Sunday 24 January 2021

Case 2 - Episode 21 - Willy Blines on the back foot

There was a minute’s silence, then Felicity decided to weigh in with a question of her own, "Do you know either Harry or Xavier Walthenson?"

She kept a close eye on him as she asked the question, knowing that in those first few seconds as it registered, people often gave away a completely different answer than their verbal reply. 

Willy was no different.  His go-to for evasion or thought time before he spoke, was to refresh the ice in his drink that didn't need refreshing.  But he was not quick enough in turning to stop that look of recognition in his eyes.

She waited while he topped up the ice.  The answer when he faced them again was predictable.

"No.  Should I?"

"Well, let's take a step in another direction, and think carefully before you answer.  Do you know Emil Florenz?"

Was that panic?  She could almost hear the internal argument he was having with himself, weighing the odds of whether they'd seen Florenz arrive and go earlier.  It was a losing argument.

The was only one answer 

"Yes.  Why?"

Sykes took over.  "Although there's no police investigation yet," a sidelong glance at Felicity, "we have information that might indicate that Florenz is mixed up in some criminal financial activity.  Do you have any business dealings with him.”?

"What makes you think I know him, other than knowing of him?"

A question Sykes believed was to draw out whether they had seen him come and/or go from his office.

"Don't dance with me, Willy.  If I find you are withholding information that might eventually be part of an ongoing investigation, you can be charged as an accessory, before or after the fact won't bother me all that much."

Another momentary thought, one that Felicity might have said indicated the dilemma; damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  Who did Willy fear the most, Florenz or Sykes?

"I manage a property or two of his, nothing illegal about those transactions "

"One wouldn't have anything to do with that parcel of land at the docks where your brother is playing guard dog?"

"No, definitely not."

"Then you know who's owns it then?"

Deftly maneuvered into a compromising position, virtually admitting he knew who the owner was.

"No, not really.  Just the person who made the request for security.  That was a man called Samuel Argeter from Bilboa Investments.  Perhaps he is the owner or knows who is."

Argeter, Felicity thought; she knew that name, she’d heard it used earlier that day, yes, in the discussion between Florenz and Harry's mother.

She knew who he was but couldn't for the moment remember what had been said about him.  

It was beginning to appear, to her, there was a group, perhaps old school chums, who worked together.  Perhaps Harry could pursue it with his mother.

Felicity looked at Sykes.  He seemed satisfied with the meeting, pulled out a card from his inner suit pocket, and put it on the bench.

"Two things to remember.  If you’re a mind to settling scores over Theo, make sure it's the real killer not the result of some crazy guesswork.  You know what I'll do if you go down the wrong path.  And just in case your memory comes back, or the owner's name pops into your head, my number is on the card.  Have a nice day, Willy."

And if he chooses to ignore Sykes, Felicity will know tomorrow when she checked on Corinne.  Or now that he knew she was one of the shooters, she'd have to have eyes in the back of her head.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Friday 15 January 2021

Case 2 - Episode 20 - Sykes and Felicity chat to Willy Blines

Both Sykes and Felicity waited by the elevator door watching the progress of the lift coming down to street level until they heard the ding forewarning the arrival of the elevator car.

The doors opened and Willy was standing back leaving room for them to join him 

"Detective Sykes is it now?" Willy said as the doors closed.

There was a slight lurch before the elevator started its upward journey.  Felicity thought it was straining considering the combined weight of her two traveling companions.  Sykes could afford to lose 20 or 30 pounds before he had a heart attack, and the other man, Willy, well he was past the point of no return.

The car stopped at the fourth floor and they all got out.  Willy headed for the bar at the other end of the room, while the other two follow more slowly, looking in the rooms they passed, till they came out into a large dining/living space.

She had expected an office but instead, it was a newly renovated apartment.

Sykes stopped not far from Willy, who had turned to look in his direction.  "Drink?"

Sykes surveyed the array of bottles on the countertop, just about every type of alcohol there was, he thought, and, for a moment considered asking for a gin and tonic.

He was working, so no.  He shook his head to indicate he didn't.

Willy swiveled to look in Felicity’s direction, on the opposite side of the room, beside a large, rather gloomy-looking painting of the Brooklyn Bridge almost lost in the fog.

It was an odd depiction of such a famous landmark.


"No thanks."

Willy shrugged.  "Suit yourselves."  He turned back to the counter, and poured himself a generous serve of Scotch whiskey, then went to the refrigerator and loaded over from the door ice maker.

Satisfied his drink was right, he turned to face them.  "Now what can I do for you, Detective?"

"Did Ned call you?  I was there earlier it would be a shock if he didn't."

"No point saying, he didn't.  But he's not doing anything wrong, Detective.'

"Who is employing him as a security guard and why?"

Willy took a sip of his drink and winced, perhaps the raw liquid not as smooth as he thought it would be.  He turned back to the ice maker and this time added some cold water before turning his attention back to Sykes.

"I am.  You know as well as I and a lot of others how unsafe it is down there.  He's more or less doing the public service."

"Unsafe is right, Willy.  Theo is a testament to that.  Who would want to kill him?"

Willy's eyes strayed from Sykes to Felicity, then back to Sykes.  "I heard it was a girl who done for him."

He nodded in Felicity's direction.  "Wouldn't be her would it?"

"She didn't kill him, no, but if your brother had not startled her, it might have saved himself the indignity of getting a harmless flesh wound.  Self-defence, against someone like Theo, is not a crime Willy.  No, your brother was killed by a professional hitman, three to the heart one to the head.  So the question remains, who did Theo insult so bad they wanted to make a point."

Sykes pulled an envelope out of his inside coat pocket, took it to the bench, and pushed it across towards Willy.  

"Just in case you think that I'm lying, that's the medical examiner’s report on Theo's death.  It means that if you are going after this young lady," Sykes nodded in her direction, "or any other woman you might think is connected, then I suggest you don't."

Willy glanced at the envelope, then Felicity, then back Sykes.  "Why should I believe you?"

"Simply this.  If you want to make trouble, that's fine, if you do then I'll come after you, and the first item on my agenda will be that so-called vacant block of dockland.  I'll have it searched from top to bottom, on the ground and under it, and I'll make sure the media makes it very clear you're the reason we're doing it.  I imagine that won't make your employer happy."

Willy's expression told Sykes all he needed to know.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Case 2 - Episode 19 – The building on Broadway

Losing Florenz wasn’t quite what happened.

When the moment of panic wore off, thinking that she had lost him, a short walk from the corner of Canal Street up Broadway led her to a building that had an inset elevator entrance., and since she had not seen him enter the building by the proper doorway, it was the only place he could have gone, quite literally walking through a wall if viewed side-on.

A quick check of the bank and stores on that side of the street showed he was not in any of them.

Nor, she suspected, had he come this far just to get on the subway at Canal Street.  There was ample opportunity to do that during his walking odyssey to this particular spot.

Of course, she could be wrong, but she was prepared to wait, perhaps for a half hour or so, and see if he materialized.

She crossed the street, dodging cars and a bus, and leaned against the column outside the building opposite, pretending to consult her phone, and have a fictitious phone call, keeping a continuous eye on that elevator entrance.

She’d been there about ten minutes when a voice beside her said, “I should arrest you for loitering.”

She turned to see Detective Sykes, a familiar voice, and one belonging to the last person she wanted to see or find her there.

“Are you on a job?”  We waited for her to answer, then guessed it was not one he wanted her to know about.

“Sort of.”

“That’s not much of an answer, is it.  I’m guessing you’re working for Harry, and not taking my advice to keep out of danger’s way.”

“This is me avoiding trouble.  Harry asked me to do some surveillance on his mother.”

“Why would he want his mother followed?”

“You’ve met the Walthenson’s, and I’m sure you think them as odd as I do.  But just the same I wasn’t following her, but Alicia Wentworth.”

“One of the partners at Walthenson’s practice.”

“Married to Harry’s father’s father.  It’s a convoluted arrangement, but Harry suspects she has something to do with his disappearance.  Anyway, she brought me into the city where she met Emile Florenz, one of his dad’s golfing friends.”

“Florenz?  You want to keep well away from him.”

“Perhaps someone should tell Harry’s mother that, because that was who he met next, and they had an intimate discussion downtown.”

“So, you’re telling me Florenz and the Walthenson’s are friends.”

“One I suspect more than the other.  I did a little digging and the mother and he used to be an item at University.”

“And you’re here now because?”

“I think Florenz is in the building opposite, and I’m waiting to see where he goes next.”

She could sense a reprimand in the wind, Sykes’ manner having changed markedly the moment he heard the name Florenz.  Sykes definitely knew more about Florenz than she did, but knew he wasn’t going to share it.  Just the same, she had to ask, “Is he dangerous?”

“He might very week have had something to do with Harry’s kidnapping.  A little advice, it might be time for you to walk away from this right now before he finds out about you.”

Too late.  If Blines had spoken to anyone before he died, and it was Florenz, a fact becoming more likely by the minute, then she was already in his sights.

“By the way,” she added, thinking it was better to tell him than not, “when I shot Blines, just after he gave me a name.  Florenz.  That made me think that he had something to do with that dockland property.”

She saw Sykes shaking his head.  Not a good sign.

“Your curiosity is going to get you the same treatment Harry got if you’re not careful.  This is not the place to be.”

“Why?  And why are you here?  It can’t be a coincidence.”

“It could.  But another piece of information, not for following up, but just to add to your notebook when you write your memoirs if you live that long, Blines brother lives over the road, and I’m going to drop in and have a chat.  Since Florenz is there too…”

“Maybe not a good idea.”

“You can use it as leverage on Blines.  He doesn’t know we know he knows Florenz.”  She almost confused herself with that statement, but the notion was valid.  Knowing something the interrogated didn’t know the interrogator knew gave them a distinct advantage.

Interrogation 101.

Sykes shook his head again, but for different reasons.

“Looks like we won’t have to wait long to see Ned.”

He followed her look across the street where Ned had just finished his meeting with Florenz and just as a car pulled up in front of them, blocking their view, Florenz hastily crossed to it, and got in.

When it was clear again, Ned had gone.

That’s when Sykes pulled out his phone and called Ned.  “Five minutes, outside the elevator.”

She didn’t hear what New said, but it didn’t sound friendly.

“Oh, there’s one other matter, there’s some chap following Corinne to school and back.  I took a photo of him.”

“Send it and I’ll see if he’s anyone of interest.  You sure it’s not an old boyfriend?”

“No.  He’s definitely following her.  He had a photo that fell out of his back pocket.”

“OK.  Now you’d better leave.”

“I don’t think so.  He needs to be told to stop targeting Harry’s sister.  I’m sure he thinks she’s the one who killed her brother, and he needs to know the truth.”

“You do realise these people don’t take much notice of the truth.”

“Even so, I should be there.  You can tell him I did it, and then tell him that seeking retribution will just see him buried in the same grave as his brother.”

Sykes glared at her incredulously.  “Do you have any idea what these people are like?”

“I’m sure you’ll sort it out.  Let’s not keep him waiting.”

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Thursday 7 January 2021

Case 2 - Episode 18 - Felicity follows Florenz to a building on Broadway (Revised)

 When Florenz didn’t stop at City Hall, what Felicity thought was the most likely destination, she thought that perhaps Florenz had discovered she was following him, and this would end up a wild goose chase.

But, when he continued walking slowly up Broadway towards Times Square, she began to think perhaps he was just out for a morning walk to his next appointment.  In the short distance past the entrance to the park, he had stopped to look at his watch, then his cell phone, as if he was checking one against the other.

Then, as he started walking again, he bumped into a man who was walking quickly, making the collision more than it might have been.  Florenz dropped his phone, the other man, who had staggered a few steps before regaining control, turned and told Florenz to watch where he was going, then continued on his way at the same breakneck speed.

Florenz turned to watch him leave, then started scanning the path behind him, and then his eyes coming back up the other side of the road where Felicity, thinking quickly on her feet, moved into a doorway that made her look as if she was going into the building.

That action lost her a valuable minute, and when she came back out onto the street, immediately looking where he was last standing, he’d gone.  Then, she looked further up the street and saw him, just, crossing the next intersection at Reade Street.

It looked to her like he had almost run to get that far in such a short time. 

Or he considered he was late for that appointment, and just walked fast.

She took the calculated risk of almost running herself to catch up, stopping still some distance from him, having to wait for traffic lights at both Duane and Thomas Streets, and by the time she crossed Thomas Street, Florenz had stopped at the Worth Street intersection and was checking his phone.

At least it was a good morning for a walk.  Rain had been predicted, the clouds were scudding by overhead, getting darker by the minute, and she was hot from the continuous exercise of walking fast, then slow.

By the time Florenz checked his phone, she had caught up and was now seriously considering a sandwich, or coffee.  Had she more time she might have, but she had to cross and then dodged some scaffolding almost walking into it her attention so intent on where Florenz was.

It was a moment where losing concentration, by the time she looked up, he was gone again.

Damn, this fellow is slippery.  Or, he knew he was being followed.

But a few seconds later she realized he had crossed the road, dodging several cars and taxis, a lot more dangerous than if he crossed at the lights.  Or had he just realized he was on the wrong side of the road?

At the intersection, Franklin Street, the scaffolding ended, and the next building would provide no cover.  She was maintaining about 20 yards distance between them, and she stopped when he did at the lights.

When they turned green, he didn’t immediately cross, but turned around and looked directly back towards her.  She almost missed his movement and, in her haste, to backtrack to the start of the scaffolding and a store she had seen there, she ran into a woman who was coming out of the store.

It caused the woman to drop a package.

All Florenz would have seen if he was looking in her direction was her back and a red-faced woman accepting a package.

He would not have heard her say abruptly to Felicity, “You should watch where you’re going, young lady.”

And heard her apology, in her meekest tone, “So sorry.”

The woman continued on her way, and Felicity followed behind her slowly, scanning ahead to see if she could see Florenz.  

For the moment he was missing.

Felicity caught up with him at Canal Street, once again the traffic lights her friend in need, the lights just changing and there he was, at the head of several others crossing the street.

She kept back until the lights just changed, then walked quickly across, and then stopped.  

She just managed to get a fleeting look of a man, not necessarily Florenz, disappearing into what looked like the side of a wall.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021