Chapter 24: Third Part / Chapter 4

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 56



In the beginning, Nicole looked at the photograph of the “victim”. Michel Schneige with pronunciation ‘ge’ or ‘ga’. She was advised not to even admit that she even speaks German and any foreign languages. That way Michel will feel better, communicate in a more relaxed on the phone, not afraid of her assessment.

She thinks that his portrait was small, Blood hadn’t another portrait of him. This is a man, grey-haired, apparently at least fifty years old, perhaps a little older, but not the oldest. He had an even grey beard as if flat on his lower lip. On the upper lip is the same grey small moustache.

His haircut was short; his hair seemed grey, but not too white. Therefore, they’re fragile and not as thick as some other men. The forehead is medium, and unexpectedly without wrinkles. Nicole herself was surprised. But he still had several wrinkles, though in a different place: on the side of his lips, where a smile usually forms.

Something was with eyebrows: they’re so short that it seems as if they were either plucked at all or not growing. His eyes were black, and the general appearance, especially considering the eyebrows, seemed somehow mournful and kind. Nicole had one oddity: she didn’t examine people from her eyes or hair. She is randomly drilling her eyes from side to side as if studying a picture.

The time was about 22:00. Nicole took the motorcycle and went to the address that Blood told her on her cell phone. A group of two bank employees watched his car all day; he stopped at one of the German restaurants.

Leaving the motorcycle in the parking lot, she went into the room. Looking for different tables, she finds Michel immediately.

“Want to drink together?” Michel asked in French without any strong accent. Only the sound ‘r’ said that he was not quite French. Too harsh.

“Yes. Do you mind taking dinner with me?”

“No, of course not. Sit down.”

“You know, you have such a funny head,” Nicole remarked playfully, “like a satellite dish. And I think, why not to sit down.” She herself joked very rarely, and usually didn’t understand other people’s jokes.

Michel laughed.

“You’re so generous, madam ...”

“Gratte. Nicole Gratte. But you can just call me Nicko.”

“Very nice, Nicko. My name’s Michel Schneiga.”

The waiter brought the menu. Looking there, she wanted to find some fish, but there was no white fish. This is not a Chinese restaurant and offered either tuna or salmon. Nicole ordered salmon, the taste of which she knew at least, but she didn’t know what to expect from tuna. She had tried salmon in the sixth grade. An interesting fish, after all.

The conversation continued during dinner.

Chewing fish, Michel squinted even in glasses. He noticed something in her face.

A woman sat with dyed wheat hair; on the crown of her head was brown colour, but most important were the with two dark bruises on her face, slightly translucent beneath the concealer. The scars were to the left and right sides of the nose, just below the eyes, but not on the cheeks. It’s immediately obvious that someone beat her.

“Who did this to your face?”

“You want to say how much my cosmetics cost?”

“Don’t avoid the conversation. You have two bruises.”

Michel Schneiga was more curious than she thought.

“Now I’m looking for work. I had a strict boss; I quit this crappy man.”

“You were working on what?”

“Yes, you know, I was a cook. In some shitty restaurant, worse than a black night.”

“I can hire you. Are you still looking for a job?”

“Yes, I haven’t decided yet.”

“Can you serve the house besides cooking? I just recently fired the last servant in a French flat. My adult daughter is still there, but she is damn lazy and doesn’t want to do anything. There are no plates washed; she snores day and night.”

Then you got on the right hook, Nicole thought.

“You’ve some newspapers on your lap,” she said. “Where do you get them from?”

“I’m a businessman; I have got a print business. This is my Parisian newspaper for German immigrants in France, Deutsch in Frankreich. Are you Parisian or foreign?”

“I’m French, born in Paris, but lived in Dieppe for some time. I was in Lyon then.”

“Your knowledge of France can only be envied. I’m from Germany. My main business is located there. In France, I’ve only one newspaper, and there is a whole printing holding.”

“Holding?” Nicole asked as if she didn’t know what it was. She just played a part. Michel answered confidently without a trace of disappointment in his voice as if every time he explained this to his friends.

“You came to France. Is it for the sake of Deutsch in Frankreich or something else?”

“I’m not against interesting acquaintances.”

Gratte herself remembers how many times she called people under the condition that she wants to talk on business. Not a single person will speak with a banker or a journalist; especially besides when a bank asks for the impossible. Gathering information is a cumulative work, but they do not receive a direct salary for it; she didn’t work in the Information Processing Department.

Michel handed Nicko an address paper. Having finished the salmon, she left the restaurant and proceeded to her motorcycle. Taking a cell phone out of a maroon purse, Nicole called the chief:

“He seems to have changed the address.”

“Michel is fickle in this matter. Once every six months he rents a different flat, there’s always something he does not like.”

“Is the daughter with him?”

“No data.”

“He told me that after Adellet’s dismissal, she looks after the flat; only she doesn’t want to do anything.”

“Let’s assume that he’s not lying.”

Blood asked Nicole again early tomorrow morning to ride a motorcycle to his bank. To the complete memorizing which answering machine is in the flat, how to remove the compact-cassette from it, so that the ‘new messages’ remain new messages.

Then she came to Michel’s flat. It was a spacious three-room flat with dark pink wallpaper, although obviously the repair wasn’t his. The design of the flat was cosy but didn’t please her at all. She learned German, ‘foreigners in German’. For what? For work as a servant, for what? She’s some kind of international business consultant; she doesn’t do that, but there’s nothing to do.

She worked as a bee in the kitchen, making soup, cooking chicken and spaghetti. Even though Schnaige was a German, he clearly loved a part of Italian cuisine. While the pots were boiling stereotypically, and there was no daughter yet, Michel said that Alicia seems to be moving away from some kind of fiancé, of which there were already more than a hundred, Nicole set about an answering machine.

She took out the cassette from the answering machine. After Nicole inserted it into the music centre, she listened from beginning to end, quickly recording the meaning of the negotiations. They were sometimes in German, sometimes in French. Listening, she rewound to the voice of the first message. In the evening, Blood rang and asked her to retell the contents of the phone calls.

“What did you find out, baby?” He asked, as if he had just watched a Hollywood movie, usually Blood didn’t talk like that.

“In two hours, I wrote conversations over the past week on paper.”

“Interesting. He fired Adellete just a week ago.”

“Alicia called. Virulent and financial monologue in German.”

“Give me them.”

“She removed the tampon and found that it had turned yellow. She is interested in whether to consult a gynaecologist, whether there are signs of pregnancy.”

“Not interesting. Give me the financial topic.”

“She asks Michel to contact Banque de Morales in particular. She says you have an affiliate program for relatives. Some of the per cents of the corporate loan will disappear, it seems; about five. They will ‘finance’ the annual account of a relative. She said that she needed money, and he was obliged to apply to this bank.”

“There is a program, of course, but Alicia is not entirely accurate. Depending on the specific loan amount, it is calculated from two to ten per cent.”

Nicole understood why Banque de Morales is so interested in people. Some kind of annual co-financing program for blood or legal relatives.

“Relatives of the first plan, for example, nephews, are considered? How long has the program been open?”

“The program exists recently. It is for relatives of the first plan. We need to grab these idiots called Schneiga, and do not work for a charity.”

She understood that the woman who offered her Francesco couldn’t use the program.

“Is anyone else called?”

“Some woman, Eve. She may be the girlfriend of his deceased wife. She declares her love for spaghetti. This fact is important for work because there is spaghetti that I prepared in the refrigerator. She can come to visit.”

“Is there something else?”

“Eve called another time, asked to be taken by car to a French supermarket.”

“This is not so interesting. Did something say about the studio, holding or Deutsch in Frankreich?

“There is definitely nothing about the holding,” Nicole flipped through the one-time transcript. “But something about the studio.

“Tell me, we will understand the truth about his criminal loan.”

“A man in German called and said that he ‘uploaded screenshots of GET READY for publishers.’ ”

“Tell me everything.”

“Okay. It follows from the monologue that the screenshots of the new tracks and cars from GET READY have already been sent to some publishers.

“Voilà. Hey, he is a damn son of a bitch,” Blood didn’t hide the emotions. “It seems that GET READY is the at-stake company that wants to sell some tickets for racing competition, and then cancel it. After all, there is no stadium, no cars, no races, no riders themselves. And on the computer, they are engaged in modelling tracks, drivers for some kind of advertising banners. What else are there on them?”

“The man said that the logo of some his magazine, possibly one of Michel’s magazines, was placed on the track’s banners in the form of product placement. He also mentioned that some kind of translation into English is being prepared. Allegedly, an advertisement with his magazine on the banner of the track should be for the German market, but not the British.”

“So, it’s clear that Michel is not cheating. Someone misled him. He thinks a certain company, GET READY, is organizing an entertainment event related to racing. But in fact, they’ll just print some kind of advertisement with simulated cars, sell tickets, and then cancel the event for technical reasons.

“Someone’s digging for Michel’s business and wants to tidy him up. Tell me something else. GET READY is just an economic fraud. But they make money, no matter which way. So, in this case, there’re no criminal loans, and you have nothing to worry about. And whom they deceive with your money’s not your concern.”

“You think fast. You’ll receive your fee soon.”

Submitted: December 01, 2019

© Copyright 2020 RomanBoukreev. All rights reserved.


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