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.
“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.
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
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