Part 141: Confessions
nerves and cool his head. He left the bathroom and dried his hair with a towel as he sat down by one of th elarge speakers near the window and took a record off he shelf. He mounted it on the turntable and put the needle in its place, and soon the mournful sound of the saxophone started drifting from the cloth-covered speakers.
He perched himself on the edge of the bed and let the jazzy melody wash over him. The solemn tones somehow drew his mind back to the words Will had spoken the previous night.
"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."
Hyde understood now. He needed to know the truth about what had happened 25 years ago. He yearned for it. And he was the only one that was capable of unearthing all the facts.
He emerged from his trance and realised that the turntable had stopped already. The melody that had enraptured him so was gone now, vanished into the ether.
Hyde suited up and then, with nowhere to go as usual, sat himself firmly on the sofa and drank two cups of coffee in a row.
*I can't just sit here. I've got to do something.*
Just as he had steeled his resolve, a knock sounded at the door. He poked his head out and saw Dylan waiting expectantly.
"I've been so anxious to hear the next instalment from last night," said Dylan, fraught with excitement.
He wanted to know whether Hyde and Will had ended up crossing path, and what they had talked about. Hyde was in no mood to appease the man. "You're worried about what was said, aren't you?" he accused. "That's why you're here, to get me to tell you precisely what we talked about."
Dylan was defiant in his insistence that he was merely curious, but Hyde couldn't shake the feeling that he was hiding something.
*What doesn't he want me to know?*
Suddenly, a voice resounded from along the corridor. "Here you are, Dylan. I've been looking for you." It was Mags. Dylan promptly broke off his conversation with Hyde and turned towards her.
She had apparently received a phone call from Will informing her that he would not be returning to his apartment. She thus asked Dylan to remove Will's remaining things from room 306, and he scurried off to make a start on the task.
Mags turned her attention to Hyde. "Have you finalised your moving arrangements yet, Mr Hyde? Please feel free to let me know as soon as you have."
He informed her that while he would indeed let her know in good time, he had some business to take care of before he could move out.
"Oh, such as what?" she enquired.
"I have to find something. You might be able to help me out with that, actually."
Her face grew dark upon hearing Hyde's request. A hint of distaste in her words, she responded that Dylan had told her Hyde was a former detective, and that she knew he was searching for something, but at this precise moment she had nothing to say to him.
Hyde wasn't about to give up without a fight. "If you have nothing to say to me, trust me, I have plenty to say to you. I've got questions to ask and things to tell you."
Mags expressed some interest in what he had to say to her. "What kind of things?"
"So you're listening now? I have a message from a member of Kathy McGrath's family."
With a sigh, she answered, "Okay, Mr Hyde, I give in. Shall we say this afternoon at 4 o'clock in my room?"
He remained in the hallway for a moment, watching her as she strode away. Something in his gut told him that now, at last, he was closing in on the truth.
He was back inside his room for only a brief second before the telephone rang. It was Rachel on the other end.
"Morning, sweetie. Good news!"
"What is it?"
"You'll see after you've heard this voice..."
Then came a familiar booming growl. "Hyde, it's Ed here."
Hyde was overcome with relief. Ed had been discharged even sooner than Rachel had suggested his might.
"I figured there's no way you and Rachel would last five minutes on your own, so I blew the doc's mind by making a miraculous recovery!" Ed was back to his crotchery old self.
Ed asked Hyde for an update on his anonymous order, and Hyde told him that he'd finally discovered the identity of the client. It was, he explained, a resident of Cape West Apart-
ago are both connected to Nile." Of the two, Hyde continued, he was far more concerned with uncovering the truth behind the event that had occurred 25 years ago. But in order to do so he would have to locate the Scarlet Star and deliver it to the one responsible for Kathy McGrath's death.
Cleared now of his ailments, Ed's voice had a robustness to it as he encouraged Hyde. "Hyde, do what you gotta do and keep searching. And don't stop until you've uncovered everything."
Ed passed the phone back to Rachel so she could give him some information. Before she could do so he said, "Rachel, keep an eye on him and don't let him push himself too hard."
She reassured him that Ed was in good hands, and while a part of her resented being told something so obvious by a lummox like him, she thought it was nice of him to show how much he cared about Ed.
She drew the conversation back to the matter at hand. "Kyle, you remember you asked me to get hold of the last article written by Jack Green? Well, I managed to get it for you.
"The title of the article is 'The Truth Behind Condor'. It was meant to be an ongoing piece, but it ended after the first part was published. At the end of the article, the following appears..."
Rachel read out the final passage of the article.
"There's a gigantic void behind the organised crime syndicate known as Condor. Condor has managed to evade justice, thwart police investigations and successfully sell their stolen wares, but it seems unlikely that the group could have accomplished any of this with no outside assistance.
"There's no doubt in this writer's mind that an as-yet undisclosed force has been operating in the shadows behind Condor. Without this force, Condor would not exist. The next part of this article will expose the identity of this shadowy force." Rachel paused for a moment before saying, "And that's where the article stops."
*So this shadowy force behind Condor remained un-identified*
"I take it you've heard about the recent jewellery thefts, right?" she asked him.
He had, of course. Some had even taken place quite near to his apartment building.
Rachel informed him that the thefts, including those ones, all bore the marks of having been carried out by Condor, and that a TV special about the incidents was about to be broadcast at 11 o'clock that morning.
After finishing his conversation with Rachel, Hyde waited impatiently for the programme to start. He was quite interested to know more about these events that apparently matched up with Condor's typical MO. At last 11 o'clock arrived, and he switched on the television.
A man wearing glasses appeared on the screen. "Good morning! It's time for 5 News. Today we examine the recent spate of jewellery robberies occurring all over the city. A store owner has provided us with an interesting eyewitness account. Who is this mysterious woman that appears on the scene before every robbery? 5 News, as always, is hot on the heels of any lead."
The newscaster's image was replaced by that of the jewellery store owner being interviewed. "The day before the robbery occurred, a woman came into the shop. I assumed she was just a customer, but she didn't seem interested in any items and just wandered around the shop, looking around. I couldn't see her face due to the black hat and sunglasses she wore.
"She also wore a ring, with a diamond flanked on both sides by rubies. It looked incredibly expensive..."
An artist's impression of the mystery woman appeared on the screen. "Based on this image, we have received reports of the same woman appearing at the robbed stores. Could this woman be the key to solving these cases?"
The presenter ended the show by posing that open-ended question to his viewers.
The "mystery woman", she had been described as. Hyde thought back to several days earlier, when he had brushed past a woman fitting the exact same description on his way
There was one more detail in the broadcast that had captured his interest. It was the ring. He had definitely seen a ring like that before.
There was only one way to confirm his suspicion. He would have to ask the ring's owner directly.
The second he left his apartment, Tony called out to him. "Hey, Hyde, you're just in time! Did you notice anybody come up here just now?"
Hyde shook his head.
"Seriously?" Tony fronwed. "I could've sworn somebody did. That's pretty weird."
"Did you see somebody?" asked Hyde.
"Hey, now that I think, it's that same woman! The one who was hanging around by the door last week, with the hat. That's who I saw coming in here just now."
"You sure it was her you saw?"
"Positive! Not that it matters now. I've lost her. One thing's for sure though, I saw her going up the stairs just ahead of me."
Hyde considered the situation. *The woman in the hat... Maybe it is who I think it is after all. But why's she involved?*
He left Tony where he was and knocked on the door of room 206. Marie opened up without any delay.
"What can I do for you?" she asked.
"How did your insurance claim go?"
"My insurance claim?" She wore a puzzled expression.
"Yeah, I just really wanted to know. I've been curious about Rex too. If he ever came back."
In response she said, "I must thank you, Mr Hyde. Thank you for caring enough to come and ask how I'm doing."
"Yeah, just felt like the right thing to do," he replied. "Didn't want to leave without knowing, you know."
Marie smiled warmly and invited him into her room.
The room was just as neat and tidy as before. Marie told him that she would be leaving at the beginning of the following week. Her rent was all paid up.
Did that mean Rex's investigation was closed, thought Hyde? It seemed a little strange; it was nice that the insurance company had agreed to pay her, but wouldn't that mean that the investigation had turned up nothing? Hyde remembered hearing that Rex worked on commission, and that his cases always went badly for the claimants involved. He told Marie as much, since she didn't seem to be aware of it. He was known for being a very hardheaded investigator.
"Listen, Marie... You wouldn't be hiding anything from me, would you?"
"What are you implying, Mr Hyde? I thought we agreed that I'd told you everything!"
"I'm not so sure it really was everything, though. In particular, the part about the woman in the hat."
"What?" The colour instantly drained from Marie's face.
Just then, someone knocked at the door. Marie gingerly walked over and opened it, and in the doorway stood Rex's imposing figure.
Rex completely ignored Hyde's presence and spoke only to Marie. "This morning, the insurance company told me to cease my investigation onto you. I want to know exactly how you managed to squirm your way out of this one!"
She insisted she had no idea, but his rage continued unabated. He again demanded to know what she had done, and suggested that Hyde might find it quite interesting as well.
The threatening undercurrent in Rex's tone prompted Marie to suddenly start running as fast as she could. She ran straight past him and out the door.
"Hyde," seethed Rex, "I'm not sure what brought you here today, but before you two start planning a wedding, there are a few things you might want to know, first."
Hyde paid no consideration to Rex's words and chased after Marie. He heard he elevator moving, and when he looked over at it, he saw the floor indicator come to a stop. She had got out on the roof. As soon as the elevator had returned, he headed up after her.
When he stepped out onto the rooftop, Marie was standing there, cold and alone.
Hyde needed to hear the truth. What did Rex know about her, he asked? Why had she run away?
She simply said, "I was scared of him." But she didn't seem eager to tell him why that was. "I've been keeping something from you, Mr Hyde. But I can't bring myself to tell you what it is. Please, Mr Hyde, just leave me alone." Her voice wavered, like it was on the verge of breaking up. He thought he saw a single teardrop roll down her cheek.
Hyde's detective instincts told him that she wouldn't talk unless he could show her some kind of evidence. He went back down the stairs towards her room.
By the time he reached room
He spotted a box on top of the closet that he couldn't quite get to. He stood on the stool by the dresser and reached up. There, as he had hoped, were the very items he had been searching for.
But underneath them he found something else. It was an anonymous letter. He read its contents. "Come to the jewellery store at 18:00 wearing the appointed attire. As long as you follow the instructions, your identity will be safe. There's no use trying to escape either. We're in control."
He took the letter, along with the hat and the sunglasses, up to the roof. Marie ahd barely moved an inch. She stood completely still next to the lighthouse monument, a frail and hopeless expression on her face. He showed her what he had found in her room.
"I know what you've been hiding," he said to her, calm and measured. "I know what you've done. The woman in the hat who always makes an appearance before the robberies... That's you, isn't it?"
In her shock, Marie didn't utter a word.
He pressed her. "Who put you up to it? Was it the same people who sent you the threatening letters?"
Marie feigned ignorance, but Hyde quickly presented the proof he had found in her room. Instinctively she raised her hand to her cheek and let out a sharp gasp.
Hyde remembered that he still had her ring, so he showed that to her as well. "Betty gave me this to return to you. Why would you sell something so valuable? Or maybe you'd just like to tell me about the Condor engraving on the base?"
Marie couldn't deal with his rapid-fire questions. She didn't know how to respond.
"There's no use trying to hide it anymore, Marie. Come clean and tell me."
"I can't, Mr Hyde," she said finally. "If I do, there's no going back. And you really don't want to hear what kind of person I truly am, Mr Hyde You're the one person who can't know."
"But Marie, if I don't reveal your secret, then sooner or later somebody else will. Do you understand the gravity of the situation? I appreciate that the people ordering you about are intimidating you, but..."
"Of course I understand!" she cried vehemently. "And that's precisely why I can't tell you anything!"
A bitter smile crept onto her face that left Hyde feeling decidedly uneasy.
The very second that the possibility occurred to him, Marie was up and running. He chased after her, his legs working faster than he could ever remember, but he knew she would reach the edge of the roof before he did. All hope seemed lost.
He almost didn't want to look. But Marie, blessedly, stopped just on the edge instead of jumping. Hyde breathed a sigh of relief, but his heart still pumped violently in his chest. He knew that the danger hadn't passed.
All emotion seemed drained from Marie's features. "If only I'd met you earlier, Mr Hyde. If I'd been able to tell you everything I've been keeping to myself, maybe things would've turned out very differently.
"I... I really don't know what to do anymore... It's hopeless... Goodbye, Mr Hyde."
Subtly, in the hope that Marie wouldn't notice, Hyde drew a deep breath and prepared himself to move quickly.
With a sudden, dramatic leap, he grabbed Marie. The two of them fell in a heap a short distance from the edge of the roof.
"Looks like I seriously underestimated what an idiot you were!" he raged, dragging her up and making sure she was safely away from the edge. "If you wanted my help, why didn't you just ask?!"
"How could I have done that? After all, I'm the only one who knows how terrifying those people can be."
But after a series of false starts, Marie finally began to open up. It was these same people -- the ones who had sent the threatening letter -- that had told the insurance company to cease their investigation. It was thanks to them that Marie had at last been able to receive her husband's life insurance payout. According to Marie, it was kind of reward for doing what she was told.
She told Hyde that when her brother Mike and her husband Peter worked at Hotel Cape West, their real job was carrying out the sale of stolen jewellery.
And it wasn't jsut that, she said. They were willing to do anything if it got them some fast cash -- even disposing of dead bodies and making evidence disappear.
But once they had outlived
"It wasn't long before they decided I could be of use to them as well. They told me that I had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. That it was my fate."
But who were these people, thought Hyde? Who was it that had been terrorising Marie?
He asked her these questions, and she responded by staring at him with damp eyes. Uncertainty coloured her every word. "Nile. At least, that's the name they use when they refer to themselves."
A deep voice reverberated from across the roof. "I see. So that's how it is, huh?"
Hyde turned his head and saw that Rex had joined them. And now, at last, Rex revealed his true objective. "I'm looking for the last piece of the puzzle. It's the puzzle that he left behind and which I've been trying to solve all this time. In fact, I've been piecing it together ever since he died 13 years ago."
"Are you talking about Jack Green?" Hyde asked. "The guy you used to work with?"
Rex was surprised for a moment, and impressed at Hyde for having learnt so much about him. But his face was stern as he explained that, without a doubt, Jack had been killed by Nile.
"So you're saying he was about to expose the link between Nile and Condor, but Nile got wind of this and decided to silence him for good."
With a steady gaze, Rex stated that the truth behind Condor was far more disturbing. "The crime syndicate known as Condor began operating in the LA area... Oh, must be as far back as 25, maybe 26 years ago now. The LAPD figured that Condor was behind the large number of robberies that hit LA, but due to a distinct lack of material evidence, was never able to pin any on them.
"Exactly how they chose their targets and by what means they conducted their sales was done with meticulous detail and went virtually undetected by the police department. Condor always kept itself a few steps ahead, resulting in the LAPD coming up with squat."
"You're suggesting there was an informant working from inside the LAPD," growled Hyde.
"That's what we figured. With nothing that would enable a case to built against them, the robberies continued. That is, until 13 years ago, when they simply dropped off the face of the earth."
After that, Rex continued, he had tried to write an article about Jack's death being the result of a criminal organisation, but it was branded a work of fiction and he was driven out of the profession.
Jack's death was ultimately determined to have been an accident. The police stuck to that belief and refused to provide any further assistance. And if it really was an intentional police cover-up, the truth would be consigned to darkness forever.
That's why he had decided to become an insurance fraud investigator. Then he could take a close-up look at cases where life insurance policies had been taken out under suspicious circumstances -- which included Jack's case.
When he first took the job, Rex had the opportunity to go over Jack's policy. As he had suspected, certain aspects of it seemed decidedly unnatural. He vowed then that he would never give up, that he wouldn't let Jack's death be in vain. He would find and uncover the real evil that lay behind his friend's murder.
Each word that Rex spoke was punctuated by his fury.
"The real evil?" asked Hyde.
"Yeah. You didn't think Nile was operating by itself, did you? There were plenty of people working under their influence. Each and every one of them connected to Nile behind the scenes, yet operating in plain sight, perverting the course of justice.
"Even a parasite like me has values, Hyde. Things that drive them to keep going. In my case, there's one thing I've never let slip away: my unfailing persistence to uncover and finally know the truth. Whatever it takes, I will make sure the entire world learns of it!"
Jack Green may be dead, said Rex, but he would continue the fight on his behalf.
"Hyde, you may be interested to know that Jack had spent considerable time investigating your father. According to his research, the man whose body was found in the parking lot 25 years ago was in league with Condor, and was bumped off because he knew the truth about Nile."
"What did you say?" thundered Hyde. "You think my dad was working for Condor?"
Rex brushed aside Hyde's indignation and went on. It was a possibility, he said, at least according to Jack's research notes, but there was
a moment to breathe.
"Marie." He turned towards her all of a sudden. "I'll leave you with this piece of advice. Get yourself out of this town. Do it as soon as you can."
"I can't just leave! And even if I do, do you think Nile is just going to forget about me?"
"Not without help. Help which I intend to give you. Come on, how do you think I've stayed alive this long while looking into them? Even an annoying fly like me has a few survival tricks up his sleeves!
"If you want a fighting chance of getting away, be at Union Station at 6 tomorrow morning. I'll wait for 10 minutes. If you don't show by then, I'll be gone."
Marie nodded silently.
"As for you, Hyde, this is the last I'll be seeing of your ugly mug."
"I'll hold back the tears," said Hyde as Rex disappeared into the elevator.
Hyde and Marie were alone again on the roof. "Marie, what are you going to do now?" How would she live, he wondered, now that everything was out in the open? He knew that none of it was really her fault, but he worried about her having to try and make do on her own.
"I'll be just fine. I'm a lot stronger than I look, you know. And one more thing, Mr Hyde. Thanks for listening to me. I honestly thought I'd never be able to open up to anyone. That is, until you came along."
And with a goodbye and a wave, she too, made her way into the elevator and vanished from sight.
*But is it really okay just to let her go like this?*
Marie had danger all around her. That was what made Hyde feel so driven to try and keep her from harm. He had felt it every time she turned away from him, every time he sensed that the tears were about to well up in her eyes.
But in the end, he didn't stop her. He somehow knew she would be all right.
His pager beeped. Rachel was trying to get in touch with him.
He was alone on the rooftop now, and the chill wind felt harsh against his skin. He decided it was time to go back to his room.
When Hyde got to the second floor hallway, he saw that Dylan was pacing about in front of his door.
Making his usual excuse that he had been carrying out maintenance work, Dylan mentioned that he had just seen Rex go up to the roof in the elevator. He knew that Marie and Hyde had been up there as well.
He begged Hyde to tell him what had happened, but Hyde retorted, "I've got better things to do than listen to your crap, Dylan." He had no intention of discussing the matter with Dylan, and simply informed him that Rex would not be showing his face at Cape West again.
Dylan asked one more question -- what had happened regarding Marie's insurance claim? But the answer defied Dylan's expectations. Hyde stated that Marie was definitely going to get her payout, and Dylan walked off with a slightly bemused expression on his face.
Hyde went back into his room and dialled Red Crown's number. Rachel picked up and almost instantly said, "I'll hand you over to Ed."
"Hyde, it's me," growled Ed. "I've got some news courtesy of an old friend of mine at the LAPD."
He said that the LAPD was treating the recent thefts as a warning that Condor may be returning to the scene.
The warning was likely Nile's reaction to the campaign against organised crime that mayoral candidate Hugh Speck was planning to embark upon in the new year.
Hyde was a little confused. "But why would they use the resurrection of Condor as a retaliation against the LAPD?"
"The LAPD must know something about Nile in connection to Condor. Something big."
There were still plenty of questions on Hyde's mind. He asked Ed if he could get him any more specific information. "Listen, Ed... There was a guy 13 years ago who thought he'd discovered a link between Nile and Condor. He wound up dead, but a friend of his told me my dad may have been somehow involved."
"Okay, I'll see what I can do. Perhaps if I extend the net to include what Frank RAver was doing, we might get lucky."
They said their goodbyes and hung up. Hyde checked the time, it was 3 in the afternoon already.
The buzzer sounded at the door. Patient as always, he went to see who it was -- and he was greeted by one of the more impatient residents of the building.
"I just heard something from Dylan," spat Frank. "He told me that you, Rex and Marie from room 206 had a little gathering up on the roof not long ago.
"You and Dylan seem quite keen to find out what we talked about up there. Why is that?"
"That's because..." he began.
Hyde brought up another point. "Also, I'd like you to know that I've been looking into you too, Frank. Not only you either. I've done some research on Kathy McGrath's murder that happened here 13 years ago. And last but not least, I've been looking into the elusive Condor."
"That may be, Mr Hyde, but there's no way you've been able to obtain the same level of information as me."
Hyde refused to rise to the bait, and Frank found his faultless composure unsettling.
"Tell me then, Mr Hyde," he eventually responded. "What do you know about me?"
Hyde listed everything he had learnt about Frank's past. How he had been in the LAPD in his 40s but was then singled out in an internal investigation. How he had been considered the best of the best in his younger days -- but his willingness to do whatever it took to make an arrest was deemed a liability, and he had been put behind a desk.
A look of shock formed on Frank's face, and he asked, "How did you come across such detailed information?"
"You don't need to worry about how I came across it, just that I know."
Frank dropped that line of questioning and instead asked Hyde what he was investigating. Was he trying to find out the truth behind the murder that took place 13 years earlier?
Hyde was, like Frank, looking into an incident from Cape West's past. But, he explained, the one he was more concerned about had occurred 25 years ago.
"What?" Frank was taken aback.
"Do you know what happened 25 years ago?" asked Hyde.
With more than a touch of arrogance, Frank replied, "Of course I do! Mr Hyde, tell me, what are you trying to discover about the incident 25 years ago?"
"I want to find the Scarlet Star that went missing from Hotel Cape West."
"Did you say Scarlet Star?"
Evidently Frank was aware of it.
"Mr Hyde, how the hell did you learn about the Scarlet Star?"
"Frank, you know about the Scarlet Star?"
"Of course I do!" said Frank once again, in a voice so full of conviction that it reminded Hyde of his own days on the police force. "If I'm not mistaken, it was kept secured in the safe at Hotel Cape West. Only the hotel manager, Michael McGrath, was likely to know what happened to it."
*Michael McGrath, huh?*
"Now, MR Hyde, can you please tell me how you came to know about the Scarlet Star?"
"I heard it first-hand from Michael McGrath's son. He was the one that sent me after it in the first place."
Hyde recounted what Will had told him -- about Michael McGrath revealing the identity of his wife Kathy's murderer while on his deathbed.
Frank's demeanour cooled somewhat. "It would appear that we have a lot to discuss, Mr Hyde."
Frank couldn't spare the time right at that second, however, so they agreed to meet in Lucky's Café at 5 o'clock.
Not long after Frank had gone back to his own apartment, the telephone started ringing again. When Hyde picked up the receiver, he heard a frightened-sounding female voice.
"I'm scared, Mr Hyde." It was Marie. "There's somebody outside my room. They've been there for a while now. I think they're...they're keeping tabs on me. I'm so scared..."
He put the phone down and poked his head out the door to see if anyone was standing in the hallway. Dylan was there, loitering suspiciously close to Marie's room.
"What are you doing here?" asked Hyde, walking out into the corridor.
Despite his typical excuses, Dylan couldn't hide his shock at having been spotted. After failing to provide any kind of satisfactory explanation, he slinked away. Hyde was left with no doubt that Dylan was the one who had been checking up on Marie.
He knocked on Marie's door and told her that it had been Dylan standing around outside.
"Dylan? Why would he be hanging around here?"
"He knew you even before coming here. A few days ago he told me he was called to your old place to do some repair work on the pipes."
Marie replied that she had always hired the same plumbing company, and they had never sent Dylan. The fear and doubt on her face grew even more pronounced.
A thought occurred to Hyde. "Marie, I need you to show me something. You remember the threatening letter you received? I need to borrow it."
him in. From the state of the room, it was clear that Dylan was in the middle of packing up his things.
Dylan urged Hyde to show him whatever it was right away since he had somewhere to be, so Hyde wasted no time in presenting him with Marie's letter. "Does it look familiar? In case you haven't noticed, it's a threatening letter that was sent to Marie."
Dylan just stared at the letter in silence.
"There's no more hiding, Dylan. I know exactly who you are. You've been keeping tabs on Marie, haven't you?"
From the way Dylan muttered under his breath, Hyde got the impression the man knew he was beaten. Hyde could just barely hear him say that he had only been doing as he was told.
"Who is it, Dylan? Who's been giving you your orders?"
"I can't tell you that," he whined uncertainly.
"I think I know the answer anyway. It must have been Nile. They told you to keep watch over the other residents and to send them letters."
"You're right. My job was to stay here and watch over Marie and Mrs Patrice."
The reason he knew so much about them, he explained, was that Nile had been providing him with information.
That was how he had learnt that although Marie's brother and husband had both been members of Condor, Marie had not realised this even after her husband's death.
And, while Condor had disappeared 13 years earlier, it had left behind two women -- Marie and Mrs Patrice -- that Nile felt could still be useful to them.
Nile's intention was to use Condor as a means of liaising with the lAPD. There was a corrupt element in the force that had prevented any of Condor's members from ever being arrested.
After listening to Dylan tell him all this, Hyde said, "So in the end, you're just one of Nile's underlings."
Dylan nodded and said he wasn't deeply entangled in Nile's activities or anything. All he did was receive information and orders from them. Then he just had to hang around watching people and write a few threatening letters -- and the pay was incredible for such a simple job.
But, said Dylan to Hyde, now was starting to feel like the right time to bow out. He'd got the sense that if he involved himself with Nile any further, things could get dangerous. All he had left to do was report his findings.
Hyde shook his head. "You're going to tell them that I've blown your cover, but what's going to happen to you? You really think they're going to bother keeping you around if you can't even remain disguised? Mark my words, based on the Nile I know, this isn't going to end well. You'll be the first one they silence."
Hyde wasn't trying to threaten Dylan; he just wanted him to know all the facts.
"But what can I do?" asked Dylan, panic-stricken.
"Let's make a deal. Until I move out, I won't say anything about you to anyone, and that'll give you a couple days' head start to escape somewhere."
Dylan wasn't sure he could trust Hyde, but Hyde had it all planned out.
"I know a way you can escape undetected. Whether you choose to believe me or not is totally your call, though."
It all happened in a split-second. Dylan's right arm moved like a flash, and suddenly Hyde found himself in the sights of a gun.
"What you said sounds good, but I'm not so sure I'm the kind of guy who believes everything at face value. I'm going to have to think about all this. That stuff you said, that's something I can't decide upon lightly. After all, both our lives are in danger here."
Dylan kept the gun aimed at Hyde until he wass out the door, leaving Hyde alone.
Hyde headed straight back to Marie's mom and told her everything. "Dylan was behind the threatening letter you received. He was also the person keeping tabs on your whereabouts."
"So Dylan is with Nile?"
"Yeah, but I managed to scare him a little. It should be enough to keep him away until you're safely out of town." He handed the letter back to her. "As soon as I leave here, lock the door and don't let
Hyde, I'm a little busy at the moment. Could we continue our chat from this morning another time?"
Well, he couldn't exactly force her to talk to him. He'd just have to come back later.
With a sigh, he set off back to his room. On the way he was accosted by Frank Raver.
"You were in Dylan's room earlier, am I right? He looked quite agitated when he left..."
"Dylan's on Nile's payroll. Once I'd managed to get that out of him, he fled."
Frank had suspected that Dylan was involved somehow. He'd noticed that all of Dylan's movements seemed deliberately planned to match up with Mags's.
"But why Mags?"
"Think about it. Mrs Patrice's late husband, George, was a close friend of Michael McGrath, the one-time owner of Hotel Cape West. He also just happened to be the prime suspect in the murder of Kathy McGrath. Moreover, I firmly believe that he knew the whereabouts of the Scarlet Star that went missing 25 years ago."
"Now wait just a minute," Hyde interjected. "Didn't you tell me that the hotel manager, Michael McGrath, was he only person who knew the whereabouts of the Scarlet Star?"
"Michael McGrath was the only one who knew its location as such. But he sold the hotel to Mrs Patrice 13 years ago, and I'm positive that he would have left some sort of means to locate the Scarlet Star later on. He must've figured that, at some point, somebody would try to obtain it."
"So he thought someone would come after it?"
"Yes, the same people that knew the truth behind its disappearance -- Condor ringleader George Patrice, and his wife, Margaret. Mike Porter and Peter Rivet, too. Naturally, Nile would have been aware, as well. Amongst those, the only two to survive up until the present day are Mrs Patrice and Nile."
Hyde had a sudden realisation. "Frank, there's one more person who knew about the disappearance of the Scarlet Star... You! How do you even know about it? Start talking!"
"Okay, I'll tell you. The reason I've been looking into the events of this building's past...is to restore my reputation."
25 years earlier, Frank Raver had been investigating Condor. During the course of his investigation, he learnt that Hotel Cape West was where Condor conducted their sales of stolen jewellery.
Soon after that, however, the LAPD ran an internal investigation that resulted in Frank being pulled off the case. "It was a plot to remove the person poised to unveil the truth about Condor. Not only did he ruin my good name, but he also deepened his allegiance with Nile."
"This person, the one who orchestrated the conspiracy..." pressed Hyde. "Are you talking about Hugh Speck?"
"Correct. I'll tell you now, my ultimate aim is to bring him and his corruption down. If I can do that, I have no doubt my reputation will be restored."
"Let me get this straight. Your reason for searching for dirt on Hugh Speck is to try and expose the link between Nile and the LAPD?"
Frank nodded. "Exactly. I'm positive, Mr Hyde, that the Scarlet Star lays hidden somewhere in this building. If I can only find it, I know it will prove to be an invaluable piece of evidence. Michael McGrath definitely left some sort of clue behind before he died. Something that will enable me to finish what I've been trying to do all these years."
Hyde could practically smell Frank's determination. This man would never back down before achieving his goal. "And where do you think you're going to find this clue?"
Frank's conclusion was that it could only be in one of two places: either somewhere on the fourth floor that he hadn't checked yet, or in Mags's room. And on that note, Frank had a proposition for Kyle. "Mr Hyde, would you be willing to team up with me so we can search Mrs Patrice's room?"
"Seriously?" Hyde was taken aback, but he realised from the look in Frank's eye that he wasn't joking.
"You're the only one I can talk to candidly regarding this."
Hyde decided he'd at least hear the man out, so he asked how they'd go about such a task.
Frank pointed out that Mags had no idea he had been looking into Condor. His plan was to ask Mags to come to the café for a chat, giving Hyde an hour or so to search her room.
"Let's give it a try, Mr Hyde. I'll make sure she leaves the door unlocked, and then you can just walk right in."
"Guess it's settled then. I'll go into the café as soon as I'm done searching. After that we can discuss whatever I've found."
spotted on the floor underneath it. The message appeared to be incomplete, but he read what was there.
"We know everything. Leave this apartment and its secrets immediately. Nile doesn't forget and still bears a grudge against the wife of George Patrice."
*This must be one of the threatening letters Mags received.*
Hyde took another glance around and noticed the wooden closet stood against the wall. He threw open the doors, and inside he found a curious box wrapped in white cloth. It certainly looked like it might be important. He opened it to reveal that it was a music box.
He peered at the inside and noticed something odd. The rotating drum had a key inserted through the middle of it. It looked like he would be able to get it out with a little effort, however. He just had to get the timing exactly right. There was a pin that could push the key out of the music box, but it would only work if the drum had rotated to the exact point at which there was a gap above the key. Taking great care with the delicate machinery, he waited for the two parts to line up and then manipulated the lever connected to the pin. The key sprang upwards.
He picked it up and looked at it properly for the first time. It was engraved with the Condor emblem. It was too soon to tell what it might unlock, but he put it in his pocket for now, just in case.
He took a thorough look around just in case he could find any other clues that might lead to the Scarlet Star, but nothing else drew any attention to itself. His hour was nearly up as well. He went back outside.
He was just in time. The moment he had closed the door, Mags came out of Lucky's Café.
She instantly apologised for being unable to talk to him earlier. When Hyde suggested that he'd still like to speak with her at some point, she agreed to talk to him later and went back inside her room.
Hyde was eager to tell Frank what he had discovered. He went into the café, where Frank was waiting impatiently for him.
"Ah, Mr Hyde. How did it go?"
"I didn't find anything left behind by Michael, but it wasn't a total waste of time. I found this." He got the key out of his pocket. "It's a key with a Condor mark on it."
"Give it here, Mr Hyde! And you should avoid trying to go any further in this investigation."
Hyde was defiant. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I've got plenty of things I still want to investigate. I have a feeling that key's going to open morethan simply a door. If I'm lucky, it might even reveal some of the secrets around here."
But if Hyde intended to search the fourth floor again, said Frank, he would be wasting his time. Frank had already searched it thoroughly.
"Just because you haven't managed to find anything doesn't mean I won't. I've got a feeling I'm gonna get lucky up there."
"Oh, what the hell. Do whatever you like!"
As Frank was about to leave, Hyde took the opportunity to ask what Frank and Mags had been talking about.
"It was nothing important. We just took the opportunity to do a spot of complaining. Oh, and it seems she was already aware of Dylan leaving. But she's got no idea he's with Nile."
Frank said his piece and left, and Hyde was joined in the café by Tony.
"Didn't think you and old man Raver would be the sort to sit down together for drinks," said Tony, who had just caught the parting words of Hyde and Farnk's conversation.
"Yeah, well, we had things to discuss."
"Anyway, Hyde, I got some good news. That song of mine you listened to? There's buzz about it all over. It's so popular that I'm gonna get to release it as a single!"
Tony exuded pure joy. He thanked Hyde, saying that he wouldn't have been able to do it without his help.
"I want to find a way to show my gratitude. Anything you want, consider it done. Just say the word."
Hyde considered this offer for a moment, and then said, "Say, Tony... You mind helping me look for something?"
Hyde let Tony in on the details. He told him about the precious Scarlet Star diamond that had been hidden somewhere in the apartment building 25 years ago.
Flames started burning in Tony's eyes. "You think I'd pass up the chance to get in on action like this?"
They arranged to meet in front of the fire door on the fourth floor, and Tony did his best to look inconspicuous as he left the café. Hyde left it a
Hyde made a quick trip down to Dylan's room, where he had little trouble finding the exact bunch of keys that Tony had been talking about. He must have left it there when he fled.
Meanwhile, Tony went down to the basement, where Hyde thought he'd seen a flashlight in the storage room.
Once they had gathered these essential tools, they regrouped.
They began their slow, careful search of the rooms on the fourth floor. Looking around each one with the flashlight, they gradually moved closer and closer towards room 406.
They found the right key on the bundle Dylan had left in his room, and inserted it into the lock that stood between them and room 406.
The door creaked as it opened. They made their way cautiously into the pitch black room, their way only dimly lit by the glow of the flashlight. Once they were deep inside, they cast their light across the room. The beam illuminated a large safe with a combination lock.
"Hey, do you think it could be in here?" asked Tony, fraught with tension. "That diamond you were talking about."
Hyde grabbed the handle and tried to open it, but as he'd suspected, it wasn't going to be that easy.
"It's no good, this thing's not gonna open."
"Maybe a crowbar will do the trick. You stay here, I'll go and grab one."
And Tony left to do exactly that.
As Hyde stood alone in the oppressive void, he wondered, had Michael McGrath really left a vital clue on the fourth floor?
Countless other questions raced through his mind. Where could the Scarlet Star be hidden? And when he finally found it, would it finally shed some light on the truth that he so longed to uncover?
While he was waiting there for Tony to come back, Hyde started to feel like the air had changed in the room. Then he became more certain. Someone was behind him; he knew it. Figuring it must be Tony, he went to turn round -- but as