101 Y’All Come on Down

R.M. welcomed the interruption and gathered up his things, as Martin and Martinelli introduced themselves to Sebastian Cabot.

“We have a few questions for you, too, Mr. Cabot.” Sebastian was taken aback. He’d come in expecting to hear a report of the activity from R.M., not find two cops in his place.

“I’ll call you later,” R.M. reassured Sebastian, “let you know how things went. Bona and Vista are still in the bathroom.” R.M responded to Martinelli’s raised eyebrow. “Cats.”

“We’ll be down in the meeting room.” Martinelli left with R.M., while Martin stayed to ask his questions of Cabot.

“How did you come to choose him to sell your condo? Friend of yours?”Chapter 101 Y'all Come

“No. We also considered selling it on our own. Mrs. James suggested that my brother and I add his name to our short list of realtors to interview. She gave him a strong recommendation. He’d sold her her unit plus, she said, he’d stayed very familiar with the building since it was constructed. She sees him around and they talk.”

“So you spoke with other ones before you chose him?”

“Yes, remember we’d set up those meetings for the Monday morning, it turned out, after the drowning? Your people said we had to reschedule.”

“Yes, we said that after the deceased was discovered in the pool.” This restatement of facts went right over Sebastian’s head; he was busy wondering what this was all about. “And you and your brother have no other connection with R.M.?”

“None. Wait, is he in trouble, or something?”

“Just routine questions. We’re still investigating incidents.”

“Incidents, with an ‘s’?” Sebastian supposed he must mean about the girl with the broken arm. Mrs. James had told him.

“Yes. Tell me when he’s been in the building either with you or without you, about selling your place.”

“The next day, early afternoon, when we first met him. Then, we had more questions and I met with him, that would have been, let me think, Wednesday afternoon.” Martin started to take notes. “Then that Saturday, at noon he and his wife came to take pictures. On Monday, it was mid-day. He came back to set up the lock box for showings to begin. I was out. He called me to bring over the correct keys so I stopped back. He showed it quite early Wednesday morning and again on Saturday about mid-day. Then today, he was here for having in these other realtors. That’s it, I think, for us.”

“Thank you. Please let us know if you think of any other times.” Martin put away his list, adding, “Here’s our number. Where were you, the Sunday night of the incident?”

“Matthew and I were here sorting stuff out, getting our questions ready to talk to the realtors about selling. I must say, R.M.’s been totally helpful and honest with us about everything.”

“Right. Good luck selling your place. Very nice.” Martin would need a rich wife, a Mrs. Martin, to afford a place like this, he judged as he went down to the meeting room. It was a quick trip this time, the elevator oddly ready and waiting for him. When he joined them in the meeting room, R.M. was  answering Martinelli’s questions.

“I had kids back in the dark ages, so sure, I had to be able to fix their bikes.”

“Carry wire cutters when you’re here?”

“There’s a tool-kit in my trunk. Sometimes I have to adjust yard signs and wire cutters come in handy. I don’t bring tools inside, normally.”

“Did you put your car in the garage the day you came to put in the lock box?”

“Never had my car in the garage. Always park on the street. Look, I’d never hurt a kid, if this is where this is heading. Can I tell you something about condo buildings?” As the pair facing him said nothing, he continued. “It’s not like I haven’t thought about the drowning, or whatever you are calling it. I’m guessing everybody here has. In my experience, it’s easier to get into a building than not, way easier than it should be. In the fifteen years I’ve been working the downtown area, in all that time, I’ve only ever been challenged twice by any resident questioning who I was, or why I was trying to get in. If you just wait around outside, then make like you have a key when someone comes along, most people going out or in just let you in on the way by. If you carry a camera, or a toolbox, or food, even better. The key you have to get in might as well be your own house key, for all they look to see if its the right one. Same with those fobs.” Martinelli let out a sigh. R.M. continued.

A locked lobby entrance, with snail mailboxes, package drop, noticeboard, and intercom for residents to admit visitors.

A locked lobby entrance, in a building without a concierge, with snail mailboxes, package drop, noticeboard, and intercom for residents to admit visitors.

“And in buildings with a concierge, a Gervase, once those people got to know me they’d hand me keys to any part of the building. I earned their trust. Hell, most of the time, they’re so bored and grateful to bullshit with anybody from outside for a few minutes, they’d do anything to help you. Gervase is better than most at screening but he’d give me access anytime because he knows I’d never work him over.” Martinelli shook his head. Annals of true crime this was; the first-time average guy turned criminal, who just knew he could get away with it because he was trusted.

“Course, this can happen in other kinds of properties, too, but in condos, it’s noticeable. You don’t like to advertise security problems but they do exist, and mostly because of the people who live in the buildings, letting people in assuming they must be OK or there for a reason, or like me, someone they recognize as being around. There are buildings I’m in frequently, for short periods working a deal, that I then don’t get back to for another couple of months and then it’s just ‘deja vue’ all over again.”

Martin asked R.M. to make a note of all the times he’d been in the building in the last month, and where he’d gone. R.M. said he’d have to go back and consult his work diary. It was too many to remember off-hand but it would be all in there. They let him go.

“So, how’d you put the quarter in him?” Martin asked Martinelli.

“He does talk, I’ll give him that. Don’t think much will come of this, motive-wise, do you still?”

“I’ll still check his times against the ones Cabot’s just given me, if only to persuade myself. Problem I’m seeing is, the way R.M. tells it and he’s a really believable guy, almost anyone could have got in here that night, and if one, why not two people? Why don’t y’all just come on down, now? Opportunity for all.”

“I mean, you might as well suspect Gervase as anyone, as far as means and opportunity factor in.”

“The butler did it. He could have easily brought Mangold in, and cut the bike brakes. But why would he?”

“Open to your suggestions. I don’t have any. Truth be told, there are security breaches all over, not just here. Everybody goes around thinking they are living in Fort Knox so they forget to lock the door behind them. Kinda like not checking your brakes before you take off. Speaking of which I’m going to do, not you. Take off, I meant. You’re going back to the station to compare your own notes.”