Miami – Wednesday, Feb. 19, 3:00 p.m. EST
Once inside the airport terminal at MIA, Anna bought a couple of empanadas at a kiosk and followed the moving walkways to the rental car complex. She approached the only counter where no one was waiting and had a contract within 10 minutes. Her ride was gutless but cheap—Tanner would appreciate that.
Driving south on Le Jeune, she turned east on the Dolphin Expressway toward the Azure Ocean, a boutique hotel she had booked online. She would have preferred to stay in Miami Beach, near the shopping on Lincoln Road or directly on the ocean, but the Azure Ocean was close to Torenmaas’ office in the financial district.
As Anna drove, she thought about her game. How were the deaths connected? Why now? What if Torenmaas wouldn’t agree to an interview? Carlston, the intern, had attempted to arrange a meeting, but nothing had been set up yet. What if the interview didn't pan out?
At the hotel, Anna left the car with the valet and checked in. Happy to see her room included a desk overlooking the Miami River, she sat down and returned to the task of securing an audience with Torenmaas. Carlston had continued attempting to set something up while she was in flight, but the mogul’s gatekeeper had rejected every potential permutation. Apparently, there was no reason for the busy and important international shipper to waste his time talking to the press. Anna again made a few cold calls and crossed her fingers.
With nothing else nailed down yet, Anna knew a stake-out was in order. She grabbed her laptop, slid it into her bag and walked the few blocks over to Brickell Avenue. Within minutes, she stood facing the building where Torenmaas ran his affairs and assessed the situation. Where is the best lookout point? What are the chances he’s still here? Anna checked the time: around 4 o’clock. It was possible.
She pushed through the revolving door and eyed a seating area, complete with fake magenta orchid. She smiled at the concierge, a muscular well-coiffed guy who nodded in recognition, and sat down on the couch, as if she waited there every day. “My associate seems to be late,” she said. Yawning, the man nodded again.
Methodically analyzing each man who entered or exited, she simultaneously mulled over all the times she had been in a similar position early in her career, doing stakeouts to question finance ministry and central bank officials. A split screen ran in her mind, one of the people before her eyes and the other of her past self, trying to wheedle information about currency movements and interest rates out of officials and bankers. The waiting wasn’t all bad. It produced interesting thought patterns. Boredom scrambled her brain, then spit out new ideas. Eventually, the awaited individual usually showed up and she got her chance to pose her question. Even a “no comment” stood for something.
After an hour, Anna knew the concierge might ask her to leave. If questioned, she could simply explain her associate hadn’t shown up. Avoiding awkward conversations was better. She considered waiting in another building, watching from a café, wandering around outside or pacing. The latter seemed too weird. Don’t want to cross the line between staking out and stalking, she thought.
As Anna stood to leave, the elevator bell rang again. She turned to look. False alarm—it was a woman. Glancing outside, however, Anna spotted a man of the right age in aviator sunglasses bolting toward the building.
Eyes straight ahead, he rammed his arms against the revolving door. It jerked to life and flicked him into the lobby. Dressed in tennis shorts and sneakers, he flew past Anna toward the elevator.
“Excuse me,” Anna called from the waiting area. “Mr. Torenmaas!”
The man turned to look. “Who are you?” he demanded.
“Anna Jones, with the Daily Journal,” she said, striding toward the elevator. “I wanted to talk to you. I’ve…”
Torenmaas shook his head. “Apologies.”
“Let me tell you about the subject of my story,” Anna added, now much closer to Torenmaas. “I think you will want to provide input.”
“No, I don’t do interviews,” Torenmaas said, backing up. “And my assistant already told your assistant that, which you must know.”
“Please, let me explain.”
“No need to explain.”
“It’s about Channarong’s death.”
“You’ll have to excuse me,” Torenmaas said, as if Anna had asked him about his preference for still water or sparkling. “I have a game, as you can see,” he said, pointing to his shorts. “I left my racket.”
“But you knew him…,” Anna pushed, hoping for some form of expression to register on Torenmaas’ face.
“The answer is no! If I want to be in the news, I have friends at the good papers,” he said, backing into the elevator. “Horatio!”
Anna froze. What? Oh! The concierge was rushing toward her. Anna backed off.
Horatio stared at Anna.
I’ve lost this round, she thought. She delivered a quick pursed smile and walked out.
Upstairs, Torenmaas unbolted the main door to his suite, unlocked the interior door to his personal office, took a glance at his racket case on one of the guest chairs, and dialed Lin on the landline.
“Theo?” Lin answered.
“I need to see you,” Torenmaas commanded.
“You miss me that much?”
“Meet me tonight. Usual location.”
“What’s wrong with the park? It’s beautiful,” Lin replied.
“Jimmy, listen to me,” Torenmaas repeated. “Cut the crap.”
Lin laughed. “Alright, I’ll be there,” he said. “Can’t wait to see you, you beast.”
Torenmaas grabbed the racket and ran downstairs, with just enough time to play the game before Lin would show up.
Copyright © by Wolf Bahren. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher with “permission requests” in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.