Hazardous Goods (Arcane Transport) (6 page)

BOOK: Hazardous Goods (Arcane Transport)
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“Listen, with Clay being in the hospital – if you have any questions or concerns, just let me know.”

“Nah. It’s OK. I mean, it sounds like Clay will be OK.”

“Yeah, I think so. So, you’ve been working three days a week?”

“Full days on Thursday and Friday, and a half-day on Tuesday.”

“Is that working out for you?”

“Yeah. It’s been great. Helps pay for my rent and expenses. But listen, if you need to cut back my hours with Clay out and all—.”

“No, no. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t too much with your course load.”

“Not at all.”

“Wow. You’re a workhorse, man. I had problems just getting out of bed when I was in college.”

“I know what you mean. First two years were like that, but it’s started to settle down.”

“Good. Well, if you want to change anything, let me know.”

“Great.” He seemed relieved, something I could identify with as a former student. I needed to work part-time just to cover my beer and wings expenses.

“You think Clay’ll be back anytime soon?”

The million-dollar question.

“I don’t know. Harper said they expect it will take a month or two for him to recover. But my sense is that she wanted Clay to cut back a bit anyways.”

“Yeah, Clay used to say that too. Frankly, we were getting a little worried about what would happen if he did cut back. Or up and retired. With you coming in as his partner, I think you’ll find people are a bit relieved.”

“Well, things are moving faster than either of us expected. But I’d like to stick with things as is, at least for now. When things calm down, we can talk a bit about the future. Clay said you’re doing your Masters at U of T next year?”

“Yeah. I may even do my doctorate here, if I can get the funding for a project I’m working on.”

“Well, by next week you may want to shoot me. But if I don’t drive you nuts... ”

“Thanks Donnie. I really appreciate it.”

Kara was next. Jamar agreed to hang on for a few minutes at Dispatch while she and I talked.

“Everything OK up front?”

“Yeah. I mean, everyone’s concerned about Clay. We already had a few bouquets come in. It’s a small community, and everyone is real supportive.”

“OK. Well, if you need to ask me anything, fire away. I mean, chances are it’ll be me asking you, but—.”

“Thanks.”

“So Clay was telling me that you’ve been here for four years?”

“Four years last January. I graduated from Sheridan, worked in their admin group for two years, then Clay found me.”

We chatted for awhile, and I told her a bit about my own background. Marketing in a public software company. About as different from Arcane as you could get.

“What was that like?”

“Egos and testosterone.”

“Sounds like Chad’s place. He works in investment banking.”

The boyfriend was a banker. Figured.

“Yup. Guys hovering over you while you try to finish that rush job at midnight.”

“Oh, God. I can’t imagine. I mean, we can get
really
busy here, but at least we try to keep it civil.”

“I’ve noticed. It’s a nice change.”

“Yeah. It’s weird. I mean, we’re a
courier company
, but I feel like we make a difference.”

That thought stayed with me as I drove home. It was a great company. Lord help me if I screwed it up.

C
HAPTER
5

I went straight home after work. I had debated staying late to catch up further, but I was exhausted, and my head was throbbing from all the driving.

Just inside the apartment, I encountered a smell that made me think of forensic labs and bottle flies. For just a moment, I was worried – genuinely worried – about Ted. Had he lain in the apartment, unconscious in his own vomit after a liquid lunch in Chinatown? Was he sprawled in the bathroom, having slipped on the tiles and cracked his skull?

Then I spotted the source of the stench.

“Move your goddamned equipment!”

Hockey bag, goalie pads, chest protector, jock. Ted may as well have butchered three skunks with a blunt axe on the faux marble linoleum.

“Love you, too.”

“Asshole.” I kicked the blocker aside and entered the kitchen, grabbing a slice from an open box of pizza, Ted’s contribution to the week’s grocery bill. Cold soda, and a handful of Tylenol from the bottle on top of the fridge.

“You couldn’t leave your equipment in the car?”

“What? No way. You ever smell it after the bag’s been in there overnight?”

I stared at him, a dull pounding in my temple building to a roar.

“What?”

“You can smell that shit in the hallway. Have you
seen
Mr. Kenesky?” Oleg Kenesky was the building superintendent. His body was solid granite, formed in the cold winters of Krakow, Poland.


Move it outside
.”

“OK, OK. What’re you doing home, anyways? They fire your ass?”

“Right.”

As Ted gathered his odorous collection, I emptied my pockets on the side table by the front door. Keys, wallet, cell, and... Oh yeah. Lucky coin. I held the coin up to the light and took another look at it.

“What’s that?”

I flipped the coin to him like a bottle cap.

“Some coin they had in the Lost and Found at work. Thought it might be lucky.”

“Huh. Cool.” He flipped the coin back, and I dropped it on the table.

Then I took my traditional evening position in front of the TV set, remote in hand. Flip. Cartoon. Flip. Paid advertisement for a new vacuum cleaner. Might have to switch over to the computer. Flip. Flip. Flip. Stop. The news.


In Business news, Ruscan Industries CEO Maxim Legenko appeared in court today at his preliminary enquiry, escorted by defense lawyer James Whitebridge. By Mr. Legenko’s side was his wife Elena Legenko, Chairman of Ruscan Industries and the Company’s controlling shareholder
—.”

“Please turn it.
Anything
but the news.”

I tapped my thumb on the channel button, but continued to listen. It was a secret pleasure for me, watching the high-and-mighty fall into the muck. I’d followed Legenko’s case for the past six months.

“—
as an ashen-faced Legenko sat quietly, Crown Prosecutor Barbara Moodie reviewed
—.”

“Please!”

“Give it a rest. I just want to see this one story.” I nudged the volume up, trying to ignore Ted’s groaning.


Prosecutors allege that Legenko embezzled $18 million through payments to offshore holding companies without the knowledge or approval of Ruscan Industries’ Board of Directors. Sordid details about Legenko’s spending during his tenure as Ruscan CEO, including private use of a company plane for vacations in Thailand and Bali and allegations of the use of company funds to pay for the services of high priced escorts for visiting dignitaries
—.”

I noticed Ted had stopped with the sighs and was paying attention now. Put “$18 million” and “high priced escorts” in a story, and you would definitely get my brother’s attention.

“Did they say his wife owns the company?”

“Biggest shareholder.”

“Guy’s got a massive set, huh? Using company money to pay for hookers when
his wife
owns the place?”

I nodded in agreement. The on-screen image shifted from the news anchor to an image of the courtroom steps, with Legenko and his counsel surrounded by a wall of microphones and screaming reporters. Legenko looked like he was going to be sick, his stock brazen glare replaced by a deer-in-the-headlights look. His counsel was a decidedly unattractive man, comb-over blowing in the wind, bulging eyes and a sneer of a mouth. At his other side stood Legenko’s wife, a statuesque brunette who had modeled for several years before using her fame and fortune to establish a global real estate development conglomerate. The rest of the small entourage was made up of a tall crew cut fellow with “security” written all over him, a female lawyer dragging a massive briefcase on a trolley, and one guy who looked a little out of place.

“That’s his wife? Maybe she’ll need some company when hubby’s in jail.”

“Hmph.” She
was
hot. But something else had caught my eye.

“What the... ?” I squinted at the screen and pointed. “That’s the idiot that robbed us!”

“What?” Ted had a goofy grin on his face, but it disappeared pretty fast when he saw I wasn’t laughing. “Which guy?”


That
guy!” I stumbled over the side table and stabbed at the image on the screen. Up close I could see it was him, same massive frame, same jacket, same greasy hair, same broken nose. He stood to Legenko’s left, just behind the security guy. A lit cigarette dangled from his lip.


Legenko faces eight counts of fraud, money-laundering, tax evasion and obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could serve the rest of his life in jail
.”

Ted lumbered forward to stand by my side. “You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

The image switched back to Mr. Anchor, who now moved on with a story about a school shooting in Nebraska.

I punched the Power switch with my knuckle, and took a long, slow breath. It was Kuzmenko. I was ‘they have weapons of mass destruction’ positive. But what the hell was he doing with a high-profile corporate executive? I would have picked the guy for a street hoodlum at best, maybe a low level bookie or dealer. Why would Maxim Legenko keep company with a piece of dog dooky like him? Legenko hung out in Yorkville, even spent a month every winter in Nevis. Guys like him did not consort with punks. It just didn’t happen.

“Here he is again.”

I turned to the TV, but it was still off. Then I realized Ted was sitting in front of the computer. And yes indeed, there was Kuzmenko again, in a photo from Legenko’s arraignment. No question about it. It was like GE’s Jack Welch had chosen to hang around with Paris Hilton, or one of the morons from Jersey Shore. The accompanying article said nothing new, but a sidebar link caught my eye. I pointed to it, and Ted clicked through.

LEGENKO WITNESS FEARS FOR LIFE
Toronto
- A Crown witness in the trial involving Ruscan Industries’ CEO Maxim Legenko now fears for his life because he is being forced to testify.
Andrew Simpson-Doig, former Chief Financial Officer of Timber Circle LC, a UK-based subsidiary of Ruscan Industries, was responding to a subpoena that compels him to testify next week at Legenko’s trial for corporate fraud.
“They may as well just kill me now,” Simpson-Doig told the media after a hearing before Justice Helen Richauer in which the court denied a request that the subpoena be quashed. Defence lawyer Alec Lawson argued that the lives of Simpson-Doig and a second unnamed witness are in jeopardy.
Certain recent events raise serious questions. The death of banker Marcel Papineau in April of this year marks the second death of an individual associated with the Legenko trial since the scandal was first discovered. Papineau, who had close ties to the Ruscan organization and was rumored to be a possible Crown witness, committed suicide in his Sedona, Arizona condominium nearly five weeks ago.
“These are extraordinarily powerful people we are dealing with here,” Lawson told reporters outside court. “We believe the Crown has significantly underestimated the lengths to which they will go in order to avoid a conviction.”
In addition to the testimony of Simpson-Doig and one other unnamed Ruscan Industries witness, the Crown has an abundance of evidence, including banking records, wiretaps, footage from security cameras and the testimony of other witnesses, said Crown Prosecutor Barbara Moodie. She also pointed out that both witnesses had been offered the opportunity to enter the federal Witness Protection Program, but declined, citing an unwillingness to relocate or to abide by restrictions regarding travel.
Approximately 25% of witnesses decline protection offers, according to RCMP statistics. Simpson-Doig’s lawyer indicated they have made private arrangements for lodging at an undisclosed location during the trial.

“What’re you thinking?”

I wasn’t thinking anything yet. But something told me I had found a loose thread worth pulling at.

Two hours later I had managed to put my thoughts of Niki Kuzmenko aside. I was aimlessly surfing the Net, letting StumbleUpon guide me from cat photos to celebrity scandals.

When the phone rang, Ted crossed the room like a track star, hurdling the coffee table in one bound. I snorted. It was very easy to forget Ted was athletic. God knows, based on beer consumption and hours prone on the sofa, there was good reason to assume otherwise.

Phone in hand, Ted winked at me before answering it. He punched a button and tried out his latest spoof.

“Candy Condom. Try our newest flavor –
big banana
.”

He grinned at me like an idiot, but then the corners of his mouth sagged, like a balloon losing air.

“Hi. Where are you calling from? I didn’t recognize the number. What? Oh, sorry about that, had the TV on too loud.” He dropped onto the sofa, continuing to deflate. “It
wasn’t me
. It was some stupid sitcom.
How was I to
—.”

I could hear her from where I sat, and Ted was so far up shit creek it had opened into a lake.

After a five minute lecture on decorum and the family name, Ted claimed he needed to get some air. He reappeared half an hour later, having apparently detoured to pick up a couple of donuts and a large coffee.

Halfway to the sofa he paused, then erupted with a loud sneeze that shook the building foundations.

“Jeez, would you keep it down?”

“Sorry for living. Not my fault I— AAAASCHOOOO!”

He grabbed a box of Kleenex from the coffee table. I could see that his eyes were red, and his nose was leaking like a New Orleans levee.

“You got a cold or something?”

“Cold? No. AAAASCHOOOOO! Man. I must have caught something at the rink.”

I stretched out on the sofa, leery of catching whatever virus he had attracted. Ted was forced to plop down in the armchair, a sneezing, nose-dripping mess.

BOOK: Hazardous Goods (Arcane Transport)
3.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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