Harry had the file Corinne had recreated out, and open in front of him on the desk. He’d added another page, awaiting him to write down some words of wisdom.
He didn’t have any. Not right then.
Harry was still dealing with two discoveries that didn’t seem to be related, but that didn’t mean they weren’t.
The first, his father’s involvement with the Jones brothers, and Outtel, and it seemed to him it might have something to do with that vacant block of land that Harry had visited, and then landed him in a torture chamber and with a death sentence.
His own father. Did he know that would happen?
Harry was hoping against hope that Corinne had not found that address and visited it. She would not fare well in the hands of those monsters.
The second was the theory, and that’s all it was, a theory, that Al had either a body double or a twin brother who filled in for him so that he could carry out some as yet unknown agenda. Angela was in some way connected with this scheme, but that still didn't explain how a seemingly dead body had got up and walked away.
It all pointed to the fact Al had to be still alive, somewhere. He was missing, and nowhere to be found, but that was what he wanted; so no one would go looking for him. Sykes had overused the phrase, presumed dead, too many times.
Then there were all of the current problems listed on another sheet of paper, also on the desk, like where was Corinne, she was supposed to call in.
Harry took out his cell phone and called her.
She answered, “What do you want?” Harry gave a huge sigh of relief.
“Where are you?”
“On my way, via a cafe. I need coffee and a bagel. You want one?”
“Then it comes out of petty cash. You do have petty cash, don’t you?”
“If it wasn’t stolen, yes.”
She hung up. Harry didn't get to tell her what sort of coffee he liked. The way the morning was running he supposed a surprise would not go astray.
He made a note about his father, the Jones brothers, and Outtel.
He made another note about the ‘vacant lot’, calling it something else, just in case.
He then made a note to try and find out whether there was another brother, a twin to Al. No one mentioned it. Maybe he could ask Jennifer or Edwina.
Or maybe Miriam. She seemed to know a lot more about the people at Outtel, and particularly the Jones boys, for an ordinary office manager.
Harry made yet another note.
This might be called progress, he thought.
There was a knock on the outer door. Harry went out and opened it. He thought it might be Corinne with the coffee and breakfast, but it was Sykes. He still looked like he’d slept in his clothes.
Harry stood to one side and let him pass. Sykes looked around the room. “Still a mess. Are you ever going to clean it up properly?”
Harry shrugged. “Probably not, it gives the place character.”
He walked into Harry’s office and sat in the chair opposite his desk. Harry followed him and also sat.
“Why are you here?”
“Where’s your sister, Corinne?”
“Pity, I’ve already had two cups this morning. How're all the Jones cases going?”
Should Harry tell him what he thought he knew? Throw it out there and see what happens?
“I think Al is still alive. Hiding.”
“From who. His brother and the other partner are dead, there’s nothing to fear from them. His wife, maybe. That office manager, Miriam something-or-other? That woman scares me. What on earth did Al see in her?”
“According to both of them, nothing was going on.”
“You believe that?”
“No, but it’s speculative. I need proof. Then I had a conversation with Angela, and she came up with another theory, that Al has either a body double or a twin brother.”
“Which is unlikely, or we would have known about him from the wives.”
“You did background checks on the Jones brothers?”
“Did you check to see if there were any more Jones’s?”
“Yes. There’s just Al and Joseph.” Sykes leaned back in the chair.
“Their parents didn’t foster any children.”
“I doubt whether it was considered, but nothing stood out. The parents were just ordinary people.”
“Whose sons turned out to be a thug and a paedophile? And whose activities caught up with them? Have you got any information we can use?” Harry asked. It felt like they were on an endless ride on the merry-go-round.
“Joseph's wife seems to think Joseph was implicated in Cathy’s death.”
Angela had intimated as much, Harry thought. “That’s a shot in the dark.”
“She claims he was sexually involved with her, had been for some time, that the wife lied about him being with her, and that she was with Brightwater instead.”
“You believe her?”
“Brightwater can’t corroborate the fact, and unfortunately she’s lied more than once. If it’s true, then it quite possibly changes everything we knew about that case, and we’re going over the old case notes. It’s officially reinstated from being a cold case.
“Then you will have your hands full. I’ll get Corinne to see what she can dig up about the Jones boys, a family tree.”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t get her to do anything. I just had a long interview with your friend Felicity. Seems she was found skulking around a certain vacant lot that you, she claims, went to visit. And she was there because your sister Corinne was there.”
Harry felt his heart almost stop. The two women had gone to the one place that might guarantee them an early and very violent death.
“Felicity shot a man who apparently was keeping surveillance on hat vacant block down by the docks, and reporting. But not before he’d reported your sister’s presence. If you want some good advice, tell her to leave the city, the country for that matter till we catch up with the person who was on the other end of the line.”
“What do you know?”
“Nothing I’m going to tell you for the simple reason, you do not want to give these people a second chance at finishing what they started. This is a police matter, and you will leave it to us. If I find you going there, or anything else, I will have you arrested and put into protective custody. Am I clear?”
“Clear enough. Don’t meddle and get Corinne to stay somewhere safe.”
He stood. “Whilst I’ll believe it when I see it, call me when it’s done.”
He left, and not ten minutes later, Corinne let herself into the office.
The aroma of the coffee reminded Harry of how hungry he was. He'd have to stop skipping meals. It also reminded him that he was going to have to be more forceful in his warning for her to take a step backwards.”
He waited until she put the coffee and cake on his desk, and she had sat down in the chair recently vacated by Sykes.
“So, tell me. Why did you go to the vacant block?”
“What vacant block.” If Sykes hadn’t told him, her innocent act might have fooled him.
He banged the desk with a closed fist and the loud bang took her by surprise. “Don’t you dare lie to me again.”
“Who told you?”
“Sykes. It seems my idea that Felicity keep an eye on you served its purpose in one respect, but in another, she ended up having to kill a man to prevent a far worse tragedy happening. What in God’s name were you thinking?”
“It seems I wasn’t.”
“Didn’t the thought cross your mind that if I had hidden such an address away, that there might be some significant reason behind it?”
“No, you didn’t think at all. As I understand it, Felicity shot the man after he reported your presence, so you are in mortal danger. Sykes himself told me you need to disappear. Use any excuse, but get yourself to our Aunt in Chicago, and stay there.”
“This is not fair.”
“What? That I don’t get to go to the morgue to identify your dead body? Go. The next call I get from you is on the train. And God help you if you disobey this attempt to save your life. I will take you myself if I have. Now, get going. Oh, and thanks for the coffee.”