Monday, 3 August 2020

Case 2 - Episode 13 – Once a suitor, always a suitor?

Felicity was no longer interested in Alicia Wentworth.  Well, not for the moment.  When she and Florenz parted, with more than just a public display of simple friendship, she decided that Florenz would be the target.

She suspected Alicia would get the chauffeur to take her onto the office, so that would not lead to anything useful.  Harry would have that covered, by talking to Giselle, after she sent him a text about the latest development.

No, Florenz was on foot, so she was hoping he’s lead her to his office.  A long shot, but one worth taking.

And, it seemed, he was not in a hurry, though he did look at his watch twice as if he was pacing himself for another meeting, and trying not to get there early or late.  A man of punctuality and could be an indicator of other eccentricities.

It was a leisurely stroll up Broadway past Park Row, but just before Barclay Street he stopped on the corner and appeared to be waiting for someone.  Was he early or late, Felicity looked at her watch.  Three minutes to the hour.  He was early.

The hour ticked by, then another five minutes.  A look of an impatient man crossed his face, then, a relaxation in posture.  His companion must be in sight and coming down Broadway from the other direction.

It took another minute for the companion to appear through the pedestrians, and she got another shock for the morning.

His companion was none other than Harry’s mother, Elsie Walthenson, once known as Elsie Wilkinson, one of the Boston Wilkinson’s, a rather interesting titbit that Felicity had discovered when she read the caption accompanying that photo of Harry's mother with Florenz back in school days.

And, back then, it was interesting to note that Florenz was nobody in particular.  Or so the caption said.


Felicity hoped that Mrs. Walthenson would not recognize her from the fleeting meeting they had in Harry’s office, that she had been too wrapped up in her husband’s departure than to bother with her.

She waited until they went into a Starbucks nearby, and then followed them in and found a seat nearby, after getting a coffee herself.  They were not near any windows, but not in a position where they could see anyone coming and going.

Not that they were interested in anyone else.  There seemed to be a stronger connection.  Was she more to him than just the wife of a golfing partner?

She tried not to be obvious in listening to their conversation, not that it was going to be easy because of the white noise around them, but she did get to hear a number of snippets.

The first, “What on earth did you get that son of yours to look for Xavier?”

“What was I supposed to do?  I was angry.  Leaving me that note, running off with another woman.”

“Not that.  You know Harry’s a lot smarter than he looks, and you’re not going to be able to be very convincing if you’re going to be lying to him.”

“Why?  You told me he was hopeless at being a detective.”

“Perhaps, but he’s been snooping around places he shouldn’t be.  Like Xavier.  When Xavier asked me my opinion about Shawville, I told him not to get involved, but he didn’t listen.  Seems Argeter shot his mouth off about the money involved, and it was like a red rag to a bull.

“How much does Xavier know?”

“Nothing.  His mother wisely destroyed the files and told him to leave well alone.”

“What did she want in return?”

“You know what she wants.  Alicia Wentworth’s hide, and it’s going to be hell on earth bringing that to a conclusion.  I still can’t believe the mess old man Walthenson left behind, simply because he was besotted by the one thing he couldn’t have.  Or tried.  Killed him in the end.”

“Do you know where Xavier is?”

“No.”

“Do you care?”

“No.  What if he doesn’t come back?”

“You know the answer to that.  It was a mistake I made all those years ago, and I’ve had time enough to regret it.”

She reached out and touched Florenz’s hand.  No need for words.  Felicity knew the answer to that question.

Nor did she want to hear any more of the conversation.  She felt sorry for Harry.


© Charles Heath 2020

Monday, 27 July 2020

Case 2 - Episode 12 – It’s not what you know, but who

Felicity already hated Alicia Wentworth long before she started her surveillance on her.  Harry had given her the details on the woman, and a lot more than was normally required, but it was clear he thought she was a person of interest in her husband’s untimely death, and the kidnapping, if it was that, of his father.

Not to mention the years of torment played upon Harry’s family since the grandfather’s death.  It was an interesting tale, but one that had more than a few loose ends.  And dangling at the end of them, what appeared to be a woman who would do anything for wealth.

Just a quick check showed she had come from the backblocks of LA, her mother a movie extra who missed her shot at becoming a star, her father, any one of a hundred stars, directors, and other film luminaries who promised her everything and gave her nothing.

But a child who had to fight for everything she wanted and more.

It was almost straight out of a film script.  Joan Crawford could have played the mother, and the daughter, well, she wasn’t quite sure who would fit the bill.  But it would be a star-making role if it ever came to the big screen back in the day.

Alicia Wentworth lived in the grandfather’s house.  It was a sprawling mansion that was looked after by a housekeeper, a maid, a cook, a groundsman, and a chauffeur.  That meant the house was never empty, so it was going to be impossible to search.

Unless she found a way of getting the incumbents to leave for a while.

She’d work on that later.

There were plenty of places she could take up a position to watch the house, without her activities being investigated or noticed by the other residents.  The other residents kept to themselves, behind their high walls and quest for privacy.

The neighbors were a who’s who of the city’s luminaries and watching them come and go, and who visited, was as interesting as that of her primary target.

This was the second day of her stakeout.  This morning she was doing the early morning jog, the one that ran the length of the street and back, the one that kept Alicia’s house in sight the whole time, thanks to some special headphones, and glasses.

Her father had some of the best surveillance equipment in the business, and she was compiling a list for Harry so that he might keep up with the latest equipment because sooner or later he was going to need it.

Nothing happened on the first leg.

Three residents departed in their cars, an Audi, a BMW, and a Hummer.  The most interesting was the Hummer.  It was the size of two cars, and she was seriously considering buying one.  Perhaps talk to the owner if the opportunity arose.

The third leg had her meet with the strange lady two houses along, a thick Russian accent, and a medium-sized dog, the breed of which she was not sure.

“You are new,” the woman said, stopping.

Felicity stopped too, breathing hard.  She was a little out of shape.

The dog sat, but it was growling.  Perhaps it didn’t like strangers.

“Just visiting my aunt who lives around the corner.  I’ve just got back from Berlin, and she said I could languish there while I assess my options.”

“What do you do?” the woman asked in fluent German.

“Translator, multiple languages,” she replied in Russian.  “Don’t need a translator, do you?”

The woman shook her head.  “Good luck to you and your exercise.  It’ll no doubt kill you in the end.  It’s what happened to my husband.”

The woman tugged on the dog leash ready to continue her walk.

“What happened, heart attack?”

“No.  His enemies knew he went for a jog every morning, lay in wait, and shot him.  He wasn’t a nice man.”

Then she shrugged and left Felicity still gasping for breath.

“I hope you don’t have any enemies, Miss.”

Not yet, anyway, Felicity thought.

Behind her, she could see the gate to Alicia’s property opening, and a minute later a car drove up to the road and stopped for a moment.  Felicity bent down to look as though she was tying her laces as the car then turned right and headed up the road away from her.

She noticed that Alicia was in the rear, being chauffeur driven in the Audi SUV.  She memorized the license plate and model of the car.  It was another because the previous evening Alicia had returned home in her red Mercedes coupe.

When Alicia’s car turned the corner, Felicity knew she had at least a minute before the car could turn off the road.  It was lucky this time that Felicity’s car was only seconds away, but still it took nearly a minute and a half to get in, start it, and get moving.

Luck was with her, she caught up just as the Audi turned off, heading towards what she assumed would be the main road back to New York.


Forty-five minutes later, the Audi dropped its passenger off near Wall Street, and Felicity tarried long enough at the intersection to see which building Alicia had gone into.  And get a photo of the man she had met outside before going in.

She didn’t recognize him, but that didn’t matter.  Most of the tenants in this part of the city were financial advisors, stockbrokers, and a new variety of con men out to fleece the people who wanted to get into investment but didn’t know-how.

Perhaps she was just cynical.

She found a car park, parked the car, and bet on the fact Alicia would not have concluded her business by the time she got back to the building.  Not far away was a cafĂ©, and where she needed a well-earned cup of coffee.  Now she knew why she would never drive into the city and rely on public transit.

She might have to jostle with thousands of other passengers, but it beat the traffic jams, and cabbies who were very quick to blow their horns of you were in their way.

She watched for an hour, playing a guessing game of who was who going in and out of the building.  Rich people predominantly, who probably knew more than anyone else how to play the game, and then the players, those traders in their expensive suits and swanky manner.

Then there were lawyers in even more expensive suits, playing a different sort of game.
Some met outside the building before going in, some others met outside the building, but couldn’t afford to go in, or were not allowed in, a politician or two, faces she had seen in the papers, probably working on their permanent campaign to stay in office.

And then there were the tourists.  They stood out and viewed the whole place as just another collection of tall buildings.  The bull was nearby, so was the memorial to 9/11.  This part of town was just a stepping stone for them going to another place.

So, it was not going to be the man she went into the building with, it was always going to be about the person she came out with and showing a little more than just a friendly gesture when parting.

None other than Harry’s fathers golfing friend, Florenz.


© Charles Heath 2020

Friday, 17 July 2020

Case 2 - Episode 11 - You don’t sometimes get to pick your partner

Harry had always assumed from the very moment he met Alicia Wentworth, that she would be trouble.  Hiding behind a benign smile, heaping flattery on everyone in sight, and sidling up to the patriarch, Walthenson senior, she had started as his personal assistant at the grand old age of twenty and had split his marriage apart and most of the family too, by the time she was twenty-one.

And for her efforts, and the trouble she created for everyone else, other than Walthenson Senior, she married him in a combined twenty-first birthday and wedding.

For Harry, it was still beyond his comprehension that a drop-dead gorgeous twenty-one-year-old could marry a man in his seventies, but later he came to realize some people will do anything for money.

She had, and then only had to endure the notion of living with him for another seventeen months before he died, of a heart attack, and though Harry could never prove it, he knew she had something to do with it, other than having sex as she had told the police.

She had set the scene perfectly, too perfectly.

But the police did not pursue the matter, and she got away with it.

Now, she was the de facto head of the practice, had more in assets and wealth than the rest of the family combined, and was resented by everyone who worked with her.

And, despite all that, she remained.

Perhaps after all Harry did have some grudging admiration for her.  At least she did not give him a hard time like the rest of the family, but that had to be simply because he didn’t work there.

But that nagging feeling that she was responsible for a lot of problems never left him.  He played nice with her, for appearance's sake, but knew one day, there would be an opportunity to investigate her.

With her alleged association with the Prenderville’s, that day had come.  Just because she gave him a name in an anonymous envelope, didn’t mean she had nothing to do with her.  It wouldn’t surprise him that she set it up this way, telling, but not telling, knowing that the name would preclude him from doing anything, because no one had before, and that included some of the top prosecutors in the city.

The Prenderville’s were virtually untouchable.

And by virtue of her alleged connection to Prenderville, Alicia might think she was too.

How mistaken.


“So, what are you looking so peeved about?”

He came back to reality with a thud.  It might have been him accidentally falling out of his chair, but he just caught himself in time.

He was conscious of the fact that he had to present a better image to Felicity since she had professed to his mother that she was his girlfriend.

She was a girl, and she was a friend, but he hadn’t quite categorized their relationship in those terms.  Not that he minded that she had said so.  He liked her, and he believed she liked him too.

“The fact Alicia might be involved with the woman.  And that she might be involved with my father, in fact, responsible for his disappearance.  It certainly would play into Alicia’s hands if he were to disappear.

And then some.

After the death of his grandfather he had got to sit in on the will reading, and in fact, obtained a copy of the will from the lawyer.

His interest was in the terms, not in the fact that his grandfather had left Harry nothing, in comparison to his father and brothers.  Only those who practiced law would get a share.  However, another little codicil added presumably later, was that in the event of his father predeceasing his grandfather’s second wife, she would inherit Harry’s father’s stake in the practice.

Harry was not sure how that could actually work, but it was complicated and settled on that basis.

The curiosity was on one hand, the grandfather had left nothing but a small stake in the practice for his new wife, and on the other, that he could make Harry’s father basically the caretaker until he died when Alicia would then step up and take everything.

Neither his mother nor Harry could understand why he chose to stay.  If he had left right after his grandfather’s death, that practice would have foundered in six months or less with Alicia at the helm.  He’d built it up and made a comfortable living from it.  Perhaps that was all he wanted in life.

But now he was missing, that put a whole new light on the practice and Alicia.

“Then perhaps it’s time for me to begin surveillance on her.  See where she goes, who she meets, you know the sort of thing.  If she has something to hide, I’ll find it.  And, it’s better if I do it,” Felicity said, “because she knows you and might recognize you.  Me, she wouldn’t know from a bar of soap.”

A generous offer.  “But,” he said, “don’t you already work for your father?”

“Not at the moment.  He’s put me on a semi-permanent holiday until the trouble I caused blows over.  Could take a year, he said, before the police let us back in.  It’s not so bad for him, but they won’t work with me, so he had to cut me loose.  Now, I can work for you.”

“Well, at least I can pay you, but not a lot, mind you.”

“I was hoping you’d say that…about the helping, that is, and not the money.  What are you going to do?”

“Check out the indomitable Mandy Prenderville and try not to get my head shot off.  From what I’ve briefly read about her, and her brothers are very dangerous people.”

“I’m surprised Mandy allowed the press to take the photos.”

“I’m surprised my father is somehow mixed up with the Prenderville’s.  I’m guessing it might not have been readily apparent to my father at the time.  After all, his own father blindsided him with the Wentworth marriage thing, so what else wasn’t he told, or anyone else.  And if my grandfather was working for the Prenderville’s, it would have been a huge account.”

With funds being funneled into the new wife’s pockets.  If nothing else comes out of this investigation, he would somehow get the truth from Alicia, or if not her, others responsible for what had happened.

It might be the single reason why she stayed with Walthenson’s.  It would be interesting to hear what Giselle had to say about it.

“What about Florenz?” Felicity asked, remembering there was another player in the mix.

“Fit him in around everything else.  I’ve no doubt at some point all the players will cross paths, if not intersect, and hopefully, we’ll be there to ask some pertinent questions.”

Felicity decided not to tell Harry about the situation with his mother and his sister.  Somehow, along with everything else, she would juggle all of that too.


© Charles Heath 2020

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Case 2 - Episode 10 - Felicity and Harry meet at the office

When Felicity arrived at Harry’s office late in the afternoon, she found the outer door locked.  Had he gone home for the day, was her immediate thought, but then, she knew that he lived in his office, so he may well be inside.

She knocked on the door and waited.  It gave her a minute or so to consider telling him he needed to put some sort of door chime in so the sound of an arriving visitor could be heard in the inner reaches of the office because if he had the door closed between the outer and inner office, it was doubtful if she heard the knocking.

Except…

She knocked louder on the door, much louder, and enough to draw a look from a discrete neighbor who stuck her head out her door to see what was going on.

Felicity was saved from talking to her when Harry opened the door.

“I was coming, you know.  I can hear the knocking.”

“I thought you had the door closed.”

“No.  I was waiting for the delivery person to arrive.  Chinese.  Again.”

She was going to have to do something about his diet because it consisted of noodles, rice, hamburgers, fried chicken, and pizza.  Another year of that he was going to be overweight and have a heart attack.

He stood to one side and let her pass.

“Checking up on me?”  He closed the door and leaned against it.

Felicity took off her coat and put it over the back of Ellen’s chair, then sat in her seat.

“Should I have to?  You are doing as you’ve been told by the doctor?  Resting?”

“As much as possible.  We have a new case, you know.”

“And I hardly think anything is going to happen to your father, that probably hasn’t happened already.  Had I not seen the note, my first guess would be that he’s gone to ground with a new girlfriend.  Corinne seems to think so.”

“So do my brothers at work, and others, though I’m not sure if they’re trying to convince me, or themselves.  It’s a very dysfunctional office.”

“If you don’t mind me saying, you’ve got a very dysfunctional family.  One may very well follow the other.”

Another knock of the door saw Harry go over and open it.

Not exactly what Felicity would do, but it was something else she would have to talk to him about.  A camera outside the door so they could screen callers.

It was the delivery man.  Harry passed the man the money and got a box in return.  Harry closed the door and put the box on the desk where Felicity was sitting.

“I thought you’d drop in, so I got enough for two.”


After setting out the boxes he sat on the other side of the table and they ate.  He had brought two bottles of beer from the fridge in his office.

“So, as you were saying, you visited the office.  Any leads?”

“Ellen, my assistant, is one of Aunt Giselle’s spies, sent here to make sure I don’t get into trouble.”

“She failed badly.”

“No, it happened after she went home.  She doesn’t live here, so you can hardly blame her for what happened.”

“You’re too forgiving.  Anything else?”

“I don’t believe a word my other Aunt, Alicia says.  She hates my father, and I think she believes she should be the head of chambers.  She was quick to take my grandfather’s office when he died.”

“Self-preservation, perhaps.  Who got all the money?”

“There wasn’t any.  My father thought she had squirreled it away the day after he died.  No one will ever really know.”

“She play golf?”

A rather odd question Harry thought.  “Why?”

“You know that character Florenz that I mentioned to your mother, and she said was one of your father’s golfing partners.  Seems he has a connection to a woman named Mandy Prenderville, as apparently does your father.  Do you know anything about the Prenderville’s?”

It was the same name as on the sheet of paper inside the envelope that Alicia Wentworth had given him, and enough to send a chill down his spine.

What the hell had his father got himself into?


© Charles Heath 2020

Friday, 3 July 2020

Case 2 - Some supplementary characters - 2

In order for Harry to investigate the whereabouts of his missing father, though there are varying opinions in regard to that, he is going back to his father's legal practice.

There, he is going to find a variety of family members, and relatives, some of who he'd rather not see, but unfortunately, he's going to have to.

There are, of course, others who are involved in the story, and these are some more:



Jason Prenderville

Has been at the top of the list of the FBI’s most wanted, the perpetrator of all manner of crimes, reputed head of the Prenderville family.

As no one has heard from him for over a year, it is presumed that he is dead, but Sykes thinks he is in hiding after a hit gone wrong on another crime family’s head.

Mason Prenderville

The younger brother of Jason, and rumored to have killed his older brother to take over the family business.  Currently in jail serving a life sentence, allegedly for the crimes that his brother committed.

There was never any love lost between the brothers.

Mandy Prenderville

Reputedly the head of the Prenderville family, and who had allegedly cleaned up the criminal activities and now is the head of a conglomerate of legitimate businesses.

She is also the head of the Prenderville Charity Trust, and spends most of her time at the Trust.
Sykes does not believe the Prenderville’s, under Mandy, has ceased all illegal activities.

She may have arranged for the killing of Jason, and the sending to prison of Mason in order to get control of the family business.  She is far more ruthless than the two brothers.


© Charles Heath 2020

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Case 2 - Episode 9 - Now you see them, then you don’t

Felicity went for a long walk around the University grounds and ended up in the library.  She needed a quiet corner where she could do some research, starting with using her iPad.

At least, in using wither of her devices, a tablet, and a smartphone, she fitted in with everyone else.  All she needed was a stack of books in front of her.

First on the agenda was the man named Lorenz, and typed in the name in the search box and waited for the number of hits.

Nearly 22 million.  She had to break that down and then added ‘name’ to the search.

6.8 million.  Great, she thought.  She scanned the first six or seven pages, and most were about the meaning of the name, and the rest were about Florence in Italy.

Nice thought, a trip to Italy.  She’s been once with her parents years ago, and they had gone to Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, Rome, and Sorrento.  She had loved Sorrento the best.

Enough daydreaming.

This wasn’t working.  She needed to have more information about who the person was.  She was not even sure Florenz was male or female, though the odds were on the former if they were a golfing partner.

Then she had an idea, professionals gravitated towards other professionals in those fields like medicine, law, accounting, upper management.  Florenz had to be one of those.  They also had to be in the New York area, because of the fact they played golf.

Twenty minutes later she had him.  Emil Florenz.  Doctor, not of the strictly medical sort, but a psychiatrist, aged 50, not married, and liked to be seen with beautiful women.  One photo that did catch her eye was Florenz with Harry’s mother.

Not recent, but many years ago, when they were at University together, and presumably before she met Harry’s father.  She took out her notepad and scribbled, “bet mother and Florenz have reacquainted’.

Yes, that was certainly the look of love in those eyes, Felicity thought.

Next, she searched for anything else, and found that he was employed at a number of hospitals in outpatient clinics, and the board of one charitable institution,

One that raised a lot of its money from golf tournaments.  And, yes, there was a photo of Florenz and Harry’s father, looking like best friends forever.

This guy was squeaky clean, so how could it possibly be the man she was looking for?

Then, scrolling pages quickly to see what else she might find, it had stopped on another photo, this time with three people in it, Florenz on one side, and Harry’s father on the other, but it was the woman in the middle that was of most interest.

Mandy Prenderville.

She knew the name Prenderville.  Everyone who was anyone knew that name, and also knew never to go near them.  Search over.  Investigation over, for now.

Time to go.


In previous surveillance, Felicity knew Corinne usually came out of the main administration block and headed for the subway through a shortcut.  She had positioned herself halfway, with a vantage point that would not be seen by Corinne and give her a full view of anyone who might be following her.

It was only an off chance there might be, and a greater chance the afternoon would come to nothing.  She did have some of Corinne’s feelings about her father, so it was not a total loss.

She waited, and waited until it was almost as the point when she was about to leave.

It was then she noticed Corinne come out of the administration block with her girlfriend [name] and ambled towards the subway like time didn’t matter.  Perhaps for her, it didn’t.

With one eye of the two girls, she kept the other behind them, seeing, checking, and discarding candidates, until the list came down to one.  Trying not to look obvious and not very good at it.

It might be a hapless suitor working up the courage to talk to her, but it seemed a little too contrived.

No, that boy or young man was definitely keeping her in his sights.  She took a number of photographs of him, and a few as close as the zoom on her phone camera would let her.

It was not a face she recognized.

She joined to procession, keeping back enough distance that if he turned around, she would be just another student going home.

When the girls went down the subway stairs and their heads disappeared from sight, the boy started running towards the stairs.

Felicity adjusted her speed too but didn’t run.  That would bring unwanted attention.

When she reached the top of the stairs, the girls were gone, and the boy was looking at destination boards.

She knew where Corinne was going, he did not, but she could just see them ahead, walking amid a group of other travelers.  Then the boy saw them and dashed for the turnstile.

She had got through before him and kept him in sight.  She didn’t need to worry about where the girls were going like he had to.  At the top of the ramp to their train, he had just turned the corner and looking feverishly for them.

A train was in at the station, having just arrived and disgorging passengers, with others waiting to get on.  Corrinne and her friend were closer to the front of the train.  The boy was now dashing for the train and meeting a headwind, passengers getting off the train before leaving the station.

Then, suddenly, the train doors closed and it left the platform.  The boy had been too late and missed the train.

In his haste, he had dropped a piece of paper from his back pocket and she went over to pick it up.  Not a piece of paper, but a photograph.

Of Corinne, on the University grounds.


© Charles Heath 2020

Case 2 - Some supplementary characters - 1

In order for Harry to investigate the whereabouts of his missing father, though there are varying opinions in regard to that, he is going back to his father's legal practice.

There, he is going to find a variety of family members, and relatives, some of who he'd rather not see, but unfortunately, he's going to have to.

There are, of course, others who are involved in the story, and these are some:


Merilyn Watson – fathers personal assistant

She has worked at the practice for 20 years or so, most of them working as Harry’s father’s personal assistant, some of them as his ‘mistress’.  She knows more about Xavier Walthenson that his wife does.

This woman was selected by the Grandfather Walthenson and was briefly suspected by others in the practice she was his illegitimate daughter.  She wasn’t, just the daughter of an old friend.  She literally knows where the bodies are buried.


Ellen – Harry’s PI front desk

Ellen Jacobsen is Harry’s personal assistant, general office factotum, and was selected by Harry’s grandmother, Giselle White, and ‘placed’ with Harry without his knowledge.  She is there to keep an eye on Harry and make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble. 

Which didn’t quite work when he was kidnapped in his own office.

She does external research via Giselle’s office, which is at Harry’s father’s practice.


Emil Florenz

Aside from being Harry's father's golfing partner, or one of a group of four, he is the most important, as he is on the board of a charity, the same charity that both men organize golf fundraisers for.

He and Harry's mother and father all went to the same university, and it appeared that Emil and Harry's mother were an item back then, and, from what Felicity is about to discover, more than like an item now.

Florenz is a psychologist by trade, works as several hospitals and outpatient clinics, aged 50, not currently married, and likes to be seen with beautiful women.

And, he knows Mandy Prenderville.

But more sinister: his is the name Felicity got from a dying man and quite possibly someone who knows about Harry's disappearance.


 Charles Heath 2020