Thursday 14 – Friday 15 November 2013
‘Mr. Aitcheson, do you or your wife know a man by the name of Pete Walker?’ Amy Griffin studied the painting behind Wade Aitcheson’s desk as she spoke. She tilted her head to the left, and then to the right, trying to figure out exactly what it was supposed to be. Aitcheson smiled at the consternation on her face; it was the same expression that he had worn when the artist first allowed him to see the painting. To this day, Wade still had some difficulty seeing the point of the artwork, but his boss, Dorothy Piner, had fallen in love with it at first sight, and demanded that Wade purchase it for the gallery.
‘I know, it’s an ugly piece of shit, isn’t it?’ Aitcheson remarked. ‘And no, I don’t believe I know any Pete Walker. I can’t speak for Nora, but I’d assume that she wouldn’t know a Pete Walker either. Why? Does he have something to do with Nora’s disappearance?’
Detective Hugh Scott answered, ‘We’re investigating a number of leads, Mr. Aitcheson.’
‘And is this Pete Walker one of those leads?’ Wade asked.
‘I can’t really comment on an ongoing investigation, Mr. Aitcheson. How about a Sean or Leigh Gaynor? Do you or your wife know those people?’
‘No, Detective Scott, I, we don’t know any Gaynors,’ Wade replied to Scott’s question. ‘Look, do you have any suspects, any ideas about where Nora is and what is going on, or am I still your prime suspect?’
‘Mr. Aitcheson,’ Griffin replied, ‘just to be clear about something you told us earlier . . . you’re positive that you and Mrs. Aitcheson were on good terms. There was nothing, even the smallest thing, that seemed out of the ordinary to you?’
Wade had intended to put the police in their place, but Detective Griffin’s question made him stop and think. Nora had been acting a bit out of character prior to her abduction. Little things had begun to annoy her; things that never previously bothered had become issues.
‘Actually, now that you mention it, there were some small things that weren’t normal. What do you think that means?’
Griffin considered exactly how much to tell Aitcheson, and how to do it, and decided on the direct approach. She wondered how Scott would take her decision to give the husband the information.
‘Sir, we think that your wife may have been involved in her own abduction.’
The look on Wade’s face said it all.
‘Now, we’re not one hundred percent sure that she was, but there are some things that just don’t add up.’
* * * * *
Coffee-Stop Coffee Shop
Max Deacon sat, dejected and alone, in the same booth he’d sat at days before with his partner, Frank O’Brien, and Detectives Scott and Griffin. The very thought of his former sergeant, Pete Walker, being a dirty cop was enough to make him feel sick. A man he’d admired, respected and trusted, now being investigated for corruption, was highly likely to be nothing but a criminal. He drowned his sorrows by ordering a third cup of coffee. The waitress, new to the coffee shop, made her way through the change of shirt crowd to the booth that Deacon had taken up residence in, poured his coffee, and then battled her way through the crowd of mostly police, back to the counter where she was inundated with take away orders for coffee, donuts, sandwiches, and a few hot meals.
Amy Griffin pushed her way through the bodies to Deacon’s booth.
‘May I join you?’ she asked, startling him. ‘Sorry, I thought you knew I was here.’
‘No, I didn’t,’ he replied, and gestured to the seat across from him. She squeezed in between the seat and the table, and laid her hands palm down on the tabletop.
‘I guess it was a shock to you that Walker’s being investigated.’
Deacon nodded. He wasn’t sure that he could speak about it without crying.
‘You wouldn’t be the first junior who has been let down by a senior officer. Happens more than you’d think. And it’s certainly no reflection of who you are as a police officer, so don’t think that people are judging you because of what Walker’s allegedly done.’
‘You sound like you’ve had experience,’ Deacon replied, and she was quick to respond.
‘Hey, I work with Hugh Scott. That’s been my life for the last five years.’ She smiled, hoping it would lighten the situation for Deacon.
‘So, what happens next?’ he asked.
‘With our investigation?’
Deacon nodded his reply.
‘That’s actually why I’m here. I wanted you to hear it from me and not through the force grapevine. On a hunch, Scott subpoenaed Pete Walker’s phone records. They came through early this morning, and he and I have just finished going through them.’
The officer was clearly confused.
‘I don’t know what made Scott do it; all he told me was that he had a funny feeling that with Walker coming in to the incident room and offering his help that he might have an ulterior motive. Turns out, Scott was right.’
Griffin took the time to explain to an increasingly devastated Deacon that Nora Aitcheson’s cell phone number, and the Aitcheson home number were frequently called by Pete Walker.
‘He also received a hell of a lot of calls from Nora’s cell phone, and a second phone that’s listed as being owned by, wait for it . . .’ She paused for Deacon to catch up with her. ‘Sean Gaynor. Seems that links in with what your friend the guard from Blackbriar gated community was thinking. Not only is it highly likely that Nora Aitcheson is this Leigh Gaynor, and that she played a role in orchestrating her own abduction, but, but she also had Pete Walker on the payroll somehow.’
Deacon stared into his cup of coffee, which was growing colder by the minute. His face was a portrait of disappointment and loss.
‘So Walker came to ingratiate himself into our investigation in order to assist Nora Aitcheson. Well then, I certainly hope that Internal Affairs nails his balls to the wall. Are we bringing him in?’
‘Scott on his way to get him?’ he asked.
‘Actually, that’s another reason I’m here. I spoke with Scott about this, and he and I agree that you should be in on this. Scott and O’Brien are chasing up a couple of leads regarding the phone numbers, and you’re coming with me to bring Walker in. So, hurry up and finish the damn coffee and let’s go.’
* * * * *
Amidst the morning traffic rush, a non-descript black SUV slowed down at the entrance to Quartermaine Park. Despite the large number of folks making their way through the city and on to work this morning, no one except the homeless and the junkies who sought sanctuary in the park noticed the body of Marvin Turner, curator of Contemporary Works Art Gallery, being unceremoniously dumped from the vehicle at the park’s west entrance. And only the homeless and junkies who sought sanctuary in Quartermaine Park would have been able to see Andrew Lee, the city’s most notorious drug lord wiping his hands clean after helping Turner on his way.
‘Looks like I need to find myself another importer-exporter,’ Lee said to the three burly bodyguards in the car with him. The black SUV slid seamlessly back into the morning traffic, and away from Quartermaine Park, whilst Marvin Turner, recently deceased, was relieved of his possessions and clothing by the park’s needy inhabitants.
. . . To be continued . . .