Gag Order – 13

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Gag Order – Installment 13 – Blind Alleys on Both Ends

It had been another harried night and Tatyana’s light make-up barely hid the dark rings around her eyes. She popped some pills and threw her head back and downed some water. And she raised her eyebrows, as if to clear some blurred vision.

Hearing a knock, she looked up and saw Peter at her door.

‘Everything okay with your son?’ said the inspector.

But she ignored his question and instead said, ‘I understand you’ve Wahab checking out a list of hotels, restaurants and all.’ A moment’s silence hung between them before she gestured for Peter to take a seat.

‘Thank you,’ said Peter. ‘Yes, tying up some loose ends.’

‘You’re tying up man-power, people I can’t spare,’ said Tatyana. ‘I bet Wahab uncovered nothing. Am I right?’

‘Zilch!’

‘Why’s that, inspector?’

‘We’re not done yet, ma’am,’ Peter matched her officious tone. ‘There are a few more venues on the list.’

Tatyana studied the sunburned man before her and, after a moment, said, ‘You’re never satisfied till you get right into the marrow. So, what’s bugging you this time?’

‘Like the DPP said, it’s an open and shut case,’ said Peter.

‘Too neat for your books?’

‘Yeah! Plus, conviction not only means incarceration but also up to twenty-four strokes of the cane.’

Tatyana locked eyes with Peter. She knew what he was hinting. And, as if he had read her mind, he said,

‘How’s your son?’

Tatyana pursed her lips, refused to be drawn into an argument. She said, ‘One more day, inspector. If you don’t come up with anything, drop it! That’s an order.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’ Peter rose to leave but seeing her start to say something, he stopped.

‘Peter,’ said Tatyana, ‘my son is, well, I’m lodging a complaint with the school board.’ She withdrew a stubby bottle from her desk drawer and rubbed some ointment on her forehead.

‘The cane, it’s the dark ages. No one should be allowed to—’

Tatyana looked away, but held up a hand and said, ‘Please, Peter, no sermons. But thank you for asking about my son.’ Her eyes had turned an ugly red and wet.

‘You’re welcome,’ said Peter softly, and after a moment, added, ‘Ana.’

In the meeting room of Damodar, Bronn & Associates, Joe Bernard, an ex-cop in his fifties and now managing a private investigations agency, moved aside his empty cup of coffee.

‘You actually like that gutter water?’ asked Krasten, as he took the report which the private investigator handed over.

‘I’ve had worse coffee,’ said Joe Bernard.

‘Really, where in Singapore, tell me so I can avoid the place,’ said Krasten, as he speed read the report.

‘Right here, in this very office.’

‘Yeah, that figures,’ said Krasten. ‘Nothing checked out, I see.’

‘Nothing,’ said Joe Bernard. ‘No one knows them or no one remembers. The couple took precautions alright. You know, secluded corners in cafés and they frequented busy places too. Obviously, they avoided joints where they might run into family and friends.’

‘Did you say, they frequented busy places?’

‘Yes, quite shrewd really. Crowds provide anonymity.’

‘Keep looking, will you Joe,’ said Krasten.

‘Your boss called my office, wanted to know the costs to date.’

‘Leave Jeevan to me, Joe.’

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Continued on Wednesday 26 May ***