Sunday 20 January 2019

Episode 35 - Sykes Returns

Three hours, seven cups of coffee and several buns later, Sykes finally arrived.  He closed the door and leaned against it.
He glared at Buteske.  “Get anything meaningful out of this clown?”
“Not really.  Adamant there was a body, he was tied up, but I’m not so sure about how he got free.  Still, there’s nothing conclusive to tie him to anything but breaking and entering.”
“Right.  We’ll talk more about this later.”
Buteske stood, nodded, and left the room.
When we were alone, Sykes glared at me for a full two or three minutes.  Then he said, “No body, no trace of a body, or anything that would convince me there was a body in that room.  I should charge you with wasting police time.”
“He was there.”
“So you say.  Go home.  Stop meddling in police business.  Don’t let me catch you anywhere near the Outtell Finance Company, or any of the partners, their wives, or their staff.  Your business with them is done.  Finished.  Is that clear?”
Harry thought it best to agree, and sort of the details later.
He opened the door.
“Get out of my sight, Walthenson, and don't darken my door again.”
“What about Jeremy Brightwater?"
I could see he was considering ignoring me.  Perhaps the lesser of the evils was to just tell me.
"We're looking for him.  Considering the attrition rate for those who manage Outtel, I don't fancy our chances.  He's not at home, and his housekeeper said he was away on business."
"Sounds a bit suspicious to me."
"It can sound whatever it likes.  You keep your nose out of this.  It's police business now.  Not yours."
Unless, Harry thought, he found the mysterious woman in the red dress and got an explanation out of her.

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Saturday 19 January 2019

Episode 34 - A daughter, maybe

Buteske was sharp, and a lot cleverer than he looked.  Perhaps the persona he wanted to portray to people like me was for disarming purposes.
“I can assure you there was no one else there but me.  The aroma of perfume must come from one of the women who worked there during the day, like a secretary.  Some women seem to shower in the stuff.”
“Right.  Are you going to stick with that story?”
“It’s the truth.”  It wasn’t, and I hoped I'd sounded convincing.  I didn’t think I had.
He made a note in his book.
“You arranged to meet Al in the car park?”
“No.  He was there waiting. Scared the living hell out of me when he turned up.”
“How did he know you would be there?”
“No idea.  Perhaps he was following me.”
“Shouldn’t that be the other way around?”
No disguising the contempt.  Perhaps Sykes had already told him what he thought of my detective abilities.  Certainly, Sykes didn’t think much of me.
“Perhaps.”  I tried to keep a straight face.
“What did he want with you?”
“He asked if I'd got a picture of Joseph with his wife.”
“Al’s wife Jennifer?”
“Yes.  He wanted to know if I’d caught them together yet.”
“And Sykes tells me you told him Al’s wife Jennifer had asked you to get a photo of him with some woman called Miriam?”
“Jennifer Jones called her the red-headed floozy.”
Another not in his book.
“Did she say she was looking for a reason to divorce him?”
“She didn’t say exactly.”
“What were you doing for Joseph Jones?”
“Joe wanted me to get a photo of his wife with Al.”
“All a bit of a tangled web, don’t you think.  Did it occur to you they all might be pulling your leg.”
“Al gave me a wad of money so I don’t think he was joking.”
Another note.
“You asked if Al had a daughter.  Why?”
“Just conversation.”
“Maybe, maybe not.  Al had one, but she died four years ago.  It was why he was briefly sent to prison.   In the end, they couldn’t make the murder charge stick.  If anything, I would say Jennifer Jones would pay any amount to have him killed.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Friday 18 January 2019

Episode 33 - In a small room, sweating

Harry had to admit there were a lot of things about this case he didn't know much about.  Perhaps if he had read the papers more, he would be better informed.  He decided that from this day on he would read more than just the comic strips and do the crossword.
Not that it would help his current situation.  That was in the lap of the Gods.
Buteske ushered him to an interview room. It wasn't much a room with just a table and four chairs.  Somewhere, he assumed there was recording equipment, perhaps a video camera.  An atmosphere designed to make the interviewee squirm before the interrogation.
He wasn't under arrest, just assisting the police with their inquiries.  Pending Sykes' leisure, whatever that meant.  Buteske no doubt had a good idea but wasn’t in the mood to discuss it with him.
As he shut the door, he grinned.  "I’d get used to small spaces.  If  it’s up to Sykes, you'll never see the light of day again."
“And what do you think?”
“You’ve got to stop pissing Sykes off.  What really happened?”
He sat and took out his notebook, pencil poised to start writing.
“Exactly what I said.  A hit on the head, I woke up, bound, next to Al’s body.  It was there.  He was dead.”
“How did you untie the ropes then?”
I realized then I'd offered too much information, but that was with the benefit of hindsight.  I was not to know the woman was going to disappear and take the evidence with her.
“Loose knots and perseverance.”  It didn’t sound very convincing, and the expression Buteske’s face agreed with that assumption.
A sigh.  “How long did it take?”
He was like a dog with a bone.  Buteske would see through the lies.  I had to think.
“A few minutes.”
“Show me your hands.”
I put them on the table, and he examined them, more intensely than I'd expected.  Looking for what?”
When he’d finished the examination he said, “I’d expect some residue from the rope in your fingernails if you untied the ropes yourself.  If you want my opinion, Harry, someone undid those ropes for you.”
“Al?  He was dead.”
“Well, unless you’ve taken to wearing women’s perfume, I’m sure there was someone else in that room with you.”

© Charles Heath 2016-2018

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Episode 32 - Brightwater in deep water

Harry had to admit things were going from bad to worse. 
Al had lied, the woman in the red dress had lied, and now he had lied.  He had handled the murder weapon.  All that was saving him from life in prison was the lack of a body and the hidden gun.
Sykes came bounding back up the stairs and came over to us.
“Seems there’s been some activity by the loading dock, blood and such.  I’m getting forensics to look into it.  How much they pay you to stall calling the police so they could get away?”
His theoretical charge list moved from murder to aiding and abetting.
“What?  Are you mad?  I did nothing of the sort.”
Sykes nodded to his assistant.  "Take him back to the station for questioning.  I want to know everything by the time I get back.  You have an hour."
Harry assumed from his manner that Buteske was not altogether happy with Sykes approach to police work.
After a short distance, Buteske turned to Harry, and said, "You do realize you’ve opened a can of worms working with these people, don’t you?  I mean, do you actually do any homework on people before you take them on as clients?"
At this stage of his career, Harry couldn’t afford to be picky.  But at the very least he should have done a more extensive check of his ‘clients’. "It was work, and I’m not yet in a position where I can pick and choose."
"Don't you read the papers?"
Although he wouldn't admit it, he didn't read as much as he should.  Nor watch the news on TV.  "Why?"
"Both Al and Joe were about to sue Brightwater over some loss-making deals he made.  It involves a rather large sum of money.  I thought you knew."

© Charles Heath 2016-2019

Sunday 13 January 2019

Episode 31 - A daughter, no

They found nothing on him.  Quick thinking had saved him.
For the moment.
It was still possible they would search the office from top to bottom, but that would be tomorrow and Harry planned to be somewhere else by then.
Sykes just grunted when he heard the searching officer’s report, and went back downstairs.
His partner, a detective by the name of Wally Buteske, came down the stairs from an upper level, his expression conveying that he had just been wasting his time.
I got along with him better than Sykes.
“Nothing,” I asked.
“Nothing.  What happened?”
“I was talking to Al in the parking lot and someone hit me from behind.  Next thing I know I’m here, lying next to a dead body.  Al Jones.  It shakes you up, the first, I mean seeing it close up like that.”
“You get used to it.”
He pulled over a chair and sat down.  If it was anything like any of Sykes other cases, it was going to be a long night.
”Is anything happening in the Joseph Jones case?  I asked Al if he did it, and he said Joe was the brains of the outfit.  Makes you wonder what Jeremy Brightwater’s roles is all of this?”
“At the moment we don’t really know.  He’s apparently gone missing and no one seems to know where he is.”
“So would I if two of the other partner’s suddenly turned up dead.”
“Sykes is still toying with the idea you might have done it.”
“Be a bit silly if I started killing clients wouldn’t it?”
“We have to consider all of the possibilities.  After all, you have been at both the murder scenes so you had the opportunity, maybe motive.  Al’s wife, Jennifer, seems the sort who could persuade a man to do anything for her.”
An older man, maybe, but not me.  She was as old as my mother.
“Al got any family, other than a wife?”
“No daughter?”
He shook his head.  “Where did you get that idea?”
“Just asking.”
And now panicking.  Who the hell was the woman in the red dress?

© Charles Heath 2016-2018