Ike Duckworth–Chapter 42

Chapter 42

The secret is out

 Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.—Pablo Picasso

Ed Krasnoski led Fred and Colin past Amanda, now busily gossiping with the Office Manager, who looked up at their passage.

“Nice hat, Colin!” Alice said. He swiped it from his head, leaving his hair in slight disorder.

Krasnoski held the glass door open as Fred and Colin filed into the conference room. He pulled the door shut with a snap.

Fred sank into a chair opposite Krasnoski, glad he hit the seat, knowing any real dignity at this juncture was unlikely. All of the Numb4’s material had been neatly stacked on the credenza behind him; only a pitcher of ice water and glasses remained on the table. If this was about Saturnalia, he didn’t believe Colin could rightly be implicated. Maybe singing wasn’t allowed at FKRS either.

Krasnoski turned his attention to the man still standing by the door, spinning a top hat in his hands. “Colin,” he said. “I figured you had the right to face your accuser.”

Colin’s head whipped round so fast, Fred was sure an injury must be involved. “Him?”

“Respectfully, Mr. Krasnoski,” Fred interjected, heartily wishing he were not feeling quite so drunk. “I do not believe it is my place to be here.”

“You started it and now you can finish it. Besides, I take it from your stealth method that either you never told Rolland or Rolland did not want to act on it.”

“The latter.”

“Hmm.”

Colin took the chair at the head of the table, the hat placed before him. He broke into the conversation with as much haughtiness as he could muster. “Would either of you mind telling me what this meeting is about?”

Fred turned to Krasnoski, who wasted no time on niceties.

“Listen, Colin. I’ve got a noseful of skunk right now, so you may want to ditch the cheek. You were the partner who dealt with our insurance and retirement plans—“

“Of course. What’s that—“

“—and the fiduciaries,” he gestured at Fred,“—have found improprieties.”

“Not me. Ed! It must be National Central —“

“The bank? I was thinking more along the lines of Cam Wendlow, that former frat buddy of yours.”

“Uh…”

Ed reached into his briefcase and extracted a folder, from which he slowly removed a photocopy of several typed pages stapled together in the upper left hand corner. There were drawings of crystal water goblets on the first page and handwritten notes in a nearly illegible scrawl.

“The timing couldn’t be worse. Newark had nothing to do with this—I want you to know that. Closing that office was exactly as we discussed in October—“

“The floundering economy.” Colin reached for a glass and sloshed some ice water into it.

“Right. But it seems that $3.2 million dollars has been siphoned off our retirement accounts and other investments over the last 25 years.”

Fred was watching the kaleidoscopic emotion spinning over Radnor’s face: fear, fury, defiance, with pure animal panic winning out. The pink-faced man ran a finger inside his collar.

“And?” he said, sucking up a bit of ice from his glass, fixing a drill-bit gaze on Krasnoski.

Ballsy, Fred thought. Who is this guy?

Krasnoski got to his feet. “And means I suggest you dig into your trust fund and make a major repayment right now or I’m going to the District Attorney. If Wendlow’s been half as clever in his investments for you as in this diversion scheme, I can’t see there being any problem.”

“You’re threatening me?”

“Rather the opposite—I’m giving you a break you probably don’t deserve.”

This time, Radnor’s hand shook as he reached for the glass.

“I’ll—I’ll talk to my people, Ed. I’ll—“

“Go home, Colin. Make your calls, do what you have to do. We’ll talk again in the morning.”

Mechanically, Radnor stood, replaced the glass on the table, and walked through the lobby, passing the bank of elevators, crashed through the glass stair doors, and was gone.

Krasnoski sank into his chair, silent for some time before he remembered Fred.

“You may as well get out of here, too,” he said, flicking his glance at the wide eyes behind the glasses before retreating again into the weight of his thoughts.

Fred didn’t need a second asking. His pack and coat were piled with everything else on the credenza, and he was out of there faster than the third champagne cork.

…………………………………

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