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Monday, June 11, 2012

A Song of the Past: Twenty-one

Table of Contents
Thursday, 1:15 PM
Since the headquarters of New Haven Savings Bank were only a few blocks from the police station, Deirdre chose to walk there rather than bother with signing out a car. She did not find driving to be a comfortable activity—she had had no access to a car for much of her life. She accepted the occasional requirement to get behind the wheel as an unpleasant but necessary part of her job, regarding it in the same light as most of her paperwork. But given any reasonable alternative—being driven, walking, riding public transportation—Deirdre almost always chose it rather than driving.

As she walked down Church Street, Deirdre passed along the southeast side of the Green. She reflected on the remarkable fact that, over 350 years after New Haven had been settled, the Green still was controlled by a private, un-elected committee, representing the descendants of the original settlers. All decisions about the Green, every festival permit, every landscaping change, had to be approved by that anachronistic relic of the city’s infancy.



It was half-past one when Deirdre arrived at the bank’s headquarters, an eighteen-story skyscraper that had been built in the 1970s at the east corner of the green. The lobby was done in a style that Deirdre thought of as “high bank”—a mosaic, marble floor, a vaulted ceiling resting on Grecian columns, cast-iron grills in front of the tellers. High bank always made Deirdre want to demand her tuppence back. She found a woman alone at a desk on the fringe of the lobby and asked her for the branch manager. She was shown to Mr. Haverstrawn’s office.

Mr. Haverstrawn was withdrawn but polite. Deirdre sensed that he resented any requests for information on customers, but, at the same time, he wasn’t one to fight “the authorities.” From a few words and gestures Deirdre extrapolated the arc of his career—quiet, conventional, moderately hard-working. He would receive a promotion every five years or so. Eventually, the bank would find a position for him with a very senior title but little real power. When he retired the bank would hold a dinner for “one of the stalwarts of our firm.” Presented with her warrant, Haverstrawn diffidently shuffled off to ask a secretary to fetch the requested information.

Returning to his seat he looked toward his shoes for a moment, then up at Deirdre. “Will there be anything else, Ms. O’Reilly?” When she shook her head to decline his offer, he stood abruptly and gestured with his hand for Deirdre to precede him out of the office. He brought her back to a seat in the bank’s waiting area, a place filled with nervous loan applicants, angry customers whose statements seemed incorrect, and impatient depositors waiting to open a new account.

“Maxine will be out with the information you need in a moment. I hope we’ve been helpful.” He held out his hand to Deirdre. Absently she shook it, and then took a seat.

By the time that Maxine brought Tyler’s records out, Deirdre was pacing the waiting area. She took the folder of papers from the woman, whom she barely noticed, and said a curt thank you. She hurried back to the station to examine the fruits of her labor.

Sitting at her desk, eating a sandwich she had picked up as she had walked back to the station, she scanned Tyler’s bank statements. Columns of figures, cleanly abstracted from multitudinous activities in the real, inexorably messy world. She found herself idly wondering about which group of digits stood for gritty sex on a beach in Aruba, which for a dinner at the trendiest New York restaurant, and which for an impulsive purchase at Brooks Brothers. But Deirdre forced herself to put aside those speculations, for what she really needed to look for were anomalies in the regular patterns typifying those numbers, indications that something out of the ordinary flow of events had transpired. She spotted her prey in the monthly statement from the previous September, as she hoped she might—during that month there had been weekly cash withdrawals, several thousand dollars apiece—each significantly larger than the total monthly withdrawal at any other time over the last year. She decided that she had to visit Tyler again very soon—specifically, she had to see his reaction when she told him that she knew about the withdrawals. That play was the thing wherein she’d catch the conscience of this king.

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