My daughter’s favorite thing to say last year when she was in preschool and hadn’t succeeded at some task or other was “Try, try again. That’s what Mrs. Wright says.” An interesting motto for someone who was just four years old. She would often exhort me with the same saying and she still brings it up from time to time. So, as you might have guessed, I did not win the fiction contest last week with my chapter two entry, but as I mentioned I have numerous opportunities to try. I spent last night and most of today (in between SAHM things) working on my chapter three attempt. I think is is a bit better than my previous work and I may get the hang of this mystery writing thing yet.

Chapter Three – The Art of the Bid

Emmy wanted to storm in and confront both men. But cooler, decidedly more detective-like instincts kicked in. She waited in her van. Jack first, and minutes later Gombrick, emerged. To the casual observer they were unrelated customers from the throngs who waited daily in long lines for icedcapps and Timbit. Gombrick’s stiff gait reminded Emmy of a peg-legged pirate. Jack was carrying his usual cup of coffee. After they were gone, Emmy pulled out but didn’t follow either man. She knew where to find them when she needed them. What she needed now was information that neither was likely to give her.

Ixion Construction was located just off Yellowhead Trail near 82nd Street. Emmy called to let them know she was bringing a preliminary report. In truth, she had nothing to report that would help Ixion discredit Gombrick’s claims. She hoped they would have information for her. There was only one reason for Jack and Gombrick to be together and it meant bigger issues were at stake. But what did that have to do with Fulton?

“Ms. Budge, it’s good to see you so soon.”

Emmy smiled wryly as she shook the proffered hand of the company’s vice-president, Elizabeth Farron. Not the type Emmy pictured when she thought of construction workers, Ms. Farron had assured her on their initial meeting that she had come up through the ranks. Not tall, but sturdy and with the strongest grip Emmy had ever encountered in any female, she was inclined to believe that the pretty blond with a sunburst tattoo peeking above the neckline of an Oilers’ shirt was more capable than your average heir of an oil sands tycoon.

Ms. Farron led Emmy into a conference room strewn with evidence indicating a meeting had taken place not long ago and motioned for Emmy to sit down, “Sorry about the mess. Just finished up a progress meeting on the microbrewery project.”

“Brian Fulton’s?” Emmy inquired. “That’s still on?”

The young woman hesitated slightly before nodding. “There were other investors.”

“Of course. Was that part of Gombrick’s job? Bidding?”

Ms. Farron gave her a quizzical look. “No, but he was
aware of company bids. Why do you ask?”

Emmy shrugged, “Curious. I really stopped in to say I’m dropping the investigation.” Before she could be interrupted, Emmy raised her hand and continued, “I followed Gombrick for four days, and aside an inexplicable visit to the Edmonton Queen last night, he did nothing to indicate he’s anything other than a middle-aged man with a bad back. My advice: pay him the money.”

“I’m paying you money to prove he’s defrauding my company,” Farron retorted angrily before the whole of Emmy’s statement sunk in. Slowly anger drained from her sky blue eyes. “Did you say he went to see Brian Fulton last night?”

“No,” Emmy replied, “I said he visited the Edmonton Queen. Why would you think he saw Fulton?”

Flustered, she replied. ” Well, I just assumed. Bert was on the James MacDonald project when the accident occurred and Brian was one of the backers.”

“But isn’t that a city contract?” Emmy asked.

“Yes, but even the city needs to borrow funding for large projects.

“So you knew Fulton?”

“Not really. My partner, Vic Wild, handles funding.” Her tone was flat, but the absent way she twirled long straight strands of hair around her fingers told Emmy there was more to her involvement with “funding”, Brian Fulton and his microbrewery.

“I know you think there’s nothing more to this case, but I would appreciate it if you would continue out the week. Just to make sure, and with a closing bonus for your wasted time.”

That evening Emmy mulled the events of the day over a glass of ale at the Black Dog on Whyte Ave. She had been sure Gombrick was working with Jack on some case, but her conversation with Ms. Farron left her thinking Gombrick was guilty of more than trying to arrange an early retirement. She flipped through some clippings in a folder on the table.

“Not your usual reading fare, Em. Actually, I can’t remember the last time you read anything longer than the back of a DVD,” a tall dark bespectacled man remarked as he slid into the seat across from her. “Isn’t reading what you supposedly pay me to do?”

Emmy glanced up from the news clippings. “I love that about you too. Your ability to read while biting the hand that feeds you.”

“You haven’t fed me yet. Or offered to buy me a drink,” he pointed out cheerfully, rifling through her papers. “The Edmonton Journal? Hope you’re not looking for information about the world at large.”

“All people, places and things Alberta are chronicled in the Journal, Cam,” she replied.

“Newsflash. The world isn’t flat,” he whispered back in a mockingly conspiratorial tone.

“Nice,” she replied, “but I need to connect Gombrick and Fulton. I can’t do that on the Internet, Facebook boy. Didn’t I ask for information on Farron?”
“Did better,” he told her placing a printout of Farron’s Facebook profile between them.

“One hundred forty-two friends. Good to know,” Before she could tell Cam to go home and be useful, she spied two familiar faces. Bert Gombrick and another she couldn’t put a name on.

“Gombrick? Odd friend choice. He could be her father and is suing her. Who’s this guy?”

Cam put the day’s Journal on the table, pointing to the front-page photo. His finger traveled from a blurry Gombrick to a woman who was clearly Farron to a barely visible man in the back. Before Emmy could ask, Cam opened the Life section to a picture of the same man smiling in an advertisement.

“Jeff Bates? The yoga school guy?”

“Interesting group of friends, eh Em?”

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