After Dave had left, I sat on the couch with my thoughts. I had no idea what to do with myself. My job always kept me so busy and with that distraction temporarily taken away, I was feeling a little lost. I switched on the TV and idly flicked channels.
There was the usual array of morning television shows, which even on a good day, I found annoying. After five minutes of watching a young woman with a perfect figure demonstrating how I “could lose inches off my butt in just six weeks,” I’d had enough.
I considered binging on my favorite show on Netflix, but it was just too early in the morning for that. After scanning through the various shows, I eventually settled on some rom-com I’d seen a half dozen times before that wouldn’t overly tax my brain.
The devilishly handsome male lead had just jilted the ridiculously beautiful female lead when my eyelids started to droop. I tried to keep my eyes open, but the next thing I knew, the credits were rolling. I shook myself awake and sat up.
The events of the previous day had clearly taken more out of me than I realized, I was one of those people who never could sleep during the daytime. I checked the time; it was just after 10am. I went into the kitchen to make some fresh coffee.
As I cleaned the filter in the percolator, my mind tried to make sense of everything. I really wanted to accept Dave’s assertion that the reporter’s death was related to organized crime, but my gut refused to agree. Why did it happen there?
The basement was a very awkward place to dump a body. To gain access, they’d needed to break into a secure site, but only after everyone had left. Then Walthers would have been led or carried down several flights of stairs in complete darkness.
No, the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that the killing was somehow related to the building or to Samuel Olsen. This was a very unsettling thought; I’d known Olsen for many years.
However, did I know him as well as I believed I did?
I sat back down on the couch with my coffee. Olsen wasn’t exactly someone I would hang out with, but nor was he my first pick as an ax murderer. But he was undoubtedly ruthless in business, and there were rumors of his possible future political career.
I had to concede the possibility that Samuel Olsen was capable of going to great lengths to protect his interests, both in business and politically. The question was, could he have killed or arranged to kill someone that threatened those interests?
The more pertinent question was, I realized, what was it that Walthers had uncovered that was important enough to have him killed to keep it a secret? If I could find out what that was, the who and why would then be revealed.
But where would I start trying to uncover it? I couldn’t go to the construction site, not that I expected to find anything there. The police would be searching the whole area carefully this moment. Pete had also expressly forbidden me to work today.
I sighed. What was I even doing trying to solve this whole thing? The police were far more capable than me at that particular task and Detective Mark Symonds had obviously known the victim. There was no doubt that he wanted to find Walther’s killer.
The thought of the slightly eccentric detective reminded me of his advice to check the contents of my purse. I had completely forgotten about my misplaced purse after finding the body. I grabbed my handbag from the bedroom and pulled the purse out.
I had already briefly checked my credit cards the following evening, but now with the time to look properly, I laid the contents out on the bed. My driver’s license and all of the cards were there, and the cash I was carrying appeared to be intact.
There was also a significant number of crumpled receipts for various takeaways, coffees and junk food that I’d collected over time. I was terrible at cleaning them out of the cash pocket. With a sigh, I started flicking through them.
I drew in my breath sharply. Between a receipt for Thai takeaway and one for a bagel I’d bought the previous week, there was a torn corner of paper that wasn’t in there before. Dropping the remaining receipts on the bed, I looked closely at the paper.
In untidy handwriting, as though the writer had been in a hurry, was one word: “GEO.”
How on earth had that gotten there? Apart from when it went missing, my purse was in my handbag, which was always with me or in my office in a secured building.
I didn’t recall anyone giving the note to me, and while it was possible that someone had put it in my purse while at work, I didn’t recognize the handwriting. It was so messily written that it could have been placed there by Pete or another colleague.
I didn’t recall anyone giving me the note, and while it was possible that someone had put it in my purse at work, I didn’t recognize the handwriting. However, it was so untidy that Pete or another colleague may well have written it and placed it there.
The best way to be sure, I realized, was to ask. I took my phone off its charger and rang Pete, my boss.
“Nat!” he said, his phone obviously displaying my name from his contacts list. “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”
“I was going to ring you later on, but you saved me the trouble. How are you feeling today? I hope that you’re taking it easy.”
“I’m fine, Pete, just a little tired. Don’t worry, I’m having a quiet day.”
“Good to hear,” he said, sounding relieved.
“So the reason I called was, did you happen to leave a note in my purse with the word “GEO” written on it?”
Confused, he replied,” No, not me. Why?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just found it in my purse now and wondered if you knew anything about it.”
“Sorry, Nat. I have no idea. I doubt anyone here would have done it. Maybe Dave put it there?”
I hadn’t considered that. “Oh, I’ll ask him!”
“Well, you take care, Nat. Don’t come back in until you’re ready to. Old Man Olsen will just have to wait.”
“I will be back in tomorrow, Pete. I’m feeling fine.”
“Hmm,” Pete replied in his best manager’s voice. “How about you see how you feel in the morning and make a decision then?”
I sighed. “All right. But I really am okay.”
“We’ll see,” he said. “I will let you go, Nat. Speak with you tomorrow.”
“See you, Pete.”
We both hung up. I hadn’t thought of the possibility that Dave may have put the paper in my purse. I didn’t think it was likely, but still worth checking.
I called his number. He answered after a few rings.
“Hey lovely, how are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m good, babe. I’ll be fine to go to work tomorrow.”
“Good. What’s up?”
“Listen, did you happen to put a note with “GEO” written on it in my purse?”
“No. Why?” He sounded suspicious.
“Because someone did. I already spoke to Pete and he said it wasn’t him.”
“It wasn’t me either. Could it have been put there by mistake? Got caught up with something else you picked up?”
“Maybe. I don’t think so.”
“I know that after what happened yesterday you’re feeling jumpy, but it’s probably nothing. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s probably a coincidence.”
“Maybe,” I said, unconvinced.
He sighed. “Let me take a look at it when I get home, okay?”
For all his protestations and attempts to calm my nerves, I knew Dave would take my concerns seriously.
“Thanks, babe. See you when you get home tonight. Love you.”
“Love you too, Nat. Be home around 6pm.” He hung up.
I tossed my phone on the bedside table and sat on the bed. Now that I had eliminated the other possibilities, there were really only two people left who could have put that note into my purse.
Elliot Walthers, or his killer.
The question was why?