Monday 22 February 2021

Case 2 - Episode 24 - Harry goes home

 Standing outside the front door of the apartment he used to call home, there were mixed emotions running through his mind.  The rather strange childhood, well, compared to other children of his age at junior school, leaving home to go to college, and then the argument that made it impossible to stay.

His father's expectations were not the same as Harry's even though he'd done as he promised, going to law school, and working in his father's practice.  But law just wasn't Harry's thing, well, that side of the law, which he discovered was more about defending the criminals, not prosecuting them.

It was a lucrative occupation, proof of what was just beyond that door held ajar for those who wanted to pass through it, to the multi-million-dollar apartments and the trappings that come with it, that life his family called home.

Would his mother be home?  At that hour of the day, he suspected not, though he never really knew, nor had he ever known, what she did with her day.  

As far back as he could remember, neither of his parents had ever spoken about their day over dinner, in fact, dinner was always a somber affair and none of the five children could wait to leave the oppressive atmosphere at the table.

Yes, Harry thought, it was surprising how quickly the bad memories came flooding back the moment he outside that front door.

Not having a key, forced to surrender it after the conflagration with his father, he was reduced to pushing the button for the chime that would summon the maid.

The door opened.  Maria.  She was not a live-in maid, but one that came early and left late, what Harry always believed to be a thankless job.  Even so, it was one she had been doing since he was about five.

"Master Harry."

He was the only one of the four boys she referred to as master for some reason.

"Maria.  How are you?"

"I am well.  Your parents are not here."

"I'm not here to see them.  May I come in?"

She hesitated for a few seconds, most likely wrestling with a command from either of his parents not to let him cross the threshold, the pariah of the family to be viewed with suspicion.

Then, with a shake of her head, she stepped to one side, saying, "Of course."

He was, after all, still a Walthenson.

He passed by her and waited until she closed the door.  Just crossing the threshold, he felt like he had been transported to a different world, one where opulence was everywhere, the mainstay, the ten-million-dollar painting on the foyer wall, setting the gold plate standard.

Notwithstanding the fact, it had a gold-plated frame.  Harry hated it, mainly because it was garish, but also because he didn’t understand what it represented.  No one did.  A needless trinket, his mother had said when she first saw it, but a good investment.  

To her, everything had a monetary value.  Everything.

"Why are you here, Master Harry?  It is not something I will get into trouble for, is it?"

She had every reason to ask because it would not be the first time she had suffered because of his actions.  A regret he could not make up for

"No.  My mother has asked me to find Mr. Walthenson.  Apparently, he's gone missing, well, in her eyes he's missing, but he could be just on another of his, er, you know what I mean."

By the expression on her face, she didn’t know what he meant.  She had always been grateful for the job he had given her and would brook no bad words about him.  "No one has told me anything.  The Mistress never tells me anything.  For my own protection, she says."

"And probably the best course of action for her.  I suspect she has secrets of her own, which, I emphasize, I don't want to know about. Do you have any idea where my father has gone?"

"Me.  No.  I know better than to ask either of them anything.  I just do as I'm told."

"Ok.  Then I'll just go and have a look in the study, just in case he left a clue to his whereabouts, or what he was working on."

"So long as it does not cause trouble.  And leave it the way you found it.  Both are very particular about that room.  No dusting, no cleaning, no entry."  She shook her head, walking towards the kitchen at the rear.  "I don't want to know."

Harry didn't blame her.  His father's wrath was not something you wanted raining down on you, a fate Harry was well acquainted with.

And it was a room he tried extremely hard to keep out of, as indeed had his brothers and sister.  A summons to the study was like standing in court waiting for the death sentence.

It took a moment to collect his courage, then walk towards the double door entrance.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Thursday 11 February 2021

Case 2 - Episode 23 - Felicity drops in on Harry

 Harry ordered in.  Felicity was coming and he knew she liked either pizza or Chinese.  They had Chinese the last time, and she had made him feel bad when she displayed her dexterity with chopsticks, so this time it would be pizza.

He had made the acquaintance of the pizzeria owner just up the road very early on, mainly because he had a passion for authentic Italian pizzas, like those he had eaten on one of several holidays his mother had taken him and his brothers on.

The owner was Italian, and his pizzas were almost authentic.

He was musing on the idea of going back to Italy, and if she would go with him, he’d take Felicity.  She had yet to experience the charms of Italy herself, and there was a relative who lived in the heart of Tuscany who had recently issued an invitation.

After this case.

The front door rattled as Felicity closed it and flipped the lock.  There would be no more leaving the door open or unlocked in the wake of his previous experience.

Felicity had the pizza boxes in her hand.  “The delivery boy was outside the door when I got there.  These the famous Italian specials?”

“Salami, Cabanossi, pepperoni, mozzarella, chili, peppers, olives, and I forget the rest.  You’ll love it.”

The aroma had followed her into the room.  She dropped the boxes on his desk and pulled up a chair.  A plastic carry bag she had put beside the desk on the floor had a six-pack of Peroni beer, and she took two out and handed him one/

“Italian beer, we’re going all out,” he said, taking the bottle opener out of the top drawer and passing to her.”

“If we do this, we have to set the mood.”

“Wouldn’t we need a full moon?  You know, the moon in the sky is like a big pizza pie, etcetera, etcetera.”

“Is this your version of a romantic night in?”

“It could be.”  Harry hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but it was a possibility.

In fact, he hadn’t been thinking of her in a romantic sense because he was not quite sure what her feelings were on the subject.  It was not something they’d discussed lately.

She lifted the lid on both boxes and took in the aroma.  Having not eaten for hours, her stomach was rumbling.

They ate.

It was not a dish that could foster dialog while eating, and both wanted to get a few slices down before it got cold.  Not that there was anything wrong with cold pizza, it was just he preferred it hot.

Then, when one bottle of beer was gone, and another appeared on the table, it was time to talk.

“I got your cryptic message.  Evidently, my mother is a flirt?”

“She’s more than that with Florenz.  In my research, I found a picture of them together, back in University days, and they were a hot item.  I might be misreading the signs, but they still are.  Perhaps he bumped your father off.”

“I don’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think he would.  He’s never been a match for my mother, he just does as he’s told, so she’d just screw Florenz and forget to tell him.”

“If he found out?”

“I doubt they’d break up the gold foursome, though I could imagine some crackling conversations on the golf course.”

“You don’t sound surprised your mother is having an affair.”

“I doubt it’s one.  But no.  She’s rich, smart, and more sophisticated than he is.  I always believed she married him because he got her pregnant and was probably honorable once.  I don’t think we should discuss this in from of Corinne.”

“No.  I’m going to visit her again in the next day or so, and make sure she’s safe.”  She didn’t mention the boy who was tailing her, or that she had discussed it with Sykes.  “I just visited a lowlife Willy Blines brother of equally lowlife Theo, the guy I shot.  Seems they’re still mixed up with that plot at the docks.  At the moment the plot is the least of our problems.  How are you going with the missing father?”

“Slowly.  I’m going home to do some snooping, a task that can only be performed when my mother is not there.  But if she turns up later, I will ask her about Florenz.”

“Be careful with that.”

“I will.  I do know how to conduct interrogations.”

“She’s your mother, Harry.  Interrogation indeed.”

Yes, he thought, the thought of interrogating his mother was a little daunting, that was if he got her co-operation.

A change of subject, after another slice.  It was, she thought, excellent pizza, but, then, she had been starving.  “What do you know about Shawville and Argeter?”

“They are familiar names.  Dad’s golf partners, the other two of the four, with Florenz.  WE need to talk to them too, I guess.”

“I’ll find out who they are and where they are.  Now, no more work talk.  Let’s finish the pizza, have some more beer, and talk about where you’re going to take me for our anniversary?”

Anniversary?  What anniversary?  Like most men he hadn’t kept track of women might consider important dates, like when they first me, when they started working together, anything really.  It was the casual nature of their relationship.  Best to act as if he knew what she was talking about.  “Of course.”

© Charles Heath 2020-2021

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Case 2 - Episode 22 - Harry and Ellen in the office

It was a surprise for Harry to see Ellen back in the office.

When he’d disappeared, she had correctly made the call to close the office, and maintain her distance until he’d reappeared, if, of course, he’d reappeared.  Now that Harry knew Giselle had a hand in her employment, she would have kept Ellen informed of developments, and, finally, of his recovery and return to work.

The last advice he had was that she had joined her grandmother on a world cruise, or as it happened, her grandmother had bought a permanent cabin on some luxury liner and spent most of her life at sea, and Ellen had become her traveling companion.

To be honest, he’d not expected to see her again.  The idea of traveling the world held more appeal than working for a dreary Private Detective who nearly got himself killed.

But she was back, sitting in her seat, as though she had never been away.

The door was unlocked and open, and Harry had been expecting to see Felicity.

“So, not all beer and skittles on the Liner?”

“Since I don’t drink beer, or play skittles, hardly an apt analogy.  How are you?”


“I was going to visit you in the hospital, but the ship got stuck in a weather front.”

“I could think of worse places to be.”

Harry hung up his coat and sat in the chair opposite her desk.  As a chair for clients, it was not comfortable.  Harry preferred they stay, not leave as soon as they could get away.

“Aunt Giselle told me you twigged to the great secret.”

“That she got you the job?”

“Suggested, Harry, suggested.  She is of the Grandmothers who have awkward grandchildren society, and I am an awkward child.”

“So am I, I’m guessing.”

She smiled.  “Less than me.  I do not play well with others in the sandpit.  This was ideal.  Still is.”

“And being the faithful companion?”

“Not all it’s cracked up to be.  Old women can be so demanding.  Ellen, will you do this, Ellen, will you do that, Ellen, that man is highly unsuitable.”

“Was he?”

“The second officer with good prospects of becoming a captain, I thought so.  Pity, he already had a wife.”

“In every port?”

“Not quite.  But I’m done with boats, ships, and seafarers.  And grandmothers.  Did Sykes find who did for you?”

“No.  Still an ongoing mystery.  Felicity has a lead, but we have a case and that takes priority.”

“Felicity?  Oh, the girl whom you met at the conference.  Aunt Giselle said she was working here now her father has, well, the equivalent of sending her to Coventry.   Aunt Giselle thinks she has gumption whatever that means.”

“The ability to get into trouble mostly.  You’ll like her.”

“And the current case, a missing father?”

“So mother thinks.  We have a note, but I don’t think that truly describes the situation he’s in.  I think it has something to do with what happened to be, and over the same plot of land.”

“Down at the old wharves?”

“Yes.  We have to be careful how we investigate that lead in the future.”

“I’ve opened a new file for both your father and the block.  I see you have a new filing system.”

“The place was trashed.  Corinne came looking for me and found it a mess.  Another surprise, she thinks she’s working for me in her spare time.  Just another ball you’ll have to juggle, trying to keep her out of trouble.”

“Is it too soon to ask for a raise?”

“Good try.  Ask me again in a few weeks.”

He was glad Ellen was back.  She was old enough to know how to handle Corinne and firm enough to handle Felicity.  Harry was not sure why he thought that would be necessary, only that he knew he wouldn’t be able to handle her.

As either a boss or a boyfriend.

But she was like a dog with a bone, and not let up until she got to the truth.  She would just have to be careful.

And something else that made him feel slightly better.  That he had at least one family member treating him seriously, Aunty Giselle.  So much better calling her that than Granny Giselle.

Harry just got to sit down behind his desk when his cell phone buzzed telling him there was a new message.

From Felicity.  “Your mother just met up with Florenz.  Something going on between them, as once old lovers perhaps.  Will discuss this when I see you.  F.”

And here he was thinking his mother was just a boring housewife.

© Charles Heath 2020-2021