A casino challenge and two high rollers running from the law
A free sample read from A Twist of Fate, a fast-moving crime thriller by Peter Blakeborough. Available as an e-book from Smashwords.
Bryce Russell, alias Arnold Howarth and Cameron Glengyle drove towards Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He had been to Illinois to attend the opening of a new factory for his sporting apparel business. The long straight roads and low traffic volumes of Iowa always provided an opportunity for him to quietly think about his various business enterprises and how best to manage them.
|The author in a Boeing simulator|
Running a large business empire was never easy. He had made a reasonable recovery from a downturn in revenue two years earlier. But sales still needed to increase further. Inflation, wage demands and increased interest rates were the latest difficulty facing AH Investments and its subsidiary companies. His extra borrowing during the downturn had been at the highest rates that he had paid since arriving in the USA and now the floating rate loans were going even higher. He needed to somehow reduce his debt ratios to avoid a possible sell-off of assets in the future. The income from his gambling system was starting to have a positive effect and he had Nelson Tevita to thank for that. He was a good man that Tevita and they made a good team, Howarth the operator and Tevita the organiser. His car phone started ringing.
‘Good news, Arnold,’ Tevita’s resonant voice came through the ear-piece.
‘What’s up, Nelson?’
‘Monte Carlo.’ He sounded excited. ‘I think it’s on for one million bucks, buddy.’
‘Good work, Nelson. Have you got a date lined up?’
‘How about the sixth of next month?’
‘That’s three weeks away. Okay, before I go on a wild goose chase around the world can you get some proof that he’s going to turn up and then fax the information to me?’
‘Also can you check him out to see if he’s capable of going higher?’
‘Will do, Arnold. I’m positive he can do it, but I’ll check and fax my findings to you. I’m really excited about this one. It’s like a dream come true, buddy.’
A few days later documents arrived on Russell’s fax machine confirming that Raymond Robert Doyle would travel to Monte Carlo on the fifth. There were also photocopies of documents relating to the directorships of Airlux Aviation and an annual statement of accounts. Russell looked at the name Raymond Robert Doyle for a long time as he wondered if he knew the name from somewhere. Tevita had described him as exceedingly wealthy but of low profile. Perhaps he had heard the name before or perhaps it had been a similar name. He wasn’t sure. Perhaps all would be revealed when they met face to face.
Five days before the big match Tevita called Russell from his car phone. He sounded agitated.
‘Arnold. This is Nelson. The son-of-a-bitch wants to back out.’
‘He can’t. He’s signed the contract and deposited the money. If he backs out now he loses by default.’
‘It may not be as simple as that. I tried to call you earlier and meanwhile I’ve spoken to the attorney and he says that if we try to keep the money he could take us to court and tie up all the money for years to come. Besides a million bucks was only going to be the beginning, wasn’t it? If we take a hard line now we’ve blown our chances of playing him for five or ten million as a follow up.’
Russell was silent for a moment.
‘What does he want, Nelson?’
‘The problem is that he has urgent family business in Australia and he wants to go there on the next available flight. He says he doesn’t know how long he will be away. It’s his father. He’s just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.’
‘Shit! That’s all we need.’
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Russell was silent for a long time while he thought about the alternatives. It was twenty years since he had fled Australia in a blaze of publicity. The question was, could he still be recognised, as Cameron Glengyle, failed businessman and politician, wanted for fraud, embezzlement and the Goulburn fiasco? The birthmark had been removed, his hair had changed colour and receded and he had lost a good deal of weight. Furthermore his Howarth identity was well and truly established in every respect. He really wanted to continue with the Doyle challenge. A million dollars was a million dollars and if he was addicted, or as they would say in Australia, willing to bet on two flies walking up a wall, then he could easily be pushed higher. Ten or twenty million, anything was possible with a well-heeled addict. On the other hand what if it was a trap to lure him back to Australia so that he could be arrested? No, he told himself that was extremely unlikely. Getting into and out of Australia undetected would be a challenge in itself and add to the thrill of the whole venture. Supposing he took a flight that went to Australia via New Zealand. If he could pull that off it would build his confidence for the huge Doyle challenge.
‘Are you still there, Arnold?’ Tevita asked anxiously.
‘Yes. Yes. I’ve been thinking about it. Do you know where he is right now?’
‘Not precisely. I’ve got an Arkansas phone number where I can reach him.’
‘Okay. Here’s what to do. Call him on that number and express our sympathy and offer to shift the contest to Australia to a casino that’s nearest to his father.’
‘His father is in Brisbane, wherever that is.’
‘Good. I’ve heard there’s a new casino on the Gold Coast, which is only about an hour from Brisbane. I’ll leave you to arrange it.’