Friday, May 22, 2015

Walt Murphy – PI – 6

Mr Philips appeared on the dot of ten. When Chelsea escorted him to my office, he stood hesitantly in the doorway as if it was the entrance to a trap. I estimated he was older than my thirty by at least ten years. He looked like a businessman in the suit and tie he was wearing. Conjecture at this point of course.

"Come in and have a seat," I said.

With a sharp nod, he came over to take the chair beside my desk. All the time he was staring at my face. I knew the scar could be off-putting to some people, but not as much as it seemed to be to him. Then I remembered the bruising from last night's encounter and smiled wryly. "It's not as bad as it looks."

"It makes you look…tough. That's encouraging." His voice was low and cultured.

I chuckled. "Encouraging is good. Would you like something to drink? Coffee, water?" When he declined I moved on to the pertinent question, "Why you think you need a bodyguard, Mr Philips?"

"I'm in possession of an item that it seems someone would like to get their hands on."

A strangely formal way for him to put it, but I got idea. Then, as implausible as it seemed at the moment, the coin dropped. "Does the B in your name stand for Bailey?"

"Yes. How did you know?" he asked in obvious surprise.

"I had a run-in with some men last night. They said I was holding something for…well they said 'Bailey'. I presumed that was a last name. They wanted their property—as they put it—back."

"And they did that to you?" he replied in dismay, gesturing to my face.

I nodded. "They were rather insistent that I tell them where it was. Luckily the cops showed up before things got worse." I studied him when something occurred to me. "Presuming it was you they were talking about, and logically it has to be given your original statement, how did they associate me with you? At that point we hadn't met—or even talked."

His thought for a minute then his expression darkened angrily. "Hawley."

"Who would be?"

"My business manager. He's the only one I said anything to about wanting to hire a bodyguard. He came into my office yesterday morning, just as I was checking out ads online. When he asked, I told him I'd decided to hire someone to take a valuable necklace to my appraiser, since he wanted to study it more thoroughly than he could on site. I said you offered that service and I was about to call you."

I gave him a dry look, muttering "Thanks."

"I certainly didn't expect that to happen to you," he replied with a mixture of asperity and dismay. "Hawley accepted my reasoning for needing a guard—rather than taking it myself, which was my regular process—because, well…of what had happened the previous night."

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