76 Hot Line

Hans hoofed it up two flights of stairs from the garage retracing, he realized, Peter’s and Rusty’s steps up to his unit while Mrs. James stopped the elevator at the lobby in hopes of finding Gervase. And there he was, diligently manning his post.Chapter 76 Hot Line

“Are you coming or going?” he greeted her as she exited the elevator, then deduced that minus her work bag, she must be returning.

“Coming back from the attorney. Thought I’d test my mental powers on you and tell you what got said, as I’ll be having to write it all up.”

“Always the sounding board.”

“Speaking of coming or going, Kitty Doyle was in the garage just now, as Hans and I were coming in. Wasn’t sure what she was doing.”

“Why?”

“She was parked in the driving lane with her trunk open and dithering with something or other. And having a good look around, too, if I must say. Thank goodness I could get to my space without having to ask her to shift.”

“She can holler pretty good when she wants to, eh? Doesn’t seem to care who’s on the receiving end.” And excels at the chop, too, he reflected. “I’ve been employing your methods of observation so I’ve something to tell you as well.”

“What about?” She was curious, apprehensive.

“It’s about what I didn’t see, you know, like you said. Thursday, I was here when Hans and Sebastian Cabot asked to use the meeting room. I didn’t give it a thought really, until later, after I’d seen them standing together, waiting for the elevator. It came to me that I used to see Hans and his friend…”

“Peter,” supplied Mrs. James.

“That’s him, standing together there, just like that. Lately, I haven’t seen Peter, either with Hans or without him.”

“I rather think that will continue to be the case from what I understood Hans to say. Peter will no longer be serving on the cookbook committee and Hans has nixed his recipe from inclusion. Conclusive enough to my mind.”

“So Peter’s gone away. Is Sebastian the new Peter?”

“As I never really knew Hans’ relationship with Peter, your guess is as good as mine. I do know that they like each other well enough, go out for coffee, that sort of thing.”

“Is Peter police worthy, do you suppose? Though I can’t see why, can you?”

“Maybe just keep it in mind for now?” She felt uncomfortable discussing Hans and Sebastian, even with Gervase, and wanted to change the subject. “So, let me tell you about the meeting…”

“No wait, first I want to tell you about the meeting room ceiling.”

“Oh, right.”

“Our insurance adjuster and a drywaller came to look at it Friday. Adjuster suspected negligence upstairs, in ‘overtaxing the reasonable capacity of a fixture’ – based on the plumbers’ report – and that her insurance, if she calls them, would deny her claim.”

“The association secretary,” here she took a small bow, “will piggyback on the denial and write, assigning damages to her, according to our condo docs. So she’ll know soon she’s on the nick for it. How much?”

“A grand, anyway, the drywaller estimated.”

“Expensive bouquet. Did you deliver it to her?”

“I did, and barely escaped, by the sounds of it.”

“At least she didn’t take it out on you, Gervase.”

“Small mercies, as my mother says. Now, tell me the gospel according to Hough.”

*   *   *   *   *

Sidewalk on Prospect turns to pedestrian bridge to lakefront over Lincoln Memorial Drive.

Sidewalk on Prospect intersects pedestrian bridge pathway to lakefront, above Lincoln Memorial Drive.

When the brakes failed on Lee’s bike, she was turning toward the Brady Street bridge. She yanked the bike a sharp right to halt her forward momentum. The bike torqued; she and it parted company, each going in a different direction. The bike rolled briefly, crashing along the side of the path. She tipped lopsidedly forward, awkwardly crumpling on the grass. Gwen was right behind her and to her aid at once.

“Lee, what happened? Oh,” she wailed, “don’t move.” Lee was alert, not bleeding but pain was setting in, contorting her face.”Try and stay still.” Gwen pleaded to her now rocking friend. “Where does it hurt?”

“My arm.” Lee gasped. “It won’t move.”

“Then don’t!” Gwen demanded. “I’ll get help.” A returning beach-goer gently draped a towel across Lee’s shoulders. Gwen managed to locate and pull Lee’s phone from a pocket and called, living in hope.

“Mr. Karon, this is Gwen, Lee’s friend.” She tried to keep her voice from shaking, as her whole body now was.

“Yes, Gwen. I got Lee’s message that you’re together. Everything okay?”

“Sorry, Mr. Karon. She’s had a bad fall from her bike and her arm is really hurting.” Gwen turned her back on Lee to add softly into the phone, “And her foot looks twisted. What should I do?”

“Where are you?”

“Prospect and Brady, by the bridge.”

“I’m nearby. I’ll get there as quick as I can.”

Guy, arriving in minutes from his downtown office, quickly ascertained two things. First, that his daughter, at the very least, had a broken arm; second, that both brake lines on her bike had been cut. He called 911 and was referred to the local precinct. He briefly explained that he had to get his injured daughter to hospital and requested that an officer come to take a report. When told it might be some time, he turned to Gwen and asked her if she could stay awhile with the bike. She nodded. He brought the car round as close as he could and bundled her in as best as he could, instructing Gwen to phone him when the police arrived. He wanted that report.

“Lee, what time did you leave our building?”

“Just a few minutes ago, Dad. The brakes were working fine this morning.”

“We’ll sort it all out, honey lamb. You just take it easy now.”

While Lee was wheeled into x-ray, Guy called his sister to ask her to meet him at the hospital, and then the phone at Gervase’s desk. He was relieved to hear him answer directly, though he knew that when on duty Gervase promptly returned missed calls.

“Gervase, Guy Karon. Sorry to be abrupt. Did you see Lee leave the building, awhile ago?”

“No.”

“She left from the garage. Have you been in the lobby for the last few hours?”

“Yes.”

“So you’d have seen if anyone came in?”

“Yes. Is she OK?”

“Yes, and no. Have to go.”

Guy retrieved Martinelli’s number. He paused, his hand on the talk button.  Only a week ago, he’d dreaded that they might find his prints on the pole he’d been wielding over a drowned man. How could he ask police to intervene in this instance but not the other, not expect them to wrench open that Pandora’s box he and Bert had attempted to close? He didn’t care. Someone had tried to kill his daughter.