Harry was late, as he always was when he had to be somewhere at a particular time, scurrying along 42nd street, muttering to himself, Sam Spade would never be doing errands for his mother!
Go find your Uncle John and steer him in the right direction. You know what he's like in large spaces like Grand Central Station.
He did, his uncle was easily confused, and the last time, Harry found him with the police who thought he was acting suspiciously. Rather than a terrorist, his uncle was more like the absent-minded professor.
His mother had told her brother when to wait until Harry arrived, and, breathing heavily and sweating profusely from hurrying, arrived to find no uncle.
Why didn't that surprise him?
Harry searched frantically in all directions, looking for the familiar bowler hat, a quirk, his mother said, acquired after living in London for 20 years, but now totally out of place in America.
And had his thoughts, and search, interrupted by a rather distinctive ringtone from a phone on the other side of the partition, followed by the man being called repeating, very clearly, a place and a time three times.
It was the exact same moment when his uncle wandered into sight, looking completely lost and Harry had no time to see who the man was, or think about what the call may have meant. Like most things, he stored the information away to process at a later time.
After getting his uncle to the right train, and he was making his way to Central Park, his phone rang.
It was not Ellen.
It was a 'Private Number'. Perhaps, at last, a real case.
"Looking for a job?" A woman’s voice, age indeterminate, husky, breathless.
It had his attention from the first word. Then he had to spoil it. "Depends."
Silence on the other end of the line. Had he destroyed the moment?
"Yes or no?" It was the sexiest version of a simple question he’d ever heard.
He was almost tongue-tied. His face was going red. He tried not to sound eager, waiting a few seconds before answering, "Yes."
"Meet me at the East 42nd Street and Vanderbilt exit.”
The line went dead.
“Yes,” he muttered under his breath. A sinister woman, an assignation, and a job.Until the euphoria wore off and he realized he had no idea of how to recognize the woman he was meeting.
© Charles Heath 2016-2018