Nancy fastened a strand of hair behind her ear. ‘Yes. Since I will be overseeing Mr. Jonas’ care here, I will need access to his property during his rehabilitation. Do you happen to have the code to his gates?’
Henry’s face was difficult to read in the dark. His ivory jumper appeared almost disembodied. ‘Well, some of Mr. Jonas’ guests has an electronic key.’
‘What’s that, exactly?’
‘It’s a handheld device with a built-in code. You point the device at the gates and the security programme makes a recognition.’
‘So the cameras are not always manned?’
Henry crossed the strimmer over his chest. ‘They are manned at random times.’ He shrugged. ‘Surveillance is pretty tight here anyway; the alarms are hotwired to Kirkby Manor station just two minutes away. If Mr. Jonas is not accepting guests, the gates are set on programme override. No one can get in, even with an electronic key.’
The green button, Nancy thought. ‘So you got in by overriding the gates?’
A new vigilance seemed to descend upon him. ‘Er, yeah but only a provisional override code is given to me when Amy is away. Normally, only Mr. Jonas, his PA and an appointed watch-guard at Kirky Manor station know the override code.’
Nancy knit her lip. Once a groundsman, always a groundsman.
Henry seemed to detect the meaning of her silence. He licked his lips. ‘If you need an electronic key, I can get you one, but it will only get you into the grounds. I will need to be present to let you into the house.’
Nancy sensed she should show esteem of this power. ‘You can do that for me?’
Henry paused in raising his strimmer. ‘Sure. If you wait in the kitchen, I’ll get one for you.’
‘Thank you, Henry.’
Nancy turned and made her way back to the house as Henry restarted his strimmer and continued shaping a layer of air above the hedge.
She cut a route through the kitchen, pausing at the recess leading into the surveillance room. She had almost forgotten. She moved swiftly to the panel on the wall. The keys glinted dully within the box. Nancy foraged for the FF keys within her pocket. Henry would soon return, expecting to see a complete set before closing the lid and locking up. She returned each key to their respective hooks. Her sights idled over the central row: G1, G2, G3, G4 and G5. And the bottom row: E1, E2 and E3.
Nancy unzipped the front pouch of her satchel bag and fished out her car keys. Sheila’s front and back door Yales hung redundantly from a secondary keyring. Her fingernails pinched, the double coil snatched within her grip. Once liberated, the keys underwent an aesthetic appraisal: staggered shafts terminating at hooped tops of tarnished brass. Doubts lurked as she held one against E2. Sheila’s offering was no match for an artifact of burnished bronze bearing the seal of an eagle’s head. Hung within the box, Sheila’s key looked more like a rusted splinter. Nancy unhooked E1 and placed Sheila’s other key beside the first. Two rusted splinters. Well, they were less conspicuous than one, and in this poor light would not draw the eye as would vacant hooks. Nancy could only hope Henry would not notice.
She dropped E1 and E2 into her satchel bag. In time, she would discover what they unlocked.