Behind the Door: March, Façade

The mark had been going on, at length, about the construction of a proper attraction in Fat City, something Holli knew something about but which her cover identity was an expert in. He hadn’t asked, didn’t even bother to do an ID scan if the pings were anything to go by, and it was fascinating to see him hold forth to at least three people who were more qualified in their field than he was, going by the data. When he was done, one of the other participants took it upon themselves to correct him, at which point he said,

“Well, I think the work of Bingsworth would disagree with you.”

“I’m Bingsworth,” the person said, and a quick profile check showed it to be the truth. This man had been telling Ursula Bingsworth, the founder of Fat City, how things should be designed in Fat City. 

That was interesting enough that when the mark extracted himself from the embarrassing situation of his own creation, Holli let him wander off. It wouldn’t do to shadow the man too closely, after all, and they wanted to talk to Bingsworth.

Surprisingly, Bingsworth wanted to talk to Holli, too. 

“Why are you here?” Ursula asked.

“For the conf—”

She waved it off. “There’s no need for any of that with me. Please understand, the work is outstanding, whether it’s yours or someone else, but this is my city.”

“I—” Holli knew it was a risk, but they might dig themselves deeper if they insisted, and Ursula Bingsworth would be a powerful contact to have. “We’re checking up on the so-called expert.”

Ursula laughed, or scoffed, maybe something in between. “I wondered why you were listening to Parker’s nonsense.” She motioned to the third person who had been in their group. “Suzie there loved to watch people make fools of themselves. It’s a personality flaw but not too great a one, so she manages to find conversations like that often. You seemed to be too settled in your knowledge to suffer fools. It was what made me take a second look.”

“To be honest,” she leaned closer, “I’m might share Suzie’s flaw. It was like watching a glitched out wreck. He just kept going.”

She laughed, the sound carrying to some groups nearby, as though the distance had extended with the switch from speech. A few turned to look in their direction, and Holli hoped none of them could tell a forgery the way Ursula could.

“They do at that. Now, may I ask, why are you checking up on Parker? He’s a fool, but not so much of one as to have attracted attention.”

This was the moment of truth, wasn’t it? She could play it off as less than it was, or she could get a powerful ally. Unfortunately, if Ursula didn’t see things their way, well, it meant they’d make an enemy of someone capable of getting them bounced from the game and hard.

But nothing ventured and all that.

She glanced around the room, and then the sound distance shifted again, this time drawing closer, giving them their own little bubbly of solitude. “We think he saw something. Something that shouldn’t have been possible.”

“Or really? And what is that?”

“We think he witnessed a murder in Fat City.”

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by | Mar 20, 2024

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