Tuesday, 30 October 2012

'I Have To Get It Right' - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

The Seaburn is a post war attempt at quality 60 years old! A bit like a fading music hall star singing ‘Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s 40’ - well upholstered but fraying round the edges! The rooms have had the usual 90s make over. You could close the curtains and imagine yourself in any hotel in any city in the world. The public rooms are comfortable and the staff suitably obsequious which clashes rather with the mackem accent!
I had slept for 3 hours. Must have needed it! I put on my tracksuit and trainers and set off running along the beach heading north towards Marsden. I had decided that I needed to loosen up. The tide is out and the beach is hard and clean. The air is crisp and you can feel it penetrating to the bottom of your lungs with every inhalation. There are one or two people walking dogs and jogging, the odd cyclist on the promenade. I just stretched my legs into what I know is a mile-eating pace but that leaves me feeling energised rather than exhausted. I had to come off the beach and run on the road to Marsden, then down the steps in the cliff back to the beach, I could have taken the lift, and on up the coast to South Shields. After half an hour I turned back sticking to the road and pushing harder and was back at the hotel swimming pool for a few lengths before going for a shower. A good work out. I dressed in shirt denims and black shoes and strolled down for a meal at seven. As you would expect on a Thursday night in April the restaurant was almost devoid of customers. A couple of salesmen and an ill-matched man and woman who may well be in for an illicit affair.
I choose a simple meal of fish and chips, although it is tarted up for the menu. It was a nice piece of fish and the accompanying fayre was well cooked. All washed down with a couple of pints of lager. I didn’t want too much to drink as I could be out a long time!
While I was eating it gave me time to consider how I was doing with my current contract, for that was what it was. I’ve come up with not very much to be honest. If I ‘fixed’ Thompson, either financially or personally, it doesn’t fulfil what I have been asked to do. All I know is that the mark has come into money big style, and that one of the contracts he is working on is being worked by Scottish Italians! I am not even sure that I need to go back to Glebe Park. On the other hand if I can get into the site office I can look for relationships. I need to know if McSwann’s have done other work in the authority with J. Thompson linked. I also need to work out how much he has benefited by and tie it up to their paperwork. However, why would that concern Sumisu? It’s small-scale stuff. There is too much I don’t know. Sumisu is a case in point. Who am I really working for? Surely this job bears no relation to his business. The message gave no clues as to anyone I needed to sort out. James Thompson is nothing but a pawn. I don’t know where this is leading. That’s not good for me. I need to know where I’m going.
I went back to my room and changed into black cords, they give better than denim, and black sweatshirt with hood. Black trainers and a pair of gloves made of fine material that does not impede sensitivity but protects and prevents from leaving fingerprints. I am wearing a Glock concealment T-shirt with my Glock 17 fitting snugly into its pouch. I also have a 7’’ bladed carbon steel Glock standard issue knife as used by the Austrian military, strapped to my left ankle. Being ambidextrous can have its advantages. I can’t imagine I will come across any use for the weaponry but I like to be prepared. I waited until 21:00 then retraced my afternoon’s steps to the outskirts of Washington. The roads were quiet so half an hour later I was parked beside the large expanse of greenery. I had parked between two cars and just round the corner from Abbey Road. I set off along the main road crossing the end of the aforementioned road and striding purposefully. I had put up my hood and donned the gloves. After five minutes I turned left across the grass and started up the slope towards the far more wooded part of the perimeter. When I reached this part I turned left again and blended in with the darker shrubs and trees and treaded more carefully. It was very still, quiet and cold. The gibbous moon was shedding some light. I moved more carefully entering the trees and moving more slowly. I made no noise. The faint moonlight cast weak shadows and created eerie shapes all around me. There was a path of sorts. Probably kids. I hoped it would be too late for any of them to be out. I almost walked into the chain linked fence it was so dark.
I was on the side furthest away from the site offices. The land on the other side of the fence was cleared and levelled, probably an all-weather pitch of some sorts. Then the main building about 50 yards away, was up to the first floor level. Even in the dark I could see the scaffolding poles sticking up like broken teeth. As I am looking at it, the site office is to the right of the main structure. There is a variety of building site machinery and other such paraphernalia. No dogs or warning signs about security, which is unusual in this day and age! Perhaps there was nothing of real value as yet on site. Still I will have to keep my wits about me. I have a very clever acid spray, which I bought through the worldwide web. It can be quite deadly if sprayed in someone’s face but as a jet will eat through the metal of a fence like the one facing me. That was the use I put it to. I just spray, wait a few minutes and a sharp tug pulls away the rectangle of wire. I step through easily and rather than stroll across the middle of the cleared area I walk to my right and keep to the perimeter. I take my time making as little noise as possible. There is no rush. I have a small torch, which I could use if necessary but outside there is enough ambient light not to need it as yet. I will probably need it inside the site office. That is my aim, to get a look at the files in the office. So I walk round the back of the main building and approach the site office from the high side towards the top end of Abbey Road. I need to locate the door and of course break in! I can see the door is on my side but I notice something I did not expect to see, A bluish glow from under the door. Must be a TV and where there is one of those there is a viewer. Damn! A night watchman. Elderly? No way of knowing until I see for myself. So how to approach? I can’t break in! There is only one answer. I knocked on the door. Hard.
I could hear someone grunting as they walked across the floor towards the door. These doors open outwards so I got hold of the handle and as soon as it started to move I wrenched the handle down and pulled the door open fast. A shape in human form hurtled out of the office and without touching the steps landed face down, hard. I hit him on the back of the head with my rubberised torch. He didn’t move. I took out some of the garden ties I have learned to carry on these occasions and fastened his hands and feet together. I found a piece of cloth and removed the guy’s belt. I stuffed the cloth in his mouth and fastened it in with the belt. I then found a piece of tarpaulin and covered him up. He just looked like another pile of detritus. I was lucky that he was alone or else it may have been somewhat messier and also he was not some doddery old geyser, but big and quite young. Odd! Not your typical watchman.
So why would there be a young, fit looking ‘guard’ on a building site? The office was fairly standard. A desk and chair, a couple of filing cabinets and a chart table with some plans on. After a quick reccy there was nothing out of the ordinary on the surfaces. No drawers in the desk so just the filing cabinets. Both had three drawers and none were locked. The TV was perched on the top of one of them. I left it on because it would be extraordinary if I altered what was normal in the office, you never know who is watching or from where. I started going through the drawers.
There wasn’t a tremendous amount of material. I photographed what there was with my 8-mega-pixel camera phone as well as skimming the documents. My overall impression was that everything seemed kosher. In spite of the company name there was nothing pertaining to north of the border. But there it was again; the links to Italy were very strong. This time it was some flooring material as well as workers. I needed to find the wages information. Here we go – under W for wages! I photographed everything. After an hour I reckoned there was nothing else useful so I tidied up, left everything as I had found it and exited the building.
Matey was stirring. What to do with him? He was going to make a fuss. He hasn’t seen me and nor do I need him to. I picked up a piece of 2x4 and whacked him on what looked like his head. I uncovered his body, and just to check he was ‘asleep’ kicked him hard in the thigh. No reaction. Okay. There was a fridge in the hut and the guard had been enjoying one of a six-pack of lager. I left the half finished one where it was and took a fresh one. I opened it and poured it over his head leaving some for his jeans. He never moved. He looked a mess. I unfastened his hands and feet, removed the makeshift gag, and left him on his back. I left the way I had arrived.
Half an hour later I was back in my hotel room. It was after midnight and quiet. I turned on my laptop and hitched the phone up to it and downloaded the pics I had taken. I raided the mini bar, poured myself a whisky and started to peruse my handiwork. Most of it was, as you would expect, admin stuff. The wages supplied the information about the workers, where they were from and how much they received. Everything looked straight. The wage bill included expenses. These were summarised on a sheet that only had amounts and initials. I checked the individual wage records and matched up initials with workers names and all matched except for one. The initials were JT and the amount was £1250.00. Unusual because there was a JT, Jacomo Torino, and he had received expenses, but he had never received that amount of money. Interesting I needed to check James Thompson’s accounts for the corresponding date. As an officer of the local authority he would be paid through central payroll and not by the contractor. So would his expenses! Consequently what does this prove, if anything? Well it proves he has been taking backhanders. The first concrete piece of evidence pointing towards the source of his new found wealth. Trouble is Thompson owed thousands and he knew how to spend. Even that much every month would not have cleared his mounting debt. As far as I could tell from his account he was still betting on the net. He wasn’t in debt anymore. I needed to see how this money appeared in his bank. If it is being paid in cash that would be difficult! There is never any cash on building sites! Mmm! It would have to wait, it was already 3am and I needed to sleep. Tomorrow my first task would be to plan where I needed to go next.
In spite of one very long day I was awake at 08:00 or just about. I needed to loosen up so I jogged round Seaburn Bay, had a shower and then went down for full English breakfast. I was back in my room by 09:30. I sat down with my laptop and wrote a plan.
  1. I need to look at the relationship between McSwann’s and Thompson. I need to look up the builders at Companies House. For £30.00 you can get a number of reports that will provide information about the company in its present state and at its inception. My Swiss account can stand that!
  2. I also need to look at J Thompson’s accounts again and be more thorough in my search of all his accounts.
  3. I need to update Mr Sumisu – I am convinced it’s him I am working for. I want to know what he wants.
I am sure these are the right steps although I am still not clear as to when, or if, I am going to be fixing Jim. I could just do it anyway but it feels like there is more to it. J Thompson is not an end to the story whatever that may be. I think I will text my findings as soon as I have completed the first two tasks.
I got on to the net and ordered the reports to come back by email. I then accessed JTs accounts. I had set up access through work. So I could look at his accounts ‘live’. It also meant I could see and do everything he could. The sum in question, £1250.00, was paid by McSwann’s in March and sure enough a cheque for that amount hit the account three days later. I looked back for six months and similar transactions occurred starting in December about the time his debts seemed to be at their worst. It was never the same amount and always in the last week of the month. That was staff pay day at the builders. Not very clever! In total he’d had less than £5k in 4 months. Not enough to settle the gambling account. That must have been settled in some other way and not out of these accounts. I hadn’t found that!
The emailed Companies Report came later in the morning and while I was waiting I killed time by strolling along the rather seedy amusements, and closed fish and chip shops. There were five such places in under a hundred yards. How do they survive?
I had a latte in the only coffee shop that was open. It wasn’t bad. Not Starbucks but not their prices either. I was the only customer under 65!
I was back in my room at 11.30am. It was decision time. I had to check out by noon. I had left the laptop on and the report was waiting for me. I decided to have a quick peruse. Company was set up twenty years ago in Scotland, an Edinburgh address. It had been a family firm, but there were no longer any McSwanns on the board. The directors had mostly ordinary names that you would find in the UK except for one - Senor G del Sarto. He was from Perugia, aged 37. Not much information other than he held 51% of the company stock. He was the boss, but he had only been with the company for 6 months. How had that happened? Why would someone come from Umbria to Northumbria and take controlling stock in a small builders operating in the North East of England. I needed to get this information to my Japanese principles. I have never done anything other than send ‘Done’ on the mobile I was provided with. This was too much information to send by text. I needed to escalate my position with Sumisu to a two-way method of communication. I text the message ‘I have information’
I then went to reception, checked out and set off back to Yorkshire.
My modest, one bed roomed apartment is within a dozen miles of Leeds on the outskirts of a small dormitory town. It is on the top floor of a chapel conversion, so is modern and ‘well appointed’ as the estate agents say. It has all that I need considering the length of time I spend there. I have a good working kitchen that provides me with a source of relaxation. I enjoy cooking. I have taught myself and to the consternation of my relatives I used herbs which were unusual because I was brought up on good basic home cooking. Not ‘mucked about’ food! As I travelled south I contemplated calling at the local supermarket and getting the ingredients to make a meal. On the other hand I still didn’t feel that I had slept well enough in the last three days so a pub meal and a couple of pints at my local might be the best option tonight. My mobile was surprisingly silent. Forget about work. Work! I am back to work Monday morning. Still that is my visible source of employment. It is the plainly visible source of my being able to pay the mortgage etc. My Swiss account is something unknown to outsiders and is looking very well at the moment. I have done half a dozen moonlighting jobs and have over a quarter of a million in there. I have not had the balls to do anything significant with it yet - a few hundred in travelling expenses and hotel rooms. If I spend significantly someone will notice and I could be in trouble. I need to think carefully. Do I want to continue? The short answer is yes. I like the idea of having my retirement fund well established and the ‘work’ is stimulating to say the least. I know the do-gooders taking the moral high ground would lock me up and throw away the key, but I have the feeling that I am doing some good in the world. This Thompson situation is somewhat different. He can’t be my target. I would not be happy taking him out. He was not a thoroughly bad type misguided, greedy maybe not harming anyone else other than himself and perhaps the odd building firm. So what was this all about? Was it a test from Sumisu?
Okay off the M62 and ten minutes home and it was only 15:15 - home first and then some mundane tasks before I walk on to the Railway Inn.
I arrived at just after 18:30. Good timing on my part. I missed the teatime rush and was there before the evening diners arrived. My favourite waitress, Sheila was working and we went through our Japanese introduction routine. She was studying the language in the 6th form at the local grammar school. It’s helping me no end! I know its Saturday night but I ordered Sunday lunch! Paul’s Yorkshire puddings were wonderful and the beer was great. I feasted for over an hour and drank slowly. I left at 21:00 before I had to get involved in a session with my buddies. I was too full and tired. I walked back to the flat and was in bed early.

God Bless