The Tattooed Man

byCromagnonman©

"Next thing you know Tony will be asking for spotter's fees. Does his lady friend know any more about this?"

"If you were to ask me I'd say that she does, but she denies any knowledge of his involvement. One thing that does intrigue me and that is that she's a Van Gilder, Patrick's youngest sister in fact. The family didn't take too kindly to her liaison with the hired help and when the old man died she found that she had been cut out of the will. Things have been difficult for her financially and she has had to seek employment to make ends meet, something that no Van Gilder has had to do since the Depression."

"I suppose that, while she won't tell you anything, you think that she might open up to me, is that it?"

"Yes. Here is her address, I think that you should call on her."

Lucy and Dolores came down the stairs, Dolores was carrying Mike. "Dolores has volunteered to look after Mike when I go into hospital."

Lou and I exchanged glances. This was a side of Dolores that neither of us had seen, not that I was complaining, it saved me from that particular chore. Much as I loved being with him, it was tiring just trying to keep up with him. "Thank you for that. Don't tell me that you're contemplating having a family at this time in your life."

"I'm not too old and I know that Lou would like a child." I looked at Lou and his look confirmed that statement to be true. Wonders will never cease.

I rang the bell of a modest apartment in a modest complex. The door was opened as far as the security chain would allow. "Yes?"

"Good afternoon, my name is Gerry Pretty, may I come in?"

The door closed, the chain was taken out of the slide and it opened again. Kristina Van Gilder was a still handsome woman in her thirties, once one glossed of the worry lines on her face. "How can I help your Mr. Pretty?"

"I understand that you were acquainted with James Peterson?'

"Yes."

"And he was with you just before he met his end yesterday evening?"

"Yes."

"Before he left did he happen to mention that he was going to see me to seek my assistance with the matter that saw him do time?"

"Yes." She was about to stop there but thought better of it. "I told him that I'd go to you because he'd been followed every time he left the apartment, but he said that it was too dangerous and he wouldn't let me go. I begged him to call you and get you to come here but he said that it had to be done his way and now he's gone. I don't know what to do now, I'm afraid to leave this place for fear that the men that killed him will do the same to me. I don't know anything but they won't believe that."

"Did he say anything to you that seemed unusual?"

"I don't think so. . . "She stopped to think. "Wait a minute, when we were in bed the night before he said that if anything happened to him I should remember what he did and where he went the day that I went shopping in Paris."

"Where did he go, do you remember?"

"Yes, he went to Zurich, something to do with his job with Patrick."

"That didn't seem odd to you at the time?"

"Well yes it did, but he said that he couldn't tell me more than that." She looked at me. "Am I in danger?"

"I don't know, but I think it might be a good idea if you could disappear for a while, maybe a trip overseas perhaps. I don't suppose you'd like to take a shopping trip to Paris would you?"

"What with, I have no money, I was left nothing in my father's will and Patrick has cut me out of the family because of my relationship with James. Our getting married while he was in jail was the final straw, I'm no longer welcome in the family."

"I have some things to follow up on and I may need to speak to you again, if I do I'll call you first. In the mean time keep this door locked and don't let anyone in. If someone tries to break the door down this is the number of Lou Callahan, he's a straight cop and he'll get around here as quick as he can."

"Thank you Mr. Pretty, thank you for taking an interest in me and my problems. Most people I know would have just left me to the wolves."

"It's not over yet by any means, but I live in hope that we can get to the bottom of this before there is any further unpleasantness."

It was time for another conference with Lou, and because I didn't want to upset Lucy I decided to go to the precinct house and see him on his turf for a change. "Can you check on Patrick Van Gilder and see if you've got anything on him. I think that he's in to this up to his neck, and wouldn't be at all surprised if there's not a connection between him and Freddie the Fink."

"I'll see what I can find out, in the mean time go home and put Lucy's mind at ease, she's rung here five times in the last hour to see if I've heard from you."

I went and the look of relief that came across Lucy's face told me that, for the time being at least, she didn't want me to get involved in this business, and I would have to say that I agree with her. Paula and Bill worked the bar while I waited on tables until the rush had died down. Lucy did the best she could given her condition, and we somehow managed to get through the night. "Look, I know that you think that you can still do the work down here, but I don't want you exerting yourself un-necessarily, so I'm going to make a couple of calls and see if we can get a cook for the time being."

"I can manage."

"It's only a couple of days, a week at most before you'll be in hospital, it will be better if we can get someone in before you go in, and not bring someone in at the last minute."

"I know you're right, but I don't want to be sitting around doing nothing."

"You won't be doing nothing, you just won't be doing everything, that's all." I took her in my arms and kissed her. We went back into the bar and sat with Paula and Bill and chatted about the changes that will have to take place. "I know a good cook that would jump at the chance to pick up a little extra money."

"Who is this person and what qualifications does he or she have?" I asked him, I knew who he had in mind and I knew of her experience, she would be perfect, it was just that I wanted him to sell me on her and not just take her on because she was his wife.

"She's had plenty of experience at the type of meals we serve here, she knows bar catering, she can do the ordering and food selection. She had almost qualified as a chef before a workplace accident put her in hospital for a long time. She has been doing some casual work in the industry to build up her confidence and I think that she's just about ready to face the world."

"Bring her in tomorrow and Lucy and I will have a chat to her to see what we think. There are no guarantees mind you, if we take her on it'll be because we think that she can do the job, okay?"

"Sure thing Gerry, and thanks for this." We had a drink as we chatted and eventually they left and Lucy and I climbed the stairs to bed.

"I'm scared Gerry, really scared. There are some very important people involved I this aren't there?"

"What makes you say that?"

"Because I know you, and you're hiding something from me and the only time that you do that is if something big is happening. On top of that there are the little private conversations between you and Lou, you've never had those before."

"You're right, I'm scared but not for me, I'm scared for you. Not that I think that there's a direct threat to you, it's just that I don't want anything to place any extra pressure on you at this time. I love you and I want us all to be happy and together so I'm running scared, I don't want anything to go wrong."

"I love you too. By the way, that picture of the tattooed man's back, that section that you thought might be a code isn't actually a code after all. Those squares and dots form letters and numbers, but the tricky part is that you have to read them in a mirror. For him to read it he'd have to stand in front of a mirror and read it over his shoulder. Using a mirror I came up with; 'Banque Internationale de Zurich' and a series of numbers that I assume are account numbers or a safety deposit box number."

"We'd better hope that it's an account number because we'd have to have a key to open a box. Wait a minute, his wife might have a key."

It was around then that I lost interest in what I was thinking about, Lucy had disappeared under the bed covers and was ensuring that my cock was getting as much attention as he needed. Not wanting for her to miss out I maneuvered around until I was able to return the favor to her pussy. It was much later that my mind began to return to the matter at hand.

Whatever it was that was in that bank in Switzerland had already cost one life and, until it was retrieved, there was a distinct possibility that further lives would be lost. My first job in the morning was to find a way to get to that account of safety deposit box before the bad guys.

I rang Kristina and arranged to call on her at 9:00. I rang Eddie and arranged a pickup in good time to keep that appointment. Lucy and I had a pleasant breakfast together before I told her what I was going to do. She was quiet for a while and then. "Darling, I have a bad feeling about this, please be careful, I don't want to lose the most important thing in my life. Without you and your love and support I don't know what I will do or how I'll survive."

"Don't worry, I'm just going to talk with her to see what she knows and whether James left her a key. What could go wrong?"

"Going on your past record, anything." She kissed me in such a way that I had second thoughts about keeping my appointment. I went with my first thoughts.

"Katrina, did James leave a key with you?"

"Yes, well actually he didn't leave it with me, he left it in a safety deposit box at his bank with instructions that I should only retrieve it on his death. I guess that time is now."

I went with her to his bank and retrieved the key along with a note explaining that it was the key to a safety deposit box at the International Bank of Zurich. "Will you come with me to Switzerland?" Katrina asked me.

"I don't think that I can, you see my partner is due to go into hospital to have a baby and I don't want to miss that."

"I will make it well worth your while, and cover all of your expenses as well as paying your usual fee. Will you do it?"

"Can you give me a little time to consider this before I answer?"

"A Little time, yes, but I'll expect an answer by this evening, If you can't come I'll just have to find someone else and you'll miss out on all of that money."

"Money isn't everything."

"Keep thinking that way and you'll never get anywhere, in this world money is everything."

I left her and went back to Lucy. "Whatever it is, he's stashed it in a safety deposit box in Switzerland and Katrina wants me to go to retrieve it. I don't want to go and leave you here so close to the birth."

"But it is a lot of money she's offering isn't it?"

"Yes, I don't know exactly how much but she's covering all expenses and paying my usual fee, so I'm not losing out financially."

"You go, I'll be alright here and I have Dolores to look after Mike and the relief here is covered. I'll be fine." She kissed me. "Believe me, nothing will go wrong."

Two days later I was in Zurich at the Banque Internationale. I didn't think it safe for Katrina to travel, too many opportunities for bad men to do something bad to her. "I would like to access a safety deposit box please." I told the clerk at the main desk.

"Do you have some identification that will establish you rights to access the box?" I presented him with the note that was with the key along with the key itself and Katrina's notarized authority for me to take possession of the contents of the box. "That seems to be in order. Now do you have the box number?"

"Yes I have the number." I wrote the number on a piece of paper and the clerk compared it to the number on his records, it matched. He led me down to the vault where all of the boxes were and to the box itself. Inserting his key he stood back as I inserted mine and pulled the box out. He then left me to open the box.

What I found inside was not what I had expected. There were several velvet covered boxes, each containing diamond jewelry of a brilliance that I could only have imagined. I couldn't even begin to place a value on them. There were also several documents and one caught my attention. It was the last Will and Testament of Patrick Van Gilder the Second. I read it and was surprised to find that in it he had cut his son Patrick the Third out it entirely, in fact his words were: 'To my useless son Patrick I leave nothing, he has wasted every dime that I've ever given him and is getting what he deserves, not one cent more.'

There was another typewritten document signed by James Peterson, outlining a conversation that he had overheard between Patrick Van Gilder the Third and Freddie the Fink Mortimer, it was a plot to get their hands on a considerable amount of the Van Gilder family fortune. That Freddie the Fink was included in this scheme was, in part, due to his expertise in such matters, and due to the fact that it was necessary for Patrick to acquire this to pay off the money that he owed Freddie and others. Of what was to be gained in this scheme, little was going to end up in Patrick the Third's hands. Could the Will that was produced for probate have been a forgery?

I read on and James had outlined his plan to thwart their schemes, it involved the removal from the Van Gilder safe several items and placing them somewhere out of harm's way. This included a large wrapped package that turned out to be several bundles of large denomination bank notes. A quick calculation revealed somewhat more than a million dollars. Whoever was entitled to this was going to be a very wealthy person.

I decided that I was not about to fly back to the States carrying this, you never know who could be waiting to relieve you of it, so I bought the strongest cardboard box I could find, packed the jewels and money into it, along with the documents, wrapped it tightly and addressed it to Lou at the precinct house. I then went to the Post Office and sent it by registered mail to ensure that it reached its destination and into the right hands.

With notarized copies of the documents in my bag I headed home.

I rang Eddie from the airport and waited inside the terminal building until I saw him pulling up outside before leaving, and climbing into the cab. "Where to Gerry?"

"Home first, I'll get you to stand by for a while, I have to go and see Lou."

"Sure thing. I should tell you that Lou's had plain clothed cops keeping an eye on the bar. It seems as if Freddie the Fink has been calling by wanting to know where you were and making not very veiled threats to Lucy."

"Is she alright?"

"Yeah, what with Paula and Bill there all the time and Dolores sleeping over, she's been well protected, and Lou's been spending the nights there as well."

As we turned into the alley a cop lazing with intent looked into the cab before waving us through. Someone must have been looking for me to arrive because I hadn't even reached the door before Lucy was in my arms, sobbing with relief. "Oh Darling, it has been horrible. That man with all the money has been calling in and he has stopped waving his cash and instead he has been threatening all of us because we wouldn't tell him where you were."

"It's okay now, I'm home and everything's under control."

"Not everything."

"What do you mean?"

"I'll get my bag and Eddie can drive us to the hospital. As soon as you rang for Eddie he told the dispatcher to call me. I guess that it was the relief that you were home safely, but my waters broke. I only just managed to get cleaned up before you got here."

Dolores was standing there holding Mike in her arms. "Will you two go, everything's under control."

"Call Lou and tell him I'm back will you?" I said as I grabbed Lucy's bag and we dashed for the cab.

"Change of plans Gerry? I take it that we're going to the hospital."

"Yes and as fast as you can." I sat in the back seat with Lucy, she was hanging onto my arm and every now and then I could see on her face that she was having a contraction. "How far apart are they?"

"Every two minutes. I should be able to hang on until we get there."

Two hours later I was allowed briefly into her room to hold our daughter. Mother and daughter were both doing fine and the birth was quick and without complications. I had kissed the baby's head and Lucy's hungry mouth before I was ordered from the room.

As I left the hospital a police car pulled up out front and Lou got out. "How did it go?"

"Great, Lucy and our daughter are both doing fine."

"That's good because we have a slight problem."

"How slight?"

"Do you have somewhere you can stay? It seems as if someone managed to get by all of our guards and throw a firebomb through your back window. Don't worry, everyone got out okay, but the bar's gone."

"Have you any ideas who might be behind this?"

"I thought that you might have an idea of your own."

"My first guess would be Freddie the Fink."

"That would be my guess and we have a way of proving it. It would appear as if his driver was just a little too enthusiastic when he drove out of the alley and scraped the wall of the building on the corner. We are going to pay a visit on Freddie and see if his car has a matching scrape. Why do you think Freddie is involved?"

"Apart from offering me a great deal of money if I would reveal James' final words I know why he is gunning for me. It appears that Freddie was in cahoots with Patrick Van Gilder the Third to pull off an insurance scam. He was hired to steal the family jewels and some cash from the Van Gilder safe and, after the insurance company paid out on the claim most of the money would go, not to Van Gilder but to Freddie who had markers on a large amount of money Van gilder owed. The jewels were supposed to have been broken up and fenced a few at a time to avoid suspicion. The proceeds were to be split fifty-fifty but something went wrong. When Freddie's boys waltzed through the conveniently open door to open the safe they found it empty. Van gilder is accusing Freddie of a double-cross and Freddie is accusing Van gilder of the same thing and neither of them know where the diamonds are."

"And I suppose that you do?"

"Yes I do, I'd tell you now where they are but I have something I need to do before I reveal all. Katrina Van Gilder, or should I say Katrina Peterson, is going to find herself a moderately rich lady. She may even find herself even richer in the not too diistant future. By the way, I sent you a package from Switzerland, has it arrived yet?"

"No."

"When it does could you make sure that it is in a safe place, it's important."

"If you say so. Can you tell me what's in it?"

"No, but if anything happens to me I want you to open it. There are papers in it that will tell you what to do with the contents."

"One day I'll get a straight answer from you." Lou drove me to his place where I was reunited with my son, he was happy to see me. Dolores had made up a bed for me on the sofa and Mike had a bed of his own in the spare room.

I didn't get much sleep, there was far too much going on in my head for that to happen. Straight after breakfast I rang Katrina and told her that I was coming over, then I rang Eddie to pick me up. We'd only been moving for a couple of blocks when Eddie's voice broke the silence. "We've got a tail."

"Can you lose it?" His answer was in his driving. He pulled up out front of Katrina's building, stopping long enough for me to scramble out of the car and dash for the door. I stood just inside and watched as the car that had been following us sped past, still in pursuit of us.

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