by Morris J. Marshall
Krista Beauregard, a part-time college professor, is delayed in rush-hour traffic one winter morning. Toronto police have cordoned off the intersection of Yonge and King Streets, and a bloody tarp lies on the sidewalk. Krista discovers that this incident has a personal connection: Gavin McLeod, her former top student, has died in a fall from a nearby office building in which he worked. The police quickly close the case, contending it was a suicide, although one of the investigating officers suspects more is at play. Devastated by the suicide ruling, Gavin’s father asks Krista to help him discover what really happened.
Chapter 15: The Truth Revealed
The sun had set almost an hour ago, and the bright Toronto skyline was twinkling like scattered stars through Carla Travini’s office window. Everyone had gone home except for Krista and Carla.
Carla looked up from her computer as Krista walked into her office. “Congratulations. You had the greatest number of sales last week. Is everything—”
“What’s this account?” Krista asked, placing a computer printout down on her boss’s desk. “I processed all these RRSPs and I’ve never seen it before.”
“Calm down, Krista. Let me take a look.” Carla grabbed the report. After scanning it, she said, “I don’t see anything.”
“That account at the bottom of the page,” Krista said, pointing to the printout. “Home Run Ends.”
“I’ve never seen it before.”
Krista moved closer. “I know the amounts my clients invested, and five percent is missing from each of their accounts. I’ve been doing calculations all afternoon. The total missing is equal to the amount of money in ‘Home Run Ends’. Is that where the money’s been transferred to?”
“How should I know? These are your accounts.”
“What is ‘Home Run Ends’? I doubt it has anything to do with baseball.”
Carla shrugged. “Why don’t you tell me? You seem to have all the answers.”
“All right, I will. ‘Home Run Ends’ is a Binary Options Investment sold by a U.S. bank that bets against the Toronto housing market. If average housing prices fall by a certain date, you cash in. If they rise by that date, you lose everything. It’s actually more like gambling than an investment. Financial regulations have become much more lax in the U.S. since President Trump was elected.”
“It’s the perfect investment,” Carla said. “With interest rates rising as fast as they are, housing prices will fall soon. It’s inevitable.”
“That’s beside the point. You have no right to gamble with other people’s money. One of them is a dear friend of mine. What you’re doing is as risky as playing poker in Vegas.”
“You bitch!” Carla screamed. “Miss High and Mighty. You’re here two weeks and you think you can lecture me? Don’t worry, I’ll return the money to your clients once the payoff comes through. If you go along with me, I’ll even give you a cut of the pie.”
“What if you lose?”
“It’s a sure thing!”
“There is no such thing, Carla.”
“I’ve profited before using other investors’ money, and I’ve always paid it back.”
Krista’s face tightened. “Is this the way it went down with Gavin McLeod?”
Carla rose from her desk.
“I’m right, aren’t I? Gavin found out about your scheme. He threatened to go to the Ontario Securities Commission. Then you realized you had no choice but to—”
Carla slapped Krista in the face, knocking her backward. Krista’s head struck the wall and she fell to the floor. After several seconds, she stood up slowly. She was about to rush her boss when the door opened.
Two men in black leather jackets appeared. The shorter one was thin with long, blond hair in an eighties mullet style. The taller, stockier one, was bearded, with a pony tail and mirrored sunglasses. He smiled at Krista as he pointed a revolver at her head. He removed his sunglasses. “Nice to see you again, Ms. Beauregard. I really enjoyed your lecture. It’s a shame you won’t be alive long enough to give another one.”
Krista looked at the thug. “Reems?”
“I’m honored you remember me. Strickland sends his greetings. He told me to make sure I finish you off this time.”
Krista felt her front pocket. Her cell phone was gone, erasing any possible contact with Haiyuan, Bill and the outside world. She desperately scanned the carpeted floor without success. She could try running, but Reems would mow her down instantly. Even if he missed, Sanders, the shorter thug, would do the job. Or would they? That would be murder, and the cops — unlike in Gavin’s case — would know for sure it wasn’t a suicide. At this point, Krista wondered if Carla cared about optics.
“Come on, let’s go,” Reems said, nudging Krista in the back with the barrel of his revolver. He and Sanders dragged her into the narrow carpeted hallway, one on either arm, with Carla following closely behind.
“You won’t get away with this,” Krista said. “My boyfriend’s a cop. He’s probably on his way right now with the whole force.”
Carla laughed. “All you had to do was take the money. While you’ve been researching me, Krista, I’ve been doing the same. Reems here...” — she nodded at Mr. Mirrored Sunglasses — “has been filling me in on you. Bipolar disorder. Nasty mental illness. The police will assume that you were just another depressed person who decided to end it. This job can be very stressful.”
They came to a grey steel door at the end of the hall with “Roof” printed on it in white letters. Carla plucked a key from her pocket and inserted it in the lock. There was a “click,” and Sanders pushed the door open. Reems pulled Krista into a small room with a set of stairs leading upward.
Copyright © 2017 by Morris J. Marshall