A Quinn Moosebroker Mystery,The Case of the Chocolate Girl (1)
Lorcan Bacalao scratched another name from his list. His list had grown since the first call from Dolan Ó Braonáin. Lorcan did contract work and business had seen a spike since the FBI raided the Ó Braonáin businesses. With the four Ó Braonáin brothers in custody Dolan was exercising a fierce strike at those he felt involved in his capture.
It had taken Lorcan ten days to track down the location of Quinn Moosebroker. He first persuaded the proprietor of the Bethlehem Motor Court to give him a copy of the register for the evening that the six assailants fought and lost a battle with Quinn and Betty. Then he scoured every lodge, inn, hotel and motel in the general area. Quinn Moosebroker, Clearview Terrace and Betty Atwood, Clearview Terrace caught his attention, it was just the information he felt he needed.
He still needed to locate Jarrod and his three women. Dolan was sure Jarrod was involved. There was a line through Aengus Ó Braonáin’s name. First he would eliminate a possible witness named Mario Garza then Lecherous Leprechaun.
Betty sat at the kitchen table sipping her coffee as Quinn finished up the dishes after cooking her breakfast on their first Saturday morning after two long back-to-back cases. She reached over to a kitchen drawer and grabbed a pair of scissors and cut a coupon for a discount at a thrift store. “Honey, after we are done here there is a grand opening of a thrift store over on Bastionbury. Want to take a ride over and see?”
“Sure, I’ll be done in a minute. What do you need?”
“Need, I just want to look at stuff. You never know – you might find a treasure,” she smiled and got up to go get dressed.
Thirty minutes later they arrived at the front door of the thrift store. Betty had the coupon stashed in her purse. The morning was glorious and Betty was very happy they were not chasing down someone or sitting in bus stations.
When the doors opened Betty and Quinn were among the first inside. There was an air of excitement in the store.
Quinn went one way and was amused that Betty went another. He walked to the back and looked at two bookcases filled with old books. Above one book shelf leaning against the wall was an old painting. He reached up stretching and took slight hold of the lower corner and lifted it and took it down. A man standing close by waited impatiently to see if Quinn would put it back down. The man had spotted it, but could not get to it in time.
Quinn held the painting that was unsuitably framed; he continued to look at the book titles. He spotted a copy of The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth and grabbed it for his bedside table.
Betty arrived at his side, “There is a small table over there. I thought we could refinish it together and use it in the empty corner in your den. It has a drawer you can store your paints in when you are not using them. Come on, I want to show it to you.”
Quinn and Betty got the book, the painting and small table with a drawer into the back of the Town and County. Betty did not forget to use the coupon.
Upon returning home the table went into the one car garage where the Town & County felt most at home. At the moment the front right panel lay against the side of the wall while Quinn searched for the shimmy he heard coming from that side ever since the accident in North Carolina.
“Can I treat you to dinner over at The Frosty Mug?” Betty asked. She was again at the kitchen table drinking coffee. “Let’s call Kate and see if she can join us. Maybe see a movie; does that sound OK to you?”
“I am going to stop over and talk to Blake Knightly the owner of the local bookshop, see if I can poke through some of his art books, maybe find out more about the artist. Do you want to join me?” Quinn responded.
Betty lowered the crossword puzzle page of the paper and looked over at Quinn. “Are we on for dinner and a movie? Should I check with Kate?”
“Diner and a movie? Ah, sure. You going to call Kate?”
Betty shook her head and smiled, “Yes, I’ll call Kate.”
Quinn rummaged through the hall closet and found the Polaroid camera. He wanted to carry a couple of snapshots with him. He placed the painting near the window to maximize the light and took his photos.
Quinn left for downtown. Upon entering Knightly Books he noticed that Blake had rearranged the front of the store. There were new bookcases of what looked to Quinn to be American black walnut. “Where did you get these?” Quinn asked.
“Hello Quinn, they were picked up at an estate sale. It was a ton of work to get them here but they changed the whole appearance of the place. Just look at them. Of course the pine shelves are just one step away. How have you been?” Blake asked, not rising from his seat behind the counter.
“Good thanks, where are your new arrivals? And I need a favor. Can I browse through your art books? I found a painting earlier at the new thrift store on Bastionbury. Quinn reached into his pocket and took out the Polaroids and handed them to Blake.
“That’s very nice. It looks like a Dutch painting to me. What do you judge the age to be?”
“To me it looks over a hundred years old. But I am no expert in these things.” Quinn looked around and spotted the art section. He was at a loss as to where to start. “What do you think? Dutch did you say?”
Blake got up and came around to stand next to Quinn in front of a very weak art book section. He reached and took down two volumes. “Try looking through these.”
After an hour of searching through the two volumes Blake handed him and two others, Quinn found nothing to help him identify the painting or the painter. He returned Dutch Painters of the Nineteenth Century and Painters of the Dutch Flemish Schools to the shelf where they came from and browsed until he found a nice first printing of Mr. Roberts and purchased it for himself and as a thank you to Blake. He and Blake were the only ones in the store.
Betty had reached Kate and she was able to join them. When Quinn returned home, Kate was sitting in the den with Duncan-Waffles sitting on her lap.
“Hi Dad, I like the painting you found. Did you go and search for information about it at the book store?” She glanced over at him; Duncan-Waffles’ tail was moving a mile a minute at Quinn’s return.
“Blake told me that he thought it might be Dutch, so I spent an hour looking through books about Dutch painters, but I did not find any helpful information,” Quinn told her.
“It’s beautiful. Though I am not sure I like the frame.” Kate was now standing in front of the painting with Duncan in her arms.
“I thought the same thing.” Quinn walked over and stood next to his daughter. They both were absorbed looking at the painting.
At The Frosty Mug, the waitress whose name tag said ‘Charlie’ placed a schooner of beer in front of Quinn and glasses of beer in front of both Betty and Kate. “Your double burgers and onion blossoms will be right out,” she said turning back toward the kitchen.
“That painting really isn’t a painting is it?” Kate asked her Dad.
“It is a pastel. It is a very good pastel. I wished I could have found out a little more about it this afternoon.” Quinn said.
“I know an adjunct professor over at the college. She teaches art history. Do you want me to see if I can set you up with an appointment, or maybe invite her to the house to see it. What do you think?” Kate said after taking a sip of her beer.
Betty took a sip of beer, “Maybe we should know something about the painting before we invite people to see it. What if it is valuable?”
“Ok, I will call my friend; her name is Paula Joyfelt she’s very nice. I’ll make an appointment when she is available. Maybe we can meet here.”
Charlie came to the table balancing three plates loaded with burgers and sizzling onions.
“What movie are we seeing tonight?” Kate asked as the first onion ring was popped into her mouth.
“It just came out with Al Pacino, a Mafia movie called The Godfather.
“My kind of movie.” Quinn said and took a long pull at the cold schooner of beer in front of him.
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