Being Inspired, maybe - 98

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

I opened the door and was about to welcome them in when I saw a man, about six foot ten tall, 250 plus pounds, and tattoos leaking out of his overly tight collar and ill-fitting shirt.

Not the police.

"I think you have the wrong flat," I said.

I went to close the door, but a size 20 shoe was blocking it.

"Where is Jake Mistrale?"

Heavily accented English, this man was a thug of the worst order.  There was nothing polite about his manner.  I needed to think quickly some way of getting rid of this man.  He was more than likely the one who tossed the flat before we arrived.

"I'll tell you what.  We can keep talking, you could do something really stupid and break-in, and we can wait for the police to arrive.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to know who you are, and who you work for."

"You are bluffing.  There is no police.  Where is Jake?"

"I have a question, where is Cecile?"

He looked surprised.  "I do not know who this Cecile is."

"I think she was Jake's friend, and they are both missing, and I think you know where she is."

We both heard the footsteps on the landing, just before reaching the floor.  The man looked sideways in the direction of the stairs, then, without waiting to see who it was, started walking in the opposite direction.  There must be another flight of stairs around the back.

Then two men appeared at the top of the stairs.  These men definitely looked like the police.

Both seemed to be surprised I was outside in the passage, perhaps to greet them before stepping into the room.  Another two, a man and a woman, dressed in protective clothing, followed them.

The first introduced himself.  "My name is Detective Inspector Chandler."  The other man, now beside him, pulled out his warrant card, as Chandler said, "DS Williams."

Hearing voices, or perhaps wondering what had happened to me, Emily came out into the passage.

"Ah, you must be Emily.  I spoke to your father about two hours ago, and he said you should be here.  Now, I will need you to remain outside while the forensic team does its magic."

With that, the two forensic officers went in, and DS followed them, putting on a pair of rubber gloves.

"We didn't touch anything, by the way."  She then pulled a photo of Cecile out of her bag and handed it to Chandler.

I was waiting to see if she mentioned the note Cecile left.  If she did, I would hand it over, if she didn't that would be our starting point.  If we didn't make any progress, I would give it to Chandler and let him get on with the job.

He looked at it.  "I take it this is recent?"

Emily nodded.

"Anything else you can tell me?"

"We know she had a boyfriend named Jake who was not who she thought he was, that she was here a few days ago, and perhaps some of the others living here might know something.  We were going to start knocking on doors, but now that you're here, we'll get out of your hair and let you do your job.  I’ve put my phone number, and James too, just in case you can't get me."

Chandler turned to me.  "Where do you fit in?"

"Jake's last name was Mistrale, by the way.  As for me, I'm an old family friend.  I received a text message a few days ago, which seemed rather odd, so we came over to see if everything was alright.  As you can see, when we saw this, things are not alright."

"Do you have that phone with you?"

I did but I was not sure I wanted to give it up, but a glare told me I had to.  I found the text message and gave him the phone.

"Can we hang on to this until tomorrow?"  He gave me what looked like a business card with his address on it.  "You'll be able to pick it up tomorrow morning.  I'll get the tech guys to see if they can trace where that message came from."

"No problems," I said with a measure of reluctance.  Although it was unlikely, she might try to call or text again.

"Now, there's nothing more you can do here.  I've got your numbers, and I expect I'll see you tomorrow morning, by which time we should have made some progress."

Nothing left to say, he went into the flat.

"Time to go," Emily said.  "We have to get back to the hotel."

It was loud enough that Chandler would hear her, but I knew what she meant.  Time to go to the hotel that featured in the note.

When we reached street level and outside of the block of flats, I had to ask, "Why didn't you mention the note?"

"Because we would have to give it to him and lose the one clue we had.  If it doesn't pan out then we can say we forgot about it, no harm done.  Telling him would only stop us from the investigation, and, if the police go there, anyone who might be able to help us would be less likely to help the police."

I hadn't thought of it like that, but it was a valid point.

"So, where is this hotel?" She asked with a touch of impatience in her tone.

"A fair distance away tucked away not far from Whitehall and past, if I'm not mistaken, Horseguards Parade.  We might get to take in a bit of British history in the process."

© Charles Heath 2020


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