Chapter 24 The CabalThere were only two chairs and six clients. Mo stood in the doorway refusing to surrender more chairs for she disapproved of the company. “Meetings without chairs are more productive and shorter, ” she had said when her boss had asked for chairs, adding “it is the modern way.”
Trent knew not to argue when she was in this kind of mood so accepted the diktat explaining to his clients, that he was only expecting two for the meeting.
So it was Olivetti sat on one chair with Sultry and Carlo behind him while in the other chair a new player sat with K-kay and Fen34 behind her.
This new player appeared to have great authority for she bowed to no one. Her voice had a cut glass English accent which had all the hallmarks of being ‘bought’. She spoke deliberately with every word considered and weighed before it saw the light of day. Her pronunciation proclaimed a second language while her eyes bore the stare of a leader. Like her companions she was very slim with dark short hair which, with such a close cut, appeared to be painted on her skull.
She had introduced herself as Jfive. Trent for his part was getting use to these strange beings with strange names and told himself, ‘what the hell, pop stars have even more stupid names, whilst burdening their offspring even more ridiculous names.’ For his part he was determined to find out what they knew about the nurse before giving them the one bit of useful information he held.
Hence , stabbing his forefinger on the desk in a no no nonsense manner he , having disposed of the pleasantries, opened with pure aggression.
“This nurse is no ordinary nurse and I want to know what we are dealing with here. One of you bastards knows more than me on that score. My gut tells me there is a great threat here.”
Both Olivetti and Jfive, considering themselves the ones to give orders rather than to submit to questions took um-bridge to the tone and leapt to up to protest. Olivetti eventually yielded to the paymaster.
“Mr Trent you were hired to do a job confine yourself to the parameters of that job.” she said forcefully.
Olivetti, jumped in with ” You are looking at the threat. Remember who is paying you stupid.”
Patting his hands in a downward motion, Hunter Trent persuaded them to retake their seats,
O.K ” he started “these last summer months I have been trying to find this motor home or rather who made it. After scouring at home and abroad I was put onto an engineering firm near Glasgow which specialised in conversion of ambulances, fire-engines and the like. They modified them for special purposes which involved complex work. Some hi-tech stuff.”
He paused and took a sip of water from a glass. Trying to look calm whilst his nerves were taught as a string on a violin.
“Now, he continued, ” I travelled there, none of these firms would give details of their clients over the phone. Hence the size of my expenses. The manager at ‘King and Clowe’ for that was the name of the firm, remembered the motor home conversion. For a consideration he agrees to check his records. And guess what..“?
A silence of pure suspense filled the room. Everyone waited on the detective.
“Yep, the fucking computer records had been wiped.”
He waited while the meaning of his words sank in then added,
“Just like the hospital records. This nurse has some talents or powerful friends.”
“So you have nothing?” demanded Olivetti.
“I did not say that.” countered the Detective.
Jfive spoke in a clear reasoned tone as if trying to persuade a child to surrender a kitchen knife it thought a toy, “Hunter please tell us what you do have.”
" What I do have is a gut feeling that all of you are playing a dangerous game and that this nurse is also dangerous. No ordinary nurse can go into computer systems and alter them with such precision without being noticed, unless she is some special lady.”
“Everyone is a hacker these days” observed Olivetti equally puzzled but also impressed by the nurse’s apparent talents. Hunter Trent was suddenly not alone in thinking ‘what on earth he had got himself into?’ He stole a sly glance at Jfive pondering what part she played in all this.
Silence again seized the upper ground, everyone waiting to see what would develop. Jfive for her part wondered if this male detective was up to the job or was he too frightened of the unknown to be of much use. A female would have been better she thought. Then she stirred in her seat, leaned slightly forward but said nothing. Behind her two statues stood without showing any emotion whatsoever.
Deciding the tension in the room was high enough it was Mo who broke the silence.
“You are all forgetting that you are all suppose to be on the same team, working together. Why not act like it. Perhaps, then, you may stand a chance of finding this nurse.”
“She is right.” proclaimed Trent, throwing his arms up slightly as if in a mock surrender, “This is what I have.”
For effect he paused again and leaned forward across his desk.
" He had never met the client, it was 3 years ago and he was then very junior. The manager told me the conversion was very complex with a great deal of extra electrics and under floor storage area. All told the beast was well over the 3 ton limit hence the rear axle. He let slip by way of a throw away remark that even the air filters were very special.
I asked in what way? He told me they were somewhere between medical grade and high tech research laboratory grade and they had to be bought in from a specialist in Japan. ”
The cost I asked out of curiosity. The man did know but they kept a stock of them just for that client which they despatched one every 6 months to a garage to be fitted. ‘You need a ramp or pit to fit them’ he told me”
“What garage?” interrupted Olivetti unable to contain his excitement.
Trent ignored the man and proceeded with his narrative,
“He took me down to the stores to show me the filters, I think he was rather proud of the fact they went to such lengths in ′ after service.’
You can imagine my utter amazement when on each box was a label marked, “Kato and Son’s, Dawn Garage, Wenton.”
“That’s only 30 miles from here.” exclaimed Olivetti.
“Quite, I have been there and spoken to them.” explained Hunter.
Jfive now pitched in with a slight rebuke,
“Mr Hunter Trent, you did not think their computer records were going to show you an address, did you?”
“I did not even ask?” he replied with a tone of pure resignation.” I knew the MO of our quarry by now.”
“So we are screwed ?” sighed the gangster.
“No, I don’t think so.” answered the detective in a slow thoughtful tone.
Everyone now hung on his every word.
“Let me explain something about Kato & Son’s, ” he started whilst settling back in chair knowing he was in full command.
“It is a garage specialising in very high performance cars. Temperamental sods, these cars, like thorough bred horses, cosseted and spoilt rotten. They do a lot of restoration work. Well, it was founded by an aero engineer, Mr Kato snr., who was by all accounts a brilliant engineer but completely bonkers. He would often service cars in his pyjamas. He died some 8 months ago. This is were things get interesting.”
His audience appeared to lean forwards as if not to miss a word.
“Prior to his death, and having been brought up in the early days of computers, he mistrusted them.
‘Bloody unreliable tools’ he would call them, so....” Hunter paused making the most of the moment.
“He kept a ledger. You know a thick book with pages , as rare as hen’s teeth these days.” This was his back up system which he kept religiously up to his death. Needless to say when his son’s took over the business they sidelined the books and forgot about them. My bet is our computer whizz kid of nurse did not hack them or even know about them.”
There was a palpable sense of , if not relief, then hope in the room.
“Will they sell you the ledgers?” asked the strange lady called Jfive.
“Would you hand over a family heirloom?” asked Hunter in response, “they became reluctant to talk about them when I enquired. I suspect some of their work is a tax dodge or laundry. Those cars are six number jobs.”
Jfive looked totally mystified by this answer.
Olivetti being of the criminal classes was ahead of the game.
“So you want us to turn over the place and take a look?” he asked in a matter of fact way as if he had just been asked to do the school run.
“Fen34 here can make them hand over the ledgers.” suggested Jfive.
“No way” shouted Hunter, ” no violence or anything to attract publicity, Our nurse will read it or see it and bolt for the door. This as got to be , what doctors call, non invasive surgery.”
With that he produced a photograph of A4 size. He stabbed his finger at the photograph saying
“This is our target”
As one every being in the room moved to surround his desk but it was Sultry who spoke first.
“You have a plan?”
He smiled at her looking her in the eye, “I need a really sexy lady who can charm a young man to death and make him hate his own mother in the time it takes to hang washing on a line.”
There was a pause, a brief silent moment of thought then Olivetti asked “Why?”