Chapter 1 Affairs begin when lies start.
Nigel, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, and I could lose The Legacy, our company. We own one of the largest art galleries and showrooms in Manhattan. Legacy’s clientele are huge in the art world. Our trades in the business are the importers and exporters of African artifacts from all over the world. We manufacture life-size sculptures created by me, Nandi Blues. Buyers were always looking, and tourists didn’t travel to New York without walking through The Legacy.
Mr. Jones has been the boss at Legacy for six years and had made some bad investments. By the way he’s acting, we’re assuming, in spite our efforts and hard work, the company is in trouble and that our finances won’t cover whatever that trouble was. He doesn’t want to wait until the company goes bankrupt; it’s time to come clean about everything. No one knows how bad his troubles are but him.
That’s when he turned to Nigel and me; out of concern, he wanted to know about our finances. We were doing well, making extravagant expenses meet. Ultimately, Mr. Jones called an urgent meeting. He sounded desperate. Nigel was president of the company, and he knew his dad had made some bad choices in the past, but we had always got through his bad choices or mistakes. This time around, we didn’t know how bad things were, so we’re worried. We didn’t want to give up our lavish lifestyle for which we had worked extremely hard, day and night and had given one hundred per cent to have.
We arrived at the meeting.
Hoping this meeting was another financial challenge to defeat, we showed up with the twenty warehouse workers. Mrs. Doll Jones showed up first and said Mr. Jones was supposedly right behind her; they always traveled in separate cars. The assistant manager, Mr. Cooper, and his son the accountant, Big Mick, arrived after us. Mr. Jones showed up late, and the meeting was called to order. This meeting, however, was different. The accountant, Big Mick, never got up to speak; he was sitting right in front of us and never took the floor. Mr. Jones told the workers that there would be changes and there would be cuts, but their paychecks would remain the same until further notice. He passed out flyers with the new work orders and the meeting concluded.
Mr. Jones walked over to us and asked if he could speak to Nigel and me along with his assistant, Mr. Cooper, and the accountant, Big Mick. Everyone else went home. Big Mick took out the accountant books, and when the numbers didn’t add up, all hell broke loose. I didn’t know what to do; I had never seen Nigel and his dad that angry about anything. Nigel jumped on the accountant and said, “Big Mick, you’re like a brother to me. I trusted you; you have worked for Legacy forever. Your dad and mine started this company. What happened to the money?”
Big Mick took one step back to avoid negative conflict that could get physical. “You think that you’re the only one that has been faithful to this company? Legacy is my life. Don’t you ever speak to me like I don’t care about it.”
They were smart business people. Jones ran a tight ship. It doesn’t make sense that Cooper didn’t know anything about the cuts Jones made. Soon, everyone was yelling, when the phone rang. I walked out of the office into the entry hall and picked up our receptionist’s, Mrs. Jones, phone,
“The Legacy, how may I help you?” My mother-in-law, Doll Jones, had made it home to find that their house had been broken into. She was upset and frantic,
“Put my Jones on the phone. Hurry!”
If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
Mr. Jones picked up the phone. “There’s blood everywhere. I looked and no body was found,” Doll wailed to her husband.
“Baby, there may be someone still in the house. Try to calm down, call the police, go outside, and wait for me. I’ll be right there.”
The police got there first. They were searching everywhere and taking pictures and fingerprints. The Joneses had been robbed. Their safe had been broken into, and fifty thousand dollars and Mrs. Jones’ diamonds had been taken.
Everyone jumped in their cars and made it to Mrs. Doll Jones before Mr. Jones. We pulled up to the house, and the police officers had set up a road block and wouldn’t let anyone but the family through. Baby Doll (that’s Mrs. Jones nickname that Jones gave her) was standing outside, terrified about what could have happened in her home; she felt violated. Blood was all over her and Jones bedroom but nowhere else in the house. There were no broken windows, doors, or locks; Baby Doll had used her key to get in. The police said whoever robbed them must have had a key. Mr. Jones still hadn’t arrived, and we are wondering where he could be.
The investigation began, and it was going down like a movie on TV. We got Baby Doll and took her into the house; the cops made us sit in the living room. They wanted to know from A to Z the events of the entire night, the address to the warehouse, and the keys to the warehouse. They questioned us, trying to analyze us instead of looking for Mr. Jones and the robbers.
Reality started to set in our minds. Nigel knew that we didn’t have an alibi for his dad for the entire night; he had arrived late for the meeting.
“I’m calling our lawyer, and we’re not talking until he arrives,” Nigel said to Mr. Calhoun, the officer in charge.
“We are following basic investigation procedures,” Officer Calhoun said.
“What about my dad? We’ve got to find my dad; he should have been here by now. I can’t sit here and wait any longer. To hell with procedure − I’ve got to find my dad!” Nigel pleaded.
“Please find my husband. Something has happened to him. It doesn’t take this long for him to drive home; he may have been in an accident trying to make it to me. Please!” Baby Doll cried as she fell into my arms. I held her trembling body.
“He would have called us if he was all right, Officer. This is not normal for him not to call,” I explained.
“Everyone calm down,” Officer Calhoun replied. They wouldn’t let Baby Doll walk around her house, and Officer Calhoun explained that she would have to leave home for several days because her house was now a crime scene.
“I thought you say that when there’s a body. There’s no body. What’s going on?” I asked.
“There is a lot of blood that needs to be accounted for, and until we know where it came from, nothing can be moved or touched,” Officer Calhoun answered.
“Can I take my wife and mom and leave after we answer your questions?” Nigel asked.
“No, and you may not go looking for your dad; this is police business. If he’s in trouble, we don’t need any more missing bodies. We’ve got men on the job looking for your dad, and we will tell you when you can leave,” Officer Calhoun answered.
“They don’t know my dad’s shortcuts, but I do,” Nigel said.
“They get paid to know the streets. They will figure it out,” Calhoun replied.
Attorney Grayson, our lawyer of five years arrived, and we went over everything with the police. He informed them that they had no right to hold us there. We left with Nigel carrying his mom’s limp body in his arms. He placed her into the backseat, and we drove off slowly. Nigel had planned to go to the warehouse, but the police were behind us. Instead, we went straight home to start our own investigation.
Nigel called the Coopers and told them his father never showed up and to drive around and look for anything suspicious. He told them that the police had the warehouse and us under surveillance and not to get involved.
The Coopers rode around and they noticed a few police cars, but they didn’t see anything strange. The three of us stayed up all night waiting to hear from Jones, but we never got a call.
The search continued for Mr. Jones.
We got dressed at sunrise with the intentions of stopping by Baby Doll’s house, but we couldn’t get in. She had planned to get her car, but it had a flat tire. She walked over to get in Jones’ Range Rover parked beside her car in the four car garage. She looked in the back seat before getting in and discovered a baby!
“It’s a baby?” I asked Nigel.
Nigel and I ran over and watched her pick up the baby that was wrapped inside Jones’ favorite jacket.
“Is it a he or a she?” We asked at the same time.
“It’s a precious little boy. Where did you come from, precious? Where’s your mommy?” Doll asked in her baby voice and started to cry. I got into the truck on the driver’s side; there was no way I was going to get that baby out of her hands. She had been trying to have a baby forever, but hasn’t been able to. With Jones missing, this baby had rescued her.
We drove to the Gallery where the police were there waiting for us. We took the baby inside to get warm and called an ambulance.
That’s when we were introduced to Detective Jack Harper.
He stood tall, and carried himself hardcore, creating suspense as he walked around.
“Hello, Detective Jack Harper, I know you from somewhere. Have we met?” I asked.
“No, I’m sure I would remember being introduced; you can call me Detective Harper.” All I saw was a neon sign flashing the word “stubborn bull” in big red letters across his forehead. To make a long, negative story short, he had a nasty disposition.
“Detective, have you received any leads on my dad’s case?” Nigel asked politely. “I’m asking the questions,” Jack Harper answered, blowing his horn and demanding authority over the room. He didn’t speak in sentences; he was straight to the point and didn’t volunteer any information on the case. We had to ask what we wanted to know, but we weren’t getting any answers. Jack Harper cut to the chase and held out a search warrant. He made us believe that he was here to solve this case and move on. “They’re going to bump heads. Jack Harper thinks he’s God, and Nigel is God around here,” I said to Doll. Sure enough, they went at it. I asked myself why Detective Jack Harper was fussing with Nigel. I couldn’t tell if Jack Harper was here to find Jones or himself; he was very immature.
“I need to see the company books, and if there’s a safe, I need it opened now.” Jack Harper ordered. He wanted us to jump, but no one asked how high. We were adults. Who did he think he was? Harper looked at Jones record books, but the records don’t show that the company was in trouble. Everything looked fine with the exception of a few of dad’s deals, nothing that we couldn’t fix. Nigel was standing there holding the keys to the safe when Jack Harper looked over at him,
“What are you waiting for? Open up the safe,” he ordered. Nigel was hurting. He felt he was betraying his dad, and opening up the safe without him there made him feel worse. He didn’t know who to take his anger out on, but someone was going to pay. Some kind of evil had reached into this world and taken his dad out.
We were all there in the office.
Baby Doll, Mr. Cooper, Big Mick, and me; our anticipation filled the room. When the safe came open, it was empty, and we were in shock. The room was silent. Another safe had been robbed. This time, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was gone. Everyone’s mind went in the same direction to our safe deposit box at the bank. All of our dreams were crashing down; our lives had been interrupted by a force we knew nothing about, and we didn’t have a clue about what was happening.
“I have the only key to the company safe deposit box. Thank God we keep the money in two different places, or we would need to file bankruptcy. We’re fine, I checked this morning − one hundred million,”Big Mick confirmed.
“Is there any way Mr. Jones could have robbed his home and business and run off with the money?” Jack Harper asked.
“That’s ridiculous. He would never leave me,” Baby Doll answered. Then she was called away. The paramedics had arrived and were taking the baby to the hospital for tests. She showed the police where she found the baby in Jones’ truck, got into the ambulance, and left with the baby. Jack Harper continued his investigation. He wanted to know Mr. Jones’ history. When we were finished, we all went to check on Baby Doll and the baby. We knew she would be all right as long as she had him to keep her mind off everything else that had gone wrong.
We got there and heard her fighting to keep the baby. She won the battle when she said to the doctor, nurse, and Detective Harper.
“The mother left her baby at my house. That means she may come back to get him. If I keep the baby, the police will keep an eye on both of us. Isn’t that right, Detective Harper? If the mother doesn’t show up, I’m going to adopt this baby,” she added. The baby had to stay in the hospital, and Baby Doll stayed too. She handled the entire situation as if he were her biological son.
Today, Nigel and I were expected at the police station.
We showed up with our lawyer at 9:00 a.m. Dreading going in to answer more questions, Nigel talked to news reporters out front. When something as tragic as a love one disappears, you don’t trust anyone. Police had been calling in friends, family, and co-workers for questioning, one at a time. We hoped they had some leads, but after all of the questioning, Jack Harper didn’t have any news to tell us about the search for Jones.
“We know you have something, anything, we can handle it.” Nigel made him talk.
“We have evidence that a murder was committed. The blood tests show that it was a young woman.” Harper explained.
“What evidence?” Nigel asked.
“In the bed, there were traces of distinctive body oil imported from Africa. In the bathroom inside the bathtub drain and on the floor, there were female hairs that didn’t come from Mrs. Jones’ head; they were a different texture, length, and color from hers. Then there’s the blood. No human can lose that much blood and live. We have two missing bodies, one dead, and let’s hope that we can find Mr. Jones alive. I’m not here to be your friend. I was assigned to this case because I am a homicide detective. I’m here to find the bad guy.”
We walked away holding each other up. My father-in-law was someone we knew wouldn’t hurt a fly; we knew he wasn’t capable. We couldn’t even discuss the possibility; we felt like throwing up. Nigel was in a bad position. He had to tell his mom this bad news and suggested that we wait until Doll came home from the hospital.
We went to work. I answered the phones, filling in for Doll, while Nigel caught up on business deals Jones was working on, trying to find a clue as to where his father might be. When we got off work, we stopped by Doll’s favorite restaurant, picked up some crab cakes and spinach salad, and went to the hospital. We walked in the waiting room and found Harper there with Doll, who was eating crab cakes and spinach salad from her favorite restaurant. She put the food aside, walked over, and gave us a big hug,
“I love you two so much. I don’t know what I would do without you. What’s in the bag?”
“We brought you dinner, Mom, but you’re already eating. Don’t be so fast to trust this man, he’s trouble.”
“I was hungry, and Harper was nice enough to buy my dinner, that’s all. Thank you. Take it home son, I’ll eat it tomorrow. The doctor said I can take the baby home tomorrow if the Child Protective Agency brings temporary custody papers. I’ve been thinking of a name. I’m going to call him Sonny, after your father. He’s a fighter, and he’s strong like your dad. Nigel, my son, Jones is coming back to us. You just wait and see. He loves us.” We did a group hug while Harper watched.
“You want to see Sonny?” We left going to see baby Sonny.
We got home and Nigel suggested that we relax.
“Let’s Jacuzzi, Boo, and talk,” he whispered in my ear. We took a shower and got in the Jacuzzi, and I massaged his shoulders. Nigel turned on the TV, and we were soon watching our life on the news. I was moved to tears when I heard Nigel’s plea to find his dad. People were talking, saying that it looked as if Mr. Jones was cheating, killed his mistress, and robbed his wife. The accusations about Mr. Jones hurt us because we knew that he would never do that.
“All my life, I watched my parents talk things out, Nandi. They taught me that two heads are better than one. I need you to help me think. I need to figure out what happened to my dad; I owe him that. I feel so guilty going on with my life without him at home with his wife kicking back and doing what he loved doing — I’m doing what he lived for and worked hard for; I’m living the life he and I built, and he’s not.
“I’ve been thinking trying to focus on a man’s mentality. When a man loves his woman, he would do anything. Dad has given Mom everything, but the one thing he couldn’t give her was another baby. Now he’s missing, and a baby mysteriously shows up. There may be a connection. I’ve got to search harder, checking his home and office looking for answers.”
“You’ll find the answers; it will take time. After the shock wears off, you will be able to see things more clearly. You’ll see, baby.” I was there for him and couldn‘t think of anyone else I’d rather spend time with. I was satisfied. We got out of the Jacuzzi and called it a night.
The next morning at breakfast, we discussed our day.
We had to take two different cars to the Gallery. Nigel had a meeting at noon, and I had to drive Jones’ truck back to the hospital to take Doll home. I got to the hospital and Doll was talking on the phone with Detective Harper. He was at her house making sure that the house was ready for her to go home to, but it wasn’t. She was upset about that. There was good news, though. Child Protective Service had given her temporary custody of the baby, and he had been discharged. I drove her to her bank where her private account was, and she went in alone. She withdrew five thousand dollars and got a receipt. As she was walking back to the car, she looked down at the receipt and her balance was ten million, dollars. When she got back in the truck, she was in shock,
“Jones knows that I don’t use this account. He told me that he’s been using it for his other business, working for an organization called The Committee. They were out of Africa. Look at this.” She handed me the receipt, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
We called Nigel and told him to meet us at the bank. At this point, we didn’t know if we were being followed or not, and we didn’t trust anyone. Doll just wanted Nigel to go with her to check her safe deposit box. We parked the truck in front of the window at the bank so that we could see it from inside the bank, got out, and went in, baby and all. Nigel appeared out of nowhere, on foot, walked into the bank, and sat down next to us. Doll handed him the receipt, and he looked at it.
They left the baby with me and asked to see Doll’s safe deposit box, and they were taken into the back. When they came out, Nigel had a large yellow envelope in his hand. He stayed in the bank until we got into the truck. Then he walked out of the bank, and we followed him up the street to his car.
Before going home, we had to make one stop at a baby boutique. Doll, the baby, and I went in while Nigel stayed outside to keep an eye on the city streets around the boutique. We came out of the store one hour later with two store employees who helped us fill up the truck with baby items. Doll and I jumped in and drove off.
“That was the fastest shopping we’ve ever done,” Doll bragged.
“Yeah, and we didn’t have to worry about size and color. Sonny’s a boy, how hard could it be?” I replied.
With Nigel following us, we drove by Doll’s house.
The investigation was over because the crime scene tapes was gone Doll opened the garage with her remote and found Detective Harper’s car parked in the garage. Nigel got Doll’s keys from her and got out of his car to let himself in. The Detective met him in the entry hall.
“Hey man. What are you doing here?” Nigel asked.
“Detective Harper to you, and I’m doing my job. I walked through making sure the house is clean and ready for Baby Doll, like she asked me to.”
“You don’t get to call her Baby Doll; she’s Mrs. Jones to you. So what’s the word? Is everything cleaned up? My mom is here with the baby, and she’s going to want to stay.”
“Everything looks fine to me. A patrol car will patrol the area the first two nights, and I will stop by in the daytime to make sure Mrs. Jones is all right. Mr. Cooper was here when I got here. I uncovered information that Cooper liked your mom before Mr.
Jones came into the picture, back when they were in high school.
“Do you know something about their teenage years?” Harper asked Nigel.
“I know that they met in high school and fell in love,” Nigel answered.
“Well, don’t mention our little talk to Cooper; he’s a suspect in this case. Good night.” Harper walked away.
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