Chapter 6: The Spider in the Web
Detective Eduardo Hector started his day down at the riverfront. As the newest and only Spanish speaking member of the St. Louis, Missouri Occult Crimes Taskforce, he had been assigned the Liam Anderson murder investigation. The crime had taken place in South St. Louis City, where a large part of the population is Hispanic. After a string of gang related homicide cases, Detective Hector was excited and more than a little nervous to investigate a different type of homicide.
The verifiable information that Officer Palin had gleaned from Nathaniel’s tips and a little research had led Detective Hector to the International Trading Company. The auction company was housed in a large warehouse. From the outside, the building shared the weathered look of the other buildings around it. Inside it was sleek and modern, decked out in black veined marble, chrome and white leather.
Detective Hector strode across a broad expanse of gray and white abstract rainfall carpeting to the black veined white onyx backlit reception counter. The blonde receptionist’s pale blue eyes swept over him as he approached, making a quick appraisal of his off-the-rack suit and sensible shoes and immediately lost interest. He obviously wasn’t a wealthy client or prospect. Hector felt that he had been dismissed, before he even reached the counter.
Her frosty smile thawed only marginally, when Hector flashed his badge. As a formality she asked, knowing that he did not have an appointment and banished Hector to the waiting area. Half an hour later, the receptionist ushered him into the imposing office of the International Trading Company President Gustaff Karlsson. Hector stepped over the threshold and felt a distinct chill. Gustaff rose to shake his hand, gestured for him to take a seat in front of his massive African blackwood desk and introduced the man seated in the second chair next to Hector.
“May I introduce my assistant Aron. You don’t mind if he takes notes do you? I like to keep a record of my…interviews.”
“No, not at all.”
“Good now, how may I help you Mr…?”
“Detective Eduardo Hector. I’m investigating the murder of a man named Liam Anderson.”
“Forgive me, but I don’t see how I could possibly be of any assistance to you.”
“Prior to his death, Mr. Anderson procured a very rare grimoire called the Lesser Key of Solomon. It appears as though he was murdered for that book. A number of people wanted it. From what I understand, you bid furiously on it. That was not the first time you and Mr. Anderson both attempted to procure an artifact and you lost. You’re a sore loser Mr. Karlsson and I have a restraining order filed by Mr. Anderson to prove it.”
“I hope that you are not implying that I or anyone who works for me murdered Mr. Anderson for a…a book. If that’s what you’ve been telling people then that Detective Hector would be slander and grounds for a lawsuit.”
“I have implied nothing Mr. Karlsson. I merely stated facts.”
“And where did you get those so-called facts?”
“We reveal the identities of our sources on a need to know basis. In this situation, the identity of my witness is irrelevant.”
“I see…” said Gustaff gazing unblinkingly at Hector over steeples fingers.
“Where were you yesterday evening?”
“I was here working until around ten o’clock. We received a large shipment that needed inventorying. Aron can attest to that.”
“Oh, I’m sure he will attest to anything you tell him to.”
Hector was about to ask a follow up question when he lost his train of thought, abruptly distracted by a subtle pressure in his head. Mr. Karlsson had apparently decided to rifle through Hector’s mind for the identity of the witness. Clearly, there was more at play here than met the eye. He cleared his throat and spoke slowly.
“Mr. Karlson, I’m an empath but I don’t need to use my talent to know that you’re hiding something. The fact that you just barged into my mind and tried to snatch the name of my witness confirms it.”
“The accusations are certainly flying fast and loose… this morning. I assure you Detective Hector, that I have done nothing of the kind and have nothing to hide. Aron have you attempted to probe Mr…Detective Hector? No, I didn’t think so. To assert that I or anyone who works for me would use such an underhanded tactic is insulting, as is the accusation that any of us would murder someone for a grimoire. I have run a successful auction house for over twenty years. If there’s one thing I don’t do, its lose sleep over some antiquity. Experience has taught me that sooner or later they always wind up back on the market, for one reason or another. One only has to bide one’s time. Quite frankly, grimoires are not big sellers for us. Most people want expensive looking items which they can display and use to impress their friends. A grimoire is not even a coffee table book. The average person has no idea what it is. I think you’ll find that a only very select group of individuals would even be interested in a grimore.”
“As the owner of a specialty auction house, I’m sure many of those select individuals have been your customers, at one time or another. Will you give me a list of their names and contact information?”
“Do you have a warrant?”
“No, I do not.”
“Then I’m sorry. Just as you must protect the identities of your witnesses, we have to protect the identities of our clients.”
“I had hoped that you would be more forthcoming and cooperative. I suppose I could call my superiors and have them obtain an warrant for the list. You know what? While I’m at it, I’ll request that the search warrant also includes authorization to search through the shipping manifests for all of your inventory. Of course, any artifacts without shipping manifests will be seized as evidence and turned over to the United States Customs office.”
“There’s no need to go to such…lengths. I’ve had a few moments to reconsider your request. I suppose there’s no harm in making an exception. I’m sure you will be discreet. Aron, go print off a list of our occult clients for Detective Hector.”