I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Nothing good ever comes of snooping
Why didn’t it surprise me that he was playing all ends against the middle if that was the expression? But it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he was one step ahead of me.
But, he could have trusted me with more information so that I could help him find the files. Perhaps that was because he feared Severin might track me down, as he had, and, if I had found them, run the list of losing them to his foe.
I was still on the fence about who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side, or whether they were both of questionable character. What made it difficult to understand was how Severin could run an operation inside the organisation. Surely someone knew about it, or from a high level, sanctioned it?
Knowing I would not be interrupted this time. I went back up to the third floor, and into O’Connell’s flat, a simple job since the front door was still unlocked. The girl had assumed it was not of value to them which told me she had already searched the place before being attacked.
It also meant, if she was attacked, Severin, or someone like him, had paid the O’Connell residence a visit.
Just in case anyone was likely to return, or there was another party interested in O’Connell, I locked the door from the inside. At least no one had yet crashed through the door, smashing the lock and timber.
I stood in the middle of the main room, and did a slow 360-degree turn, looking at everything intently. The thing with searches like this, it was more likely the object of any search was hidden in plain sight. The usual places, such as freezer sections of fridges stashed in bottles or packets in the pantry, under beds, inside mattresses, pillows, or blankets, or with a form of glue on the inside of televisions or computers, would prove fruitless.
We were taught to hide things such as USB sticks where they would be least expected to be found, such as a toy on a keyring, tossed in a bowl of pens, pins, clips, or other small insignificant items that all looked uninteresting.
My first thought was in the pocket of a coat in the closet, but all of his clothes were strewn over the floor in the bedroom and showing signs of being turned out. Perhaps they had thought like me.
There was no keyring in the kitchen or the bedroom, no was there any sort of stand inside the door, a place to put mail, and other items such as keys. If there were any, they would have been on him when Severin had him killed. I had found, not felt, any in his pockets.
Next I thought a hidden compartment. I was not going to predict he had a safe in the flat, but just in case, I did search fairly thoroughly where one might be located. The cheap watercolour on the wall hid nothing but some discoloured wallpaper.
I checked all of the skirting boards, and inside walls of the robes, but there was nothing. I also checked the robes thoroughly for false backs, or sides, or compartments hidden in the roof. The floor was made out of wood, so I checked to see if there were any loose boards, but in the end, considered that was a ruse used only in the movies and television.
An hour later, I was no wiser as to where it could be, if at all, in the flat, but, looking around, it was certainly now a little more organised because in checking everything in case the previous searchers had missed anything, I’d put everything neatly in stacks.
And, no, there was nothing under the bed. The previous searchers had thought of that too.
In one corner of the main room there was a desk that had been completely turned out, papers were strewn everywhere. There had been a computer, now missing, because there was a cable running from the printer, and a power cable in the wall, both running into thin air.
The papers yielded nothing of interest, other than he was researching a holiday to Russia and Poland.
A break. There was a significant other. I made a more serious search of the papers that I’d gathered up off the floor and found another shred. A name Jan scribbled on several sheets of paper.
Did she also live in this block? Did she work at the same place? There were a hundred variations of that theme, but it was a start. He might have trusted the USB to her safekeeping without telling her what it was, and it was possible she didn’t know he was dead.
I’d noticed that O’Connell’s death had been reported as a John Doe on the wrong end of a mugging, and received a small dismissive paragraph on page seven where it was reported the body was missing when police went to investigate and only discovered a pool of blood, along with several other crimes of which police were seeking further information. That alley hadn’t any CCTV cameras, so Severin knew he could easily shoot O’Connell without anyone knowing it was him.
There was nothing else of interest in the documents, other than the holiday, if it was a holiday, was to be in a month’s time.
My work was done. I had a lead. It was time to leave.
Except for one small problem. Someone was knocking on the door.
© Charles Heath 2019