Cuff Placket: Private Eye Chapter 3
Miss Button was sitting in one’a the hotel lobby chairs looking mighty fine when I came in to interview her. I sat down in the chair next to her and pulled out my notebook.
“I ‘pologize for not bringin’ my parents.” She said, looking at me out of the corner of her eyes. “But I thought it might be better if we jest… keep it on the down low.”
“I agree.” I said in my most professional tone. Then I hesitated. “Miss Button, I have some bad news.”
She sat up a little straighter, and looked worried. “Yes?”
“A maid saw a big man with a black beard and a missing eye come out of your room on Friday.”
She gasped and put her hand to her throat, tears glistening in her eyes.
“I’m sure we’ll get her back just fine.” I said, trying to be comforting, “but I’ll need to ask you a few questions now that I know more about the case.”
She wiped away her tears with a scrap of silk and sniffed a few times. “I’m ready.”
“All right. Did you see anyone suspicious looking on Friday?”
She paused for a minute, her eyes just above my head. “No, I didn’t.”
“Any suspicious smells or sounds? Did you hear anything when you were in your Mother’s room?”
She shook her head and dabbed her eyes again. “No, but I wasn’t lookin’ for anything, either.”
“I understand. Have you found anything out of place in your room lately?”
She frowned, and rummaged in her little purse. “Well, there’s this…” She pulled something out and placed it in my hand. I examined it closely, and determined that it was roughly half of a business card torn down the middle. The half that I could see said ‘W. Burnham Rd.’ and that was all.
Burnham? That place was a mess, all right. It was in the middle of the worst part of the city, and a known hangout for all the worst kinds of scum. I put on a brave face.
“Well, thank you, Miss Button. You’ve been very helpful, and I think I have several leads to your sister.”
She smiled a winsome smile at me, and I walked straight as I left. In reality, I wasn’t so confidant. Burnham road wasn’t an ideal place for your health at any time, but I pulled down my fedora brim and hailed a taxi.
The place that we pulled up at was a real dump. One of the worst. I shoved my hands in my pockets and stared at the bars on the door and the dirty shirts hanging high above the street on a fire escape, the smell of decay and stale cigarettes everywhere.
Reaching through the bars, I knocked on what had once been a nice wooden door, but was now scarred with foul graffiti. A sliding window thing shot open, and a woman’s creased face looked out at me.
I realized I wasn’t sure who exactly I was looking for. I hesitated. “Big man with a black beard? Does he live here?”
She narrowed her beady black eyes. “Why you wanna know?”
“Got something for him.”
She still looked suspicious.
“I can make it worth your while.”
She straightened up, and I could see that, however unfamiliar with hygiene and cleanliness she might be, bribery was something she knew. She shut the window and disappeared, then opened the door a crack. When she had made sure that I was still me, she opened the bars too, and let me in.
Her front hallway was comparable to a relatively clean pigsty. And when I say clean, I mean dirty.
“Upstairs, first room on the left.” The woman muttered, and then disappeared into another dirty room.
The first room on the left had such a dirty door that I really wanted to wash my hands after I’d knocked. No one answered the door, and I wondered if the woman had been misleading me. I tried the handle, and it turned, so I opened the door and stepped in. No one was there.
The room was bare, but several tiny items stood out on the dresser. I stepped closer, peering down at what looked to be like a pair of gold thimbles. Too late, I heard a creak behind me, and then a terrific wallop came on my head.
The last thing I saw before I blacked out was a bearded face grinning down at me.
Well that’s it for today. To hold us over until next month’s chapter, Allegra has created an inspiration Pinterest board for this story. Go check it out…you just may find a clue lurking there!