Death by Parking - Chapter 10 - Maryann Explains
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I was curious. Maryann obviously had an ulterior motive in inviting me to her home for dinner, beyond my scintillating repartee and good looks. Each of the guests seemed to be selected for a reason. I swirled the hundred-year-old brandy in the cut crystal snifter and waited. Maryann did everything in her own time.
I suspect someone in our contracts department may have been involved.
She made herself comfortable, legs tucked under her on the sofa next to me. I could see why my buddy Bogart would be attracted to her. She not only was beautiful, she had something…
“Down boy, I didn’t invite you here to seduce you, although it has crossed my mind.” I was impressed with her mind reading. “I felt it was time for you to meet some of the players in our little set piece. I know you would have found them eventually, but tonight might save you a lot of time.
“Funding is key when you are developing a project of this size. George Jansen and his bank are funding most of the current S and L project. I selected those words carefully as not only is the bank on the hook for a substantial sum, but George has put a considerable amount of his personal fortune into the development. Its success means more than just a few bucks to George, it also means whether or not his bank survives or is put in a position to be bought out by his competitors, and when that happens, George will be out of a job.
“When you think about George, don’t pass over his wife May. The personal money invested with us is actually hers. George married for love, but the fact that she was the daughter of east coast old money didn’t hurt. Her father died a few years ago and left her a bundle. I have been working with her to invest that money not only in charities, but also in a way to ensure that the principal remains and generates substantial income. The success of our new project will mean that May will never have to be concerned about money, or relying on George, again.”
“It would seem that if someone wanted to take over George’s bank a good way to do it would be to see to the failure of your project. Subtle, but effective,” I said.
“You catch on fast, kiddo. Now, about Betty Beeson. Frankly, I wanted her to get the contract to run the parking in our new development. I was attempting to assist her with some inside information, but for whatever reason, we all got short sheeted and the infamous Frank Cosner oiled his way into the project and was contracted before we knew it. Betty assumes he got the deal legitimately, but I’m not so sure. It all happened a bit too fast. Hundreds of contracts are processed daily on a project of this size, and his just happened to slip through. I suspect someone in our contracts department may have been involved.
“William Francis Smith is a bit of an anachronism. He just
seems to turn up when things get dicey. His company is involved in many things, including parking. He has his fingers in a large number of charitable projects, as well as being deeply connected at city hall. We have never needed to use his good offices, but he always seems to be around and gives a boost, whether asked to or not. He plays a long game. He wants to buy out Betty, but she is rejecting him on every level. He doesn’t give up easily.
“I invited your lieutenant friend to keep him close. I don’t know how, but I’m going to see that he is ousted, and Betty gets that contract. The word is on the street that he is a weasel. We don’t need him running the front door of this Class A building. You seem quiet, Paul. May I offer you some more brandy?”
“It’s a lot to take in. You have given this a lot of thought. How do I fit in? And yes to the brandy.”
She took my glass and walked across the room and poured quite a bit into it. When she returned, she held my eyes a bit longer than I would call comfortable. I thought for a moment about my girlfriend, Shirley, playing in the Mexican riviera, and then shook my head. Maryann wasn’t making a move on me, was she?
“Jack McKinney is exactly what he seems to be. A former bureau special agent, he was forced to resign and take an early retirement to get his hands on his retirement money to pay for an operation for one of his kids. That all worked out well and he banged around for a few years, selling commercial washing machines when a friend of his at NSA called and offered him a job in their security department. He spent a number of years in their overseas units in Japan and in Vietnam. He was one of the last ones off the roof when the U.S. Embassy was evacuated at the end of the war. He retired and is working as a PI.
“I thought he might be a good contact for you. As you can see, what with the bank, Betty, Smith and Cosner all involved, you might need some help. He was described to me as a ‘diamond in the rough.’”
I looked over into one of the shadowy corners of the room and saw someone sitting there. I was surprised that Maryann would have someone in the room without introducing them. I looked closer and recognized the slouch and the half-drunk glass of amber liquid on the side table. He had sat at my table at Musso and Frank’s many times and listened to my problems and complaints.
Maryann smiled. “I told you Bogie was an old and close friend. He shows up out of the blue looking for a drink and offering his ear.” She sighed. “There was a time he offered more than that.”
His glass was empty. Maryann walked over and refilled it. She patted his hand and then took mine and headed toward the door. When we reached it, she gave me a peck on the cheek. “Don’t want to upset Shirley, now do we,” she said as she closed the door.
I caught an outline of a male figure in the window in my rear-view mirror. Maryann joined him and put her arm around his waist. As I watched, the curtain was drawn. What a night this had been, but she never answered the question as to where I fit in.
To be continued…
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