A very interesting dinner party
Larry saw them first, and from his stance, and expression, it looked to me like he had seen a ghost.
It was not a ghost, but two women, one easily identified as Cecilia in a khaki soldier uniform, with the sniper rifle over her shoulder, and another, and perhaps the more interesting of the two, Jaime.
I heard Larry mutter under his breath, “What the fuck is she doing here.”
Whilst I would not have used the same words, I did wonder why she was here.
They both stopped at the threshold of the patio. Curiously, the only two people not fazed by either presence seemed to be Brenda and Larry’s mother.
“I see the gang’s all here.” Jaime had a smile on her face like it was a party and she was late. She looked at me. “You can still surprise me. It was a good thing I turned up late otherwise you’re friend here might have had a problem.”
“I had them covered,” Cecilia said, a little defiant.
A close inspection showed Cecilia was rather disheveled and sporting a few abrasions. The question was who she had been scrapping with.
As I swiveled towards Larry, Jaime said, “the rest of your crew are feeling somewhat sorry for themselves, and, last I saw, are being taken away by the local police.”
Cecilia came over to stand next to me.
Larry asked, “What were you going to do with that weapon?”
“Shoot you if all else failed. I had the shot.”
“Let me guess. Jaime convinced you not to.”
“Only because she wants to do it herself. Fine with me, because I hate shooting people. Even scum like you.”
I was not sure if Larry was upset over being labeled scum, or if she had been prepared to shoot him. I was still trying to understand what was happening.
Brenda looked in the mother’s direction, “Can you take the children into the other room. We need some grownup time.”
Whilst none of them wanted to leave the room, curious at the turn of events, especially the son, they reluctantly joined the mother and went out of the room.
It took a minute, maybe a little longer to finally figure out the dynamic in the room. There had been several, I wouldn’t call them furtive but knowing, looks between Brenda and Jaime, not as if they were foes, but friends. The same could be said for Larry’s mother, and putting the pieces together I realized I had been used as a pawn in a plan to isolate Larry.
Although I didn’t think it was likely, it seemed to me that Jaime had made overtures to Larry rather than the other way around, gained his trust, got him to put his stuff in her warehouse, informed on him, and gotten herself raided so she had a degree of plausible deniability. That would give her the opportunity to shift the blame to Larry, earning him a place on the most wanted list, and being out of the country at the time was a bonus. Before all this, either Brenda or his mother had arranged for him to come and see her, thus effectively isolating him from his organization, and coincidentally more guilty.
So, what was the reason for me attending the interview, other than to reinforce Larry’s criminality, and use Rodby to fire up the local police? How could she know about Rodby … unless, of course, she had been speaking to Larry’s mother to whom I let slip was interested in her son.
Then the timing of all this happening was of interest because they could all have moved on this ten years ago right after Trevor’s untimely death, but, I guess, they had to wait until the inheritance came due. The death of Larry’s brother, and the upcoming distribution of his father’s assets, seemed to be the catalyst for what now appeared to be a bloodless coup.
And with Larry out of the way, it would all go the Brenda, or perhaps the mother. The terms of the will would make very interesting reading.
The next question was whether Jaime was taking over, with the consent of both the mother and daughter-in-law? Or was the daughter-in-law taking over from the incompetent son? Or would they all be running the operation together?
The questions were piling up.
“I can see this situation is somewhat perplexing for both you and Larry,” Brenda said to me.
“I’ve just been reading between the lines, and if it is what I think it is, then it’s well played.”
“You have nothing to fear from us,” Jaime said. “You, too, had a problem, and Christina wanted to do something for you after you helped her out of a tricky situation. Things will be different from now on, and you might be interested to know I made arrangements with the Detective Inspector as you suggested.”
I was watching Larry the whole time and he was definitely at a loss, not quite comprehending what was happening simply because to him it would be incomprehensible that women were capable of doing anything.
Brenda added, “Larry has been staggering from disaster to disaster, but there is only so much one can put up with before something had to be done. Jaime came to see me about a year ago and proposed a mutually advantageous merger, and that she would take care of Larry. We let him think he was running things but really, he hasn’t had a say in the business for about six months now. The old ways are no longer useful, violence only brings attention to our business, the attention we don’t need or want. Sorry Larry, but you are surplus to requirements.”
Larry had, over the course of the last few minutes looked both astonished, angry, about to unleash a torrent of abuse, and appearing to think twice about it. To be honest, I could not imagine what he was thinking.
But it did make his obsession of wanting to wreak vengeance on me a rather sorry footnote to a long and useless career in crime. I could almost want to believe his wife had sidelined him out of pity, but a practical person would say it was out of self-preservation. How he managed to keep out of jail was a minor miracle.
But it was true, he had been leading them down a very dangerous path, bringing unwanted attention to his own organization, and now, in the case of Jaime Meyers, others too. What I saw now was a new brand of criminality, and it was going to be a lot harder to deal with.
“This is a joke, of course,” he finally said. “Who put you up to it, tell me who it is, and I make him regret the day he was born.”
It was still inconceivable to him that Brenda could be smarter than him.
“And that, Larry, is exactly the reason you have to go.” It was a statement delivered by Jaime in a manner that sent shivers down my spine.
To me, she said, “as much as I would like you to stay and get to know you better, I think it’s time you and your friend left. The less you know about what happens next, the better for you. Just be happy in the knowledge that your problem will be dealt with, swiftly and permanently.”
“Then I can go back to retirement?”
“Definitely. I am sorry to hear about your recent loss. You can tell Juliet when you see her that her brother has been released, and she is no longer obligated to Larry. Tell her very few people get a second chance.”
“Indeed.” I looked at Cecilia.
“Let’s go. I’ve got an audition for that mercenary role tomorrow, and I think I know exactly how I’m going to play it.”
“Then until we meet again,” I said to Jaime.
“That is not very likely.”
“In my experience, never say never.”
© Charles Heath 2022