July 20th, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Nous Sommes Anglais: Chapter Thirteen (Headers and Handwriting)

To recap: it's September 1995. We'd just survived eight months in France and then this happened. Someone stole my identity and grabbed our life savings. And, according to a witness description - that someone might be David Jarvis, our estate agent - the man who I arranged to have all the evidence sent to...

That must have been the reason he'd delayed so long in sending the faxes. He'd been sifting through the bundle and suddenly saw the word CASTLENAU flashing neon-lit back at him - probably alternating with the words 'guilty bastard'.

And it must have been one hell of a shock. It was a header page, not part of the actual fax itself, but a page of A4 with all the details concerning the sender, the destination, everything. I doubt he even knew it had been sent as part of the fax.

He'd have taken one look at it, panicked and spent the next day wondering what to do. He'd have to send something as he knew I was waiting. So he removes the incriminating page and posts the rest.

Then another thought hits him. He'd only bought himself a few days time. Someone's bound to notice the Castlenau post office stamp eventually. So he invents Peter Kennedy; gives him a job in Castlenau - handy for the post office - and keys to our house. Then he sends the missing page.

It fitted.

Case solved - send for the black cap.

Then I looked closer at the page of fax details.

La Poste at Castlenau was not the only stamp. There was another one for Villeurbanne, wherever that was. Both stamps contained a date and time. Both were dated 16th May. But the Castlenau stamp said 17h. Villeurbanne said 14h15.

The fax originated at Villeurbanne?

I dived for our road Atlas. Villeurbanne, Villeurbanne, I sifted though hundreds of French towns beginning with Ville. Until I found it; Villeurbanne, page 70, département 69.

It was a suburb of Lyon.

I checked the telephone code for Lyon - 72 33. Close enough. The fax came from 72 34, Villeurbanne.

Which opened a considerable number of questions. Where did La Poste at Castlenau come into this equation? Was someone trying to make it look as though the faxes were local by routing them via Castlenau? To hide the fact that they were coming from Lyon? Or to frame David Jarvis?

And where were the faxes from Mutual Friendly going to? Villeurbanne? Was someone going to Lyon to collect their faxes or having them sent on elsewhere?

I rang Andy. I had about five minutes-worth of solid facts to impart. He said he'd add David Jarvis to his list of names to check out. But he had some bad news from the Irish Police. They'd asked the Spanish police to investigate the bank account in Bossost and had been told it would be at least four weeks before they could even think about it. They were far too busy.

So much for international co-operation.

In all the excitement I forgot to ask what fax number they'd used to contact my impersonator.

I'd have to save that for next time. Meanwhile, I'd gather everything together and try to construct a time-line of events. There were too many stray faxes and telephone messages running around in my head. I needed to put everything down on paper and impose some sort of structure.

(next instalment: the net closes)