Monday, 9 September 2019

The end of the story

It had been written over many years, the first iteration, some 52 episodes, back in the mid-1990s, and then a second expanded series of 93 episodes which saw the story first brought to a close.

Then, with the advent of this blog, I decided to revise the story, virtually what could be called Revision 3 and ended up adding new characters and interactions, taking the story out to 109 episodes, with a more satisfying and logical ending, well, for me that it.

But in the rewriting, I think there have been a few hazy plot lines missing prior indicators as the story evolved, and now the next revision will be the one that fixes all of those issues before it goes to the editor and will be published as a book before the end of the year.

Of course, the last episode, and because of certain events related throughout the first story, gives a perfect introduction to Harry's next case which will be off and running in the next month or so.

The first case now has a title and a cover, as already mentioned will be available on AmazonKindle soon.

PIWalthJones1


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Episode 109 – The end of one case and the start of another


I went home, not to my parent's house, but to my office, and I was looking forward to resting on the couch.  Felicity came with me, more out of concern about the physical state I was in so close to being released from the hospital.  I was glad she did.  I was very tired, and still feeling the effects of the drug Edwina had used on me.

We walked slowly up the stairs and then stopped outside the door to my office, and I looked, once again, at my name still newly painted on the opaque glass.

The light was on behind it.  Someone was in my office, or someone had forgotten to turn off the light after then.

I tried the door.  It was unlocked.

Someone might be inside, waiting for me?  Was it the people who had tried to kill me, or the people who searched the office?  Or the cleaner?

I looked at my watch.  No, the cleaner had come and gone.  Maybe he forgot to lock the door on his way out?

Note to self: I need to get a gun, if only for protection.

I cautiously opened the door and pushed it open, staying outside the threshold in case trouble was waiting on the inside.  The door swung open with a creaking sound, to display an empty room, as empty as I could see within the arc.  There was no telling if anyone was waiting behind the door.
I took a deep breath, counted to five, and walked slowly in, keeping out of range of the arc of the door should it suddenly close.

There was nothing behind the door, and no one in the office.


Felicity made sure I was comfortable on the settee with a blanket covering me, and went to make coffee.  I looked around the room and then at the ceiling, not looking at anything in particular.  Perhaps Sykes was right, and it was time to consider some other occupation.

Then my thoughts strayed back to the case.  How easily fooled I’d been.

Edwina; she had never looked the murderous sort, more like the little old lady who drove once a week to church and wouldn’t hurt a mouse.  Who could have known what was hiding under a benign exterior?

Or behind a pretty face?  I was going to have to be more discerning about the women I worked for and with if I was going to be successful in this business.

Then I saw something, perhaps an envelope, almost under the cabinet behind the door.  I got off the settee and went over to look.  It was an envelope with my name on it.  It must have been pushed under the door, but not all of the way, and got caught as the door opened and slid across the floor ending up almost under the cabinet.

It felt quite thick, and pliable.  Documents?  Perhaps from my father.  My name was written on the front, and it looked like his writing.

I opened it and two thick wads of notes fell out.  Money.  $100 bills.  $20,000 to be precise.

Felicity came back, kettle in hand and saw me.

“What have you got there?”

“Money.  A lot of it.  Twenty thousand dollars to be exact.”

“From who?”

“My best guess, Jennifer and Edwina.  There’s no note or letter with it, just used hundred-dollar notes.  We need it, so it’ll be going in the bank.”

She was about to say something when there was a very loud thumping on the door.

We were both taken by surprise.

Another round of banging followed by, “Are you in there Harry?”

Mother.

I went over and opened the door, and before I could open it properly she had pushed past me, almost knocking me over.

“The bastard’s gone,” followed quickly by, when she saw Felicity, “Who the hell are you?”
Felicity smiled.  “I’m Harry’s girlfriend.  He said I would meet his mother one day, just wasn’t expecting it to be so soon.”

His mother shook her head and give him a glacial stare.

“What do you want, Mother?” he asked calmly.

“The bastard’s gone.”

She held out a piece of paper, one that no doubt she’d screwed up in a temper, then smoothed out again.

“Which bastard?”  Harry asked, expecting it to be one of his brothers who had been acting strangely.

“Your father.”

Red-faced, and very angry.  He’d not seen her like this before.  And her hand that held the piece of paper was shaking.

Harry took the sheet from her and read the hastily scrawled note aloud,

“Due to some unfortunate business transactions, I find myself in a serious situation where the only choice I have is to leave.  This is of my own free will and is as much to protect you and the children as it is to protect myself.

I apologize now for the hardship you will suffer because of me and try not to believe what will be said about me, and the company, in the following weeks.  Most of it is not true.

Do not call the police.  Do not try to find me.  Simply tell everyone I have left you for another woman.”

It didn’t take much for Harry to join the dots after the last time he spoke to his father.  It was the business regarding the vacant block down at the docks.  And, if he was not mistaken, his father was connected to the people who’d tried to kill him.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“Find the bastard.”  No mistaking her intent in that statement.

“He said not to,” Harry said.

“Of course, he would.  But I don’t care what his reasons are, I want you to find him.”

“Why?”

“So I can kill him.”

Then Felicity piped up and said, “I think I might have some useful information about that.  Does anyone know of a man called Florenz.”

His mother answered, “That’s his partner at work.  “Why?”

“That we’ll let you know when we have a chat with him.”  She looked at Harry.  “Let’s go.  It’s all go-go-go here, isn’t it?”




© Charles Heath 2019

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Episode 108 – Sykes gets some answers

It was probably fitting that when Harry woke, the first person he saw was Sykes, and perhaps for other reasons, Felicity.

But clearly, Sykes was very unhappy.

“Why am I not surprised to see you here?” he barked in the gravelly tone he reserved for criminals, and now Harry.

What bothered Harry was that he had not untied him, just taken off the gag.  Perhaps he was going to conduct an interrogation of his own.  He was the only policeman in the room, so anything was possible.

“Wrong place, wrong time.  I came to see Angela like I told you.  When I arrived here, I found Al lying dead on the floor. Angela tied up, and Jennifer presiding over the crime scene with a gun in her hand.  What brought you here?”

“Your friend, here, Felicity.  Your only friend, it seems.  And I didn’t get that phone call, and I can see why.  All those arguments that you should leave the police work to the police fell on deaf ears, and I suspect, prevented the apprehension of the perpetrators.  You might find yourself with a charge of accessory after the fact.   It looks to me like Angela and Al were working together.  Did you tie her up, and did she kill Joseph Jones?”

On the face of it, Sykes had every reason to charge him.  He had the Jones women within his grasp, and they'd outsmarted him.  No, that wasn't quite true, he had never been in a position to bring them to justice.

“You could let me out of these bindings.  I had nothing to do with anything that happened here.”

It was worth a try, but he could see Sykes was not going to be in a charitable mood.

“That’s what you say now.  I let you go; I could be letting a murderer go free.  No, you can sit tight and tell me what happened here, and I’ll see if I can believe a word of it.”

He pulled out a free chair and sat beside him.  From his perspective, it must seem off, a dead body on the floor and two potential suspects tied up, but, Harry thought, even the most basic of detectives should be able to tell that neither of them had tied themselves to the chairs.

But Harry knew he would have to convince him.

“I know I didn’t kill Al.  I couldn’t say for sure if Angela did or didn’t, but from what I've seen and heard, I don't think she did either.  Check the knots that are tying us to the chairs.  It would be impossible for either of us to tie them so tightly ourselves.”

He glared at me, as if he was not interested in having his pet theory, that one or other of us was a murderer, disproven.

“Then, if what you tell me is true, what happened?”

“I came to ask Angela a few more questions, because, like you, I came to the conclusion Al was still alive, and when I arrived, Jennifer answered the door.  I had no reason to suspect her of anything, so I came in.  A minute later, after seeing Al on the floor with a bullet in his head, and Angela tied up, I realized she was pointing a gun at me.”

“Jennifer?  Al’s wife?”  No mistaking the incredulity in his tone or expression.  Loke Harry before him, he hadn't suspected her of anything but a poor choice of husband.

“Yes.”

“What was she doing here?”

“Apparently cleaning up the loose ends, and collecting a particular computer, the one Miriam used to steal the money.  All the claims their husbands were having affairs was a smokescreen.”

“Then who killed Joe?”

“Edwina said Al did, and it’s very likely Al did with Angela’s help.  Angela wanted Al to ‘teach Joe a lesson’ for what apparently was an ‘accidental’ death.  There is supposedly video evidence somewhere that supports that theory, evidence Angela says exists.”

“Edwina too?"  More surprise, and a look of disbelief.  He might be prepared to consider one, but not the both Jones wives.

"Unfortunately, but true, they were in it together.  I sure as hell didn't see it, nor suspect either of them."

He let that pass over his head for the moment, and continued, "So who killed Al?”

“I think it was Edwina, from outside the window behind us.  You can see the holes several bullets made in the curtain.  One was for Al, the other for her own daughter.”

His eyes went to the window, saw the evidence, and then looked back, now bordering on astonished.

“Why would she do such a thing?  You're beginning to test the limits of my patience Harry.  I never took you for being a storyteller.”

“I'm not, though this tale borders on the unbelievable in every sense.  But, according to Edwina, Joseph and Miriam were embezzling funds.  Al didn’t know anything about it, so he was trying to cosy up to Miriam to find out.  Jennifer says Miriam committed suicide, but not before telling her the passwords to the accounts where the money was stashed, infer from that what you will.  I suspect Jennifer and Edwina are now happily ensconced in a country where there’s no extradition, a lot richer for their troubles.”

A thoughtful moment of silence, the Sykes muttered, “OK, it's possible.  And you say the pair of them also tied up Angela”

“It's probably why Edwina shot her.  She has a roughly bandaged wound to her top left shoulder, which I suspect was to incapacitate her so either Edwina or Jennifer could tie her up.  She will need an ambulance and hospital treatment, sooner rather than later.”

A glance in her direction showed the wound was still bleeding and the bloodstain was getting worse.  She was still bound and gagged, and unconscious.  It didn’t seem to concern Sykes who didn’t move from the chair.  He simply looked at the window again, and then to Al, then back to Angela.

“That's also possible.  Fortunate for you, Al’s body is still here, this time.  But it also raises the question of who, or what, you saw the first time you reported him dead.”

Easily explained, now, Harry thought..

“Is Angela...?”  Harry nodded his head in her direction.

“Alive.  Yes.  She’ll live, by the way.  The injury isn’t very serious."

A knock on the door got Sykes out of his seat and walking towards the front door.  Police reinforcements had arrived.  A lot of police.

He cut Harry's bindings and he stretched out his aching limbs.  It was hard to tell what he was thinking, but setting Harry free meant, at the very least, Sykes didn’t think he was guilty of any major crime.

"It looks like there’s not going to be a payday for you.  If it’s any consolation, they fooled both of us.  I’m going to need a statement from you regarding all of this, but, for now, you can go.”

“Angela?”

“I’m sure, as you said, she’s involved in various crimes, but what they will be will depend on how good her lawyer is.  I wouldn’t concern yourself with her problems, you have enough of your own.  I suspect this result doesn’t affect who tried to kill you or trash your office, but even so, and for what it’s worth, I think you should walk away, take up some other profession, one that isn’t life-threatening in another part of the country.”

Harry said he would think about it.


© Copyright Charles Heath 2019

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Episode 107 – Edwina and Jennifer


Ten million dollars.

A hefty incentive for anyone to commit murder.

I think I realized then why I’d been selected for the case.  New, naive, and easily manipulated.  Not necessarily by Angela, but by two very experienced women who had no doubt been planning how to escape their husbands for a long time.  Now I knew who the other woman in the car was, that first time I met Jennifer.

Retribution for Cathy, and ten million dollars as a bonus, only it didn’t look like Angela was invited to the celebration.  I wondered just how close she had come to joining Al on the floor.

If, as she claimed, Jennifer did not shoot Al, it left only one other person.  It was the reason why Angela was tied up, Al was dead, and Jennifer ‘found’ the gun when she arrived.  And, of course, why the door was open and she just walked in.  Was Jennifer here to ‘clean up’?

It was then a question of how Al was shot, and Angela was injured, both bullets fired from the same gun, the one Jennifer had a tight grip on.  I stretched, and turned in my seat, just enough to see the window behind Angela.  No broken glass, but a speck of light showing through the curtain beside her.
Both Al and Angela had been shot from outside.

By Edwina.

A memory fragment came back to me, something Corinne had mentioned when researching the Jones’ family history.  Edwina had once tried out for pistol shooting for the Olympics but wasn’t good enough.

Then.  Now, I suspect, it was a different story.

I looked at Edwina.  “I’m surprised you would want to kill your own daughter.”

She frowned at me, most likely seeing the astonished expression on Angela’s face.

“I couldn’t, and wouldn’t.  It was for show so Sykes wouldn’t be able to pin Al’s murder on her.”

“You did it, didn’t you.  From outside.  It’s not much of a shot to make given the short distance, not for someone with your experience is using guns.”

“You shot me?” Angela said, in anger and with a tinge of fear.

“It’s for your own good.  But after meddling in affairs that don’t concern you, I almost changed my mind.”  Edwina switched her attention to Jennifer.  “Did you find the computer?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  Got it, and we’re good to go.”

I had another question for Edwina.  “Did you also kill Miriam?”

“No, she committed suicide.  It took a little persuasion, but she finally did the right thing.”

“After giving you the banking details where a sizable retirement fund was residing?”

“She tried to use it as leverage but I wasn’t in a forgiving mood.  What can I say, her conscience got the better of her.”

I could see Edwina stuffing the pills down her throat.

My gaze turned to Jennifer, “Al told you what he suspected.”

“You were right when you said Al was a blunt instrument.  He had no idea what was going on, except money was going missing.  He suspected Joe was behind it, but after Joe died, and money was still going missing, I think he started to suspect it was more than just Miriam he had to worry about, and that was probably why he staged his death.  So he could continue his investigation in peace”

I turned to look at Edwina, “Did you kill Joe?”

“No.  That was Al.”  She looked at her daughter.  “I suspect you were there when he did it.  I said once an eye for an eye would never give you closure.”

So perhaps Angela had been lying about that, and her involvement. 

Angela said nothing, but I think her mother was right.  I had seen her leaving in the car registered to Outtel, so either she or Al had been driving it away from the scene of the crime.  Once again I had become a witness and almost a patsy.

Whatever sympathy I may have had for Angela was diminishing rapidly. Retribution like that only made you as bad as the person you seek retribution against.

Now I was at the scene of another crime, the real killing of Al, and I doubted Angela would be creating a smokescreen this time.  “What now?” I asked.

“We leave.  I’m sorry, but we will have to tie you up.”

“Are you going to kill us too?”

“No, of course not.  There’s no reason to kill either of you.  Not now.”

“But we can tell the police everything, and especially what you two have done.”

“We’ll be long gone by the time the police get here.”

Jennifer picked up the gun and pointed it at me.  Edwina took some twine out of her handbag and used it to bind my hands and legs to the chair.

“Where are you going?”  It was worth asking, even if they didn’t tell me.

“Somewhere far away, with no extradition treaty,” Jennifer said.

Edwina replaced Angela’s gag, then put one on me.

For a moment Edwina disappeared behind us, checking the ropes, but then I felt a pin pricking my neck.  It was either the end, or the women needed us unconscious long enough for them to getaway.  I was hoping it was the latter.

The last words I heard before the darkness came was Jennifer saying, “Sorry, but we have a plane to catch.”


©  Charles Heath 2016 - 2019

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Episode 106 – Angela tries to explain


I went over to Angela and sat next to her.  I could see the terror in her eyes, and I think she knew Jennifer was capable of shooting her.  But something was wrong here, and Jennifer’s story didn’t add up.

No one walks into a place where the front door is unlocked.  In my book, that was asking for trouble.  
I think Jennifer was expecting to see exactly what I’d seen and was there for a reason.

“I wouldn’t scream when I take off the gag Angela,” I said.  “I expect Jennifer is looking for a reason to use that gun.”

She nodded.

I removed the gag.

She took a few deep breaths and tried to calm herself.  She was practically at the point of hyperventilating.  I’d expected an outburst of outrage against Jennifer, and a pleading of innocence.  I had no doubt she knew exactly what had happened in this room.

There was something else in her expression: pain.

Then I saw why.  Her shoulder, which had been hidden from view, the cloth of her dress was soaked in blood.  I took a closer look.  A rough bandage, but no mistaking a bullet wound, roughly patched but leaking blood.  She, too, had been shot.

“Who did this?” I asked quietly?

“I don’t know.  I came home and found Al waiting for me.”

“You were expecting him?”

“We had an arrangement.”

“Your assistance in exchange for retribution for Cathy’s death?”

“Joe visited her when she threatened to tell Jennifer about him sexually abusing her.  Al confronted him and he said it was an accident; that he never meant to hurt her, just keep her quiet.  He also said that Cathy had been filming his visits, and would use that as evidence.  He figured that night would also be on tape, but hadn’t been able to find it.”

“Were you aware Cathy had a camera installed?”

“No.  But only recently, I recovered the video when cleaning out some old boxes.  Joe was telling the truth, but he was still responsible for her death.”

Jennifer had put down the gun, come over to the table and sat.  She moved the gun on the tabletop to within easy reach, just in case.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You would have gone straight to Joe and he would have disappeared.”

“So you went to Al?”

“Yes.  When I told him, he said he’d suspected he’d been set up by Joe but couldn’t prove it.  He also said he thought Joe was up to something, and when he’d found out what it was, he said he would take care of him.”

“Kill him?”

“I thought he might have, but Al was the sort of man who beat people up, not kill them.  He might be a lot of things, but he’s not a cold-blooded killer.”

“And your part in it?”

“I wanted him to teach Joe a lesson, not kill him.”

“That charade at Outtel?”

“He said Joe had discovered him poking around in the company’s affairs, and he had to disappear.  

He said if you were involved you’d bring in the police, that Detective Sykes, and give his disappearance some credibility, put Joe at ease.”

“It wasn’t for long.  Who killed Joe?  Al?”

“No.  He told me someone else did it, and I believed him.”

“Did he find out what Joe was doing?”

“Yes.  He was skimming money, millions over the years.”

“That would require help.”

“Al was trying to get information out of Miriam.  He knew she was not the real Miriam, but an ex-con called Alice something or other.  You were right, he was not having an affair, he was just trying to get close enough to find out what she was doing.”

There was another knock on the door.  Jennifer didn’t seem too perturbed by it.  She picked up the gun, put it behind her back and walked to the door.  A look out the peephole, then she opened it.
Edwina.

She let her in and closed the door.  The gun was in her hand but pointing at the floor.

“An unfortunate circumstance,” Edwina said when she saw me.  “You were supposed to stop investigating.”

“I did.  I just wanted to see Angela again.”

“Curiosity killed the cat Mr Walthenson.  It might also be your undoing.”

Seeing the two women together, it all became clear.  The two women, married to two such men like Joe and Al, saw a way out.


© Copyright Charles Heath 2018

Monday, 19 August 2019

Episode 105 – The truth will out


I knew where Angela lived.

Perhaps that might be the one mistake she had made if there was a mistake to be made.  I had to admit, I was beginning to think she was more involved in Al’s affairs than she admitted, even to the point where I suspected she might be helping him.  Ten million, or even a small slice of that was a big incentive.

Perhaps Al had settled a score with Joe on her behalf for Cathy, in exchange for help in his plans.
It was probably naive of me to think she would still be there, in now what seemed to be the final card being played, but I was ever the optimist.

I knocked on the door.

Jennifer Jones answered it.  I’ll be honest; I was surprised to see her at Angela’s.

“Harry, what are you doing here?”  If I was not mistaken, her tone was tinged with a little annoyance, and a small measure of shock.

“I could ask the same question.  What are you doing here?”  After the momentary surprise of seeing her in the doorway, I noticed she had one hand behind her back.  I was ot sure then why it mattered.

“I was just having tea with Angela, so do come in.  You came at the right time.”

She stood to one side, opening the door.  I passed by her, and she closed the door behind us, after a quick glance out into the street.  I think, at that moment I realized that she had been expecting someone else.

That sound of the door closing sounded very final, and I knew then something bad had happened in this place.  When I stepped into the room off the passage from the front door, I had two sensations, the first, an off smell, one I would associate with death, and the other, the sensation of an object prodded into my back.

A gun.

“Don’t stop now, Harry.  Move forward, and don’t give me any trouble.”

I moved further into the large room, and at the end of the table adjacent to the kitchen, I saw Angela, gagged and bound in a chair.  I turned and Jennifer had a gun pointed at me, what looked like the same gun Angela had handed me in the Outtel basement.

“I’m not sure I understand,” I said.

“Look in the kitchen.”

A few more steps, I stood at the kitchen entrance and on the floor was the body of a man.  It looked like Al.  I moved closer and knelt down to see if there was a pulse.  It was Al, with a bullet hole in his forehead, and he looked very, very dead.

And although this looked exactly like the body I’d seen in the Outtel basement, I was equally sure that body hadn’t moved from Outtel to here, a few days later.  This body was still warm.

I stood and looked at her.  “Did you kill him?”

“No.  Why would I?”

“You have a gun in your hand and I suspect it has been recently used?”

“Then that’s on Angela.  I found the gun, and the body here when I arrived.”

“What about Miriam Walters?  They were not having an affair were they?  She was an embezzler, whether it was for Al or Joseph or both I guess we’ll never find out.  Did you kill Miriam?”

“No.  Her death, I believe Sykes said, was a suicide.”

“I looked at the gun in her hand.  Where did you get that weapon?”

“Like I said, it was here when I got here.”

“And why is Angela tied up?”

“I found her like that.”

“How did you get in?”

“The door was unlocked.”

“Didn’t you think that was unusual?”

She shrugged.  “I didn't think about it at the time.”

“Angela will corroborate this if I talk to her?”

“I doubt she’ll tell you the truth.”

“You have the gun, what harm could it do to ask a few questions.”

Jennifer shrugged, “It won’t help her in the end.”


© Copyright Charles Heath 2018

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Episode 104 - We seek him here, we seek him there...


Bodies don’t get up and walk away.  Especially one the size of Al Jones.  Nor could they be dragged, especially not dragged out of the room past me, and there was no other easy way to take a body the size of Al out of the building but go past me.
Or so I thought.

I needed to revisit the scene of the crime.  I also needed to recover the weapon, if it was still there.  I had a nagging thought that Angela may have beaten me to it, having reasonably assumed from our conversation that the weapon was still somewhere in the basement.

Corinne was right, I was not a very good liar when it came to Angela.  I had also allowed myself to become beguiled by her, so much for the private investigator’s motto of keeping an open mind to all possibilities.

I didn’t believe Al had a twin.  I think he may have had someone who looked like him, used him as a red herring, and was running an agenda that targeted everyone connected with Outtel. 

Perhaps he hadn’t liked the idea of the company going legitimate and was being squeezed out.  Being the muscle, he’d hardly benefit if no strong-arm tactics were needed anymore.

Perhaps it was a simple case of thieves fall out, Joe was cheating him, and Al killed him.  IT made sense given the facts I had to hand in the case.

Then, of course, Angela had once again muddied the waters with the revelation that Joseph Jones had something to do with the murder of Cathy Jones, and if I understood the subtext, that Joseph had not only sexually assaulted her, but killed her to silence her.

This, of course, had nothing to do with my original case, Al’s wife, Jennifer, hiring me to see if her husband was having an affair with Miriam.

The fact I was not the first PI to investigate made me consider what had happened to the others?  Had he simply bought them off?  Nothing I saw told me he was having an affair with Miriam, but clearly, she had some sort of arrangement with him.  Given there was allegedly a matter of embezzlement hanging over the company, was she with AL’s help systematically stealing money from the company.  
By all accounts it was quite a lot.

That was a more plausible explanation for their relationship and Jennifer was not so worried her husband was cheating on her, as it was that he planned to dump her and leave her penniless.  It might have been easier to investigate if I had all of the facts, rather than just her version of them.

But, just what was Jennifer Jones involvement in all of this?  What, if anything, did she stand to gain from Al’s death, if, in fact, he was dead?  She didn’t strike me as the type of person who would kill anyone, but what did I know of who could or could not kill?  Besides, didn’t women prefer to use poison, rather than a gun to kill their spouse?

And Joe’s allegation about Al and Edwina?  She was incapable of hiding the involuntary distaste she had for Al, and I doubt she would touch him with a ten-foot barge pole let alone anything else.  That was just Joe misdirecting my investigation away from him.

And if I was honest, if Al was still alive, I didn’t think he killed Joe.  He might hate him, but I didn’t think Al would want to go back to prison.  But I did think someone at Outtel did kill Joe, but I was not sure what the reason was.  Not yet.  The most likely reason was that he’d found out what Al and Miriam were up to, and Miriam killed him.  She certainly looked like a murderer to me.

My phone rang.

I looked at the screen.

Sykes.

I answered with, “Yes?”

“Miriam Walters is dead.  It looks like a suicide, but I susp0ect once we get the coroner’s report it won’t be.  That’s all of the top staff of Outtel dead.  And if I follow the money, it firmly places the blame on the two wives, Jennifer and Edwina.”

“And if I told you I think Al is still alive?”

“Can you prove it, because that would answer quite a few questions I have.”

“I believe Angela can.  Last time I saw her she was trying very hard to sell me a story that was losing credibility by the minute.  She knows a lot more than she’s been saying.  Have your forensic accountants gone over the Outtel books yet?”

“There’s a few million missing somewhere, and the cover-up was very professional.  A real accountant might miss it if he wasn’t looking for it.”

He went on to add that he forensic accountants had finished their preliminary investigation into Outtel’s financial affairs and according to them the company should have flat-lined by now.  Over ten million dollars had disappeared over a three year period, a fact that might not have immediately become evident had Joseph not been murdered.

An investigation into Miriam Walters found that she was really Alice Benson, an ex-felon who spent ten years in jail for embezzlement at a previous financial institution where she got away with five million dollars, none of which had been recovered.  Maybe, Sykes said, she was the only beneficiary, but in this case, like her last, the money had disappeared.

But, Sykes had not found a previous connection between Al and Miriam, so perhaps she hadn’t been hired for her embezzling skills on their behalf.  The fact she was dead suggested otherwise, no one who just got away with ten million would contemplate committing suicide, except from an overdose of the good life.

“So,” he concluded, “Do you think the real reason Jennifer hired you was to find out what Miriam and Al were up to, and it was not necessarily sex in a seedy hotel.”

Interesting choice of words, I thought.  But it looked to me like Sykes had been thinking the same as I had been.

“Then if Al is alive, he’s making his final move and leaving no witnesses.  That, I suspect might include Angela.  I think I should pay her a visit, and if I get anything out of her I’ll give you a call.  In the meantime, I think you should put out a wanted poster on Al.”

“Among other things.  I’ve now got three possible murders and a fugitive.  And I think it’s time I revisited the merry widows.  On paper, they don’t stand to inherit much from the company, but I’m willing to bet the boys managed to squirrel away a lot of undeclared wealth, and that would certainly be a good motive for murder.  Call me as soon as you can.”


The call fortuitously ended at the same time another was coming in.  Felicity.

“She’s on the train, and no one was following her.”

“Thanks.  I owe you.”

“I heard there was another body connected to the Outtel Jones case.  Some woman by the name of Miriam something or other.”

“Sykes just told me.  We think Al is still alive and cleaning up before he leaves with a large chunk of embezzled funds.”

“And not with Miriam.  Nothing going on there then?”

“Apparently, though Sykes said that wasn’t her real name, and she had been jailed for another embezzlement at a former company she worked at.  That was probably why AL was interested in her.”

“Money not sex this time.  I’d like to see Jennifer Jones face when you tell her.”

“That’s Sykes department.  I promised not to interfere with police business.  I just have one more task to complete for this case, and then you can tell me all about your adventure.  My treat.”

“With top shelf champagne.”

“Done.”

After the call ended, a message came through from Corinne, confirming Felicity’s report.  She was on the train, reluctantly, and would await my call when it was safe for her to return.  But there was a short addition to the text.  Our father had not come home last night, not that it was concerning, but when mother had called the office, they said he had told them he was going away for a few days.  
He’d never done that before, not without telling us.
I hoped this had nothing to do with our little discussion about his involvement with Outtel, or the matter regarding the empty block at the docks.

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