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 prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Chasing leads, maybe
Collecting the car was easy because it was not kept near my flat. I could not afford to park nearby, and couldn’t get a permit to park on the street. I had cursed my bad luck at the time, but now it was very useful.
I spend a few hours resting in the car, stopping along the way at a park, and then, well past nightfall, I drove to the block in Oakwood Avenue, easily recognizable from the exterior photo also provided by the realtor.
Twice around the block, I stopped around the corner, past the block, and noted that I could walk back and then take cover from the trees and shrubs growing in front of, and around the building. To reach the right flat, I would have to pass down the inner side towards the rear where, hopefully, there might be a door.
Otherwise, it would have to be the hard way.
At 00:45, I left the car, and walked back to the block, keeping an eye out form people walking, or looking out their windows on either side of the street. Then, satisfied I hadn’t been seen, I ducked through the trees and quickly walked the distance from the front to the side where I stopped and waited. After a few minutes, and nothing had stirred, I started down the side of the building.
Several flats had lights on, but the curtains were drawn. Being the ground floor, I doubted whether those curtains would be open at night. It didn’t take long to be alongside the flat in question.
It was in total darkness, and the curtains had been drawn.
First problem. There was no back door. The traditional entry point would be the front door, and no doubt there was a communal back door as well. Next, I checked the windows, and those that I could see were complete glass and non-opening. Worse still they had a metal grilled across them to deter thieves.
Near the corner, leading to the rear of the building was a window, higher up and ajar. By its location, I guessed this was the bathroom or the toilet. I was hoping for the former.
It took a few minutes to unlatch the window and several more to scramble up the wall, and it through the window opening, which wasn’t much wider than me. I had to be careful not to drop any of the bottles on the inner ledge.
Once down of the other side, inside the room, it was a narrow bathroom, without a bath, and almost impossible to see. I fixed the window and put everything back on the ledge, just in case someone did a circuit of the building at a security measure.
Once inside, and after one in the morning, little stirred.
I could just faintly hear the flat owners above, hardly enough noise to be concerned about, and bringing a thought; shouldn’t they be asleep like everyone else.
It was certainly a quiet neighborhood.
I brought a small torch from the car with me and sparingly used it to find my way around. When my eyes got used to the semi-darkness, I found that the flow from small lights of appliances adequately lit the rooms.
It had two bedrooms, one empty and being used as a storeroom, a lounge room, a dining area, and the bathroom, and kitchen area. It was big enough for a couple, or even a couple with one child.
Inside what I assumed was the front door, I found several letters shoved under the door. They were addressed to Mr. Adam Quinley.
I hoped that I’d not made a mistake and broken into a flat belonging to another person. O’Connell didn’t see to me to be a Quinley, because it was an unusual name.
The dates on the letters went back a week and told me whoever the flat belonged to, they hadn’t visited it for a while. I went back to the lounge room and over to a desk. There were the familiar cords leading to no computer, but there was a printer. It meant he had a laptop he carried with him.
A laptop that no one had found. It suggested to me that he had it somewhere near him, perhaps in a car, which may be still parked in a garage, or parking station somewhere.
I searched through the neat pile of documents on the desk, and in a folder marked ‘Accounts’ and found one for the car registration, in the name of Quigley. I noted the registration and type of car, and just in case I forgot it, folded the piece of paper and put it in my pocket. It would be the subject of my next search if nothing showed up.
The next half hour I made a thorough search of the flat and found nothing of use. I checked for all the spots he might have hidden the USB, but it was not there. He had kept it somewhere else.
Done, I left the flat by the front door, and for good measure, checked his mailbox, outside, and found a number of letters. I took them and would look at them back in the car. Just as I made the tree line to walk back, a car stopped outside the building.
The door opened and I watched the driver get out of the car, stop and look up and down the street, then walk towards the front door,
By chance, the occupant of the flat above the door switched on a light in the room which, uncurtained, spilled out to shed light on the person now at the front entrance.
I recognized her immediately, just before the light was switched off and darkness took over.
It was Jan.
© Charles Heath 2020