12: The Truth about Him
The restless beep of the coffeemaker cut through the air; an indicator that the machine had completed its third brewing process of the night. Almost immediately, the smell of freshly made coffee filled the air, wafting through the cozy, moderately sized apartment where a familiar slim brunette laid belly down on the rug. She was deeply engrossed in a paper she held in her hand, her self completely oblivious to the noisy machine behind her; or anything else, for that matter.
Clarice had been in that position for all of the night, going through every document that the mayor had had Berta send her as regards to the investigation reports concerning Michael Holger; and they were quite a lot.
As it turned out, while the man didn’t seem to exist on the internet, he was certainly active on paper: company annual reports, affiliation data, meeting minutes, shareholders profiles, support donations, interview accounts. It was as though he was involved in everything everywhere at every time.
But while Michael's activities had been numerous and highly detailed, none of them dated back earlier than three months before his first call to the mayor, almost as if he hadn’t done anything noteworthy before then; and if there was something that Clarice was sure about, it was that that was impossible.
Now, she had placed a call to every of the organisation mentioned in the reports, many of which were quite reputable, to verify their affiliation to Michael. She'd even reached out to some of her contacts in different parts of the Europe to help her with the investigation.
But other than finding out that Mr. Holger was a lot richer than anyone had the right to be- which in itself wasn’t a crime unless tied to something shady- Clarice found nothing.
Everyone she had called had only good things to say about him. He was great, a good man who never refrained from providing financial support wherever it was needed; and while they couldn’t tell her the actual source of his wealth, or where he’d been before he suddenly surfaced, they assured her that there was no evil bone whatsoever in the body of the man called Michael Holger.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the same man Clarice saw whenever she thought back to her encounters with him. He had been dark, unyielding, dangerous even; of course, she had no evidence to back that last point.
But she could pronounce without any doubt that the tall, almost giant, arrogant blonde man wasn’t a helper of anybody; no philanthropically minded person would take away a town’s heritage and refuse vehemently to give it back; and that was why she still remained surrounded by the mountainous deck of report papers and jotted notes even though it was almost 2a.m in the morning. Something was fishy about Michael Holger and she was determined to find it out.
The smell of the coffee finally seemed to permeate through to Clarice and she perked up from her position. The beeping had ceased by then and she wasn’t sure how long before the coffee had been done.
Thankfully, she didn’t actually have to worry about it. The installer, a very good friend of hers, had set up an automated system in the machine which allowed it to shut itself down some a few minutes after a brew process was completed; in case of nights like her present one, she presumed.
Clarice got up from where she laid down on the floor and stretched herself to wake up her sleeping muscles; and that was when she saw the appalling state of her apartment.
Truth be told, Clarice had never been an untidy person. In fact, she hated disarrays in general.
Unfortunately, the mess in her apartment was something that couldn’t be avoided. It was a necessary evil for the work she was doing; and fortunately, there wasn’t actually anything that she couldn’t easily clean up; only papers which she’d thrown haphazardly around the room after she had read them so many times they stopped making sense to her brain.
Not willing to delay her caffeine comfort any longer, Clarice made her way to the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee, smiling in satisfaction when the smell of the glorious drink began to charge up her weary mind for another run.
She took further liberties and sat down on the small stool by the worktop with the cookie jar within reaching distance, plopping one after another of the sugary delight into her mouth and helping it down with a sip of her coffee until she was filled. Then, she was fully awake.
Clarice brought out her phone to check the time but what stared up at her was a picture of Michael she had managed to snap earlier that day on the street before he suddenly disappeared into the crowd and she didn’t see him anymore.
As usual, he was in his monochromatic outfit of black vintage suit and jacket, topping it off with his almost becoming a trademark thick black shades. She had actually begun to wonder if he was photophobic or something. Photophobia was the only reason that would make sense for him to need to wear such thick frames to protect his eyes.
Michael’s eyes, Clarice thought; another thing that bothered her about the enigmatic foreigner. Crystal grey like diamonds- at least, that was what they’d looked like the night she saw them- Michael’s eyes held a lot of secrets; perhaps even the most. The way they seemed to sparkled in the moonlight, creating an effect that made her feel as if her consciousness was being sucked into a black hole. It was very strange.
Now, while she hadn’t exactly thought much of them at the time, she couldn’t help but notice that the mayor had made mention of those same eyes that morning, right before he said that selling the castle to Michael felt right; and it definitely wasn’t. Nothing about the sale of Festningen, nor the man to whom it was sold, nor his eyes for that matter, was right; and that was all Clarice sought to prove.
“What is the truth about you, Michael Holger?” she asked the picture like it would answer back. “The truth about your eyes.”