Monday 30 November – Thursday 3 December 2015
No matter what city he was in, whenever he had needed to think, Ryan Smoker always found a big, old library to get lost in. The best he could find since moving to Steppingstone was the ancient Steppingstone library attached to the building that housed the Mayor’s office. It wasn’t a patch on most of the other libraries that he’d frequented, but it would have to suffice if he wanted to make any sort of headway in his unsanctioned, unauthorised, unofficial investigation into Olga Renmark, and Hugo Weinmann.
He’d projected enough of a menacing demeanour that both librarians, the young, pretty one, and the old spinster, had thought better of speaking with him. Ryan dumped his satchel on the table furthest from the door, and ferreted about inside for his notebook and pen. Police issue notebooks were never large enough for Ryan, his brain speeding through notable information at a hundred miles an hour, so he’d purchased a number of A4 sized notebooks in which to run his information. Ryan had already filled fifteen pages with information about Olga from the police files. He opened the notebook to the last page he’d written on, and quickly reread his notes.
Olga sauntered into the library, spied her target, and gracefully strolled to Ryan’s table. She didn’t wait for him to acknowledge her presence or invite her to sit, but slid out the chair next to his, scraping it across the library’s wooden floor. She sat as the young cop looked at her.
‘Word has it, Detective Smoker, that you’ve taken it upon yourself to comb through the police files of my brother and myself. Now, that’s not really a nice way to get to know someone. Was it to hard for you to simply introduce yourself to us? It’s a more polite way of letting us know that you’re going to be investigating us. But then, given that you’re trawling through files, I’m wondering how much your superiors know about what you’re doing. I suspect that this is an unsanctioned excursion. Would I be correct in that assumption?’
Smoker did his best to try to remain cool and collected. With a single, measured action, he placed his pen on the table, and closed his notebook.
‘Ms. Renmark, I don’t recall inviting you to join me.’
‘I’ve never been one to wait for an invitation for anything, detective.’
‘Let me get this out in the open right at the start of our . . . relationship . . . I do not work for you. Unlike many of my colleagues, I’m sure, who are probably on your payroll, or perhaps they’re paying you for your silence, I’m not one to judge either way, but unlike those people, I can’t be bought or extorted. So, if you’re planning on signing me up to the Renmark protection train, forget it. I’m not jumping onboard.’
Olga looked at Smoker as he spoke, and when he finished, she maintained eye contact with him. He’d be like every other male she’d dealt with, she was sure. It would only be a matter of minutes, and he’d lower his eyes, embarrassed that he had just insulted her or put on such a display of emotions. However, submitting to Olga Renmark was not something that Ryan Smoker was planning on doing. He held her gaze with a ferocity that matched how Olga stared at him.
‘I don’t buy people off, nor do I extort money from them, detective. I may be a lot of things, but an extortionist I’m not, nor am I a standover woman,’ were the only words that Olga could manage without giving away that she was startled by his tenacity.
He’s going to be a lot of fun to play with, she thought. Perhaps she’d take on her own target, and rid Steppingstone of Detective Ryan Smoker. Perhaps, if Hugo were serious about joining the business, she’d allow him to start off with Smoker. In Ryan Smoker there was potential.
‘Why don’t you get to the point of why you’ve come here, Ms. Renmark?’ Ryan still held her gaze. ‘You can’t have come here just to tell me off about going over your files.’
‘Actually, that’s essentially the crux of why I am here . . . and I wanted to see how much of a threat you’ll be to me,’ she replied.
Ryan grinned, flattered that Olga might take him as a threat. ‘And what’s your conclusion about that?’
‘I can see that you like flattery, Detective Smoker, but I’m afraid I’m about to burst your bubble because you’re of no threat whatsoever to me. You’re small fry.’ She didn’t wait around to see how her words crushed his confidence. As easily as she entered the library, Olga left, waving her goodbye to the two librarians as she passed.
Outside of the library, Olga selected Hugo’s phone number from her phone’s contact list. Four rings in, Hugo answered.
‘You want in on the family business, Hugo? I’ve got just the job for you. Come around in an hour, and I’ll fill you in. No excuses. In one hour or I’ll find someone else to do it. Got it? Good. See you then.’
From inside the library, Ryan Smoker watched Olga intently. Had he been a little closer, his view less obstructed, he’d have been able to lip read everything that she was saying. As it was, he only made out that she was taking to Hugo, and they’d meet later on. With those two pieces of information as a starting point, Smoker resolved to covertly join Olga and Hugo’s meeting.
. . . To be continued . . .