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