“I’m picturing the moments of her death, Nathan. How terrified she must have been, how alone, nowhere to run to and no one to save her, nowhere to hide. What pictures must have flashed through her mind when she knew she was going to die, and couldn’t do anything to save herself.”
“I’ve never given death much thought, we all die, it is inevitable, but to die in such a cold black empty void, for her life to end this way? is beyond unfortunate or tragic. It’s utterly senseless! Inhuman!”
It seemed nothing could disquiet Emma’s thought process, so Nathan decided he’d work with it. “Do you have the names of Mark’s co-workers? Perhaps we could contact a few of them and check what, if anything, they might have known, any conjectures they might have made.”
“Yes, yes, your right, Nathan. I simply can’t sit still at the moment. I’m haunted by that beautiful face. It’s impossible for me to put away.” Looking across at him she said, “Thank you for understanding, Nathan.”
Nathan understood all too well the thought process, caring for and protecting the innocent while damning the guilty. He’d lived on that edge, that precipice often enough. Indeed, he’d had to re-train his mind, cool his jets and reign in his hot headed hot blooded urges or he would have beaten a number of vile creeps half to death for the atrocities committed. There were many occasions when, without Jim’s presence and intervention, he could and would have gone too far and carried justice into vigilantism. It would make him no different than them, and he was.
“I’ll take half his notes, you take the other, see if he mentions anyone by name, if not, we’ll take a look at the Editor’s page and find names of others working for the paper during the time period in question.”
“I don’t see anyone mentioned,” Emma puffed out on an exaggerated breath.
“Nor I. Which means, finding out who worked there, which is easy enough to do.” Nathan quickly finished the search and found three individuals working during that time period, but oddly enough found two that had also left. “Interesting, during that same time period, four months between her death and Marks’, there were two reporters that left. Coincidence or something else?” he wondered aloud.
Emma picked up her cell and found a phone number listed for Michael Brookman, and dialled. At his hello, she introduced herself and her profession before explaining the reason for her call. When she hung up she told Nathan, “He didn’t have anything interesting to add other than he liked Marks and still felt his loss. He was a great guy and helped him out when he was stuck on a direction for a story. Said he hadn’t heard anything unusual regarding Marks death and hadn’t considered it might be anything but an accident. I could tell I got the wheels turning by the end of the conversation, though. He told me he’d do some discreet checking, see if he could find any new information. I warned him to be very careful about who he spoke with. I could tell he was anxious but excited too.”
“Next is a Raymond Halliday.” Nathan handed her the name and phone number.
Mr Halliday was nervous, right from the get go. “Mr Halliday, you seem nervous. Is that related to our current discussion?” Emma nodded at Nathan. “Why is that, Mr Halliday?” Emma began writing. “I see. So you had some immediate concerns relating to Mr Marks’ death but chose not to voice them. I get that. You must have been extremely nervous if you considered both incidents connected. No, Mr Halliday, you did the right thing. Family comes first!”
“Do you have any idea who might have been involved? Whether anyone contacted Mr Marks after any of his articles?”
“Thank you for your time, Mr Halliday, I appreciate it.” She paused, “No, Mr Halliday, I always protect my sources. I will not mention you or anyone close to you, I guarantee you that. Alright, and you take care, Mr Halliday. Merry Christmas.”
“Now that was enlightening.”
Nathan nodded, “And?”
“Seems Marks was onto something, mentioned two members of a local gang that hung on the fringes trying to make good. They are wanted by the Police but have managed to cover their tracks either by threats, turning up at witnesses businesses, workplaces or homes, letting whoever they wished to harass know by sheer presence it was in their best interest to keep their mouths shut. Said it happened to Marks a couple of times at work. He’d been leaving the building alongside Marks when some biker dudes rolled up alongside his vehicle and sat staring at him before smashing out his tailights and leaving.”
With a concerned sigh she continued, “After Marks’ death, the same thing happened to him and on one occasion, they were outside his little girl’s school and one of the bikers, a woman, was entertaining his daughter. When he raced to his daughter, pulling her behind him, they told him he’d better take care, that any information Marks might have shared should have died with him.”
“It was obvious he was still scared, his voice was shakey, and he wanted a guarantee that I wouldn’t use his name in any subsequent articles. You heard my side of the conversation.”
“So, Marks was definitely onto something and someone shut him up as they did Sylvia Westwood. They’ve managed to contain the information by threats to everyone close to him.”
“Time for my team to take over.” Nathan affirmed with a look that definitely brooked no question and no doubt.
“I don’t mind telling you, I’d be incredibly nervous if I were covering this situation alone. I don’t know . . . I don’t know if I’d have been brave enough.”