Thursday 28 February 2019

Episode 47 - A real interrogation

Harry was expecting to see Brightwater.  It made sense that he would kill off the Jones brothers, take the money and Al’s wife with him, and clean up the mess so there were no witnesses.
Or perhaps it might be Edwina, the mystery woman.
His mind was wandering, a result of more drugs they’d given him before they left the cell.  A truth drug perhaps?
It was a man he had not met before, and one, he had to admit, who looked rather menacing.  He stopped about ten feet in front of Harry, and stood at ease, hands in pockets.  Except for his expression, he could be any other sales executive in a five thousand dollar Italian suit.  He was mid to late forties, no grey hair, so perhaps not a salesman but a 'businessman'.
Two men had accompanied him into the room and while one held Harry, the other re-bound his hands and legs to the chair so it was more difficult, if not impossible, to move.  Job done, they left the room.
“You’ve been a hard man to find, Mr Walthenson.”
Harry considered remaining silent, but there was that little devil in him, the one that frequently got him into trouble.  “You’ve just been looking in all the wrong places.”
“Nor did anyone realise you would be listening into a conversation you shouldn’t.  And, just think, this would not be happening if you had not turned up at the location.”
Yes, Harry agreed, that was true, but he couldn’t turn back the clock.  No use pointing out the obvious.  Play dumb, he thought, and see how that goes.
Just the make sure we’re on the same page, when was this alleged conversation I was supposed to have overheard?”
“The other day, Central Station.”
Something told him to deny he was there might be detrimental to his health.
“Well, I was in Central Station, waiting for my uncle.  I was also on the phone to a client.  I can’t see how listening to anything but the person on the end of the phone was possible, especially in a very noisy place like that.”
The man in front of him shifted his weight from one foot to the other, an old sports injury perhaps.  He looked the athletic type.
“Normally I'd believe you, but how do you explain turning up at the address.”
Now that, he thought, was going to be impossible to deny, or equally explain.  Time to create a diversion.  “Who are you?”
“Who I am is irrelevant.  Let’s just say I work for a man who works for a man who works for a man who’s not very happy with you.”
Convoluted and confusing.
“A friend of a friend or a friend, say?”
He smiled, like the cat that swallowed the canary.  “I believe you’re a private detective?”
“New, first year, but I have a case.  I’m supposed to be working on it, not sitting here chatting to disgruntled friends of friends of friends.  Can we wrap this up?  I don’t know anything about your business.  Just an address.  I was curious.”
OK, what happened to playing dumb?  I just admitted being there.
“Curiosity killed the cat, Mr Walthenson.  It might yet be the death of you.  And, sadly, if you know nothing as you say you do,  I need to be sure you’re telling the truth.”
The same two men, who’d previously tied him up, came back through the far door, one carrying a small case.
“My colleagues here will ask you a few questions.  I suggest you tell them the truth.  If you don’t, I cannot assure you will not walk out of here.”
“I’ve told you the truth,” Harry said, with more than a little fear in his tone.
“I’m sure you think you have, but, like I said, we have to be sure Mr Walthenson.”
He turned and left the room.  The two men took off their jackets and the taller of the two opened the case.
The smaller of the two pulled gloves on his hands all the while looking at Harry with a grin.  When he was finished he said, “Now, Harry, let’s begin.”
Two punches, not very hard, a left and a right.
This was Harry’s first interrogation.  Try not, he told himself, to break in the first few minutes.

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Episode 46 - Fade to White

Harry woke to a dry mouth and a thumping headache.
He was not in his office but lying on the bare cold and damp concrete floor in what was either a garage, outhouse, or basement.  It was very cold, and he was very thirsty.  Worse still, when he moved he realized his hands and feet were tied.
Harry had gone full circle, a thought that crossed his mind as he dragged himself off the floor and into a sitting position up against the nearest wall.  It was not comfortable, or was it he had been kicked a few times while on the ground?
It was not only his head that was hurting.

Harry realized now he had made a mistake.
A big mistake.
His mother once told him never to eavesdrop.  He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway.   Listening to a one-sided conversation he was not meant to hear.
A time and a place.
Now, sitting in that uncomfortable position trying to figure out exactly where it was hurting, a dim glow from a low wattage globe hanging over his head, and contrary to the fact the room was cold, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry's fear was at the highest level.
Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied,, it made it impossible to clear it away.  The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament.  He cursed then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence, but it was to no avail.
But why had it been so significant to the people who had taken him?  When he’d checked the address before the date in question, he found it to be an empty block of land.  What was significant about that address?
He had looked it up on the internet, but aside from the fact it was in an old part of the docks not used anymore, it held no other claim to fame.  There was a small piece about it being part of a large scale improvement of the area, but that had been languishing for years over a dispute over who actually owned the land.
Nothing out of the ordinary about that, since it was reputed to be worth a lot of money.
But, obviously there was something, and maybe he would soon find out.

He heard the sound of a metal door opening then close with a thud, the sound of muted voices, then silence.
From what he could remember, during a very brief period of lucidity as they were taking him from the room to be interrogated, he was in a wing of rooms that looked like prison cells but without the guards.
They’d drugged him, of course, the reason why he had the dry mouth and thumping headache, mainly to keep him from recognizing anything, or try to escape.
He waited.
Surely whoever it was would come and see him.
Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen.  Was this another form of torture?
It was twenty or maybe more minutes before he heard footsteps approaching.

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Friday 22 February 2019

Episode 2a - Life was so much simpler then

It was meant to be his escape, an escape from the generations of bankers, dry, dusty men who had been in the business since George Washington said to the first Walthenson to step foot on American soil, 'Why don't you start a bank?" when asked what he could do for the great man.
He didn't think Washington meant it literally, but the Walthensen's then as now was not shy of taking advice.
Except, of course, when it came to Harry himself.
He was, His father once said, the exception to every rule.  Harry guessed he was talking about the fact Harry wanted to be a Private Detective rather than a dry, dusty banker.  Just the clothes were enough to turn him off the profession.
So, with a little of the money Harry inherited from one of his aunts, he leased an office in Gramercy Park and had it renovated to look like the Sam Spade detective agency, you know the one, Spade and Archer, and The Maltese Falcon.
There's a movie and a book by Dashiell Hammett if you're interested.
So, there it was, painted on the opaque glass inset of the front door, 'Harold Walthenson, Private Detective'.
There was enough money to hire an assistant, and it took a week before the right person came along, or, more to the point, didn't see his business plan as something sinister.  Ellen, a tall cool woman in a long black dress, or so the words of a song in his head told him, fitted in perfectly.
She'd seen the movie, but she said with a grin, Harry was no Humphrey Bogart.
Of course not, Harry didn't smoke.
Three months on the job, and it had been a few calls, no 'real' cases, nothing but missing cats, and other miscellaneous items.  What he really wanted was a missing person.  Or perhaps a beguiling, sophisticated woman who was as deadly as she was charming, looking for an errant husband, perhaps one that she had already ‘dispatched’.
Or for a tall, dark and handsome foreigner who spoke in riddles and in heavily accented English, a spy, or perhaps an assassin, in town to take out the mayor.  The man was such an imbecile Harry had considered doing it himself.
Now, in a back room of a disused warehouse, that wishful thinking might be just about to come to a very abrupt end, with none of the romanticized trappings of the business befalling him.  No beguiling women, no sinister criminals, no stupid policemen.
Just a nasty little man whose only concern was how quickly or how slowly Harry's end was going to be.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Episode 1a - The wrong place, the wrong time

When Harry took the time to consider his position, a rather uncomfortable position at that, he came to the conclusion that he was somehow involved in another case that meant very little to him.

Not that it wasn't important in some way he was yet to determine, it was just that his curiosity had got the better of him, and it had led to this: sitting in a chair, securely bound, waiting for someone one of his captors had called Doug.

It was not the name that worried him so much, it was the evil laugh that had come after the name was spoken.

Doug what?  Doug the 'destroyer', Doug the 'dangerous', Doug the 'deadly'; there was any number of sinister connotations, and perhaps that was the point of the laugh, to make it more frightening than it was.

But there was no doubt about one thing in his mind right then: he'd made a mistake.  A very big. and costly, mistake.  Just how big the cost, no doubt he would soon find out.

His mother, and his grandmother, the wisest person he had ever known, had once told him never to eavesdrop.

At the time he couldn't help himself and instead of minding his own business, listened to a one-sided conversation which ended with a time and a place.  The very nature of the person receiving the call was, at the very least, sinister, and the nature of the conversation cryptic, but there was definitely criminal activity involved.

For several days he had wrestled with the thought of whether or not he should go.  Stay on the fringe, keep out of sight, observe and report to the police if it was a crime.  Instead, he had willing gone down the rabbit hole.

Now, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, several heat lamps hanging over his head, he was perspiring, and if perspiration could be used as a measure of fear, then Harry's fear was at the highest level.

Another runnel of sweat rolled into his left eye, and, having his hands tied, literally, it made it impossible to clear it.  The burning sensation momentarily took his mind off his predicament.  He cursed and then shook his head trying to prevent a re-occurrence.  It was to no avail.

Let the stinging sensation be a reminder of what was right and what was wrong.

It had obviously been the right place and the right time.

But he was definitely in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

We now go back to what was hinted at in episodes one and two

In episodes one and two we find a Harry who is lamenting the days when problems seemed so far away, and chasing after lost cats and dogs was not so bad after all.


Well in episode three our intrepid private investigator overhears a one-sided conversation while waiting for his 'absent-minded' uncle.

It was a conversation he was not meant to hear and probably wouldn't have if his uncle had been more prompt.

Alas, he did.

And it was to have catastrophic consequences and not only for him

Of course, it has nothing to do with the Jones' cases, but it's another event in the learning curve of our rookie private investigator and will lead him in a director he never thought he would take.

But, that's in the future.

All you need to know now is that things are about to get very, very difficult for Harry.

After reading this, then read Episodes 1a and 2a, as the prologue to what is about to happen over the next few episodes, starting at 46.

And, just as an aside,

I'm not sure, in the final draft of the novel that will come out of all these episodes, that the original two episodes may end up following episode 45, and remove the concept of a prologue for the story.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Episode 45 - Fade to Black

The sofa was lumpy for some reason, and no matter how much he tried to ignore it, or let himself succumb to the sleep he needed, it wouldn’t come.
Faces kept appearing before him.
Jennifer Jones, the woman he met at Central Station, and the fact he was asked to find out if her husband Al was cheating on her with, quite aptly described, a red-headed floozy.  He was not so sure about the label ‘floozy’ though.  Now she wanted to find him, dead or alive.
The faces of Al Jones and Miriam Waters appeared next, at the bar, and he already knew what his wife has requested.  Harry’s not the first PI she had hired, so where were the others and what happened to their investigations?
That was a question he would ask Miriam Waters next time.
Next in the sea of faces was Joseph Jones, shot while out having a morning run.  He hired Harry to find out if his wife, the woman he now knew as Edwina Jones, aka Edwina Morrison, was having an affair with Al.  On the face of it, it seemed utterly ludicrous given her involvement with Brightwater
So that was also a question that technically still didn’t have a definitive answer.
Then there was the woman in red, not Cathy Jones, but Angela Morrison.  She was guilty of something, Harry just couldn’t put his finger on it.  But, now he knew Cathy Jones, daughter of Al, was dead, Angela Morrison was a material witness in that murder if it was a murder, and that Al might or might not be dead, and Angela mysteriously appeared to help him.  Why was she there and was she responsible for Al’s apparent death?  She certainly had the motive and the opportunity.  And maybe even the weapon.
Yes, the weapon.  He had to get back to Outtel and retrieve it.  Sykes could perform some ballistics on it and see if it was the weapon that killed Al, of course, it Al was dead and they found the body.
Angela was also responsible for trying to shake down Al, and Miriam, for the murder of Cathy, and Miriam had given her money.  From where?  Outtel?  Another question that needed an answer.
Things to do:
Find Miriam, presumably at Outtel and ask more questions.  Also, ask Miriam about the previous private investigators
Find Edwina Jones, and talk to her about both Al and Joseph, and her daughter
Go back to Outtel and get the gun to take to Sykes.
There were more tasks on the list but he was too tired to think about what they were.  It would come to him in the morning.
Harry closed his eyes.  For a moment he saw the woman in red.
Trouble, she was nothing but trouble.
He felt a sharp stab of pain in his upper leg.
Was it his imagination or was there someone in the room with him?
No, it was his imagination. It was his last thought as everything went black, and he lost consciousness.

© Charles Heath 2016

Episode 44 - Who really needs another case?

Angela Morrison was a material witness, he thought, and he should call Sykes and hand her over.  But he had a strange feeling there was more to her than met the eye, in more ways than one.
And dangerous.  She was one of those women who could cause a man to do something he would regret for a long time, and Harry was not in the frame of mind for committing regrettable actions.  At least, not right then.
He had a lot more work to do before he could close this case.
Despite Sykes’ warning and his immediate thought of turning her into the police, a decision on what he was going to do next could wait till the morning.
“You got somewhere to stay?” Harry asked.
She had been looking out the window, down on the street.  Whatever was down there had caught her attention, and Harry had to ask her again before she turned her attention back to him.
“Yes.  A hotel room, not far away.  Are we done?”
“For the moment?”
“Are you taking my case?”
“What case?”
“Proving Al killed Cathy Jones.”
“I thought you wanted to find Al?”
“That too.”
“Jennifer Jones is already paying for me to find him.”
“And if it was her?  You wouldn’t get paid.”
No, he thought, he wouldn’t.  And, considering the fact she turned up with Brightwater when they last met, he was not sure what her involvement was.  That didn’t rule out Brightwater either.
“And if it turns out to be you?”
“I didn’t do it, so you’re guaranteed to get paid, one way or another.”
“Then yes.  I might as well.”
She pulled a stack of bills out of her handbag and tossed the bundle to me.  At least what appeared to be about five thousand dollars.
“Where did you get this?”
She looked as though she was thinking about an acceptable answer, and then said, “Hush money from Miriam.  I'd be looking into that woman because she seems to have a tap at Outtel that pours money.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Monday 18 February 2019

Episode 43 - Angela Morrison

Angela / Cathy turned to follow her but Harry stood between her and the door.  She was not going to get away until he had the truth.
Or her version of it.
“Who are you, Angela or Cathy?”
“Would you believe me if I told you?”
Another answer to a question with a question-answer pounded into an already pounding headache.  Tiredness was catching up with him and with all the twists and turns, Harry was struggling to keep up.  If he was lucky, which he was not, Edwina would be the next person to call and ask him to take on her case too.
“Try me.”
She was looking at Harry, and then the door, and back again, calculating the odds of escaping.  It wouldn’t take much to knock him over.  Of course, there was only one problem with that course of action, if she did, that would mean she was guilty.
Of what, Harry was not sure.  He didn't think she killed Al.  She didn’t look to him like a killer.  Besides, didn’t he read somewhere women preferred to use poison?
“Angela Morrison, as Miriam said.”
“And why the deception?”
“I needed the money.  I lived with Cathy before she was killed, and she had a bad life considering who her father and mother were.  Al was a killer, and her mother, there’s a piece of work.”
“You knew Jennifer?”
“We used to go to their place for dinner.  Cathy would have to cook, I helped her.  The way Al treated Cathy, both of us considered killing him many times over.  I was there the night he did kill her, and there was nothing I could do to stop him.”
“You saw him actually kill Kathy?”
 “No, not actually see him do it.”
Which meant there was, from her point of view, no reason, other than circumstantial evidence, that he did.”
“Then how could you say he did it?”
“Because he bashed me too, and left me in a coma, and without any memory of what happened at the time.  The police found me at the scene, hanging on by a shred.  Cathy was dead.  I was no help in bringing Al to justice.  My memory only came back about a year ago, and I’ve been looking for him since then.”
“But you just said...”
“He did it.  There’s no doubt in my mind.”  Anger and determination.
“Did you have an affair with Al?”  It was a logical question.  He’d know Angela wasn’t his daughter and given his reputation, and the fact it was Joseph’s daughter, which, when he thought about it, sounded a little crazy.
Harry had also made the assumption that if she could get close enough, a knife through the ribs when he was expecting something else would serve her purpose.
“No, that’s just creepy.”
“Did you meet him at the office?”
“Did he remember you from that night?”
“No.  I’ve changed a lot since then.”
“Then you could have used your charm to get close and kill him.”
“That was not what I was after.”
“You said you could kill him for what he did to Cathy.  Your words.”
“I was angry with him, yes, but that doesn’t mean I had the courage to go through with it.”
Then a thought occurred to Harry.  Time to confirm my assumption.
“Who are you really?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Seems odd that an old school friend would be this interested in a dead girl.  She means something else to you?”
“Yes.  She was my cousin.  Edwina Jones or as she was known before she married Joseph Jones, Edwina Morrison, is my mother.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Sunday 17 February 2019

Episode 42 - Sanity, none

The two women squared up.
“I could say the same thing about you,” the woman I knew as Cathy, but was really named Angela, said with equal intensity.
This was where discretion was required, and not get between them.  Perhaps a pitcher of cold water might come in handy though.
A thought occurred to me, one that should have come to me a lot earlier.
“What’s the name of Joseph’s wife?”
Both women suspended glaring at each other and turned it on me.  “What that got to do with this,” Miriam asked.
“Do you know what her name is, or not?”
“Where is she?”
“Home, where she always is.”
“Joseph said she was having an affair with Al.”
Miriam laughed harshly.  “How could she?”  And realized the implication of that statement the moment it left her mouth.
“Why would Joseph think she was?”
“Why ask me?  I only saw the woman twice the whole time I’ve been working in the office and that was the day after they got married and their first anniversary.”
She looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “Damn.  I forgot about that.”
And abruptly turned and ran out of the office.
Leaving me with a sudden thought, I was standing in front of what could be Joseph and Edwina Jones daughter, Angela, and why did she have the surname Morrison?

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Saturday 16 February 2019

Episode 41 - A redhead sees red!

She barged her way through the door, and then stopped abruptly when she saw Cathy.
“You!”  A snarl, like a dog preparing to attack.
First question, how did she get in, and where was security.
The second question, “Do you know her?”
The woman in red was on her feet, ready for battle.
“Yes.  Angela Morrison.  She came to me with some trumped up story about how she was Al’s daughter’s friend and she knew the truth about how she died and wanted money to keep quiet.”
A new twist Harry thought, another piece of the unsolvable puzzle.
New question.  “Did you kill Al?”
She swung around and glared at him.  “What?”
“It’s a simple yes or no question, did you kill Al?”
A momentary change in expression, to one of incredulity. “No.”
“Where were you between 6:00 am and 2:00 am. This morning?”
“In a bar trying to get drunk.  Then some idiot cop called Sykes had me picked up and taken to the station for questioning  I didn’t do it.”
“You were having an affair?”
“No.  I was Al’s friend, the only person he could talk to.  I’m as much ion the dark as you as to his whereabouts, but one thing I do know, he’s not dead no matter what you saw, or you think you saw.”
“Then why are you here?”
“I was going to employ you to find Al, or his murderer if you discovered he was dead.  Looks like I don't have to now. The murderer is standing in front of you.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Saturday 9 February 2019

Episode 40 - Questions, no real answers

Harry went over to the sidebar and poured himself a generous Scotch.  He looked in her direction as she swung her legs around to sit up and shook his head, then went over to his desk and sat in the chair behind it.
He took the time to clear his head and consider possibilities.  Nothing in that moment made sense.
He looked at her again, the ultimate femme fatale.
“Who is your real father?”
She looked at him with a puzzled expression.  “Is that a trick question?”
“No, it’s quite simple.  Who is your real father?”
“Al, of course.”
She was lying.  The moment she hesitated, he could tell.
“Did you shoot Al?”
“Was that the murder weapon you left me with?”
“I don't know.  I found it on the floor near the staff entrance.”
“Who is your mother?”
“Jennifer Jones.”
“Do you know Jeremy Brightwater?”
“Not personally, but he’s one of the partners with Al and Joe.”
“When was the last time you saw your mother?”
Hesitation.  Then, “Over two years ago.”
“When you died?”
Shock, surprise, or indignation.  Or all three at once.
“I think it’s quite apparent I’m not dead.”
“Not according to your mother.  I just spoke to her not half an hour ago.”
“I was dead to her long before that.”
The woman sitting on my sofa wasn’t Cathy.  It couldn’t be.
Here’s the scenario that was formulating itself in my mind:  A woman who looks like Cathy sees an opportunity.  She knows something of the death of the real Cathy, uses this knowledge to contact Al and try to blackmail him, convincing she was still alive and will tell the world the truth.  I still didn’t know what that ‘truth’ was.  Al panics, embezzles money from the company, tries to pin it on Brightwater, calls her to pay her off, and she or someone else, an accomplice, kills him.
Not my kind of case.
I went over to the door and held it open.  “You can leave now.  I’m done with the charades, and lies.”
But unfortunately, standing on the other side of the door was the conniving bitch, Miriam Waters.

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Friday 8 February 2019

Episode 39 - Cathy Jones, no?

When he got out of the limousine Brightwater asked him if he was going to keep the case and find Al’s killer.  Harry simply mumbled he had to think about it, and shut the door.
Buteski was right.  Leave it to the police.  He would call him later, and tell Buteski about Jennifer and Brightwater.
Maybe then, the bad dream would go away, and he could go back to chasing lost cats.

Like all good private detectives, he sometimes slept at his office, having a sofa that doubled as a bed.  One more comfortable, he thought, than the bed at home.
He used his night pass to get into the building and walked slowly up the back stairs, water dripping from his clothes, leaving a trail of water on the carpet.
It took only a moment to unlock the door and go in.  He hesitated to turn on the harsh neon light, and instead switched on the table lamp, letting it cast an eerie glow over the office.
Then, looking in the direction of the sofa he noticed someone had beaten him to it.  Dressed in red.  A woman.
She rolled over, opened her eyes and looked at him.  "You took your time, didn't you?"
First the shock of seeing her, second considering how she got into the building let alone his office.  Security was supposed to be state of the art.
“Just who the hell are you?”  Harry was in no mood for anything and resisted his first urge to throw her out.  He would get some answers first.
“I’ve told you already.”
“And I don’t believe you.  The cops told me you’re dead.  Your mother confirmed it; said your father has something to do with it.”
Her expression changed, but just a little.  To Harry, it was an indication she might be lying.  “He did.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Episode 38 - Brightwater explains

Harry gave Jennifer a glare.  “So, it’s not Joe you’re having an affair with, it’s Jeremy Brightwater.”
“No, neither of them, despite how it looks.”
“You said you were with him half the night.”
“I cannot control what you might infer from that, but it is not what you think.  I asked him to come with me to see Al when Al called, and try and talk some sense into him.”
Harry didn’t know what to think.  He turned to Brightwater.  “Al was testifying against you, so it would be in your best interests to make sure he didn’t.”
“Why would I kill him, and add murder to charges that can easily be explained away.  The Jones brothers killed each other because of their insane jealousy.”
It was a story that fitted the facts as Harry knew them, but it was too convenient.  Brightwater had the opportunity and the motive.  He was not sure about the means yet, but he knew where the gun was, perhaps the murder weapon.
Brightwater’s hand, holding the seat top as he turned was gloved.  Ok, Harry thought, perhaps no fingerprints on the murder weapon, but another tick in the guilty box.
“You said the embezzlement was easily explained.”  Harry went back over the conversation, looking for .... what?
“Al tried to frame me.  It was particularly crude.”
“And why would he do that?”
“Because he was extremely angry when he discovered Cathy was my daughter not his, and when he found out he killed her.”
Harry looked at Jennifer.
“Not my finest moment, but it’s true.  Both Jeremy and Al found out at the same time.  Al took it very badly.  He should have gone to jail and if he stayed there, none of this would have happened.”
“Is she still alive?” Harry asked Brightwater.
“Impossible.  I saw her die.  I was with her when she drew her last breath, stayed with her till they took her to the morgue.”
Unless, of course, he was lying.  To me, and to Jennifer.
“I suggest you talk to Inspector Sykes before he finds you.  Both of you.  Drop me at my car. I think I’ve had enough for one day.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Episode 37 - The Missing Link

Harry accepted for the time being she was genuinely surprised, but he didn’t doubt this woman could be also a very good actress.
“That’s impossible.  I identified the body and saw her put in the ground.  This is a cruel joke.  Did Al put you up to this?”
“No.  I met a young woman tonight who said her name was Cathy Jones.”
“Then you’re mistaken, and she is lying.  Describe her.”
I did, in surprising detail, indicating she made some impact on me.
Jennifer shook her head.  “That’s not Cathy, it’s more likely to be her cousin, Angela.  Those two were as thick as thieves, and I’m sure she had something to do with my daughter’s death.”
No mistaking the venom.
“Police say Al was tried and jailed, then reprieved.”
“It had been circumstantial evidence at best.  Bad police work and a technicality got him off, more’s the pity.”
“Then it sounds like you wanted him dead.  Did you kill your husband?”
“I wanted to, truth be known I still do, but no.”
“How did you know where I was?”
“I was summoned to the Outtel Finance Company office too.”
“Al.  He said he had something to tell me I would want to hear.”
“About your daughter?”
“He didn’t say.  When I arrived I saw the police cars, and kept my distance.”
“You said we needed to talk.”
“I need you to find out who killed my husband.”
“A rather odd request from a woman who should be elated he’s dead.”
“If he’s dead, which, knowing him, is more like the truth of the matter.  I should say, I need you to find him, if he’s still alive, and if not, who killed him.”
“Any idea who might want to kill him?”
“That conniving bitch he was sleeping with.”
She’d been elevated from red-headed floozy to conniving bitch.
“I didn’t get any evidence he was sleeping with her.  Nor did I sense, when I met them together there was anything going on between them.  But sending me on a wild goose chase would be a good way to draw attention away from yourself and establish an alibi if you needed one.  Where were you between the hours of 6:00 pm and 2:00 am this morning?”
“With Jeremy Brightwater.”
“Very convenient, since he’s missing and no one seems to know where he is.”
“That’s because I’m here.”  The man in the front seat stopped the car and turned.
The Chauffeur.

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Episode 36 - Me and Mrs Jones

It was three in the morning.  Harry stood on the steps outside the police station and watched the light but steady rainfall.  No jacket, raincoat or umbrella meant that he was going to get wet.
And it was a long walk back to the car.
He thought about calling a taxi but discovered he had no money.  So what else could go wrong?
While he was considering his options, a stretch limousine pulled up beside the curb and the driver’s window lowered. The man looked like s chauffeur.
“Mr. Walthenson?”
“Get in the back.  Someone would like to have a word.”
I opened the door and looked in.  Al’s wife, Jennifer, not a hair out of place, and dressed for a night on the town.  This time she was alone, there was no sign of her previous passenger.
“We need to talk,” she said.
Indeed we did.  I climbed in and sat next to her.  The car pulled away from the curb and started heading back towards the car park where I'd left my car.
“I have a few questions I need some answers, Mrs. Jones.”
She frowned.  “Don't use that name again.  Call me Jennifer.”
It was as if she knew her husband was dead, but it was not the first question on my list.
“Do you have a daughter?”
I could see her expression change to one of annoyance, or was it grief.  “Once, not anymore.”
“Was her name Cathy?”
She looked surprised.  “Yes.”
“Then I think she’s still alive.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2019