41 Rain Delay

Detectives Martinelli was with his fellow officer Martin, his partner in crime as he liked to joke. The rest of the police department referred to them as the M&M’s. As they conducted interviews in the meeting room, they reconstructed events leading to the death of the victim. The concierge had tentatively identified him as a non-resident. When he’d been removed from the water there had been no ID at all, just swim trunks.

Gervase’s account matched that of Mrs. James in every respect. He normally arrived before seven each morning but explained about walking the dog early, a previous arrangement with the Steinhardts who were away for the day. He’d seen the garbage truck leave at its usual time with the usual driver. Because of the walk, his customary check of the building was delayed by about twenty minutes, otherwise he would have followed the TV cord into the pool area and found the victim. He was very sorry that Mrs. James had been the one to do so. Martinelli began a new round of questions.

“Did you attempt a rescue?”

“No. The pole was in the water. Made a snap judgement to call for help. And I wanted her out of there.”

“Did you, or she, touch or move anything?”Chapter 41 Rain Delay

“No. I did do a quick check of the Mens room after I called. One closed but not locked locker.  I saw no clothing, nothing out of place.”

“Do you usually check the Ladies room in the morning, too?”

“Yes, after I’m sure there’s no one in there. I didn’t check it this morning.”

“So, this TV on a cart. Tell me about that.”

“It belongs to the association. In order to be available in various rooms around the main floor it’s on a cart, with a long extension cord.”

“Why not just plug it in in each room?” interjected Martin.

“It’s a cable ready connection at that outlet.”

“And did people often move it into the pool area?”

“Not to my knowledge, not during the day, when I’m here anyway. I would have advised against it. Normally, if it’s being used in this room or the lobby, I tape down the cord so it’s not a trip hazard.”

“And you weren’t in the building yesterday?”

“My day off, no.”

“Do you have any idea who this man was?”

“From what I briefly saw, he’s like a man with red hair who tried to get in here some weeks ago claiming he was a Realtor, an agent trying to look at a property for sale. There wasn’t one for sale then, so I didn’t admit him. I don’t recall a name.”

“How would a non-resident, other than a real estate agent, get into this building, would you say?”

“Any resident could open the door or buzz in a guest. Routine deliveries are usually done when I’m here but a resident can receive a delivery when I’m not.”

Some but not all downtown condos provide concierge services.

Some but not all downtown condos provide concierge services. Most have lobby security systems.

“And other than by the lobby entrance?”

“Possibly by sneaking into the garage behind a car but there are mirrors for going in and out to discourage that. The trash is in an enclosed room and the regular driver has an EDO. The pool is accessible from the terrace but that door is locked on the outside.”

“What do you think happened?”

“I assume somebody let or brought him in. I don’t know all of the guests, of course, though most residents inform me ahead of time if they are having someone in to stay, especially when they’re going away.”

“Did you notice anything else irregular this morning?”

“I did notice some things on my desk out of place. It’s annoying but residents have been known to look for things there when I’m not here, so maybe that’s all that is. Nothing’s missing, as far as I can tell.”

“Can you get me a current list of the residents, with who’s here and who’s not?”

“Actually, Mrs. James can do that for you. She’s the association secretary and keeps a list of unit owners. She’s still in the lobby, minding the dog.”

“Too bad the dog can’t talk, eh? In the meantime, I know it’ll be hard because people will be asking you a lot of questions. Please say the absolute minimum about this to them and refer everyone to us. We’ll be speaking today to as many residents as we can.” Gervase returned to his desk. A few minutes later an officer knocked and entered, bearing a large envelope.

“Photos of the deceased. Also confirmed that there was no other ID on the body. And the concierge says there are three people outside claiming they have appointments with a resident here. He wants to know if he can let them in.”

“Who are they?”

“Realtors.”

“More realtors, eh? Place seems to be crawling with them. Find out who they are, who they’re here to see, and ask them to re-schedule.” Martin opened the package, and flipped through the images. “Estimated time of death, give or take twelve hours.”

“So we’ll see if we get any takers. First up, one of our swimmers.”

*   *   *   *   *

Mrs. James watched as the officers outside sent R.M. away. He might be here to meet with Sebastian and Matthew. Would this death in the building affect their chances of selling? She’d heard of houses where someone had died in horrible circumstances being harder to sell. She must remember to ask R.M. about this, if they ever let him in, that is. At least the victim hadn’t died upstairs, on her floor. She was increasingly grateful that she wasn’t a Realtor.

Outside, R.M. had stood patiently and long, in contrast to his recent, more comfortable wait inside the lobby with Mrs. James. The frustration of the past weekend was continuing uninterrupted right into Monday. He’d arrived on time for the scheduled listing interview with the Cabot brothers. He was apparently the first of three because as he waited, first one, then another of his colleagues arrived with similar appointments as they discovered in the interim, trading real estate war stories. It was not unusual for a seller to talk to several agents before choosing among them, even agents from the same company. It was unusual to be denied access to the building, not even to get one’s foot in the door. The police gave no information. The press were more forthcoming; something about a drowning. Gervase had finally come to the door to find out why he was waiting there. At last, Sebastian phoned.

“I’ve been asking the police to let you in but Gervase tells me they’ve said not today. I’ll call you.”

“Your two other agents are here with me, chatting about your building. Save yourself the calls. I’ll pass along your message and we’ll wait to hear from you.”