In the back of Harry’s mind, he was remembering the first time he met Merilyn Watson. She was so much younger then and he remembered his mother thought for years that his father was having an affair with her.
Most unsurprising, considering she was twentyish, and all of us boys had a crush on her.
It was, now, embarrassing to think about, but it was a long time ago, and she had been with his father for a long time and was now fortyish, but just as attractive, if not beautiful, as she was then.
Harry made it to the middle of the magazine before she came out into the foyer.
“Harry. What a pleasant surprise.”
She had a way of making spines tingle when she spoke.
“Merilyn.” Once Harry had turned twenty-one, he had graduated to calling her by her first name. Before then, as good manners dictated, she was Miss Watson.
There was a hug involved, and then he untangled himself.
“Your mother called and asked me to talk to you. I was astonished to discover you are a private detective, and, it seems, a good one too. Your father has spoken favorably about your work. Come, let’s go somewhere more private.”
Harry followed her into the main office, equally as unsophisticated and heavy as it was outside, with a series of offices down once side, and several larger rooms with double doors on the other.
The center was given over to the clerks and secretaries, though he doubted that’s what their titles were these days.
Harry noticed that his two brothers, Jeremy and Robert’s doors were closed. Either they were in and hiding from him, or not. He would drop in on them after talking to Merilyn.
They went into one of the conference rooms and sat on opposite sides of the large board room type table. On the sideboard, there was a large jug of cold water and crystal glasses.
She sat attentively and waiting for him to speak.
“My mother seems to think my father has gone missing. Apparently, he left a note which was rather enigmatic. What did he tell you, if anything, about his forward movements?”
Whilst it sounded quite good in my head, Harry didn’t think it came out quite the same in reality. Too starchy, too formal, perhaps.
“Nothing. He just said he would be out of the office for a few days, chasing down some documents relating to one of the cases he’s working on.”
“Do you know which one?”
“Reynolds, perhaps. I know he was having some difficulty with it.”
“Did he say where he was going?”
“Philadelphia. He said to call and leave a message on his cell phone if anything came up that either of your brothers couldn’t handle, and that I was not to worry if he didn’t answer it directly. It would make sense if he was looking up archives.”
Indeed, it would. And it seemed that Merilyn was not in the least worried about his absence.
“What was the Reynolds case about?”
“A land title dispute.
“Here or in Philadelphia?”
“Here, I think. He didn’t say much because the case is in its early stages.”
“Are my brothers working on it with him?”
“No. He’s keeping them amused with a few less arduous cases.” When she said it she smiled. Harry knew his father could be condescending at times, and he suspected the cases he’d given them wouldn’t be very important
He was still unsure of their capability to handle anything larger than land transfers and probate. And drawing up wills.
It was clear to Harry his father had not told her anything, perhaps not to worry her, or, more importantly, to worry the clients who would eventually notice his absence. He had other partners, but he was the mainstay of the practice.
“Are you likely to complete your legal exams any time soon?” she asked him, changing the subject.
“I’m not planning to. I find it more interesting in helping others in a more practical sense and have a touch of danger to spice up the day. Here, I think the work would put me to sleep.”
“It is what you make it.”
“That’s what my father says. No. I won’t be working here any time soon.”
“Pity. You always had such grandiose plans when you were younger.”
Indeed. He was going to conquer the world, and, at the very least, become a politician who would try to change the world. How silly people were as children, and so naive as to how the real world works.
His father had plans too, but these seemed to be dashed at every turn.
“You will let me know if he calls, or returns, won’t you?” he asked.
Somehow, Harry didn’t quite believe her.
© Charles Heath 2020