New Directions (10)
By Ed Crane
When Dev asked, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ I knew I’d get sucked in if I couldn’t find a way out.
After his wife brought the tray with coffee and cookies for three, she settled in a chair next to her husband like a kid waited for a bedtime story. I didn’t see any point in making small talk for ten minutes so I let them have it.
‘You have a bit of a problem, Dev. Miss Bows is fine, but she’s been conned into paying rent to piece of dung calling himself David. It’s a scam.’
Dev stopped mid sip and slammed his cup down. Coffee slopped onto its saucer which I half expected to fall into two halves. Indignation widened his eyes and coloured his cheeks. ‘How can that be?’ tiny drops of coffee traced an arc before crash-landing on the table narrowly missing the bowl of biscuits.
There was no need to say anything. I handed him the fake letter and waited while he read it. Irina, still holding her coffee, leaned across to peak over Dev’s shoulder. He appeared to go over it several times, closely inspecting the Daniel & Sons header before passing it to Irina who also studied it. She even took a gander at the other side.
‘This is terrible . . . terrible. Dev looked really shaken, his face went from indignant red-brown to sickly yellow-brown. With his hand over his mouth he shook his head and took a deep breath then blew it out in a mini-explosion, ‘I can’t have this, shi-. This will look very bad for me. So embarrassing,’ the last word approaching soprano.
‘I’d expected him to be pissed, but not beside himself. I suppose the puzzlement I felt showed on my face, ‘What’s the matter, Dev?’
Irina leaned forward wearing a strange smile. Dev appeared temporarily catatonic. ‘My husband is a director on the board of the Daniels holding company. This puts him in a very awkward position.’
That was news to me, but it did solve my doubts about fifty rentals allowing him to afford such a luxurious roof. ‘I don’t see the problem, there can’t be any rule that prevents you using your own company’s services.’
Irina took on the role of spokesperson, ‘Dev is responsible for overseeing the running of Daniels & Son.’
‘Ah, if they found out he’d been moonlighting it wouldn’t look good.’
Dev woke up, ‘It wasn’t moonlighting, as you call it. It was an oversight. I had every intention of putting the cottage and two other recently acquired properties on Daniel’s list.’
‘But your boss will see it that way. Yeah I get it.’ That’s when Dev said it: we.
Faking the wrong impression I said, ‘Maybe both of you should keep quiet and take it to the police for some advice.’ Before I even said it I feel the rope tightening.
‘We can’t do that, Terence. Not the police.’
I had another shot at wiggling out. ‘Dev you asked me to find out why Celia wasn’t paying you. I did that. I’m just a bloke who bought three properties to rent with my savings to get a better return than the bank gave me. Now it seems I’m one of your clients. I’m not a private detective, Mate. I dunno what you expect me to do.’
‘But you know people.’
Now it was my turn to be pissed, ‘Who the fu—, told you that? Ah . . . “Mouth” O’Brian.’ I tried shaking my head for effect.
‘Isn’t there anything you can do to help?’ Irina jumped in making full use of her irresistible tear-filled Latin-American eyes.’ The hook went in.
‘I think the first thing to do is find out who this David rat is.’ I dug the bogus receipt from my pocket and pointed to the signature. ‘Start here.’
Hook image from wiki commons