52 What Kitty Did

Distracted since his return Monday night from a long weekend road trip by both the customary catch-up and unusual events, Greg postponed the inevitable. The cops had cleared him back into the building, asked if he’d known the victim or if he’d had anyone in to visit. He hadn’t, and Mrs. James had already explained their child care arrangements. On Tuesday afternoon, he plucked up his courage and made the call.

Chapter 52 What Kitty

“So Kitty, how was your weekend away, with the accountants?”

“The pits. Yours?”

“Same game, different towns. But I’ve decided something I have to tell you.”

“Oh yeah? Funny you should mention it. What?”

“I’ve been thinking that my schedule doesn’t really give me the time I want either with you, or the girls. I mean, I’m trying to say that I just have to start spending more time with them. Mrs. James is a godsend but I never see enough of them, myself.”

“And?”

“I hope you understand they are a priority. So I’m not going to see you for awhile.”

“Wait...you’re dumping me? For them?” and she’d barely hung up on him before her first profanities sullied the air. Enraged, she gasped for breath. The thought of lighting candles momentarily flashed. Instead, she yanked the shades, ideas ratcheting up with the pull on the cords and the influx of light. She sprang across the corridor and banged on the door of Hans’ unit, loudly calling his name, or whatever it was she did to his name when she said it. Hans reluctantly opened it just to make her stop. She strode past him into his living room and wheeled round to face him.

“Maybe it was you daring to laugh at me at the conference, maybe it wasn’t. I’ve come to tell you something.” Hans closed the door. “You say or write one word about me or that pathetic, accountant-y response to my presentation, and I’ll tell the cops.”

“Tell them what?” Hans scoffed. “Why would the cops care?”

“Because of what I saw and took a picture of on my phone. A picture that’s safe in my unit.” Hans wanted to say safe unless you start another fire in there but before he dared, she went on. “A picture of your boyfriend. They’ll care about him.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“He was here.” Hans screwed up his face in an expression of disbelief.

“What?”

“When I came home Sunday night, he was there, in the same parking spot in that same car. He was trying to hide. I saw him.”

“So what?”

“So the cops are looking for someone who brought in the jerk that drowned.”

“What’s this got to do with me?”

“Oh, please. When the cops see who it was I saw they’ll be all over you, not to mention this unit.”

“What? But I wasn’t even here!”

“Doesn’t mean he wasn’t though.” Exasperated, she exploded, “How can you be so stupid? This will ruin you in this building. You, Mr. High and Mighty Treasurer, with your money grubbing attempts to get into all our pockets. Not to mention what will happen to your precious boyfriend. Not to mention what that developer will do to you. Not to mention your reputation in the wonderful world of publishing.” As possibilities and repercussions began their frenzied whiplash around him, he lapsed into silence. This infuriated her even more. He wasn’t cringing. He just looked dumbly inept. “So, here’s my deal. First you hush your mouth and sit on your hands about me. Then, you buy my unit.”

“What?”

“Is ‘what’ the only word you actually know?” she screamed. “I’m moving out of here, selling FSBO. And now you’re going to buy it at the price I set. If you don’t, the photo goes to the cops.”

“You saw him and didn’t tell them?” He managed to splutter. “You’re withholding evidence. You’ll be in trouble, too.”

“Not if it’s sent anonymously.” She cackled. “Sunday night I was just curious so I took the picture. Today it’s useful. And no, I didn’t tell them. Yet. If I had they’d already be after you. It’s our little secret so far, and will be as long as you do exactly what I want.”

“But I can’t buy your unit. I already own this one.”

“And I care? You’re here all the time. You can sell yours instead and save me the trouble. You can greet the ghouls wandering through to see the place where all the murderers live. Just make yours cheap enough to sell right away. In the meantime, you’ll own both of them. Two mortgages and two sets of fees should get you motivated enough. So you see,” she taunted, “my ‘speeches’ are effective after all. Anyway, you’re the treasurer. Cheat, who’ll know?” As he glared at her, she ranted, “You get the paperwork and bring it to me. I’ll fill it out, you’ll sign it. Don’t waste any time. Your clock is ticking.”

Insinuating her way right up to his face, she began waving her forefinger back and forth in front of his nose. “Tick. Tock.” She slowly intoned, then sped up both her finger and the repetitions, her eyes widening as she harped on. Hans stood before her, mesmerized, speechless. Then she was gone. Hans stumbled to the phone.

“Peter,” he pleaded into the message machine. “I’ve got to see you, right away. Please. It’s really important this time.”

Driveway entrance to underground parking. Some condos include deeded spaces.

Driveway entrance to underground parking.

Shaken, Hans collapsed onto the sofa, trying to think. This was too much new information to absorb. Moaning, he went to his desk, grabbed a blank piece of paper from the printer tray and began to scribble down what she had just told him. He knew that if he just started writing that a format would come to him, a time line, a table, anything to help him to organize his thoughts. It was what he did best, writing things down. As he wrote, it occurred to him that the often postponed task of taking an inventory of the unit had veered into first and foremost place. Now he had an overwhelming reason for doing so. It wasn’t just about a few missing champagne flutes any longer.

After a few puzzling finds and equally puzzling omissions, Hans realized that it was his own recollection that seemed to have been mislaid. He simply couldn’t remember whether Peter had taken certain things or not. Had there been both pairs of swim trunks in that drawer after Peter left? Was there really any beer left after that last party? Had things been moved around on his bedroom dresser? And those cushions, again. Had he really plumped them up? And he couldn’t find the extra set of keys anywhere, for the unit or the garage.

He consoled himself that at least he had a garage space. It would be easier to sell his unit if he had to. He’d thought about renting that space but kept putting it off, even though an extra $100 every month would have come in handy. Gervase would have helped find him a renter but Hans had balked at this idea, he wasn’t sure why. Perhaps he just hadn’t wanted Gervase to know that Peter had left him. But of course, that was ridiculous; the all-knowing could already know.