by The Milkman
This is the third installment of the Mystery Newsletter Serial.
|The Stony Ridge Community Bank was a modern three story building. Made with brick and mirrored glass. It stood as a monument to an earlier time in the town’s history when Stony Ridge was still thriving on the local industries. The recession of the seventies just about bankrupted the town.
Inside the bank showed more of how desperate the times were. The burgundy rug was thread bare, probably from a desperate bank manager pacing the floor waiting for a wealthy customer to make a life saving deposit.
Out of the five teller windows, only one of them was being used.
The velvet ropes also could tell a story of happier times. Some of the ropes were just barely attached to the brass ends holding the hooks. They were all heavily stained or soiled.
The teller was pleasant enough looking with her blonde hair and her well made up face. She looked to be in her mid to late thirties. When I walked up to her, her blue eyes seemed to sparkle.
“How may I help you?”, she asked.
“I was wondering if I could speak to the bank manager?”
“Well,” she paused, “I’ll have to call him and find out. Please hold a minute.”
She walked over to the desk and picked up the phone. After dialing a couple of numbers I saw her lips move. A few minutes later she walked back to the window and said, “He’ll be right out.”
As I waited for the manager my eyes once again looked over the interior of the bank. I noticed the table against the wall. I saw bank slips, a perpetual calendar, and a couple of pens chained to their bases. The artwork looked similar to that of the Social Security office and I wondered if the economy wasn’t picking up.
Mr. Peters came out of the back office wearing a dark blue suit with a floral tie. The jacket was ill fitting and the tie was too thin to look good on his expanded girth. He walked with a limp, which made his face grimace in pain. He walked up to me and held out his hand.
“I understand you,” he said, “you wanted to talk with me.”
As he talked I noticed a white crumb on the corner of his mouth. It must have been a leftover from his lunch. I kept watching it as it moved with each movement of his mouth.
“Is there something I can help you with?” asked the bank manager.
“If I may I would like to ask you some questions.”
“Come on in to my office. Say have you had lunch yet?”
I lied and said that I had.
We walked down the short hallway to his office. It is here where I saw the one and only sign that both deceased women had done some of their banking here.
The sign read: Don’t be caught in line...Sign up for Direct Deposit and we’ll give you a free box of tea”.
Although this confirmed that the box of tea did in fact come from the bank, it didn’t exactly give a confession to the two dead women. It could only be speculated that the tea might have been poisoned here.
Mr. Peters stopped outside of his door, grabbed a hold of the multi-faceted crystal knob, turned it and swung it opened. I noticed the gold leaf lettering on the door. Even with most of the letters in need of repair I still could make out the writing. It read, “The Office of the Bank Manager” and in smaller letters, “Mr. Roger Peters”
There was something not quite right about the spacing of the letters.
“Come on in and have a seat, Mr. ... uhmm Mr.”
“Newsome, Samuel T. Newsome.”
Inside of the office there was a nice mahogany desk with a high-backed leather chair. The top of his desk was uncluttered; in fact it was very neat.
In the back of the office was a large window that looked out onto the street. A few cars were parked there. Once again the walls were adorned with artwork.
Besides the computer, a brass and wood nameplate, and his desk pad calendar was a couple of photos.
“Is this your wife...?”
“Yes it is”.
“She is very lovely”.
After some small talk I figured I had him warmed up for some detective type questions.
“Mr. Peters, the reason I am here is two women, who recently, at least I think it was recent, have signed up for Direct Deposit and shortly after died.
I looked for a reaction; I looked for body language; I looked but didn’t find anything out of the norm with Mr. Peters as he replied.
“This is devastating news ... for the bank. As you can see we aren’t exactly packing them in here.”
I thought his remarks were kind of uncaring for a bank manager, even a manager of a bank on the verge of utter despair. Could it have been stress that caused him to say or react the way he did?
“Mr. Peters, I was wondering if you would let me look at their accounts?”
“Sorry, sir but our customer’s affairs are held with the utmost respect and discression. I’m going to have to decline your request.”
As I bid him farewell. I saw a curious thing for a money manager to have in his office. It was a racing form with some of the horse names highlighted with a yellow marker. With a quick glance I saw today’s date.
I’m not a betting man, but I’d bet that Mr. Peters was going to the races tonight.
I was off to interview two mailmen...