Andrea and the Detective: on line short story
It was Friday night and Andrea was tending the hotel registration desk when a well dressed man approached. He appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties. Her eye scanned him from a bowler hat, a silken cravat, narrow lapels, creased pants to his shoes. Since she started working the registration desk she had learned to be observant of the people coming into the hotel. Truthfully, it was getting to be a habit to size up anyone she met. The shoes seemed a bit incongruent. They were riding boots and scuffed. Despite the dress clothes his shirt cuffs were frayed. Not the normal commercial traveler or drummer. She also noted that his face was well tanned except around the cheeks and under his chin. Must have just shaved off a beard.
She smiled and said,“May I help you, Sir?”
The stranger took a business card from his vest pocket and laid it on the counter. The card read Keystone Detective Agency Alexander Jones, Detective.. The man looked at the sign on the desk and addressed her by name. “Miss Ericson. I am tracing some stolen jewels Would you open the safe so I can check its contents?”
“I'm sorry detective but I'm not authorized to open the safe,” she lied. Actually both Andrea and Karolina had access to the safe for various personal possessions of hotel guests. She thought. I’ll have to ask the Rev. Roald if that's a major sin.
“Miss Ericson, I suspect there are several thousands of dollars worth of cash and jewelry in the safe. The Thomas Jewelry Store in the town of Carlton was robbed. Our agency is hired to recover the money and jewels. Will you get your manager to come and open the safe?
Karolina, Andrea's friend and co-worker was dusting in the main hall and she called her over. “Remember you were going to ask Mr. Johanna, whose on night duty to check the safe,"' she said brusquely? This is detective Alexander Jones and he wants to see what's in the safe.”Now go get the manager, he should be in the upstairs office.”
Karolina went upstairs wondering what was going on with Andrea. Roald Johanna was not the manager, he was a preacher.. There must be something wrong and Andrea doesn't want to leave the desk.
At the desk Andrea was trying to keep Mr. Jones busy.“It must be really interesting to be a detective” Andrea figured a bit of flattery and flirting might keep detective Jones occupied until Karolina summons some help.
“Indeed,” he answered. “Very challenging. Dangerous. I remember the time were were chasing three bank robbers in Kansas.. They wouldn't surrender until we had a shootout. We had to kill one before the others gave up.”
“How exciting,” Andrea said. Kansas, That's a long way from Duluth. You must get to travel a lot.” She folded her arms and leaned on the counter. She tried to look like she was really interested.
“It's just part of the job.” Andrea thought he was beginning to look a bit puffed up.”Naturally we go where the agency sends us. It probably seems glamorous to a young lady in an out of the way place like Duluth. My guess is you've grown up here and never traveled more than fifty miles from here.”
“No wonder you're a detective the way you figure out people.” In truth Arena had traveled by herself from Sweden to Norway where she took a ship to Canada and trains to Minnesota. She took trains to several places in Minnesota and even went to visit a brother in Montana. The detective did not impress her.
“No.” she thought. “ I don't find this man or what he does very glamorous. She thought that she might keep him off guard with a bit of flirting. She brushed her yellow blond hair back with her hand and took off her jacket. She sat on the stool behind the counter and smoothed out her blouse. This dude probably thinks any woman he looks at will want to go to bed with him.
Karolina knew Rev. Roald Johanna and Andrea came from the same village in Sweden. There was a class difference between them and they had sort of a love/hate relationship. Karolina found Roald in the lounge."Roald. Something is wrong. Andrea sent me to find you. There is a dressed up man at the desk and Andrea said she needed you in order to get in the safe. She acted like you were the hotel manager. There must be something suspicious about the man."
“Is he a hotel guest?”
”Andrea said he was a detective.:If he is he should have gone to the police for a warrant. Listen Karolina, I'll try to stall him. You slip out the back way and get the sheriff.”
Roald combed his hair, arranged his coat and vest, and straightened his tie. When he got to the desk he found Andrea listening to a stranger who was rambling on about places he had been. She was trying to look interested. “Andrea,” Roald said. “I heard you were having trouble about the safe. Is this the guest who needs his belongings?”
“Mr. Johanna, let me introduce you to Detective Jones. He feels the need to examine the contents of the safe for some stolen merchandise.”
“Ah,” Roald said. ”I don't see that it should be much problem. “Good Evening detective. “If I may examine your warrant., we should be able to get right down to business here.”
“Warrant? “ I didn't know you would need a warrant. “
“Ah, I see.” Roald said.”Must be new to the job. Yes' your superiors should have briefed you, you know. Never fear, we should be able to help you out. You can go down to the railroad station and send a wire to your office. They can probably wire you back a warrant by tomorrow morning.”
“That's enough runaround from you hicks..” Detective Jones pulled a Colt revolver from a holster under his coat..” Whoever has access to opening that safe, I want to get what's in it. NOW!”
“You mean you aren't going to take me to see all those nice places you talked about?” Andrea said.
“Girl, you just may be too smart for your own good. Now Mr. Johanna show me the safe and get it open.”
“He can't do that,” Andrea said. “he doesn't know how to get in it. He's just a minister.”
“What do you mean just?” Roald said.
“Maybe I can help out,” said the sheriff who came in the door with a Winchester rifle.”I do believe I have a poster on this man. He’s no detective. He is a con man who was meaning to rob the hotel safe.”
“I didn't really want to see Kansas anyhow,” Andrea said.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
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