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.

Copyright © 2016-2019

Friday, 16 August 2019

Episode 103 – Angela and Al confer


In the event, Al arrived, somewhat harried, and looking over his shoulder, on Angela’s doorstep.  Without so much as a word, he barged past her, whispering savagely, “close the door quickly”

Angela didn’t know what annoyed her the most about his arrival, that he had totally ignored the usual meeting place, which was in an open area where no one could overhear them, or the fact he looked like he was being followed.
“What part of the usual place didn’t you understand?” She said as she watched him go from door to door checking to see if anyone else was in her apartment.
“Just who the hell are you looking for?”
A last check and then he came back, not to sit, but to stand by the kitchen bench.  “That pesky private detective you’ve been cozying up to, what’s his name, Wally?”
“Walthenson.  It was your idea to set him up in the bank.  I told you that could go very wrong, and I think it has.  I think he suspects you’re still alive.”
“Then he’s not as dumb as he looks.”
“No.  Did you get some of your old thug mates from your prison days to work him over?”
Clearly, though, she could see that was not what was worrying him.  He looked surprised when she asked.
“What do you mean.  I haven’t seen him since the bank.  I told you then I had to go away for a while and sort out another problem that my precious brother landed me in.  Good thing someone else killed him or would have done it myself.”
“You didn’t kill him?”
“No.  I can tell you that sent a shiver down my spine.  He didn’t make nearly as many enemies as I did, but that was only back when we were running the loan shark business.  I suppose Walthenson was investigating that murder too?”
“He was there and witnessed it.  Said the killer drove off in a car he later discovered belonged to the Outtel company.”
“The bitch,” he muttered under his breath.
“What bitch?”
“Miriam.  She was creaming a percentage for herself, but it wasn’t beyond Joe getting someone else to pull a stunt like that for himself.  That’s why I was trying to get on her good side, to find out what she was up to.  Hard as nails, that one, and a consummate liar.  I reckon she had Joe killed to cut him out of her scheme.  She’s next on my list to visit after I leave here.  I need the money now to pay off a few debts, and to get out of here.  Jennifer can have Brightwater for all I care.  They deserve each other.”
“You do know Joe killed Cathy, don’t you?”
“Now I do, but then there’s that little problem of Cathy not being my daughter, but Brightwater’s.  That was a bombshell I didn’t need.  Everyone seems to be screwing around with everyone else.  Me, all I get is platitudes from Joe, a cheating wife, and a jail sentence I didn’t deserve.”
“At least you kept up your part of the bargain, and took care of Joe for me.”
“For us, Angela, not just you.  It’s now one more body on my conscience.”
“Did you kill Brightwater?”
“What the hell, him too.  No, of course not, even if he was the father of my child.  But the good thing about it is that the police with think someone’s targeting all of the owners of Outtel.  I think I’m lucky everyone thinks I’m dead.
“And the money you promised me?”
“After I see Miriam.  All you’ve got to do is lie a little longer, and I’ll be gone, and you’ll be much richer for it.  All you’ve got to do is keep that Wally character out of my hair for another 24 hours, and everything will be fine.  As far as everyone is concerned I’ll be dead and gone, and you’ll have everything you asked for.”
He started walking towards the door, still acting very nervous.
Just to add a little extra to fuel his nervousness already stretched to breaking point by coming out into the open, there was a resounding knock on her door that stopped him dead in his tracks.
“Don’t answer it.”
“Don’t be a fool.  Get in the bedroom, close the door and don’t make a sound.  I’ll get rid of whoever it is.”
When he’d gone, she took a deep breath and opened the door.
“What a surprise, Aunt Jennifer.  What on earth are you doing here?”

Copyright © 2016-2019

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Episode 102 - Harry talks to Felicity

Harry thought it was time to call Felicity.  Given the circumstances of her last 24 hours, she might not want to hear from him, but Harry thought it might be useful to get some facts about what had happened.
He was angry with her, but he had asked her to keep an eye on Corinne, and she had to what could be a great personal cost.  He had no ideas what it was like to shoot someone, but it couldn’t leave you in a good place.
When she answered the phone, she didn’t sound very well.
“Sykes just told me what happened.  It’s my fault, and I’m sorry I got you into this mess.”
“Don’t be.  I jumped in with both feet, and both eyes wide open.”
“What happened?”
She took several minutes to go through the events, chapter and verse, if only to get a more clear picture of what had happened in her own mind.
When she finished he said, “I should not have asked you to keep an eye on what is now obviously a very silly girl.”
“We both found it, and she did say she was not going to do anything stupid.  But, I guessed what it was she might do and followed her.  Good thing I did.”
“Well, she won’t do any more harm, I’ve told her to go to our aunt’s in Chicago.”
“You think she will?”
“If you’re there to make sure she does.  I know I have no right to ask, but I have to chase down a lead now, and would do it myself if I could.”
“Sykes is having my licence suspended pending an investigation.  But, I don’t need that to make sure a friend gets to where she’s supposed to be.  You think she will be safe?”
“Knowing my aunt as I do, yes.  Thanks.”
“This lead?  Does it involve Angela?”
“It does.  Why?”
“Be careful.  She’s an inveterate liar and she thinks she had you wrapped around her little finger.”
“I know.  It’s taken far too long to realise what’s she’s been doing.”
“Then take care.  I’ll call you when she’s on the train.”


Copyright © 2016-2019

Monday, 5 August 2019

Episode 101 - Harry and Sykes have a conversation


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?”

“Both, please.”

“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?”

“Getting coffee.”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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.

“What happened?”

“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?”

“I thought...”

“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.”


Copyright © 2016-2019