Friday, 18 November 2022

Case 2 - Episode 41 - What happened to Argeter?

Felicity followed Alex Porter all the way to Central Park and the statues of literary giants.

At first, Alex had walked fast, purposefully, and angrily.  Then the pace lessened as the anger subsided.

It seemed prophetic that Argeter was waiting on a seat near William Shakespeare.

"That was quick," he said after she sat down

"She doesn't have it."

"How can you tell?"

"I came at her very hard.  She didn't have time to collect her thoughts and lie."

"What about Richards?  Given the number of times he and Walthenson met in the golf course, Walthenson might have given it to him for safekeeping.  It wouldn't be the first time."

"The silly bugger can't keep a secret.  He'd have told me, besides, I'm the only one who can open the safe."

"Unless he put it somewhere else.  I mean, he acts like he's dumb, but I rather think he isn't."

"Oh, he is, believe me.  Pretends he's the great family man but doesn't realize everyone knows her trawls the dark corners of the city for young men.  It disgusts me, but if there wasn't a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “

"Appearances can be deceptive, remember that."

End of the conversation, she left. 

Felicity didn't see the point of following her anymore, a more interesting target was Argeter.  She would have to be more careful with him given how dangerous he and his known associates were.

When she looked over, Argeter was on the phone, and couldn't quite make out was he was saying.

"No ... problem is ... scoundrel ... Walthenson doesn't ... Alicia tried to find out but she ...  no, no closer ...."

Argeter was staring at the phone because it appeared the caller hung up mid-call.  It was obvious whoever he was speaking to wasn't happy with what he had to report.  And whatever it was about this piece of land, it was worth killing for, and a lot, lot more.

Argeter's phone rang again.

Felicity could see his face as he turned to look one way and then the other as if looking for someone

Then, "You're joking.  After all I've done for them?"

The call ended, and Argeter leaped to his feet, again looking both ways before heading back the way Alex Porter had come.

Almost running.

He was a man in fear for his life.

He reached the first cross street and had to wait a moment, along with a group of tourists.

Felicity kept her eyes on Argeter, except for a few seconds when there was a loud bang from behind them, and everyone cringed, a reaction most people had in the expectation of another attack, and when she turned back Argeter was on the ground.

She quickly walked towards him, then saw the blood pooling beside the body.  He'd been attacked in that brief moment her attention had been diverted.  The others in the group who had just recovered realized what had happened, and one of the women screamed.

Felicity had Sykes on speed dial.

"Argeter just got stabbed in Central Park, at the top of Literary Lane."

"Did you see who did it?"

"No, but I'll keep an eye out in case anyone runs.  They have to be still here."

"Be careful.  I'll be there as soon as I can."

 

Not one minute after the scream an ambulance came quickly up the road, stopped opposite the body, and cleared a path through the onlookers, two of w2ho were hunched over the body, either trying to save him, or taking ghoulish photographs, bringing out a gurney put Argeter on it, got back in the ambulance, and left.

The whole operation took less than 90 seconds,

After another minute or a little more, the first police car stopped next to what was not a doubly stunned crowd.

The ambulance was gone, but not before Felicity had taken several photographs of the men taking the body, and the ambulance itself.

She was uploading the photos to send to Sykes when she noticed the ambulance people had flesh-colored balaclavas on, and the registration of the ambulance was just a blur.

No easy identification of the body snatchers, and no identification of the ambulance.  This was a very well-organized assassination.



© Charles Heath 2020-2022 

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Case 2 - Episode 40 - Alicia does not get her way

Two cups of coffee later, Felicity was going to leave when Alex Portman walked into the Cafe.

Felicity looked at her watch and saw it was still a half hour before her meeting with Alicia, so she must have decided to get a coffee before facing the ice maiden.

Alex ordered a coffee, and then looked around the room eventually going over to, and sitting down at, a table behind Felicity.  If she knew who Felicity was, she showed no sign of it, going her a wry smile as she walked past.

Several of the patrons saw her, but only one had a look of distaste, obviously judging her for being different.

A moment later she heard her voice, "Alicia, darling, it might be better if we talk in that quaint little Cafe opposite your building.  I'll be there five minutes before.  Mochiato isn't it?  Of course."

Why be here a half hour before?

Felicity didn't have to wait long.  A short portly man arrived and waddled over to her table behind her and made a lot of noise sitting.

She'd recognised him as one of Xavier Walthenson's friends, Alexander Argeter.

"I don't like this one little bit."  It was clear that she didn't want to be there, nor deal with Argeter.

"You don't have a choice."

"How did you know she would call me?"

"Everyone knows what your ambitions are, and people like Alicia have piles of money to throw at political candidates that can help them.  That's what the pitch will be, but there's always a price.  She needs eyes and ears inside to find out what's happening to the port land redevelopment."

"You think she has the title document?"

"Nothing would surprise me.  Her, or that other witch Giselle."

"You might not want to disparage her in front of me, Alexander, or you will get nothing more from me."

"Don't ever get the impression that either woman wants to be your friend.  You are simply a commodity to both of them, useful if you succeed, but nothing if you don't."

"And what does that make you?"

"At least with me, you'll see the knife coming. The title document.  Walthenson had it, and he says its gone.  Someone has it.  We need it.  And we need to talk, so when you're done here, I'll be waiting at the usual place."  There was a short pause, then, "If you want to succeed..."

"Yada, yada.  Now go away before she sees you."

A grating sound of metal on stone, and Felicity just managed to see him waddle out the door.

 

Alicia was late, and Felicity didn't see her arrive, only hearing her come over and sit in the recently vacated chair, after a customary hug.

Perhaps they were closer than just mere acquaintances, but Felicity did not think Alicia was gay, but only pretending to be, though Felicity also knew Alicia was not above using her sexuality to get what she wanted.

Just that thought sent a shudder through her.

"I'm sorry to sound blunt," Alex started, "but what do you want?  It's become clear to me that people, like you, seem to think that I might be useful if I become a councillor.  You're not the first to make an approach."

If Alicia was fazed by this opening gambit, then her tone didn't betray it.

 

"As I'm sure there will be more, and with more dubious claims.  We are strong women, with purpose, and like-minded in what we want, and I make no apology for wanting power and using that of others to get it.  We could be of mutual benefit to each other.  You need campaign funding and friends, and I have an abundance of both."

"And in return?"

"I think you know well enough how this game goes."

"Not to the point where I get caught in the crossfire which, it seems, is likely to happen.  I did some homework before I came.  You and Giselle don't play nicely do you?"

"Giselle?  What does she have to do with anything?"

"Everything.  She is an old dear friend.  I've known her longer than time itself, and I know what you did.  I know you're ruthless, single-minded, and, yes, you want power, but you're not the sharing kind.  But, you're right, I need funding and I need friends, so tell me, what do you really want?"

Felicity doubted anyone spoke to Alicia like that and was still breathing, but it depended on how desperate Alicia was, and whether it was connected to the port land.

"As I said...."

"Let me spell this out, so neither of us is in any doubt.  If you are sitting on the port land title that Walthenson so conveniently misplaced, then I suggest you arrange a meeting to hand it over.  If you have not, nor know where it is, but expect me to keep you informed about any developments related to that parcel of land, then you are wasting your time if you think you can buy me."

"I don't have it, and I really don't know anything about it, but since it affects the practice, I thought I'd better find out.  That was all I intended, a few simple questions and answers."

Her tone now did betray her anxiousness.  Felicity doubted Alicia had been expecting a full frontal attack, or that it would be so direct.

"Nothing is simple with you Alicia, and you are just the sort of person I don't want to be associated with."

A scape of the chair and retreating footsteps.  All that remained was a shattered Alicia who was staring at the coffee cup when Felicity left.


© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Case 2 - Episode 39 - Felicity and Alicia, again

Instead of going to Harry's office, Felicity decided to get a head start on her surveillance of Alicia.

After Harry had uploaded a small undetectable program that gave her administrative access to the Walthenson servers and network, she was able to download Alicia's electronic diary and email and take a country glance at her files.

Felicity found nothing, but knowing Alicia, she would be very careful to not have anything incriminating where people would be looking.

What was interesting was the spreadsheet summary of the practice's financials, and it was not as viable as it should be, and the fact the practice's offices and her house were mortgaged to the maximum told her something was not right.

Alicia would never put the wealth she had fought so hard for at risk.  Not unless there was a bigger pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

A couple of questions for Harry to ask his mother.

She had also been studying up on her subject, such as was available from various searches on the internet.  There was not much, and it had that sort of feel to it that someone had sanitised her profile and history.

She found Alicia was one of seven girls born to farmers from Lincoln County Oklahoma, did most of her formative education there and then moved to Philadelphia to live with an Aunt and finish her education at Penn State.

Reading newspaper archives, Felicity had picked up some details while there, a minor scandal with a professor, and another with a married man within her aunt's circle of friends.  These were advantageous liaisons, seed money to move to New You're, and perhaps to improve her grades, or get prospecting employment opportunities

Even then as a blooming teenager, Alicia knew what she had to do, fearlessly, to get ahead.  Perhaps in law, women had to go that extra mile to achieve what they wanted.

And so, Felicity concluded, it was not uncharacteristic of Alicia to find a man like Walthenson senior and make him her own.  After all, she had a prestigious office and position within the practice, and nearly all of the Walthenson wealth.

The only obstacle she could not overcome was Elsie Walthenson, and there were a few skirmishes over the years, all of which were won by Elsie.  With her family and wealth, Alicia could never hope to win.

But it did pose the question of whether she had attempted to take Walthenson junior from his wife.  In that, given Walthenson wandering eye, maybe Elsie would have handed him to her on a platter

Or just his head.

It was an amusing thought.

Felicity flopped down in the chair behind the window that overlooked the Walthenson office building and settled in with her laptop, coffee, and a bacon sandwich.  It was an English thing a friend had told her about and got strange looks from the serving staff when she asked for it.

No matter.  She was hungry and it looked delicious.

She had timed her arrival at the Cafe for ten minutes before Alicia usually arrived by car, or on foot from the subway.  Alicia was, in one respect, a creature of habit, being places on time.

And a minute after the hour, her car pulled up outside the building and the chauffeur got out and opened the door.  After a few short instructions, she went inside, and the car re-joined the traffic.

This morning’s diary was for a chamber meeting, then lunch with Alex Portman. 

Alex Portman was interesting in several respects, the first, a champion for same-sex marriage and women's rights, and second, she worked for a prominent city councillor but had ambitions of her own.  Reading between the lines, she had attached herself to the aging councillor with the intent to get his endorsement when he retired or died.

It seemed the latter was a more viable option.

There was no real connection between the two women, none that Felicity could find, and driving into their pasts found they came from the other side of the country, and both ended up in New York.

So, that being the case, it could only mean one thing.

That Alicia had her sticky fingers in the portside block of land and was taking a different path to find out about it.  The question was, how far was she willing to go?


© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Case 2 - Episode 38 - Someone is watching, but who?

Harry got as far as his car in the carpark before he could feel an itch on the back of his neck.

Someone was watching him.

This would be the moment to pull out a cigarette and take a moment to reflect on that conversation with Robert, but he didn't smoke.

Perhaps he could feign that there was something wrong with the car.  He unlocked the car, got in tried to start the car, and then got back out again after popping the hood.

The car park had CCTV cameras that covered the whole area, and someone would be monitoring the feed.  That was not the eyes on him that were bothering him.

While looking at the engine, he also did a slow scan of the parked cars, until he reached a black SUV, like those used by the FBI, sitting in the last row, reversed in so whoever was sitting in it could see the whole carpark, and coincidentally in direct line to his car, and him.

He could not distinguish who it was behind the tinted screen, but it was recognisable by the burning tobacco of a cigarette, followed by a gush of smoke out the side window.

Another PI?  It couldn't be the FBI, or could it?  He had no idea what trounce his father was in, or whether the surveillance was on his father or someone else.  After all, there was any number of other scoundrels who were members, and more eligible for a federal investigation.

Bonnet down, back inside the car, he hid the items he'd found under the carpet under his seat, then got back out and headed for the front door.

Cecil needed to know there was a strange car in his car park.

Cecil looked surprised to see him.

"Change your mind?"

"No.  You've got a visitor outside surveillance the car park."

"How do you know?"

"Itchy neck.  Black SUV, in the back row."

He went to the door marked "Private, authorised personnel only", unlocked the door and went in.  Harry hovered in the doorway.

There was an array of about a dozen screens on the wall, the bottom, the last screen that of one view of the carpark, and to one side, the vehicle in question.

Cecil switched to that screen then focussed on the car and zoomed in until a face appeared behind the windscreen, the cigarette, and the fact he was wearing a suit

"Is that a Fed?"  It was a name I'd heard my father use for an FBI agent, who had come to the club expecting cooperation.

"That or a PI, but more likely an FBI agent."

He got up from the chair.  "Let's go see what he's about?"

I followed him out to the car park and could barely keep up as he strode towards the vehicle.  When he was within fifty yards, the engine started, and the vehicle drove off.

Cecil stopped and glared at the departing car.  "Not FBI, they would have stayed and given me a lecture, so one of your lot, Harry.  Pretending he's something he's not.  If he comes back, I'll give him what for."

And Harry had taken the car registration plate.  It would be interesting to know who it was.

 

Back at the office, Harry was alone, walking into a darkened and quiet room.  He had been expecting both Felicity and nnn there, and glad they were not, because he would have to explain the documents he'd discovered in his father's locker at the Club.

He wasn't expecting any great revelations, starting with the folders.

The first had spreadsheet printouts of accounts, in names he had not heard of, but cryptic enough to indicate they were shelf companies' bank accounts based in the Caymans.

The balances were not earth-shattering, but it indicated, if they were his, he was reasonably wealthy in his own right.  Interestingly, deposits of the same amount, 11.35 million, were made into each of five accounts, on the same day of each month.

Blackmail. Services rendered, or something else?  The question was, were the accounts his, or was he checking up on someone else?

The book was a notebook, a diary of sorts, but not for a particular year, but a member of years.  The first page indicated it started his first day of university.

It was not day by day, more each significant event, and not 50 pages in was the story of how his father became enmeshed in the machinations of Alexnder Argeter.  The whole sordid story, showing that his father had miscalculated, and Argeter had taken advantage of a fortuitous, for him, situation.  But, at the time it could have had serious consequences for his eventual career.

It also had the story of his relationship with Harry's mother and the eventual marriage.  It was an interesting story if it was true.  Harry had to wonder, if he shared it with his mother, what her side of the story would be.

But those were not the only revelations in the book, one, when he came across a single sentence, heavily underlined as if he was angry at the time, that simply said, "Harry is not my son."

It did say who the father was, but it was still enough to make Harry's head spin, and instantly regret having read any of the information in it.  Such revelations, Harry told himself, were best left inside the metaphorical Pandora's box.

But, now it was out there, and it bothered him.  Did his mother know his father knew, did his real father know, and had his mother maintained the deception from the say he'd been born?

And if Harry thought about it, it made sense.  His brothers were exactly like their father, he was not.  

He allowed himself a moment to speculate on the ramifications, then shoved it to one side.  His job was to find Xavier, everything else could wait.

...

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Monday, 3 October 2022

Case 2 - Episode 37 - A discussion with Henry, a look in a locker

The bar was often referred to by its regular patrons, the men who really didn't want to go home to their wives, as the 19th hole.  It was an in-joke that had long lost its comedic value.

Robert was propping on the end of the bar, the end that overlooked the 18th hole, where sometimes there was a little excitement as the scorecards were tallied and money changed hands, sometimes a lot of it.  There had also been a few heated arguments.

Their father was a great believer in having incentives to do their best, putting wagers on the outcome of a hole, something Harry never took up because he would always end up with the most strokes, and Robert accepted because he thought he was better than everyone else, and invariably proved otherwise.

His IOU to the father amounted to thousands, and Harry doubted he would ever pay up.

But Robert was a golf fanatic, getting a round in with his cronies who had nothing better to do, nor had a job to go to, whenever they called.  They didn't work for a living, but Robert never let the fact he had a job interfere in his leisure time.  Harry couldn't see Robert's friends, and since Robert was dressed in a suit, there had to be another reason why he was propping up the bar.

Harry slid onto the stool next to his brother.  Robert gave a sidelong glance then went back to staring at the amber liquid in the bottom of the glass.  He picked it up, swirled the glass so the ice rattled, and then drank.

He put the glass noisily on the counter and signalled for another when he caught the barkeeper's eye.  When the barkeeper looked at Harr he just pointed at Robert's glass.

No need to start a tab, the barkeepers knew everyone, and the drinks went on the bill automatically.  Harry shuddered to think what Robert's bar tab would be like, the club was his second home.

"You are a fish out of water, Harry."

His general expression for his brother when he embraced the trappings of a family Harry didn't really want.

"You should be at the office."

"I work my own hours."

"When Dad's not there, you mean."

Robert looked sideways again at his brother.  "What's Sherlock Holme's dumber brother doing here?"

Yes, Harry thought, that joke was getting a little tired, but it humoured his brothers, all of who had contempt for his chosen profession.

"On Dad's trail."

"In case you haven't noticed, he's not here."

"We're you here a month back when he had a brain fade after a phone call?"

"If it was here, it was probably an irate husband, in fact, there are only two types of calls he gets these days.  Irate clients and irate husbands.  Then we all have to clean up the mess."

"Things not going well?"

"Who knows.  It's a war between Dad and that dreadful woman Grandfather left behind.  Neither of them will do anything unless it outdoes the other.  To be honest I'm sick of being caught in the crossfire."

The bartender dropped the two drinks in front of us with a nod.  A bit early to be drinking, but if I guessed correctly, it would be the equivalent of liquid gold.

Harry took a sip.  Liquid gold, indeed.  And a hefty dent in his bar tab.

"You know of anything he's been working on currently that might be, say, complicated?"

"You know Dad.  All cloak and dagger, to him.  The last time he was Luke this, he was seeing that Argeter chap.  Never liked him, cheats at golf, and that sets the mark as far as I'm concerned.  Why Dad tolerates him is anyone's guess."

Harry had seen him from time to time. And his mother was equally adamant the man was bad news. And, exactly what he was after.  A lead.

"I'll look into him."

"You want my advice, don't.  I reckon he has some very dangerous friends, none of whom would take kindly to a private investigator snooping around."

"All the more reason then."

"Your funeral, Harry.  I thought the last time you stared death in the face you'd come to your senses.  Apparently not."

If he was looking to get Harry to leave him alone, he had touched the right nerve.  On top of his brother’s contempt for Harry's chosen profession, he seemed to think Harry's recent brush with death was a wake-up call to return to the fold.  It hadn't, and paradoxically, had only made him more determined to excel."

"Perks of the job Robert.  You could also finish up on the wrong end of a gun yourself if you follow in Dad's footsteps.  Just think about that."

Harry finished his drink, gave his brother one last glare, and then left.

 

The locker room was not the most awe-inspiring place.  Harry had a collection of mixed memories of the place, where men gathered in groups in various stages of dress, on their way to and from the showers, most without any sense of decorum.

Others spoke in disparaging yards of their wives, girlfriends, work colleagues, and life in general, a place where they believed they could speak freely.

Harry had always been surprised by it all, learning all too quickly that the world was never quite what it seemed behind the polite discussion and sympathetic smiles.

Today or was almost too quiet, with the odd golfer on his way out onto the course, and no brash conversation.  Ideal, in fact, for what Harry intended.

His father was one of those members who had his locker out of view of the CCTV cameras, put there because of a flare-up after one afternoon's rather intense u sportsmanship spilling over into the room.

Members were divided on the measure, but when the insurance company threatened to pull its cover, they agreed to limited access.

Harry had the door open inside a minute, and took another three, to analyse its contents.  He had assumed his father would use this sacred space to hide anything he didn't want anyone else to see, and, to a certain extent, he was right.

A shoe box, at the bottom. Under several old pairs of shoes, a box no one would give a second look.

He pulled it out, lifted the lid and saw a book, what looked like a diary, and several folders.

Not the place to take a look.  He'd brought a plastic zipper bag and placed the items in it, then tucked it under his shirt, smoothing out the wrinkles, so that it didn't look as though there was something there.  Everyone except Cecil.  He'd noticed Harry had suddenly put on weight, so he'd have to use the back exit.

Box back, door closed, he was in and out under five minutes.



© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Case 2 - Episode 36 - Harry looking for Henry at the golf club

Harry never understood his father's obsession with golf, nor his desire to equally enthuse his sons to play the game, introducing each at the age of 12, like his father before him.

There was a lot to be said about tradition.

Of course, it was not so much about playing the game as it was being an essential tool in the businessman's armoury. 

Even so, Harry had never seen the reason why anyone would lose, just to make a deal, or get a favour.  Perhaps that was the reason why he was not a businessman.

His brothers took to it like ducks to water.  Needless to say, it was not because it was a tool. It was more about the prestige, and therefore bragging rights, of belonging to a very elite club.

And it was.  Just the annual membership fees were eye-watering, certainly more than he had made over the last year, and had it not been for his father, he would not be a member.

It was the one thing his parents paid for him, or, more likely, his father had forgotten to cancel when Harry walked away from the practice.

Originally, the building was a huge sprawling exquisite colonial style mansion, and, over the years added to so that now, it had the distinction of making the top of Architectural Digests 10 worst buildings three years in a row.

It just showed that too much money, little understanding of ascetics, and a committee made up of stockbrokers, lawyers and bankers could do.

Despite that, Harry thought it was quaint, and it had instilled a desire in him to one day if he could afford it, buy or build an old colonial house of his own.

He shrugged.

The one thing he did remember was the obscene display of wealth and privilege, outside, with all the prestigious cars, except his, and inside, with the antiques and expensive furniture.  He had never understood the desire of the wealthy elite to surround themselves with the trappings.

Most mortals never made it further than the foyer, a few feet in from the front door where a large guard by the name of Cecil, the greeter, met every arrival.  There was no sneaking in the back door, everyone had to present themselves at the main entrance.

If it wasn't Cecil, it was an equally voluminous man named Occo.  Both were the sort of men who could repel all invaders single-handed.

It was Cecil's day, and Cecil knew Harry.

"Well, if it isn't Harry Walthenson, infamous private detective.  Heard you were involved in the Jones Brother's murder cases."

Cecil was also reputed to have an ear to the underworld, which was not surprising given a small percentage of members were criminals wrapped up as businessmen.

"Only as much as I was present when the bodies were found."

"Nearly got killed over it, so they say."

Harry wanted to ask him who 'they' were, but all he'd get would be a benign smile.

"They, whoever they may be, seem to have interesting sources.  If you have any idea who they might be, I'd like to know."

He shrugged.  "So would I.  I don't take kindly to people who harm our members.  Now, it's been a long time, and I don't think you're here for a round of golf."

"You're right.  It's about my father.  Have you noticed anything unusual about him in the last week or so.  I know he was here Monday, which is unusual."

"Not as unusual as you'd think.  You know your father dies s lot of business out on the links.  Been costing some new visits, and prospective members."

"Anyone we know?"

"You know I can't tell you that, I've probably said too much already.  No, none of our business really.  Now, staying or going?"

"I think I'll wander around a bit, it's been a while."

"Your brother Robert is here by the way.  He's probably in the bar."

"Bit early?"

"Not for him.  You have your membership card?"

Fortunately, he did, remembering the rules, not that the card left his wallet unless it came time to replace it.  It was so long since he'd used it, it was sticking to the leather insert.

He swiped it in the machine, and it brought up the last time he'd visited, two years before.  That time it was at the behest of his father, to meet a new client, one that had a daughter that his mother considered 'the right sort of young lady he should be associating with'.

Cecil passed the card back.  "You might want to look in on your brother.  He seems a bit lost at the moment.  Your father was a little harsh with him about a week ago, a job he was supposed to do, and didn't."

Cecil was the sort of person who knew everything that was going on but rarely said anything.  Perhaps he was worried about Robert, though my experience, admonishment usually rolled off him like water off a duck's back.

On the other hand, it might be linked to his father's departure and warranted further investigation.  Checking out his locker would have to wait a little longer, not that Harry expected to find anything.

"Worth a moment to check up on him.  Mr Walthenson can be a bit of a bastard at times."

"Only recently Harry.  Got a phone call, out on the verandah about a month back.  Turned purple some said, and then threw the phone against the wall as hard as he could.  No prizes for guessing what that was about."

With the knowing look, Harry thought better than to ask, because, given a direct question, he'd cite privacy, but letting him talk, as he was wont to do, some days, he could inadvertently let slip some very useful information.

That was useful.

"For you maybe, for us that live with him, he can be a bit like a firecracker on the fourth of July.  I'll pop in and see Robert."

Another member came along, and Harry lost the focus of his attention.

Harry made a note to self, get his father's phone records, and check the dates, find out who the caller was.

He waved to Cecil, but the man didn't notice, now deep in conspiratorial conversation with the member who'd just arrived and headed towards the bar.


© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 35 - An interesting discussion

Mandy Prenderville went over to her high-backed chair behind the desk and sat down carefully.  She had motioned me to one opposite her, and I took the middle seat.

Harry thought he’d better open the conversation.  “How did you know I was coming?”

“It wouldn’t take you very long to discover the connection between your father and me via his golf.  I take it you are looking for him?”

“How could you possibly know that?”  OK, so curiosity got the better of him.

“He is missing, isn’t he?”

“The question still stands.”

“I happen to be looking for him too.  An outstanding matter he was working on.  I’m not used to people up and disappearing on me.”

As much as Harry hated to think it, according to some of the reports on the Prenderville’s, that’s exactly what happened to rivals and those who got in their way.

He didn’t bring that topic up for obvious reasons.

“My mother seems to think he had left her for another woman, which I might add, seems to be the thinking of a number of others.  I have a hard time believing that might be the case, this time.”

It was difficult to say what sort of expression she had, but it changed suddenly, to very dark, like Harry had just trodden on her toes.

“You have a different theory?”  Her tone had lost some of its geniality.

“I have no real theory at the moment other than going around and visiting his business and golfing associates and asked them a few questions about him and their relationship with him.  Yours, you say, is golf.  From what I’ve read about you, golf is hardly a sport I would associate you with.”

“Playing, yes.  It’s a bit tedious walking around hitting a little white ball.  But it seems it is a great medium for charitable outings, and, as you are no doubt away, I do run a Foundation, and we are always looking for new ways to raise money.  Your father, though you may not believe it to be the case, was very good at organising golf weekends for the foundation.”

“And now he’s gone will that fall to Emil Florenz.”

Expression changes again, hard to incredulous maybe.  Harry was not very good at analysing people’s expressions.

She took a moment to assess, in her mind, what she was going to tell Harry.  Then, after what could be called a shrug, she said, “Well, you have been a busy boy.  Your father once told me you were a failure at everything you tried, but I put that down to the fact you had just walked away from a promising legal career, the career he wanted for you.  I don’t think he ever appreciated your more interesting talents in the private investigatory area.  I assure you I will not make the same mistake.  Florenz is a golfer, and a friend of your fathers, and therefore by proxy, known to me yes.  And yes, he might have to organise the golf events while your father is away.  And before you ask me if I know where he is, I will reiterate, he was doing a job for me, and my people are trying to find him too.”

There was no doubting their connection was golf, she said it enough times.  But in watching her closely, and those facial expressions, Harry thought he had worked out when she was lying and when she was telling the truth.  And for the last few minutes, Harry believed he hadn’t heard one word of truth.

His father was more likely to be doing a legal consultation of some sort for her.  It might even have something to do with that portside block if she was the mysterious owner.

He could ask her, but Harry was willing to bet hr would not get further than her door before the security guards dragged him off.

But Harry still couldn’t tell if she had anything to do with his disappearance.

Change of tack.  “Do you know my mother?”

A half smile perhaps.  “In a manner of speaking.  She had attended a number of Foundation functions and been a contributor to our cause for a number of years.  Ever since I’ve known her I really couldn’t understand why she married your father.  You do know she is very wealthy in her own right, and she doesn’t need anything from either your father or his business.  And no, she had never put a penny of her family money into his practice, a sore point with him I can tell you.”

The fact Harry's mother had money was something she had told Corinne and him, but not necessarily his brothers, but not to the extent that it would make a difference.  He had checked it out when he had some idle time, and the sums involved in her parent’s businesses, and that of her fellow siblings made the Rockefellers look cheap.

She had lied and he’d never understood why.  She could also have invested in Harry's private investigator venture, but she refused that too, telling him that like his father he had to find his own way in the world.  It was a variation on the, ‘if I give you the money you won’t go out to work for it’ speech.

He could ask more about that, but it would only be from a third-party perspective, if at all.  Better to move on.  “What was my father doing for you?”

“A legal matter.”

“Couldn’t elaborate?”

“Perhaps if you were one of his lawyers I might, after signing a non-disclosure agreement, but as you are not, I can’t tell you?”

“A hint then, criminal or civil?”

“Your father doesn’t do criminal unless you think he was defending me.  I read the papers, and they do not like me.  I don’t know why, I’m out there every day looking after the homeless, and those who can’t afford proper medical help.”

“Perhaps it’s the reputation your brothers brought to the name Prenderville.  Perhaps if you changed the name of both yourself and the foundation…”

Advice, by the look on her face, was not sought.

“It might, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I do that.  Now, that’s all I can tell you, except for one observation, your father spent a lot of his time at the golf club, and I suspect it became his proxy office.  Dig a little, and see if he has left anything there.  You never know.  Now, I don’t expect to see you again.”

There was no doubt in Harry's opinion, the meeting was over.


© Charles Heath 2020-2022