Category: Office

Hits and Misses

Ian fiddled with his watch, he couldn’t get the step counter to synchronise with his smartphone. Mike teased him that the watch couldn’t handle any more connections while his wife was using it to track his whereabouts. Mike knew Ian was worried about his wife leaving him, they had been arguing a lot – more than usual. He had bought the watch to get in shape, for her. Mike also knew that Ian was distracting himself with the watch, telling himself he was making an effort. The effort he needed to make was to talk to her. Mike also knew she was having an affair, everyone knew. Was she hoping that Mike would tell his friend that his marriage was over? Mike didn’t like that idea. He didn’t like Ian that much, they weren’t proper friends, they were colleagues. After seven years working and drinking together, people just assumed they were the best of friends. Mike had never once asked Ian to join him for a drink. The concerts, the films, the football matches, all Ian’s ideas.

Mike had a frightening thought If Lisa kicks him out, I’m all he’s got. This boiled potato could turn up at my house one night, looking for a place to stay. He had to do something. The first step would be to find out who Lisa was having an affair with.

It was a dark and stormy night, Mike opened their wheelie bin, took a bag home and opened it in his garage. The flickering blueish light exposed the contents and smell of his friend’s domestic routine. Junk mail, credit card bills, a mouldy orange, a brand-new book entitled “Wait. The useful Art of Procrastination”, receipts, and a business card; Charles Thornton, Redmill Publishing. Lisa was a small business advisor at a high street bank, why would she throw away a business card? Something to hide? Then he found the bank statements, two withdrawals of seven thousand, one of six thousand. She’s moving money before springing the divorce. I suppose that’s how it goes; she must have seen a lawyer already.

Mike went onto an office networking website and found Redmill, eighteen staff where on the website and he had second degree contacts with two of them. He sent off a jovial email claiming he was trying to reconnect with his old friend Charles Thornton. They had never heard of him. A google search found thousands of Charles Thorntons, that was no help. He called the number from the business card, Charles answered, Mike panicked and hung up the phone. He had a feeling that he might have made a mistake.

Charles Thornton looked at the number on his phone screen, he called his contact at the phone company and got a name for 25 pounds, Michael Thompson. A few minutes on the internet and he had Mike’s address and social media pages. He made the connection with Ian and called Lisa. Charles demanded another twelve thousand, he said he would have to get rid of Mike too. Lisa argued that Mike was Charles’s problem, it wouldn’t come back to her. Things got heated, she agreed to five thousand more if he would get a move on. Lisa cursed Mike, five thousand pounds for that useless lump of lard. I could have had a spa weekend with that money; I could have had a week.

The last Friday of the month was always casual Friday at work followed by drinks at the pub. Lisa would join Ian and Mike and their colleagues and then the three would share a taxi to Ian and Lisa’s house for a nightcap. Mike would then walk home, it was a familiar pattern, this time there was a difference. Charles Thornton had been watching them. Lisa had forgotten most of what she had told Charles in their one meeting. Charles habitually extended conversations long after he had what he needed, Lisa would naturally only remember the parts that were most interesting for her. He sat opposite the pub and ate a ham and mustard sandwich. When he was finished, he left them to finish their evening and went to their house. He let himself in and waited.

Inspector Hartley arrived once the scene had been secured. He would be the lead investigator. The Constables on the scene filled him in; a classic love triangle, husband shoots the lovers and turns the gun on himself. The gun was there, in the Ian’s cold dead hand, which was still a bit warm. The neighbour confirmed that Lisa was having an affair. They did the routine forensic checks and went back to the station. By the end of the following week Hartley was in Superintendent Robertson’s office with the draft report. There were a few loose ends. The missing money from Lisa’s bank account, the neighbour’s claim that Mike was not the man having the affair with Lisa, and the business card in Mike’s pocket from the untraceable Charles Thornton.

Superintendent Robertson took the view that the neighbour was mistaken, as witnesses often are, and the money must be stashed away in preparation for a divorce. He concluded that only Mike could have told them who Charles Thornton was, there was no reason think he was connected to the case, and every case has a red herring or two. Hartley thought that Thornton was the secret lover, and he must have staged the whole scene, Mike was just visiting his best friend. Why would Thornton kill Lisa? Why did Thompson have Thornton’s business card? asked Robertson, citing William of Ockham – the simpler answer is the usually the correct answer; it’s a love triangle, plain and simple. On top of that, 95% of all murders are domestic, the victim knows the killer, it all adds up.

They agreed to leave these little musings of the final report, it looked like a job well done. The business card and bank statements were filed and archived. The town Mayor commended all of the brave officers and constables involved.

19 July 2021

The Marriage Lottery

I awoke on a park bench. There was a wedding party by the fountain, wedding parties usually came here for the picture shoot after the ceremony. I sat up and squinted to get a clear look at the bride.

Azores Lighthouse

I was engaged once, working in an office, free coffee, lottery pool, we had everything. It was a proud moment when I was elected to be in charge of the lottery. Little did I realise the lottery would be my doom. Pride made me do it, I should have left it to Carla from payroll, she had wanted it badly.

Every Saturday afternoon I would duck out during our weekly shopping trip to buy the tickets, 24 tickets between 48 people. Every week, the woman at the till would say ‘here he is, Billy Big Boots, your usual 2 dozen?’ we laughed. The queue built up behind me while she fed in the grids and printed the tickets. It was a ritual I enjoyed.

Then it happened, the big one. We hit the jackpot, only I didn’t see it. I checked the numbers as usual on Saturday night, we had 1 or 2 numbers on each ticket, 2 tickets had 3 numbers each. Then Jim called, he had picked three numbers and Cynthia picked another three. They made up one grid between them and the numbers had come up. I should have had the winning ticket. I didn’t.

I went over the events in my head. I had gathered all the emails and numbers into a spread sheet and taken a printout to the supermarket to fill in the grids. Then I used the same grids for the next 3 years and 7 months. Now I could see that I had put Jims numbers with Martin’s pick and Carla ‘s numbers were on the next line. 3 years and 7 months of joking with the lottery ticket lady. I had the wrong numbers all along. Technically it didn’t matter because the odds were the same for any combination. Carla screamed ‘This was the winning ticket! You bought a losing ticket! How can the odds be the same?!’ I couldn’t go back to work, one by one they came to our house and cursed us both.

My fiancée couldn’t take it. She asked me to leave, that’s what wakes me up, every night, every day. We were going to get married. For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part. We didn’t even make it to the altar.

I watched as the photographer directed the guests and took the pictures. Eventually they finished up and moved on, happily walking into the life I should have had. I wished them well.

21 May 2018

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