I stayed in the office a while making notes on how I might approach this unprecedented mystery. I had all the elements of a typical case but with a very exceptional twist.
But eventually my head was spinning and I decided to grab some dinner down at Jake’s.
I straightened my tie, put on my jacket and hat, and locked up. I always locked both my inner office and my outer office. The outer one was the smaller having only enough room for a secretary’s desk and a guest chair.
I went down two flights of stairs to the street and said hello to old Vince who was trying to sell the last of his pile of evening papers.
He smiled in my direction and said, “New client.” It wasn’t a question. “A proper lady in high heels. Rosy perfume, too.”
I smiled back — Vince can tell when a person is smiling while speaking — and said, “How do you know she wasn’t in the building to see the Higgins and Mertz?” They were realtors, one floor below me. And the space across from mine was abandoned at present.
Vince grinned. “It’s all in the step. She walked like a woman with something heavy on her mind, looking for a great detective to make it all better. So tell me, is she blonde? Brunette?”
I wish I knew. “You know I have a strict confidentiality with every one of my clients.”
Vince laughed at that and I wished him a good night. I headed to Jake’s for one of his ham sandwiches and a whiskey. The establishment was actually called “The Flakey Jakey Bar and Grill” but everyone just called it “Jake’s”. It was an old establishment with cheap food that was still edible. The usual crowd was there, including Lou and Fast Eddie. I often came here to set aside the detective work for a time and forget my cares for a while. But this new case was so unusual that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The next morning I went to see my client’s doctor. I found the office building and looked up the name, Martin Morand. A receptionist insisted I needed an appointment until I told her that I was a private investigator. She then went in back and asked me to wait a few minutes.
I sat in the lobby for over an hour. At one point I read the newspaper there. It contained an article about Zwingler’s, the most recent target of the cat burglar. The article speculated if the burglar was interrupted during the crime. A pearl necklace was taken while many other, more valuable, items were left. Still, even if interrupted, there were no witnesses whatsoever.
As I leafed through some other pages an advertisement caught my eye. There was nothing new about it, that sort of ad was rather common. It was for ladies’ undergarments. The brassiere, briefs, and stockings were full, as if worn, but the attire was disconnected, with no apparent woman within. I had never really noticed that sort of ad before and now I had an urge to keep a copy as if it were evidence. I reminded myself that this was just another case and that Natalie Taylor was just a client.
The receptionist broke my line of thought when she told me that the doctor would see me next.
Morand was a short old man, balding and with very thick spectacles. He briefly looked me over with those enlarged eyes as I entered and said, “Young man, I don’t have much time between patients. Am I in some sort of trouble?” He had a hint of a European accent. I assumed he was French by the name.
“No, doctor,” I responded, “It’s about a patient of yours.”
At that he waved me off and started to gather papers from his desk. “Sorry. I have a strict policy of confidentiality with my patients.”
“As do I, with my clients,” I said as he started for the door. “But this is a very special case. I believe you and I need to work together on this.”
He waved in my direction without even looking at me and started to open his door saying, “I’ve no time for this. Please go.”
“I’ve seen Miss Taylor.”
At this he stopped, turned and looked me in the face. He seemed to be sizing me up like a prizefighter sizes up an opponent whom he sees for the first time. After a long pause he said, “You’ve seen her.”
“My mistake,” I said casually, “I didn’t see her. I met her.”
He closed the door that he had started to open and walked back to his desk.
“She’s my client,” I added, “She knows I’m here.”
The doctor put down his papers and asked, “Mister?”
“Drake.” I said, “Jonathan Drake.” We shook hands.
He sighed and looked at his watch then at a notebook on his desk. “I do indeed think you and I should speak Mister Drake. But I’ll need you to come back later. I really do have many patients to attend to. About five tonight, maybe half after.” He looked me in the face with a kind of respect I don’t often get in this business and added, “Please. Come back then.”
“Alright,” I said sensing that he was sincere and not just getting rid of me. “I’ll be back at half past five.”
I left his office and found a telephone. I tried to reach Bradley Ambridge for the second time that morning but only managed to leave a message with a secretary. I glanced at my list and decided to talk with my client’s roommate next. I caught the tram and headed for Green Bough Avenue.