Sunday 23 December 2018

Episode 30 – Interrogation

Sykes burst back up onto the main floor, much the same as he had when he came through the front door.  He came over to where Harry was waiting and stood in front of him making his extra six inches in height intimidating.
"Where the hell is my body?"
“I have no idea.  One minute it was there, in the room, and I was lying next to it.  The next, it was gone.”
“Bodies, especially dead bodies, do not get up and walk away.”
“It was in that room.  I came up here to call you.”  He’d already decided not to tell Sykes about Al’s daughter Cathy.  It would only complicate matters, and he needed to talk to her before Sykes did.
“I want this place searched from top to bottom,  Now,” he yelled out to no one in particular, and men started running in all directions.
His face was turning red, a sure sign he was getting impatient and very annoyed.  He turned back to face me.  “How long were you up here?”
“Five minutes tops.”
“And you went back down?”
“Yes.  By the time I got back down there, the body was gone.”
Sykes glared at him, and said nothing.  Harry could almost see the wheels turning in Sykes’ brain.  There were at least a dozen questions Harry knew Sykes should be asking but hadn’t.
Then he did ask one, but not the first on Harry’s list.
“How are you involved in this?”
“I told you on the phone, one minute I’m talking to Al, the next I’m waking up here, in the basement, next to a body.”
“Yes, are you sure that whack on the head isn’t causing hallucinations?
I was beginning to think it might, considering how both Al and Cathy had come and gone without a trace.  “It’s possible.”
“And remind me again, what’s your connection to the Jones’?”
"The brothers were both my clients.”
"They were, it seems your clients.  They’re both dead.  Are you sure you didn’t kill both of them for their wives?  I’ll be checking your bank account you know.”
Of course, but there wouldn’t be much in it.  And, Harry thought, it was almost laughable that Sykes could even imagine that Harry could be a hitman.
“What were you doing for Al?"
"Watching his brother."
“That didn’t turn out so well, did it?  What were you doing for that brother?"
“Watching Al to see if he was having an affair with the company secretary, or Joe’s wife.”
“Was he, with either or both?”
“Didn’t get far enough into the case to find out.  But I had nothing to do with either of the deaths."
"You have been at the site of both murders.  Not a very good start to your defense.  Why didn't you tell me about this earlier?"
"Client confidentiality.  Al was alive then."
"You said you were brought here.  I didn't see any evidence of a fight, nor you being held captive."
"My hands were tied."
Harry held out his hands, pulled up his sleeves, but the marks made by the rope had disappeared.  Nor Harry remembered, had there been any rope, or anything else, left in the room.  Except for the gun, which he hoped he had buried deep enough in the boxes.
"A likely story then."  Sykes looked at the uniformed officer.  "Search him."

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Thursday 20 December 2018

Episode 29 – Where is Al?

Harry dashed back down to the basement to see if Cathy was still there.
She was not in the room where he had last seen her.  He then frantically searched the rest of the basement.  It was empty except for him.
He could feel the gun weighing down his pocket. He pulled it out and looked at it, had a smell.
It had been recently fired.
Very recently.
He instantly realized he was holding the murder weapon and his fingerprints were all over it.  About the same time as the thought that perhaps Cathy had shot her own father, and she had just made him the number one suspect
He went back into the room where Al was and turned on the light.
Another shock, if it was possible.  Al was gone.  No body, no blood, no rope, nothing.  It was as if he had never been in the room.
Harry carefully and quickly wiped the gun clean of his prints and hid it away in the bottom of one of the storage boxes, and made it upstairs just in time to see Sykes and several other police cars, sirens blaring and lights flashing arrive outside the building.
Harry had a feeling of impending doom the moment he saw the police car screeching to a halt, and Sykes leap out of it while it was still moving.
Sykes was not alone.  Suddenly the building was swarming with police, both plainclothes and uniformed officers.
The front door was open, still unlocked from the time Al's daughter had arrived.  
If it was his daughter, or if she worked there at all.  Why hadn’t he considered that possibility before?  Harry, at that moment in time, didn't know what to believe, except she had disappeared and left him holding the gun.
"Where is he?" Sykes demanded as he came through the door.
"He was downstairs."  Harry pointed in the direction of the staircase.
Sykes didn't stop.  "Watch him," he barked at a uniformed officer.  Another detective ran to keep up with him, looking haplessly at Harry as he went past.
Harry shrugged.  Where could he go?  One uniformed officer watched him, another stood at the door.  Others by now covered the other exits.  He was trapped.  He reached for a handkerchief to wipe his brow.  Sweating on a cold night, not a good sign.
Then he heard Sykes start yelling. “Walthenson?”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Episode 28 – Being a law abiding citizen

Sykes was still in the office, going through the files on his desk, trying to catch up on the paperwork.  More than just being ordinarily cantankerous and argumentative, the latest departmental staff cuts had removed whatever humanistic tendencies he had left.  
The phone on his desk rang and he glared at it.  Would he answer it?  It could only mean trouble.
He shook his head and picked up the receiver.  “Sykes.”
“It’s Harry.”
“Walthenson?  What the hell are you doing calling me at this hour of the night?”
His tone made Harry think twice about telling him the news.  Then he considered the consequences if he didn’t.  “I've got another body for you."
"Another body?  What are you on about?"
"In the Jones case.  It's Joseph's brother, Al.  I just happened to trip over him."
"What?  Where? he barked.
"In the basement of the Outtel Finance Company."
"And what the hell are you doing there?"
"I was left here with the body.  Someone belted me over the head when I was talking to him in the parking station opposite their office block."
"A likely story.  Don't you move.  I’ll be there in five minutes."
As Harry replaced the receiver he had the distinct impression Sykes didn't believe him.  Harry’s first instinct was to run, but now Sykes knew he was involved.
It was then Harry Realized the woman had not followed him up from the basement.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Episode 27 – Questions from the floor

“No.  No police.”
Harry looked down at the body for almost a minute, as if he was expecting Al to start breathing again.  It was odd, he thought, but something had changed since the first time he’d seen Al on the floor.
He shook his head.  It was not possible.  Al was dead.
Just the same, he reached out to check for a pulse.
“What are you doing?”  It wasn’t exactly a shriek, but it was enough to stop him.
“Checking to see if there is a pulse.  He might be still alive.”
“A bullet wound to the heart, I don’t think so.  Just leave the body.  It’s giving me the creeps.”
In that dark and gloomy, musty smelling room, she was right.  I stood up.
“We have to find out who did this.”  An odd reaction from a daughter that seemed glad he was dead.
“My money is on Brightwater.”
“Are you a detective or a fool?”
“He’s the last man standing.  Please don't tell me you’re in a relationship with him?”
“Once, but not now.  I’ve moved on.  Finance and money isn’t my thing unless you count spending it.”
By the look of her, she had expensive tastes, a woman he couldn’t afford. 
"Where are we?”  Perhaps it was the first question he should have asked the mysterious woman.
"In the basement of the Outtel Finance Company building.”
“What are you doing down here?”
“I heard noises and came to investigate."
It didn’t exactly answer the question.  “I mean, at Outtel?”
“I received a text message to meet my mother here.”
“How did you get in?”
“I work here.”
Of course, she was a Jones.  It is a family business.
Then something else struck him, that she was hardly the grieving daughter. "I don't understand your lack of emotion."
"I was close to doing it myself.  Someone saved me the effort.  He killed any feelings I had towards him six months ago.  If it wasn't for the job, and the money, I’d be long gone."
What the hell, she was more of a realist than some.  It was, however, an attribute the police would no doubt misinterpret.
He patted his pockets looking for his mobile phone.  It was missing.  "Where can I find a phone?"
"Upstairs.  Turn right at the top, the passage will take you to the front foyer.  The lights should still be on.  Dial 9 for a line out."
He turned to leave and made it as far as the door.
"You might need this."  She threw him the gun and he caught it by the barrel.
"I don't think so."
"Keep it.  Just in case."
He dropped it into his pocket.  "Coming?"
"I’m right behind you."

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Monday 17 December 2018

Episode 26 - A new ally?

After all the shocks of the last few hours, it was impossible to be surprised.  Perhaps she was married to Jeremy Brightwater, just to complete the circle of ‘friends’.
She lowered the gun.  "Is your name Walthenson?”
“My mother told me about you. She’s been hiring PI’s for a few months now, trying to find out if he’s screwing the office manager.  All I know is that he’s a thorough bastard. If you want to know, both brothers were as bad as each other.”
“I take it Jennifer Jones is your mother?”
“She is, sometimes.  I think I drew the short straw when it came to parents.”
Harry thought it odd, lying on the floor, tied up, and having a conversation as if the situation was entirely different.  It was, he thought, a slight worry that she hadn’t offered to untie him, and she still had the gun.
“Being her daughter, perhaps you might know.  Is she having an affair with Joseph?  Al seemed to think she was and wanted me to keep an eye on him for just that reason.”
There was just an almost imperceptible change in her expression, almost as if she had expected the question.
"You have to be kidding.  She absolutely hates Joseph, and so do I.  I can assure you she is not having an affair with him, or anyone else for that matter."
She sounded believable, but Harry knew she was not exactly telling the truth, not all of it anyway.  There was still that other person in the car when she had driven off from the station the other day.
Cathy crossed the room towards him, put her gun on the floor, and leaned over to untie the knots.
"Roll over.  I hope this doesn't ruin my nails," she muttered under her breath.
So did he.  Hell hath no fury than a woman who wrecks her nails.  That much he knew from his sister Corinne.
It took a few minutes and, thankfully, no broken nails to set himself free.  As he slowly stood, urging life back into his limbs, he said, "We should call the police."

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Thursday 13 December 2018

Episode 25 – The girl in a red dress

As the door slowly swung inwards, a dark shadow started moving towards him.  It was much brighter outside the room and the door opening brightened the room, and the sudden burst of bright light hurt his eyes.
He blinked once, then again, hardly believing his eyes.
The proverbial beguiling blonde.
Early twenties, slim, in a one-piece red dress that looked like it cost more than his annual salary, with matching shoes and nails.  Holding a gun pointed directly at his head.
The door hitting the stopper broke his reverie.
If he was going to die, this was one of the preferred methods.
Lavender, her perfume was lavender.
The gun never left his head.  It would be his luck she was an expert marksman, the local gun club champion.
"Make it quick," he said voice hoarse.
"Make what quick?"
Even in the pale light, her perplexed look was obvious.  She stopped several feet short of where he was now sitting.  High heels made her look taller than she was.
There was no mistaking the look of annoyance on her face.
 Why?  Because of Al?  Who was she?
"If you're going to shoot me..."
"I'm not.  Well, not yet."  She glanced at the body.  "Your work?"
"No.  I don't carry a gun."
"Perhaps you should."
He noticed her gun hand had acquired the shakes.  "Don't you think you should aim it elsewhere?  I'm just a little nervous..."
" might accidentally go off?  You're safe.  Whoever shot him did the world a favor.  I take it you were not his friend."
"He was my client.  I'm a private detective."
After Harry said it, he thought it sounded stupid.  He certainly felt stupid, tied up.
"Apparently not a very good one.  What are you doing here?"
"Got hit on the head, and didn’t have a choice.  Who are you?"
"I‘m his daughter, Cathy."

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Episode 24 – Was it a case of cases closed?

Aside from the shock of being left tied up in a dark room with a dead man, Harry had time to reflect of the possibility that he no longer had cases to investigate because one client was dead, Joe, and the client, Jennifer, her husband was now dead.
No need to try and catch either of them with each other’s spouse, or Miriam.
Cases closed.
But it did beg the question, was Jeremy Brightwater either in deep trouble or dead, or both.
Harry knew he was in deep trouble himself, and if he could not find a way out of his current situation, he might also be dead.  If only he could get his hands free, and call Felicity.  She could find him, no doubt tracking him by GPS.
He looked around to see if there was anything to aid his escape.
A dead body, no.  But it might need some explaining though if he ever did get out of the room.
A cardboard box, one or more of many on the shelves, no.
Anything loose and made of metal?  Maybe.
Why couldn't this be like the movies?
There was always an implement on hand to facilitate the hero's escape against all odds.  Perhaps he wasn't the hero.
He closed his eyes and groaned inwardly.  Hadn't he known all along it might come to this?  His father warned him when Harry told him he was going to take up the profession, there would come a time when everything would go wrong.
Lamenting the failure to heed what seemed no to be sage advice, he heard a key in the door and the rattle of the handle turning.
The door slowly creaked open.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Episode 23 - There’s a body in the...

Harry woke in what he first thought was darkness, but it was just his eyes not quite working as well as they should.  The room was dark, smelling of old paper and the mustiness of age and neglect.
It took a few minutes for his eyes to adjust, hoping that the blow to the head hadn’t cause temporary or permanent blindness.  It was a room, fully enclosed, very quiet, and lit by a single low wattage bulb over what appeared to be a doorway.
The door was closed, adding to the effect of a confined space.
But instead of being cold and damp, it felt hot and humid, and he blinked away another bead of sweat that ran slowly down his forehead and into his eye and stinging.  Others were running down the side of his face.
He was tied up, lying on his hands behind his back making them feel numb, and his legs tied in front of him.  Harry wished now he had paid more attention to the Houdini movie to learn his escape moves.
How did he get to this room, and who brought him and tied him up?
Frightened didn't quite describe how he felt.
Harry wriggled his hands and felt the tightly knotted rope dig into his skin.  No escape there.
Did Al do it?  The last thing he remembered was talking to Al.  But Al was in front of him after he turned.  The blow had come from behind so Al could not have hit him.  Someone else, perhaps an accomplice?
Why would Al do this to him?  He was working for him and had a job to do.
Then there was another issue, questions popping into his head faster than an oncoming train.  How did they, whoever they were, or for that matter Al, know he had left his car in the car park?
He'd not picked up on the fact he was being followed, a sure sign he needed to work on his surveillance skills.
But, where was Al now?
After another, more concentrated investigation, Harry discovered he was in a sparsely furnished room, with shelves and boxes along two of the walls, and a row of cabinets along the other.
It was an effort to turn around or focus his eyes.  Waves of pain ran through his head.
Then he realized there was something on the floor behind him. He worked his body around to take a closer look.
It was a body.
His heart missed a beat.  It was his client, Al.
With a bullet hole in his shirt about where Al’s heart would be situated, and a large red stain around it.  A very familiar face staring at him from sightless eyes.
There was no doubt about it.
Al was dead.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Monday 10 December 2018

Episode 22 – Speaking of the devil

It was a not very far to the multi-story car park where Harry left his car.
On the way it rained twice, the first time a light shower, the second, probably because he had to walk in the open, was a deluge, and he was almost soaked to the skin by the time he reached the entrance and stepped into the elevator.
Just his luck to follow the weather prediction of no rain today.  When had the weather bureau ever got the weather right?
It was that thought on his mind when he stepped out of the elevator and headed towards his car, that and the thought of spending time with Felicity.
As he went to open the door of his car, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
There was no mistaking the undoubted menace in his tone.
As Harry turned to look him, he noticed Al's face was red.  He looked angry, very angry.
"Did you get the incriminating photo?"
 “What the hell are you talking about?  I just found him about five minutes before someone shot him.  And he was certainly not out jogging with your wife.”
“You didn’t see her?”
“No.  The last time I saw her she was in a large car, handing out envelopes of money.  I doubt she’s conducting an affair in the back of the car.
“Did you shoot your brother?  It sure as hell looked like you bursting out of the bushes and jumping into a red car, which I might add belongs to the company you work for, or own.”
“What?  Me?  No.  Why would I?  He was the brains behind the business.”
“What were you doing there?”
“I went to talk to him.  Didn’t get a chance.  I saw him get shot and left in a hurry, thinking if the cops found me there, I’d get blamed for it.”
“Any ideas about who would want to kill him?”
“Anyone of a dozen other jealous husbands.  But I think I know who the killer is.  You have to protect me."
"If you know who it was, go to the police."
He laughed.  "Do you expect them to believe an ex-con?"
Harry conceded that might be a problem, but surely Sykes wouldn't be biased.  Perhaps he would but it was a risk he would have to take if Al wanted to stay alive.
 Harry went to reassure Al, but instead felt a heavy blow on the back of his head.
And, just after that, everything went black.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Sunday 9 December 2018

Episode 21 – Some sage advice

It was mid-afternoon, and it had started raining.
Felicity didn’t seem to care, not like some of the girls Harry had known in the past.  Felicity was more of the tomboy sort, who cared little for appearances and less about what people thought of her.
They reached a cafe not far from Outtel just before the rain started to pour down.
Once they’d ordered coffee and cake, Felicity said, “You look like you’ve got a very interesting case going on.  The finance place, that’s a front for something, and it’s got nothing to do with loans, commercial or otherwise.”
“Money laundering?  I’m only here for the cheating husbands, not take on the mafia or organized crime.  That’s Sykes’ department.”
“Who’s this Sykes?”
“A cop.”
“And you think he’s legit?  Hell, most of the cops we’ve dealt with hare bent one way or another.  You want something done properly; you have to do it yourself.”
“I’m not looking for trouble.”
“You saw the mug shots on the wall, you’re already knee deep in trouble.  That Al character, he looks like an enforcer, that Miriam type, red hair or not, she looks like she escaped from jail.  She’s got criminal written all over her.”
She had he phone in her hand and had been typing in information, and now, when Harry glanced over, he could see she’d been searching the internet.
She showed me the phone and a picture of Al.  “This your guy?”
“He’s got a rap sheet a mile long.  Assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, illegal gambling, loan sharking, even went away for a few months for suspected murder.  Guys like that don’t go straight, they just buy fancier suits and speak politely, while still banging your head against the wall.”
“What about Brightwater and the brother, Joseph.  They didn’t look like criminals.”
“If Al is, the brother is, and as for Brightwater, I’m betting he’s the schmuck front man who’ll take the fall when it all falls apart.  The Al’s and Joe’s of this world just move on.”
“You’re very cynical.”
“Realistic, Harry.  There’s a difference.”
Harry couldn’t help but think either she or her father had been a schmuck somewhere along the line
“So what you’re telling me is that I have to be careful dealing with these people?”
“Yes.  Now, I have to get back to my office, my father just sent me a message to tell me we’ve got a break in the case I’m working on.  You tread carefully with the Jones brothers, and let me know if you need any help.”
Coffee drunk, cake eaten, advice given and taken.

Time to go back to work.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Episode 20 - The Unhelpful Receptionist

It was a short walk back to the office building, showing the signs of recent renovation with brick pillars and large glass windows, suitable opaque, with the company name across the front in large yellow letters/
Two large doors in the centre opened automatically as they approached.
Anyone passing the office would set off the door, and Harry wondered if that would annoy the receptionist.
Inside it was polished white tiles, a shiny dazzling white counter, with the company name again across the front of it in silver raised letters.  All of the letters bar one were in perfect symmetry.  The walls were white, and the lights were very bright.
It felt like they were on a movie set.
The receptionist was not at her desk, if there was a receptionist, and if it was a ‘her’.  Harry realized he was making assumptions when he should be keeping an open mind.
Hew remembered the workshop that told him to leave his prejudices at the door, and to unlearn all of his preconceptions about people and places.  It was a little bit harder than he thought it would be.
Felicity inclined her head towards a set of photos on the wall.
Harry had been looking back towards the desk, and to one side a doorway secured by a digital lock.  Twice he had seen a shadow behind the opaque glass window.  Someone was watching them.
“Some of the staff,” Felicity whispered.
In the corner no far from them was a CCTV camera, watching and no doubt recording their movements.  For security no doubt.
Some of those in the photos Harry recognised.
Jospeh Jones, titled Loans Facilitator,
Alphonse Jones, Collections Manager,
Jeremy Brightwater. General Manager,
Jennifer Jones, Customer Services Manager,
Miriam Walters, Accounts manager,
Edwina Jones, Office Manager.
Quite possibly a family owned business, Harry thought.  It was good to put names to faces, and a little insight into family relationships.  According to two of those in the photos, Joseph said his wife Edwina was having an affair with Al, and Jennifer said Al was having an affair with Miriam.
Edwina, from her photo, didn’t look the type to have an affair with anyone, striking a pose that looked like that of a woman in the temperance league at the turn of the last century.
Miriam didn’t have her trade mark red hair in her photo and actually looked reasonably attractive.
Jennifer was the only one who looked happy.
Al, in his shiny polyester suit looked like a thug in an ill fitting suit.  Admittedly he looked thinner now than he did in his picture.

Harry heard the door beside the reception desk close gently and turned.  A young woman who didn’t have her photo on the wall was standing behind the desk.
“May I help you?”
Just a hint of a Chinese accent.  Harry thought she might be Japanese. 
“What sort of loans do you have here?”
“We provide the financial options for large projects, and we do not deal with the general public.  I’m sorry.”
“The name outside seemed to suggest otherwise.  My mistake.”
I looked at Felicity.  “We should go.”
She whispered back, just loud enough for the receptionist to hear, “I told you they wouldn’t give us a loan.”
I opened the door for her, she smiled at me, and we left.
If Miriam was there, Harry hoped she hadn’t recognised him.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Monday 26 November 2018

Episode 19 - The Outtell Finance Company

Harry was, quite literally, astonished.
He'd hoped it would be the killer who’d got in the red car.
But Al?  It couldn’t possibly be him because the person who came out of the bushes was a lot thinner.
What was he expecting?
A blonde bombshell, dressed in a matching red dress?  He'd been reading too many detective stories!  He had to get his mind back on the job.  What was Al doing at the Outtel Finance Company? What was he doing driving one of their company cars?
What exactly was the Outtel Finance Company?
Given Joe’s description of his brother, was it the front for a loan sharking operation?
It was time to do a little detective work, whilst fending off questions from Felicity, and having lunch.

“So, you’re investigating this Al Jones character, are you?”  Felicity picked over her Caesar salad like a sparrow looking for morsels.
“Yes.”  Harry decided to start with the monosyllabic answers and see how long he could get away with it.
“There must be more to it than just ‘investigate’.”
“There is.”
“So spill it.  What’s he done?”  She found something she liked and scooped it up with the fork.
“It’s just an ordinary divorce case.  The wife thinks he’s having an affair with the office manager, calls her a red-headed floozy.”
“Wow.  A floozy?  Haven’t heard that expression except in the old movies.” 
She found another morsel and scooped it up, followed by a sip of what was a half decent chardonnay, even if it wasn’t from France.
“Neither had I, but having seen her, somehow it seemed apt.”
His steak was a little on the tough side, more medium than medium rare.  He was still tossing up whether he’d send it back.  He decided against it, the waiter looked like he was having a bad day.
“Who were you expecting to get into that car?  It seems to me you were both surprised, and disappointed.”
Perceptive girl.  Harry was, thinking it might be a big break, and a chance to get some points from Sykes.
No such luck.
Al didn’t fit the profile of the man who’d got into the car at the crime scene.  Unless the man in the bushes didn’t shoot Joe, but, then, why was he in the bushes?
“I’m not sure.  The murdered brother, Joe, told me he suspected his brother Al, the man who got into the car was having an affair with his wife.  Motive enough for Al to shoot him, since Joe said his brother was capable of anything, but it doesn’t fit the profile of the person I saw fleeing the scene of the crime.”
“You were there when it happened?”
“More by chance than good management.  I had Joe under surveillance, and he rumbled me in the car.  Seems I was not the first to play the brothers’ game.”
She pushed the plate away, finished.  It didn’t look like she’d started.  Harry was not up to eating any more of that steak.
“What now?” she asked.

“Let’s see if we can get a loan.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Sunday 25 November 2018

Episode 18 - The Red Car

He shuddered as another blast of Antarctic air cut through his clothes and chilled him to the bone.
Time to move before he froze.
It was about 100 yards and took several minutes before he was beside the car.  He checked the license plate, just to make sure, then looked around.
There were several tall buildings, with a smaller one between them, the name of the owner emblazoned across the doorway.  Outtel Finance Company.  Two stories, modern looking, or renovated modern.
The meter had about 15 minutes left.
He went up the road to a bus stop and sat down to wait.
Someone would either have to come and feed the meter or drive off in the car.  It would be interesting to see whom.  He guessed if the car was out the front, rather than in a parking spot, the person driving it had just called in briefly.
“I thought it was you,” a female voice came from beside him.
So intent on watching the car he had failed to see Felicity arrive.
“What are we looking at, or are you just waiting for the bus?”
He turned.  She was bundled up in fake fur, and for a moment he almost mistook her for a large rabbit.
“The red car at that meter just down the road.”
“Are you thinking of buying one?”
He looked back at the car.  “I’m hoping it will belong to the murderer of Joe Jones.  I saw it driving away from the scene of the crime.”
“That car.  Then we’d better get some photos of the driver, hadn’t we.”  Harry heard her rummaging in her handbag, and then felt rather than saw the camera.  Just the sort he needed but couldn’t afford.  With a telephoto lens.
“Let me know when you see them, that is if you recognize them.”

Ten minutes later they were rewarded.
His newest client, Al, the man who’d been with the red-headed floozy, came out of the building, stopping to light a cigarette before getting into the car.
Behind him, he could hear the clicking of the camera taking multiple photos.
Then Al slammed the door after him and drove off.
“Anyone you know?” she asked, putting the camera away.
“It’s a long story, but yes.”

“Good.  You can buy me lunch and tell me all about it.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Friday 23 November 2018

Episode 17 - Explanation

“I should charge you with obstructing justice Walthenson.”
Sykes had escorted Harry to an interview room, told him to sit, and then glared at him for a few minutes while he worked out what he was going to say.
Harry knew it would be only a matter of time before the police discovered he had been at the scene of the crime, spoken only minutes before the victim was shot, and was then seen speeding away.
“I was trying to catch up with the red car that a man who came out of the bushes got into.”
Harry had given him the same information about the car as he had to Felicity.
“And there were two people in the car, a man and a woman.”
“It looked like a man who came out of the bushes, but it could have been a woman.”
“Where did the car go?”
“I don’t know.  They suddenly realized I was following them and they got away from me.  I’m not exactly a rally driver, nor is my car a genuine pursuit vehicle.  It was hard enough just to keep up.”
He kept the part about the car belonging to the Outtel Finance Company to himself.  Sykes would find out soon enough, but he wanted a head start before Sykes got there.
Sykes sat opposite him.  This interview was not over.
“What were you doing there.  And don’t try to tell me it was a coincidence.”
Should he tell Sykes about the cases involving the Jones brothers?  Given Sykes mood, he might have.  Perhaps just a part.
“The victim’s brother asked me to investigate if his wife was having an affair with the victim.”  It didn’t sound quite the same out loud as it had in his head.
“Jennifer and Joseph?”  He snorted in derision.  “Those two hate each other.”
“The brothers or Jennifer and Joseph?”
“Both.  If that’s what Al said, then it’s the pot called the kettle black, if you want to know.  I’d walk away from them Harry.  The Jones boys are nothing but trouble.”
“It’s a case, better than chasing lost cats.”
“This’ll get you dead if you start poking around in their business.  Al’s a killer, and Joe, well, he was just downright mean.  Walk away Harry, while you still can.  Go.  I don’t want to see you again.  Understand?”
Harry nodded and stood.
There was no way he was leaving this alone, not now.

Relieved, he stepped out into the fresh air, away from the artificial heat and stuffiness of the interview room.  It wasn’t going to be the last time he would end up in that room.
It was early afternoon, the time of day' when the heat should make itself felt, but it didn’t.  Unseasonably cold, the temperature was hovering around 8 degrees Celsius. 
A sharp gust of wind swept some garbage up the street, and he watched it for a minute until some paper caught on a light post.
Then he saw it.  The red car.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Episode 16 - Summoned

Felicity Benoit was a fellow private detective, who had been in the profession not longer than Harry had.  They had met at a convention in New Jersey where he had learned a great deal about being a Private Detective, and Felicity.
She was honest, forthright, and worked for her father, a distinguished man in a profession of sometimes somewhat shady characters.  A lot, he found, were ex-police, as was Jacob Benoit.
She was quite good looking as well.
They had attended a sidebar event, where the participants were given a set of clues, and they had to work out the perpetrator.  Harry was the only one who got it right.
She was curious about him, told him he3 looked nothing like the average PI, but aside from the criticism, they hit it off and had become friends of a sort.  She worked New Jersey and sometimes come the other side of the Hudson, he rarely had cause to go to New Jersey.
Now he needed her help.
After greetings, she said, “Have you got a real case yet?”
It was something of a ritual, she would ask, and he would say, ‘Not yet”, but in this case, he had better news.”
“Give me the gory details.”
“It’s not that exciting, a woman wants me to catch her husband cheating, and when I had to confront him, told me he wanted evidence of her cheating with his brother.  Then when I was surveilling his bother, the brother was shot and killed.”
“Hell, that’s better than anything I’ve had.  Who shot the brother?”
A man came out of the bushes and jumped in a car.  Got the make and model and two numbers off the plate/.  Think you can help?”
“I can try.  Details.”
He gave her the car make, model, as best he could remember and the two numbers of the registration plate/.
“Thanks, I’ll call you as soon as I can find out anything.”

Harry went back to the office and waited.  This was the part of the case he hated, having to wait for information to come in so he could move onto the next phase.
But it did give he time to think about the latest developments.  He was surprised he had not heard from Jennifer Jones about her brother in law, unless, of course, she had something to do with it, and after confessing Al was bad-tempered, he couldn’t rule him out as the perpetrator.  In the absence of calls from his client, he would have to call her and give her a report. 
It certainly wasn’t going to include the fact Al had asked him to find evidence of her having an affair with his brother.
It irked him he had no idea who his client was, except she said she was married to the brother of the victim.  And the surname, Jones, one of the most common names in the phone book.  He didn't bother looking her up, because there were too many with the same name.
Nor did he have any idea how to contact, or find his second client.
It was a tangled web.
The phone rang, and he jumped.  He'd just nodded off.  It was Felicity.
"The car belongs to the Outtell Finance Company, it’s a company so anyone could have been driving it.  But one thing it was not, and that’s stolen.  So the question is, who was driving it.  I’m in.  What’s the next move?”
He had little time to get over the shock or her inviting herself into his case.  What could he say, she just did him a huge favor.  “Visit the Outtell finance Company.”
“Good.  Text me.”

He was in the middle of searching the internet for information on the Outtel Finance Company when his phone rang again.
He thought it might be Felicity again, and hadn’t looked to see who the caller was.”
“What now?”
“Get your butt down to the station now, Walthenson.  Or I’ll send a car to arrest you.”
Sykes.  More bad-tempered than usual.
“You’ve got an hour.  Don’t keep me waiting.”  The line went dead.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Introducing a new character

I did not have a Felicity Benoit in the original story.  The thing is, I wanted the main character, Harry Walthenson, to show some interest in one of the other characters in the story, what you might call 'a bad girl'.

But circumstances in writing the story changed and made it necessary to add someone new, someone in the same profession, preferably female, just to add some more mystery.

Her father, Alexander Benoit is an ex-cop, and she is his only daughter, something of a tomboy, without a mother for so long she had almost forgotten her.

I'm not sure what the circumstances will be about why her mother left, that will play out later.

It also improves the chances of Harry getting something done without having to worm it out of Sykes.

Look for her to appear from Episode 16 onwards.

Episode 15 – Sykes is on the job

Detective Albert Sykes was hoping he was going to get through at least one night shift without having to attend a murder scene.
He was looking forward to going fishing on the weekend, and, with about an hour to go, it was looking possible it might happen.
Until the call, a shooting in a neighborhood near where he had stopped to have a cup of coffee and a donut.  After attending a domestic violence scene where it turned out the wife had mistaken the husband for a burglar and hit him over the head.
A lot of blood, some very angry words, but not deaths to deal with.  Not then maybe.
A patrol car and ambulance had beaten him to the scene, and he arrived as the paramedics were attending to the victim on the lawn and a visibly upset lady.
When he reached the paramedics, he asked, “What happened?”
A policeman standing by them spoke, the paramedics trying to revive the man lying still, a large blood stain about where the heart would be on his track top.
“Apparent gunshot wound though no one heard the shot.  The witness saw the man fall to the ground, when she came out she saw someone run from the bushes and get into a car which, she said, sped off, and another car which left soon after, in the same direction.”
“Two cars?”
“And a man in the bushes, possibly the perp.”
Possibly, Sykes thought, or not.  That would be determined by the crime scene investigators and put in a call.
Sykes looked over to where the woman was being questioned by the officer's partner.  A quick look at the scene on the ground, and the notification from one of the paramedics that the victim was dead, he joined the officer and woman, arriving just as she was saying, “the man in the bushes got into a red car, no I don’t know the make or model, just that it was red, and the other car was blue.  I think it was chasing the red car, but I can’t be sure.”
Sykes asked a question, “Was the man alive when you reached him?”
“I don’t think so, he was very pale.  I never did a first air course, so I didn’t know how to check.  I just called the ambulance to come quickly.”
“Where are the bushes the man jumped out of?”
The woman pointed to a clump of bushes surrounding a tree on the strip between the footpath and the road.  There was one outside each of the houses in the street, and none looked as though they had been maintained.
He walked around the bushes and stopped on the roadside where there were a couple of broken branches, and a space almost big enough for a man, or woman, to hide in.  Like children had hollowed it out so they could play inside hidden from their parents.
Intermingled with the scent of the bushes was another aroma, that of cordite, of a recently fired gun.  But no weapon, or bullet casings.  The shot had come from the bushes.  The man who burst from them and left in the red car most likely the shooter.
He went back to the paramedics who were covering the body.
“Do we know who the victim is?”
“We believe he is Joseph Jones, lives about two houses down from here.  The woman recognized him.  He usually goes out for a morning run about this time.”
People who have regular activities, and a jogger.  If the exercise didn’t kill him, then he made it easy for someone else to do the job.  Someone who knew him well enough to know where he would be and what he was doing.

When Harry saw Sykes purposefully striding towards him he groaned.
The man was perpetually in a bad mood, overweight, usually smoking a cigar, known to drink excessively, a man who hated the world and everyone in it.   In other words, the perfect man for the job.
Harry had crossed Sykes path on another job, where he refused to answer any of Sykes' questions on the grounds of client confidentiality.  It was an attitude Sykes said that was only going to bring him trouble, warned him he should be inclined more towards helping the police, not hindering them.
Harry pretended he didn’t see the detective coming towards him, and waited till Sykes rapped on his car window.
When he wound the window down, Harry said, “Detective Sykes, what are you doing here?”
As if he didn’t know that, which only irritated Sykes more.
“I could ask the same question.  Your car was seen here at the time of the shooting.”
A moments thought, then “Are you sure it was my car?”
“A blue car matching this car’s description.”
“There are a lot of blue cars matching this.”
“Then why are you here now?”
“I was driving past and saw all the lights and cars.  Could be a potential case.”
“This is a homicide scene.   You should be out looking for stray animals.  If I find it was your car that was here, I’ll have you thrown in jail.  Go, and don’t let me see you here again.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Monday 19 November 2018

Episode 14 - Losing the Suspect

Harry cursed when the car refused to start on the first attempt.
Or the second, but the third, and very nearly not at all.  An older car, it was a little temperamental.
With a short sigh of relief, he slipped into first gear checked before pulling away from the curb, and rapidly accelerated.
The red car was just a small dot in front of him, gaining distance.
Then it slowed and turned left.  Harry was several streets before the turn, watching carefully for side traffic, and oncoming traffic as the street was narrow and he was speeding down the middle of the street.
He turned the corner.
The red car had not gained on him, in fact, had lost some of its distance between them.
He saw why, someone had pulled out of their driveway, and the red car nearly collided with that car.
It scooted around the reversing car, and now only yards behind the red car, Harry could see it was a woman behind the wheel, and it had a passenger?  Was it the driver of the passenger who was the person who came out of the bushes?
A glance at the registration plate partly obscured, gave him two numbers he could be sure of, a one and a seven.
Then the red car braked severely in front of him, the moment he was looking down at the plate, and he had to slam his foot on the brake, almost colliding into the back of the red car.
Harry had come to a complete stop.
By the time he recovered from the shock, the red car had gone, turning left, and then turning again, and was nowhere in sight when Harry turned to corner in the chase.
The driver of the red car had realized Harry was chasing them.
Damn, Harry muttered under his breath.

When Harry returned to the brother’s neighborhood about a half hour later, it was a crime scene with all the trappings, police cars, medical examiners, crime scene investigators, an ambulance, and a familiar face who looked as though he was in charge.
Detective Albert Sykes.
And a woman standing beside him, the same woman who had been kneeling beside the brother, and she was pointing directly at his car.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Episode 13 - Shooting on the Streets

Caught by surprise, Harry didn’t have an immediate or reasonable comeback to the brother’s allegation.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said lamely.  He might as well have said ‘guilty as charged’.
The brother shook his head in disapproval.  “You’re just like the rest.  The sooner you realize Al is pulling your chain, the better.  He’s the one you should have under surveillance.”
The brother stood up and looked up and down the street, not warily as if he was expecting trouble, but what might be a precaution.
It was just another quiet street in suburbia early in the morning.  One other jogger, and an old man walking his dog, or perhaps the other way around.
There was no traffic, it was not one of those through streets that everyone used as a shortcut.
“Then, just for the record,” I decided to be bold, “You’re not having an affair with Jennifer Jones?”
“Why would I?  I have my own bundle of trouble to keep happy, and God knows, that’s not an easy job.  I see Jennifer is still trying to prove Al’s a cheater.  Here’s a piece of information for free, Al is not that stupid.  If he was going to have an affair, no one would know about.  No one alive that is.”
Emphasis on the word ‘alive’ which was worrisome.
"Al gets excitable, done time for murder, you know."  He smiled.  "I'd be careful if I were you."
Harry cursed himself for being discovered.  Was he that obvious?
He watched the man cross the road and recommence jogging.  Not the sort of exercise Harry would do himself at that hour of the morning.  What time was it?  His watch told him it was just after 6 am.
He was still watching the brother as he apparently tripped and fell to the ground.  Unusual.  He didn't move.
It was about the same moment Harry realized something was wrong when a person dressed in black burst out of the bushes on the other side of the road, jumped into a red sports car and it sped off.
At the same time, a woman who came out of the house on whose front lawn he was lying, and kneeled beside the man, screamed.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018