The chairman worked late that night, although there was nothing alarming in that. The chairman often worked late. The shareholders, after all, had a right to expect him to give 110% for the business. His assistant had gone home at 10:00pm. Dismissed by the chairman after he had printed the quarterly earnings report; scheduled for release the next morning. Tommy hadn’t wanted to go. He thought the figures were wrong; and he worried that they had overlooked something – was convinced that with due diligence he would find the error in the books and be able to correct it.
But the chairman was insistent, “Nonsense Tommy,” he had said, “We’ve simply misplaced a decimal point or something silly. Go home to your wife. I’ll find the problem and correct it. You can help me document the change when you get in, in the morning. I’ll see you at 9:30 sharp.” Reluctantly, Tommy had left. He bought an expensive bottle of Pinot Noir at an out of the way wine shop he passed daily but had never gone into. He arrived at the station with just enough time to catch the last train home.
He and his wife shared a late dinner of red wine, cold meats, and cheese. They retired to the bedroom, where they made love and fell asleep in each others arms sometime before 1:00am. At precisely 1:43am the telephone trilled, waking them both.
“Hullo,” he said to the phone through a sleep thickened haze, “hullo?”
“Is this Tommy Chisholm?” an official sounding voice quacked through the wire.
Tommy ran his fingers through his love-tangled hair, “Yeah, yeah it is.”
“Mr. Chisholm, this is Detective Ventana, City Police.”
“Police? What’s happened? Is something wrong?”
“Well yeah, Mr. Chisholm, something’s happened. The chairman’s dead.”
“He’s what? He’s dead?” Tommy’s sleep induced haze was clearing rapidly. “What happened?”
“Looks like he either jumped out the window or got tossed out. We’re not sure yet.”
“My god, do I need to come back?”
“No sir, we have a couple of men coming to your house. They should be there soon. The thing is, Mr. Chisholm… Well, you logged out with security at exactly 10:05pm and the time of death was recorded as 10:07pm. So you may have been the last person to see him alive.”
Tommy’s mind skipped a beat, something wasn’t right, “10:07? How can you be so precise?”
“He landed on the hood of a car, on the street, a couple of kids were making out in it at the time.”
“Shit, that’s horrible.”
“Yeah, we think so too. The poor girl’s only 16, she had to be sedated. Probably has a bad case of PTSD. They’re both down at Mercy getting checked out.”
Just then the bell rang. Denise shrugged on a robe. She had been listening to Tommy’s side of the conversation and had a general understanding of the situation. Her brow was creased with worry as she went to answer the door.
Two grim faced men waited, ready to proffer gold badges for her perusal. Seizing the opportunity of her swinging the door in, their training and experience dictated that they move far enough forward that she would not be able to shut it on them. The heavyset one, spoke first. He had a round, open face that was unlined but heavily pitted with old acne scars. His eyes widened when he spoke, “Ms. Chisholm?” he began, “I’m Detective Bruce and this is Detective Hardsock.” He nodded to the man standing next to him, “We need to speak with your husband.” Hardsock was dark haired, tall and thin. His facial features were prominent. He had a long thin nose and an overhanging brow that kept his eyes in shadow. His lips were full, sensual, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for about three days.
“Of course. He’s on the phone with the police.” She took a tentative step back and they followed her inside. Hardsock turned and closed the door behind them.