“We get any trouble from Riley, we give him a ticket,” said Mac, peering out of the back window, and nudging Elmer to take a peep. He raised an eyebrow. “Polluting the atmosphere is a federal offense in this state.”
Elmer laughed. “Make that two; he hasn’t got a licence plate, neither.”
Mac shook his head. “No respect for the law, that’s for sure.” They both doubled up. “Wait until I tell Chief,” he said, chuckling.
The good mood put them in prime stead with the stadium employees. Socializing, cracking jokes, keeping everyone amused while Riley pillaged their personnel records. Rusty Welles was also in top form, strutting around hose in hand, flirting with the ladies. Showing the gigglers how to hold it real tight. All to divert the attention away from Riley. Mac looked at his watch. Riley should be finished soon, he’d better be. A few drops of rain started to fall, and umbrellas went up.
Riley emerged soon after and handed a disc to Mac. “All done,” he said. “That’s their copy. I’m heading back to the station to upload the other disc onto our system. You should have a working copy by the time you get back.”
“Okay, thanks,” replied Mac. He turned and ushered the employees back into the admin block, then explained why backups were important for business continuity. He gave the disc to a grateful Administrator. Spun him a yarn. “That’s your current personnel records’ backup,” he said. “Courtesy of the consultant. Keep it safe, off-site preferably, in case there’s a real fire.”
Outside, he took Elmer by the arm. “Let’s clear it with that media guy, Arnie. I want us to take a real close look at the stadium. See if we can identify where the perp could start a fire.” He grinned. “Let’s see if Rusty can help us out; he’s the expert ‘hosebeater’, but don’t tell him I said that.”
Elmer raised an eyebrow, and punched him on the arm. “You jealous or something? Isn’t your new girl friend impressed by your ding-dong none?”
Mac made a face. “Chance would be a fine thing. She’s staying well out of the way with my folks until we catch this perp.” He pulled at Elmer. “Come on, there’s Arnie over there talking with Rusty. Let’s get moving.”
“Yeah sure,” said Arnie, when they approached him about checking the stadium for fire risks. “Anything to make it safer on the day, fireworks and all. We don’t want anyone hurt, that’s the truth. The whole team is out jogging on the roads, so the ground’s all yours.”
Mac had a thought. “And the coaching staff?” he asked.
“Yeah, they’re all together,” Arnie replied. “No hold on, except for Coach Mason, he’s called in to say he’s got family business up near the Canadian border. Told me to wish the boys luck, he’d watch the game on TV.”
Mac let that one rest, but Coach Mason’s name kept coming up. And he was on Mac’s list. Both Sammy and the kids could have talked to him. But he’d better see what Riley came up with first.
Rusty looked at his watch. “Hey guys, I’d like to give you more time, but I got to sort out Saturday’s arrangements with the crew. If it’s any help I’ll take you through one section of the ground and give you pointers. That ok?”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” replied Mac. “Thanks for everything.”
“No problem,” replied Rusty, patting his pocket. “I got a cell phone number from that hot chick from personnel. Cindy.” He guffawed. “She sure could handle my hose.”
“Up yours,” said Mac. “And I don’t want to hear what you’ve got planned for her tonight either.”
“The trouble with you, Mac, is you’re too serious, isn’t that right Elmer? Lighten up,” Rusty said.
If only I could, thought Mac. “Yeah you’re right,” he replied, tugging at the pair of them. “Come on and share some of your worldly wisdom with us before you go out on the prowl.”
Rusty extended their tour to thirty minutes, and two stadium sections.
“That wraps up this second section,” said Rusty. “Steel coverings, concrete stands, flame retardant seats and plenty of serviceable extinguishers. Low fire risk.” He waited while Mac and Elmer made notes. “Only area of concern is the concession stands on the perimeter. Gas cylinders, hot oil. You need to check them out, ok?”
Elmer glanced up. “Anything else you seen around the ground concern you?”
Rusty shrugged. “Depends. The firework display needs careful handling, but as I understand it, it’s being set up on metal staging close to the sprinklers, so it shouldn’t cause concern.” He added a precautionary note. “I’d try and keep the dignitaries backed aways though.”
“That might not be possible,” said Mac. “The crowd want to see them light the candles, and their platform is alongside the display. Tarpaulin covering over the marquee in case it rains.”
“Yeah well, there’s always a risk with fireworks.” He shook his watch and frowned at the time. “I’m out of here guys. Duty calls. Catch up with you Saturday, no doubt?”
“Yeah, we’ll be there,” replied Mac.
“Mac, this can’t be right,” exclaimed Elmer. They were starting to sift through printed copies of the personnel files that Riley had extracted. “Take a look at this medical history. Names withheld, presumably for confidentiality. Medical discharge out of the Army, two years ago. Shrapnel wounds. Extensive physiotherapy, etcetera, etcetera.”
“Yeah, so what?” replied Mac. “That’s a profile we’re looking for.”
Elmer passed the document along to Mac. “This file belongs to Jeannie Anne Sutherland, the Bees’ massage therapist. She’s thirty-seven, according to her personal details. It isn’t her medical history, that’s a cert.”
Mac read the file. Then he grabbed another one. Nothing peculiar. He tried one more. Same. He rifled through until he came across Babe George’s file. He started to read it, and then stopped and banged his fist on the table. “Elmer, the medical on BG’s file says she took maternity leave a year ago. If this wasn’t so fucking serious, I’d be crying with laughter.”
Elmer stood up. “I’ll go get Riley in. Calm down Mac. It isn’t going to help your blood pressure none. There might be a simple explanation.”
“Yeah, like it was a false result,” remarked Mac cynically, as he slumped in his chair. While he waited for Elmer to come back with Riley, he re-read the medical history that was not Jeannie Anne’s. Apart from the Army section, there was nothing else, either before or after. It was as though the history had been cleansed. The patient name was erased, even doctors’ names were missing; there was no handle to grasp, no leads to follow up. Mac slung it back in the pack. He tried calling Jake and Anna again. Still no reply. This caused more frustration, and by the time Elmer came back with Riley, he was working his way back up the blood pressure scale.
Elmer saw the look on Mac’s face and intervened. “Mac, before you start off on the wrong foot, let Riley explain the problem and what he’s going to do to fix it.”
Mac grunted while Riley pulled up a chair and opened his laptop. “These are the files,” he explained. “We have a complete set, no missing records. However, for confidential reasons, numbered medical histories were maintained in a separate database that is linked to the main personnel records.” He looked sideways at Mac who was trying to read the screen. “Are you with me so far?”
Mac nodded. “Yeah, I’m with you.”
“Well the problem is the link. At some point it got corrupted. The bottom line is that some medical histories are mismatched to the main file.” He exchanged glances with Elmer. “Despite what Elmer said, I’m not altogether confident that it can be fixed. I got no names, just a jumble of numbers to play around with.” He waited for Mac to say something.
Mac could have exploded with rage. He could have thrown Riley’s laptop against the wall. But he did neither. His blood pressure had dissipated with his hopes. “Thanks for telling me, Riley,” he said. He got up and placed a gentle hand on Riley’s shoulder. “Let me know immediately if you come up with anything, ok?” Then he motioned to Elmer to join him at his desk. When they were out of earshot he told Elmer he was going back in there that night.
Elmer stared. “Mac, even for you that’s a bad idea. Apart from committing a grand felony, you got no idea how to tap into computer records. Anyway, you heard what Riley said, they’re corrupt.”
“Elmer, stay with me one moment. I’m going to search their paper records. We know they got a numbering system. All we have to do is to extract those histories that match your profile, like the one we read earlier. Then I try and locate it and match the written number to the respective personnel file.”
Elmer held up a hand. “Mac, it isn’t going to work. It would take too long, and anyway, you know how bad their records were from earlier; it’s a complete no-no. Zero percent.” He waited for Mac to take it in.
Mac realized Elmer was right. They were shafted. He sighed. “Looks like we have to rely on Riley to come up with something, then,” he said, regaining some humor. “Anyone but a female perp.”
Elmer laughed, but then tapped Mac on the arm. “Mac you hit on it there. Let’s see how many meet our profile, there should only be one or two. If there’s more, we’ll narrow it down to our prime suspects.” He opened his arms and gave a cheeky grin. “Then you give Rusty a call. Tell him to ask that Cindy chick who they are. That is, after she’s finished playing around with his hose.”
Mac’s face lit up. “Elmer, you’re a star,” he said grinning with delight and picking up his cell phone. “Fireman Rusty, the ‘post coital’ spy.”