There were a lot of secrets Harry didn’t know about his father. They were kept secret intentionally because of that age-old excuse, ‘I was protecting you from ...’ and fill in whatever you think will work at the time.
That his father knew the Jones brothers, not heard of, or was acquainted with, came literally as no surprise to Harry despite the initial shock of hearing his father use the name. That he knew they were also Harry’s clients was interesting.
So much for client confidentiality.
His father also revealed, right after that revelation, another, that he had told Jennifer Jones that if she needed a good investigator, Harry was the man for the job. Harry’s mind immediately crossed to the wrong side of the tracks, because Jennifer was definitely his father’s type.
Perhaps after what had happened to Harry, his father was now regretting the wisdom of that recommendation.
Harry didn’t tell him he had cases on the go for Al, Joseph, Jennifer, and Angela.
”How do you know the Jones brothers,” Harry asked.
“I’ve been dealing with Outtel for a number of years. Aside from the brothers, the company is well managed and reliable, at least until up to a month or so ago when rumours began circulating there had been a case of embezzlement under internal investigation. Quite a large sum of money had gone missing.”
That his father had more of a finger on the pulse of financial affairs was undoubtedly true, much more, in fact, that was in the open. It was why it was so hard for Harry to discover anything of importance about the brothers from his usual sources. The fact they were part of the underground economy meant he needed someone like his father who knew about that sort of information, working with him. It irked him, then, that his father was the only one he might have a chance of pressing into service.
Harry’s two mainstays for murder, money and sex, were harder to investigate than he thought. But, Harry was willing to bet that even Sykes didn’t have the news Harry just learned.
“From what I learned asking around, it was a cowboy operation, starting out as a loan sharking business, with Joseph managing the money, Al collecting it, and he was very good at his job, and, at the same time, made a lot of enemies. Ten years later they began Outtel, and instead of lending money to fools, they started lending it to bigger fools. When you can’t get a loan anywhere else, was something of a motto. How far off the mark am I?”
“Not very.” And a look of satisfaction on his father’s face.
A little respect, or too little too late?
“I’m not going to find your name mixed up somewhere in all of this am I?”
“I should think not.” Almost peremptory, accompanied by a horrified look, as if Harry could think such a thing.
The problem was, Harry was not sure what his father was capable of. Like many father’s whose business comes first, and family second, Harry had seen little of him, except for the handing out of punishment, or a wad of money when Harry was sent back to boarding school.
It was, his mother said once, a product of his father’s upbringing, and the lack of love and consideration that had existed within his family.
“Good. Now, I have a question for you. Does this deal you say you are brokering have anything to do with a certain vacant block of land down by the docks?”
Harry noticed his father turn a shade paler. It was clear he was very aware of the address, and probably knew of its significance. That momentary look of fear disappeared, and the stony poker face reappeared.
“I cannot divulge details of any ‘deals’, Harry. But, theoretically speaking, if it was, what’s your interest in it?”
“The people who kidnapped me tortured me and left me for dead in a dump asked me the same question. I have no interest in it. It was something I overheard that I shouldn’t have, but it seemed like something bad was going to happen and I had to check, just to make sure. Beyond that, to me, it’s just a vacant block of land. But now I know you have an interest in it ...”
“I said theoretically speaking. Do not infer anything in that.”
“You have a theoretical interest in it that might make you an accessory to attempted murder.”
“Then since I have no interest in it, I have nothing to worry about.”
The meeting, interview, fishing expedition was over.
My mother always got the last word; he always got the parting shot across the bows. “Try to keep your head down, and out of trouble.”
With that, he was gone.
No doubt about it. His father was mixed up in both the Jones business and the vacant block of land. All Harry had to do was find out what it was before the proverbial shit hit the fan.
If it hadn’t already.
© Charles Heath 2016-2019
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