They found Taimi´s tree after driving for fifteen minutes to Malibu Bluffs Park recreation area. Clarity rolled slowly with the car on the sidewalk until she reached the large trunk a hundred feet from Winter Mesa Road. They stepped out of the car and placed several large shrubs on the roof, until the whole car looked like one big bush.
“We forgot we have to get in the car to sleep now,” said Lanai. They opened the passenger door and eased their way to the inside of the pink chevette, Taimi and Cynthia sitting in the back seat, Lanai sitting in the passenger seat, and Clarity in the driving seat. They woke up the following morning to the sound of birds perched on the branches hiding the car.
“Can´t say I slept well, but it wasn´t that bad either,” said Cynthia, stretching her way out of the chevette and catching a branch in mid air before it fell on her.
“We have to be careful to avoid Packwood, he will be watching the city to find us,” said Lanai, yawning.
“The more important question is what do we do now?” said Cynthia.
“There´s an arrest warrant on us for indecent exposure, and although we did our deposition, we did run away from police. What are you looking at Clarity?”
“This thong from the woman I met, Shazaiah, being a naturist I think she could help us explain our viewpoint to the police to avoid jail, but more importantly, she may help us stop the litigation at Stevenson. That´s how we´ll stop Packwood from executing that arrest warrant.” Clarity folded the thong and placed it on the dashboard of their car.
“You really have faith in this woman, don´t you Clarity?” asked Taimi.
“She seemed unafraid of the Law when I mentioned Packwood´s new panel against nudity near Surfrider Beach. I just think she has the right attitude for us. And she´s in shape, we need a coach in shape to guide us as a team. It´s important we find her, and our only lead is the brand of her thong, it´s called Delva Luxury Wear.”
“I know a place on Malibu Road,” said Lanai, “east of the recreational area, it´s a luxury shop for women and they sell upscale thongs there.”
They drove the pink chevette to Taimi´s underground spot below her apartment building, and took her car, an old Chevrolet MonteCarlo from the late seventies, to the Supple Pastel Shop, a sleek light brown house refurbished into a luxury outlet overlooking the sea. Clarity showed the low rise thong belonging to Shazaiah to a thin woman wearing a scarf with a recurring motif of vegetables, among them a cucumber slice, a carrot stick and a baked potatoe.
While Lanai was admiring the sea view with Cynthia and Taimi, Clarity followed the woman to several shelves towards the back of the shop, displaying the most expensive sports underwear for women, priced at over three hundred dollars a piece.
“Delva, mmh…, yes I think we sell that, not many though, it´s expensive because it can be used as bathing suit or underwear.”
They walked down a set of stairs to the warehouse area of the shop. Clarity saw several rows of stands filled with boxes of women´s wear and accessories like purses, wallets, key rings, planners, handbags, clutches and wristlets. She noticed a row with the name Delva, and an empty slot in the row.
“We sold one,” said the woman abruptly.
“Do you remember the name of the customer, she lost her thong and we need to return it.” The woman looked at Clarity with a look between surprise and contempt.
“The identity of our customer is private, we don´t tell anyone.” Clarity thought quickly to keep the conversation open.
“We´re interested in her yoga class, we would just like her business address.”
“I don’t remember anybody but you can talk to Randall, he was the cashier here last week. He´s cutting the lawn outside.”
Clarity climbed the stairs and walked to the shop´s garden with the girls, meeting a hippie-looking man in his mid thirties cutting the lawn with a mechanical lawn mower older than her own chevette. She showed him the thong and he grabbed it to examine it closer, stretching it to look at it from the front, the back and the side.
“I remember the woman who bought this one, very good looking, long black hair, elegant, in shape…”
“Exactly, her name is Shazaiah…”
“Her name is not Shazaiah, her name is Leah.”
“Leah, it´s not the right woman then, I know her name is Shazaiah.” Clarity squinted, thinking their lead was disappearing before it even surfaced usefully for them.
“Leah Thomas, it´s a pen name, she´s a freelance naturist columnist for the Stencil News Agency, inside the tallest building on Bayshore Drive. She said she was about to change jobs. She bought the Delva after staring at it for a long time, commented she was testing different sports underwear models.”
“It´s her, I know it´s her, thank you very much Randall,” said Clarity. She gathered the other girls and they stepped inside Taimi´s Monte Carlo, headed for Bayshore Drive.
TO BE CONTINUED - THE MALIBU CASE