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Jacob Marbey was dead. Cold, Rigor Mortis dead. He expired on a bitter day bullied by northern gusts. The President of Marbey Insurance and Investments was resident in the morgue, and the news of his demise had sped through the office tower and the offices of the company and the investment community like a spring avalanche. Some said Marbey hung himself. Others speculated he was murdered. An early morning gunshot was rumored as the cause. Maybe he shot himself. Maybe somebody shot him.
The police weren't releasing any information - it was their problem. Not that it mattered much to most, who were quite satisfied at his passing.
For Michael Stone, it was the day he should have known $50 million was missing from the accounts of Marbey Insurance and Investments. After all, the company's motto was part of a 100-year old history, 'the company that keeps your assets close to its heart".
The tired-looking detective eyed Stone speculatively. "What's your role in this company and can you tell me about Marbey?" he asked abruptly.
It was a fair question and one Michael Stone was still asking himself. "I'm as green as grass here. It's my third month on the job, and so far all I can say is Jacob Marbey gave me a job when others wouldn't. As for the man, well he seemed to be a hodgepodge of many people. You had better ask some of his other employees. I for one hadn't even begun to figure him out."
Detective Staples studied the witness. Suspect, maybe. "All right, aren't you an odd choice to be working for an Insurance company?"
The man looked surprised. Why would he be surprised? He's already told the cop no-one elsewould employ him. "I guess I am. When I left the navy I couldn't find a job. There is not much call for someone whose claim to fame is underwater demolition and mine clearance."
The cop stared at him for a moment, unblinking. "Don't leave town without reporting to us. Staples watched the man walk slowly back down the hall. He had a slight stiffness about him. Maybe he'd been injured? As soon as he interviewed all the office staff he'd have a better picture the Marbey Insurance and Investments Company. It was going to be a long day. He paused, considering the sun through the office window - at least here was a break. Maybe spring had come at last.
Spring was the last thing on Stone's mind as he left the cop. At thirty-one he was working his first office job since he was eighteen.
He was finding it took him a while to understand the office routine - and he was so confined by the place it made him itch . His world had been the clean embrace of the sea with its scents, the push of the waves. Now he was lost in a different world, wondering if his body would ever function properly again.
It had been a near thing. The medical experts predicted he might never walk again or perhaps even leave the military hospital, at once a haven and a prison for those with permanent disabilities where men and some women became numbers, shelved and useless to anyone. But he had overcome those fears. He could walk and he departed the hospital. His next miracle was to lead an almost normal life. But how he hated the enclosing walls.
Copyright © 2005 George Laidlaw
Posted May 16, 2011
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