July 8, 2009 – Intrigue in the Carribbean
Theft! Mayhem! Murder! Okay, not murder, but it sounds more exciting that way. And, no, it wasn’t a dark and stormy night. But maybe it went something like this* …
The gumshoe peered bleakly into the whiskey bottle. Maybe if he stared just enough, more of the precious amber drops would appear. Then again, maybe not. The bottle became destined for the trash heap two days ago when it was drained dry after a night at the tables.
The night wiped him out clean. Nothing but pocket lint to buy more more whiskey or to pay the rent on the broom closet he rented on the other side of the other side of the tracks. A client was what he needed, but no one but the most desperate would venture out here. And he needed a client with more than a sad story. What he needed–
“Mr. Schaeffer? I need your help.”
Schaeffer hadn’t even heard the door open or close. He looked up from the bottle and saw her. A dame, clutching a purple and pink purse like it held the winner of the fifth race on Saturday. She was dressed in an expensive black, tailored suit that swallowed the light. His eyes traveled up from the purse to her face. A pair of traffic-light red lips trembled.
The dame’s eyes were hidden behind the veil of a hat tilted just so. The tilt of that hat made a man want to see the eyes it hid. The tilt of that hat told Schaeffer he was in trouble.
“What,” he grunted.
“It’s my money. It’s been,” the dame drew in a sharp breath as if to gather the courage to even say the next word. “Stolen.”
If the dame’s fortune had been stolen like Schaeffer’s heart, he knew she would never see a dime of that cash. He nodded to the chair in front of his desk. “Tell me.”
The dame poured out a tale of woe like Schaeffer had never heard. Each word that fell from her trembling lips caught Schaeffer like a marlin on a line. She had left the pretty purse behind for an afternoon out. When she got back, not everything was there. Only one bill had been taken.
In the rags Schaeffer read the missing bill would have carried a secret code to government secrets and missing heirs. Further questioning of the dame told Schaeffer he wasn’t in a dime-store novel; she was missing $20.
Pushing thoughts of labyrinthean passages from his mind, Schaeffer solved the case in one word: “Housekeeping.”
“No,” the dame gasped. “Do you think–”
“Happens all the time. Housekeepers find a pretty purse like yours on the dresser and cash inside. They’re not stupid. They know you’ll know something’s not right if all the loot’s gone. But a $20? You could have spent that on a pop.”
The dame pulled a silk hankerchief from the purse and dabbed a tear from her eye. “Tell me what to do.”
Schaeffer took a deep breath. He could tell the dame a lot of things to do. He could bring that boat into harbor with a firm stroke, but this wasn’t that kind of blog post.
“Here’s what you do. Leave the purse again. But know exactly how much is in it. Heck, take pictures of the cash so you can read serial numbers. The thieves may not strike again, but if they do–BLAM!” Schaeffer’s hand struck his desk, sending the whiskey bottle spinning and the dame reeeling back in her chair. “You’ve got ’em.”
“Do you think it will work?” the dame asked, her eyes on the spinning bottle.
“Absolutely,” Schaeffer said.
The bottle came to a stop. The top of the bottle pointed straight at the dame; the symbolism lost on neither of them.
*Or maybe it didn’t. Whiskey wasn’t involved, but the rest of it … maybe. Tune in in about an hour to find out.