No great Christmas lunch
Resources scarce in winter
©David L Atkinson December 2012
I Have To Get It Right
Once inside my room I started to look more carefully at the plastic bag. I still had a feeling of unease. I was sure I hadn’t been followed but…..! I opened the bag carefully. It seemed like a standard supermarket carrier. There was a large brown envelope inside. I took it out and placed it carefully on the unit next to the TV in the room. I gently felt the envelope all over searching for anything suspicious. Wires, hard objects or the like! The way we used to be reminded at work during the letter-bombing fad of the recent past. There was nothing obvious. I took out my knife and eased it under the flap but found nothing. I slit the envelope open at the ‘wrong end’. Again there seemed to be nothing untoward. I eased the papers towards me and left the envelope empty. I shook my head at my own nervousness. Still there was something troubling me.
The Italians were usually very careful. I had upset their routine by shooting and wounding Jiacomo and then getting rid of some of the family in their own backyard. They would be wary and therefore dangerous I had probably made myself life long enemies. Although there was nothing obvious they must be monitoring what was going on. In their position I would. On the face of it JT had given me what I had asked for – details of times, dates, names and amounts of money changing hands. However, the majority of the names were unknown to me but I assume verifiable but my feeling was of suspicion! I packed my bags, went to reception and paid my bill. I don’t know why but I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickling and I couldn’t resist the temptation to glance over my shoulder every thirty seconds. I drove across to The Ramside and checked in there. While on my way I continued to look behind me more than at the road ahead!
I didn’t feel I could go south – too much to do! I checked the paperwork again and still felt that it was incomplete. In real terms the only people incriminated were Jiacomo Torino and James Thompson; the rest could be made up! I started to smell a rat! The only trouble being I don’t know where or how big a rat I was looking for. Suddenly, I had the feeling that the last few weeks had been me thrashing around in the dark thinking I had a torch but in fact was wearing a blindfold! I needed to go online and check some of the figures that Thompson had given me. Although I think they would be kosher as far as Jim’s accounts were concerned. After half an hour my feelings were proved correct and I had discovered nothing new. I decided to do two things; firstly, to go find J Thompson and secondly, to inform Sumisu. I did the latter first by text. It had to be short so I just said that we might have been misled by JT – investigating further.
I set off to the Thompson estate and hoped I would be there before he got home from work. I parked in the cul-de-sac and waited. The house had a curiously quiet look! Well everyone would be working or at school wouldn’t they? It was getting towards five. Here they come, mother and daughter looking fraught, that is. Everything appeared normal; they had obviously been to the supermarket and struggled into the house with loads of bags. At a guess they would then make a meal for the man of the house! Then he should turn up and appreciate everything that has been done for him! Well that would keep everyone happy at home.
He turned up around six with a limping Jiacomo in tow! I was flabbergasted! I took a photo with my camera and then sat for a while pondering what to do next. I was going in to teach him some manners but that would not be possible just yet. I would have to wait, which could be useful as I had an empty void where the plans I had should have been in my mind. There is something very significant going on tonight and I want to know what it is. They were obviously having an unhurried meal because after an hour there was no sign of movement. I waited another hour and a germ of an idea was forming in my mind. Simple really but I needed to stay close to Jim Thompson. I decided to wait until Torino left and then go back to Ramside for a short sleep and then to follow Jim for a day or two. I needed photos of contacts and could do with a line tap on his phones.
I text Sumisu again and requested that he arrange for phone tapping and back up so that we could watch Thompson more carefully. It was midnight before Torino left. A car arrived driven by two men that were obviously not suffering from starvation or lack of exercise! I thought they didn’t look like your average taxi drivers! They had a slightly European look about them as well as armpits that bulged and a generally unsmiling demeanour. Not your usual visitors in this neighbourhood. How Torino left was rather interesting as well. As soon as I saw the hall light come on I opened the car window. I was too far away to hear what was said but from the body language, the way Torino almost bowed obsequiously, he was talking to a superior! I have to be wrong in that idea surely! The only problem was that I couldn’t see to whom he was bowing; maybe he was being the perfect gentleman and acknowledging Janice’s culinary efforts!
I had a lot to think about as I drove back to Ramside Hall. When I arrived there I had another surprise, Sumisu was waiting along with Misaki in comfortable looking, deep, red leather armchairs in the foyer! Inexplicably, I was relieved to see them even though I didn’t show it.
“Good evening Patrick san,” with a polite bow and a smile from Sumisu. Misaki just bowed politely.
“Konbanwa Sumisu san, Misaki san,” I bowed in my turn.
Sumisu indicated an armchair opposite him that I should sit in.
“The mobile phone taps are in place and some information has started to come in already. You will be unsurprised to learn that we have a communications centre. Misaki is here to help you to watch! The Torino accounts have led us to a puzzling dead end. To cut a long story short we could not find any other organisations involved apart from Thompson and the McSwann Company. So either the situation we are uncovering is a whole lot smaller and less complex than we thought or we have the wrong instigators.” Sumisu paused and looked straight into my eyes and without flinching went on,
“It is my belief Patrick san that someone closer to Mr Thompson, or even the man himself, is in charge!”
I looked away and down at my shoes before revealing what I had observed a few short hours ago outside the Thompson household.
“You see Patrick san sometimes it is better to hide in plain sight!” he smiled.
“You think that James Thompson is the ring leader?” I commented incredulously.
“That is for us to prove and one possible avenue is to delve deeper into all of his banking activities. It may be, having discovered the obvious; we did not look far enough for more serious crimes!” there it was again, criticism and de-personalisation of my mistakes. A very assertive approach designed to focus on behaviours rather than personal skills and abilities.
“I would suggest that tomorrow Misaki san,” he nodded politely in her direction, “goes to Gateshead to follow Thompson and you spend the whole day reviewing what you have learned and looking for steps beyond the level that you have already attained.”
“Of course Sumisu san I appreciate your suggestions and will help Misaki with the knowledge of the area I have gained.” I replied with a serious expression.
“I am sure she will manage as she has been there before!” he countered
I will never cease to be amazed by these people’s forethought!
With that Sumisu san stood, bowed and wished us goodnight and turned towards the lift. Before I could say anything to her Misaki was following the revered gentleman. I stood for a moment and then went to the reception desk for my key and walked on down the corridor because my room was on the ground floor. I mulled over the information I had gleaned today and one hackneyed phrase kept going over and over in my mind – ‘hiding in plain sight – and I felt slightly embarrassed. My eagerness to please, rather like an overzealous puppy, could have wasted us a considerable amount of time and money. Maybe I hadn’t needed to go to Italy! There were lots of maybes going through my mind!
I readied myself for turning in and lay down but sleep didn’t come quickly with all that had gone on today not only that but Misaki didn’t come either! Well you get what you deserve. Perhaps in her eyes I had lost face!I breakfasted at 08:00. There was no sign of my partners in crime! I went straight to my room and got out the laptop. Fortunately the Internet is available in most hotel rooms round the globe these days. I started to do as Sumisu suggested and went right back to the beginning concentrating as much on the source of funds coming into the Thompson account as where he was sending money to. I worked through his main account and savings accounts and I also looked at where his bill payments and standing orders were going. My eyes were prickling and head was beginning to throb around lunchtime so I decided to go for a walk and grab a sandwich. I had not yet come to any conclusion so taking a break in similar situations in the past has helped.