By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The man on the TV is Mr. Normal: 40-something, balding on top, graying around it. Otherwise, remarkably few wrinkles considering how he spends his spare time. Casually dressed, he steps down from a shiny black Lincoln Navigator outside a building grand enough to be the gem-encrusted Cerritos library. Ample cinderblock columns frame a carpeted, landscaped porte-cochere that leads through glass to a vast, tile-floored lobby. The lighting is very Hart to Hart. Totally fake. It looks like we're watching this on a camcorder tape filmed through the windshield of a parked car maybe 30 feet away. Which we are.
Whoever he is (a client's husband) the man waits, leaning on the SUV. For someone. She comes outside in a few seconds: tall, blond, good looking, hair midway down her back, dressed business-casual. (He's her boss.) They stand close, facing each other, hands touching, heads looking both ways before they . . . cross the street. So to speak. Then, finally, seeing nothing, she sticks out her hand, palm up, and he gives her the room key and, one at a time, they go inside the Marina Del Rey Marriott.
He's cheating on his wife, and his wife has hired a shamus to film it—cherubic, 25-year-old ex-Marine Robert Wonsch, who works for the Dillon Agency in—wait for it—Stanton. And this is the tape.
"I called Paul after that, and I was like 'I just got that on video,'" Wonsch says, still psyched after we watch the tryst. Paul is Paul Dillon. It's his business, and at 30, he knows more about cheating than you ever will even if you're Cheaty McCheatalot who drove in from Cheatersville in your car, Cheaty Cheaty Bang Bang. (A cheater.) Dillon knows all the tells, as they say at www.partypoker.com
* * *
"There's ways you can tell," says Dillon, a slightly stocky man who wears jeans and a dressy work shirt embroidered with his agency logo. He knows all the signs you may be having an affair. "Working late. Private calls on the cell phone. Text messaging. That's a big one."
"Finding new cell phones. Lack of sex, the complete disinterest in or the complete opposite—renewed interest in sex."
That happens? Yes, he says. It does.
"Ninety percent of the women who think their husband or boyfriend's cheating, they're almost always right," Dillon says. "They're going to think about it until they can't think about it any more. They're going to talk to their girlfriends and their girlfriends are going to say 'Of course he's cheating!' And they'll finally call me.
"Men, it's 40 percent. Reason? We're problem solvers. We don't wait for it to happen. We confront the problem." (Or we're jealous wife beaters and we fix it so she'll never cheat on anybody again. Ever. Either way.)
The others tells are obvious—coming home without pants/with lipstick on your pants. Leaving receipts around where he/she'll find 'em—and so Dillon doesn't say them. He doesn't have to. The woman does, when she calls.
* * *
As we're talking, Wonsch gets the call, on a cell phone and he hands it to Dillon, who leans across the desk and holds it up between us. I lean in, too.
"How much is it, and why does it cost so much?" says the woman. She's been married 17 years; he's apparently been cheating on her for 18 of them—with a correction factor of 17 or 18 percent. And here we are.
"We said we'd work it out," she says, and I can hear that plaintive high note in her voice, through the phone. And here she is: "He makes sure the cell phone bill doesn't get delivered to the house."
"What does he do for a living?" Dillon asks, giving me The Look. "Does he have occasion to—does he travel a lot for work?"
"He's an insurance agent. Sometimes he has reason to be in a woman's house and something not to be going on," she says. "How much would it cost to follow him?"
"We get $75 an hour, with a four-hour minimum," Dillon says, sounding very Phillip Marlowe all of a sudden. He's got a case, all right—a case of Scotch. "And we get 50 cents a mile." It's not exactly what she wants to hear. She's tired. Seventeen years. And there's the computer thing.
"He has 27 different email accounts and he has it fixed so that I can't get into them. Whenever I try, it says 'closed,' " she says. Dillon tells her they can hack that computer. They've got GPS units for your car that are smaller than a pager; they've got hidden cameras hidden inside tiny tweeters—also for your car—and for your home, there's apparently a computer program that'll copy your passwords as you type them. They have that, too. "How much does that cost?" she asks.
"If we come out and install it, it's $250," Dillon says, "and $150 for the program itself." (Prices vary, he says later, depending upon the situation.)
"Okay, thanks very much," she says, sounding older now. "I'll get back to you." She hangs up.
"She can't afford us," Dillon says, closing the flip phone.
THE DILLON AGENCY, 7108 KATELLA AVE., STE. 440, STANTON, (877) 889-4217; WWW.THEDILLONAGENCY.COM