Sunday 10 – Tuesday 12 November 2013
Andrew Lee was a punctual man. He hated when people displayed a lack of punctuality, and he loathed when people made him wait, especially when they were the ones who arranged a meeting. He had been waiting now for over an hour, and whilst the day had been a perfect example of spring, Andrew had more important things to do than sit in a park and enjoy the sun. He looked at the Rolex on his wrist, and tapped the glass.
‘Ass hat,’ he whispered.
It was another twenty minutes before he saw his client appear in Quartermaine Park, waving like a drowning man in need of saving.
‘MR. LEE. Mr. Lee,’ the breathless man called out as he approached the park bench and the waiting man. When he was within earshot, the irritated Andrew Lee spoke firmly.
‘The next time you arrange a meeting with me, and you are almost an hour and a half late, I’m going to shoot you, Marvin.’
Marvin Turner, unsure whether to take Lee’s words as a joke, let out a girly giggle.
‘So sorry, Mr. Lee. I was held up at work.’
‘I don’t care, Turner. Listen to me: you arrange the meeting, you make sure that you’re on time. I’ve wasted valuable time waiting for you when I could have been at home with my kids,’ Lee snapped.
A group of teenagers wandered past the park bench where Lee was seated. They snickered amongst themselves as they walked by, barely even glancing at the two men in suits. The park was often filled with men in suits brokering shady deals. These days, men and deals like that were common enough to be inconsequential to everyone but the police. Lee raised a hand and waved when a couple of the group turned and looked back. The teenagers reciprocated and continued on their way.
‘You know those little shits?’ asked Turner.
‘Are you really sure you want to speak about people I might know in that manner?’
Lee’s question flustered Marvin. He broke out in a sweat, and his mind ticked over what he could say to make amends. Andrew Lee was not a man whose bad side anyone would willingly want to be on. He knew people who would do unspeakable things on his behalf. Lee, himself, was capable of doing heinous, unspeakable deeds as well.
‘N-n-no, Mr. Lee. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause any offence. Please, accept my apologies.’ Turner stumbled over his words when he was even mildly stressed. Lee threw his head back, and laughed. Marvin wasn’t sure whether that meant that Lee was joking about knowing the teenagers, or that he’d forgiven Turner for making such a mistake.
‘Get on with it, Marvin. Why did you want to meet with me?’
Turner lowered his voice, and spoke hesitantly through a clenched jaw. ‘It’s about the next shipment, Mr. Lee.’
‘What about the next shipment, Marvin?’
* * * * *
Blackbriar Gated Community
Max Deacon and his partner, Sergeant Frank O’Brien, arrived at the Blackbriar gatehouse no more than thirty-five minutes after John Elmore, the community guard on shift, called Deacon’s cell phone.
‘How did you say do you know this guy Elmore?’ O’Brien asked as he got out of the car and slammed the door shut.
‘We were cadets together. He’s a good guy,’ replied Deacon.
‘So, why isn’t he a cop anymore?’
‘PTSD. There was a hostage situation in a bank. Elmore was off duty at the time, was at the bank, and got caught up. Negotiator was brought in, was his first hostage situation, things got bungled, and a bunch of the hostages got shot. Elmore was one of them. He came back to work thinking he could handle everything, but about a month in, a guy pulls a guy on him at a robbery, and Elmore flips. He was offered desk duty for a period of time, but decided to make a clean break and he left. Last I heard, he was a stay at home dad. Seems he’s been working security for a while though.’
‘That’s a hard way to go out for any cop. Okay, if you think he’s right on the money, we go with it,’ O’Brien replied.
Deacon had parked the car some distance away from the gatehouse. If Nora Aitcheson was in fact the woman Elmore knew to be Leigh Gaynor, they didn’t need her to see the police vehicle and flee before they could question her. He and O’Brien wandered towards the unmanned gatehouse.
‘Doesn’t look like anyone’s in,’ O’Brien said. As he cautiously stepped closer to the small gatehouse, he removed his Taser from its holster, and readied the weapon. Deacon didn’t approach the building with as much caution as his partner, pacing ahead at twice O’Brien’s speed.
When he reached the only door in the gatehouse, Deacon poked his head in.
‘John?’ He dropped to the ground and, although the gatehouse was small, he partially disappeared from O’Brien’s sight. The senior officer ran forward, still with his Taser at the ready.
‘Get the paramedics here, Frank. I’ll start resus.’
O’Brien peered over Deacon’s shoulder at the man laying on the floor of the gatehouse. He knew from the damage to the man’s head and face, and from the amount of blood that had pooled on the floor, that there was little chance of survival but he did as Deacon requested.
O’Brien stepped away from the gatehouse and Deacon’s attempt to revive the guard, and radioed for a paramedic unit.
‘They’re on their way, Max.’
As much as he didn’t want to give up, Deacon was only going through the motions of resuscitating the guard.
‘I don’t think it’ll make much difference now, Frank,’ he said breathlessly as he compressed the guard’s chest. ‘I think he’s well and truly gone.’
‘And I think we can safely say that your friend here was on to something. It could be a coincidence that we’ve got this,’ he gestured to the guard, ‘and a potential sighting of Nora Aitcheson, but I highly doubt it. It does, however, change the game. Maybe our victim isn’t really a victim at all.’
. . . To be continued . . .