Friday, March 06, 2020

Doubling Down

This is Chapter 11 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

Saturday afternoon, July 11, 2020, Seattle

At the house showing, Sean and Mary, with some enthusiastic input from Mareka, had made up their minds and decided to make an offer.

“Ms Langley, is there anything that might prevent us from taking a quick possession of the property?” asked Sean, “We are in a position to make a generous offer with the proviso that we can move in immediately.”

“Are you suggesting a cash sale?” asked the realtor, “I know the sellers are motivated. What kind of offer did you have in mind?”

“We’ll go 10% above the asking price if we can close next week; this offer will stand until next Friday,” said Sean, “We’ll take it as is—with its furnishings. It will save us a lot of hassle, factory-to-retail furniture sales are still backed up from the virus effects.”

“Any other conditions?”

“We would appreciate as private transaction as possible,” said Mary, “Are you aware of who we are?”

“Yes, yes I am,” she said, “We always do a background check on our clients. Be assured that all our transactions are absolutely secret.”

“Thank you,” said Mary, “Your discretion will be rewarded.”

“Excuse me for a moment,” said Elly, “I’ll need to make a phone call to confirm the deal.”

In her basement apartment in the University District of Seattle, Barbara Merrit sat at her iMac, looking at images she had taken during and after the riot of the previous day. Barbara was the sister of the late Dick Merrit, who had been a reporter for the internet tabloid Dick and fellow reporter Elly Nelson had died in a car crash seven years ago. They had been getting ready to publish an exposé on Sean and Mary’s affairs. Their death, coupled the collapse of techcreeper soon after, had effectively ended the media coverage of Sean and Mary. Barbara had inherited her brother’s notes, effects and, after some complicated negotiations, all of the material techcreeper had gathered about Sean and Mary. Barbara was convinced that her brother’s death had not been an accident and that Sean and Mary had something to do with his demise. She was compiling material for a book on the couple.

Merrit was also making a timeline of the events of the previous day using the exif data stored with the images she had taken. She had been alerted in the early afternoon of the Twitter feeds from the TV station—Mary’s name was also popping up in tweets from a television evangelist. She had then made a beeline for their apartment. After checking into a room in a nearby hotel that offered a clear view of the apartment’s entrance, she had taken numerous pictures of people in the crowd with a telephoto lens, hoping to find some faces of the people who weren’t wearing masks that she could match up later with facial recognition software. When things on the street began to get out of hand Barbara had left her room with only her iPhone and her purse, intending to get close-up images without drawing attention to herself. She could hardly believe her luck when the elevator door opened on her floor and she saw Sean inside. After they got to the ground floor he left the building and she followed him at a discreet distance. As the riot had swirled around her she saw Sean go over to a woman standing on the bench of a bus stop and take her in his arms. She took as many picture of the couple as she dared and then hurried back to the hotel. There were now guards at the hotel entrance but when she showed her room card she was let into the lobby. When Sean and the woman from the bus stop showed up a few minutes later, she had made sure that she was in the right position to get clear shot of them together.

The phone rang in the office of Andrew Stevenson in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“Andrew Stevenson?”

“That’s Reverend Stevenson, what can I do for you?”

“This is special agent Marchal, FBI,” said the voice on the phone, “Are you aware of the riot that took place in Seattle yesterday, a riot may have been caused by your recent inflammatory Twitter comments and television sermons?”

“I don’t think I have to comment on that. I was a thousand miles away, I can’t be held responsible for what a bunch of pot-heads do in the Gomorrah of the Northwest.”

“You might want to consider your actions more carefully—incitement to riot is a serious offense.”

“I’m not afraid of you.”

“We'll be watching you.”

Reverend Stevenson hung up. He smiled to himself and said “The whole world will be watching me.”

Elly Langley had returned from her car.

“Your offer has been accepted. We can close as soon as Wednesday if you like.”

“Excellent, we can get our lawyers to draft up a bill of sale and get a clear title,” said Sean.

“It won’t be a problem. This is my late mother’s house. The title is already certified. My brother has given me complete power of attorney and he has accepted the deal. We’ve already removed all of her personal effects. By buying it furnished you’ll be saving us the hassle of disposing them. Most of it is old, but it is good furniture, mainly mid-century modern. It hasn’t been lived in for a year, she died last winter in a nursing home, from the Covid-19 virus. My brother and I have both been tested several times. The house has never had an infected person in it. How does Tuesday at 1 p.m. sound for a closing?”

“That’s perfect, email us the final figure and we’ll arrange the payment with our bank on Monday,” said Mary, “As far as the furnishing are concerned, your mother had good taste, we’ve got some, erm, a lot of other things going on and this will save us a lot of time and trouble. Sean, will you call Molly and have her write up an insurance policy for us?”

William Preston, news director at KWAH, was discussing the video from the previous night.

“Well, we didn’t get the story we went for, but the riot footage was picked up by all the services,” he said, “No sign of the girl, or her parents, though. They did land at SeaTac, we do know that, but they must have slipped back unnoticed somehow.”

“Should we keep a stakeout at the apartment?” said one of the reporters, “They can’t stay away for ever.”

“In the old days, we could just plant a guy there,” said Preston, “But post-covid he’d be picked up for loitering. We’ll have to get some info from the police, they owe us for supplying them with the video. Let’s put the little rich girl story on hold while we get some more info on the Preacher’s minions.”

Next chapter: Moving In

By Professor Batty

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