Detective Albert Sykes had his proverbial finger in several pies. One keeping an eye on Walthenson, one keeping an eye on Felicity, the girl who had inadvertently stumbled upon Theo Blines, and another chasing down the recent work history of said same Theo.
His information about Walthenson was that according to the cleaner of the building where Harry had his office, Harry’s father had gone missing, or so Harry’s mother had said in a reasonably hysterical manner according to the cleaner. Sykes was not sure, having met the woman, that she could muster hysterical in any circumstances. She was, Sykes thought, a very cold fish.
His information about Felicity was that she wasn’t looking for another suspect to shoot, but oddly wandering around the city. First, she appeared to be following Harry’s sister Corinne, which made sense to Sykes because of what foolishness Corinne had done in going to the docks. But it was her movements in the city that piqued his interest, because it looked as though she was following several subjects, one of whom was Harry’s mother.
Did they suspect Harry's mother had something to do with the father's disappearance?
What was disconcerting about this operation was the fact a man named Florenz was involved, and Sykes had a list of charges but no convictions against him, all of which revolved around financial transactions, and suspected money laundering. An exceptionally smooth operator according to his boss, who, when Sykes mentioned his name in passing, got a stern order to leave him alone. Florenz apparently had golfing friends extremely high up in the department. He was going to tread very carefully with that investigation.
But it was the Theo Blines trail he was most interested in, offering to assist Detective Wallace in his investigation that had gone cold through lack of evidence and leads. Sykes, however, had a confidential informant who had put the word out and was now ready to tell Sykes what he’d discovered.
Sykes had picked a reasonably secluded spot in Central Park to meet his confidential informant, a character named Joel Whittaker.
Whittaker used to be a top-notch reporter who broke several very large stories concerning corruption in high and low places, but succumbed to the headiness of his success and went one step too far, landing a scoop that, in the end, wasn’t. Payback for the people he had betrayed, and lucky to come out of it alive.
Nowadays, he was not the most reliable man on the planet, but he was walking on the other side f the street, with enough street cred to worm his way into any illegal operation or know a friend of a friend of a friend of just about every criminal in the city. People told him stuff because they knew he could never use it against them, no one would believe him.
That’s what made his such a good confidential informer/
He always looked undernourished and had what he himself described as an on and off relationship with drugs, which Sykes took to mean that he used whenever he had any money.
For this meeting, Sykes had brought him a couple of donuts, a pretzel, and a cup of weak coffee. For himself, he had an Americano. A few minutes after sitting down, Joel appeared and sat at the opposite end of the seat.
Sykes pushed the tray of food towards him and he grabbed it. Sykes first impression, Joel had not slept in a week, still in the same clothes he'd last seen him wearing and was starving. All the signs of a man on the edge, and in need of a fix. He knew where the contents of the envelope under the tray would end up.
He let Joel have the first of the donuts, then asked, "What have you discovered?"
"That you should walk away while you still can. These people, they're connected, if you know what I mean."
“They’re the tip of the iceberg, you don’t want to start digging too deep.”
He knew what he meant. Corruption, the sort that never saw the light of day because it went a long way up the ladder. His boss had already issued a veiled warning.
"And if I don't?"
"How's a dip in the Hudson sound?"
"Cold for this time of year. It's not the first time I've been warned, Joel, and it won't be the last. But I suspect you're not going to name names."
"Not those at the top of the pile because I don't know who they are. But the small fish, the Blines brothers, they're bottom feeders. Theo had a simple surveillance job, so simple they can't believe he got shot. Ned, his brother, wants the shooter, and word is it's a girl, which makes it a vengeance job. Doesn't know who she is yet, but they have friends in the police, so I suspect it won't take long. You know her, tell her to leave town."
"Or I could just bust Ned. Who's he working for?"
"Ostensibly himself, but we all know some it’s other people who own the vacant land at the docks. Nothing on it, but someone seems to think it means something to someone. Ned's now looking after the surveillance. No one is willing to talk about it, so that means there's money involved, and if there's money involved, 'The Banker' is involved."
Sykes know of this 'Banker', a man who was reputed to broker deals for criminals, terrorists, and anyone else who wanted money, or those who couldn't get finance from legitimate sources because of their credit rating, places similar to but now defunct, Outtel.
With the name Florenz popping up, it seemed to Sykes that it might just be him, or of not, someone he knew, so investigating Florenz further was one option on the table.
"You know of a guy called Florenz?"
"He plays golf with the Mayor, and a few other city luminaries, and others of less repute but men of consequence none the less. Not a man I would be looking at once, or sideways. Why? You planning to take up golf?"
Golf was one of those games Sykes had no time for, like chess, and tennis. Chasing a little white ball around an arduous course meant exercise he didn't want, but desperately needed. That's what gyms were for. But he did know that the golf course was where a lot of deals were made, and large sums of money were won and lost. What better place was there to broker shady deals, away from prying eyes and hidden microphones.
"Not yet anyway. You wouldn’t happen to know of these so-called men of consequence?"
“One or two. One is apparently missing, a chap by the name of Xavier Walthenson. You know his kid I’m told. Nearly died not minding his own business. You might drop a hint it wouldn’t be wise to go looking for a man who doesn’t want to be found.”
First Sykes had heard of the elder Walthenson’s disappearance. Harry should have told him rathe than finding out this way.
“Some people have an insatiable curiosity.”
“Just remember I told you it killed the car. The other is someone whom you may recall from the old days if ever there were such halcyon days. James Quirk. Councilman, soon to be DA if the word on the street has any credence, a man with much ambition.”
“And a lot of history to erase.” An interesting connection for a man like Florenz to be acquainted with. But the name James Quirk opened a creaky door in his brain, and he didn’t think he was going to like what was behind it.
Joel had finished the donuts and coffee and had pocketed the envelope. The interview was over. "Some free advice; leave this alone. Too many heavy hitters involved. All I would do is protect the girl. Ned's not the sharpest tool in the box, but he does get a little carried away when dishing out retribution. There's another brother, Willy, got more sense than to be involved with the dunderhead brothers, but I suspect he's the one who throws them bones when he can. He might be worth having a chat to since he works with some of those City Hall types."
He stood. "Take care." A few minutes later he had disappeared.
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