The Firehills Investigator
I return to my office in London with the feeling that this case is becoming difficult with many questions left unanswered. Why is Lemech Cain, the head of a record company, so desperate to find the members of the band Firehills? Why is he looking for them personally? None of this makes any sense.
I check my email to see that Sarah Jones from the Legal Firm Larman’s has made contact. She is keen for an update on my progress and sends me some links to some recent Firehills music videos that are on the Internet. As I view the videos I can see the band is still active but clearly not touring. This is going to make it harder to find them.
Before I reply to Sarah I think about what I have discovered. At our last meeting she would not tell me who her employer is or why they wanted to find the Firehills. I now knew this information but I wondered if I should let her know that.
I look at the videos again to see if I can gather any more clues. Most of the videos take place in warehouses or lock-ups. The video for the song ‘Bridges’ is the only one filmed in the countryside. I look closely for any landmarks that could help me find its location but this is a dead-end.
I return my thoughts to Lemech Cain. He is the only real lead I have. I need to find out what he knows. But this is dangerous. He is my client and he obviously wants to hide his identity. If I were to discover what he does know it would have to be without his knowledge.
I go back to my computer and look up Leviathan records. I discover their head office is at the Shard in London. This makes sense as it is near to the offices of Larman’s where Sarah works. I knew at once that it would be impossible to bluff my way in. Security is tight at the Shard and gaining entry would be difficult. Damn, another dead-end!
Maybe there was another way. Cain may have information at his house. This is a long shot but it’s all I can think of. I search again and get lucky. One online article tells of a recent residential purchase for Cain in the country. The house looks impressive and maybe just as difficult to get into as the Shard. I have no choice. This is the only way I can get any answers.
The Firehills Investigator
My visit to Maidstone had left me tired and drained. The drive back to London is long so I pulled over in a nearby wood and slept in the back of the car. I found it difficult to get to sleep and my mind would not settle. Nothing about this case made any sense and I found it difficult to sleep. After a while my mind gave up and I drifted off.
I awoke in the morning feeling cramped and my back was killing me. I climbed into the front seat of the car and drove to where the Firehills shot the first music video. The woman I spoke to in Maidstone gave me the address in a hurry and I got the feeling she wished she hadn’t. The garage is an important lead and I needed to follow it up.
I pulled into the yard of the garage and began to look around. The place looked run down but clearly still in business. Eventually I found my way into the main workshop to discover a mechanic working there. He didn’t seem pleased to see me but I showed the photo of the band anyway.
“I am looking for the members of this band. Have you seen them recently? They shot a music video here a few months ago.”
The man continues what he is doing but after a short pause speaks up.
“You and everyone else,” is his short but to the point reply.
“I am not to sure what you meant by that. Has anyone else been here looking for this group?”
The man continues with his work.
“There was a fat man here a couple of months ago looking for that lot. He said he was their manager or something like that and that it was important that he found them.”
“And what did you tell him?” I asked impatiently.
“I told him that I allowed them to use the workshop and they left after a few hours. I never saw them again.”
This line of inquiry was quickly going nowhere and I began to grow frustrated.
“What did this man look like?” I asked.
“He was a big balding chap. He left me his card and told me to call him if they ever came back.”
The mechanic reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. On it read: ‘Lemech Cain head of Leviathan records.’ I was not expecting this.
“Do you mind if I keep this,” I asked the mechanic.
“Sure, go ahead. No good to me.”
I thanked the mechanic and headed back to my car. My mind started to fill with more questions. I began to wonder if the people who had hired me were from this record company. Clearly they wanted to find the band Firehills but I found it odd the head of the Record Label would come out to a place like this to find them. Surely they would send a junior member of staff for such a job. I thought on this a little longer and realised that is wasn’t the record company that had hired me but Lemech Cain. That is why he had come here personally. This all seemed strange to me. Firehills must be important to this man. The question is why are they important?
The Firehills Investigator
I had a strange dream last night. I am dying and lying by a river bank. I am not sure if I am shot or are simply fading away due to old age. The wind creeps through the trees as I silently watch the waters of the river trickle by me. Everything then goes black.
I have had these dreams for a while now and I am reluctant to give them any meaning. I think it’s this place. London is a great city but after a while the dark and dirty streets can crush you like the falling walls on a demolished house.
I get in my car and drive south leaving the city’s oppression behind me. It will do me good to leave this place for a while. I am on my way to the market town of Maidstone in Kent. This is my first lead in finding the band Firehills. Sarah Jones from Larmans solicitors had not given me much to go on but she did provide me with an address where Neil the lead singer of the band had once lived. I hoped maybe I could get some information about where he went to next.
I park the car in a street by the old prison. Its walls tower over me as grim reminder about the true resolution of crime. The loss of one’s liberty and freedom is a high price to pay but some think it’s a gamble worth taking. I try not to linger on this fact and walk off down a side street.
Finding the house proves difficult and after a few tries at knocking on the front door I soon realise that no one is home. A woman walks by and tells me that no one has lived there for a while. I quickly pull out a photo of Neil and show it to her.
“Have you ever seen this man,” I ask her.
“Sure! I know him. He used to live here but I haven’t seen him for more than a year,” was her quick reply.
“Do you know where he went? It’s important I find this man.”
The woman looks hard at me. She evaluates me for the condition of my character. She finally speaks up.
“I don’t know. But I do know where that garage is! He took me there once to get my car fixed.”
This filled me with encouragement. It is unusual to get a lead so early on in a missing person case. I get the woman to write down the address and then she rushes off up the street. It isn’t much but better than nothing at all!
I go and sit down at a near by coffee shop and again look through the photos Sarah had given me. The garage was the location for the Firehills first music video. Maybe the owner will know something about the band and where they are. I wanted to ask the woman more about Neil but I got the impression that more information would not have been forthcoming. This made me think that either she just didn’t know anything or was unwilling say anything. I dismissed this last conclusion as speculation which is always a dangerous assumption in my profession.
As I drove out of town I decided to stop at Maidstone Art College. Neil had studied here and it was the reason he had lived in Maidstone for so long. I thought this could be a possible lead. Maybe one of the lectures would remember him and knew where he was. As I got out of the car I quickly realised that this was a dead end. The Art College had shut down some years ago. I guess society just doesn’t have the money to develop self-expression any more.
The Firehills Investigator
The golden glare of the sun cast its light across the streets of London. I didn’t remember the night before but I know it ended with too many drinks at a pub near London Bridge. My head feels like it’s crammed into a vice and I have forgotten to tell the operator to stop turning. This was my fault but I am rather weak when it comes to alcohol. What can I say – I have my vices!
I walked down the street and a passing glance at my watch told me that I was now officially late. I was on my way to Larman’s Solicitors near city hall to attend a meeting with a Miss Sarah Jones. It was she who had sent me the package that contained the photos and file on the Punk Rock band Firehills. This felt odd to me and left many questions unanswered. I had briefly looked through the file the night before and from what I could gather they wanted me to find three men. These are: Neil, the singer and bass player, Jon the guitarist and Bernie the drummer. Together they made up the band Firehills. This made no sense to me. Bands were not usually that difficult to find. In fact most of the time they craved the attention that fame gave them.
I arrived at the 14th floor and walked down a hall to a meeting room where I was to meet Sarah Jones. I entered to see a woman sitting at the end of the room behind a large desk. Without saying a word I simply stood at the end of the room and waited.
“You’re late,” was the response to my action.
“My apologies, but you do work in a big building,” was my lame but straight to the point reply.
I don’t think this impressed Sarah and she began to look impatient.
“I have been told that you are good at finding people,” she asked.
“I have my moments,” I said. “But you must understand that when a person disappears it is usually for one of two reasons”.
“Which are?” She replied.
“They don’t wish to be found,” I said.
“And the other reason?” She asked.
“Something bad has happened to them.”
Sarah paused for a moment and looked hard at me.
“Did you read the file?”
I now paused and looked out of the window.
“Why do you want to find these men? What have they done?”
“You don’t need to know that and my client does not want you to know that,” was Sarah’s firm but to the point reply.
This response did not surprise me and to be fair was common practice in my business. Usually the less you know the better. But my intrigue had the better of me and I wanted to know more.
“Why me?” I asked.
“Like I said, I was told you are good at finding out things.”
My intuition now began to kick in and I pressed the matter.
“This is way below my pay grade and not what I usually do. Why don’t you ask someone from Smash Hits Magazine?”
This was not the response Sarah was looking for and I could see that she was beginning to look annoyed.
“This is a sensitive matter and my client does not want any unnecessary attention. These men are not in trouble and they haven’t broken any laws. Weonly want them found so my client can talk to them. So do you want the job or not?”
I got up and walked towards the door. Sarah went to try to stop me.
“We will pay double your usual rate.”
I stopped and looked at her.
“Fine! Where do you want me to start looking?”
The Firehills Investigator
It wasn’t a crunch but more of a crack! Either way it hurt like hell. Blood began to stream down my chin and slowly drip on the floor. I would like to say that this was the first time someone had punched me in the face but that would be a lie. In fact in this particular situation it had been my nose which had taken the full force of the impact. My legs began to wobble and gravity took care of the rest. The pavement greeted me with its familiar concrete reassurance as I fell to the floor.
I looked up to see the man who had knocked me down towering over me.
“Do you have anything more to say, you smart-mouthed little prick,” he shouted at me.
I looked up at him once more and tried to gather my wits.
“I am just paid to do a job,” was my lame but desperately professional reply.
There was rage in his eyes as he peered down at me. He then returned his attention to the photos I had just handed him.
“This proves nothing,” was the reply.
“That will be for a judge to decide!”
The man now leant over me and grabbed my collar. I could feel his warm breath against my face as he pulled me to my feet. I thought he was going to choke me but to my relief his grip released as he stood me up right.
“I’d like to pummel you into the dirt but I would only be looking at another law suit,” he said as he released me to my own balance.
He then turned around and walked away. I looked long and hard as he shuffled up the street away from me. I considered if I was going to be instrumental in the ruin of his career and got little satisfaction from the fact. The blood continued to flow down from my nose as I turned around and headed to the nearest tube station.
I walked on to the underground platform at Canary Warf and tried to clear the blood from my mangled nose. The woman next to me looked at me with disgust. I could see her trying to smell the booze on me and then looking confused when there was none. The train arrived and I was glad to be out of her knowing gaze as I shuffled down the platform to get on to another carriage.
I sat down and wondered to myself how I had managed to get into such a mess. The man who punched me had been stealing employee data from the company he worked at. This information is used for blackmail purposes and can be profitable to rival financial organisations if they know how to exploit the data. The CCTV photos I had presented to him with were my feeble efforts to try and get him to confess. I guess it didn’t work. No matter – I have enough on him to finish the job. This is the bread and butter of the seedy world of Corporate Investigations.
I got off the underground and walked back to my office at London Bridge. My head felt muggy and I was in desperate need of a drink. That would have to wait. I needed to send in my report as soon as possible. If this guy decided to run there could be all kinds of trouble and that might even put delays on myself getting paid. That would never do!
As I reached my building at 2 Magdelen Street it began to rain. Its Victorian design towed above me and loomed skyward. To my mind this crippled structure always looked better in the rain. For a moment I was transported back to a London from the past. A London that was full of Dicken’s villains and dark alleyways. Those times were long gone. The villains were still here but the alleyways were now worth half a million and climbing. I pushed open the large white door and went inside.
The office was cold and damp and I reminded myself why I hated coming here. At least the rent was cheap, which in London is hard to come by. I stepped over the pile of mail on the floor and noticed a large yellow envelope sitting on top. It was packaged with some care and was clearly visible among the other junk mail. I picked it up and put it on the wooden desk my father had given me. That bastard hadn’t given me anything of much value but the desk had proved useful. I slumped into the chair behind the large oak block and again rubbed my nose. I then turned on the computer and began to write up my report.
A siren wailed past the window outside my office and I woke with a start. My head was face down on the desk and I realised that I must have fallen asleep. I looked up bleary-eyed at the computer screen and quickly checked my email to see if I had sent in my report. A reply from Michelle at Global Financial Enterprises had confirmed the delivery. Thank God! I would have been toast if I had missed that deadline. Above Michelle’s email was another. This time it was from someone unknown. This was not unusual for me as I regularly got email from sources that wished to remain anonymous. I clicked on the link only to see the words: ‘Did you get the package?’ I looked down at the large yellow parcel next to me and picked it up. Carefully opening it I poured its contents out on to the desk in front of me. I rummaged through the items to find a memory stick, several photos and a written report. The report caught my attention. It was on headed paper from Larman Solicitors and not from the usual financial firms that I deal with. I turned my attention back to the photos. They were images of a punk rock band called Firehills. My nose began to ache again and this reminded me about the days past events. Right now the package and its contents would have to wait. Pain killers were now the priority. I stood up and quickly left the office.
As I walked outside day had turned to night. I must have been asleep longer than I thought. I wondered up the street to the nearest chemist and hoped it was still open. I turned the corner and on to the main high street which was still busy with the usual early evening shoppers. As I walked down the busy road I spotted an old man going through one of the street bins. I paused for a moment and fished for some change in my pocket and gave it to him. He looked back at me and said:
“The witch maybe dead but the spell remains!”
I didn’t reply and continued walking.