As I opened the guard room door, a lukewarm wind overflowed from within. Peering in, I saw a worn-sofa and a glass table. On top of it I could see drained pet bottles among recently-eaten-off-of dishes scattered about.
“W-wait, what’s all this all of a sudden!? Only authorized personnel are allowed in here!”
He had likely been lazing around to that point, looking as if he’d fall from his seat at the sudden visitor, the security guard hurriedly corrected his posture and coming ove to me.
There were numerous monitors beyond the guard, and each and every one of them displayed a monochrome scene.
There were cords extending from the monitors, connecting to an orderly line of black devices.
… Are those the recording devices for the security cameras?
As I tried taking a closer look, the guard blocked me with his body.
… Was he older than me?
There stood a guard who looked to be a little younger than thirty. There were bags under his eyes, and an unshaven stubble on his chin. An unhealthy face.
I could smell a hint of sweat from his uniform, and I could tell at once that it had been a while since it was last washed.
“Um, this place is prohibited to outsiders, so please leave at once.”
“Oh? Ah, my apologies. This is the sort of person I am.”
I handed my business card to the guard making a tiresome face. No matter how quickly he wanted me to leave, that’s not how I planned to let it be. While the guard’s attention was focused on the business card, I infiltrated the guard room.
“Ah, wait, don’t just make your way in, um, lawyer?”
“That’s right. The truth is, I’m investigating the incident that happened in this hotel in November, but if it suits you, would you cooperate with my investigation?”
There was no need to be hostile to someone related to the incident. To make sure I didn’t come off antagonistic, I made a smile as I spoke.
… It seems the smile didn’t get through. The guard rubbed his sleepy-looking eyes as he didn’t take his notice off of me.
“I can’t answer anything about the incident. An official notice came from the main company not to say anything. So I can’t cooperate with you.”
“Now, now, don’t be like that. I’m not with the police so I have no authority to investigate, but I do have a right to request disclosure. Do you know about the Attorney-at-Law act?”
Without lowering his guard, the security guard’s eyes turned doubtful. “No.”
“Is that so? That’s unfortunate. Anyways, through the bar association, I’ve made a demand for the information pertaining to this case to be disclosed. I’ve already obtained permission. If you want, you can even verify it.”
“That’s exactly what I’ll do. Don’t do anything until I finish confirming it.”
The guard picked up a phone’s receiver and began entering the numbers. He was likely consulting with his superior.
It’s true the attorney-at-law act did have provisions for information disclosure. However, it just defined a system, and didn’t give me anything that could actually be called a right.
So the security company could decline. But there’s no way the people of the security firm would no that. In most cases, if you pushed with some force, your demands would get through.
“Yes, yes… understood.”
After some exchanges with his boss, the guard let out a sigh. His superior would have to be someone stationed higher. In contrast to his high-handed attitude towards me, he was especially humble.
Of course, from now, that humble attitude would be transferred over to me.
The only lie I told was about the about the system of requesting disclosure. Everything else was true. Before coming to the hotel, I had already contacted the security company.
But that was only about how a lawyer called Daniel would be investigating, and a request for cooperation with the case. There was no reason for a private company to decline cooperating with a lawyer, and I got the harmless and inoffensive approval for cooperation as long as it didn’t touch confidential information.
Whether it was truly harmless or not was something irrelevant to the person on site. As long as the superior gave the green light, the people below could only believe and act based on it. There weren’t many people who paid much mind to the extent to which they were supposed to cooperate.
There was contact from a lawyer, his search cooperation was accepted, once those two items were together, the rest was easy.
The guard put the receiver down and spoke. “Pardon my rudeness. I’ve just confirmed it with the main company. I shall assist with your investigation.”
“No, I must apologize for calling in so late. Then to get right to it, could you tell me about the case?”
I said it as a matter of course. Without the slightest doubt, the guard answered, “I don’t mind.
… It really is easy to manipulate people if you lie a bit. I thought inside, as I feigned serenity.
“Then first, about the day of the incident, um, my apologies, I’ve yet to hear your name.”
“It’s Dominic. Dominic Lloyd.”
“Would you like a seat?” asked guard Lloyd as he urged me towards one, so I lowered myself into it. He sat beside me.
“Are you in the middle of today’s surveillance, Mr. Lloyd?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
He looked terribly tired. He looked like he’d yawn for a moment, but closing his mouth, he pushed it down his throat.
“That must be hard. Were you up all night?”
“No, I did get some sleep. But since last month, I’ve been the only one on this station.”
“You’re alone? What about the other guards?”
After asking that, I remembered… come to think of it, the victim was a security guard.
It seems Lloyd noticed my realization, as he didn’t open his mouth further. But he did spitefully mutter, “I’m the only one here right now.”
“Are there no substitute guards?”
“Everyone’s short on hands this time of year. I did put in a word to the main company, but… I doubt any assistance will be coming soon.”
He laughed with a tired expression. He sure has it rough.
“Then up to the incident, there were two guards?”
“There’s only one guard post to begin with. Right now, this hotel is closed, so it doesn’t need too strict security. Even if it’s free to enter, there isn’t anything valuable for anyone to steal.”
“But I saw an expensive-looking painting on the first floor hallway.”
“Ah, that stuff’s all fully insured. They’re imitations, so they don’t have any artistic value, and we’ll probably make more profit if someone does actually steal them.”
I nodded, “Oh, is that so,” as I thought over how shrewd the world was becoming.
“Guard work is done in shifts. We rotate between the other staff as we carry out security.”
“Is that so? Then do you know anything about the victim?”
“Nothing. I’d seen his face a few times before, but I’d never really talked with him.”
I took note of what he said. As I was writing a memo, Guard Lloyd tried to show tact as he said, “Want to see the shift table?”
“Well, it’s usually not allowed, but the company did give consent. If you’re authorized, there wouldn’t be a problem, right?”
“…! … R-right.”
I used a dry laugh to play it off. That was dangerous. I was about to say something unnecessary out of surprise.
I accepted the A4-sized sheet of copy paper. There was a shift table for October, November and December.
I looked at November’s. There was a name printed next to each day, and it seems the guards generally rotated out every three days.
Among the guard staff names were Dominic Lloyd, and the victim Hal Anderson, and…
“Um, Mr. Lloyd?”
“Is this Andre McHirsh fellow also a guard?”
I pointed at the shift table. An Andre McHirsh’s name was printed on it, and Dominic leaned in to look.
“Ah, yes. That’s right. Normally, he, I and the dead victim. The plan was for the three of us to rotate shifts. But the other two suddenly went away.”
“Went away? Who did?”
“As I was saying, the victim and Andre. Sometime November, he contacted the main company saying he’d quit, and we haven’t been on contact since. It really is a bother; because of him I’ve been stuck on guard duty without any rest.”
Dominic Lloyd continued spilling out complaints. But his complaints were no longer entering my ears.
November. The days Andre McHirsh was originally supposed to be on duty, the 8th, 9th, and 10th.
… He was there.
I found what I was looking for. That’s how I felt.