Detective Strakowski leaned forward, cupping his chin in his hand. He was bored. Dusk had seeped across the street over an hour ago, and the night had turned chilly and damp. He ought to close the window, but couldn’t bring himself to get up. He scratched his cheek. He needed a shave.
No, what he needed was a case. A real one. None of this “my spouse is cheating on me” or “I lost my prized possession” crap. He thought freelancing as a private eye would give him some excitement in his life. Boy, was he wrong about that. He should have listened to the others.
The other detectives who had tried it before had told him it wouldn’t work. That no one could afford a real private eye, not in this part of town. For some reason, Strakowski thought he would be different. That he would attract a different type of clientele. But so far, nothing. Zilch. Nada. Just the same old stuff he was told he would get.
He couldn’t bear to tell the others. He didn’t want them to think he’d failed. They were good people, even if they didn’t always share the same idea of a good time. They called him “Stag” for some reason, maybe because he was single, preferred to do things his own way. But it wasn’t clever. His first name was Ron.
He was about to give up and lock up for the night when someone tapped lightly on the door. He sat up, quickly rearranged his desk, tightened his tie.
“Come in,” he called, hoping he didn’t sound too eager.
The door opened, and for a moment Strakowski was unsure if he had actually fallen asleep at his desk and was now dreaming. The woman that walked through the door was the most extraordinary person he had ever seen, resplendent as though she was glowing. He had met a lot of people in his line of work, but never anyone as bright and beautiful as she. She was something special.
And he should know. He didn’t really like going to the movies, but he had seen every one of her pictures.
He stood quickly, the chair squeaking uncomfortably behind him.
She held up a hand and Strakowski snapped his jaw shut. She closed the door behind her and adjusted her wrap. It was made of a plain but clearly expensive material, and she held it tightly around her. Underneath she wore a plain navy suit, as though she was in disguise. But the cut was too modern, the cloth too fine. Even the hat pulled low over her eyes didn’t have a single crease. If she was pretending to be an ordinary person, she wasn’t doing a particularly good job.
“My name is Helena Trent,” she said, lowering herself into a chair, Strakowski awkwardly following suit. He would know that smooth voice, that impeccable bearing anywhere. Verity Park was in his office.
But if she was using a false name, inquiring at a private eye in Little Ama, that could only mean one thing.
Strakowski tried to still the butterflies in his stomach. She couldn’t be here alone. There must be bodyguards somewhere. He took a glance at the closed door, then at the open window. This office was not in any way suited to protecting a famous movie star. He stood quickly and moved to the window, closing it with effort. Ms. Park watched him, barely turning her head. He quickly pulled the curtains closed and moved back to the desk.
“Um, what brings you here, Ms…..uh, Trent?”
Ms. Park gave him a small smile, and Strakowski’s heart fluttered.
“Something of mine has gone missing,” she said, enunciating perfectly with her low voice.
Strakowski felt a thump of disappointment. Another one of these cases?
“Could you describe the item?,” he asked, trying his best to sound professional.
Ms. Park’s smile deepened and her eyes glinted. Strakowski’s disappointment turned suddenly to apprehension. She reached into her bag and pulled out a small circular object, leaning forward to place it gently on Strakowski’s desk. Strakowski started to gasp, his breath caught, and, rather than turn the gasp into a meditative throat clearing as he intended, instead began to cough. Ms. Park began speaking over his distress.
“This is a family heirloom,” she said, folding her hands elegantly in her lap. Strakowski nodded, his face red.
“This piece here is a part of a set. This half here I keep with me at all times. The other half was stolen two days ago from my home.”
“I assume it was kept in a vault or a safe?” Strakowski managed through his cough.
Ms. Park nodded.
“If you can help me, I will reward you most handsomely. But I require your absolute discretion. Is this something I can trust you with?”
A thousand questions ran through Strakowski’s mind. Why him? How did a thief manage to steal something from one of the richest people in the world? Why bother stealing an item that by itself was probably worthless?
Taking a sip of water, Strakowski managed to finally clear his throat. This is what he had been waiting for. This was his chance.
“Of course, Ms. Trent,” he replied, pulling out a notebook. He tried to ignore his feelings of disquiet, and the look Ms. Park gave him, which he might have described as sly.
“Now, what can you tell me about the Discretion Mirror?”
I write for fun and to make sure my sister doesn't beat me in our blog challenge.