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Catching Taboo

By M.R. Leenysman

Copyright 2018, M.R. Leenysman

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Table of Contents:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Back Matter

Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“Henfield Investigations, this is Jack Henfield, how may I help you?” It was 6:15 on Friday and my receptionist Carla had neglected to switch the phones over to the answering service when she had left at 5:30. I’d have to yell at her for it on Monday because it was the second time in three weeks that she had forgotten.

“Jack? It’s Jan.” Why was my little sister calling the office number, instead of my cell phone? “I’m glad you’re still at your office. Is it okay if I stop by? I’m just five minutes away.”

“Sure, sis. I’ve got a little more work to finish up. The door will be locked, since I’m officially closed, so knock three times so I know it’s you, okay?”

“Sure thing.” She hung up.

I switched the phones over to the service and wrapped up the invoice from my last case, before Jan showed up.

About six minutes later, I heard three knocks, walked over to the door and opened it.

Jan gave me a hug and a kiss to the cheek, before moving toward my office, settling into my guest chair.

I moved around my desk to my own chair and said, “Tell me what’s up. There’s got to be a reason you didn’t call my cell.”

Jan blew out an exasperated sigh and said, “I’m pretty sure Dave is cheating on me. In our own bedroom, during my trips out of town. I need your help to catch him. Not to hire you to follow him, but do you maybe have a hidden camera I can install in our bedroom myself? Preferably something that I can monitor from a laptop when I’m traveling?”

I asked, “In the bedroom? That’s kind of a gray area, legally. What’s your purpose in recording him? Is it just to get evidence for a divorce? Or is it anything more?”

“Why does it matter?” Jan asked. “It’s my house. Can’t I put a camera wherever I damn well please?”

I answered, “Tennessee has a privacy law saying that you can’t photograph or video someone without their permission in a place where they have an expectation of privacy if it would embarrass them and is for the purpose of either your sexual gratification or someone else’s. It doesn’t matter that he’s your husband and you’ve seen him naked before or that it’s your bedroom. Recording him for your own pleasure is a misdemeanor, sharing it is a felony. Although, the camera I have in mind is designed to keep you from putting video on the Internet. I’ll still need your signature on a statement that your purpose is only to gather evidence, to cover my ass with the state, sorry.” I reached over to my computer, to pull up an agreement I had used before, entered her name in the template and printed it off.

As she signed it, Jan said, “At this point, I just want confirmation. I’ll decide whether to throw him out once I know who he’s been with. I promise not to use the video footage for my own gratification, okay?”

I went over to my equipment locker, unlocked it and looked for one of the spy cameras I had used a number of times in the two years since I’d left the Nashville police force and become a private investigator. Mostly, they had been used for surveillance in businesses, but I had provided them for home surveillance a few times. One case turned out to be a man who claimed he was trying to prove that his nanny was stealing, but I had reported him for violating that law when a review of the video showed that he had placed it in the bathroom she used several times, to catch her showering. So, I was sensitive to the legal implications of lending Jan this camera.

I closed the locker and showed it to Jan, pointing out where the lens was hidden. “This is just the camera for you. It looks like a phone charger, right? If you use the Micro-USB cable for your phone, it will actually charge your phone, which helps the disguise. The video is encrypted before it is streamed via your home WiFi to a cloud service, where it is stored. You can set up viewer software on your laptop or I have software on my computer with the decryption key, if you want me to do the monitoring.”

“No, I’m not asking for you to turn down other work just for this,” Jan said. “It could be nothing.”

“Okay. I’ll set up your WiFi credentials before you leave. Once you’re home, connect it to your laptop…”

“I’ve got it down in my car,” she interrupted. “Can we set it up here, so there’s no way for Dave to see me do it?”

“Sure. Give me your WiFi info, then get your laptop,” I said.

She wrote down the info, then hurried down to her car and returned with her laptop bag, while I configured the camera’s WiFi setting so it would work at her house. We connected the camera to her laptop and it launched the installer for the software.

“Can I see what the video looks like?” she asked.

I showed her a few samples on my desktop that weren’t connected to any of my cases, as I said, “The laptop can’t display any video until you actually record some and it will only do that within range of your WiFi now. The software on the laptop itself isn’t hard to use, just give it a date and time and it will start displaying the closest video to that time, even live video. But, the software for your laptop won’t let you save the video.”

“And if I do catch him? How can that video get admitted into a divorce case, if only the laptop can view it?”

“I have a different software package on my computer here, to manage several of these cameras. I can view the video and also permanently decrypt the parts of the video that need to be used as evidence. All the video gets deleted from the cloud when a case is over. I then reset the encryption and decryption keys on the camera so I can use it for another case, which prevents you being able to see it any more.”

Jan took the charger/camera from my hand and turned it over. “Pretty slick. So, I can just plug this into any outlet?”

“So long as it’s in range of your WiFi. A red light will blink for ten seconds if that connection fails. They make it pretty simple. So long as Dave doesn’t unplug it, you’re fine. So, do you want to tell me what makes you suspect my double-brother-in-law of an affair?” Dave was also my wife Abby’s brother, having met my sister at my wedding to Abby. They married a year after us.

Jan fidgeted a little before answering, “Usually when I travel for my job, I’m gone from Monday to Friday. But this week, the customer only needed me onsite from Monday to Thursday and Dave forgot I was coming home early. When I got home, the bedroom smelled like sex and one set of sheets was in the washer, so they had clearly just been changed. I didn’t accuse him because then he’d be on guard, making it harder to actually catch him, with your help. Rather than wait for my next business trip, I plan to fake one the week after next, stay at a hotel here in Nashville using loyalty points and hope I catch him in the act.”

I asked, “Am I correct in assuming that you don’t want me sharing any of this with Abby, to keep her from giving him a warning? That’s why you tried the office number, to avoid having my cell phone ring if I was in her presence?”

“Pretty smart, big brother. You better get home before she starts thinking you’re the one having an affair. Good night and I’ll keep you informed.”

As she started to leave, I said, “Oh, Jan? Keep in mind that if you’re naked in front of that camera, I’ll be able to see that video, too.”

She turned back, smirked and said “You’d like that, perv,” then went out the door. I followed a couple of minutes later, locking up.


On my drive home, I thought back to how Dave and I had wound up married to each other’s sister. Nine years earlier, I was a Senior studying Criminal Justice at a college in Texas while Jan was a sophomore at a local college, studying Computer Science. I wasn’t dating anyone in particular on campus. That year, Jan brought her beautiful blond roommate Abby Noyce home for Thanksgiving Break because Abby’s parents had chosen to go to the Bahamas and the two of us hit it off right away. We kept in touch and dated whenever I was home in Nashville and got really serious that next summer while I was attending the Nashville Police Academy. I proposed before school started for her again, then waited two years for her to graduate and pass her Nursing certification exam before we got married. Our sixth wedding anniversary was coming up in September.

At our wedding that fall, Jan met Abby’s twin brother Dave for the first time and fell hard for him. He had just moved back to Nashville after attending college in Oregon on a baseball scholarship. Not quite good enough for the pros, he had studied accounting with a focus on taxes and had a good business setting up bookkeeping systems for small businesses along with handling their tax filings.

They married a year after Abby and me. He really was the stereotypical boring accountant, most of the time, but his love for Jan shone through. Cheating on her just didn’t seem to fit what I knew of him. I really hoped Jan was imagining things, but that didn’t seem like Jan, either.


When I got home, Abby already had a beef stroganoff dinner ready for us.

“I’m glad that case is over,” she said, as we sat to eat. “I miss you when you’re not here at night.”

“I miss you when you do double shifts, too,” I said. “At least I don’t have to do night surveillance as much as I would’ve if I’d stayed on the force and made Detective.”

On Abby’s official schedule at the hospital, Wednesday was one of her days off, the other being Saturday or Sunday on alternate weeks. However, between being on call to substitute for nurses who called in sick and routine shift swapping between the nurses, her actual schedule was a lot less predictable, with double shifts and different days off cropping up regularly. Occasionally when Abby knew I was going to be working at night, she would accept a double shift, just to avoid being home by herself, but had not done so that week.

Abby said, “I know I shouldn’t complain, after asking you to find safer work. At least we get to sleep together every night. Dave’s complaining about having to sleep alone when Jan’s away.”

I asked, “When did you talk with Dave?” I wondered if Abby had any other information about Dave having an affair but knew I couldn’t ask directly without breaking my promise to Jan.

“A couple of nights ago, when you were doing the second night of your surveillance. Besides complaining about missing Jan, he also asked if we have plans for the 4th of July in three weeks. He’s planning a pool party and wants to know if we can make it. It’s officially my day off, which means I’ve already gotten five different offers to swap shifts, three for day shift and two for swing. If we’re not doing anything during the day, though, I might accept one of the day shift swaps, then we can go watch the fireworks downtown after I’m done working. You do plan on shutting down for the holiday, don’t you, Jack?” she asked.

“Of course I do,” I answered. “What good is being my own boss, if I can’t take holidays off? Yeah, a pool party sounds great. Find out if he and Jan want to go downtown for the fireworks.” Being in control of my schedule is one of the reasons I had chosen to become a private investigator, rather than opening a security company where I would be on call 24/7.


The next week passed normally. I resisted checking on the footage from Jan’s camera, figuring that I would hear if she found anything. On the first Monday in June, when Jan said she was going to fake her business trip, she texted me at noon, saying, “Camera set and monitoring from hotel. Let u know what I see.”

At 3:30, Abby called me. “Jack, the hospital asked me to work the first half of the swing shift. Carol called in sick. They have one of the night shift nurses coming in early to take the other half, so I should be home around 8. Can you get dinner ready for us? There are chicken breasts thawing in the fridge, if you just want to barbecue them and bake some potatoes.” I agreed.

So, when Jan texted around 5 PM, asking “Can u swing by hotel? Room 509. Dave’s lighting candles in bedroom. He didn’t wait long,” I figured I would still be home before Abby needed me to start cooking the chicken.

I texted back, “Sure. Abby’s working until 8, I’ll be there after I close up.” I wrapped up my last bit of work, reminded Carla to switch the phones, then accompanied her out the door at 5:30.


It was 5:50 by the time I got to Jan’s hotel. My suit jacket and tie went into the back seat after I parked. I went up to Room 509 and knocked on the door. A few seconds passed before Jan answered, wearing just a long tshirt, as if she was ready to go to sleep, her nipples tenting the fabric. As I came into the room, I spotted her laptop set up on the desk, the video player for the camera paused. She said, “You’re going to need to sit down for this, Jack.”

“Okay…” I said, as I took the chair in front of the laptop. Based on my memory of Jan and Dave’s house, I guessed the camera was plugged in at a makeup table across from the foot of their bed, giving a good angle to see the whole bed, as well as a view of the door into the bedroom.

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