WtK Chapter 5

Our Serial:

A Will to Kill: Chapter Five

By Nick Kossovan

A hunch, gut instinct, something not feeling quite right; investigators scratch these emotional itches. Veronica had a front row seat to Glen’s circus. Countless times she has seen him follow his hunches. Her comment yesterday morning to Wanda, “That’s Glen for you… always working a hunch,” was on point. A gut feeling was the reason Glen found himself sitting in his car, parked in Cliffside Plaza’s parking lot, drinking a large black coffee from McDonald’s, while watching Epicurean Gift Baskets across Kingston Road.

At 8:34 AM there was not much activity in any of the stores lining Kingston Road. Other than an elderly couple walking into the Guildcrest Cat Hospital, two doors down from Epicurean Gift Baskets, the man carrying a pet carrier, for the past ten minutes there had been no activity in any of the stores surrounding Epicurean Gift Baskets.

Glen mindlessly took sips of his coffee as he recalled Wanda calling yesterday around 4:00 PM to tell him she got the results of Steve’s blood. It indicated he had ingested phenobarbital, which the doctor explained was an anticonvulsant drug. Steve consuming a drug used to treat epileptic seizures and Adrian having an epileptic seizure was a coincidence Glen did not like. Glen did not believe in coincidences. He’s seen too many manufactured coincidences created to cover up a crime.

“Is he going to be alright?” asked Glen.

“They say he’ll make a full recovery,” answered Wanda. “They want to keep Steve one more day. A few days of bed rest and he should be fine.”

“That’s good.”

“Steve just wants to get back to work. Did Veronica tell you of his promotion?”

“She did. Regional Sales Manager for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, right?”

“That’s right. Steve’s been gunning for this position ever since he started at Praxis Pharma.”

“Steve told me he’s been with them some fifteen years.”

“It’ll be seventeen years come March. Loves his job, hates the office politics.”

“The office politics? Something in particular?”

“Not really. Adults acting like high schoolers. Cliques, gossiping, backstabbing… all common behavior in workplaces, unfortunately. Steve does his best to stay out of it, but there are times when he’s dragged into it and it drains him emotionally.”

“Thus why I’ve avoided a corporate career. Veronica often tells me stories of the childish behavior where she works. I have to ask, do you know if Praxis Pharma makes phenobarbital?”

“Off the top of my head, I don’t. I can ask Steve tomorrow when I visit him after work. Hopefully, they’ll have discharged him by then.”

“I’ll Google the information. No need to bother Steve with something which might upset him. Let him focus on his recovery.”

Google confirmed Praxis Pharma did manufacture phenobarbital. Another coincidence Glen did not like.

Glen had two theories about how Steve had ingested phenobarbital. One possibility was Steve tried to kill himself and Wanda, or maybe vice versa. This theory was weak since Steve would definitely know which drugs to use for such a job and being married to Steve, most likely would Wanda. Phenobarbital would not be the drug of choice for a murder-suicide, though in high dosages most drugs will lead to death. From what Glen had observed over the years Steve and Wanda seem to be in a happy grove; he could not imagine either of them wanting to kill the other, though outward appearance is often deceiving.

Another theory, much more plausible, was the office politics Steve hated. Maybe someone had also been gunning for the Regional Sales Manager position and now wanted to sideline Steve for a few days; just long enough to convince the higher-ups Steve was the wrong choice and they were much more suited to be promoted.

A few years back Glen did a month-long undercover stint at a mid-size meat packing plant out in Mississauga, working the line. Management had noticed a discrepancy, a large one, between the amount of meat coming in and the amount of meat being packed. Turned out a few employees, who unloaded the trucks, had created a side business by diverting some of the meat they were unpacking to the side and then selling it amongst their neighbors at prices substantially lower than they would pay in grocery stores. When confronted they used the cliché excuse to justify their illegal enterprise saying they were being paid low wages for the work they were doing and therefore felt they were being taken advantage of. A sense of entitlement makes people behave in ways they know to be wrong.

While finishing his coffee, and making a note on his iPhone to ask Steve if he knew if any of his co-workers had also been eyeing the Regional Sale Manager gig, Glen spotted a wiry-looking man, who could not have been more than twenty-five, putting a key into Epicurean Gift Baskets front door. He’s definitely not the owner, thought Glen. Having checked Epicurean Gift Baskets website, he knew the owner had started the business some 32 years ago and therefore would be well into his late fifties, if not early sixties. Maybe he’s his son.

Glen walked across Kingston Road and knocked on Epicurean Gift Baskets window. He could see wiry man behind the counter taking off his hoodie.

“We open at ten!” yelled wiry man.

“I need to talk to the owner,” yelled back Glen.

“I said we open at ten, come back then.”

Glen saw wiry man retrieve a clipboard from underneath the counter and walk towards the back of the store. Must be getting ready to make deliveries. Glen walked west to the end of the block, turned right and then walked back east along the laneway in the back of the stores. Sure enough, wiry man was loading up Epicurean Gift Baskets delivery van.

“Not good customer service a few minutes ago. I need to speak to the owner.”

“Sorry, “said wiry man, “I have to load up and arrange the store before ten. My boss doesn’t show up much before ten.”

“Maybe you can help me. Won’t take but a few minutes of your time.”

“Probably best you come back later. I just deliver, tend to stock, cleanup, that sort of thing.”

“Actually you’re the guy I want to talk to, but I’m not looking to jam you up with your boss,” said Glen as he reached into his sports jacket breast pocket and pulled out one of his business cards. “Do me a favor and give him my card. Tell him I’ll be back later today, but if he calls me and saves me a trip back I’d be appreciative. I just have a quick question.”

“Sure, I can do that,” said wiry man as he took Glen’s business card, which read: Glen Panama, Your first call private investigator.

“You’re a PI… no joke?”

“I’m the real deal. Look, you can save me the time of having to come back here. All I need to see is this past Saturday’s delivery manifest. Twenty bucks… just leave your clipboard on the van’s front seat and take a few extra minutes getting the next order.”

“You carry a gun?”

“Not today. It’s in my cookie jar back home.” Glen knew the Jim Rockford reference would be lost on wiry man. It was the sarcastic answer he defaulted to when inevitably he was asked if he carried a gun. “What do you say, twenty bucks.”

“Make it forty and I’ll be gone for five minutes. It’s not like I’m being paid the big bucks doing this.”

Glen took out his wallet. There’s that sense of entitlement. People think they’re being screwed over so they seize any chance to do the screwing over. An eye for an eye is how people think. It’s no wonder the world is the mess it is. Glen handed wiry man four ten dollar bills, which he pocketed. Without saying a word, he turned and walked back inside Epicurean Gift Baskets. Glen reached through the van’s open window and picked up the clipboard off the driver’s seat.

Wiry man did fourteen deliveries on Saturday. The first one was at 10:30 AM around Warden and Ellesmere. None of the deliveries were to the Grymski’s. Glen walked towards Epicurean Gift Baskets back door.

“Your delivery manifest isn’t complete,” said Glen as soon as he came to the doorway.

“What do mean?” Wiry man was comparing a gift basket to an order form.

“Your manifest doesn’t show on Saturday you made a delivery to 17 Tesson Place around 8:00 AM.”

“A delivery around 8:00 AM? The earliest I’ve ever made a delivery was 10:00 AM and my manifests are accurate. Been here for almost three years, I know what I’m doing.”

“I have to admit when you told me what you did around here it’s a no-brainer. So you’re telling me this past Saturday you didn’t make a delivery to the Grymski’s at 17 Tesson Place. A leggy brunette, late forties, probably wearing a bathrobe, would have answered the door.”

“If it ain’t on the manifest then I didn’t make the delivery.”

To be continued.