Part 140: Mysterious Client
and over again in his mind.
Slowly he forced himself to rise from his bed. When the cold morning air brushed against his skin, the hangover started to fade just slightly.
Before going back to his room the previous night, Hyde had staggered all the way to the hospital where Ed was recovering. In a stroke of luck, no one was there to see him when he went to the ward.
Ed was lying sound asleep in that dimly lit room. He looked tired somehow, stretched across the bed like that. World-weary.
Hyde left as silently as he could so as not to alert Ed to his presence. He knew his boss would prefer not to know Hyde had seen him in this state.
It was hard to make himself wake up properly. He kept remembering how he'd knocked back all those drinks.
He noticed that the rain had stopped. It had started raining in the middle of the night, but the skies must have cleared at some point. The raindrops still left on the window pane were spread out into beautiful patterns. He gazed out beyond them, at the misty, still-damp cityscape.
As he stood by the window, "Promise" continued to play in his mind. The melody from that old record provoked a lingering feeling of nostalgia that he couldn't shake any more than he could get the tune itself out of his head.
*Only one explanation. I must've heard it somewhere before.*
He placed himself down on the sofa and tried to remember anything he could. He knew that deep in the recesses of his mind was a memory that related to this song, but all he had to latch onto was this one tiny sliver.
Little by little, his memory of that night 25 years ago started to come back to him.
That song, "Promise", had been playing on the radio that rainy night when he and his mother had just moved to Manhattan following his father's death.
He'd been woken up by the sound of the rain, and he got out of his bed and peered through the window. The glass was fogged up from the humidity in the room, so he had to wipe it clean with the sleeve of his pyjamas. He stood on tiptoes so he could see out properly.
Outside his window, the towering skyscrapers had a purple glow to them. This was the first time he had ever looked out over the Manhattan skyline.
He wanted to show his mom as well, so he went into her room. But when he opened the door, she was already standing by the window. Kyle and his mother had both been looking out at the same scene.
"Isn't it pretty, Mom?"
His mother said nothing; she just silently put her arm around him. A song was playing quietly on the radio next to her bed. She told him it was a song his father had loved. That song was "Promise".
It wasn't just the first night he spent in Manhattan. It was the first time he saw his mother cry.
Suddenly, the phone rang, jolting him back to the present.
"I see you're at home," It was his mother's voice. The timing was almost eerie, like his thoughts had summoned her. "I'm not calling for anything in particular, I just thought it would be nice."
He thought he could hear a twinge of loneliness in her voice as it reached him through the receiver. He hurried to come up with a suitable response. "I got your package. That baseball was the one Dad bought me all those years ago, right?"
Jeanie was pleased that he still remembered something like that. He could tell that from her tone of voice as well.
When he was very young, Hyde had dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. Jeanie explained with a nostalgic warmth that her husband had wanted that too.
Hyde asked her about the key that had been included alongside the baseball. He hadn't recognise it.
She replied that it was in the briefcase that his father, Chris, had been found with after he died. The police had given it to her 25 years ago, and she still didn't know herself what the key was for. However, she wanted Hyde to have the items Chris had been carrying at the end.
Then Hyde asked a question that had been on his mind for some time, but which he'd never had the courage to form into words before. "Why did you ever get with a guy like Dad? He was in a less than respectable career, so why did you agree to marry him?"
"I fell in love, that's why. I loved your father." She adopted a serious tone and explained how they had met at the hospital where she worked, and the relationship between
his associates hadn't been happy with that decision.
"So he just kept on cracking safes!" said Hyde, raising his voice unwittingly. "How can you just forgive him like that?" He lashed out, unable to contain his fury. He couldn't understand why his father would have continued his criminal activities.
Hyde's sudden anger left his mother stunned for a moment, but then she continued talking, more quietly now. "When you're ready to forgive your father and me, perhaps then we can continue this conversation. Merry Christmas, Kyle."
Once she had said that, she ended the call.
He kept the now-silent receiver pressed against his ear for a few moments longer. He debated in his mind whether that conversation had really been for the best. He'd longed to ask her these questions about his father, but now that he finally had, the achievement rang slightly hollow. It was too late to take back any of his words, but he couldn't bear the thought that he had caused his mother any distress by dredging up these painful memories.
The buzzer sounded, and when Hyde opened it, he was greeted by none other than Tony. The same Tony who had been supposed to spend Christmas Eve with him, but had heartlessly blown him off when Betty arrived to whisk him away into the city's bustling nightlife.
Still, Hyde invited Tony into his room. His own night hadn't ended up so bad, as he explained to Tony. He had stayed in the café with Sidney and they'd kept drinking until closing time. It had been pretty good.
In return, he asked how Tony's night had gone. It was pretty obvious that was what Tony had come here to tlak about.
Surprise surprise, Tony was eager to boast about how they'd spent half the night chatting and getting out of control. Hyde was about to make some sort of joke at Tony's expense, but then Tony's expense, but then Tony's expression changed to a slightly uneasy one as he began to recount what Betty had said to him the previous night in her drunken state.
Betty had said that there were two guys she liked -- one who set her sparks flying, and one she cared about in a different way.
He said that she'd asked him, "What do you do when there's someone that you really care about who's close to you? Y'know, someone you've been friends with for a while? How do you tell them how much you care about them without them freaking out? The other guy's history now, and I wanna take it further with that friend, but..."
Tony seemed anguisehd as he continued, "I started thinking... Is there any chance that friend could be...me? I didn't ask her though. I chickened out." He seemed only faintly hopeful that this possibility might prove to be true. In fact, even though Tony himself had been the one who suggested the possibility, he immediately said he was probably just jumping to conclusions, and his features creased into a frown that suggested he was extremely doubtful.
It was difficult to know how to lift his friend's spirits, but Hyde did his best. "Maybe you're wrong, maybe you're right. But for now you should stick to the belief that she was talking about you and try to become that person to Betty. Only way to be sure, right?"
Tony perked up right away.
As he was leaving, Tony got out a notebook that Berry had given him. She had told him it was something Rex had left behind, Hyde was eager to take it, and Tony gladly passed it onto him and returned to his own apartment.
Hyde opened up the notebook at once and began poring over the pages.
One particular set of notes jumped out at him.
-Jack Green disappeared"
A name he had never heard before. Who was it?
His thoughts were interrupted by the telephone ringing once again. Wishing he could be left alone for even a second, he resentfully picked up the receiver. The voice on the other end was thankfully one he was not averse to hearing.
It was Rachel, calling to give him good news about Ed's condition. He had made a dramatic recovery.
"And I know you what you're going to say, sweetie. You want to go and see him, right? But I still think it's better to wait for a while. Ed wouldn't want you seeing him before he's back to his usual self."
Hyde couldn't lie to her. He confessed that he had snuck into the hospital room after getting thoroughly plastered on Christmas Eve.
"What are we going to do
conversation towards the research he needed her to conduct into this mysterious associate of Rex Foster's. "I need you to look into someone going by the name of Jack Green, who was under investigation by Rex. He may have disappeared off the grid after 1967."
Rachel left him with a promise that she'd look into it right away and get back to him as soon as she knew anything.
*Now, next thing on the list: giving that record back to Sidney.*
He headed down to Lucky's Café, where he found Sidney standing over by the sink. With a broad smile, Hyde started off by thanking him for the previous night.
Sidney thanked him in return, saying that he'd had a really good time as well. He followed up by asking, "Did you listen to the record?"
Hyde answered somewhat ruefully. "It's not the kind of thing I usually listen to, but the song's nostalgic to me. Thanks to your record, I had a bit of a sentimental moment alone in my room."
A satisfied grin found its way onto Sidney's face, and he remarked that sometimes that can be good for you. Then, suddenly, his entire attitude turned on a dime and he bent over to whisper directly into Hyde's ear. "That conversation you had with Mrs Patrice yesterday -- you know not to tell anyone else about it, right? She doesn't want to stir up any trouble before she leaves the place."
"No need to tell me twice," he replied.
"Also..." Sidney began, introducing something else he needed to consult Hyde about.
His daughter Claire, he explained, hadn't said a single word to him after she'd got home the night before. "I want you to dinf out what the problem is. Would you mind speaking to her on my behalf?"
Hyde wasn't sure he was the best person to try and deal with a young woman's feelings, but Sidney looked so full of fatherly concern that Hyde couldn't very well deny his request. He decided it wouldn't hurt to have a little chat with her at least, and he took a peek into the billiards room, where she was in the process of cleaning.
She came across as dispirited, just as Sidney's agonising had suggested. "Claire," he asked, "are you still worried about your dad?" He was wondering if the matter she had discussed with him the day before Christmas Eve was still bothering her.
"Did you get round to asking him about it, Mr Hyde? Did you find out if there's someone special in his life?"
Hyde told her that he hadn't gotten round to asking him outright, but he'd got an impression from the way he was acting.
"So what you're trying to tell me is that you didn't ask, right? I'm not interested in maybes, I need to know for sure!"
Claire seemed to be losing patience, and the reason soon became clear. Hyde listened as she told of how she hadn't gone out to meet a friend last night at all. Unbeknownst to Sidney, she had actually met up with her mother. And her mother had dropped a bombshell: she was planning on moving to Boston.
Hyde surmised that her despair all centered on the fading possibility that her divorced parents might be able to rekindle their relationship.
Claire went on with her story. She had appealed to her mother, asking if there was any possibility the two of them might get back together. But her mother's answer had been a disappointing one. "Dad has to stop her," said Claire. "This really is his last chance."
There was a ray of hope, however. Claire's mother had said that she still loved Sidney.
It was Lucky's Café she couldn't go back to.
For Claire's mother, Lucky's Café evoked a tumultuous mixture of different memories, some good and some bad. She hated even having to think about the place; the memories were just too much for her.
The bad memories were related to Sidney's loans, said Claire. "Mom hated the idea of borrowing money from Mrs Patrice, but Dad did it anyway.
"In fact, Mags was the one person in particular that she didn't want him to borrow money from. That's what eventually led to them breaking up.
"And before I came home, the last thing Mom said to me was that Dad still hadn't repaid all the money he borrowed."
So maybe it was hopeless after all. Realising this was what had left Claire feeling so crushed.
Claire told Hyde about the first Christmas after the break-up. Sidney had come home slightly drunk, and when he saw that Claire had waited up for him on her own, he'd put his arms around her and said, "Claire, we'll find happiness together, just the two of us. I promise you, we'll be happier than we've ever been
say it last night. How much he still loves your mom."
"So do you think there's still a chance? Do you think they still love each other enough?" Claire looked Hyde directly in the eye as she asked him.
"Yeah. And I'm sure one day they'll be able to tell each other that. Until then, the best thing for you to do is keep that smile on your face and stop sighing!"
Hyde words seemed to work as he had hoped. A wide grin spread across Claire's face.
He left her in peace and went back into the café, where he found Sidney waiting for him with an anxious expression on his face.
"What your daughter's worried about is the love between a man and a woman."
"About...what?" Sidney hung his head. "I feared it might be something like that."
Laughing, Hyde warned him against jumping to any conclusions. He clarified that it wasn't Claire's own love life that she was having problems with; it was her parents'. She was hoping for them to get back together so that all of them could be happy.
Sidney's expression turned to a conflicted frown. He didn't speak; he simply looked at Hyde and nodded slowly.
Taking a deep breath, Hyde posed the tough question he knew he needed to ask. "What's happening with the loan from Mags?"
Sidney took a moment to consider his words before replying.
He explained that he hadn't had enough money to open a café in the first place, so Mags had been kind enough to lend him the money. In six months' time he would finally finish paying her back.
The reason she had been willing to lend him so much money, Sidney went on, was that he had known her late husband. George Patrice had been a regular customer of Hotel Cape West.
George had apparently been a saxophone player in his youth, but by the time Sidney met him while working as a waiter at the hotel restaurant, he was a businessman who owned several eateries around town.
George was a wealthy man, and whenever he stayed at the hotel he gave very generous tips. As a result, all of the waiters jostled for the opportunity to serve at his table. Sidney was no exception.
And naturally, he had been there whenever the big party was held, Said Sidney. The party called Scarlet STar.
"Scarlet Star was the name of a party?" asked Hyde, caught off guard by this revelation. He needed to know more details right away. *This can't be a coincidence.*
It turned out that Scarlet Star was the name of a party that had been held at the hotel every month on a date with number six in it. Sidney wasn't sure why exactly, but other parties with the names Gold Star and Silver Star had also been held on dates with the numbers three and nine.
Next Sidney began to provide a bit more detail about Mags. She had always been there, arm in arm with George. The beautiful Margaret Patrice.
She had been the real star at these parties. Her looks had turned every head. When the band started playing and she stepped onto the dance floor, her elegance and grace had never failed to draw attention from all the other guests.
A nostalgic glint in his eye, Sidney reminisced about how the Patrices were the couple everyone adored and aspired to emulate.
"So how come Claire's mom didn't like her?" asked Hyde.
Choosing his words carefully, Sidney told Hyde that 13 years ago, Mags had been arrested under suspicion of murdering her husband George, and been put on trial for it. Sidney believed she was innocent, and continued to profess her innocence even after when he was questioned by the police. "But that didn't matter to my wife. She was convinced that Mrs Patrice was guilty, and we had a big argument about it. Things were never quite the same between us after that." Sidney's eyes darkened. "Then the jury returned a verdict of innocent. From that point, my wife was sure that Mrs Patrice and I had something going on. Meaning that, when I borrowed the money, she refused to forgive me for what I'd done. But I wanted to run my own place so much." By the end he was practically choking the words out.
Hyde listened closely as Sidney's true feelings revealed themselves.
"I love her, and there's no denying it. I just haven't got the confidence to tell her." He said that he blamed himself for their break-up. "I was such a fool. I didn't notice how my wife was feeling until she left me.
"So I'm afraid. Afraid that if we did get back together, I'd just do the same thing all over again."
"I'm sure she wants another
who've tried, fail."
Hyde left Sidney on that note and went to pay Mags a visit. He couldn't shake the things Sidney had told him about her from his mind.
He had to ask about that man, the one who would undoubtedly have been present at the Scarlet Star parties held during the days when the apartment building was still a hotel.
He had to ask about her husband.
She answered quickly to his knock at the door. He wasn't quite sure how to begin, so he rambled slightly. "You see, I'm a big fan of jazz music and I often listen to it in my room. The best kind of jazz always features a saxophone, don't you think?"
The second that he mentioned jazz music, he could see that he had captured her interest.
"And ever since you mentioned that your husband played the sax, I've been intrigues. Would you be so kind as to tell me a little more about him?"
She was happy to do so, and invited him inside.
Hyde started off by asking her when he had started playing professionally.
"He was already part of an established band at the age of 20. He was into jazz from the day he was born, and he taught himself how to play."
Mags wore a warm smile as she thought back to her husband's younger days. There was a cheerful quality to her voice as she went on to answer his next question: what kind of person had he been?
"He was a real gentleman. Both masculine and invigorating at the same time. These qualities guaranteed him a hit with the ladies." As she spoke, she seemed to be looking far beyond him into the distance.
He posed her another question. "When did he throw in the towel and stop playing?"
Mags's eyes widened in shock for a moment.
He asked her again, in a way that might have seemed too much like he was pressing for information. "Well, he went on to run several eateries around town, didn't he? And he was a regular guest at the hotel restaurant here too, right?"
Her expression grew cold as steel, and she insisted he tell her who had told him all that.
Staring right back at her, Hyde told her that he had researched into her husband himself, and had found out all about the court case as well.
Mags made no attempt now to hide her disdain. Why, she demanded in an accusatory tone, was he digging up information like that about her husband?
He replied that he had simply been interested to know more about the master of jazz that was her late husband. Plus he was interested in her because she was a widow, just like his mother.
She laughed out loud. "So, you know everything it would seem!"
"What's so funny?"
Still trying to contain her laughter, Mags started to come clean. "I have things in my past that I would be happy never to share with anyone. And I was planning on keeping it that way until we'd all gone our separate ways."
"Yet, as the day we all leave draws ever closer, you choose now to suddenly develop an interest in my past. I just found that very amusing.
"As you may know, I was a suspect held on the assumption that I murdered my husband."
That incident, she explained, had occurred 13 years ago. One day, a burglar came into the house where she and her husband lived, and she was struck by the burglar and knocked unconscious. When she came to, her husband was dead, and in her right hand she was clutching the gun that had been used to kill him.
She was charged with murder, but the court declared her innocent. However, the real killer was never apprehended, and the case remained unsolved. She used the money he had left her to buy Hotel Cape West. "I wanted to own the place he held so dear when he was alive. And that, Mr Hyde, is all this lonely widow can tell you."
Hyde felt that her words rang true.
Just then, the phone rang in the bedroom. Mags halted their conversation for the time being and took a deep breath. As she left the room to answer it, she asked Hyde to wait a moment.
While she was gone, Hyde looked around the room. Various photographs were dotted around.
One such photo was of a man playing the tenor sax. It was Mags's late husband, George. Another frame held a picture of a young man and woman, signed by "George & Margaret." Resting on her chest was a necklace with a rather unique design, shimmering light reflecting off it in every direction.
Next his eyes fell on the frame beside it, which held a
She nodded in confirmation and added that the person with her was a good friend of hers from back when she was a dancer.
*Mags was a dancer?*
Well, that certainly tied in with the story Sidney had told him. He pointed at the next photo along and asked, "When was this picture of you and your husband taken?"
"It was just before we got married," Mags replied with an air of longing for those lost days. She drew attention to the unusual necklace, explaining in a bright tone that it had been a present from her husband, one she still wore to this day. "I love this picture of us more than any of the others I have. I'm sure your mother has one of her own that she values above the rest too."
Upon hearing those words, it occurred to him that his mother actually didn't have a single picture of her and his father.
Suddenly Mags bent down and clutched her head in her hands. Hyde rushed over to keep her steady. In a muted croak she said, "My head... It...hurts... I'm sorry, I sometimes get like this. It's my reminder of the events that took place during that awful time 13 years ago."
"It's probably best if you leave, Mr Hyde. I daresay I won't make such good company in this state. But please keep what I've told you today to yourself."
Hyde left to find Dylan staring him in the face. Dylan asked what he had been talking to Mags about, and Hyde, who by now was getting very tired of this sort of thing, replied rather bluntly that he had come to talk to her about moving out. Dylan didn't like that at all, and barged past Hyde into Mags's room without so much as a goodbye.
Hyde's pager alerted him of the need to call Rachel, so he headed back to his room and dialled the number for Red Crown. Rachel had an update for him about Jack Green. She had managed to find his name in the obituaries in 1967. "It said that Jack Green, a 30-year-old reporter, died in a car accident due to major internal complications and blood loss."
It turned out that Jack Green had been a reporter for Los Angeles Beat, the same magazine that Rex Foster had worked for. Furthermore, the two of them had worked in the editorial department together for three years.
The most interesting part, Rachel continued, was an article Jack Green had been working on before he died. It was about the organised crime group Condor, and the title was "The Truth Behind Condor". But his work came to an abrupt end due to his premature death, resulting in only the first part ever being published.
Hyde needed to know what was in that article. He asked Rachel if she could get hold of a copy for him.
There was one more detail that stood out, said Rachel. Jack Green's fatal accident had taken place on a road leading between the Los Angeles Beat company building and Hotel Cape West.
*That is interesting...*
Before hanging up the phone, she relayed a message for Hyde from Ed. "He said that there must be some kind of clue that connects the guests who attended the regular parties held at the hotel to the Scarlet Star."
What was it Sidney had said? Every month on a date with a six in it, a party called Scarlet Star would be held, and Mags's late husband had never missed them.
Then Hyde remembered the old photo album he had found on the fourth floor. He scrambled to get it out and open it. As he'd thought, there were various photos stuck inside it that looked like they might well be from a Scarlet Star party.
Preserved in the old photographs alongside all the other guests was a youthful Mags, wearing that same necklace. Hyde realised for the first time that she must be able to tell him more than she'd let on.
*Guess it's time to have a chat with her about this Scarlet Star business.*
He went out into the hallway and found himself quite literally bumping into Charles, who was coming out of room 205.
"Mince alors!" Charles exclaimed in surprise.
Hyde wasn't in the mood for any games. Room 205 was vacant, so what was Charles doing in there? Suspecting the man of foul play, Hyde pushed him back into room 205 and shut the door. "Spit it out. How come you didn't give back the spare key? What were you doing in here?"
Feeling very much like he had been backed into a corner, Charles hunched over and he confessed that he had been in there writing a screenplayk. He'd wanted to use that particular typewriter no matter what.
It was the typewriter that Charles's friend Billy had left
for wanting to succeed so desperately. He was currently studying at a university in LA, but his grandfather had decreed that if he couldn't make his name during his first year there, he would have to return to France and take over the family business. In order to achieve success, he would have to win the screenplay competition he was entering. It was his first, last and only chance, he insisted.
There was more. Charles told Hyde that he was planning on using their apartment building's secret as the basis for his script.
"What do you mean, this building's secret?"
Charles explained that he had first heard about Cape West before he'd come to study in the US, when his grandfather had told him about the hotel where a still-unsolved murder case had occurred 13 years ago. That was what he wanted to write about.
His working title was "Door to the Past". The story was to involve an incident that happened long ago at a derelict hotel finally coming to light. The criminal was the person who had worked at the hotel's front desk, and it would turn out that he had hidden the evidence on the fourth floor. Charles explained his plot with a triumphant smile.
The part about the evidence being hidden on the fourth floor had caught Hyde's interest, and this did not escape Charles.
"I know what you've been up to, you know. I know that you sometimes go up and have a look around the fourth floor. But don't worry. I've been in there lots of times, too."
It was all in aid of researching his screenplay, Charles explained. But he hadn't just looked -- he had taken an 8 mm camera up there as well and done some filming.
"And I caught something interesting, too. What do you suppose it was?" Charles seemed very intrigued to hear Hyde's answer.
For his part, Hyde was quite eager to know more about this 8mm film. He was certain that it showed on his face. But Charles would only reveal all if Hyde agreed to his condition: Hyde would have to admit his own reasons for snooping around on the fourth floor.
"Same reason as you," he answered as the two of them ascended the staircase on their way to Charles's room. He was curious about the incident that had happened in the hotel all those years ago, and he was eager to see the fourth floor rooms that had been left completely unchanged since then.
Charles wanted to know more -- why exactly Hyde was so preoccupied with this matter -- and Hyde disclosed that he was a former detective, and that his connectio to this incident went back many years. As he spoke, he felt his detective instinct, still present in every fibre of his being even four years on, flare up like a blaze.
When they arrived in Charles's room, Hyde tried to hurry things along. He needed to see what was on that 8 mm film.
Looking at the image carefully, there was definitely a person visible. That meant someone else had been prowling around on the fourth floor. The image wasn't clear enough to make out who it was, although Hyde did notice that they were wearing a wristwatch.
There just wasn't enough to go on. But if they'd gained access to the fourth floor, it must surely have meant it was one of the other residents.
At this point Charles noted that this wasn't all he could offer. He had also taken some photographs of the hotel for inspiration, and in doing so he had just happened to capture some of the residents on camera. He sped into the bathroom to develop them, but he was crestfallen to discover that the red lamp he needed for developing photos had burnt out.
Hyde felt certain he'd have something in his apartment he could use as a substitute, so he made a trip back there and hunted around. That was it! He spotted the wine bottle Mila had brought him, still surrounded by its beautiful red wrapping. The wrapping was made of a translucent film, so it could easily be placed in front of an ordinary light to create a makeshift darkroom. He went back to Charles's apartment.
There was a light above the toilet in his bathroom which seemed perfect. They covered it in the wrapping, and in an instant they were ready to develop photos. A deep red glow seeped into every corner of the room.
Charles started making the necessary preparations. Hyde's job was simply to follow instructions from Charles.
He took the printing paper and put it into the liquid sitting in the tray. He then moved it around until the image appeared on the paper. Once the picture was clear enough, he took the paper out of the tray, and then he was
*What the hell has he been doing on the fourth floor?*
"What do you think he was doing up there though, Mr Hyde? Would you like me to go and ask him?"
Hyde figured that if Charles went to ask him, he probably wouldn't give a straight answer. It was best if he went himself. "I'll get to the bottom of this, don't you worry." And, deciding there was no time like the present, he made for Will's room in seconds flat, with a mind to pose the question directly.
But when he knocked at Will's door, he received no response.
"If you're looking for Mr White," came Charles's voice from behind him, "he hasn't been home since yesterday."
Charles had come after him, and was speaking as if he expected Hyde to have known that already.
"Mr Hyde, I know you told me that you were going to look into him and his activities, but does that mean you're just going to meet up and ask him a couple of questions? Some detective..."
"Okay then, wise guy," retorted Hyde, "what did you have in mind? Torture?"
Possibly unaware of what an irritating impression he was putting across, Charles retained his usual haughty tone as he started to boast that he knew a lot about Will's comings and goings.
Will White came home only occasionally, but there was a visitor who came to his room on a regular basis, and when Will was back he often went out late at night. He was clearly no ordinary salesman.
Continuing to put on airs, Charles suggested, in a whisper, that his idea for how to proceed was "to pick the lock using some wire and have a look inside his room."
Charles didn't waste any time -- he instantly produced a piece of wire from his pocket and shoved it into the lock on room 306's door. "Charles, stop!"
He cried out just in time. The door opened and Dylan stepped out of room 306.
As the three of them stood facing each other, time seemed to stop for an eternity. After a moment Hyde couldn't bear it and broke the silence.
"Dylan, what were you doing in room 306 while nobody was home?"
He responded matter-of-factly that Will had asked him to turn the water off while he was gone, so he had entered using the spare key. Now his work was done. Simple as that.
Hyde expressed some scepticism. Wouldn't it have made more sense to leave the water connected until after Will moved out?
Dylan had no time for Hyde's insinuations. Mr White had asked him to turn off the water, he said, and he was just doing as he was told.
As he watched a rather flustered Dylan stride off into the distance, Hyde's suspicions remained unquelled.
Hyde and Charles looked first at one another, then at the door. It appeared that no breaking and entering would be required after all; in his haste, Dylan had forgotten to lock it. Charles was eager to seize the opportunity and burst in right away.
Hyde would never let the potential risk stand in the way of his curiosity, but he also wasn't about to let them be caught. He told Charles to stand guard while he went inside, and they decided on a signal in case it looked like there might be trouble: if anyone was coming along the corridor, Charles would knock on the door to alert Hyde so that he knew to keep the noise down. When the danger had passed, Charles would knock again.
Once these details were hammered out sufficiently, Hyde stepped into room 306. It was a dry, soulless room; Hyde could hardly believe it was someone's home. He started poring over every corner of the room, doing his best not to make a sound. But a piercing ring of the telephone suddenly broke the stillness and made Hyde jump with a start.
He instinctively held his breath.
The answer phone started recording.
"Guess you're not there, so I'll just relay this message." It was a deep, threatening voice. "The goods have been obtained in the same way as usual, and the money is in the usual place."
Not a second was wasted. The moment the caller had stated his purpose, he hung up.
What goods, Hyde wondered? And what money? There was definitely something fishy about this. He decided he'd better search as thoroughly as he could before anyone found him there.
There was one item of interest that stood out to him -- a black briefcase that was sat on Will's coffee table. It was locked, however, so Hyde had no way to uncover the secrets that might lie within.
Just as he was pondering
hesitated for a brief second, but then steeled himself and reached a hand into the pocket. Scrambling around, he grasped onto a small item, which he retrieved and examined. It appeared to be a magnetic key of some kind -- perhaps, his detective senses told him, the key for that briefcase. He went back over to the coffee table and tried it out.
Success! The briefcase opened without a hitch. Inside was a notebook, which at first glance looked very promising. He focused all his attention on reading the contents, hoping to glean whatever he could.
A note in it read: "You'll find information on the item on the right of the third floor display case. The guards change at 10 pm, and the alarm bell on the door is an old type. We'll communicate using the usual means. Check the mirror."
Hyde was baffled. Check the mirror? What was that supposed to mean?
He put the notebook down and cast his eyes across the room. It was then that he noticed the mirror in the corner. Just like in his own room, it was above a small wash basin. Nothing about it seemed out of the ordinary.
Also in the briefcase was a letter set. His eyes widened as he realised the writing paper and envelopes were exactly the same as the ones that had been used for the anonymous order sheet.
He put the paper and envelopes in his pocket, reasoning that they might come in handy later. Next he wandered over to the mirror to take a closer look at it.
Everything still seemed perfectly normal. For lack of a better idea he tried turning on the hot tap, just as he did every morning in his own room. Lo and behold, the steam left a faint trace of some numbers on the surface of the mirror.
He looked around to see where else he might investigate while he still had the chance. He realised he had only opened one set of closet doors, so he peeked into the other and noticed a safety deposit box.
Looking at the keypad for a moment, an idea popped into his head. He tried entering the numbers that had appeared on the mirror.
The safety deposit box opened with a clunk. Stooping to peer inside, he realised what the contents were: a roll of banknotes and a passport.
All trace of his reticence was gone now. He practically ripped open the passport to see who it belonged to.
The photograph inside was clearly Will's. But he looked more closely and saw that the name written on the page was "Will McGrath".
*Hold on a minute... I thought his surname was White?*
Hyde paused for a moment. McGrath... He knew he had heard that name somewhere before. Then it came to him. Wasn't it the same name as the owner of Hotel Cape West?
The ominous knock echoed from the door once again. Footsteps grew louder and then softer, and Charles knocked again. Hyde realised his heart had been ponding rapidly in his chest, and gave himself a moment to calm down.
Not too long, though. His suspicions towards Will were mounting, and he might not have much time left. He went back to the briefcase to see if he could find anything else incriminating.
He spotted a camera. Actually, he realised, it was a children's toy camera. He turned the dials on the back of it, and after he heard the shutter release several times, the film case opened. The only thing inside was a torn scrap of a postcard.
The picture was hard to make out, but it appeared to be a drawing of the night sky. On the edge was a name and signature: Michael McGrath, Manager, Hotel Cape West.
*Why would he be hiding something like this? And in a toy camera of all places?*
And at that exact second, when all his doubts and questions were starting to form tangibly before his very eyes, he suddenly felt a gun on his back.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
The voice was as cold and hard as the weapon pointed as his back. Hyde didn't turn
you expecting to find?"
Hyde just answered, "I'll talk if you will, Mr McGrath."
Will was taken aback. And then, with a sigh of resignation, he congratulated Hyde for his detective work.
"Was it you that sent me the order sheet?" asked Hyde.
Will curtly admitted, in no uncertain terms, that Hyde was correct.
If he knew about Red Crown's less-publicised business, Hyde asked, why send an order directly to him?
Will just smiled wryly and said, "It's more interesting this way."
Hyde got the impression that Will had actually been trying to avoid putting himself in any danger.
He needed to know more, and despite being caught trespassing, he wasn't about to go on the defensive. "This is your passport. Will McGrath... That's your real name, isn't it?" He also presented the postcard scrap he had found. "And this bears the name Michael McGrath, the same name as the husband of the murder victim, Kathy, 13 years ago. He was the manager of the hotel at the time. Why did you try and hide such a thing?"
It was just as Hyde had suspected. Will had been deliberately trying to hide his true identity, particularly from Mags.
In truth, he was Will McGrath, son of the man who owned Hotel Cape West 13 years ago. The murder victim, Kathy McGrath, was his mother.
As for the postcard, Will explained, it was something his father had given to him before he passed away.
He looked Hyde straight in the eye. The two of them had shared very similar experiences, he remarked. Both of them had suffered the death of a parent at the hands of a killer. Hyde's father had died 25 years earlier, and Will's mother 13 years earlier. Both cases remained unsolved.
But as he continued, Will seemed not to be regarding them as equals, but to be looking down on Hyde. "However, though our pasts are distinctly similar, we have adopted different approaches.
"You were once a detective, yet you chose not to look into your father's case. You even happen to be living in a place that may be able to shed some light on things, but you do nothing. You're not even trying to find out the truth, and I found that very irritating. That's why I chose to point you in the right direction." Will was practically spitting at this point.
Until now it had never occurred to Hyde that the order sheet might have had such noble intentions behind it. And yet, a tiny voice in his head whispered that Will had no right to interfere, that it was perfectly all right for him to deal with the past whatever way he saw fit.
Still, he understood where Will was coming from. "Will, who was it that killed your mother?" When Will didn't answer immediately, Hyde added, "Was it Mrs Patrice?"
Will's rage started to bubble over. "She was the accomplice. I moved in here to put myself in a position to take revenge on her. I originally intended to crush her throat with my bare hands. I want her to own up to her crimes and show me how repentant she is."
"Then do it yourself! Don't involve me in your dirty work!"
"You still don't get it, do you?" said Will. "It's much more fun to have somebody else do it."
Will was showing his true colours at last. Hyde thought the man was despicable.
"It's not like you didn't take that order sheet willingly. No doubt you've been having the time of your life roving around the building, reliving your glory days! And it didn't take you long to realise that if you found the Scarlet Star that went missing 25 years ago, you'd be able to uncover the truth behind your own father's murder, too."
Kyle's emotions were in turmoil. How did Will even know about what happened to his father?
He asked exactly that, and Will stated that he had heard it directly from one of the people who had been present at the Scarlet Star party 25 years earlier.
*He couldn't mean...*
Hyde ventured a guess, and it turned out to be correct. His father, Michael McGrath, had confessed everything to him. It was three years ago, just before he passed away, and the two of them hadn't met for ten years. "He was dying and in need of my support," he said, his face creased up with anger.
With his last breath, Michael had said to his son, "The one who killed your mother 13 years ago is a man called George Patrice. There's no evidence, but I know it for a fact." Then he had given Will a torn postcard and told him that everything had started 25 years ago, when the Scarlet Star disappeared. When a certain man stole it from the
25 years ago...*
After his father's death, Will had made up his mind. No matter what, he would uncover the truth his father had only been able to hint at. And through his research, he came to learn that George Patrice had already died, and that the hotel had been sold to his wife, who had converted it into apartments.
But that wasn't all he discovered. In a startling coincidence, it had turned out that the son of the man who cracked the safe 25 years ago lived in that very same apartment building.
"But how did you make the connection?" asked Hyde, paying close attention. "How did you know that the person who cracked the safe was my dad?"
"I have my methods. And when I realised that, I knew I had to find a way to make you start looking into things. But it seems I underestimated you. Before you unearthed the truths behind Mrs Patrice and the Scarlet Star, you discovered the truth behind me!"
Will had a certain unpleasantness about him, the stench of a criminal. Now, Hyde knew for sure. The fact that Will had been investigating him, the fact that he'd known about Red Crown's secret business... All of it was down to Will's criminal connections.
Will continued his explanation. He'd wanted to discover the truth for himself, but there was nothing he could do anymore.
"You found me out so easily, after all. If I attempt to delve any further, I fully expect Nile to come knocking on my door."
"Did you just say...Nile?" Hyde's jaw dropped.
"I did. You're quite familiar with them as well, aren't you? They were involved in the incident that occurred 25 years ago."
This building, he went on, clearly bore the mark of Nile's influence.
"If I even so much as try to uncover the facts behind their operation, I'm a dead man. All things considered," he said in a business-like manner, "I think it's time for me to release my grip. As long as I'm alive, there's always a chance I can know the truth some day. But for the time being, I value my life above all else."
"Even if you never find out the truth about what happened to your mother?"
Will was visibly troubled by Hyde's question. Since he had never revealed these secrets of his to anyone before, he had never had to answer these kinds of personal questions either.
With a sigh, he conceded that if he never found out, it would be incredibly painful for him. But that, he said, was exactly why he didn't want to take revenge on Mags anymore. He knew it would take more energy than it worth and would get him no closer to finding out the truth.
"The real question is, what are you going to do now?" asked Will.
"As long as that order remains valid, I'll do what I always do and track the item down. And the reward that waits for me at the end is more than enough to keep me going." Hyde's answer was as much for his own benefit as for Will's.
Will gave Hyde the old postcard. Michael had given it to him on his deathbed, said Will, and it was supposed to be a vital clue in finding the Scarlet Star.
And with a brief goodbye, Will left Hyde alone in the room.
Hyde stood still for a few moments, gazing at Will as he walked away. Will carried himself with a sombre manner about him that Hyde had never noticed before. He lived his life alone, never allowing anyone to approach him. This was neither the true face of a salesman nor the true face of a criminal, felt Hyde. It was the deep loneliness of a son who had lost both of his parents.
Hyde couldn't help but wonder if Will would ever be able to have a normal life. He had lived alone, dedicated himself to his burning need to exact revenge, and now he had thrown all that away. Would he ever be able to stop pushing people away?
There alone in the room, Hyde let out a heavy sigh.
When he got outside, Charles was waiting for him, an expression of deep worry on his face. Hyde did his best to calm him down, and managed to elicit a half-smile.
He told Charles what he had found out. That Will was related to the murder victim from 13 years ago. And that, from what he had surmised, Will would not becoming back to Cape West. "In fact, it's probably best if you just forget all about him."
Charles's eyes still seemed to be full of questions, but he obediently spared Hyde of them. "I see, thanks for the advice. I'll steer well clear of him." And he silently returned to his room.
Uncovering Will McGrath's real identity had brought him one step closer to the truth