Leonard receives a visit from Taylor Mangot II, a shady financier whose presence in Ironton is suspect. He wants to build a giant glass project on a site of a recent bombing.
The door opened and closed sweeping in a whisper of fluttering leaves, wordless shouts and the scent of chilled fall air.
Leonard in his usual corner a seat waited for the footfall to announced the entrance of a new visitor. But the expected call out to Barry for coffee, or from Barry – “Hey, Jack, special?’’ – did not follow. Whoever had entered paused, as if scanning the room; Leonard heard the crinkle of a leather coat being removed.
“Leonard, I’m Taylor Mangot II. So pleased to meet you.”
Leonard forced a small smile, but felt the ice of the voice crawl down his spine. The voice came from a point a foot or two above Leonard’s head. Leonard then recalled that Taylor Mangot II was described as being six and half feet tall.
“Mr. Mangot, welcome. “Please sit. May I offer you a beverage?”
Mangot reached Leonard’s table in eight precise, soft steps. Catlike, Leonard thought; he would be on you before you knew he was there.
Leonard shifted his wheelchair to face the table as a chair opposite him slid along the floor and he sensed the weight of the tall man sitting.
“Pardon my manners…”
“Sir, I understand,” Mangot replied. “If I might, how long have you been blind?”
“And yet you own this block and parts of another. How did you accomplish that?”
Leonard took one small breath as the frigid insulting tone of Mangot’s question stung. He had been expecting this visit for several weeks since he had initially rejected the offer from Mangot’s foundation for a partnership.
“I am blind, Mr. Mangot, but I don’t lack ambition or skills. I have many friend with skills as well. People who care about me and this city and are willing to set goals. I grew up on these streets. I hope to make life better for others.”
“As do I.” Mangot said.”
Leonard heard the self-important smile.
“I have taken the ineffective tiny company my father left me and fine tuned it. I change cities, Leonard, not just blocks. I enrich, not just improve.”
Leonard shifted in his chair. “I am impressed, your reputation precedes you.” He added an edge to his voice, up to that moment, soft and welcoming. “But I find it interesting that you would come here and insult a prospective partner.”
“You misunderstand. I don’t have partners. I acquire.”
Leonard heard Mangot shift in his seat and place his elbows on the table.
“If this were mine I would transform it, while you desire to fix it.” A scoffing tone. “These blocks can not be fixed. They have the stench of age, the aroma of labor that would always remain if they were nor demolished. Just like the block on Warren that was destroyed. For the better I might add. Your city looks backward, preserving the old, dirt red brick as if it is an act of mercy, as if somehow the cries and sweat of the ancient workers are more meaningful than the efforts of the men who paid the wages, who took what the ground held and transformed it into vision of wealth and comfort. I will bring new people to Ironton, people with money and class. My father catered to the past, as do you. There is little room for you in a new Ironton.”
Leonard listened as Mangot leaned back. He imagined his hard, cold face.
“Ah, sir, the smell of old Ironton,” Leonard said. “I walk these streets, you know, feel the rough edges of bricks formed one by one with hands of skill and intelligence. I feel that knowledge and know that each brick fed a family I might have known, a family who helped me when I was a child. I know that knowledge was transformed into skill that engineered railroads and streets and the buildings you despise. They meant something, mean something. Besides, sir, is not glass but sand harvested, processed and transformed? Who will do that for you? You see glass as money. But is that why they chased you out of San Francisco, and that your plans in Singapore were denied. Is that why your foundation has been suspended in this state? I am not a thing to be bought, sir.”
What reviewers say about the Frank Nagler Mysteries:
The Red Hand:
Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2021
I very much enjoyed The Red Hand. The story kept me engaged and there were plenty of thrills with lots of twists and turns. It was chilling and in many places twisted. The character dialogue was exquisite and made me relate to the characters. Well done.
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2021
I read many mystery stories. This one is among the best I have ever read. The last 3 chapters were amazing. I was always with the hunger to read the next chapter.
The Weight of Living:
Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2021
Raced through this one. Nice cover too. Good job.
Will be looking out for more from this author.
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2021
I normally don’t gravitate to dark thrillers but a few stand out to me and a few are worth it. The Weight of Living is ominous in tone but the characters are compelling and the plot is well-developed. If you are a fan of The Girl in the Ice, then you will enjoy this mystery.