There was little I could do until I could talk to Dave or examine the murder scene again, so I busied myself with tidying the house. My mind was racing, however, trying to make sense of what the note meant and why I had been given it.
What did “GEO” mean? It was hastily written. If it was Walthers, maybe he wanted to make sure I found it, but the person who ended up killing him wouldn’t. It would explain why my purse was where I left it, but away from where he was apparently killed.
On reflection, this was the only thing that made any sense. He must have realized his danger, written the note and hidden it in my purse where I would eventually find it, then trusted the darkness to conceal it. If he was investigating Samuel Olsen, he would have known who was working with him on this project. My drivers’ license was in my purse so he would have immediately known who I was.
That meant the note was intended for me and that it would make sense to me.
If only it did.
I heard the rattle of a key at the front door before it opened and Dave came inside. I looked at the clock in the living room. 4pm.
“Hey babe, you’re early!” I said as I stood on tiptoe and gave him a kiss.
“Yeah, I was going to meet with Elliot’s widow this afternoon, but the police called her in to make a statement about his death,” he replied, kissing me back. “Not that they think she had anything to do with it, but it’s standard procedure.”
“The poor woman,” I said. “It’s bad enough losing her husband, but then having to prove that she wasn’t the one who killed him.”
“Don’t worry, the police are very sensitive in cases like this. They’ll make it as easy as they can for her.” Dave was an ex-cop and knew the procedures well. He still had a lot of friends on the force, so tended to be better informed than most.
He had also been investigating Walther’s disappearance prior to his death so was closely following the case.
“Oh, I spoke to that detective, Mark Symonds, this morning,” he called out as he put his keys and wallet and the bedroom. “Seems pretty old school. Suspicious type.” He walked back into the living room. “He asked me a few questions about you.”
I sat up in my seat. “My God,” I exclaimed. “Does he think I’m a suspect?”
“I don’t know,” he confessed. “He fed me the standard “following all lines of inquiry” bullshit. I made sure he knows we’re together so he can’t claim obstruction of justice.”
Dave sat down beside me. “He clammed up after that but told me that he’d read the file on the fortune cookie case and he’ll want to speak to you again.”
“He seemed nice when we spoke yesterday,” I said, upset that I was suspected of being involved.
“Well, he’s a cop,” Dave replied. “Everyone’s a suspect, even if he’s being nice to them. It’s one reason I left the force. A good cop is always on duty and nobody is above suspicion. It’s not personal, it’s just the job. I couldn’t keep doing that.”
“I can understand that,” I murmured. Dave had never spoken much about why he’d quit the police force. When we’d last been together, he had been newly promoted from uniform to detective and under a lot of pressure. No wonder the relationship had failed.
“You’ve done nothing and hopefully Symonds will realize that sooner rather than later,” he said. “He’s just doing his job.” He leaned forward. “So anyway, show me this note that you found.”
I took it from my pocket and handed it to him. “Here.”
He took it carefully in his fingertips, closely examining it. “Damn, it’s been in heavy moisture. That will have screwed up any chances of getting fingerprints off it.”
“My purse was lying next to a puddle in the basement,” I replied. “Sorry.”
“Not your fault. I wasn’t really expecting to get any.” He held it out and read aloud, “GEO. What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “But someone seems to think I should.” I explained my theory that the note was specifically for me.
Dave listened carefully, then nodded. “I think there is a good chance that you’re right. It was a stroke of luck for Elliot that you lost your purse, and presented an opportunity to pass his information to someone in case something happened to him.”
“Which it did,” I said sadly.
“Yes. But that now makes you as the person most able to help solve his murder.”
“I am? How?”
“Because for whatever reason, Elliot, fearing for his life, chose to give YOU one word that would mean something to you. GEO.”
“But I don’t know what it means.”
“Stop trying to frame it in terms of Elliot and his murder. If you heard the term GEO in your job, what would it mean?”
“Well, normally it refers to geological surveys.”
“So assume it’s about geological surveys.”
“No buts. Why would Elliot be interested in geological surveys?”
I thought a moment. “Normally, they are used to check for stability of the ground prior to the design and approval of a construction project.”
Suddenly, horror washed over me. I now knew what Walthers had found, and what had gotten him killed.
“Oh shit, Dave! I exclaimed. “I think Elliot found something, something big that could jeopardize the whole Olsen construction project.”
Dave stared at me, confused.
“You know the seeping water problem in the lower basement I’ve been investigating? I think it’s related. I think Elliot uncovered something in the geological reports.”
My voice shook. “I think Samuel Olsen killed him.”