Rory Rogerson is 67; an overweight, unfit, retired ‘protection officer’ (that’s PC for hired muscle). He is also a prolific and, by his own reckoning, successful author of crime fiction.
Penny (60) is his headmistress wife and Charlie Watkiss is the bloke next door.
Together, they make a formidable team!
Rory (ret’d). Chapter fourteen, part one.
Budgie turned up at my home on one of his visits, appearances that happened only once every couple of months.
“Got a job for you, Rory,” he said.
“Oh yeah? And which of your adversaries do you want us to dig up dirt on this time?” I asked.
“Different thing altogether. You know Giles Gilbert from my lawyers, Greene, Gilbert and Partners?”
“Yes, we met him when we brought you into the firm.”
“You probably don’t know that his firm has had an in-house investigator they’ve been using for years—”
“I think I do. I’m sure I met him at a conference recently – John Gentleman isn’t it?”
“That’s him. Well, he’s due to retire at the end of the month and they’re not planning to replace him.”
“Fair enough, but what has that to do with us?”
“He knows of my association with you, obviously.”
“Obviously – he provided the boiler-plates for the agreements we used to reset the business.”
“So he has asked whether RRW Investigations would like to go on retainer to Greene Gilbert as investigators.”
“We’d certainly consider it, depending on the terms of engagement.”
“More than that. Yes, the money is a factor, but more important is whether we would have the right to refuse specific jobs that don’t mesh well with our ethos and to what extent they would want first call on our services.”
“But you’d consider it?”
“Of course, we’d consider it.”
“That’s all I wanted. I’ll set up a meeting with Giles for you. Any preferred date and time?”
“Get Mr Gilbert to call me tomorrow afternoon after I’ve had a chance to run it by Penny and Charlie, will you? You know we make all decisions by agreement between the three of us, don’t you?”
“Of course. And I’m hoping that, one day, it will be the four of us.”
“As do I, Budgie. But we need to know you’ve fully transitioned from the dark side first.”
“I get that. In the meantime, I’m trying to drop the Budgie thing. Call me Peter, or Pete if you prefer.”
“That’s a good step, Peter. Keep us up to date on the development of your legitimate businesses. Perhaps we’ll find some synergy.”
Peter took his phone out of his pocket and pressed a quick-dial number. He addressed his respondent as Giles so I assumed he had called his lawyer. He made small-talk for a while then passed on my message.
“He said he’ll call you at three tomorrow,” he said, covering the phone with his hand. I nodded in agreement and he passed that on. He ended the call then said, “I’d like to think we can do that.”
“Find some synergy. I’d like to see our interests merge.”
“That can’t happen until you are fully legit,” I said, “I can work with the way things are now, but we have to keep you at arm’s length. I can’t have our business seen to be a branch of your less savoury activities.”
“Give me time, Rory. I’ll get there, but I can’t afford to rush it. I have to appear strong. First sign of weakness and there are competitors who would come in—”
“Like vultures,” I said, “I fully—”
“No, not like vultures. Vultures only pick over what’s dead. These people will be more like eagles, or like a falcon after a flock of pigeons. The first one that shows any sign of weakness will be dead before he even knows he’s under attack.”
“So what you’re saying is—”
“What I’m saying, Rory, is that just walking away is not an option. Not for people like me, anyway.”
“I think so.”
He got up to leave. “Anyway,” he said, passing through the open door, “start working with Giles and that may give me a transition point as well as giving you a regular income.”
“And maybe one day, you’ll be able to take him off speed-dial.”
“Just imagine. I don’t think I can remember a time when I’ve not had to have a brief on speed-dial. See you!” and he was gone.
I later relayed the conversation to Charlie and Penny. Both were in agreement with the proposal in principle, although Penny still held reservations about working with Peter Dodd. She’d never been totally comfortable with the arrangement but was going along with it because Charlie and I were both clearly relaxed about it. Although as a naturally cautious person, she was personally a long way from enthusiastic about our relationship with Peter and anything that came from it, as RRW’s financial chief, she was professionally over the moon at the prospect of regular income. One thing still bothered her, however.
“How much credence are you giving to Dodd’s assertion that he is moving towards legitimacy?”
“Trust but verify,” I said, echoing Peter Dodd’s words, “That’s an excellent mantra. I think he’s sincere in his desire to go straight, and I accept that it isn’t as easy as all that. However, I am keeping an eye on certain of his companies’ activities and following their transitions. There is some progress. Limited, but some.”
“Given that he is still partly on the dark side—”
I interrupted her. “Mostly, I should say,”
“Okay, but if that’s the case, and Giles Gilbert is his lawyer, how sure can we be that they’re above board?”
“Who? Greene, Gilbert and Partners – the law firm?”
“Well, maybe, or perhaps just Giles Gilbert.”
“I’ll do some due diligence, Penny,” Charlie said, “but I think I would have picked up some rumours if there were any out there.”
“Do that, Charlie,” she said, “If that comes back clean, but only if that comes back clean, I’m okay with taking them on as clients.”