Harry woke up in unfamiliar surroundings and for a moment or two felt disoriented. It was not the hospital and thinking long and hard, he finally remembered it was Angela who met him at the hospital and brought him to her apartment.
It was an offer, at the time; he could hardly decline since he now doubted he would have lasted very long if he had gone to the office. Here the bed was comfortable and warm. He turned his head to look at the room and discovered he was not alone. It was a long time since he had woken up in the same bed as a woman.
But it was hardly what it looked like. He could hardly expect Angela to sleep on the sofa in her own apartment.
He thought about getting out of the bed then realised it might wake her so he lay still and waited. A half hour passed before she stirred and rolled over to face him.
“Been awake long?” It was in one of those husky tones that sent shivers down spines.
But. it was not necessarily the first question he would have asked.
“A half hour or so.” He was going to lie but he had a feeling she already knew the answer to her question.
“I’ll have you know I don’t do this for every private investigator I hire to work for me.”
“Has there been more than one?”
A rather interesting look from her, bordering somewhere between annoyed and bemused, but no direct answer. Instead, she said, “You should have stayed in the hospital.”
“And as I said yesterday I have to get back to work. I have your case to work on and I’ve lost enough time with this other problem. The trail is getting colder by the day.”
“According to Sykes, it’s dead and his boss has told him to spend less time on it. To me, it looks like he’s all but given up. And, worse still, he doesn’t think Brightwater was murdered.”
Odd, he thought, that she would know what Sykes’ position on the case was. Nor was her version quite what Corinne had told him. What he did think was that in both cases, if he’d talked to both of the women, was that Sykes would not want to give too much away about where his investigations were leading him. And more so in Angela’s case especially if he had any suspicion she was complicit.
“And you do?”
“Perhaps he knew something he shouldn’t, something to do with one or other of the Jones brothers, or even both of them.”
“Or maybe he was a co-conspirator with their murderer for all we know. I never really got the chance to ask him any questions. Have you have a theory on who killed them?”
“Nothing that I would say made any sense. Be that as it may, I suspect Joe was killed because he had something to do with my cousin’s death.”
“That murder case that Al went to jail for?”
“He wasn’t responsible, and was framed.”
“Did Al tell you that? That’s the guilty person’s first plea, that they didn’t do it, and that they’re innocent. Jails are full of people like that. But, humour me, does he know, or do you know, by whom?”
“If you’re looking for an opinion, I think it was Joseph.”
Said with an earnest tone to make it sound believable. I had no doubt Al would have thought that, and over time, and after the inconvenience it caused him, it would have to make him angry, but was it angry enough to kill his brother or have him killed.
The trouble I had with his possible motive was my observation of him at the hotel the first time I met him, and at the time Al didn’t seem to be all that concerned with anything else beyond thinking, Joseph was having an affair with his wife. At that time, to me, it seemed to be a straight forward case of sibling rivalry over coveting each other’s wife.”
Perhaps now would be a good time for Harry to ask the question that had been in the back of his mind for quite some time. “Was the gun you handed me in that room at Outtel’s office, the weapon that killed Al?”
Or allegedly killed Al. I was starting to get a bad vibe about whether or not the man was actually dead.
“How should I know? I found the gun on the floor in another room that was empty.”
“Not the room he was killed in?” Instantly he realised that question was driven by muddled thinking. He had not seen the weapon in the room, and if she had been to the room with Al with the weapon, it might be possible she was the one who’d killed him. No. It was still muddled thinking because remembered how surprised she looked when she saw them both.
It kept coming back to the same conclusion, dead men can’t walk. It had to be that Al was only pretending to be dead, waiting till I left, left a gun behind, or, as fantastic as it sounds, handed it to her, and had her distract me while he escaped.
The painkillers were not helping.
“So you didn’t see Al alive? Why were you there again?”
“Al called me, asked me to come into the office, that he had something to tell me that he’d learned about the death of my cousin.”
“How did you get into the office?”
It was another aspect of her appearance that worried him, as if it was out of thin air.
“Al said he left a door at the rear of the building open, which he did. What are you implying?”
A look of suspicion, was she connecting the same dots he was?
“I’m trying to figure out what really happened that night you and I were in that office. I definitely found Al there, he looked dead, and then you turned up, gave me the gun, and then conveniently disappeared along with Al’s body. And equally convenient, the police arrived like they expected to catch me red-handed with the murder weapon.”
“It’s an interesting premise, but I had nothing to do with anything other than coming to that office to see him.”
“Why did you pick up the gun?”
“It was there. I thought it might be Al’s.”
“So you knew Al had a gun. A violent man with a dangerous weapon.”
“He was a frightened man.”
“He tell you that?”
“I could see it. He’s hardly the sort that would admit to it. You met him, and you’ve talked to him. I doubt there was much that would frighten him.”
An interesting thought. Now a question out of left field, ““Was that Al on the phone last night?”
“What man on the phone? Oh,” she just remembered the call. Not one she could explain to him without him jumping to all the wrong conclusions, even if some of them might sail very close to the truth. “It was nothing, just someone worried about me.”
“You said ‘he is with me and everything is fine’. Who would it be that knew who I was?”
A slight hesitation before she said, “A girlfriend. I’ve been confiding in her.”
Was it, he wondered, or might it be either Al, the devil himself, or the man who allegedly killed Al?
The worst case scenario, he had a bad feeling it was now possible Al was still alive somewhere, using everyone as pawns in a much larger game. And what was worse, he had an equally bad feeling she was lying about her involvement in everything to do with this case.
© Charles Heath 2016-2019