Cormac’s FFF four starter words were: PATER, PEST, PERPENDICULAR AND SCHLEMIEL.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN FLUTE
Arnold Barnes read through the Private Investigator’s report. Despite the somewhat seedy first impression, Valentine had provided a discrete and efficient service. The two typed pages were succinct and the enclosed photographs damning evidence of his young wife’s infidelity.
Arnold sighed and drank some more tea. Maybe he should have listened to his dear old father. The old man had warned him that a marriage to a woman thirty years his junior was doomed from the very beginning and would only lead to heartache.
“Arnie, you’re a fool,” the old man had barked and then insulted him coarsely using his native New York slang. “You SCHLEMIEL!”
His father had never lived to see the outcome of his prognosis, passing away shortly before Arnold’s nuptials to the waiflike Cheryl.
Arnold’s firm specialised in long term bonds and financial investments. Succeeding his father as Chairman had made him a wealthy man and the subsequent inheritance had increased his personal fortune threefold.
Despite her new luxurious lifestyle and the many exotic holidays it soon became apparent that Cheryl needed to fill her days. Arnold happily funded her many hobbies; Yoga positions moved onto Pilates, Aerobic fitness classes sashayed towards Salsa dancing and the Piano lessons segued into her latest passion, the Flute.
Cheryl would waffle on and on each evening. Telling Arnold how James, her private instructor, was coaching her on the rudiments of the woodwind instrument; how to hold the flute PERPENDICULAR to her body, helping her to develop the correct mouth shape and to control her breathing.
Arnold was sure that, given time, Cheryl’s prized golden flute would become another shrewd investment.
The intercom buzzed and broke his reverie, “Doc is here for your three thirty appointment Mr Barnes.”
“Thank you Rebecca”. Arnold closed the file and moved it to one side of the polished walnut desk. “Show him in please.”
The enigmatic Doc sat down opposite Arnold and declined the offer of refreshments. His eyes behind the steel rimmed spectacles were a piercing, vibrant blue and a little unsettling.
Arnold waited until Rebecca had closed the office door. He then opened a drawer of the desk and slid an A4 size manila envelope across the desk.
“Doc, you are an expert, how shall I put this... in PEST control,” Arnold paused to take a sip of tea. “All the details for your assignment are in the envelope.” He put his china cup down on the saucer, then added, “Naturally I would like this matter facilitated at the earliest opportunity.”
Doc broke the seal on the envelope and thumbed through the contents. “I can expect payment on the balance of my fee on completion of the assignment?”
“Agreed,” Arnold straightened his MCC necktie. “My word is my bond sir.”
“Then our business today is concluded.” Doc gave him a killer smile and extended his right hand.
Arnold felt a shiver run down his spine as he shook hands. He consoled himself with the thought that although Doc was a cold fish he was simply the best hit man that money could buy.
Later that afternoon Arnold wheeled the shredding machine over to his desk. He picked up the PI’s report and flicked through it. The photographs were quite graphic; the mouth shaping tuition appeared to be paying dividends. One by one the crude, glossy prints were eaten by the shredder. He glanced at the letter once again before feeding it into the machine.
Cheryl’s indiscretions were nothing new to Arnold and he had no doubts that they would continue. With each new pastime there would be another handsome tutor to help her while away the hours.
He went over to the drinks cabinet by the window and poured himself a whisky, adding two ice cubes. Savouring his drink he looked upon the vista that was the City of London. Arnold felt that he could almost smell the old money radiating from it.
The letter was a clumsy attempt at extortion. Blackmail was going to be a costly mistake for the flutist and one that James would pay for with his life.
When the time was right Arnold would make an appointment for the inscrutable Doc to meet the beautiful Cheryl, as he had done so with dear old PATER.
For now Arnold Barnes was contented to turn a blind eye. The hefty insurance policy on his wife’s life was too new and too obvious.
It was all about calculating the long term investments.
© 2009 Alan Griffiths
It Had to Be Hitchcock
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