The Man with Green Fingers

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Extract from the novel by Catherine Broughton

The room was nicely furnished. Ashley’s income was fractionally above average and, on a good rate HP deal, he had acquired some very smart bits of modern furniture, usually from places like Habitat, and chose strong decisive colours in black and red and royal blue. He had a small car. He ate well, if fastidiously, for there seemed to be vast dietary areas of his life where he was unable or unwilling to eat half the contents of the supermarket. He neither smoked nor drank, with the exception of a can or two of cold beer over the week-ends. His life was orderly, calm, straight-laced, efficient, compact, clean. Apart from a short break in the Massif Central in France, he remained where he was and was happy to do so. He was careful with money without being tight-fisted. Although he never spent a penny on anybody other than himself, there was not really anybody for him to spend it on with the exception of his mother at Christmas and on her birthday, both occasions which were dutifully noted in his diary and dealt with in the same circumspect manner. The very occasional round-up at the office for a charity was contributed-to reasonably generously, within his own lack of imagination or compassion, and life was generally good. He wanted to keep it that way. But it was fun to dream.

It would be, he realized, relatively easy to embezzle money from the firm. The firm had branches in Aberdeen and in Cardiff, and various payments both in and out of the office periodically came or went via these two other offices, which would be handy for covering tracks. Thousands of pounds’ worth of cheques, in and out, passed through his hands almost every day, and it would almost certainly be fairly straight-forward, with a little careful thinking –out, to have many of those cheques made out to him.

That, of course, wouldn’t work. One slip of the wrist and it would be clear who had taken the cheques. No, they would have to be made out to an alias. That in turn would mean that he would have to somehow get a bank account opened in a fake name. In fact, if he were to embezzle frequent cheques, he would need several different accounts in different names, preferably abroad.

Actually …… he absently scratched his neck as he thought …… he could even have a file for each fake bank account. Green files! This made him grin. None of the five solicitors in the practice knew the clients of the other. None of them would be any the wiser if they happened to see, perchance as it were, a file marked “Will Johns” or “Megan Ryan” or whoever. That way, it would be perfectly plausible to have invoices in the accountant’s files and in the individual files that were utterly gobbledy-gook. The cheque book stubs would relate neatly.

Ah-ha. No. The files would have to be the same colours as the existing ones. Of course. Otherwise green files would arouse curiosity. The new and fake files could have a little mark – a small pen mark, for example, on the spine, so that Ashley would know which were “his” and which were genuine.

That, then, solved the problem for cheques going out of the office. Now, what about cheques coming in ? Slightly more complicated ..… for although he had never to date come across a situation where one of the solicitors (or the accountant) wanted to investigate a payment that had been made by a client, it was nonetheless a possibility. In fact, he – Ashley – would be almost certainly the one any of them would refer to if they wanted to look in to a payment made ..… it would perhaps be all right ..… and with that thought Ashley fell asleep.

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