Home About Six: Part Nine

This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 1076 words.

With her brain still fuddled by sleep, Anita bought some time to think. “Er, can I tell Mike who is calling? It’s the middle of the night here you know” There was hesitation at the other end. “Sorry, I forgot about the time difference. Mike doesn’t know me, I got his name and number from someone else. But I would like to speak to him, it’s not something that can wait. Tell him it is Shaily Agrawal. It won’t mean anything to him though”.

Anita flicked on her mobile, and added the name to her notes. She didn’t ask how it was spelt, but got it near enough to remember.

Wondering what to say next, and not wanting to give anything away, she waited a few more seconds before speaking again. “He says can you leave your contact number, and he will call you back when he is fully awake”. For a moment, it seemed as if the woman had hung up, then she spoke quickly. “Don’t worry, I will call back another time”. The line went dead.

It took a long time for Anita to get back to sleep. The voice had been well-spoken, the English perfect, but from the discernible accent, and the name, she concluded that the woman might be Indian. The mention of time difference seemed to confirm that she was calling from somewhere in the world that was a long way East too.

By the time Sergeant Dawes arrived that morning, Anita was showered and dressed. Jane was carrying Mike’s laptop, along with a thick folder of papers.

“We have finished with the laptop now, Anita, and I want to go through some of the contact names with you, see if anything rings a bell”. Anita told her about the phone call, and that she had made some notes on her phone. Taking out a small notebook, the detective wrote everything down. “I can try to trace the call that came into your house, and see if they have a record of the number. But my guess is that whoever it was blocked their number, or used a mobile that they got rid of. Her name was probably made up too. See if you can Google it on your i-pad”.

There were quite a few people on Google with that name. Most were in India, and a couple in Kenya. Two of them were in Britain. They all had some sort of online profile, mostly Twitter accounts, or Facebook pages. Just one had a website, and she was a writer, with a few novels for sale on Amazon. Jane thought for a moment. “Could you guess her rough age from the voice do you think?” Anita thought for a moment. “Not a teenager, I’m sure. Not an old woman either. I would say thirty to forty, perfect English, and not a very heavy accent”.

Jane leaned over and tapped the screen of the i-pad. “That one looks favourite to me”. She was indicating the profile of a journalist, a reporter on the New Delhi Times. They both looked at the photo, and agreed the age was about right. Jane made some notes in her book, and pulled a sheet of paper from the folder. “I will check out that reporter later, let’s start going through these names now”.

“Pete Springer?” Anita shook her head. “Never heard Mike mention him”. Jane moved her pen down the list. “We can’t find out that much about him online, but all six we found live in America. Has Mike ever been to America? Anita nodded. “He has been there on business trips a few times. And we had a two-week holiday in Florida, but he didn’t meet anyone while we were there”.

“What about a Lorraine Lewis? There are loads of those in the UK, and America too. Without a date of birth, we can’t get an exact match. A driving licence search returned more than fifty women of that name in England alone”. Anita shook her head. “Maybe she works at his company? Jane smiled.”That was the first thing we thought of. None of the names are of people employed at his company, or any of the international subsidiaries”. She carried on with the next name.

“Audrey Driscoll? Not so many people online with that name, but the only one with a website lives in Canada”. Anita shook her head, then had a thought. “Did you tie up any of those names from his laptop to calls on his phone?” Her face was serious when she replied. “That’s something unusual, I have to say. Those names came up on his contacts on the laptop, but none of them are in his phone contacts. However, he has a lot of numbers listed with the name of the contact in some sort of code. Letters and numbers, instead of a full name or nickname. Were you aware of that?”

Anita was shaking her head. “We never looked at each other’s phones. We trusted each other, Jane. We had personal space, you know, despite being so close and together as a couple”.

The next name on the list was Ian Hope. “I know an Ian that Mike works with, but his surname is Winkowski. A Polish name, I think, but he’s English”. Jane nodded. “No it’s not him using another name. We found someone in the north of England who looks likely, as there have been calls from his house to Mike’s mobile. I have sent a request to the local police to go and talk to him. I don’t want to ring him first and tip him off, just in case”. The pen moved down to the last name.

“This one is very interesting. Have you ever heard Mike talk about a Judith Harley?” Anita shook her head. “Never heard that name mentioned”. Jane leaned forward. “She is on his laptop, and her email address is current. I tried to find out some more about her on the police systems, and didn’t get anywhere before being blocked. I was referred to my lack of authority, and have no access to look up her file. That probably means she works for Special Branch, or the S.I.S”. Anita was looking perplexed, and rubbing her face. It was a lot to take in. “What’s S.I.S?”

Jane closed her notebook, and looked serious. “It stands for Secret Intelligence Service”. Anita was wide-eyed as Jane continued.

“I reckon she is something to do with MI6”.

50 thoughts on “Home About Six: Part Nine

  1. I’m a little slow, Pete. I thought that some of the names in your story seemed familiar, but I like being hit right over the head with it. 🀣🀣🀣

    “Pete Springer?” Anita shook her head. “Never heard Mike mention him.”

    The only thing better would have been, “Pete Springer?” Anita furrowed her brow and spat out the words, “That no-good son-of-a-bitch! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) One of the first movies I remember seeing as a child was “The List of Adrian Messenger,” which shares a few similarities with “Charade” such as fake identities, war camp buddies, investigations, and murder. For some reason, “Home About Six” brought those films to mind.
    (2) I see that “spelled” is spelt differently over there.
    (3) β€œDon’t worry, I will call back another time”. Since Shaily Agrawal is in a different time zone, it already is another time! In fact, no matter when she calls back, it will always be another time!
    (4) I think it would be very difficult to guess a woman’s age by her voice. Vocabulary usage might be a better indication, assuming a conversation lasts long enough to offer some identifiers. Even so, you can’t rule out the fact that a lot of words and expressions have been picked up by older generations who interact with young people and/or the internet. I’m not saying that Anita is wrong, but I felt compelled to voice my concerns.
    (5) “However, he has a lot of numbers listed with the name of the contact in some sort of code. Letters and numbers, instead of a full name or nickname.” I wonder if Mike assigned a code to Billie Joe? Which begs the question: Did the McAllister boy really commit suicide, or did a British agent push him off the Tallahatchie Bridge?
    (6) I hate to shower you with more questions, but doesn’t Winkowski’s wife star in a Polish soap opera? And isn’t Winkowski known for sporting a goatee? Finally, if he’s thrown off a bridge, will he survive? They say a drowning man will clutch at a straw.
    (7) With respect to the Secret Intelligence Service (S.I.S.), my understanding is that the other special branch is called the Bureau of Rogue Operations. (B.R.O.).

    Liked by 1 person

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