First, let me introduce myself. I’m Detective Calvin Greer and I met the love of my life, Miriam Archer while covering the murder of Bob Mortimer. Miriam had been the first to arrive and had found the deceased and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Still, according to the officers first on scene, she’d held it together, remarkably well. As a seasoned homicide detective, I agreed completely with their assessment and I too applauded her fortitude. As a result, I’d been keen on meeting her to obtain a personal read on the woman.
I don’t mind telling you that when I caught my first glimpse of Miriam Archer, my footsteps faltered in reaction to the gorgeous woman. A warm gentle breeze played with tendrils of gleaming black hair while she sat quietly alone, arms wrapped tightly about her middle; her cell phone lay unused on the picnic table in front of her. Dressed in navy skinny jeans and matching navy jacket with a white silk top, her feet were crossed at the ankle suggesting a serenity that was touching especially considered what she’d previously witnessed.
The picnic tables were set on the far left side of the entrance to the building on a grassy area directly across from a coffee vendor. She’d sensed my approach because she looked up immediately although I hadn’t made a sound and her red-rimmed and strikingly blue eyes swung in my direction, shock evident in their depths.
I’d immediately introduced myself as the lead detective and after clearing her throat of unshed tears, she quietly said, “Hello.” Her rich voice seemed entirely in keeping with the elegant mantle she wore.
I’d gone on to say how sorry I was for her loss but told her I had more questions to ask even though she’d already given her statement to the other officers on scene but the reason for it was that she m ay remember something she’d previously forgotten due to the shock of the situation.
I remember every word of our conversation as though it happened yesterday, not a year and a half ago. “I didn’t stop for morning coffee,” nodding toward the vendor I’d continued, “would you like one?” She bobbed her head in agreement and I set off to buy coffee. The vendor cast a look in her direction and must have known her well and been watching because he poured a generous amount of cream into a cup before handing it across the counter and added a couple packets of sugar said, “Just in case.” While pouring my coffee he’d gruffly stated, “With so many cops on hand, it can’t be good.”
I’d identified myself as I fixed my coffee and asked if he knew Bob Mortimer. “Yeah, dark roast, double-double. Nice guy, friendly, always has a humorous comment. From what his staff said, he was a good guy, fair, honest, and they all liked him.” He paused, “I take it, he’s the reason your here.”
“Yes, unfortunately. When did you open up?”
“I was late, slept in and to top it off, traffic was insane this morning. My daughter was sick all night and my wife and I took turns taking care of her. Seemed right as rain this morning though. Took a while to drag my sorry ass out of bed…so I’d say closer to half seven.”
“Did you see or hear anything unusual, Gus, ” I’d asked noting his name tag, “anyone other than regulars show up?”
“I’m real sorry to say I didn’t; too preoccupied with getting ready. Morning’s big for me makes all the difference to my take for the day – the early morning crowd affects my daily sales if you get my drift. I’m usually here about six setting up and the coffee crowd starts showing up around seven and runs hot until nine or ten. I wasn’t paying attention unless someone came looking for coffee. Even gave a few regulars discounts. I will say a few came racing out of the Windham building, ready for their java. Most understood but I gave them discounts anyway. No one seemed upset, mostly we laughed cause they were relieved coffee was ready.”
I’d passed him my card and asked him to call me if he remembered anything important. I’d nodded my thanks and he’d agreed before sliding the business card into a slot above the window before turning to serve another client.
I scooped up both coffees along with the extra sugar and sauntered back to the waiting woman. After setting the coffee down and dropping the sugar packets on the table I’d mentioned they werre compliments of Gus and she’d smiled while wiping a tear away. After taking a seat across from Archer who’d barely moved a muscle, I’d patiently waited until she taken a few sips before questioning her.
I’d asked all the standard questions pertaining to the investigation then added, ” Were you and Bob Mortimer close? Did you have a romantic relationship?” Miriam had surprised me with a rich humourous laugh that momentarily reached her eyes and was infectious enough to have my lips twitching in amusement.
“No,” she replied between fits of mirth, “we really didn’t.” When I’d cocked his head to the side, she continued, “Bob Mortimer was a friend, a good friend and as much fun as he was to be around, he was gay. The reason I laughed was because he’d often suggested we get together and all our romantic issues would be over…men wouldn’t hit on either of us.” She wiped another tear from the corner of her eye and he wasn’t sure whether it was sponsored by laughter or sadness.
“So you were close?”
“Yeah, we were close, we went to university together.” She continued chatting, whether to calm herself or relay information she might have thought pertinent, I wasn’t sure. When she ran out of steam I asked if she knew whether he had any serious enemies and what they were working on and whether she thought either might be related to what had happened.
“I wished I knew. He’d often had to field a certain amount of harassment due to his sexual preference but he handled it. He did say that an old ‘flame’ wanted him back in his life and he wasn’t interested in revisiting the relationship. On a business level, we work on some sensitive material. “
We had finished our coffee, the sugar packets remaining unopened when I’d asked if she was up to accompanying me inside to determine if anything was missing. She’d straightened taken a deep breath and we’d walked inside together, passing uniformed officers tasked with securing the area. Archer took her time thoughtfully examining everything with a careful eye and shaking her head, moved into the first set of offices. Glancing carefully at the rooms contents, she’d said she didn’t see anything missing and we had carried on down the corridor toward the last three offices. The first of which was a shared office containing office equipment and she’d peered carefully inside and took her head. When she arrived at her office, she stopped short and stated her desk had been rifled through. I’d grasped her arm to hold her back and explained it could obscure fingerprints and asked her not to touch anything.
That’s when she’d told me her printed copy on the Bradly account was missing; she’d left them on the corner of her desk for ‘Mort’ to find when he showed up earlier that morning. He apparently was a nut about having a hard copy in front of him while dealing with a client.
When I’d asked if that was all that was missing, she’d assured me that it was. She didn’t notice anything else out of place.
Then I’d directed her toward Mortimer’s office and she’d stopped for a minute, taken another deep breath and entered studiously avoiding the location he’d been found and walked toward the sleek desk to Mortimer’s lap top. That’s when with a chocked voice, she’d indicated that a file had been deleted and she’d stated without hesitation that it was the Bradly file. I’d pushed asking how she knew and she’d explained that as was his way, before meeting a client, he’d have that particular set of files open and available ready to cross=check with the information she’d provided on hard copy. He wouldn’t scan her notes until she’d arrived and they could go over the information together.
Unaware she’d spoken aloud she’d asked what anyone would want with the Bradly information? It wasn’t complete and it was a meet and greet deal. Nothing had been finalized on either side of the coin.
I’d asked what that meant precisely and she’d clarified after turning to look me directly in the eyes and indicated that it was a yes and no situation. When considering taking a client on, they’d present a proposal and at that point it was a two way street and either cold reject the proposal and walk away, no harm, no foul.
When I’d asked for further clarification she’d told me they were considering taking their brand national because they didn’t want to go public but they were eager to regain their former foothold in the market which had slipped recently. Mort had a real good idea in mind and they’d crunched the numbers and she’d finished preparing her portion of the report late the night before and left it on her desk. Bradly wasn’t due at the office until ten and they’d planned on going over the presentation the minute she arrived.
I’d found that most interesting and decided to have forensics take a deeper look into the situation. She’d thrown me a concerned look and said she could work from home for a couple of days because she wasn’t (understandably) up to working from the office but that she’d need the lap tops back in order to reschedule and contact clients and determine the legality of continuing. They were equal partners in the enterprise, but she wasn’t sure how to proceed. Of course I’d promised to hurry the lab along, but couldn’t make any promises.
Walking back toward her office, I’d asked for a set of keys to lock up behind us and she’d re-entered her office and grabbed her purse from under the desk and pulled a set of keys out and detached a key ring which she’d handed it to me.
I’d thanked her and reiterated again I was sorry for her loss which brought immediate tears but she’d staunchly thanked me.
Other office staff had arrived and were asking questions and we walked toward them and without hesitation, she’d told them the office was closed indefinitely and asked if any had projects they could work on from home. When several said they had and could, she’d instructed them to take the day off and start fresh the following day ad contact her on her cell with any concerns. I then interceded and explained the offices were closed due to Mr. Mortimer’s demise watching their reactions closely.
As an afterthought I’d asked if she needed a ride home and she’d explained her car was being fixed and wouldn’t be ready before five and she’d readily agreed.
We didn’t converse until we reached her home. I remember thinking how it suited her. It was elegant, classy, but modern and although painted in sedate colours, there were plenty of flowers shrubs and trees to add interest. I’d asked if she’d lived there long and she’d haultingly told me that Mort had gone with her to look at the place and he’d agreed that it was a gem and she should scoop it up and she hadn’t hesitated. A thoughtful pause ensued and she asked if I’d be interested in a second cup of coffee and I’d immediately agreed secretly delighted she’d asked.
We became a couple within six months later and have been together ever since. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve since learned she has a devilish sense of humour and isn’t afraid to use it in any given situation. We’re a great fit and compliment each other nicely. I couldn’t be happier.
We’re closing in on Mortimer’s murderer, we have leads but nothing we yet that would stand up in a court of law, but I won’t rest until we do. For her part, Miriam is content with that, to a degree, since she knows we’re working diligently on solving the case. Sadly, it can take time to compile irrefutable evidence, but I’m confident we will and justice will be done.