Part 136: The Hidden Trap
But Rex had told him of the connection with such certainty. The man had thrown him a real curve ball with that one.
"The Scarlet Star? Your father was the one who knew the most about that!"
He was so concerned that he'd even tried phoning Sidney late at night, but it was well outside business hours so he'd got no reply.
With the feeling that he still wasn't quite awake, he made himself get out of bed. Then, without even washing his face, he got dressed and took a walk to a nearby park.
He sat on a cold park bench and just enjoyed the fresh air. For a short while at least, all his troubles seemed to disappear.
Hyde remained in that spot for nealy an hour, barely moving an inch. The puddles by his feet were partially frozen over, and the pale winter sunlight felt warm on his cold skin.
be able to rent, but none of the places seemed right for him.
*I guess it's not gonna be that easy to find another place.*
When he got back to Cape West, Betty came rushing up behind him. "Mr Hyde, hold it right there! I was walking behind you for ages. I tried calling out to you several times, but you wouldn't even turn around!"
From the moment he had crossed the road and seen the apartment building come into view, all he had been thinking about was investigating the fourth floor. Still, he felt like he should at least have noticed she was there.
*Guess I'm losing my touch.*
Betty mentioned that she had already found a new place to live, and went on to say, "I'm all set to go on Friday. I'll be here for Christmas though! After all, I wouldn't want to miss Santa, now would I? If I moved away beforehand, how would he know where to deliver all my presents?" And then laughing, Betty asked, "Do you know who's going to be my Santa this year?"
Apparently Tony had promised to get her a Bella Regina handbag for Christmas. Betty insisted that it was the brand everyone was after these days, but Hyde still didn't recognise the name.
*Can Tony really afford something like that?*
According to Betty, Tony was going to be coming into some serious money within the next few days -- at least, that's what he had told her.
Hyde cautioned her quite strongly. "I hope you know what you're getting yourself into, Betty. He's set his sights on you. You shouldn't lead him on if you don't care about him."
In response to Hyde's frank advice, she casually said, "You don't have to worry about me, Mr Hyde. Tony knows all too well that he's not my type." And then she changed the subject. "Oh, did you hear the news? About the jewellery robbery that happened nearby?"
She explained that the jewellers that had been robbed was quite near to the store where she worked.
As Hyde recalled, the newspaper had said that a woman in a black hat had been spotted at the crime scene. Hyde asked if she happened to have seen this woman anywhere around the apartment building, but she hadn't spotted anyone matching that description. Then, presumably feeling that the conversation had run its course, she called out, "Okay, see you later, Mr Hyde!" as she dashed up the stairs. As he watched Betty leave, Hyde wondered what she really thought about Tony.
that aren't in use. Starting from the 25th, the power to the fourth floor will be cut. I'd like you to refrain from going there."
*They're cutting off the power to the fourth floor? That's pretty awkward for me.*
He decided to push his luck. "Would it be possible to see the rooms up there before the power is cut off?"
She didn't seem amenable to this idea, however. "I'm afraid not, Mr Hyde. Those rooms have been out of use for so long that I'd imagine they're covered in dust by now. Surely there's no reason why you need to go and see those rooms."
She seemed unlikely to even considered it, but he appealaed to her again regardless.
"I'm sorry, Mr Hyde." He could tell she was growing tired of this. "The fourth floor is strictly off-limits to tenants. That's one of the reasons the fire door was installed."
*Hold on. Does that mean there was another reason?*
"One of the wishes of the new owner was that I left that floor untouched," she explained. "They were very clear about that point."
But wasn't the new owner planning on demolishing the building? If the whole place was being knocked down anyway, it seemed odd to ask that the fourth floor be left exactly as is. "Who is the new owner, anyway?" he asked her.
"For obvious reasons, I can't reveal the person's name."
She appeared reluctant to answer his questions, but from the looks of things she wasn't yet at the stage where she might leave in a huff. He decided to ask about something else that had him intrigued. "So how come you didn't convert the fourth floor into more apartments in the first place?"
She wasn't shy about admitting the reason. "I simply couldn't afford it." Hyde listened patiently as she went on. "When my husband passed away, I used all the money he left me to buy the derelict Hotel Cape West. If the truth be known, times were very tough here at the beginning."
Looking at the serious expression on Mags's face, Hyde didn't feel like piling any more questions on her.
After Mags had returned to her room, Dylan appeared with a proposal. "If you're interested, I can let you see the rooms on the fourth floor. But you've got to promise me you won't breath a word of it to Mrs Patrice."
Evidently he had overheard the conversation Hyde had just had with Mags. Dylan seemed oddly excited about it, actually. Hyde was sure there had to be some kind of catch, but he did really want to see the fourth floor.
"Getting into those rooms is a piece of cake for me. But there is something I'd like you to do for me in return."
"And what's that?"
"I want to hear about Rex Foster."
So Dylan must have overheard his conversation with Rex Foster the previous day as well -- though not on purpose, he insisted.
"So you managed to discover that he's an insurance investigator then," said Dylan. "And you also figured out that he's been targeting a woman living here."
Hyde responded with nothing more than a hesitant "Maybe", but Dylan was confident he was right.
"You don't have to cover it up. I know what's going on. It's Marie from 206 -- that's who he's after!"
"Suppose you overheard that too?"
"I knew it! I'm right aren't I?" Dylan smiled to himself in satisfaction.
"I played right into your hands, didn't I?"
"What can I say, Mr Hyde? Actually, there's something you need to know. I knew Marie before she moved in here, and she isn't the person everyone thinks she is. This business has just confirmed my suspicions."
He explained that when Marie's husband was still alive, he had been to their home to do repair work on some water pipes. He remembered them having a really bad relationship. "They were quarrelling almost all the time. Then six months later, her husband winds up dead.
"I think that Marie may have had her husband murdered to claim the insurance money!"
Kyle felt like he was in the middle of a trashy detective novel. "So that's what you've been thinking about. You discovered I was a detective, then you got wind of Marie's husband dying, you thought it would be fun if you jumped to the conclusion that she must have murdered him in order to claim the insurance money."
"It's true, I love this kind of thing. You have to admit it's fun to uncover a secret about somebody."
Hyde was getting very sick of Dylan's urge to play detective. Dylan soon reminded him, however, of how this conversation had begun.
"If you come with me, Mr Hyde, I'll let you take a look
you'd like to hear. I've made some calls and it seems his reputation precedes him. He's definitely freelance. Plus, I found out he's contracted on a commission basis. The rumours about him are getting brought in to investigate insurance claims, and the insurers ending up not having to issue a payout to the policy holders, are also true."
Made sense for the companies to use him then, thought Hyde. If his contract was even slightly cheaper than paying out an insurance claim, they'd probably hire him to investigate.
Rachel asked Hyde if there was anyone living in his building that seemed like they might be trying to make an insurance claim. "Yeah," he replied. "A 30-something widow called Marie. We had a chat about Rex Foster, actually."
Rachel asked Kyle if he was particularly close to Marie. He explained that he'd never really planned on getting involved -- it had just happened.
"Guess you know waht you're doing," she replied. "Can't say I'd trust her though."
Following that, Rachel went over the information about Hotel Cape West that Hyde had also asked her to find out.
The hotel was constructed in 1950 and eventually closed down in 1967. The owner of the hotel at the time was a man called Michael McGrath. On the last day before the hotel closed, a party was held by the owner, and during that party, the owner's wife was murdered on the fourth floor. Her name was Kathy McGrath, and the cause of death was put down to cyanide poisoning.
The person who discovered the body was a hotel employee named Peter Rivet. Rachel read all of this out in her typical business-like fashion.
*Peter Rivet? That's the same surname as Marie!*
Hyde made a mental note of this detail but decided not to mention it to Rachel. Instead he asked her to find out anything she could about what might have happened in the hotel 25 years ago.
He explained the reason to her slowly and carefully, as if he was repeating it for his own benefit. "That mysterious order sheet I received read:"
He ultimately decided he would just ask her about all this directly and left his room.
She was in her apartment, which meant he had no trouble finding her. She invited him in as soon as she realised it was Hyde.
He began by giving her a bit more information Rex, since he had promised to look into the matter. "I found out that the device you spotted is part of Rex's handiwork, just like I thought -- and worse, this wasn't the only one he'd planted."
When he told her about the bug he had found in Lucky's Café, she became unable to hide her growing unease. "Oh my," she murmured. "Why would he do something like that? What possible reason could he have?"
That was what Kyle wanted to know as well.
He asked her: what reason could Rex have for investigating Marie? Was there something she was hiding? Was she really telling him the whole truth?
"Just what are you saying, Mr Hyde? What are you implying?" She eyed him suspiciously.
Hyde wondered in passing, how his own face looked to her at the moment. *I bet I've got my detective face on.* He decided now wasn't the time to let up on the questions.
"Is it true that you and your late husband weren't on the best of terms? Because Rex seems to be convinced that you're perpetrating some kind of insurance fraud."
"That's ridiculous! Mr Hyde, please, tell me everything that awful man said to you."
"Let me be clear," said Hyde. "I don't trust the guy and sure as hell don't believe his story entirely. But I need to get a better idea of the facts from your perspective. I need to know more about when your husband and brother died."
He could see in Marie's eyes that expressing all his doubts so bluntly had struck a nerve.
Marie began to plainly recount her tale of the past. "13 years ago, my brother Mike died in a car accident. The brakes in his car failed and he plunged off a cliff. After he died, I was truly alone. He was the closest person I had to a parent.
"The only other person who took care of me like he did with Peter."
She went on, carefully selecting each individual word.
After her brother Mike died, Peter gave her a document with details of an insurance policy for which Marie was the sole beneficiary. Mike had taken out a policy shortly before he died so that Marie could live alone comfortably if anything happened to him. It was worth quite a large sum. The ring Hyde had found for her the previous day was also something Mike had left her.
However, as she explained, "The company that held Mike's policy began to pay out the premium, but before long stopped making payments. Despite the police investigation concluding that his death was accidental, the insurance company believed otherwise and began their own independent investigation.
"Mr Hyde, can you imagine the hardships I had to endure in order to claim Mike's money? To claim what was rightfully mine?"
In the end they couldn't find any evidence of foul play, so she finally received the entire payment. "Of course, there were still plenty of people who doubted me, but I just had to endure it. During that trying time, it was only Mike's friend, Peter, who stood by me. And after the insurance had been paid out in full, Peter and I got married."
Marie wore the pained expression of one who would have preferred the past to remain buried, "I can assure you, Mr Hyde, fraud is something I would never, ever consider. You have to believe me! Don't listen to that rat, Rex Foster!"
She was practically begging him by that point. But Hyde was undeterred. He knew he had to get the truth out of her no matter what. "I wouldn't ask about all this if I had no intention of listening. If there's anything you've been holding back, now's the right time to let me know."
He implored her as strongly as he could, and finally, with a sigh of resignation, she started to come clean.
She married Peter following her brother's death, but an ever-growing part of her wondered if he really loved her or if he was only interested in her money. Peter used the insurance payout to fund a business venture, and after that they started arguing more and more -- always about money.
Once they had spent all of the insurance money, Marie decided she would get a divorce. But, in an ironic twist, Peter died in a car crash, just like her brother had, before she ever got a chance to discuss it with him. In fact, it was eerily similar to the prior incident:
didn't know about it when we spoke yesterday?" And remembering what Rachel had told him on the phone earlier, he added, "Especially seeing as your won husband, Peter Rivet, was the one who discovered the body of the murdered individual."
Marie said nothing; she simply let out a sigh. After a brief pause, she faced Hyde head-on and confirmed what he had been told. "It's true, Mr Hyde. My husband Peter was the person who discovered the body on the fourth floor. And Mike was there with him."
So Marie's husband had indeed discovered the body, and her brother had been there too.
"I'm sorry I lied to you about this yesterday, Mr Hyde..." Seeing the body apparently affected Mike's mental state quite badly. "I strongly believe that's what led to his car accident," explained Marie. "If he hadn't discovered that murder victim, he would still be alive today.
"Mr Hyde? Now you know pretty much all there is to know abut my past. Please don't make me go through it all again." marie seemed very adamant about that last plea. "Don't worry about me," she insisted, however. "I'll be fine. I'm tougher than I look."
Hyde knew just how much frailty hid behind Marie's valiant words.
Now that he thought, he had the strangest feeling that he had heard the same line somewhere before...
Suddenly he realised. It was the same thing his mother had told him when they moved to Manhattan after his father died.
"Marie, it isn't much longer until we have to move out. If you find you need to get anything off your chest in the meantime, give me a call."
"You'll listen to what I have to say?"
Ah, there was the forlorn-looking Marie he was used to. "Yeah, sure. If you need to talk to someone," he reassured her.
As one final point of interest, Hyde asked Marie if she had ever heard her brother or her husband mention the words "Scarlet Star". She said that she did remember them using the word "Star", and that it was some kind of secret code used between the staff at the hotel, and she thought it might have had something to do with the party that was held when the hotel closed down.
*Maybe that mysterious order sheet comes from someone connected ot the hotel too*
He made his exit from Marie's apartment. He didn't know who had sent him the order sheet, but for now he decided to go along with the request to put a coin in an envelope and place it in the mailbox for room 404. To that end, he set out to find a coin
coins from it, but he always did it without actually breaking it.
He fished out a small ruler from his sales inventory and carefully inserted it into the coin slot on the back of the piggy bank. He proceeded to move the ruler in just the right manner, and sure enough, some coins came sliding out.
never have to deal with Mrs Patrice getting upset if you go in there."
Dylan started to explain the trick to getting into the fourth floor corridor.
The first step was turning off the fire alarm by flicking the switches in the case on the opposite wall. Then before opening the door, a lever had to be turned off. It was inside a case on the wall to the right of the door itself. If that lever was disabled, the door would open.
There was one more key detail. The knob on the other side of the door was missing, so Dylan warned him that if he let the door close on him, it wouldn't be possible to open it again. However, there was a wooden doorstop that could be used to stop it from closing.
Once he had finished outlining this procedure, Dylan said, "For now I'll be in the hallway of the floor below making sure that nobody tries to come up here.
"Then, once 30 minutes have passed, I'll come and get you. You can just leave after that. I'll reset the lever you disabled and re-activate the alarm."
And with that, Dylan descended to the third floor.
Following the instructions Dylan had given him, Hyde disabled the various switches and opened up the fire door.
*So this is the fourth floor, huh? Seems what I heard was right. It's still just like a hotel up here.*
He strode along the hallway and stopped in front of room 404. He tried turning the doorknob, and he was in luck: it had been left unlocked.
The room had a damp smell about it, and it contained large tables and chairs in a style that certainly gave the impression they belonged in a hotel room. The layers of dust made it abundantly clear that nobody had entered this room for many years.
As he glanced over the room, his gaze became fixed on some kind of document that had been left on a desk by the wall. He went over to get a closer look. Underneath all the dust he could see that it was a card, with a star symbol on it that he could just barely make out. It also had the words "Hotel Cape West" written on it. It appeared to be some kind of invitation.
He couldn't read any of the other text at first, so he took a deep breath and blew all the dust away. The card read:
"We would like to thank you for your patronage of Hotel Cape West over the years and, in an attempt to show our gratitude, hereby invite you to attend a final party to mark the official closure. If you are able to afford the time, we look forward to your attendance on December 10th, 1967.
Hotel Cape West
It was an invitation to the party that had been held 13 years ago. That night, the manager's wife, Kathy, had been murdered, and the case was still unsolved. Hyde put the invitation in his pocket.
Suddenly he heard a voice shout, "Mr Hyde! We're almost out of time. You should come out soon." Moments later, Dylan appeared in the room. They left together, and Dylan asked, "So, how was the fourth floor?" THen, with a warning to Hyde that he should only go up to the fourth floor when no one's around to avoid getting caught by Mags, Dylan returned to his own apartment.
When Hyde got back to the second floor, he heard a thundering cry of "You damn fool!" from further down the corridor. Tony and Frank were having something of an argument.
"I'm telling you, I don't know what the hell you're going on about!"
"Just admit it, you halfwit!"
Hyde drew closer and interjected. "Tony, you wanna explain what's going on here?"
"It's nothing, Hyde. The old fool's just accusing me of being a thief."
"He robbed me!" shouted Frank.
Tony's rage grew ever more visible. "You better stop throwing those accusations around real quick! I don't care how old you are, I'll take this to the next level!"
Hyde saw the danger in Tony resorting to violence. "Tony, maybe you should calm down a little. If you start throwing your fists around, you're gonna regret it later."
Holding back a furious Tony, he affected a serious tone of voice. "Mr Raver, I'm not trying ot interfere, but you might want to take this discussion elsewhere. Shouting at each other out in the corridor is just gonna annoy the others."
"A good suggestion, Mr Hyde. Tony, this is not over. We will continue this later." And without further ado, Frank turned and walked away.
With Frank gone, Hyde started trying to clarify exactly what had happened. "Tony, mind telling me what the hell that was all about?"
"It's his tape recorder. It's
"I already told you, the old fool's just crazy! Anyway, I gotta get out of here for a bit, get some fresh air. Later, Hyde." Tony was gone in a flash.
Hyde made his way down to the laundry room, where he hoped he could verify what Tony had been talking about. After hunting around for a while, he found the tape recorder sitting underneath the table. Picking it up, he noticed that the casing had a crack in it.
*Is this the tape recorder they were getting so up in arms about?*
He decided there wasn't much use in holding onto it himself, so he went to return it to Frank.
However, when he got up to the third floor and knocked on Frank's door, he was met with only silence. Just then, his pager started ringing. Rachel again. He returned to room 202 for another phone call.
Rachel reported the results of her findings. "I've unearthed some extra information on Rex Foster. Before he went into insurance investigations, he worked as a reporter."
"What kind of reporter?"
"He worked for a magazine called Los Angeles Beat. It was a weekly publication that covered current affairs. Looks like it was pretty classy too."
Hyde wondered how a reporter for a magazine ended up working as an insurance investigator.
"Oh, Kyle, what happened with that woman, Marie?"
"I had another talk with her, but it doesn't look like I'll be digging any deeper. By the way, sorry to have you working through Sunday, Rachel."
After a moment he realised that it was none other than Frank Raver himself.
Hyde crept in silently and asked, "What're you doing here?"
Startled, Frank turned around to face him.
"This is Tony's room and I don't see him around. How did you get in and why are you here?" And when Frank didn't respond, he added, "Hey! Can you hear me?"
"Keep your voice down, will you!" said Frank, crotchety as ever. "I'm not deaf, so there's no need to shout!"
He explained that he had gone into Tony's room to search for his missing tape recorder, to which Hyde responded, "Tony's short-tempered and short on money to boot. But whatever's wrong with the guy, he's no thief. What makes you think it was him, anyway?"
"Isn't it obvious? He looks like the kind of person who'd go aroun dlying and stealing. He has a shady past, too."
*A shady past?*
Frank clearly knew something about Tony's past that made him suspicious. But hwat was it, and how had he found out something like that? "I've got friends in the police force, Mr Hyde. One of them told me he was responsible for a pair of violent incidents that caused a lot of pain and suffering. The first time was five years ago and the second, four. He was arrested on charges of theft, but there wasn't enough evidence for the other crimes."
"Friends in the police force? Are you trying to say that you're an ex-cop?"
"About time you pieced that together. I worked on the LA police force right up until I retired."
"I don't really give a damn if you were a cop once or not, but I strongly recommend you stop assuming people are guilty without gathering all the facts. Tony didn't steal your tape recorder."
Hyde produced the tape recorder from his pocket and handed it to Frank.
"I found this on the floor of the laundry room. You just left it there."
"Wh-what happened to the case? It's cracked!"
"I guess it must've cracked when it fell off the table and hit the floor."
Then Frank started to look more concerned. "Hang on... Where's the tape gone?"
"I have no idea," said Hyde, blunt as usual. "This is how it was when I picked it up."
Frank expressed his gratitude towards Hyde for finding the tape recorder and made to leave. Hyde called out to stop him.
"I'm not interested in your thanks. Maybe you should try giving Tony an apology instead!"
"Once the tape is safely back in my possession, I shall do just that."
And having said his piece, Frank walked out.
Hyde had a look around Tony's room. Frank's futile search had left things scattered everywhere. He picked up an envelope that was on the floor. It was just like the envelope that order sheet had arrived in.
At that exact moment, the door opened again. Hyde turned to see Tony looming over him. He fumbled a quick apology. "Tony, I'm real sorry I came into your room like this. What happened was..."
"Don't sweat it," he said, interrupting Hyde. "I just met old man Raver. He told me you found his tape recorder and returned it to him."
"yeah, that about sums it up. But Frank said that there was also a tape inside the tape recorder, and it's gone missing now."
Tony's facial expression did a great job of saying, "Not this again!" without him speaking a single word. In any case, it seemed clear that Frank had no grounds to suspect Tony other than his so-called shady past. "Yeah, he did say something like that actually. But I don't know anything about any tape."
Tony seemed less angry and more dumbfounded. Hyde believed him when he said he knew nothing about this.
He turned his attention back to the greater mystery in his life: the order sheet. "By the way, did you leave a letter in my door a little while back?"
"A letter? Nothing to do with me. I've never even considered writing you a letter, man." Tony's reply came instantly. AS he continued, though, he blushed a little. "I mean, I write letters from time to time, just not to you. I write them to Betty. We've got this plan for us to give each other presents at Christmas. Problem is, I just can't seem to get the wording right!"
Hyde asked him where he got the writing paper and envelope.
"What? This stuff? Dylan gave it to me. But forget about that. You wanna hear my latest song? My thanks to you!"
"Think I'll take a rain check on that. I've got a few things I need to sort out." And with no desire to give Tony any further opportonity to self-promote, he rushed out the door.
If I have something I need to say to you, I'd rather just come to your room and say it."
It was a valid point. "Just out of interest then, where did you get them from?"
"I got them as a present from Mrs Patrice for all my hard work. Why are you asking, anyway?"
"It's nothing. I was just thinking about something."
"Then why not pay a visit to Mrs Patrice and ask her directly?"
"In fact, I was on my way there. Shall we pay her a visit together? I have to return something I borrowed from her."
And thus Hyde went with Dylan to visit Mags's apartment. They only had to wait a few moments after knocking before she opened the door. "Oh, I wasn't expecting to see the both of you. Is there something I can help you with?"
Dylan piped up. "It's nothing special. We just bumped into each other as we were both heading here. I came over to return these to you." He handed her a bunch of keys and then left, giving Hyde a quick nod.
"They're the spare keys to the apartments," explained Mags. "Dylan occasionally has need to borrow them from me. It's necessary for when he's doing certain types of maintenance. Anyway, Mr Hyde, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Did you give Dylan a letter set?" he asked her. He followed up with a question about whether she had used that writing paper recently.
It was evident from Mags's reaction that she didn't know what he was talking about. Then, with a start, it dawned on her. "Oh yes, I remember now. Yes, I did give him a letter set. Why, Mr Hyde, would you like one too? If that's the case, I'm going to have to disappoint you. That was the last one I had. If you're really keen on one, though, I believe they are on sale at the local drug store."
Hyde was disheartened to learn just how common this particular stationery was, but he had to ask his next question just in case "Have you left a letter in my door recently?"
settle his rent after all."
"Tony said that, did he?"
"He did. He called me earlier to assure me that he'll be settling his deb soon," she said, smiling.
Back in his room, the order sheet was all he could think about. *Is the person who sent it to me someone who lives in this building?*
By nine o'clock he was almost sick of thinking about it, and he had still been unable to deduce anything further. For want of any better ideas, he decided it was time to pay another visit to the fourth floor. He opened the fire door and walked along the hallway before heading straight into room 404.
He was stopped in his tracks by the unexpected presence of someone else in the room. It was Frank. "Evening, Mr Raver. What brings you all the way up here?"
"And just how has that got anything to do with you?" he said sharply. Frank's reaction was rather aggresive, perhaps due to the surprise of Hyde's sudden entrance.
Frank asked him the same question, and, aware of the fact that he was breaking the rules just as much as Frank was, Hyde made up an excuse. "I kind of stumbled up here, and it didn't take me long to see the fire door was open. I thought Dylan must've been inside, so Ipoked my head in."
When he asked Frank again, the man explained that he had similarly come up here, found the door already ajar and gone inside to investigate. "I thought that someone had forgotten to close the door. I'm going to have to give Dylan a piece of my mind when I see him." He left the room without another word.
Hyde had learnt that day just how conscious the other residents were of Frank's comings and goings. His tendency to wander the hallways at all hours had apparently become quite the source of gossip. Not to mention the tape recorder that he carried with him everywhere and muttered into on a constant basis. Behind his back, he seemed to be described as an old man with too much time on his hand and nothing better to do than prowl around -- and sometimes, as in Tony's case, it wasn't put quite so delicately.
But in Hyde's estimation, there was more to it than just that. Frank was searching for something, and Hyde wanted to know what it was.
Hyde examined every corner of the fourth floor, but nothing jumped out at him as being the obvious answer.
Just as he had come back to room 404 to check it over one last time, Tony entered behind him. They both reacted in unison.
"Tony! What have you come up here for?"
"Hey, Hyde! What're you doing all the way up here, man?"
Hyde lied to Tony just as he'd lied to Frank and said that he had been taking a late-night stroll. "Now isn't that weird," replied Tony. "That's the same reason I'm here!"
*This is getting to be a popular hangout.* Hyde half-grinned to himself as the thought occured to him. It didn't seem like he'd get much more time to himself on the fourth floor tonight.
While Tony was here, he thought he'd try to clear something up. "Tony, lemme ask you something. You call Mags to tell her the rent's coming soon. Also, Betty's thinking you're going to buy her a snazzy Christmas present. Where's all this money coming from?"
Tony's face turned pale. With a sense of panic about him he urged Hyde to leave right away. "Please, just turn around and leave, will you? If you don't take my advice, things could turn nasty up here."
"Nasty for who?"
"The guy who's always walking around up here."
"You mean Dylan?" asked Hyde.
Tony shook his head.
"Who do you mean, then? Come on, Tony, tell me!"
"Go back to your room." Tony was becoming more agitated by the second. "If you're here when he turns up, my plan's gonna disappear in a puff of smoke."
Hyde wasn't prepared to let this lie. "And what plan is that?"
Tony didn't respond straight away, and when he finally did, it was in a more muted tone. "If I let ou in on this, you're gonna know how worthless a human being I am."
"TOny, you're not a worthless human being. And if ou're so sure that whatever you're about to go through with will soil your name, then just stop what you're about to do and leave!"
Tony put his head in his hands and just stood there for a while, deep in thought.
At last he reluctantly spoke. "Hyde... I was planning to have him meet me up here so that I could make him a deal he couldn't refuse.
"I've seen him come here
"Tony, I'm not sure you realise what kind of person you're messing with."
Hyde relayed his earlier conversation with Frank, where he had found that the man was a retired LAPD detective and was suspicious of Tony because he knew about his dark past.
"Figures," said Tony, resigned. "So now you know all about me."
Hyde still felt he should try to clear up the details. "Tony, where's Frank's tape?"
"I've got it somewhere safe. I was planning on returning it to him if he could meet my price. Can't believe I've been such a fool. Such a damn fool!" He hit himself on the head a couple of times.
Then Tony admitted to Hyde that he had twice been involved in violent incidents where he had hurt people. The first time was when he'd just started seeing some financial success as a musician. He'd beaten up his manager when he found out the man had wasted all the money he'd made from one of his concerts.
The second occurred when a dedicated young fan of Tony's who had remained so even after the first incident, got into a fight with a hoodlum. Tony sent the latter to hospital.
As a big deal as the first incident was, the fact that a second incident happened was something society would never forgive him for. Tony was still young at the time and hadn't understood that.
After that he got stuck in a rut. Nothing seemed to go right for him, and he started to feel desperate. "Since then, all my efforts have amounted to next to nothing. The record company even severed my contract. I really am worthless, you know. I can't stand being like this."
"If you can see that this isn't the right way to live your life, then change!" Hyde knew that Tony could escape this situation if only he tried. "IF you really make an effort, you'll get there. Put the past behind you and start living a better life."
"You're right, Hyde. Everything you just said. Maybe I can change after all." A smile returned to Tony's face. "Oh yeah, and Hyde? You don't mind giving this tape back to the old man, do you?"
Tony handed him a cassette tape. Hyde was instantly curious to find out what was recorded on it.
When he got back to his room, he decided he'd give it a listen before he returned it to Frank. He took the tape out of his answering machine and replaced it with this one, then pressed the play button. A man's voice started coming out of the tiny speaker.
"Investigation memo number 0083. The state of the fourth floor is just as it was 13 years ago."
No doubt about it: this was Frank's voice, albeit calmer than Hyde was used to.
"My initial sweep of room 404, where Kathy McGrath's body was found, is complete. Before vacating this building, I must find the lost items connected with Condor."
The usual beep of the answering machine followed, and the tape stopped playing.
Kathy McGrath? It took a moment before he made the connection: she was the victim of the murder that had occurred 13 years ago. It seemed that