The Prenderville Foundation was in a building off-Broadway, not far from where the twin towers used to stand.
It was not far
from Wall Street or City Hall, and when I looked at my phone, I saw that
Felicity was not far away, having followed Florenz from the Starbucks near the
Woolworth building to City Hall.
It was an
interesting place for a man of his profession to go. Perhaps he was trying to drum up business
among the civic leaders.
significant that Mandy had set up her business in this district, not far from
Wall Street, and Civic Hall, where a lot of her most ardent admirers were
To be honest,
I wasn’t all that interested in where the Foundation's money came from, it was much
the same as those ex-presidential foundations, always flush with funds, but
you’re never sure what those funds are being used for, and the newspapers,
every now and then made allegations which quickly died as fast as they rose
when rich and powerful lawyers start arriving at the chief editor’s office in
I was just
interested in whether she knew my father, and if she did, what their business
relationship was. Of course, I fully
expected to get bundled out the door by two burly bouncers long before that
That was how I
found myself outside the front door, looking in.
A gust of cold
air brushed me as I stood there, and for a day that had been still and warm, I
had to take it as an omen. Nothing good
was going to come of this. I should take
heed, turn around, and walk away.
For about five
seconds I had the resolve to do just that.
On the sixth
second, I took a deep breath and walked through the doors.
I had been
expecting a soup kitchen or something similar, with lines of homeless people
gratefully accepting food and a place to sit in relative comfort and warmth
behind the shaded windows. It was
anything but that, with a counter, a wall, and a door. I assumed if you had a good enough excuse,
you could get through the door, and to the other side.
I walked up to
the counter and stood there, waiting.
There were two
people behind the counter, dressed in clothes that told me they were Foundation
workers, a uniform of sorts, and both were talking, a conversation that was not
about work, but an upcoming party at the weekend. One had been invited, the other not, and the
not was wondering why.
clearly weren’t a priority.
A quick check
at the ceiling level showed two cameras that would cover the whole foyer. It would certainly pick up my face, and it
was probably being viewed by a faceless security guard in a small room
somewhere, assessing if I was a threat.
invitation-less employee was bemoaning his bad fortune.
I looked at my
watch. Three and a half minutes. I was considering making them aware of my
presence, but I decided this would be a game, betting mentally with myself on how
long it would take before they realized I was standing on the other side of the
minutes. The phone rang, and the nearest
staff member picked it up.
There were a
number of changes in facial expression, from annoyance, to surprise, to fear,
and then astonishment. Then he replaced
the receiver and turned.
Prenderville is sending her personal assistant down to collect you. She said to say she’s been expecting you.”
OK, my turn
for a surprise then astonishment. “You
don’t even know my name yet.”
“You are Harry
Walthenson, aren’t you?”
“Then we do
know who you are Mr Walthenson.”
The side door
opened and a Chinese woman of indeterminate age came out. “Mr Walthenson, I presume?”
this way please.”
another word I followed her through the door that led to a corridor running
down a long wall, to an elevator lobby.
An elevator was waiting for us, one with a driver, we stepped in, he
closed the door, and we went up.
Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven. Stop.
opened and we stepped out. We walked
along another corridor to what I thought was a corner office where the
assistant knocked on the door, opened it, and motioned for me to pass through.
the door closed behind me.
I was the only
one in that room. On two sides there
were windows that looked out towards the Hudson, and, if I stood in the right
position, I could see the Statue of Liberty.
It was largely
empty except for a desk, three chairs and several sideboard cupboards. Down the side to my left was a doorway,
The room had
CCTV cameras as had each of the corridors, so someone had been watching me from
the moment I stepped into the building, or even as I approached the building.
I stood in the
centre of the room and waited.
minutes, the side door opened and a woman I recognised as Mandy Prenderville
came into the room. She looked different
from the photos I’d seen of her, then she had been about 200 pounds, now she
was no more than 80. It made a
considerable difference, especially if I were to use some of the facial
She came over
to me, hand outstretched.
It’s good to
see you, Harry. You look just like your
father at that age, you know.”
I shook hands
which felt strange.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022