DAVID LENDER

Rudiger

 

Rudiger


Rudiger #5


A White Collar Crime Short Story


by


David Lender

Copyright 2012 © by David T. Lender

John Rudiger looked out the window of his house.  Three stories built into the rocky hill overlooking Blue Moon Bay on Antigua, right out of Architectural Digest—floor-to-ceiling windows, white marble floors, high-priced modern art on the walls, minimalist furnishings and views in any direction that could make you cry.  It was a perfect day, typical.  The Caribbean was its normal blue.  Someone once told him it was part the color of the ocean, part the reflection of the sky.  Whatever.  He checked his watch.  11:00 a.m.  Almost time for lunch at the Blue Moon Hotel, visible from here in the center of the curve of the bay.  He could head over now, or wait a half-hour.  Or an hour.  He figured he’d bring his bathing suit today, maybe take a swim, lie out on a lounge and maintain his tan.  Maybe some new girls would be in from the States, France or the UK.

Or maybe somebody else in from the States.  There hadn’t been one in three years, and it was two or three years for the one before that.  At this point he welcomed it.  He was down to his last $2 million and so the idea he toyed with after the last one came in was now something he thought about every few months.  They always showed up at the Blue Moon Hotel.  So sooner or later, one day he was gonna get lucky.  He’d be ready.

He stood up, carried his glass to the bar, thought about having another gin and tonic and decided against it.  He checked himself in the mirror.  Tommy Bahama shirt untucked, hanging over his powder blue Bermuda shorts, his uniform.  He slid his sunglasses down from their perch on top of his head.  His shaved head, part of his local trademark, even though he wasn’t bald.  He leaned further toward the mirror, thinking he saw a few flecks of peeling skin on the top of his head.  He reached for the suntan lotion, squeezed a dollop into his palm and rubbed it into his scalp.  He stepped back and smiled into the mirror.  Today, like every other day here in paradise, would be a good day.


#


Katie Dolan cradled her cell phone to her ear with her shoulder, pacing around her room naked at the Blue Moon Hotel, alternately looking out the window and glancing with approval at her hard body in the mirror.

“It’s not a damn vacation.  I expect you to check in at least once a day,” Charlie Holden, her boss, said.

“I just got here, Charlie.  Cut me some slack.”

“Your plane got in on time yesterday afternoon.  I checked the American Airlines website.”

Unbelievable.  She started pacing.  “Did the website tell you the van from the airport had a flat tire halfway out here?  And that it took six hours to get it fixed?  And that we had to walk a mile back to a roadside bodega, or whatever you call it, for some dinner?  And that I got food poisoning and spent all night throwing up?  That I didn’t get to the hotel until 2:00 a.m. and that I can barely walk right now?”  She flexed her stomach muscles and smiled with approval.  Six months of her New York Sports Club membership had paid off.  She’d made up her mind she wasn’t going to be one of those mid-30s business-suited lawyers with the hard briefcase and the soft stomach.  She stopped pacing for a moment, waiting for Charlie’s response.

Long pause.  Then: “You messing with me?”

She coughed into the phone.  “I’m-sorry-I-think-I’m-going-to-throw-up-again-I-have-to-run-to-the-bathroom-I’ll-call-you-back.”  She hit the “end” button and tossed the phone on the bed.  She picked up the bottom of one of her bikinis, the thong, and held it up, shook her head and selected another, the more conservative dark blue one.  She put that one on, grabbed her sunglasses and key and walked over to the window.  She looked up at the house dangling on the cliff overlooking the bay.  Some placeCan’t wait to see it.  She picked up her cotton beach cover-up and left the room.


#


Rudiger sat at his usual table at the Beach Grill Restaurant at the Blue Moon Hotel.  He looked out over the pool, heat waves in the midday sun distorting the view beyond it of the hotel’s private beach and the Caribbean.  His lunch still hadn’t arrived, so he was nursing his second gin and tonic.  The strawberry blonde in the dark blue bikini looked like she had now fallen asleep.  When she’d walked out to the chaise lounge her skin was so white she almost looked like she was glowing.  That was one of the tightest bodies he’d seen in a long time.  Maybe 5’5”, small-breasted, firm butt, athletic like a gymnast.  He wanted to walk over and talk to her, but she looked beat, like from a long flight, and now that she was asleep he didn’t want to wake her up.  There would be time.  They usually came in for at least a week or so.  He glanced over at the bar.  Selena, his waitress, was leaning with her forearms on it, talking to Ramon.  He figured his lunch wasn’t arriving anytime soon, so he got up and walked down the steps to the pool apron.  When he got next to the girl, he could hear her breathing deeply, almost snoring.  He picked up the beach towel next to her, unfurled it and covered her.  She stirred, snuggled under it like her daddy had just wrapped her in a cocoon.  He pulled the edge of the towel up over her face so she wouldn’t get sunburned.


#


Katie woke up, roasting.  She pulled the towel off her, stretched, wondered how it got there, then shrugged.  She walked over and dived into the pool.  The water was warm, silky on her body.  She rolled over and backstroked to the other side, then swam a few laps.  She climbed out and walked to her chaise lounge, put on her sunglasses and looked around.  She saw him watching her.  After wrapping the towel around her, she picked up her copy of The Bourne Identity and strode up to his table.  “Hi,” she said.  “I figured it was you.  I saw you checking me out.  Thanks.”

He looked up from his salad, smiled and said, “Yeah, it was me.  Didn’t want you waking up looking like a Cherokee Indian.”

She pulled out the chair, then paused.  “Okay for a girl to sit down?”

“Only if you’re drinking.”  He waved to the waitress.

She came over, taking her time.  “Dark rum and soda, with lime,” she said to the waitress.

“Thanks, Selena.  And I’ll take another one of these,” he said, holding up his drink.

The waitress left.  He went back to his salad, looking up at her while he ate.  He was attractive.  She’d seen the pictures from three years ago, when Carson was here, grainy and not doing him justice.  He had high cheekbones, a ski-slope nose, and full lips with lines at the corners of his mouth that said he smiled a lot.  That made her feel good, like he was an easy-going guy you could hang out with.  She leaned back in the chair, spread her arms, knowing she was pushing out her breasts, such as they were.  He smiled at her now.  She couldn’t help but smile back.  “Kinda forward aren’t you?” he said.

She leaned over the table, said, “Maybe, maybe not.  If you’re John Rudiger, you’re the reason I came down here.”

He didn’t react, just took it in.  Then he said, “And?”

“Are you?”

“Depends on why you’re looking for him.”

“I’ve got a business proposition for you.”

“Go on.”

“My name is Katie Dolan.  I work for the US Attorney’s Office in New York City.  My boss is Assistant US Attorney Charlie Holden.  He sent me down here to try to get enough information to prove that John Rudiger is really Steven Conklin.  So we can put the process in motion to have him extradited back to the US and stand trial for a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme he ran with his hedge fund 10 years ago.  Charlie was just closing in on Conklin when he skipped town with a half billion dollars of his investors’ money and slipped out of the country.  We think he had plastic surgery to change his appearance, lost 175 pounds, changed his identity and is living happily ever after down here with the help of Antiguan authorities that he bribed.”  She pointed to Rudiger’s house.  “In fact, he lives right over there.”

“Conklin didn’t run a Ponzi scheme.  He was an embezzler,” he said, taking his time chewing.  “He had a perfectly ordinary hedge fund that started losing money and he falsified his investment results to conceal it with the help of his Chief Financial Officer.  When Charlie Holden flipped his CFO and offered him immunity for testifying against Conklin, that’s when Conklin took off.  And the reality is he swiped a little less than 100 million.  The rest of the missing money was market losses.”

Katie smiled, ready to make her pitch.  “That’s right.”  She put her elbows on the table, looking him right in the eye.  “And we think he’s probably running out of money, because he didn’t get all of it out of the country with him.  We think some of it’s still in a safe deposit box in a J.P. Morgan Chase Bank branch on Pine Street in lower Manhattan.  A box he holds jointly with his wife, that we just found out about and which we can’t get a judge to give us a search warrant to get into because of some nonsense about an illegal search that turned up the box’s whereabouts.”

He wasn’t reacting, but he was holding her gaze, giving her his full attention.

She continued.  “And we can’t find the wife.  So we’re stuck.  But we think so is Conklin.  He can’t risk coming back to New York, even as Rudiger, to get the money out of the safe deposit box because Charlie Holden will hold him on suspicion until he can prove that he’s Conklin.  But if an enterprising young lawyer was to masquerade as Conklin’s wife using a phony ID, and get her signature down pat, she could get into and out of that safe deposit box with whatever’s in there.  And then split it with Conklin.  Or Rudiger.  What do you think?”

“I think that’s a very interesting story.  And, yes, I am John Rudiger, born and raised here in Antigua, with a birth certificate, grammar school records, driver’s license and a government-issued healthcare card to prove it.”

Katie felt her heart sink.  Maybe it was foolish to come on so strong.  She should’ve worked it slower, gotten to know him first.

Then Rudiger smiled.  He said, “But if I really was this guy, Conklin, how would I know I could trust you?  You have to admit I’d be risking a lot by sneaking back into the US with you, under some other ID, of course, and then relying on you to go in there as my ex-wife and grab $50 million in bearer bonds, only to have you use them as evidence against me when Charlie and his boys jump out from behind a lamp post and handcuff me.”

Now Katie felt all warm inside.  She smiled.  “I think we can work things out to where you could get comfortable.  I suppose I should start by telling you why I’d be willing to throw away three years of law school, another three of practice with the Manhattan DA, then four years with the US Attorney’s office, hell, my reputation, my whole life as I know it, to pull a stunt like this.”

“Let’s go someplace where we can talk privately,” Rudiger said.


Copyright 2012 © by David T. Lender




 
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