The Case. Part 4.

Sorry I missed this on Sunday. Here is the next installment by the fantastic Amanda Hester.

-7-

Sydney Wolfe was out of place in the lobby of the hotel, let alone in the ballroom.  Mrs. Daniels was unimpressed when she found him standing by the hors d’oeuvres table.

“What on earth are you doing here?” She whispered coldly as she came over to stand nearby looking away.

“Pursuing leads in the case as I find em.” He answered, eating casually.  The well dressed men and women in the room looked at his shabby clothes and dirty hair with contempt and disdain.   He didn’t mind.

Before Mrs. Daniels could move away the Mayor came over.  He greeted her, familiarly kissing her cheek; he ignored the detective who at his approach stepped in closer to the couple.

“Sam darling, it’s so good to see you.  Is Herald here?  We were supposed to have drinks the other day but he never showed.  I hope he’s not ill.”

Mrs Daniels smiled and edged closer to the Mayor, away from the man at her side.  But before she could answer, Sydney spoke, “What day was that? If you don’t mind my asking, that you were supposed to meet with Councilman Daniels?”

The Mayor looked at the man suspiciously and answered, “Tuesday, at The Press, with Matt and Jerry, but he never showed . . . who are you?”

“No one, just a friend of Mrs Daniels.”    Sydney smiled at the uncomfortable woman, nodded to the Mayor, and moved away.  In a far corner he found the man he had been looking for.

Tyler Grey was an accountant for the city.  He had worked for the municipality for over ten years and had lined his and his friend’s pockets for all ten of those.  His records were always on the up and up, and the majority of his business was legitimate.  But if a politician wanted to launder money, he was the man to grease the wheels.  Sydney found him wearing a well cut suit and schmoozing with a cocktail waitress in the corner.

He’d worked with Tyler a few years ago, all the kid cared about was money.  He liked thinking of himself as a big fish so he swam in small ponds, getting off on the intrigue of petty crimes and extortion.

“Nice to see you again Grey.  Buy you a drink?” Wolfe stepped forward nudging a shoulder between the man and the girl, and slipping a $50 with his other hand into the man’s pocket.  The man looked unpleasantly at the detective, but then nodded and shrugged apologetically at the girl.

“Sure Wolfe, lets go over to the bar.  Sorry sweetheart, some other time.” He winked obnoxiously as they walked away.  The girl simpered.

They left the function and went across the lobby to the bar.  Sydney hadn’t eaten yet so he ordered a Guinness.

“What’s your business Syd?” The man asked as they sat down.

“You come here last Monday with Councilman Daniels? I got a receipt says you did.” Sydney tried to sound friendly.

“Sure, we had lunch.  What about it?”  Grey eyed the detective warily.  Sydney took out another $50 and slid it across to the man.

“Just lookin for what you talked about is all.  Off the record, nothing official.”

“Who wants to know?” He asked.

“The wife.”

The man took the money and sipped at his drink.  “Daniels was gonna be coming into some money, wanted to know what I thought he should do with it.  I told him.  Simple as that.”

Sydney nodded understanding. “He say where it was coming from?”

“No.  And I didn’t ask.”

“How’d you suggest he clean it?”

“Wife’s charity, I figured she would . . . know how to run something like that.” His slight chuckle was irritating, “I told him if she didn’t like it, I’d take care of it through one of my own projects, so long as he cut me in, he said alright, and we left it at that.  Haven’t heard from him since though.  What’s this all about?”

His eyes looked hungrily at the detective, pink in the cheek.  Tyler loved the cloak and dagger nonsense.  Sydney shrugged.

“Nothing.  Let me know if you hear from him though, okay?.”  He handed him a card. “By the way, when was this pay-day supposed to be coming in?”

Tyler took the card and finished his drink, getting up to go.

“Next week sometime. . . I’ll tell you what though, you see him you tell him to call me.”  He winked obnoxiously again and went back to join the party, leaving Sydney with the bill.

-8-

Sydney called a cab to take him back to his apartment on North.  On the way he had the driver pass by the girl’s place on Charles.  A light was on and he could see Sally in the kitchen talking on the phone, she looked upset.

Chris Corrigan was a retired cop who lived in the neighbourhood, about a block away from the girl, Sydney sometimes went there to smoke his cigarettes and play cards.  He went there now instead of going home.  Chris was there, old and grey and probably dying slowly like most retired cops did.  He was wearing his housecoat and watching t.v. He told Sydney to “bugger off”, he didn’t want to play cards.  His house smelled of soup.  Sydney didn’t care, he took the keys to an old civic that were hanging on the wall and told the man he’d be back before morning.  The old cop didn’t respond.

The lights were still on when the detective pulled up, parking the car across the street, but the girl was no longer in the kitchen.  Sydney waited, smoking.  After a while she came back into the room, this time followed by a young thug who looked familiar.  Sydney recognized him as one of Ginger’s boys.  The two were arguing and every now and then Sally would get heated enough to try and strike him.  They went on like this for about twenty minutes before the phone rang.  Sydney watched the girl’s face as she answered it.

Ten minutes later a cab pulled up in front of the building and honked.  The lights in the apartment went off and both the girl and the kid came out, looking as chummy as ever, and got in.  Sydney followed the cab to a house in a bad part of the South End.  He watched the two get out and hurry inside.  He figured the place was one of Ginger’s.  After a while he parked in a dark alley off the street and took out his .38.  He pulled his hat down and walked around the building looking for an open window.

A couple of Ginger’s boys stood in the back smoking and cracking wise.  Through a side window Sydney could see Ginger and the girl sitting at the kitchen table.  The man’s face was calm and no redder than usual; the girl was flush and angry.  She had the papers from the Councilman’s office spread out on the table.  Her voice was shrill, and through the window he could hear the girl yelling.

“Why don’t you ask him?  Everything looks like he did.”

Ginger’s low response was inaudible, but it freaked the girl out.  Her voice became higher and louder.

“Why are you asking me that? I don’t know, I keep telling you!” She was frantic and Wolfe watched the red haired man reach out and pet her hand, speaking low and soothing.  He watched fear fill her pretty blue eyes.

“I told you everything I know.” He heard her say.  “The wife’s hired a private detective.  I don’t think she knows either.”

The rest of the conversation was lost to posterity as a dog came around the side of the house and began to bark.  Sydney slowly moved away into the darkness.  He brought the car back to Chris, watched some t.v. and smoked.  Then he went home.  He poured himself a drink and put on a record, by the time he woke up it was morning.

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