The snub-nosed butler who had opened the door for Scarr informed him that Mr. Windsor Sr. was presently in the dining room having lunch with some friends and family.
Scarr had seen at least a half a dozen cars parked outside the palisade of the mansion. It was a relatively big mansion: a white frame weatherboarded custom-built structure. The modern looking type. The main house was surrounded by three adjoining buildings. They all sat on a single plot dominated by a well-tended garden and lawn. From any of the long porches, one got a sweeping view of Woodland Hills. It was a Saturday afternoon in California, and it was rather hot. Yet no one was taking advantage of the infinity pool spanning a side yard.
The butler led him into a reception room, and offered him something to drink. When Scarr passed on the refreshment, the butler excused himself and bowed out of sight. Scarr imagined him, in his subservient fashion, entering the dining room and murmuring something close to his master’s ear. He imagined the butler doing all of this without breathing anymore than was needed, in an effort to not disrupt the guests with his intrusion.
A moment later an old man came into the reception room to meet with Scarr. Yes, he was elderly. But he had retained a certain amount of vigor in his body, and it showed in the way that he stood. His feet were planted securely upon the floor, and his shoulders were square and straight. Silver hair crowned his brow majestically, adding even more to his distinguished looking countenance. His thin face was marked by two small sun-strained eyes that bore through you in one encompassing glance, and told you whether or not they liked what they saw. The bridge of his nose was broken: perhaps the result of a childhood accident, or maybe it was an innate feature. He was well on the other side of seventy-five, but with the right tailor and an impeccable diet, he still had the looks. Maybe not the kind of looks that would rouse a young broad into bedding him, but the kind of looks that could very well seed that possibility in her mind if he were perhaps ten years younger.
“I’m Mr. Windsor Sr.,” the old man said without proffering a welcoming hand to Scarr. “Alastair Windsor, Sr.”
His voice had a husky gruff tenor that compelled you to open up your ears and listen to every word he said because you knew he wouldn’t repeat himself. Scarr could appreciate that.
Coming in tow of Mr. Windsor Sr. was a rotund man. A dignified oyster, he was maybe sixty. Yet next to Mr. Windsor Sr., you would think they were about the same age. And he hung around the old man like a window dressing. However, he definitely made up for his lack of stature with textbook knowledge. And he was outfitted right for his part as a geek: the smart pin-stripe suit, the smart necktie, and even the smart shoes. Plus, his horn-rimmed eyeglasses made him out to look like someone who knows the law, and like someone who knows how and when to take advantage of the law. His eyeglasses gave the appearance that he had no qualms capitalizing off of his knowledge for the good of his clients.
“And here’s Mr. Hatchet,” Mr. Windsor Sr. said. “He’s the family lawyer and a good friend.”
After Scarr acknowledged the lawyer with a nod, the old man invited Scarr to follow him into his office. The office was very sparse. It was furnished with plush carpeting, heavy lamps, granite busts, a bookcase, a modern couch, and one coffee table. Upon a side table in the back rested a miniature diorama of a canyon. If the scale model of that harsh inhumane landscape was meant to deliver a message to whoever entered the office, the message was lost on Scarr.
Mr. Windsor Sr. indicated a chair for Scarr, and he himself passed behind his large wooden desk. He sat, and his elbows mechanically took their usual mark on the table. There was a second chair next to Scarr’s, but the lawyer settled back on the couch instead. Scarr had to make an effort not to look that way. He didn’t like when someone hung behind him.
“Some serious friends of mine gave me your name,” Mr. Windsor Sr. said in a cool manner. “They say you’re good at what you do. They say you never fuck up. If you’re going to take on this assignment, I need to know you will deliver.”
His sudden silence seemed to suggest that it was Scarr’s turn to talk. Scarr said nothing.
The old man said, “Do you know who I am?”
“I know as much as the man on the street, I suppose.”
“Then tell me,” the old man said. “What do you know?” But Scarr said nothing. So the old man added, “Come now. Humor me ––”
“Your family owns an international jewelry company. You have many retail locations in more than thirty cities worldwide. By and large, you’re the go-to diamond purveyor for many royal courts, style icons, celebrities, and whoever has the taste and the cash to afford your jewelry collection… I hear they look pretty good.”
“You have a sense of humor, eh?” the old man said slumped back in his chair. “It’s useless touting what and where we are right now. Unfortunately, our best years are behind us. You may not have heard, but twenty years ago Windsor Gem Inc courted a huge controversy.”