Motive, means, and opportunity – Episode 7

Detective Bryson talks to Richard Hollingsworth

The first order of business, once Bryson arrived back in the office, was to call Richard Hollingsworth.  At 6:30 pm where he was, it would be about that in the morning.  Bright and early, just the time to catch people off guard.

He dialled the number.

It took twelve rings, almost to the point where the answering service kicked in, but a sleepy Hollingsworth answered, “Yes?”

“Richard Hollingsworth?”

“Who is this, and do you realise what time it is?”

“My name is Detective Bryson from the NYPD.  I’m calling to advise you if you do not already know, that your employer, James Bergman died as a result of a gunshot wound yesterday.  I am sorry for your loss.”

“Gunshot wound?  Dead?  This is not a prank, is it?”

“Why would you ask that?”

“Crank calls at the office.  Bergman wasn’t exactly a well-loved person.  And, to be candid, I’m not surprised.”

A sentiment held by nearly all those who worked with him or were close to him.  This Bergman seems to be a bad piece of work with a lot of enemies.

“May I ask a few routine questions so we can get an idea about the man and his business?”

“It’s early, but I’m awake now.  Go ahead.”

“What is your role in the company?”

“He makes the deals with the suppliers, and I go and fill the orders in person, and arrange for the shipping.  Can’t trust these people to do anything correctly, or economically.”

“The office PA says you are in Manila?”

“Yes.  Been here for a week, and it’s driving me up the wall.  I’m due to return in two days’ time.  I’m not sure what I’ll be returning to.”

“Why do you say that?”

“The company is all but bankrupt.  Stacy, my sister, has been taking funds from the accounts and basically left very little for operating expenses.  No doubt you are aware she is divorcing him.  It’s very acrimonious.  What she’s been doing had to be illegal.”

A note, Stacy has been embezzling funds, with the hope of destroying the business?

Can you think of anyone who would want to kill him?

“Just about every husband on the planet.  And a few business rivals.”

That sounded like what he had heard from the PA and he had to wonder f she hadn’t called him the moment he walked out of the office so they could get their stories straight.

“Do you know what he was doing the last few days?”

“No.  He doesn’t tell me anything unless it impacts what I’m doing.”

“Was he due to go on a break or holiday?”

“Not that I’m aware of.  Have you spoken to Ann in the office yet?  She had access to his diary, though he doesn’t always write stuff down because I think he conducts some of his personal business during the day.”

“When you say personal business, you mean liaisons with women?”

“Not for me to say, but one time when I rang him, he was definitely not at work?”

“Would you know the name of his current girlfriend?”

“Ask my sister.  She put a tribe of private detectives on his tail to see what he’s up to and she has reams of reports and dozens of photographs.  She’s obsessed with taking him down, one way or another.”

“Would she kill him?”

A brief moment of silence.  If he has to think about it, Bryson thought, then he must think she might be capable.

“Yes, but she wouldn’t use a gun.  After all isn’t a woman’s method of murder, poison.  she’d definitely poison him.  But, in this instance, no.  She needs him alive to suffer the humiliation she was planning to put him through.  Him and his latest unknown woman.  Like I said, ask her.  She knows everything.”

“One last item.  You say the company is bankrupt.”

“All but.  He was in the process of getting Chapter 11.  You might want to talk to his lawyer.  Ann will have it.  Is that all?”

“For the time being.  Thank you.”

© Charles Heath 2019-2023

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