The Brown Tarantula Part 10
Part 10: Investigating Winthrop
Copyright Robert F. Sacco
Brent spent the rest of the morning clicking away online trying to find out what Caleb Winthrop might be up to in regards to the cave system under his estate. He wasn't able to use the armor's enhancements as a part of this investigation. The gauntlets were too unwieldy to use with key board and mouse. He wasn't a hacker. He couldn't break into security cameras or private records, but he did know his way around the net and he did own controlling interest in several important local banks which did give him access to an enormous amount of private information about where money was moving.
The cold hard facts that he ascertained were that in the nineteen seventies, the Winthrop family had indeed excavated on their property and had told the government that they were building a basement. They had in fact, rented or purchased enough equipment and put together large enough work crews that they almost certainly did a lot more than that. However, they spread that work and those purchases and rentals over the course of the entire decade which made it seem as if the only official project was just being done slowly over a long period of time. There was a paper trail through the banks that showed a series of small loans to the family for the purpose of building the basement. This was common practice for the wealthy. Why finance the project yourself when you can get someone else to do it? However, the loans couldn't possibly have covered all of the equipment and men that they had used and the Winthrop's certainly had more than enough money to pay for whatever it is they had been up to. The loans had just been to create a paper trail for their cover story. This basically meant that, unless someone already knew that something was up, no questions would be asked.
The next interesting piece of information was that in the nineteen eighties, Caleb Winthrop had moved the family's corporate headquarters to the estate itself. The family's holdings were such that, if Caleb chose to micro manage them (and Brent knew from experience that Caleb tried to stay aware of every detail of his financial life), he would need the sort of electronics, office equipment and personnel that it would take to run a small country. However, subtly, again, not to be noticed unless one knew to be looking for something, under the heading of communications equipment, Caleb had brought in the sort of equipment that one would need if one wanted to run the Seti project in one's back yard. That included the sort of radio telescopes that scientists use to search the skies for possible signals from intelligent life in outer space and the sort of transmitters that one would need to send messages into deep space. Caleb could afford better, smaller equipment than the actual Seti project could, still, it would require a huge amount of space to set it all up and Google Earth maps of the Winthrop estate didn't show any such equipment. Now, Caleb had the money to fix the pics that Google had but Brent suspected he had put the equipment under ground. There were two big questions. The first was, how could that equipment work underground? Seti was out in the dessert where it had unobstructed access to the sky and wouldn't have to deal with a lot of electromagnetic and light interference from cities. Brent wasn't a scientist he couldn't answer. He was beginning to wonder whether or not the Tarantula should have a staff that could answer these sorts of questions. The other big question was, what would Caleb want with this equipment? Had he learned something in the caves? As Delia had suggested, was the Tarantula equipment of alien origin?
Brent had also stumbled across some information that didn't really give him any facts but that had made him deeply suspicious that Caleb Winthrop was not at all what he seemed to be. The Caleb Winthrop that he had run-ins with was Caleb Winthrop Jr. who had been a contemporary of his father. Caleb Winthrop Sr. had been a contemporary of his grandfather. As he looked at information online about the death of Senior and the birth of Junior he noticed discrepancies. Junior had been born in South America while Senior was spending a year abroad. His mother was a citizen of Argentina who little or nothing was known about. No paperwork had been done to record the birth of the new Winthrop in the United States until fourteen years after his birth. Then, there had been discrepancies in the paperwork that were attributed to the distance in time between the birth and the doing of the paperwork in the U.S. There almost certainly should have been some investigating but there was no reason to be suspicious about anything, no one likes to piss off guys like the Winthrops and they certainly had more than enough money to grease the wheels. Further, there were almost no pictures or paper trails on junior until after his father's death. He had been home schooled, did not partake in the activities of the social set and went right to work for the family business rather than going to college. Lastly, senior had died, abroad, again, in Argentina. Brent was nearly convinced that there had been only one Caleb Winthrop sitting at the helm of Winthrop industries over the last eighty years and that this man must be more than a century old. This sounded fantastic and unbelievable to him but, Brent himself was a man who used magical or alien technology to attempt to reshape society in ways that suited him so he wasn't sure that he had a right to just cast off the idea as nonsense.
In any event, while it sounded like he had a bad horror, sci-fi or James Bond plot going on right next door to him, tonight was about Charon. He went down to the garage and put the armor on in order to put the finishing touches on the plan for tonight's activities. He was going to hit the streets in the Spinoli's home turf, Little Italy. He was going to wage war in the streets as he had done for the last three nights, brutally, violently and publicly but, he was also going to slip into crack houses, massage parlors and Italian restaurants unseen and get information not from soldiers but from managers. He was going to find out where Charon's central bank was. Now, Charon probably had a lot of places where his nightly take was delivered but almost certainly there had to be one really big spot where money would be counted and distributed. There had to be a lot of little banks for secrecy and safety's sake but there had to be one big one because Charon, like most businessmen, was all about cash flow. It takes money to make money and if money stops flowing to vendors, a business stops having product to sell. Take out a big pile of cash tonight, then, tomorrow see what daily shipments don't arrive at warehouses Brent believed Charon to own and, suddenly we know where drugs, weapons and Eastern European slave girls are coming from. Also, with luck, see what legitimate businessmen and politicos loan Charon money to keep things going.
The sun set, Spyder formed out of the cube of metal and the Tarantula sped off towards the city.
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