Motive, means, and opportunity – Episode 4

Bryson goes to Bergman’s workplace

The address for Avondale Traders Inc, the Bergman company was in 47th Street, Brooklyn, near the old docks, certainly not far from the water.  A quick check on the internet showed that the company was in Imports and Exports though it didn’t specifically say what, or where from or where to.

And when he saw the block, it looked reasonably new and perhaps not the most expensive piece of real estate there.  Bergman’s office was on the third floor, a trip up in the elevator and along a narrow passageway.

The door had a ‘Please Enter’ sign on it, so Bryson did just that.  Inside was a desk, but no one sitting at it.  The office was open plan with several desks and a partitioned area at the end where he suspected Bergman sat.  There was another area, smaller, next to it, with a woman standing in front of the desk, delivering papers.

When the door closed, she turned to see who it was.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” she said, finished putting the papers on the desk, then came back.

“What can I do for you?”

“Detective Bryson, New York Police Department.  I’m here about James Bergman.”

“He’s not in at the moment, in fact, I think he’s away for a few days.  I can check, if you like?”

“I’m not here to see him.  I regret to inform you that he was found deceased this morning, and I am investigating what could be a suspicious death.”

He let that sink in, and noted that it didn’t seem to affect her as it possibly should have.  It was not every day you were told your boss died in suspicious circumstances.

“To be honest,” she said, “I’m not surprised.”

Her response and lack of emotion surprised him.  “How so?”

“The people he dealt with, well, some of them.  Very interesting for want of a better word, people coming and going.  I didn’t ask, and he didn’t enlighten me which was just fine.  If you’ve seen his wife, she would be happy he’s gone.”

“I have.  Is there a reason for the bad feelings?”

“I’m not one to spread rumours, but he had affairs.  Wanted me to arrange his liaison and I refused.  I don’t approve of cheating.  Probably one of the husbands done him in.  They sometimes turned up here looking for him.”

Interesting point, he noted.

“If you’ve got names, it would be helpful.  Is there anyone else who would want to hurt him?”

“A dozen or so business rivals.  Fellow importers he stripped of their suppliers, and/or their customers.  Other than the jilted husbands.  Ruthless, and without scruples.”

She sat down at the desk and started her computer, found a document, and then printed it.  When it finished printing, she gave it to Bryson.

It had at least thirty names on it.  “After the first few turned up at the door spitting blood, I took down their names just in case.”

“Out of curiosity, if he’s so bad, why are you still here?”

“Great pay, great hours, I don’t live far away, and he’s rarely here,”

“Anyone else work here?”

“His business partner, James Anderson.  He’s not here, he’s currently in Manila negotiating a new supplier contract, won’t be back until the end of the week.  I should tell him about the boss.  I’m sure you’ll want to speak to him.”

“If you give me his number, I can talk to him first.”

“OK.  I’m not quite sure how I was going to do it.  Better from you anyway.”  She gave him a post it note with the name and cell number on it.

“What exactly do you import or export here?”

“Anything and everything.  From anywhere except China.  He didn’t like doing business with the Chinese.”

Bryson had been making notes through the interview and checked his list of items to ask.  The cell phone.

“Is Bergman’s cell phone here?”

“Why would it.  He takes it with him.  In fact, I know he has two.  I can check.” 

Bryson nodded and watched her go to his office and search.  Neither were there.  But having two was interesting.  Why?

When she came back, the next item, “Do you know where he was going yesterday?”

He watched her pull up his diary on the computer.  “Nothing.  I’m sure there was an entry there, but he must have erased it, or it was cancelled.  It may have been a meeting with his lawyer over the divorce settlement.  It was getting very acrimonious.  She might have killed him, she came here and threatened him several times.”

Not a surprising action for a woman being cheated on, Bryson thought.

“Does the name Phillip Megarry mean anything to you?”

A change in expression.  “That’s the name he once asked me to book his hotel rooms.  I suspect it’s the name he uses when he meets other woman.  I don’t think he’s used it lately, but then, he doesn’t tell me everything he does these days.  I suppose this means I’m out of a job now.”

“That would be up to his beneficiaries, if he made a will. The lawyer handling his divorce, you know who it is?”

Another post it note and a name and number, and, “The only person who would kill him for his money is his wife.  Other than that, like I said, some angry husband.

© Charles Heath 2019-2023

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