ONE MONTH AGO
Even in the absence of a rope Waylon Dervish sensed the noose growing tighter. It continued to draw for the better part of a year. They raided his warehouses and grilled his accountants. Each time the detectives came back it was with a finer comb. Sooner or later they would join the dots, and that would be it.
The same lawyers who told him to deny everything were losing faith. There were whispers about plea bargains, though they wouldn’t say it to his face. Jail time, they said, was inevitable. Fifteen years at least, with no opportunity for parole, and no time off for good behavior. He’d be senile the next he walked free.
Booze helped. He kept a bottle of Irish whiskey stashed in the bottom drawer for the occasion. After his secretary went home there were no eyes to judge. Both outside and within, he became numb. Raging thoughts that rolled like tumbleweeds settled in the corners. For as long as he slumped in the leather chair he was at peace.
Waylon stared with dry, crusted eyes from the third story window to the warehouse floor. Things could have been different. In another life he was smart enough to say no in the face of a large dollar sign. Even if it meant losing his business he could have had his freedom, and a whole other kind of reputation. Then again, many of the rewards had been worth the risk.