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 What is the Lie?

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Anthony van
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PostSubject: What is the Lie?   Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:57 pm

                                    Thurs

Next morning was foggy and chilly around the mountain cabin. Tom coaxed the embers of the fire back to life and soon had a crackling blaze warming the single room. He was now very hungry and decided he would have to map out a plan for the day and subsequent days while he made another sweet tea. His main aim, initially, would be to avoid capture. Next, he had to talk to Ed. The mobile showed no reception. It meant that driving back toward the coast until he could make a call was required. That would be his first task. Tom’s planning ended there. He knew talking to Ed was paramount, so he gulped his tea and went to the borrowed vehicle.

Driving back in the daylight took much less time, psychologically at least, and he was wondering again whether Lori had contacted the police—whether they were now looking for him in a white utility. His ruminating had delayed his planning further and he had only identified a few things that he had to check out by the time he neared a roadside clearing just outside the first small town. He took out his phone and listed the items:


  • Check out his spare car keys.

  • Talk to Ed about driving his car and about his mother’s will.

  • Find out where Al was when the murder was committed.

  • Talk to Holly to let her know what had happened.

  • Find his dad and see if he knows anything. Borrow a car?

  • Change my appearance.

  • FIRST get food and clothing
    Tom sent a text message to Ed, assuming he’d heard the bad news and trying to explain his innocence, telling him he’d give him all the details later. He kept apologising for everything before reluctantly asking for his assistance. He mentioned a way of returning the bike, listed the clothing and food that he would need and suggested some possible drop off points.
    While he waited for an answer, he looked at his list. There were some things that he’d like to do that were a bit risky and probably not essential. He would like to contact the police and explain his actions and, also, he’d like to contact his employees and reassure them that things were okay. But he knew they were not. They would be in shock. Customers might have second thoughts about his company. Regardless of his concerns, all that was secondary to finding the murderer.
    A short time later, Ed left a text message. It said that he would leave some clothes at the dock for him to pick up. It seemed that Lori had filled her father in on their meeting. The instructions for the meeting were very specific. Tom listed a few points, tapping the keypad with his thumb, wondering whether Ed was being a touch dramatic with the elaborate plan. Ed conveyed in his message that the police had already spoken to him that morning and he hinted that they were likely to keep an eye on him. Tom returned a text asking for information about how the investigation was proceeding, and he wanted to know who would benefit from the inheritance and business if he were out of the way. Ed replied that it was all very complicated and there were things they had to talk about personally. He would organise a time and place when things cooled down a bit.
    Tom spent the next fifteen minutes talking to Holly on the borrowed phone. He didn’t hold back, knowing she would prefer him to be up front. He basically told her that she should come home at once. He explained that her mother, Gene and Tamara had been victims in a triple murder and that he was a suspect and was avoiding police in an effort to find out who had committed this crime. She argued that he should give himself up and let justice take its course.       To Tom it wasn’t so simple. There was no way that he could think of that he could prove he hadn’t shot three people. His gun, his finger prints, a plausible motive and no alibi; to him there was no reason why they just wouldn’t charge him and stop looking for the real killer. The argument ended with both of them intransigent, convinced the other didn’t know what they were talking about, which was usually the case between the two. When he finished the call, Tom felt a little more alone. He had somehow craved the explicit support of his sister, even though historically it was almost unprecedented. What he didn’t understand was that, in other company, she was his biggest supporter, but to his face she always seemed to challenge or oppose him.
    Feeling empty and unsatisfied, he considered sending texts to some close friends from university. Perhaps even driving a distance away and using his phone to mislead the police. It entertained him for a minute or two before he thought better of it and headed back into the hills. He contemplated trying the tactic on his way back from his rendezvous with Ed later that day, even texting the police with a message that he wanted them to keep looking for the real murderer. “Living on the edge,” he said softly to himself, “gives you a better view.” Tom couldn’t remember where he had got that quote, but he considered that it fitted this situation.
    When he was back at the cabin he started making another hot drink of tea. Before consuming the hot beverage he drank cold water just to fill his stomach a bit. He wondered if he should have risked buying some food in the small town but decided that, since his picture had been published, he might be recognised. He stacked a pile of wood for the night and wandered up the river some distance to while away the time.
    Eventually he left for the meeting with Ed. His journey was an hour of jittery glances and nervous stops and detours. Pulling into a car park farther away, but adjacent to the one he normally used, he scanned the area before cautiously getting out. There was a heavy hedge separating the two parking lots. Tom found a small gap that allowed him to view the dock area and the parking spot where Ed said he’d pull up. He got back in the truck and sat there in bike gear with the overalls on, looking as scruffy as someone who had slept in the same clothes. He was there for fifteen minutes before Ed drove by looking as if he was heading to the bays where the motorised yacht was moored. He pulled up suddenly and backed up right near to Tom’s hiding place. In the distance a car edged into the far corner. Tom assumed that this was the predicted police surveillance car. Lori jumped out the passenger door and called, “Meet you in the yacht. I shouldn’t be long. She ran to the convenience store. At the same time as Ed opened his door, he released the catch on the trunk. Dragging a large sack out of the back door he swung it over his shoulder and sauntered toward the mooring pier. When he was almost to the yacht, Lori emerged from the shop and walked to the car and deposited one bag of groceries in the back.
    Just loud enough for him to hear, Lori spoke, “Take the groceries.”
    Then she went on quickly away from Tom, venturing a rapid glance back in his direction. She resumed toward the yacht carrying the second bag of groceries in one hand and some milk in the other hand. Ed was standing on the foredeck waiting for her. Soon she boarded and then both went below deck. The police car started and slowly cruised past, moving all the way to the dock.
    The subterfuge was working. While the police were convinced the action was on the boat, Tom quickly snuck through the gap in the hedge, opened the trunk, removed a large duffle bag and the groceries, closed the trunk and had the bags in the utility within ten seconds. He drove sedately from the docks fighting the desire to hasten his departure. He just joined the traffic on the main road when he saw Detective Burton race by and turn into the marina.
    ***
    [size]
    “Miles is up to something,” he said brusquely to Rolf, who was driving.
    “Do you think he knows where Witney is?”
    “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on the boat.”
    They pulled up sharply next to the other unmarked car with a minute squeal of tyres. They bundled out of the car and Burton quizzed the other driver.
    “What’s happening?”
    “The girl and her father are in the boat.”
    “See anyone else?”
    “No sign of Witney,” the policeman was just as concise, “but he may be on board.”
    “Okay, wait here.” The detective and his partner hastened along the wharf and stepped carefully on the gangplank of ‘Perfect Treat’.
    “Police, No one move!” yelled Burton as they scampered down four steps. Down below they found Ed and Lori just organising a coffee. He reintroduced himself and his partner, Rolf as a matter of form. Then he launched into questioning.
    “Where is Tom Witney?” demanded the policeman.
    “What do you mean?” Ed asked looking confused.
    “Do you know where he is?”
    “No,” Ed Miles replied, “Detective you’ve already asked us this.”
    “Have you seen him today?”
    “No.”
    “Why are you here on Witney’s boat?”
    “Tom often lets us use it. We were just bringing some supplies and bedding on board.”
    The detective slumped visibly. He stared at the two, somehow feeling that there was more to this.
    “Detective you must know that Tom didn’t commit the murders; he couldn’t.” Lori was trying to sound as convincing as possible.
    “Then why did he run Miss Miles?”
    “I guess he felt trapped. Have you questioned Gene junior?”
    “As a matter of fact I have Miss Miles, and he seems to have a fairly good alibi. Apart from that, he doesn’t have a motive. While Mrs Witney and his father were alive he was guaranteed reasonable support. Now, not being a benefactor,” he confirmed that detail with a questioning look from his source from earlier that day. Ed gave an assenting tilt of his head and Burton went on, “he will have to rely on the generosity of his step brother and step sister.”
    “Do you have any other suspects?” Lori asked hopefully.
    “Not at the moment, though I do have some questions for you Mr Miles.”
    “I explained that I was at dinner with my wife and two of my daughters,” Ed almost growled as he brought over the coffees.
    “No, this is something else. I spoke with your secretary this morning. Let me quote what she said; ‘some bizarre things happened yesterday; strangers meeting with Mr Miles. He was quite upset when he left work.’ Now who were those strangers Mr Miles?”
    Lori looked with a worried expression at her father.
                Ed looked up after taking a sip from his coffee. He looked steadily at his daughter before speaking.
    “You’re right it was bizarre. Two people, no, three people visited me that afternoon; two had urgent business with Tom and one was a personal visit. I was seeing Tom’s appointments, but these two just turned up.”
    “You didn’t think to tell us about this when we talked to you this morning.” There was a sceptical inflection to Burton’s voice.
    “Well, to tell you the truth, I wanted to confirm what these people were saying … and I wanted to talk to Tom about them first.” Ed hesitated and then looked Burton directly in the eyes, “But you’re right, I should have told you. Even if I implicate innocent people; I mean it hasn’t stopped you from pursuing Tom.” He gave a wry grin, but there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice. “And I’m sure Tom is innocent.”
    “Why don’t you let us decide who is guilty or innocent,” grated Burton. “I wouldn’t be so insistent if I were you. Did you know Witney had an argument with Towers yesterday?”
    “I had heard something of it, but Gene was often flying off the handle, and he had worries of his own.”
    Adrian Burton paused briefly before continuing, “Tom Witney was on the scene. It was his gun, his fingerprints, he is a major beneficiary of the will and he’s the only one without an alibi; but most of all, he shouldn’t have run. We’re forced to bring him in now.”
                Lori piped up. Her voice quivered slightly, “Wouldn’t you say that all your evidence is just circumstantial?”
    “That may be Miss Miles, but it’s very compelling.” Turning toward Ed he asked the question that was teetering on the edge of his memory. He blurted it out as the thought gelled so he wouldn’t forget. “Tell me, what was worrying Gene Towers?”
    “It had to do with one of the visitors; his name is Mr Charlton. I don’t know his first name. He told me everyone calls him Charlie. Anyway, he said that Charlton Chemicals was looking for an up to date treatment plant, but the contract had some conditions.” Burton’s fellow detective was busily taking notes and Ed was distracted for a second.
    “Go on,” encouraged Burton.
    “He said that Gene had been threatening to spread rumours about Charlton Chemicals and he was looking for money to keep him quiet.”
    “Blackmail,” the senior man glanced at Rolf then back at Ed, “What sort of rumours?”
    “Illegal dumping of chemicals, anyway he was very specific, we should stop Gene or he would take it into his own hands.”
    “So you think that’s what happened?” Burton sounded a little condescending.
    Ed ignored the inference that he jumped to conclusions. “I doubt it. Why would he come and see us if he was going to act so soon? As I said, it was a bit strange.”
    Burton wandered around the surprisingly spacious cabin, “Who were the other visitors?”
    “The first one was Harry Witney. He’d been to see Clarissa and he wanted an address.”
    “Witney senior?” The detective’s eyebrows were raised as if he was hearing new details, but, in truth, it bore out what they already knew.
    Lori watched her father as he went on, “The other was the last. He came after Charlton … said his name was Ashley Moore. He was hoping to speak with Tom.” Ed stopped unsure how to continue.
    “What did he want?” Burton sounded impatient.
    “He said he was Tom’s half brother; that his mother, Clarissa, gave him up for adoption when she was a teenager.”
    “What, just out of nowhere? That must have been a shock to you being the family legal advisor.
    Has this been verified?”  The detective again looked at Rolf and gave a little nod. The older man slumped noticeably and raised his eyebrows. The burden of the information was evident in his lacklustre response. He looked across the small table toward Lori knowing what he was about to say was news to her. “Actually, I have considerable knowledge of the history of this claim so, no, I wasn’t shocked. As I said, there were things I wanted to check. I’ll say this for him, he sounded believable.”
    “So, what did he want?”
    “He wouldn’t tell me. He just asked me to let Tom know he wanted to see him.”
    “That’s it?”
    “Well basically, he told me he’d visited Clarissa and they had a good reunion. And I asked about him. He said he was a teacher and happy in his job. He said he had been planning to get married soon, but it all fell through. It was then that he decided to take some time off to search out his roots.”
    “Do you know where he is staying?”
    “No, I didn’t ask.”
    [/size]
    ***
    [size]
                Soon after, the two detectives left the ‘Perfect Treat’. As he went alongside the other police car, Burton looked around; he leaned toward the window and queried, “Reeves, where did Miles park his car?”
    The officer indicated over his shoulder, “Over there, near the hedge.”
    The senior detective raised his eyebrows, “Why there?”
    “Seems his daughter needed to get something from the convenience store over the far side. I guess he put it there so she didn’t have to carry the groceries too far.”
    “Mmm,” Burton was unconvinced. “Did you check out the store?”
    The police in the car looked at each other. The first shook his head.
    “Did you keep an eye on the car?” The detective sounded a little agitated now.
    Reeves looked perplexed, “I thought you wanted us to keep watch on Miles and the girl.”
    Burton stared at the two and wordlessly strode to his car. Reeves looked up at Rolf who had a resigned expression, “What did he expect?” he whined.
    “There are two of you,” Rolf pointed out cuttingly and then he turned and joined Burton in the car.
                “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Detective Burton looked across as Rolf leaned forward to start the car.
    “You think Witney was here?” he looked a little mystified. “Why?”
    “Get information, maybe get some stuff, clothes, food … who knows? But I’d bet he was here.”
               
                [/size]

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