Bad News Travels Slow — Continued
Fiction Saturday Continues with the next installment of “Bad News Travels Slow.”
She looked me in the eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was feeling scared, relieved, or about to throw up.
“What does he want? Look, Mrs. Sweet – you told me that you thought the Police were involved in your husband’s disappearance. After spending a half hour with Dinwiddie and the Chief of the Department I tend to agree with you, but it’s Dinwiddie who’s calling the shots. So, I’ll ask you again – What does he want?”
“If you want to have any chance of ever seeing your husband again you’ve got to help me. So…”
“Everything – He wants everything,” she spit out. Her hands were shaking.
“What do you mean ‘Everything’? Do you mean your money, the business?”
“Yes, that, and more.”
“What’s left? The money, the business, your house? Excuse me, it is a nice house, but it’s no Rockefeller mansion. I mean your neighbor’s garbage cans are sitting next to yours out there.” I could tell she was holding back and I was getting tired of playing the part of the crowbar.
“Mrs. Sweet, if you can’t be completely honest and open with me I’ll return what’s left of the money you’ve given me and…”
“He wants me. He wants all of those other things, but he wants me too – or he says he’ll kill my husband.”
She put her head down on the kitchen table, sobbing.
Well, now – that’s a new one on me. Most crooks just want what they can spend or sell. Dinwiddie wants a trophy. Or a slave. I knew there was a reason I despised that fellow. He collected people. I knew he had the Police Chief and now he wanted to get his claws into Mrs. Sweet. I wondered how many more he had in his “collection.”
She was crying, but I needed to find out more. I put my hand on hers and said to her her, softly.
“Don’t cry, Mrs. Sweet. We can stop him, but I’ll need you to be strong. I’ll need your help.”
She lifted her head and looked at me. I handed her my handkerchief and she dabbed at her eyes. “You really think you can stop him and get my husband back?” she asked. I had to convince her that I could, but I didn’t have a clue as to how. I was more accustomed to dealing with wives who didn’t want their husbands back.
“With your help, I know we can get him home safe and sound.”
She was pulling herself together. I was beginning to think that she was tougher than she looked.
“All right,” she said. “I apologize for not being completely honest with you, but…”
“That’s history. Starting now though, it’s ‘no secrets,’ no matter what they are. I’ll have to know things you wouldn’t tell your priest. OK?”
She managed a small nod.
“OK. You said that you have spoken with your husband. Tell me everything – what was said, did anyone else talk to you? How long ago was this? Did he say where he was being held? Start at the beginning – go.”
For the next forty-five minutes she talked. I interrupted a few times with questions, but mostly, she talked. I learned that there was a phone call the week before she hired me. It was from Dinwiddie. He called to tell her what he wanted – all of it, and then he put her husband on the phone. He didn’t get to say much beyond telling her to not give Dinwiddie anything, least of all, herself. When he said that she heard what sounded like a short, one-sided fight. Dinwiddie got back on the line and told her to start signing over the business and property to him.
“Then he hung up. I haven’t heard from him since.” She was exhausted. I took over and asked still more questions.
“Did you transfer anything into his name? You’d have to see a lawyer to handle that I’m sure. Who’s your lawyer?”
“I am. My husband and I are partners in more ways than just marriage. I have a law degree from Harvard. I’ve been the company’s lawyer from the beginning. And to answer your question – I have drawn up the papers, but I haven’t signed them. I will if I have to.”