15.2 A Load of Crapes
She reached North Flannery Road and made way across the highway to the south until she came to rest at Metro café on Old Hammond.
Three-thirty in the afternoon, she ordered a dish and sat down beside a window considering the fact that she came across Rosemary Handley who could help find Wellinois if she insisted. There were Crapes around. And this Fellon fellow was mean.
Natalia took a bite when the door opened and a short man stepped in the doorway, stepped aside to let a couple out and entered the café. Noth Wellinois made his appearance just like that; a miracle.
She wiped her hands on the napkin and watched him carefully. He bought a packet of candy and walked out.
“Mr Wellinois!” she called.
“Mr Noth! I am Natalia. We have to talk.”
“Talk!” he murmured.
“Yes, we need to talk. This way please!”
“Please!” She ushered him like a child across the ground to her Bronco with its door left open. She already reclined and slid forward the front seat…manually.
“What talk?” he asked.
“Fellon!” she pattered below, “Joseph Fellon!”
“No, I do not want to talk.”
“No miss, I go.”
“Noth! You are not going anywhere!” she gave a bodily push to squeeze him in between the door. “Tell me do you know Joseph Fellon!” Natalia pushed him into the backseat in the narrow cabin and clambered behind to sit next to him after removing a storage basket from the seat and stacking it in the trunk.
“I don’t know, ma’am!”
“Noth! Where did you take the camera case while in San Diego?”
He looked at her resoundingly.
“Go on! Tell me, where did you put the case?”
“I do not know. I must go!” He pulled up sharply and she dropped him back, her fist clasped around his golden watch.
“Charlie,” he said.
“Why did you take it in a different name?”
“No talk, miss, please, I have to go!”
“He wants to retrieve it. Joseph looks like me. He can collect it later with his Driver’s License.”
“His face cut, looks like me. Now, I go!”
“No,” said Natalia, “You hid the camera case in a box. Who gave you the case?”
He got up from the seat and threatened to leave. Natalia had to shove him back. She reached over the back seat, opened a tiny storage compartment in the trunk and pulled out an envelope. She shook off a black and white photograph and turned to face him.
He sat staring for a long moment and mumbled, “Grandma!”
“Which one’s your grandma?” Natalia passed the photo to him.
“This is my grandma,” he pointed on the photo.
“Who else are there?” she asked.
“Uncle Edward, Uncle Edmond and Aunt Maria,” he suddenly burst into tears, “I didn’t expect my mom to die so soon…”
Natalia rested for him to cry. She picked the tape recorder and switched on, “Noth, it’s alright now. Tell me, who gave you the camera case?”
“I can’t say,” he sobbed.
She passed a box of tissues, “You can trust me. It’s better you talk to me. I won’t tell anyone. Nobody will know if you tell me now.”
“Why did you put it in the bin?”
“I forgot,” he wiped his tears and spoke, “Circus split up between Charlie and Frankie. Charlie wanted me to go to New Mexico with him to take care of things. They sold the animals in San Diego.”
“Why didn’t Fellon take the items to the bin?”
“They went to Ramona with the animal caravan. Joseph had to go. I stayed with a trailer in San Diego. They asked me to take the items to a storage bin.”
“Who is Frankie?”
“Franklin Crape. A relative in Corpus Christi.”
“Who took the photos of 69 Church Street?”
“Paul,” he said.
“Did you take him there?”
“Why did Paul give you the camera case?”
“On a flight arriving at Baton Rouge, he wanted me to hold the case for him. He left from the airport on a business matter saying he’d collect it later. And later he said to keep it until he asks.”
“Did you look at the photos?”
“Who took a photo of your car in Forsythe Park?”
“That was Miss Klutz.”
“Heidelinde! Does your mother know them?
“Why were you there with Paul Clancy?”
“He wanted me to drive his mechanic to Whiting. Paul was there when we arrived.”
“The Colombian! Why must he go to Whiting?”
“He went to repair a boat in Lake Michigan.”
“Did you meet your half-brother, Savon Martin?”
“Were you there when he died?”
“No, I came back before a month or two.”
“Did Paul Clancy and Curtis stay back?”
“Yes,” Wellinois nodded.
“Did you go to your brother’s funeral?”
“Yes. Very few attended.”
“You went alone?”
“I went with George.”
“Does George know him?”
“No. I wanted to fly. He said he’d go.”
“Is there anyone who knows your mother?”
“Aunt Madeleine in Dillon. She’s very old and ill.”
“Edward’s wife! Do you see her?”
“Yes, I went there last month.”
“Do you remember your Granduncle Edward?”
“Was Paul there at the funeral?”
“They were in Chicago. George joined him there. I flew back alone after Mrs Hudson’s funeral.”
“You know Laura Hudson and Cindy Lockwood! They signed witness to your will!”
“Where was the Colombian?”
“In Mr Quinn’s boat.”
“Yes, in Whiting, Lake Michigan.”
“What do you know about him?”
“He smokes tobacco. He’s colour-blind.”
“Well, George and Paul are friends. Did they talk to you about the will?”
“I told George that my mother keeps a will. Then he insisted I should keep one for myself.”
“Your mother just did it because you asked?”
“My mother is a very quiet person.”
“Then Paul Clancy arranged a law office for you, right! How did he get 69 Church Street?”
He dropped his gaze.
“Tell me, Noth, this is very important.”
“George wants to sell the house to Paul,” he said, “he promised three million dollars each,” he looked up at her, “he gave us half a million.”
“When was it?”
“His boat gear was there before that!”
“Yes,” he nodded, “I allowed Paul to keep them in the outbuilding.”
“Where is the money?”
“You trust them, don’t you!” uttered Natalia, “Do you not keep a bank account?”
“I do but it’s a large sum. George kept the money in his bank to manage it for me. I can’t read…” he glanced out of the window.
“I see! What about the other part?”
“He said he will pay when he sells the house.”
“He is selling the house for nine million. Do you know that?”
“My goodness! You need a lawyer!”
“I thought Mr Quinn was our lawyer,” he began to cry, “They killed my mother…”
“And Savon too,” whispered Natalia. “Noth, tell me, did you meet Heidelinde Klutz?”
“Paul said to come to Forsythe Park, Miss Klutz was there with him. I dropped Curtis and then he told me I could go home.”
“When was it?”
He nodded, “I met her after that in Annaville at Sacar a la Luz, Frankie’s motel.”
“What was she doing there?”
“I don’t know. George took her there. She stayed for about three months.”
“Did you meet Thomas Cyril?”
“Yes, at the court in Charleston.”
“Do you know what’s going on?”
He nodded and dropped his head.
“Noth,” Natalia said, “these are some photos I’ve stolen from your great-grandma’s album with somebody keeping it. You can keep them now.”
“I will come back. Where can I find you?”
“Oh my gosh! Let me help you out!” she climbed down, “Take care!”
“Thank you, ma’am!” He stood baffled to watch her go.
Natalia reached the hotel and climbed down. She paused to roll up the window…manually. And slammed the door close with a loud ‘chock’. She glanced at the car that got sprayed of dirt. There were three other sparkling cars in front of the hotel. “Damn! I have to wash this!”
“I will do it for you,” said the valet.
“Thank you,” she gave him fifty dollars.
Before going to the room, she entered King Bar to indulge in a drink. She called Angela, “I’m all done and set to go to Corpus Christi. I’ll be there by Tuesday. You can fly on Wednesday. See you at the airport!”