The Case of the Crooked Ex: Chapter 9
I pull out my pocket watch as I stand in mid day sun, the two hours I told Sarah to wait hadn’t expired yet so I was sure she was chomping at the bit to call Dean and have him out searching the neighborhood to find me. I tuck the envelope of cash into my coat and make my way into the foyer and quickly up the stairs towards my office. As I round the stairwell and emerge onto the second floor I notice the door to my office is open, so I slow down, my right hand going towards my gun, still in my coat pocket from earlier. I cock my head towards the office door straining to hear. The sound of Sarah’s laugh comes from the office and I relax noticeably. It was Jimmie; apparently Sarah hadn’t been too concerned about me if Jimmie had stopped by.
Sarah was a sucker for those fresh from the farm types, the guys that stumble into town and get played for the rubes they were by the boys on the street and the fast hustle. Jimmie had been one of those types, we had met him coming back from lunch at Johnny’s holding his suitcase in one hand and a questionable looking check and wallet in the other. He had fallen for the can you make change scam, offering the con man a good chunk of his money in exchange for holding a personal check and a fake wallet neither of which was any good. Sarah took one look at him and he became another of her causes. He wasn’t a bad guy, polite to a fault, hard working, and treated Sarah like she was a princess. She had gotten him a job down the street at old man Timmons grocery store and the two started walking out together as he called it a few weeks later. Chivalrous I’ll give him that but I don’t think he had even tried to kiss her yet, I figure that Sarah will let him know when she is ready for that. That country boy was in for the shock his life when that happens, I should warn him but something are better left unsaid and they are funnier to watch as well.
As I walk in Sarah is giggling like a school girl and blushing at the flattering that Jimmie is doing. I am pretty sure I am catching her by surprise and after the morning she has given me I decide to get a little pay back.
“Here I thought this was a professional office where real business happens, not some high school dance.”
Sarah jumps at my loud voice and spills her coffee from the cup on her desk, the spill running of the edge and onto Jimmie’s lap
“Now look what ya made me do Boss. Jimmie I’m so sorry, let me get ya a towel to dry that off.”
“Whoa there little lady what kind of business do you think I am running here?’ I chuckle
“Youse better keep that yap a yours shut Boss.”
She is flustered and turning red and shooting me dirty looks the whole time.
“I’m glad to see you were so worried about my well being that you need consoling from your boyfriend.”
“It wasn’t like that Mr. Barron I just stopped by to see if Sarah was free for dinner tonight.”
“You don’t have to tell him anything Jimmie. And you, you just don’t worry about what I am doin.”
“Jim, I have told you before call me Jones everyone else does.”
“Thanks Mr. Barron but I couldn’t do that, least ways not yet we aren’t good enough acquaintances yet for that.”
“Nonsense Jim, you are interested in Sarah and that concerns me so I say we should be getting to know each other better.”
“Would ya just leave him be, ya big bully?”
I ignore her of course, I am having too much fun and besides it does her good not to be so confident all the time
“So Jim what answer did our Sarah give you?”
“Dat’s none of your business ya dirty louse.”
“Well she said that she thinks she is free but it would depend on you.”
“Jimmie baby please?”
“Well Jim, I’m afraid I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news being that I need Sarah to work tonight.”
“You do huh, dats news to me.”
I ignore her and continue “The good news is you can still go to dinner with her because I need her help at a charity event downtown tonight. You can be her date.”
“Oh No Mr. Barron I couldn’t go to anything fancy I don’t have anything to wear and I just wouldn’t know how to fit in.”
“What the heck are ya talking about Boss, what charity event and since when do I help with field work.”
“Jim, I need your help and I need Sarah there. You look that the type of person I can depend on, am I wrong about that?”
“Well no sir but its just I ain’ got nothing fancy.”
“No worries you can come with me, I have to get a new suit for this shindig anyway and I can set you up as well.”
“Well if you need my help Mr. Barron I guess I can’t say no and I mean you and Sarah have been so kind to me It would be my honor to help you out.”
“It’s settled then. Let me make a quick phone call and we will be on our way.”
“Hold on a minute her Boss, nuthin is settled, where are ya going to get da dough to pay for dese clothes and who said I was agreeing to go to dis hoopla tonight anyhow.”
“Don’t worry Sarah I will explain everything later but for right no can you get me Heather, I mean Mr. Stroble’s phone number.”
“Not till you tell me how ya are going to pay for a new suit when we got over due bills.”
“Not anymore Sarah plus we have some pocket change.” I throw the envelope on her desk.
“Do I even wanna know?”
“I told you, I’ll explain later.”
“You know Boss I don’t have anything fancy to wear tonight either.” She says flipping through the stack of bills.
“Well take what you need but leave me enough to get your boy and I something nice.”
“You got it Boss, here is her number.”
I take the piece of paper with her number and walk into my office, I can hear Sarah talking to Jimmie about tonight as I walk to my desk and pick up the phone. Sarah pulls the door shut and the noise dies down. I pick up the receiver and begin dialing, waiting patiently as the phone rings. I am not worried, I knew Dean would have her watched for me at least till she got back to her apartment and probably had a man posted there watching her even know. After what seemed like an eternity to me she answers.
“Um Hello Mrs Strob um Heather it’s me Josh, Josh Barron.” God I hated talking on the phone, I was terrible at it but it did save some time but not embarrassment
“Well hey there Hotstuff I thought you were coming by to check up on me?”
“I am, I mean I will. Look you are going to a charity function tonight right?”
“I’d ask how you know that but you are the detective so yes I am one of the main organizers for the hospital’s big fund raiser tonight. Why do you ask?”
“Well I’m going to be your escort for the evening, I got a tip that something might happen tonight.”
“You asking me out on a date Barron?”
I can almost see her eyebrow arching the way that it does, her hand resting on her hip, that air of suggestion about the question.
“Not a date, an escort for your protection.”
“Ah too bad sounds like a date to me but since it’s not then I don’t have to hold a place on my dance card for you do I hotsuff?”
“I think you have enough moves to keep me on my toes dollface without dancing.”
“Maybe. Dinner is at seven and the dance should begin by eight so pick me up before then. Oh and Barron it is black tie so dress appropriately.”
She hangs up before I can say anything back and I slam the receiver down in frustration.
“Jimmie!” I yell “let’s do this already.”
Sarah opens the door and I see Jimmie standing there hat in hand waiting for me.
“What’s got ya in a twist boss?”
“Nevermind. Close up the office while we are out, this party starts at seven meet me back here in two hours and I’ll explain everything, then you two can head out and I’ll get our client and meet you there.”
“Two hours isn’t a lot of time for a girl to get herself dolled up boss?”
“Then quit jawing at me and get moving. Come on Jimmie let’s find you a suit. Oh and Sarah it’s a black tie event I don’t know if that will affect your dress buying any.”
“Just dat wad of cash you got.”
“Well then till tonight Sarah, I look forward to accompanying you to this event. I hope I don’t embarrass you.”
“Save the speeches loverboy we have work to do.”
“Leave him alone boss, he is doin just fine.”
I pull Jimmie down the hall with the big rube waving back at Sarah as we head for the stairs, She stands in the doorway waving back. Young love, god I hate it.