Crape Myrtle (1)
Dan had a dream. He sat at his restaurant having a drink with two of his friends. Door opens…a weakened and beaten Hulk steps in. He sat down at a lonely table. When the waiter paused, Hulk ordered a cup of green tea, in fact, a very small cup. Door opens…and a man wearing a black cloak walks in. He ordered a large ale standing by the counter.
Door swung open and Captain America pushed in. He looked around and negotiated Hulk, “Are you going to give up now!” There was an air of eeriness.
Hulk returned apologetically, “I am tired. Let me have my cup of tea.” Captain America picked the cup and strewn in his face.
The door flew off its hinges and Thor came in in a rage, “Leave him alone!”
“How dare!” cried Captain America.
Spiderman slipped in between them and tapped his feet in mid hall. He saw the cloaked man standing at the counter and reached, “Do something, Batman!”
Captain America flung his shield throwing Hulk over the tables to land on his back in the rear wall. “You are a coward!” he cried.
At that instant, Superman pitched in the slashed doorway, “Settle for peace!” his arms folded. Spiderman shrugged nonsensically. His body movement showed.
“He doesn’t belong here!” cried The Captain.
“There’s no point to argue,” said Superman.
“You don’t look like a warrior!” Thor lashed his hammer. Captain America defended with his shield.
Hulk came alive roaring in his grating voice, his fists clenched. He began to knock the tables and kick the chairs. Spiderman tried to calm him down motioning in a gesture. Customers ran away.
Hulk walked out through the opposite wall. That breached a hole bringing down the entire wall almost. On the other side, Iron Man was setting up his gear with a cavalcade of military hardware assembled. Hulk began to pound them down. And Thor went after smashing heavy metal with his hammer. Iron Man didn’t even get a chance to wind an equipment.
Spiderman skipped out crawling on the ceiling. Superman got engaged with a reporter right outside the restaurant. Abruptly, someone came in looking for a door to knock. He wore a red suit from head to toe. Noises died as they ran away like seeing some fright.
“Who’s he?” asked Dan.
“Some…man!” uttered his friend.
And this ‘Some-Man’ with pinched eyes and thin face looked around carrying a flat briefcase. He reached Batman and left the case on the counter. He opened it full of American dollars.
Batman pulled out a schilling from a fanny pack and paid for the drink. He picked the black case and left the room quite calmly.
Dan woke up to find a letter slid under the door. A letter from the bank. It read, with the last remittance, that was a big amount to bring to neutral, bank decided to close his account. He was broke.
Dan Nielsen was running his restaurant business in San Francisco on ODs; overdraft accounts. With this he was unable to pay rent and overhead bills. Then came a foreclosure when the landlord demanded the property. He eventually began to pack.
There came this new party that the landlord was negotiating with to lease his property. They were Chinese with pinched faces. Some-Man who carried a lot of dough. They pinched his business.
With the new economic reform plans, it cut taxes to the wealthy. Still, lower income business owners paid 28% as tax. Investors came from everywhere offering big money. In San Francisco, they were the Chinese.
Back at home in Solana Beach City, Dan Nielsen sat back listening to an old hit, ‘How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?’ by Patti Page. Going through some yellow pages, he obtained a job at a school as a temporary tennis coach. Dan was a good tennis player. He spent spare time as a lifeguard on the beach.
Then, one day, he came across an advertisement of a storage auction in San Diego. He enlisted.
First day, it went very well. He grabbed a bin with restaurant furniture. With the right connections, he sold them to a customer in San Francisco to earn a profit. Next day, he wasn’t able to find a bin. The light was fading. He desperately bid for one of the last two bins.
The auctioneer said, “This bin holds items from a circus in Corpus Christi.” The red lock was cut and the door rolled up. They were staring at their own awkward images reflected on a row of distorting mirrors. Dan took a step closer and it appeared as if he kicked his face with his foot. They could barely see inside filled of cardboard boxes.
Having faced with a couple of rivalries, he didn’t let it go. Dan bid hard and claimed at USD 950. “Way too high!” cried a bidder.
Dan got no cash left to bid for the last bin of the day. One regular claimed it at USD 1900 defeating two of Dan’s rivalries. He rolled out a brand-new Lamborghini. However, it was a replica of a white Countach LP400 built in Brazil with a V12 engine. It gave perfect ‘vroom’ he felt under the skin.
Dan arrived home with his items. He could find nothing worth but a pile of junk gathered in his backyard. Mardi Gras costumes, some musical instruments in good condition, pom-poms and props, mirrors and ropes. He’d need a buyer.
Then he dug out a hard camera case from one of the boxes. Dan opened it to find a Canon AE-1 camera, an FD mount 200 mm zoom lens, a normal lens, a wide-angle lens and some accessories. The padding was gone. There were piles of sheets holding negative strips in the sleeves, a few fashion magazines, some kraft paper envelopes full of photographs, a handful of undeveloped Kodachrome, some highly embroidered and transparent ladies’ panties and a black masquerade mask with purple feathers.
Dan glanced at a stack of photographs. In one of the packs, it showed a façade and people passing through the door. There was a photograph of a placard signifying a ‘Hulsen & Quinn Attorneys at Law’.
Another stack of photographs portrayed a large man with white hair, reddish cheeks and blue eyes. And his car; a deep emerald green Lincoln Mark VII with North Carolina’s ‘First in Flight’ license plate reading TAC-495. It showed that the photographer was following this man covertly. There were no dates or notes on the prints.
Another collection exhibited an elegant mansion with stucco walls standing by a scenic street with trees in the sidewalks. Its premise contained a garden covered of camellia bushes and a swimming pool. Interior wasn’t in the photographs. The Lincoln Mark was pulled back in a side path between two houses.
Amongst other things, he knocked a 10 ml bottle containing 99% nicotine and a hypodermic syringe. There were newspaper cuttings that highlighted the mentioning of women who died.
Dan took the case to the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station. Here the police obtained copies of all documents from the storage facility entitled to a Joseph Fellon. Lease Agreement, Application Forms, letters of notices sent via mail to the client before entering a default and to auction; 120 days impounding. They couldn’t reach Fellon.
Captain Jean Mayron said, “If San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is not interested, we hire a private investigator to find about this case. Where’s that East boy who left us a year ago? I hear he has an investigation firm. What was his name?”
“She was fired,” corrected Jonathan Simms.
“Of course,” the captain frowned, “he was fired because, Jon, our boys were messing with him. Oh daddy! He was not a she!”
“Her name is Natalia. I don’t ever remember her real name. Something like ‘sarin’ ending with ‘porn’. She runs a karate class in San Diego. Actually, Muay Thai.”
“As you say,” muttered the captain, “this chap is good at interpreting this kind of stuff. Call him. Ask if he can dig something. Find who’s behind the camera.”
“She is a working girl,” defined Simms, “Are you sure about this?”
“I guess so,” replied the captain, “we can’t waste our time. We ask for a manifest, not an investigation. Pay him under ‘stranger-danger’. If he finds some connection to deep water, we take over.”
Natalia Phol arrived in a Ford Bronco SUV. She was a stunt driver and a speedster too. She stood 5’ 4” in height, a diamond-cut face, long black hair and physique that belonged to an average woman though the boobies were fake. Sheriff’s office assigned her to the case.
She studied the items thoroughly and reached a disturbing conclusion. Whoever behind the camera was following a murderer. She insisted to carry on with the case. Sheriff’s office gave her a green signal thoughtfully provided that she’d do voluntarily. She couldn’t claim the case or a payment. Captain Mayron said, “We’ll be here to back you if you need help.”
Natalia found that the syringe and needle never being used. There were fingerprints everywhere. She was able to distinguish two different thumb prints. One that left imprints everywhere and obviously the possessor of the contents that she coded as ‘Kit’. The other’s appeared strong and fewer that she dubbed as ‘Kat’.
She sensed the whole puzzle in her hand. It only required to put the pieces together. She even got a picture of a man to follow. Sheriff’s office provided an FBI posted profile on him.
His name was Thomas Avon Cyril, born October 13th, 1945, in Raleigh, NC, to Anton and Sinéad Cyril who were tobacco estate owners; a family business following for many generations. Cyrils grew up with grandparents whose ancestors were known as slave traders. Years ago, Thomas lost both of his parents, survived by two sisters and two brothers. Thomas was the eldest. The estates fell under their ownerships and he became a billionaire.
The house on Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina, was purchased by the Cyrils in 1969 and ran a bed and breakfast. In 1980, Sinéad died and this historic house that survived 200 years of wars, earthquakes and hurricanes just stood bare. Anton Cyril died in 1983 and Thomas inherited this six-million-dollar mansion.
“Six million dollars!” grumbled Natalia, “Way too high for an old house!” Only thing that distracted was her voice.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Simms.