So I head off in the direction of the other office. Fortunately, there’s a coffee cart not far from the entrance so I can order my usual heart-attack inducing slice of caffeine heaven and settle down with last week’s newspaper to watch what happens. Yeah, I know it’s only 25c for a newspaper, but I like to get my moneys worth and besides, I hardly ever read the…
Holy jumping jehosefa! That’s Pam Hall with Mr Bailey, stepping out from a nightclub! “Chuck” seems to know her a little better than he let on – so perhaps he’s worked out a possible price hike on that recent purchase! Keep your enemies close they say – although I’m not sure that close was what Sun Tzu was thinking.
Whilst my mind tries not to launch into the acrobatics about the who’s and why’s I see the stalker appear from out of the corner of my eye. Carefully I watch them scan the area for possible threats, then they settle with their own newspaper. I decide that I can sneak round and watch him more discreetly. I have to carefully fold and stuff my newspaper so I don’t alert him, then move away and head round the block and back to set up behind him. For once, my footsteps don’t give me away and I sit down next to him before he knows what’s happening.
As my seat touches the seat, as it were, Stalky realises what’s happening and goes to move. Fortunately, my arm moves quicker than a viper attack and I jab two fingers under the rib cage. Disguised by the thickness of our coats, Stalky falls for the old play, mistaking my fingers for…
“Don’t shoot me.”
“Don’t plan to, unless you explain yourself.”
“Can’t – client confidentiality”
“Silencer, through coats; do you want your paycheck?”
“Hey, it’ll be quick. I’ll have finished what I was asked to do – find the stalker and that’s you; stop them from stalking my client and whilst this isn’t the way I like to do business, it’s your call.”
“Oh… so what do you want to know?”
“Who are you – why are you following Miss Pamela Hall?”
I see him visibly relax. At least we aren’t dancing around now – although it’s what he says next that will determine whether the dance card is full.
“I’m James Cherry. I’m a Private Investigator, hired to follow Miss Hall and to try and work out how the skyscraper deal suddenly went sideways. Mr Bailey is sure that this isn’t Miss Hall’s usual behaviour, but someone who knows here may have set her up.”
“So, what have you discovered so far?”
Mr Cherry pulls out a small notebook, and a small envelope of pictures. A man after my own heart – if there is a need to explain yourself to the cops, what better than to have the information ready?
“So, Miss Hall regularly books four lunch appointments at the same time at four different locations. She does that around 0915 each Thursday morning; but it’s not until she’s about 3 minutes from the actual location that she cancels the other appointments. Cleverly, over the last month she’s used a total of seven restaurants and coffee shops so that when she cancels no-one is surprised. For some lunches she will just have lunch, but on some she’s joined by Mr Edward Well, a junior at Bailey.”
Punchy, I think to myself – checking up on her? Or making sure that she’s being followed as suspect and he’s in the clear. I decide to share what I know with Cherry and he immediately adds that to his notes; he’s thorough I’ll grant him – I may even try to get his card in case he wants to set up a reciprocal arrangement if I (more likely he) gets more work than he can handle.
After a couple more shared coffees and traded information, I agree to follow Miss Hall whilst Cherry follows Punchy. We can then meet up later and share what we’ve discovered. It’s a nice arrangement – we can see that this is more muddy and dirty than a tar pit and we’re sure that this is going to stick to us if we’re not careful – and who ever is in this pit ain’t going to smell of roses.
So I decide to buy a new paper; I wonder how long this will take to read. I don’t get much time to settle into the first story before I seem Miss Hall leaving the building. I carefully fold the paper and set off.
Even in high heels, the woman is on a mission, walking quickly and with a determination to get away from whoever is stalking her (oh, wait, that’s me). She darts down a couple of alleys, but then I lose her. I start to carry on down, but suddenly I’m seeing stars and feeling that a brick wall has just landed on the back of my head. I instinctively fall to the ground in a crumpled heap. I should practice that, I might even learn to avoid the puddles and other stuff that I invariably land on as I make myself comfy for sleepy time.
About a hundred spinning stars later, I wake up with a familiar pounding in my head. Except that this isn’t brought on by anything self-inflicted and as soon as one eye starts to open, it is immediately closed by what felt like an open leather hand. My ears hear the slap and in my confused state it takes me a moment to realise that the slap and the sore cheek might be somehow related to each other.
“WHY ARE YOU STALKING ME???!!”
Jumping Jehosefah! That voice cuts through my cranium and bounces around a little in there. I can feel my eyes flickering as the pounding just intensifies. I start to try to explain, but – SLAP – it’s so hard to say – SLAP – anything when – SLAP – someone is repeatedly – SLAP – slapping you. I go to raise my hand, but I can feel the binding round the wrists. I decide that headache or no headache, I need to get some form of control.
“OI!” I shout, and this pauses the slapping, “IF I can explain…”
There’s a pause and this allows me to gather the marbles rolling round in my head and put words into an order. I explain what’s happening, but this initially is met with more slapping. At least slapping just leaves bruises I thought – at least I’m not being tortured.
So Miss Hall continues to slap me, convinced that her story is the right one and that I’m the stalker. She even demands her money back. So I ask her what it would take to prove that I’m not the stalker. I get the response that I expect and agree to schedule the meeting. I feel the bindings being cut and I’m free.
Man, sometimes I wonder why I do this. Anyway, time to make a couple of phone calls. Let’s hope everyone’s up to this.