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
My next call was to Severin, also a number on a card.
It rang five times before he answered. “Yes?”
No name, but I recognized the voice.
“It’s Sam Jackson.”
“You have found the USB?”
“No. But I did find the flat he was supposedly living in, and it’s a front. And so clean you could eat off the floor. Nothing there. And nothing to indicate where his real residence is.”
“That’s a shame.”
“So is the discovery that you are less than trustworthy. Explain why I should continue to help. I assume Maury is your attack dog, so if you’re sending him after me, then you don’t trust me.”
“I don’t trust anyone.”
No hesitation, this was a man to be very careful around.
“That’s fine, you obviously don’t need my help. And one more thing, if I see Maury again, you won’t.”
I disconnected the call.
“That was brave,” Jan said.
“No. Just a test to see how desperate they are. I’ll give it another minute before he calls back.”
It took two minutes.
“Perhaps I didn’t think through the consequences. Let’s take a step back and reconsider the situation.”
“If you’ve got Maury trying to trace this call, then it’s going to be a series of twenty-second calls. If I find O’Connell’s second residence or even the USB, and you continue to act in this manner you will be the last to be told.”
I hung up the phone again. Not enough time to trace the call.
“Are you deliberately trying to piss him off?”
“Do you think it’s working?”
“Angry people make mistakes. They made one huge mistake of killing O’Connell before they knew where the USB was. I’m sure they were hoping he would have it on him. He didn’t.”
My phone rang again.
“You forget I know where you live.”
“Where I used to live. It was getting a little cramped anyway. Call your attack dog off and give me some room to do my job. This phone is in the bin at the end of this call, so don’t bother tracing it. I’ve got your number. Just hope I decide to call you again.”
Call terminated, and a minute later sim removed and tossed down a drain.
“Do you want to call anyone?” I asked.
“Not yet. I’ve got nothing to report.”
“Your people might have an investigation going that might involve cyber currency, and O’Connell’s name might pop up. After all, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you were living next door”
She was trying to keep a neutral expression, but it didn’t work. She was next door for a reason, and it didn’t include looking after his cat. In fact, I was beginning to think that cat belonged to the building, and just stayed with whoever fed it.
“Despite what you might think, it was a coincidence, because after I moved in, I did a few background checks and his was too squeaky clean.
Of course, squeaky clean meant only one possibility, he had a cover identity made, and it only went back so far. Depending on the job, the background could be months old, or a year at the most.
“He was working undercover and didn’t exist three years ago. So the thing is, maybe he wasn’t investigating cyber currency, maybe he was stealing it, and someone took offense. But I never saw a computer in his flat, and you definitely need one of those if you’re a cryptocurrency trader. All I got to talk about was the cat.”
Since it’s hardly the subject you’d talk about with a neighbor, it was not surprising their discussions were mainly of domesticity.
“Was it his cat?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I think he said he found it in the flat when he arrived, and in feeding it, it just stayed. Cat’s don’t belong to people; you do realize that don’t you?”
“Never had one. And I didn’t see a cat there or signs of one.”
“I was looking after him while O’Connell was away, so he’s been in my flat.”
“Only it probably got tossed about the same time as they visited his, and if the cat had any sense, he’d run. Maury’s the sort who’d shoot the cat, just because it was there.”
“Perhaps we should go back and check. Why the sudden interest in the cat?”
“It’s the only tangible thing he owned. Sorry, he was attached to.”
“And you think the cat might be the clue?”
“Have you got a better idea?”
Not answering the question, was the answer.
“It might not be safe.”
“Then stay at the hotel and I’ll see you when I get back.”
She shook her head. “No, I’m going with you. Besides, you’ll need someone to watch your back.”
Or stab me in it if we found something.
© Charles Heath 2019-2020