106 Peter Schemes

On Friday morning, Martin tried Peter’s cell, left a message, then called Kitty Doyle’s cell, and left a message, laughing at himself for even trying. He sent a message to her e-address; likely straight to bounce city. He followed up with her attorney’s office, unsure whether to ask for White, Choyce, or Wong, but it didn’t matter; attorney client privilege would rear its professional head. He amused himself by thinking that he would have to call in the cops on this one, get some help. He’d consult with Martinelli about the importance of diligence in the follow-up of hopeless leads, his apparent specialty this week. Before Martinelli had even arrived with morning defense in hand, his mocha wall, Martin was astounded to get a call from Peter.

“Mr. Martin? This is Peter Pentalent, returning your call?”Chapter 106 Peter Schemes

“I did call you, yes, with a few questions. Are you in town?”

“No. I got laid off from that gym. I’m on the road, moving around, looking for work.”

“We have a photo of your car at the Prospect on Prospect condo building, where you used to live – as we now know – in Hans’ garage space, taken the night that Rusty Mangold died. Hans told us that you’d moved out prior to that. How do you explain your car being there that night?”

“Without seeing it, all I can say is that I was there that weekend to organize some stuff that I’d left behind. Not sure why anyone would take a picture of that, though. Pretty uninteresting.”

“What time were you there?”

“Sometime later on Sunday, I guess. Not sure. Does it matter?”

“Yes, it does matter. We’re investigating a suspicious death.”

“But mine obviously wasn’t the only car in the garage that night. I mean who would take a picture of my car? Isn’t that a weird thing to do? How did you get it anyway? I mean, Rusty died weeks ago.” This unexpected interrogation of Peter’s left Martin reminded of role reversal training exercises from his police academy days; things to watch for when interviewing a psychopath. But Peter had just expressed some of Martin’s own misgivings about the well-after the fact and anonymous arrival in his hands of this photo, so deliberately free of possible identifiers. It smacked of vindictiveness, like Kitty Doyle and the flower fiasco. Martin opted to leave her name out of his questions, for now.

“When we saw you before, you denied knowing anybody at the POPS.”

“No, I didn’t. You asked me if Rusty had ever mentioned knowing anybody there.” Martin considered the carefulness of Peter’s reply. At that point Peter might have told them that he’d recently lived there. What else had he omitted to tell them that afternoon?

“So, how did you get in?”

“Hans was away and left me his keys, in case I had time to come over and get started sorting. He’s always going on about more space for his office. Always in such a hurry, so selfish.”

“He doesn’t say that he left you his keys.”

“Oh, that’s just Hans. He doesn’t remember what he’s said half the time. I came back later to pick up the stuff that was mine, after we made sure about dividing it up. I have a small car, don’t I? Had to make a couple of trips. For that I’d need to have keys, wouldn’t I?”

“What did you remove from the building?”

“Building? Well, nothing from the building. Oh, you mean from the condo? Um, a poster, some glassware, no wait… I brought some glassware back that I’d taken by mistake, silly me, and there were clothes that were definitely mine, too, a pile of cushions and a lamp, some baking and serving dishes. I don’t really remember the rest ’cause it’s all in storage now.”

“Nothing belonging to Rusty?” Peter had dumped Rusty’s things in the trash not taken them out of the building.

“To Rusty? Rusty didn’t know Hans in person, so that would be crazy.” Crazy like a fox, thought Martin.

  • * * * *

Greg had never found out about the fate of his flowers. A conspiracy of kindness had since surrounded him, aware and hopeful that soon he might be sending flowers to a more grateful recipient. Martin thought he might as well ask Greg as not if he knew where Kitty had gone. But Greg hadn’t heard that she was gone. She’d only ever mentioned possibilities of things she might try next, nothing specific. He was a little curious about her himself, wondering why the cops wanted to know. On Friday night, after the girls had gone down to Mrs. James unit for the night, he thought he’d check out Kitty’s place. They’d never actually given their own unit keys to each other so he couldn’t get in, if she had moved away. Maybe Hans would know. He lived right across the hall, might have seen her to talk to more recently.

The door to her unit was wide open, so Greg knew at once that she wasn’t there. Kitty would never leave her door open, even a little. He hesitated in the opening. When Hans came toward the foyer, they each started at the sight of each other. Hans recovered first.

“Hi, Greg, how are you?”

“What’s going on?”

“Oh, you weren’t still expecting to see Kitty in here, were you? She’s moved out. I thought you knew.”

A pile of cleaning materials left by a maid who didn't read the condo docs first. It's against the rules to leave personal items in the cmmon area hallways.

A pile of cleaning materials left by a maid who didn’t read the condo docs first. It’s against the rules to leave personal items in the common area hallways.

“We aren’t together any more so I guess she didn’t have to tell me. But why are you in here?”

“I bought the place from her. Closed the deal a few hours ago. Getting it ready to move in, painting, and all.”

“But what about your place?” Greg looked back over his shoulder across the hall to Hans’ door just in time to see another man emerge from the unit, carrying what looked to him like a stick from a roller brush. Greg had a working knowledge of sticks; his lingering inability to figure out about people was interfering with his interpretation of the state of play before him.

“Found it!” The stranger arrived raising it in victory. Hans could see the bewilderment in Greg’s face.

“Greg, this is Sebastian Cabot. Sebastian, Greg Mendel. Sebastian and his brother Matthew are the sons of the Cabots whose unit is for sale upstairs. And they’re buying my unit.” Greg, on auto-pilot, reached out to shake Sebastian’s stick-free hand. When he’d asked R.M. about selling his place, he’d had no idea at all that he was living in such a hotbed of real estate. Perhaps he had better get moving, quite literally, while the building was so active.

“Nice to meet you, Sebastian. I was sorry to hear about your parents.” Mrs. James had informed him of that event. “I see that I need to get into the loop here. Knew none of this moving was happening. Do either of you know where Kitty actually went?” Greg had her contact numbers but Kitty, unless she really wanted to speak with someone, rarely bothered to return messages. Much more likely that she would have boasted about where she was headed next, that is, if she liked where she was going.

“Can’t help you there, Greg.” Hans had Greg down as basically clueless. “It seems you’ll have to get in line behind the cops for the answer to that question.”