In custody

…some work in progress from the Cazique of Poyais story…

Gustavus walked down the street towards the new apartment that Jose, Emma and Noemi were staying in with Thomas Irving, MacGregor’s secretary, in tow. Thomas was annoyed at having been tasked with following Gustavus on this particular mission. He was suited to sitting at a desk, writing letters, filling in ledgers, planning. Not this nonsense of being out and about chasing after people for money. Worse was that the lot they were going to see didn’t even have the money. They were just targets for information. Gustavus was sure that they would know where Lehuby was, that snake.

As they approached the courtyard of the apartment building, they both waved at the caretaker who sat smoking a cigarette and scowled at them. She did not say anything as she had come across Gustavus once before. A seemingly friendly or at least semi-friendly response compared to the first time that he had attended this particular abode.

The apartment was at the top of the stairs, which Thomas begrudgingly accepted he would have to climb. He had no idea what he would add as they entered this apartment besides listen and make sure the Gustavus didn’t misinterpret or misremember anything that was said. Unlikely given that he wasn’t yet drunk.

Gustavus panted as they reached the door of their apartment and took a short pause to wipe his brow.

Then he knocked.

And again.

No answer.

Thomas knocked out of frustration. He knew there wouldn’t be an answer.

“Where on earth are they. The woman downstairs didn’t say a thing, so they must still be occupants. Surely she would have said if they were out?”

Thomas didn’t need to say anything, he just started back. Knowing caretakers, he wouldn’t be surprised one bit if they had packed up and moved on. She still wouldn’t have said anything to them.

So, they took the easier trudge down the stairs.

Gustavus then found the women who hadn’t moved an inch and asked her in his politest French where the two women and one man who rented the top apartment on the top floor were.

“Ils ne sont pas la,” was all she offered.

With his politest follow up, Gustavus attempted to secure some shred of information, but the women just shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. She either didn’t know or didn’t care to provide the information. Most likely the first.

“They’re not here,” the exasperated Thomas said to Gustavus, “So where to next then?”

“Back to MacGregor’s apartment I’m afraid. To rethink,” he said despondently.

A rare fury burned within Thomas. This was a waste of time multiplied out. If he had been around when these three jokers had brought a potential partner in, he wouldn’t have allowed it to proceed. MacGregor was too distracted with important work and Gustavus didn’t do his job properly. Thomas knew that he would have done a better job.

Not a word was exchanged on the way back to MacGregor’s apartment.

They arrived and settled in to wait for MacGregor. He wouldn’t be long and then they could regroup on this matter. It was all very odd.

The eeriness of silence when there should be so much to be said is comprehensive. Neither man wanted to talk, yet they squirmed at the lack of noise. So, it was a small relief, though also puzzle, when there was a knock at the door. It couldn’t possibly be MacGregor who would simply walk in.

Both men walked to the the door and as they opened it, they wished they hadn’t. The police stood ready and immediately restrained them.

“Your names, sirs?” Said the lead police officer.

“Gustavus Hippisley. What on earth do you want from us. I demand an explanation!”

Ignoring Gustavus, the policer officer looked at Thomas, “and you?”

“Thomas Irving. I’m just a secretary.”

“Good, two of the men we’re looking for,” he said to the dumfounded men.

They protested, but to no avail.

“You’re coming with us to La Force Prison gentleman. From now now I should beg that you remain silent.”

And so they did.

Neither knew at that point where MacGregor was so even if they were willing to say something, they wouldn’t be able to.

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