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Inspector Julius Kpodo was known as a nice guy who somehow always got his man. He was a most unusual figure, not imposing yet unflappable, with average height and no outstanding features yet with a presence that was inexplicably commanding. He was one of those guys who bucked every trend so admirably that it was easy to respect him. His unusual ability to solve the unsolvable meant that he was the one the police went to when a case got cold. So naturally, he was woken up from his sleep when the body of Marcus Malcolm Glazer was found. He was one of the case officers on this when Kane went missing at his island getaway ten years ago, and he was the only one left today.
Julius’ assistant, Mary, brought in the envelope he’d requested. He opened it and started reading through the eight papers it contained. When he got to the last page, he frowned. Something looked off. He’d spent all morning reading through the old case files and had been bored to death with memos, contracts, pay stubs and every other document on Kane’s dealings. He’d read every last word, seen every last figure and had mocked Kane’s signature each time he saw it.
Kane signed using his middle name, Malcolm, and it looked like some scribble off a chicken’s claw. The signature on this new document was too clean, too nice. It looked just like the others, but something was off about it.
Mary came back in. “Sir, there’s a Mrs. Benton here to see you.”
“Ah, yes, send her in please, Mary.”
“Sir, you have that frown you get when you’re stuck on something.”
“Yes, something looks off about the signature on this document.”
“Mind if I look, sir?”
Julius handed her the document. This wasn’t normal procedure, but Mary had worked with him long enough to earn his trust. She took a look, scanned over it for a bit, and then gave it back to him and shook her head. “It looks normal to me, but then again I’m just a secretary. I don’t know much about signature designs. I’ll send Mrs. Benton in now.”
TEN YEARS AGO
Carol could never get used to Marvel Mansion but then again, no one could. No one built homes like that nowadays, but this one was like none other no matter what period of time you were in. It conjured the image of an art museum, but it had the feel of an island getaway. She thought it reminded her of Stark’s home in Iron Man 2. He may have had the humble look of a monk, but he was an opulent man.
As she walked through the main hall, with its ridiculously high ceiling and walls of white that flowed into each other like a giant tent, she heard Kane mumbling close by. She knew the rules, so she stood in her exact spot and waited for him to come to her. Kane had gotten someone’s job offer at a food factory rescinded because they went into his kitchen uninvited, and she was not about to suffer a worse fate. Her plan hinged on being in his good graces. She listened, waiting for another voice to speak so she’d guess who the client was, but only Kane’s voice came through. That was odd. Kane was a creature of habit, and he always had the client over to his house when the consort was this private. What was going on?
As she passed by the huge, roundtable right in the centre of the hall, a document on the table caught her attention. She picked it up to read.
“Last Will and Testament of Marcus Malcom Glazer…”
Why would he leave this in such an open place? She kept reading and noticed that he never indicated a next of kin, and he hadn’t signed it. While she wondered about the will, she heard footsteps approaching and put it back as she’d found it. Kane walked in and motioned to her to follow him.
They went into the study and once they’d gotten some food, Kane got to business. She’d never heard of a man in this line of work who treated his workers as equals, and this quality of his blew each of his workers away every time.
“I’ve got business for you, and I think you’re going to like it. A threesome with a special client, and you get to pick the girl.”
“Wait a second. Since when do you allow your treats to pick their partners?”
“Carol, you’re my favorite girl. Everyone knows that. But I’ve kept you in a box too long. It’s time for you to come out. I’ll go one step further and let you inside. The client technically didn’t make the request, but he’s threatening to bring our whole sweet operation down and I need to take him out.”
“Kane, you know I don’t do personal bullshit.”
“Yeah, but I also know that you love the perks that this life affords you. The money, the contacts, the parties you get to go to. Didn’t you get to go to Dubai like three times in a month at some point? You’re less than thirty, making in a week what many make in six months. Do you want it all to go away?”
“Boss, you mean to tell me that with all your contacts, you can’t get this guy off your back?”
“I’ve tried, Carol. But it’s a little tricky. His father is Bishop Charles Monslant.”
“The right hand to Archbishop Benton?”
“And let me guess, you don’t want to go against the Oracle of God?”
“Exactly, Carol. Exactly.”
Carol stood up and paced the room. Kane could easily have ordered her and she’d have no choice, but here he was, asking her instead. This wasn’t the first time they’d smeared someone, but she hadn’t known the previous times and she’d hated that. Now she knew and she wasn’t sure.
Kane knew it was time to go for the kill. “I know about your relationship with the Archbishop’s son.”
Carol spun around.
“You know I monitor all my treats. Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? You’re not exactly discrete, by the way. Or moral. You screwed him under a cross in his father’s church? Bad move, girl.”
Carol sat back down, and Kane went for the jugular. “Now, with all your sneaking around, I suppose that the boy wants you and you want him, but you’re trying to figure his father out. The way he’s careful with his reputation, it would be a travesty if he were to find out about his son’s trysts before you could officially be introduced.”
This was the first time that Carol truly resented Kane. She’d seen his bad side, even his cruel sides, but she’d always explained them away as business decisions. This time, it was aimed at her and she wasn’t a fan.
She was about to call his bluff when an idea formed in her head. She knew that Kane was meticulous about his study, his bedroom and his hall. But the roundtable was usually for mail from the post office and other deliveries, things that Kane never dealt with. Kane never looked at that table, so he never knew what was on it. What if she could use this against him?
“You know what, Kane, no need to tell the Archbishop. Tell me when and where.”
“Good girl. I knew you’d see things my way. I’m leaving the entire operation to you. Use your relationship with the boy to figure out the Bishop, then use that against him. You have two weeks to get it done.”
“I’ll take the two weeks, but I might need only one.” Carol stood up to leave.
“Carol, one more thing.” Kane pulled out a small box from his desk drawer, “The box has two small cams in it, so you two can record the affair.”
“You know, I won’t let you down, Kane.”
“I know, cos your heart’s at stake. Call me when it’s done.”