Writing a book about a book – Day 35

Time now to bring in the police and this is in the form of Chief Inspector Gator, an odd sort of man who fits the mold of those ubiquitous policemen who don’t look like policemen but have a very sharp mind.

I guess watching too many Columbo episodes has had an effect on me.

The police officer who came to interview Aitchison arrived as I was leaving.   He nodded at me and announced himself as Chief Inspector Gator as I closed the door behind him.  My only thought of him was that he didn’t look like a policeman, and didn’t give him another thought.

Merrilyn’s expression had transformed into one of dismay, like the moment the sun went behind a cloud, and no doubt the result of learning Richardson’s fate.

“Shocking news isn’t it?” she said.

“Not good for the company.  Who found him?”

“One of the building security guards doing his rounds.  He literally fell over him, or so I heard.  There was a blackout or power failure and the lights failed to go back on.  We have been advised it was something to do with a circuit breaker.”

“So there was power everywhere, except that floor?”

“I don’t know.  But news has also just come through advising there was a burglary attempt in the basement computer storeroom.  No one can tell if any equipment has been stolen yet.  I’m sure you will be informed about it soon.”

“Another excuse for Benton to pester me,” I sighed.  “Security must have had a rough night last night.”

“That, and pleading that they are understaffed.  Mr. Aitchison thinks they are trying to use that as an excuse to draw attention away from their lack of responsibility.”  She looked at me with a serious expression, and lowered her voice, “I have to organize an emergency board meeting, and to be honest, I don’t know where to start.  On top of everything, Mr. Halligan is also dead, in tragic circumstances.  I could not imagine dying at home, alone.”

“It’s a terrible business.  By the way, I didn’t get that promotion.  You were right.  There’s a very long list ahead of me.  Until I am summoned again, try not to let it upset you.”

She tried to smile, but her heart was not in it.

When I stepped into the elevator and reached for the 18th-floor button, I realized I had acquired a case of the shakes.  Aitchison’s fear was infections, and perhaps I should have had a drink before I left his office.

As the doors closed, I felt a shiver go down my spine as a thought came into my head, the ramifications of which had many possibilities.  In the greater scheme of things, it would not have registered, not until now.

There was an instance when this new, or other, network could have been installed.

Some months ago we had the telephone system re-engineered to move away from the conventional land-based systems offered by the major Telcos and moved to VOIP, a less expensive option.  These new desktop phones, though looking exactly like those they replaced, used the network connection to run.

I had not been asked to supervise their installation, which had been done by a team of experts from the United States, flown out especially to do the work, and at the time, the whole building had been closed off for the entire weekend in order to carry it out.  I came in, just to make sure nothing on our network system had been compromised, but it would have been a perfect opportunity to lay down the foundations of another system.

Whether it was the case or not, the installation crew had given me full access to look over their work, and I’d not seen any indications of anything other than the installation of the telephones.  Of course, I was not looking for anything else, and it was possible they could install almost anything, and I would be none the wiser, simply because I was not a wiring expert.  Even if I looked now, I was not sure what I’d be looking for.

And then there was the ongoing office refurbishment, where whole floors were being evacuated, gutted, and rebuilt.  It had recently been our turn, but our renovation had one minor difference.  The refurbishment had worked around the server room.  It could not be moved or taken offline.

But during the renovation our movements to that floor and the server room had been restricted, and, at times, we had not been allowed near it.

Planned, coincidental, or something else.

Now away from Aitchison, I was able to think more rationally and consider the points he made.

It was common knowledge Halligan had a bad heart and scheduled to have surgery soon.  His death would not surprise some considering his workload and stress factor, and it was understandable he could have died of a heart attack.  The fact it had occurred now was probably the only reason why it appeared suspicious.

The question was, did Aitchison know more about Halligan than he was letting on?

The elevator arrived on my floor, and I sent those thoughts to the back of my mind.  I’d worry about them later.

© Charles Heath 2016-2023

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