Day 79 – Half Hour Hitman – Part 3

It vaguely mentions Christmas… so therefore it counts as a Christmas one.

 

 

Word count: 1531,

 

 

Three weeks later.

 

Christmas eve. Ranks of police cars gathered on the square. Uniformed pairs walked around placing cones and tape. A police woman, accompanied by her notebook, interviewed a man just outside the entrance to the nightclub. It was Mayfair’s night life district at half past nine in the morning. Chief Inspector Fortrose glowered at the square. He always thought these sort of places never looked quite right when cast in the cold light of day.

Fortrose took a sip of steaming hot coffee from the plastic cup he was holding. He was resting against his car and surveying the scene before him. Gathering information, facts, figures, times and recollections, his officers were scurrying about their duties like ants. Underneath his snug anorak, Fortrose disguised a grease stain from an earlier sneaky streak of bacon. He had been dragged out of the groove in his sofa for this. No one wanted to be here. It was Christmas Eve. There was shopping and cooking to be done and televisions to be watched. Fortrose could not deny that he would rather be doing any of the latter than to be standing on a cold street in inner London investigating the possible gruesome murder of some young man in his twenties.

“Alright?” his depute Piper nodded as he approached Fortrose.

“Any news?” Fortrose hoped that there would not be.

“We’ve got all the staff being interviewed. But so far all we’ve got is what we had last night.”

Last night something came into their possession. A wallet had been found on the back alley of a street leading off from this square, just down the side of one of the nightclubs in the area. However, a simple lost item it was not.

Three weeks ago a man named Andrew Hawkins disappeared from a mid-week night out with his friends. It was four days before anyone reported him as missing. The last place anyone was known to have seen him was at a taxi rank three hundred metres round the corner. The last place he was known to have been going to was the nightclub Fortrose was parked outside right that very morning. Andrew Hawkins was not the type to go out of contact for long periods of time. He was not the type to miss work or disappear off on an impromptu holiday. He was a calm, collected individual who cared and lived for the simple things. For three weeks they had no leads to go on. There was no trace, no blurred image on a CCTV camera, no whisper of a man at tube station, no bank transactions, no hotels or flights in his name and no body. Andrew Hawkins had quite simply disappeared without a trace. That is, until half past eight last night.

A wallet had been handed in. It was an ordinary black wallet. Nothing special, no designer labels. The local station to this night life square thought little of it. Hundreds of wallets, phones and other lost personals were handed in every year. To them, at least at first, this was just another item to add to the pile. It was not until half past seven this morning that someone bothered to check inside the wallet for a name or contact number. To their surprise, the credit cards and driver’s license inside bore the name of none other than the very same Andrew Hawkins.

Fortrose pondered over another sip of his coffee, now slightly cooled by time. Piper was directing another group of police officers nearby. Fortrose felt his operation was in safe hands when Piper was with him. Piper was a friend of organization. Fortrose had only ever met him at parties.

“Do you want to go in, speak to the nightclub owner?”

Fortrose nodded and they walked side by side towards the nightclub door. The street around it was littered with the debris of the night before. Fortrose caught sight of a lost shoe and returned it a look of both confusion and disgust.

“How on earth do you forget one shoe?” Fortrose asked Piper, nodding towards exhibit A.

Piper exchanged a momentary look of bewilderment before realizing the object of discussion, “I have no idea sir, no idea.”

The entrance to the club was scarred with broken glass and chip shop paper. The floor was sticky as they walked across it. With the day lights all turned on, the club resembled anything but a night club. There was no atmosphere and everything was laid bare. The bar was merely a box of wood and the bottles that lined the cabinet at the back did not seem nearly as dangerously intoxicating as they might have done under the guise of night.

A woman in a smart black suit approached them, extending a handshake as she drew closer. Fortrose took it.

“Diane Thompson, manager…”

Fortrose was still staring around the club. The walls were decorated in a fancy floral wallpaper and the dancefloor was equipped with some sophisticated lighting and paneling. Chez longues lined the walls in a casual arrangement. A chandelier dangled from the ceiling.

“Quite an impressive place you’ve got here, Diane,” Fortrose complimented, “Bit old for me though, I think. My daughter – when she’s older – would love it.”

Diane smiled stiffly, clearly wanting to get to the point.

“I thought we were going to speak with the owner?”

“He had to leave,” Diane apologized, “So you’ve got me instead. Shall we?”

Diane pointed over to sofa and a coffee table near the bar.

They seated themselves. Fortrose wiggled around to get comfortable.

“So, I understand that a wallet was found? From some missing man?”

Fortrose nodded, but Piper cut in.

“Yes, yes we have. It was found just around the corner from here and according to his friends, this was where he was going to look for his wallet when he left them to get taxis back home. That was the last time anyone saw him.”

Diane surveyed them. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. My staff went through this the other week. Hundred of wallets get lost and stolen under this roof, not to mention how many of their owners go missing. I hardly see how one wallet causes all this commotion on Christmas Eve?”

Fortrose barged in before Piper could have a chance to retaliate, “How many times is the street around the corner cleaned? Once a week? How many homeless people do you think pass by during the course of a few days? No one picked this wallet up before now? Andrew told his friends that he was adamant that he’d left the wallet behind on the bar here and yet it was not here when we came around the first time. And now suddenly it is being picked up round the corner and handed into the police three weeks later? Someone had it.”

“Are you accusing one of my staff of keeping the wallet?”

“No, I’m saying someone’s withholding vital information.”

Diane and Fortrose exchanged a glower of animosity. Fortrose did not like the way she had tied her hair so tightly in a bun. It seemed to strangle her facial features, morphing what might have been a pretty face into an ugly one.

“I’d like to help you, I really would. But thousands of people come through these doors every week. I cannot say who is a regular and who is not. I can’t even name every one of my staff. It changes so regularly. I can provide you with a staff list, if you like, though?”

“Thank you, that would be most appreciated,” Piper thanked her, seeing Fortrose’s trembling upper lip from out of the corner of his eye.

“I’ll just get you a copy, please wait here…”

Diane got up and disappeared through a door behind the bar.

Fortrose and Piper sat in silence for a while. Fortrose was pondering on what Diane had been saying. Why would someone keep a wallet for all this time and throw it away right outside the building they worked in? Did it make sense, did it need to? Piper fiddled around with a folder of paper work that he seemed to be permanently attached to. He was riffling through notes, records and photographs. Fortrose spied the corner of a black and white photograph of Andrew Hawkins from the pile and sighed.

“What a lovely Christmas his folks will be having,” he muttered.

Piper was so intensely submerged in his reading that he could only grunt an acknowledgement that Fortrose had spoken.

Fortrose’s eyeline slipped from the photograph and he began to gaze into vacant space, “Happy Christmas.”

 

————————————————————————

 

Andy was isolated in complete darkness. All he could feel was the rope and the chair he had been bound to. A cloth had been wrapped tight around his eyes and his mouth had been taped shut. Hunger so ferocious was roaring inside of him. His thirst was desperate. His body ached with bruises and healing scars, but it was the fresh scars that hurt the most. That pain was the only thing that made the nightmare real. Weak and alone, Andy tried once more to slowly loosen the bonds…

 

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~ by S.G. Mark on December 25, 2011.

One Response to “Day 79 – Half Hour Hitman – Part 3”

  1. This is good. I’m imagining Diane as the boss woman from Better Off Ted.

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