45 Pillow Talk

The conference had wrapped up on Sunday afternoon but Hans opted to stay on an extra night, to catch some of the presenters for interviews before they left and to write up his notes while everything was still fresh in his mind, especially Kitty Doyle’s less than stellar performance. On Monday, he took a flight back to Mitchell International and enjoyed the additional luxury of an expense account cab, as it turned out not quite as far as the front door, arriving mid-afternoon to a confusing scene. He dragged his cases up the drive past billowing yellow tape to the stationed police officer, who demanded his ID.Chapter 45 Pillow Talk

As he fished around for it, Hans wanted to ask what on earth was happening but thought better of it. They wouldn’t tell him anyway, if it were as serious as it looked. A friend of his had recently described a day-long police presence on a normally serene residential street. Curious neighbors who had summoned up the courage to ask the officers what was going on had been told it was just routine traffic surveillance. In the end, it had turned out to be a serious stake-out. Guy Karon, looking out the windows from behind Gervase’s desk, buzzed Hans in.

“Hans. Just arriving? Didn’t know you were away. Quite a day, here.”

“What’s going on?”

“Sworn to silence by the cops. They’re in the meeting room, interviewing. You’ll be on tap, too.”

“Where’s Gervase? Is he all right?”

“Gervase is fine. I offered to spell him while he took out Steinhardt’s dog. Not supposed to tell you, but he found a stiff in the pool this morning. Turns out it was one of the Mangolds.”

“Whaaat? Dead, you say? Here?”

“That, plus there’s a big mudslide down the bluff. Oh look, there’s Lee. Going out to intercept her. You can be Gervase.”

Bewildered, Hans piled up his belongings behind Gervase’s desk and slumped into his chair. Before long, a policeman came and asked him into the meeting room. Hans said he would be there as soon as Gervase came in. He could see him just up the street.

“Glad to see that you’re OK, Gervase. They’re waiting to talk to me.”

“I’ll watch your stuff. Go.” Gervase waved him away, and turned to the dog. Pocano wagged his tail before sitting on it to keep it still, and proceeded to be attentive. “Do your bloodhound bit.”

*   *   *   *   *

In the meeting room, Hans gave his name and unit number stiffly, as though it were his rank and serial number and he was preparing himself for interrogation.

“I’ve just arrived home from a weekend away. I have no idea of what’s going on.”

“How do you pronounce your surname, again?” Martin waited, to jot it down phonetically.

“‘No-poo-pick.'”

“Mr. Knopupik,” Martinelli resumed for his stricken colleague, “we’re here investigating a death. Rusty Mangold was found dead this morning in your swimming pool. Did you know the deceased?”

“By reputation. Not personally.”

“What do you mean, ‘by reputation’?”

“I’m a free-lance journalist. I write about developments. The Mangolds are developers.”

“When did you last see the deceased?”

“At a meeting they gave to explain their project. Can’t recall the exact date. I can check in my office upstairs, if you want.”

“Oh, so you work from home?”

“Yes.”

“Do you ever ask people there for work purposes?”

“Rarely. It’s easier to meet down here, or elsewhere.”

“Have you ever interviewed him or seen him inside this building?”

“Rusty? No. I interviewed Morris once, at their office.”

“Are you a swimmer?”

“Recreational only. I haven’t been down in our pool for months.”

“And you say you’ve been away? For how long?”

“I left on Thursday for an out-of-town conference. I’ve only just arrived back from the airport.”

“Do you live here alone?”

“Yes.”

“And did you ask anyone to visit, or stay in your unit while you were gone?”

About a 10 minute drive from downtown to Mitchell International airport, past Milwaukee landmarks.

It’s bout a 10 minute drive from downtown to Mitchell International airport, past clock and basilica Milwaukee landmarks.

“No.”

“Do you ever let anyone into the building who doesn’t live here?”

“An occasional delivery person or my own guests. Nobody that I don’t recognize. We can buzz people in from our units so I wouldn’t ever need to do that for anyone else.”

“Now, about this proposed development. Did anyone in this building know the Mangold’s, personally?”

“Well I can’t say that. No one I know here has ever said that they did, let’s put it that way.”

“Anybody ever made any threatening remarks about them?”

“Not that I’ve ever heard, no, never anything personal. There is a concerted effort to question the validity of the proposal, to prevent it happening if possible, but that’s an entirely different thing. We have a committee working on that issue.”

“And the committee members…?”

“Earnest Arbuthnot, the current president, Jack Pardoe, the past-president,  Guy Karon, Lori Hazell, and the two penthouse owners. I’m the association treasurer and keeping the committee informed about any changes as far as the proposal is concerned.”

“Thank you. We’re asking that residents don’t discuss this amongst themselves until after we have interviewed everyone.”

Hans retrieved his belongings and made directly for his unit, very relieved to be finally home. It still smells like Peter was his first impression, reminding him that he’d invited Peter to come over, not that Peter had ever called to say he would. This was definitely not a good night to have him around. The police might not let him in, anyway. After he unpacked, he should call and cancel.

He went to the kitchen for a cold drink, and to scrounge up some supper with what was on hand. Other than a lifetime supply of frozen ends of banana bread there were eggs, so that problem was solved. Not much to drink, though he vaguely remembered some beer on the fridge door. He must have been mistaken. There wasn’t any there. No loss.

He couldn’t decide if it was nice to come home and find things exactly as one remembered, or unsettling to think how little attention he paid to his surroundings. When, for instance, had he started plumping up the couch cushions and why couldn’t he remember doing it? That was something Peter always did. Maybe he was starting to pick up after himself better, now that Peter was gone. That would be something. All the times they’d argued over little things just like this and now he was behaving in precisely the way Peter wanted. Hans phoned him. This time, Peter answered.

“Hi, it’s me.”

“Hello, me.”

“Calling to un-invite you over, tonight. Do you remember, I invited you to come over after I got back?”

“Um, sure. But I can’t, anyway. My room-mate said he’d help me clean my car. Just out of curiosity, why are you canceling?”

“Police everywhere. Found a body. In the pool.”

“Really?”