Friday, September 5, 2014

GH Draft 02: CH09

GH Monday: Day 02 Scene 09


Indigo Snow

Warren’s office was tiny, with a slither of window revealing a glimpse of the concrete office block next door. There was barely room for Warren’s grey metal desk and ergonomic chair, with another chair in front of the desk. A stocky, bald man dressed in a thick sweater, with a zipped neck, jeans and trail boots, was sitting in it.

“Indigo, this is Frank Toomey,” Warren, seating himself behind his desk, made the introductions. “Indigo is our best investigator, Frank.”

“Frank,” Indigo shook his hand. Toomey gave her a long appraising look. As there was nowhere to sit, Indigo leaned against the door.

“Yeah, okay,” Toomey told Warren, after a long pause. Indigo raised her eyebrows at Warren, who looked blandly back at her.

“Frank’s trying to track down a missing employee of his,” he said. “He’s hoping we can help.”

“All right,” Indigo opened up her reporter’s pad, flipped to a clear page. “Name?”

“Joe Delgado,” Frank said.

“How long has he been missing?”

“Not sure. He didn’t come in for his shifts at the weekend.”

“Where does he work?”
“At my nightclub in Inman Square. The Blue Room.”

Indigo knew it, though it wasn’t her scene. A jazz and club frequented by the hipsters that lived in that area.

“Do you have a home address for him? A phone number?”

“Yes,” Frank handed a sheet of paper to Warren. “These are his details.”

“Have you checked for him at home?”

Frank gave her a cold stare. His eyes were a pale blue. “I’m not stupid, young lady.”

“No sir, just routine to ask,” she answered smoothly. “Did anyone answer at home, when you called?”

“No.”

“Do you have a photo of him?”

“No.”

“What did he do at the nightclub?”

“He worked the door.”

“He was a bouncer.”

“Yes.”

She was quiet a minute, tapping her pen against the notepad.

“Why are you so interested in having him found?” she asked. “I mean, I assume Warren’s discussed our daily rates…?”

“He owes me money,” Frank said, thickly. He coughed to clear his throat. “I don’t want to get a reputation for being the kind of guy you can take money from and there’s no repercussions. So I want him found. I’m willing to pay your rates for him to be found.”

Indigo shot another look at Warren, but he was busy staring at the grey metal surface of his desk.

“How much does he owe you?”
“That’s not important.”

“Okay,” she said, after a pause and a warning look from Warren. “How long do you want me to give it? I mean missing persons can take a while…”

“We’ve agreed to two days of your time,” Warren replied. “Then we’ll review, based on your report at that time.”

“Okay, I’ll get started,” Indigo picked up the piece of paper that Toomey had handed to Warren. It bore the details of Joe Delgado’s home address, cell phone number and social security number.

“Thank you,” Warren said, as she left. Toomey said nothing.

She sat back down at her desk and stared at the password prompt on her laptop screen for awhile. Delgado must owe Toomey a bunch of money, for him to be willing to pay for a PI to track him down. The two days of her time was going to cost him close to two thousand bucks. Not to mention the fact that he was so sure Delgado had skipped out on him, based only on him being missing two days. The guy could just have had a wild weekend and one hell of a hangover. Toomey, however, was clearly not interested in sharing any of that information and it really wasn’t her business, as Warren would tell her. He would also tell her it wasn’t any of her business what Toomey was going to do to Delgado once she found him. If she found him.

She sighed, put in her password and started to google Delgado. By lunchtime, she’d found out that Delgado was a good looking Hispanic man, aged 22, with a neatly trimmed beard that made him look older. He had a large circle of friends on Facebook and his status said he was single. His updates were not particularly interesting, but until Friday, he’d been updating on a regular basis, boasting about what seemed to be a fairly active social and love life. She spent a long time tracing the friends who wrote on his wall, the ones he seemed to have the most contact with, making a note of their names, trying to find contact details for them. Given Delgado’s interest in the ladies, it was probable he was just awol for the weekend with some young sweet thing, not skipping out on Toomey. She’d also done some research on Toomey. He was originally from Charlestown, grew up there back in the day when the Irish mob had ruled the town. No official connections to organised crime, in fact he seemed a respectable member of the community, owning another nightclub in Brighton and three more bars in Cambridge. But he also didn’t seem like the kind of guy you’d skip out on, particularly not if you owed him money. She didn’t like the fact that Delgado hadn’t been on Facebook all weekend. The guy liked to boast about what he was up to, to the point of tedium. (Really, who gives a shit that you’re in MacDonalds?). He wasn’t on any other social networks that she could tell...

“Hungry?” Robbie asked her. She looked up, realised that it was past lunchtime and she was ravenous.

“Hell, yes.”

“Food court?”

“Sounds good to me. Megan, you want to come?”

Megan shook her head, pointing to a plastic container on her desk, empty but for a few shreds of lettuce. “I brought in my own lunch. Trying to be healthy.”

Indigo frowned. Megan was the kind of woman who was always perfectly turned out, with smooth bobbed hair and discreet make-up. She was also always a few pounds underweight, the bones of her upper chest faintly visible through the v of her button-down shirt. Sometimes Indigo just wanted to feed her pasta and cookies, but she knew better than to get involved.

“Okay,” she shrugged. Heading to the food court was a faff, as it meant heading outside. She changed into her snow boots and shrugged on her parka. The moment they were outside, the chill hit them, leaching their body warmth from them in the five minutes it took to cross the plaza into the food court.

They got subs for lunch, hers accompanied by chips and diet soda, Robbie’s by salad and water. Whilst waiting for her food, Aunt Sophie rang. It was the third time she’d rung that morning, which even for Aunt Sophie was pretty bad.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Oh yes, dear. But what time do you think you’ll be home?”

“I told you, Aunt Sophie, I’m not sure,” her food ready, she paid for it and picked up the tray.

“Do you think you’ll be going out for drinks after work?”

“Maybe. Probably,” she followed Robbie to a clear table by the window, looking out at the frozen plaza. In the summer it was full of people having their lunch outdoors. They even had free concerts on a Wednesday lunchtime. Today it was empty, anyone coming in or out of the hotel scurrying hurriedly, heads bowed against the wind chill.

“Because I don’t want to make dinner too early, or it’ll spoil. You are coming to dinner, aren’t you?”

“Of course.”

“I’m making meatballs. With this cold, you need something substantial inside of you.” Cooking was the only part of Aunt Sophie’s heritage that had been passed down to her. She didn’t speak a word of Italian and had no desire to go and visit the mother country, primarily because she thought Europe was dirty and dangerous and full of terrorists and street children who attacked tourists in mobs.

“Thanks Aunt Sophie, look I’ve got to go…”

“Okay, but call me if you think you’re going to be late…”

Indigo managed to end the call and started to wolf down her lunch.

“I can’t believe you can eat that and not get fat,” Robbie bitched.

She grinned. “Lucky, I guess. Probably won’t last forever though. Might as well make the most of it.”

After lunch she returned to her research. She had a photograph of Delgado from his Facebookpages that she could show around. She also had a list of names of friends to ask after him. Googling his home address had also come up with another occupant listed as living there, a Mrs K. Delgado. His mother, sister, wife? Worth checking, she thought.

She briefly checked the surveillance video she had of Jackson. It would take all day to keep an eye on him all the time, but right now, the guy wasn’t in his office or gym. Chances were he was in a meeting. She could tail him, but having done that all last week, she didn’t think there was much point.

“You heading out?” Robbie asked. “You only just took your coat off.”

“Not a lot more to find out here,” she said. “I’ll see you later.”

A text came through from Aunt Sophie. - Do you want meatballs? Or should I make lasagne?

- Meatballs would be great! - she answered


© Essie Gilbey, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

GH Draft 02: CH08

GH Monday: Day 02 Scene 08


Indigo Snow

Though the roads had been ploughed and salted, traffic was still slow as drivers texted and drank Dunkin donuts whilst slowly negotiating turns like the concept was a completely new one to them.

“It’s the pedal on the right!” Indigo muttered under her breath as she weaved around them, liberally using her horn to encourage the cars in front to get going through the junction before the lights changed. Jesus, was she the only one who didn’t have all day to get to work?

At least one of the perks of her job was that she got a pass to the parking garage next door to the office. The first space she found was on the fourth floor. She ignored the elevator and jogged down the concrete stairs to the ground level, crossing the glass-roofed walkway into the office building and using her pass to swipe herself in. She took the stairs again to the third floor, the whole of which belonged to KTI.

“Indigo,” Lauren gave her a warm smile from behind the reception desk.

“Lauren, how’s tricks?”

“Not bad.”

“What did you get up to this weekend?”

They chatted a little while, while Indigo shrugged off her coat, about their respective weekends. Lauren had spent much of hers buying furniture with her girlfriend. They were moving in together in a few weeks time.

“Big step,” Indigo told her.

“Yeah,” Lauren grinned, clearly unfazed.

“I’ve got to get to work, I’ll see you later,” Indigo laughed at the other woman’s infectious happiness as she used her pass to enter the office.

She shared a corner of the open-plan room with Megan and Robbie, both of whom were in the financial investigations unit of KTI. Their desks backed on to each other, with room for a fourth, divided by low grey barriers on which they’d all pinned up their own stuff - timesheets, photos of family and friends, post-it note reminders, jokes left for each other. She greeted them both, Megan giving her a brief nod before returning to her computer screen, while Robbie and Indigo caught up on their respective weekends.

Indigo hung her coat up on a hook on the wall, stuffing it close amongst all the other ski coats and puffa jackets. She kicked off her snow boots and retrieved a pair of orange nikes from the bottom drawer of her desk, slipping them on, not bothering to untie the laces.

“You did what?” Megan asked, picking up on what she was telling Robbie.

“I put a webcam in the gym.”

“Are you crazy? That’s not legal!”

“I ran it past Niall, he was fine with it,” Indigo shrugged, slipping her laptop out of her bag and opening it up.

“Yeah, I just bet he was,” Megan muttered, returning her attention to her own screen. Robbie and Indigo exchanged amused looks. Megan was some kind of genius, highly prized for her ability to follow money trails. But she was too morally sensitive for fieldwork, kept exclusively to the office, an arrangement which she seemed perfectly happy with. It would have driven Indigo crazy.

She logged in, checked her inbox, overflowing as usual, then picked up Robbie and Megan’s mugs and headed to the small kitchen for coffee.

“You’re in luck,” Niall greeted her. “I’ve just made a fresh pot.”

“Don’t you have people who do that for you, boss?”

“Don’t be cheeky,” he poured fresh coffee into the three mugs for her. She added milk to Robbie and Megan’s. “How was your weekend?”

“Okay,” she shrugged. “I put the bugs and webcams in Jackson’s office and gym. Let’s see if anything comes from that. Otherwise, it’s going to have to be a honey trap and you’re going to have to talk to the client about that. I’m mean, if he’s not actually committing adultery yet, she just wishes he did…”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. Let’s see if we get anything from the surveillance. Maybe we should think of bugging the home as well. With Mrs Jackson’s cooperation, that should be simple enough.”

“She’s a stay-at-home mum, she’s convinced he can’t possibly be doing the nasty there. But after tailing him for a week, I’ve got to tell you, he only ever goes to the office, the gym, and the bar on a Friday night, with his mates. That’s not a good night for a honey trap, by the way. They were all sports and old stories and no eyes for the ladies.”

“That’ll depend on the lady,” Niall said.

Indigo shrugged. She’d done a few honey traps herself, but she hated them. She could flirt with the best of them, and she was good looking enough, but she couldn’t do the old-school helpless femininity that the role required. She was more likely to rescue the princess than be one.

“I take it you didn’t try to tail Jackson in a blizzard?” Niall was asking her, drily.

“Hell no,” she said, “I had someone better to be with.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Anyone I know?”

“No, but maybe I’ll show her the office one of these days.”

“She?” Niall’s mouth twitched as he turned away. “Jesus, Indigo. You can’t even stick to one gender, let alone one person.”

“I’m twenty five years old, why the hell would I stick to one person?”

“That’s a good point,” Niall carefully put the coffee pot back on its hot plate. “Well, I look forward to meeting her. I have to go back to work, now.”

“All right, but don’t think I noticed you didn’t tell me how your weekend went, which either means you were a sad sack working all weekend, or you’re hiding something.”

“Oh, Indigo,” he said, with mock sadness. “My weekends could never compare to yours.”

“Yeah, that’s the truth,” she muttered into her mug, watching him walk out. Was it wrong to fancy your boss? But then every woman in the office fancied Niall, and some of the men too. He was a tall man, with dark hair, going gray at the temples. He wore well-cut suits and dress shirts and today’s tie was blue, bringing out the color of his eyes. He’d started out as a hacker, but soon realised that there was more money to be earned on the right side of the law. He’d set up KTI to specialise in computer security and established a solid reputation with blue-chip companies floundering in a new world of the Internet, trolls, phishing and other phenomena.

In the fifteen years since then, he’d expanded the company into financial investigations and then finally into an all-round security firm. The general investigations division, where Indigo worked, was the smallest, but the one Niall was most personally involved in these days. He had a strong streak of boyish adventure in him that he’d never outgrown.

He also had an excellent relationship with many of Boston’s wealthy and influential people, the Brahmins and the up-and-comers, that meant his firm was the one they came to when they wanted a discreet form of help; a wayward teenage child found, a drug-addicted sibling sent to rehab, an adulterous spouse caught in the act, the money great-grandma hid under the metaphorical mattress found. He also had an excellent relationship with both the Boston and the Cambridge police commissioners, and an eagerness to bring his expertise into some of their messier cases, pro bono.

Indigo had started to work for him when she was eighteen and her talent for getting into fights (and emerging victorious) had already got her a juvenile record and dashed her hopes for a soccer scholarship to college. He’d recruited her to go undercover in a Chestnut Hill home, whose maid’s body had been discovered, nearly fifty miles away, in some woodland near Nashua, New Hampshire. She soon uncovered the fact that all the staff were illegals (including her, according to her cover story) and too frightened to report the family’s abuse of them. The cruelty that had gone on inside that pretty, yellow clapboard house, had been chilling and even now, she occasionally had nightmares of being back there again, suffocating in her own fear.

She’d almost been killed, when the father of the household discovered she wasn’t the Hispanic illegal she’d been posing as, but her evidence had put him in prison for a thirty year stretch. In return, Niall had paid her college tuition at U-Mass, as well as hiring her part-time at KTI until she graduated, with a major in journalism.

She’d nearly finished her coffee. She filled it up again from the pot and returned to her desk, handing Megan and Robbie their coffees. She returned to her laptop and started filling in her timesheets and typing up her reports for the last few days of activity, something she was always behind on. At the same time, she was keeping an eye on the footage she was getting from the webcams and bugs she’d placed around Jackson’s office and gym and if she was a corporate spy, she supposed she’d have hit the jackpot, but as Jackson firmly kept his clothes on in all his meetings, it was proving to be tedious stuff.

Megan stayed focused on her computer screen, headphones ostentatiously placed over her ears. She frequently complained about how much Indigo and Robbie chatted together, but how else could they stay in their seats long enough to fill in all the boring paperwork that came with the job?

“You should have cycled,” Robbie was smugly telling her, in response to her complaint about Massachusetts drivers, so impatient that they often ran red lights and yet so incapable of getting on with it that they would sit and stare aimlessly at a green light until someone’s horn startled them into action.

“How much have you lost now?” Indigo asked.

“15 pounds.”

“You look good for it.”

Robbie beamed. He had plump cheeks that made him look a good five to ten years younger than his actual thirty, but since taking up cycling, his teddy bear stomach had pretty much disappeared.

“Indigo?” Warren Davis, the head of general investigations and Indigo’s immediate boss, stuck his head out of his office and looked over at her. “Got a moment?”

“Sure,” she shut her laptop and headed his way, eager for something more exciting than timesheets and a husband who was stubbornly refusing to commit adultery.

© Essie Gilbey, 2014