Just who is this Alexander Bergman?
Bryson was fully aware that you can only get answers to the questions according to what you know about a victim. It’s why no one told him about Bergman having any military service or anything that might be relevant outside his usual business, and affairs.
A conversation between Worthey and Bergman’s daughter raised the possibility of military service, most likely in the Army, and equally likely somewhere in the Middle East, but a follow-up conversation between Worthey and her over the phone produced no further results.
It did yield one more interesting fact, that the daughter was from an earlier rather brief marriage and that Sandra had remained with the mother and had known nothing about her father until the mother had died and left his details in a letter to be given to her.
Her acquaintance with him had been relatively brief, six months at most, and in that time, she had failed to find out anything about him other than he was selfish and inconsiderate, and that it was no surprise her mother had not told her about him.
She was surprised to learn that he had made her a beneficiary of his will, not that it would amount to much.
Bryson then moved on to his most recent spouse, Stacy. She had been number four. The most she could say about the other three was that the first was a mistake, the second lasted exactly six weeks, and the third was to an older woman, a rich widow, Stacy said, who died in suspicious circumstances.
It was where Stacy said, Bergman got the funds to set up his business.
Stacy had first met Bergman in a night club where she was a dancer, no, not an exotic dancer, and he had been with wife number three at the time. She should have realized that Bergman was not trustworthy when he asked to date her on the pretext that he and his current wife were estranged and were in the process of divorcing.
She hadn’t realized at the time that her death might have been suspicious, just that she had conveniently died so she and Bergman were free to marry.
She knew nothing about any military service, he did not mention it. He said he had once worked for an international aid organization and had often travelled and remained overseas for months at a time, but those visits had been curtailed once he married her. However, he frequently made flying visits to both suppliers and clients, but these, she was assured, were all in America.
She had never seen him with a passport, had seen his travel arrangements from time to time in the form of itineraries, and on several occasions had asked her to go with him, but she had declined. She did not travel well in aeroplanes.
Wendy Anderson proved to be a more difficult case to get information out of.
It was clear from the outset she knew a lot more than she admitted to. The call on the telephone started badly and ended abruptly. He sent Worthey and several officers to arrest her and bring her back to the station.
Once in the interview room, a lawyer by her side, Bryson told her, “At the moment I’m half inclined to charge you with obstruction. I asked a simple question, do you know whether Alexander Berman was in the military/ It isn’t a difficult question.”
“It is as if what he did was something he was not supposed to mention or talk about.”
“He obviously told you.”
“I can keep a secret. I made a solemn promise never to repeat to anyone what he told me.”
“He’s now dead, that hardly seems relevant. What is relevant is the fact that whatever it is he did might have some direct effect on why he’s dead.”
“It wasn’t that spectacular. If you’re looking for a murderer look no further than James.”
‘So you keep saying, but the facts say otherwise. I assume you knew he had four wives, the most recent Stacy, and that he has a daughter, Sandra.”
“You mean in all of the thirty-odd years you have known him he never mentioned it? Or the fact he was briefly married to one Annabelle Bentley, shortly after he graduated from University?”
Bryson was observing Wendy Anderson very carefully and when he mentioned the daughter, she showed genuine surprise. That wasn’t the same when he asked her about military service.
“If he did have a daughter, I’m sure it was a surprise to him as well. Perhaps they had parted, and she was pregnant and forgot or deliberately didn’t tell him.
It was a logical assumption, Bryson thought.
“And as far as I was aware, Alex was in the National Guard for a brief period, arising from his time in a cadet corps when he was much younger, something his father made him do. I had no idea if he carried that forward, and he never mentioned it.”
“How do you explain the obvious absences?”
“The charity work involved staying overseas for long periods. From time to time I would visit him in various locations. Not one was he in uniform, or anywhere near military action. If he was, he hid it well.”
Or she just wasn’t all that observant.
“You have other matters you wish to ask me about?: she asked.
Perhaps it was time to throw the car among the pigeons.
“We have managed to get access to the text messages on one of Bergman’s cell phones, and there is a considerable exchange of sometimes very explicit tests between yourself and the deceased, as well as some attached photographs which suggest that your relationship is not what you are portraying it as. That phone is currently missing. Now, I will ask you once again, what was the nature of your relationship with the deceased.”
An almost priceless expression on her face, surely she had some idea if anything happened to her boyfriend the police would be looking at his phone records.
“And you were not the only woman he was conducting this type of relationship with. We have, so far, found three others, equally as intense, shall we say. The nature of the text messages and the tenor of one of the last he sent you, which I’m sure you are aware of, where he said he would have no hesitation in showing your husband those photographs, gives you a clear motive. And, if you say your husband has a gun, I’m assuming you know where it is, and how to gain access to it, if you follow my meaning.”
It was very clear by her expression she did. “I did not kill him. He did not tell me what he was about to do, though I did ask him to destroy those photographs. Equally, if Bergman intended to use those photographs to get my husband to sign the divorce papers, for whatever reason, then would that equally give James motive?”
It would, or it might have been a case of good riddance, but Bryson could not allow his snap judgement of wither to interfere in an unbiased investigation.
Yes, the expression had changed again, he thought, having realised what she’d said. It was apparent to him she was truly angry at a husband, but for different reasons, none of which were attached to Bergman, but she had been handed a perfect opportunity to set him up for the murder.
And one thing was certain about her. She was making it noticeably clear to him that she wanted her husband to take the fall for the murder.
“Just so you know, we believe there is another phone, the one that he received a message to meet him at the Zoo carpark at 10pm. There was evidence in the car and on his person of perfume, Mrs Anderson, not unlike what you are wearing now.”
© Charles Heath 2019-2023