Intro #001 - Blood From a Stone Oct 24, 2016 10:12:46 GMT -6
Post by Cross Recoba on Oct 24, 2016 10:12:46 GMT -6
Originally Published/Aired: 12th December 2015
Recoba walked out the exit of Bob Hope International Airport in Burbank, California. He checked his phone and saw an email had popped into his inbox. He opened the email to see a screenshot from an article in a Vegas newspaper.
THE SMARTPHONE HONEYTRAP
A fourth man in three months has been mugged after agreeing to meet a female he met through the dating app, Tinder. Currently, the police have no leads and are asking any members of the public who were at The Sands Hotel on Saturday night to come forward if they saw anything suspicious.
Recoba saved the email for future reference; he had been aware of the other three cases and chalked them up to opportunistic chancers. Perception changes once it lands on your doorstep, however. With The Sands named in the article, and it being online too, he knew that this could have a knock-on effect on future revenue.
His brain mentally ran through a checklist of what he wanted answers to – where did it actually take place? Who was the guest? How far had the police gotten in their investigation? He replied to the email and asked that it be looked into and put the phone back into his jacket pocket.
Cross looked out for his pick-up. Paper trails weren’t convenient or wise for this particular trip, he carried no identification and had made sure to carry enough cash to see him through for the journey. A car sounded its horn and he looked up and smiled, he had asked for a low-key vehicle to be used to travel and they had paid attention.
He walked over to the Prius and climbed in. He reached into his jacket pocket and passed over a piece of paper.
“We need to head to this address; but first, I need a florist.”
Anna was sorting through paperwork when the doorbell rang. The children were due home from school in an hour and the mountain of forms needed to be completed. With everything that had happened and the never-ending barrage of thoughts and opinions that spiralled around her head she wasn’t sure if a decade would be long enough for her to think clearly enough to complete the forms that were stacked up on the table, their presence sapping her strength and morale each time she looked at them.
The doorbell chimed once more and Anna exasperatedly slammed down her papers, they could wait – whoever was at the door, most likely the police, could obviously not.
Standing in front of her as she opened the door was a stranger holding a delicate arrangement of lilies. His blonde hair fell onto his face in a style that clearly wasn’t gained from a ten-dollar haircut; coupled with his suit he was far too well presented to be police and too young if he were to be anything other than a beat cop. She went to open her mouth but the stranger beat her to it.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” the tone of his voice seemed to reflect a genuine sense of loss.
He passed the flowers to her as she accepted the lilies, while her hands were occupied he took the opportunity to step past her and into the entrance way. He carried on into the household as he spoke.
“Pete was just unlucky; it’s always a shame when things like this happen.” He left the sentence hanging as he entered the family room.
Anna was still in shock. The death, the police’s pretty certain summation that it was at his own hand, and now this – a stranger wandering into her home and talking at her.
“Pete wasn’t lying, it’s a wonderful home you have, Anna. Looking at these pictures of your family if anything he undersold just how perfect and happy you were together.”
Anna followed him into the room and, caught off-guard, found herself not saying what was on her mind.
“Would you like a drink?” her words devoid in tone and emotion beyond shock.
“Coffee, black….no sugar will be fine, thank you.”
The man seemed too collected to be sincere in his words, that was her assumption, she couldn’t be sure though because, lately, she double-thought everything, her indecisiveness killing her slowly in her confidence. Maybe she was wrong about him; she struggled to find a reason to doubt him.
She left the room leaving the man to check his phone. He saw a notification that twenty-five hundred dollars had entered his account. He put the phone back into his inner blazer pocket and looked round the room once more. He looked out the doorway and saw a desk piled with paperwork. To his right was a picture of Pete with one of his children holding a baseball, clearly a treasured memory.
Anna returned back into the room with two cups and sat them down on the dark wood coffee table. She sat down on the recliner adjacent to the couch and found her voice asking a question she couldn’t remember her brain processing.
“Why did you say Pete was unlucky?”
The words faltered out of her. The man’s eyes dropped and she could sense he felt hurt at the question.
“You don’t know who I am, do you?”
Anna shook her head, her face displaying an apology her mouth couldn’t utter.
“Don’t apologize, I don’t believe we’ve ever met.”
“Were you in the insurance business with Pete?” she ventured.
The man returned the shake of the head; Anna felt the awkwardness in the room growing.
The man leant forward and picked up the coffee, his eyes that were moments before showing the look of a scolded puppy now seemed to glean in delight.
“I’m almost certainly the reason that poor old Pete won’t ever walk through that door again…” he took a sip from the mug and smirked. “Amazing coffee by the way – I love coffee, the stuff you get in Starbucks? That’s shit, this, however? This is really quite something.”
“Wha-did you just say what I…” Anna rose as she spoke, her movements unnatural.
“Sit down” the man forcefully insisted “I didn’t kill him, I only found out after the fact.”
Anna could feel the rage inside her rapidly rising.
“This isn’t a joke” her voice travelling through gritted teeth, her feet only staying on the ground through a concerted effort.
“You know, I’ve never really been a funny guy – some of my colleagues? They’re a riot.”
“Who the fuck are you?” Anna’s voice was continuing its whirlwind journey through the emotions, this time rising with every syllable.
The man brazenly placed a finger on her lips to take away her words.
“Shhh…there is a situation to grasp at hand and…you’re not really getting it.” His voice was cold and emotionless, a stark contrast to her own. “Consider this an education…”
He reached into a pocket and produced a sterling silver case. He flipped it open and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it up without even a glance in her direction for consent.
“Let’s solve the issue of ‘who am I’. Pete, he of the lack of breath and on a one-way ticket on that big old train into the tunnel, he owed a great deal of money to a lot of unsavory characters; you ever find that term weird? Like they’d be sweethearts? Anyway, I digress. As of today, that figure is…”
The man paused; Anna was certain it was more for effect than recollection.
“…four-hundred thousand dollars; give or take.”
Anna felt her mouth drop, certain her jaw might connect with her knee if she didn’t catch it. The man seemed to be in his element as his smirk grew.
“You didn’t know about his problems?” He mimicked her gaping mouth in a way that Anna read as taunting.
“Problems?” She gasped.
“Mostly gambling, did you not know about the trips?”
“He ran an insurance firm, there were always trips.”
The man let out a short laugh and flicked his cigarette into an Anthurium which sat next to the fireplace.
“Do you ever watch television?”
“On television they have you believe that there is a set way to deal with this. They send someone, much like myself, and he’d come round and break their legs. It’s that Golden Rule of television – you can’t get blood from a stone, no money from a dead man. Sadly, it’s a fallacy, call it some artistic license on Hollywood’s part. Your husband was a sick man, not in a terminal illness way, and he never slapped a hooker while wearing your lingerie, no, poor Pete was a degenerate gambler, that in itself is a disease. Unfortunately for you, that disease cost you everything- the old money, the business that you helped him to build up. It wouldn’t surprise me if food was scarce some weeks but did that stop our dear Pete?”
“So, you did kill him?”
“You’ve sort of missed the point. I could have had someone rough him up, maybe even break his legs to adhere to the accepted protocol of those outside this business I’m in, but that’d only delay the situation for everyone. We both know Pete couldn’t magic that figure up anytime in the immediate future, it’s a rule of business. Being a prudent and compassionate businessman, what options do I have left? If I let the debt stand then it’s career suicide, a massive loss of face for myself and, call it a throwback to the old country, EVERYONE has to pay.”
The man took a deep drag on his cigarette, his words clearly either well-rehearsed or often spoken.
“Your husband messed up, though; we didn’t lay a hand on him. We could have, and given time we would have but he’s left you in a bit of a situation. But, and here’s the good news, Anna, there’s still hope yet.”
Anna was too shocked to respond, her gut was telling her to get this man out of the house immediately. Her brain was telling her that her motor skills wouldn’t allow her the opportunity to try.
“Pete didn’t display much restraint when it came to the coffers but, like I said there is some good news, he did show a mercurial foresight when it came to insurance.”
Anna felt she should respond, she steeled herself to not hesitate.
“What does this have to do with you?”
“There isn’t a need for hostility, Anna, we can be friends. You’re surely as smart as you are pretty. Debts don’t die with a body. I’ll bet, pardon the choice of words, that you didn’t receive a gift basket from the creditors or the bank when news broke of his passing saying “We’re sorry for your loss, luckily we've cleared your debts, don’t worry, your friends at the Bank of California." Have they?”
“You’re unbelievable.” Her words were now filled with venom.
“The first insurance policy is due to pay out next week for half a million dollars. I’ve done the math for you and your debt to myself will be twenty grand larger than today, you will settle that debt on that day for the full amount, Ms Tebbutt, I’m presuming you’ll revert back to your maiden name to hide your shame. I’m offering a way out from under this debt, and I will be extremely offended if my kindness is rebuffed.”
Anna was incredulous at this news, she wondered what her friends would think of it all but realized they’d never know. The man lifted his Chelsea boot and dropped his cigarette under it, heeling it into the floor before placing it into the flowerpot.
“Liquidate the company, I’d do that if I was in your position. Then I’d get Joseph, he’s your eldest, right? I’d see if I could get a refund on those acting classes and tell him to get an after-school or weekend job, whatevs, it’s not something I’m really concerned about. The only thing I’m concerned about is that you owe me money, that’s the only fact I want you to be concerned about in this tragic situation. If you forget then what you’re really saying to me is that I should take more of an interest in yourself and your lovely family, did I mention they were lovely?”
The man reached into his jacket and pulled out his phone, Anna saw a flash of a sidearm as he put the phone back.
“Sorry, I must have imagined my phone vibrating, modern day curse, right?”
Anna nodded to humor him.
“If you happen to be late, and you don’t want to be late, then first we’ll kill Joseph. A couple of days later - you kiss Jake goodbye. If you mention a word of this to the police - then you’ll watch your children be extinguished in age order. Then, and this is hilarious - after you’ve put the remaining members of this household six feet under…I’ll still make you pay.”
The man’s voice dropped as he finished his words to a whisper, the severity in tone emphasized to minimize any misinterpretation to his message.
“Now, do you think I’ll need to add this place to the GPS on my phone so I know my way back here?” His voice now took on an almost mocking tone.
“A wise decision” the man stood and set down his half-finished cup of coffee. “Again, my thoughts are with your family.”
The man walked to the door and let himself out. Anna’s curiosity got the better of her and she saw him pull out another cigarette at the end of the drive. He pulled out his phone and placed it to his ear.
“Al, Cross…you’ll be glad to know the Summers account is in the process of being settled. I’ll catch you up on the finer details over dinner when I get back.”
He put the phone away as she watched him disappear from view.