55 Positions with Partners

Late on Tuesday afternoon as Peter, his rippling muscles beautifully reflected in the admiring eyes of the new member, demonstrated his equipment, Martin and Martinelli entered the athletic club foyer. Their initial interviews with the victim’s family yielded up the possibility that Rusty had been trying out facilities within walking distance of his downtown apartment. They were following up on a list of them, hoping to dredge up his swimming ability while casting their detective net.Chapter 55 Positions with partners

Peter watched through the glass partition as the manager stood talking to the men, unsure from that distance just who they were, though they didn’t fit the usual profile of seekers after membership. The manager caught Peter’s eye and gestured to him that the two men were coming through into the gym.

“Hello.” Peter approached them. “Are you here to see the club?”

“Martin and Martinelli, police.” Martinelli relished this opening gambit. Surprise gave them a bit of a head start with most people. This guy, for instance, was clearly shocked. So he bluffed, “Here to ask about one of your members. Your manager said you maybe worked with him. Name of Rusty Mangold.”

“Oh, and what has he done to deserve all this attention?” Peter tried to joke.

“He died.” said Martin. Peter gulped. “We want to know if he knew how to swim. Did he use the pool here?”

“I help on the exercise equipment. I never saw him in the pool.”

“Anyone else who might have seen him using it?”

“Guess I’m not sure. I can tell you that he’s…was, fairly new and that I was encouraging him to work out, come in more often. Whether he used the pool to do that, I don’t know.”

“Was he friends with anyone here, do you know?”

“He was usually bent over the equipment with his head down, as though it was really hard work for him. Hard to meet people that way.”

“So not in tip-top shape, then?”

“Not at all.”

“Did he ever mention knowing anyone at ‘The Prospect on Prospect’ condos?”

“I have a lot of clients. I don’t know them all that personally.”

As soon as the cops were gone, Peter called Hans to say he would be over that evening, after work. This time, Peter parked his car quite far down the street, then called and waited for Hans to let him in.

“What’s up?” Peter asked, lingering at the unit doorway with his hand on the lever. “You sounded worried.”

“I am. Well, don’t just stand there holding up the door. Come in.”

“The cops were round to the club this afternoon, asking questions. The body in your pool was one of ours.”

“Is that so? He’s also the nephew of a developer trying to build condos next door. Did you know him?”

“From the club. I just said. Let’s have a drink.”

“What glass do you want, Peter? I do have a few left.” Hans instantly regretted saying this, at least in this way. “Sorry, I’m a bit on edge. What would you like, brandy?” Hans mentally rewound to yesterday. By comparison, he’d really enjoyed Sebastian’s company. It was so easy to talk to him and to listen as well. No tension whatsoever, just conversation. So much so that he’d suggested earlier today that they go for coffee, again. And this time, Sebastian had brought along his brother, Matthew, after they’d interviewed some agents. They’d talked about deciding how to list their parents’ condo. In just those few hours, since Kitty’s bombshell, Hans was in the same boat as they, though his was certainly in more perilous waters.

“Peter, I want to ask you about a few things.” Hans began, pouring himself a large tumbler of white wine. “When you moved out, I wasn’t really paying attention to what you took with you. Since then, I’ve found a few things missing – that I assumed you decided were yours – plus a few things I thought were yours that you didn’t take. You’ve been gone awhile now and aren’t coming back here to live. I want to make sure about those.”

“Like the champagne flutes?” Peter squirmed as he sat down. He’d always counted on Hans’ poor attention to domestic details to hide a multitude of sins.

“Those I figured you took because you were peeved at me. Did you take a pair of swim trunks?”

“Probably…I did wear them on our trip, remember. Is that all? I always used to think you were so generous. Now you’re quizzing me about swim trunks?”

“Only I thought I remembered that you wore the other pair.” It used to madden Hans, Peter’s habit of calling him out on some purported defect in his own character, a trigger for an argument quickly to follow. He pushed on with his questions, despairing what the answers might be.”Did you take some beer out of the fridge, too?”

Peter set down his glass and pressed his hands down on the coffee table, angrily leaning forward, threatening. “You have got to be kidding me, Hans. You know I never drink the stuff. You can’t be serious.”

“I am, Peter, perfectly serious. By the way, where are the extra set of keys? You didn’t leave those behind, did you, like you did that awful poster?”

“Threw them away long ago, just like you can do with that poster.”

Some buildings provide gated off-street outdoor parking.

Some associations provide gated, off-street, outdoor parking adjacent to the building.

“Threw them away? Then how do you explain being seen inside the parking garage on Sunday night?” At this, Peter jumped to his feet and strode to the window, staring out, his back to Hans.

“I don’t. Who says I was?”

“I’ve been told that you were in your car, trying to hide, in your old parking space. You were recognized.” Peter swiveled around to face him.

“By whom, might one dare ask?” He hoped to waylay Hans using a more formal approach. This had worked well in the past.

“Does it matter? Were you there, Peter?”

“Of course not. Why would I be? How could I even get in with no keys?”

“I don’t know but if the police come back to ask you, you’d better be able to explain. They already have the club connection between you and Rusty. They’ll find out about you having lived here with me in a heartbeat. It was never a secret. If you were able to get in the garage, it’s not so much of a reach to get you in here too, is it, or down to the pool, either? What if they find Rusty’s fingerprints?”

“You think I came in here with somebody else, when you were away? Would I?”

“Please don’t ask me questions like that, Peter. You love intrigue. We both know that. A ‘thrill’ is worth anything for you, remember?”

“Even if I admitted it, which I don’t, it would still be my word against this…this spy?”

“Possibly, unless there was evidence that you were here. I’m told there’s a photo, taken in the garage on Sunday night.” Peter groaned. He’d been so careful.

“But I lived here. My prints must be everywhere, on everything in here.”

“But not Rusty’s. Not unless you brought him in here.”

“Well that’s easy peasy, then. All we’d have to do is wipe everything to erase them before the police check.”

“Oh my God.” Hans whispered. “So you’re saying it’s true?”