When the alarm clock went off I ran through all the swear words I knew. Some of them twice. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one eight o’clock in a day, and it sure as hell ain’t in the morning. Being the hero that I am though, I dragged myself up and somehow, thirty minutes later I stumbled back into the Cup ‘O’ Joe.
“Oh my gawd!”
Nancy rushed over to the seat I’d fallen into and put her hand on my forehead.
“Are you ill?” she said, with feigned concern. “Have you been evicted? Has the office burned down? Are you on the run?”
“Coffee. Bacon and eggs. Hold the sarcasm.” I muttered.
She walked away chuckling.
Breakfast rush was on, so Nancy didn’t have much time to stop and chat, but in snatched bites of conversation as she walked back and forth past my table, she filled me in on Jezebel and Matt Kennedy. Been together about four months, which by her record, would mean that he was due for the elbow any day now. They hooked up after he’d hit the big time. Several bit parts in middling films had led to a lead in a minor indie flick which had ‘generated buzz’ according to Nance, and then suddenly exploded. Overnight, Kennedy went from nobody to B list or thereabouts. Chances are he’d be back down with the Z listers before too long, but he was making the most of the opportunities while they were there. Sounded like he was using Jezebel as much as she was using him.
What he didn’t sound like though, was a criminal mastermind.
Having slept on it, I was coming round to the opinion that the girls - assuming they were behind it - probably weren’t acting alone. They just didn’t sound bright enough, and they had the wrong background, quite frankly. I’d only come across one ‘girl from a posh family’ that had been a succesful crook.
Well. Succesful right up to the point where I caught her anyway.
She’d been a jewel thief. Turned out she’d read the ‘Raffles’ books as a kid and been inspired, but it was only when she spent a year travelling in Europe, fell in with the wrong crowd and met a retired house breaker that her criminal life started. And she was smart - real smart. Learned her chops. Started small, and left it months between jobs. She’d been thieving for four years before she stole her first jewel, never took more than she could carry, never went back to a place she’d turned over and always worked alone. I got involved when I was brought in to try and recover a stolen brooch. Took a fair bit of work, and an incredibly lucky break to catch her, though I neglected to mention that to the client. To be honest, she was the only criminal I’ve ever caught where I was tempted to let her go. She planned meticulously, treated her work like art, and was darned unlucky to get caught, and I gotta confess, I had a certain amount of admiration for her. I got the brooch back and was almost at the point of telling her to scram when she pulled out a pistol out of her cleavage and tried to shoot me.
My admiration faded pretty quick after that.
But Lily and Jezebel... Ok I’d never met them, but I wasn’t getting the same feeling in my gut about these two.
I finished a third cup of strong, black coffee, patted Nance on the tush and headed out. It was bright and cold, and I walked to the Eighteenth rather than taking the subway. By the time I got there, I was firing on most, if not all, cylinders.
Russo had given me a badge yesterday, so I nodded to the Sgt on duty, swiped in and headed back down to the archive. I’d have the place to myself for at least three hours. Since I’d left, the position of data analyst had gone part time, no doubt courtesy of the ‘clowns down at City Hall’ as the Captain would put it. The female officer I’d seen yesterday had other duties in the morning, and carried out the data wrangling in the afternoons. And broadly speaking, nobody else ever went down to the archive.
Which is why I was surprised to bump into someone coming out as I got down there. He was looking over some print out as the door slid open, and clearly wasn’t expecting to see me or anybody else, as he nearly walked into me. He muttered an apology and headed back up the corridor.
I looked back and frowned. Early fifties, good suit, good shoes, good haircut. I didn’t recognise him, but hey - it ain’t my Police Station! And besides, he couldn’t have got in without a badge, so he must have been legit. I put him out of my mind. I wanted to have a quick look at Matt Kennedy.
And then a long, hard look at Senator Hayden.
As I suspected, I wasn’t interrupted all morning. The research on Kennedy didn’t turn up much that Nancy hadn’t already told me, and I mentally put him on the back burner.
Hayden, on the other hand, had quite an interesting past. Born to working class parents, he’d excelled at school, been the first in his family to go to college, where he studied law. He became an attorney and had practised while developing an interest in local politics on the side. In the Mid-West, his brand of no-nonsense family values had gone down well, and he clambered up the greasy pole at quite a startling rate. He’d made Senator after the anti-porn campaign, about eight years ago.
I knew a bit about the world of politics, and one of the things I knew was that you don’t get to be a Senator just by being a straight-up guy. The road to high office is littered with payoffs, greased palms, secrets hushed up and opponents discredited.
The higher the office, the dirtier the laundry tended to be, and Senator was a fair way up. He was clearly smart, presumably had - at the very least - turned a blind eye to some pretty dodgy behaviour, and knew his way round the law.
I let my mind run free.
So Lily sees a big chunk of her inheritance walking out the door in Chastity’s purse and complains to her husband-to-be. He knows what needs to happen to get the right will read, and the clout to lean on the lawyer handling that will.
Would he risk it though? If it was exposed, that was his career over, and he wouldn’t be serving his next term on Capitol Hill - it’d be in a jail somewhere.
But if he pulled it off...
I started digging a bit further. Like I said, the machines in here have a bit more access than most, and after a fair bit of work, I’d got a pretty good picture of his finances. He wasn’t broke, but he certainly wasn’t in Norm Lillywhite’s league. Being a politician ain’t cheap, and if your future wife had the choice of inheriting a fortune or a large fortune, you’ve gotta be thinking ‘bigger is better.’
I had a fair bit to think about. I turned round to look at the clock - it was nearly midday, and the wrangler would be in for her shift soon, so I figured I’d call it a day. As I was turned round looking at the clock, I noticed a pen on the desk behind me. If it had been a cheap biro, I wouldnt have paid it any mind, but it looked like something fancy. I walked over and picked it up. It was a very nice fountain pen - gold trim by the looks of things. Seemed an odd thing to be lying around in here.
My mind went back to the guy in the suit. Must’ve been his. I figured I’d drop it off with the front desk, but I didn’t know who to say it was for.
I turned back to the machine I’d been using. You don’t spend seven years working in this room without picking up a few useful things. I hunted down the security system files and opened up the logs for the doors, and scrolling down, I found the log for the archive door. The last entry was my badge as I’d come in, and just before me was the record of the guy leaving. And before that, the record of him entering, forty minutes earlier.
I made a note of the details: 400321, Scofield.
Five minutes later I was back in the lobby. The earlier desk Sergeant was finishing up, and Pat O’Halloran was just settling down in his chair.
“Hello again, Chuck - twice in two days! To what do we owe this honour?”
Oh, just a small job I’ve got on, Pat. Heading out for a bite to eat.”
“Well you have a good day.” he said.
Halfway to the door I remembered the pen and turned back.
“Do you know if Scofield is still around?” I said.
“Scofield?" He said. "No, not at the moment....”
He looked up and smiled.
“...she’s on maternity leave.”