Abe and I were sharing a few beers on the pub’s patio, enjoying the unseasonably warm night air, when he suddenly grew serious.
“I was thinking about something, Pal—we make a pretty good team.”
“You mean as friends?”
“Yeah, that too—and maybe even professionally.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember that Castle series on TV?”
“Sure—guess everybody does.”
“Yeah well, that’s what I’m talking about.”
I stared at him dumbly. “What do you mean?”
“You know, Castle was a civilian, but helped cops solve cases? I think we can work like that.”
“I hate to tell you Abe, but you’re no Kate Beckett.”
His eyes crinkled. “Maybe not, but I know someone who is.”
“Naw—a girl—a real looker.”
“And who is this girl exactly?”
He took a deep breath and stared off into space. “Well, let me put it this way, Pal—she’s right up your alley.”
I knew then it was going to be a long night.
It was past midnight—Sam had already left with Marcus—she giving a cutesy little wave, and he with one arm wrapped possessively around her waist.
Abe’s face had darkened. “I’ll kick his ass,” he hissed. And this time, there was no mirth in his eyes.
But I put my arm out, resting it on his. “Thanks, Abe—but I’m good—really.”
He grudgingly stood down, but I could sense the rumbling thunder behind those eyes—a strong loyalty I never experienced before.
I felt protected and sheltered. I knew then what Mitzy saw in him.
“Back to the girl,” I said. “You say her name’s Marilyn and she’s right out of the Thirties?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” he rasped, his eyes still smoldering with hate for Marcus.
“And you don’t know anything about her at all?”
“Like I said, Pal—she’s an amnesiac and the docs won’t even let me go near her.”
“I can’t believe she’s untraceable—no leads, no prints, photos, or reports of missing persons—that’s just too incredible.”
“Like I say, she’s a mystery girl—blonde, gorgeous—a Daisy Buchanan type. She looks as if she stepped right out of the pages of The Great Gatsby.”
“Okay, tell me again,” I said, trying to clear my head. “Tell me the whole thing right from the start.”
He took a huge swig of Guinness and drained the bottle, wiping the foam from his lips with the back of his hand. He leaned across the table as if confiding a dark secret to me.
“There’s this woman, Ella Whitcombe, she owns a book store on Queen Street. She’s at home and happens to look out her window and sees this young girl standing in the middle of the road looking all bewildered.”
He paused and raised a hand to his forehead as if trying to remember the details.
“Go on,” I prompted him.
“Well, it’s pouring rain and this poor girl’s soaked to the skin. So, the woman goes out and brings her inside and asks her questions to find out what’s going on. It seems the girl can’t even remember her name, or how she got onto the street. So the lady calls the police.”
“How long ago was this?”
“It’s been almost two years now.”
“Two years?” I shout, “And she still doesn’t know who she is?”
Abe shrugs. “The psychiatrist working with her figures she’s undergone some intense trauma.”
“Okay, so there’s this mystery girl and we have no idea who she is, but she seems fixated on the Swing Era—is that it?”
“Pretty much,” Abe sighs. “Oh, did I tell you the older woman—the bookstore lady, kinda adopted the girl? She gave her a job at the bookstore and lets her live in the flat above it.”
“So where do I come in?”
“I dropped by the bookstore the other day—just to check on the girl—not to question her and I happened to mention your History course.”
“Uh huh,” I said, smirking.
“Well, if she’s interested in the Thirties, you’re the man.”
I laughed, “and if I happen to talk to her and ask a few questions to lead her out—that’s not the same as you questioning her.”
He stood up to go and clapped me on the shoulder. “You got the drift of things, Pal—she’ll be in good hands with you.”
He swayed precariously as he smiled down at me.
“Are you okay to drive—you want me to drive you home?”
“What—a civilian driving a marked police car—How would that look?”
“A lot better than you being pulled over and spending the night in the slammer.”
He looked at me sternly, and then broke out laughing. “Okay—we’ll take a cab home—I’ll crash at your apartment and you can drive me back tomorrow for the car.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I grinned, as I put out a hand to steady him.
The idea of Abe snoring on my couch didn’t seem as daunting to me now. I guess we were friends.
And the prospect of working with him to help a beautiful girl who thinks she’s from the Thirties?
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.