do you have a record of when that was and where he went?"

Suarez grimaced. "Afraid you'd ask that. I guess we do, but it'll take some digging."

He led Bowe to a small, dusty room at the rear of the building, with overflowing shelves, a half-dozen file cabinets, and a copying machine. Suarez pointed to two of the cabinets. "You want to cover two years? It'll all be in there. 'Fraid you'll have to search through yourself."

"That's fine. If it's okay, I'd like to use the copier."

"Be my guest." Suarez grinned. "If Doil drops by for his check, shall I bring him in?"

"No, please!" Bowe quickly repeated the need for confidentiality.

The search, which involved checking and relating invoices, delivery records, vehicle service schedules, and payroll sheets, took her most of a day. But she left with a complete history of Elroy Doil's work at Suarez Motors.