Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 16

(To read from the beginning go Here.

Anne sneaked another glance at her… guide. Yes, she would stick with guide. It didn’t have nearly such an unpleasant ring to it as ‘captor’.

He met her gaze and his fingers tightened on her arm. “Come on.”

The door to the narrow wood-slatted row house was opened for them and her guide hustled her inside, her feet scarcely touching the pavement as he propelled her forward.

The dingy entryway offered little to recommend it as a home, but perhaps as a hideout it might do nicely. The moldering carpet and peeling wallpaper did seem as if they would have been perfectly at home in one of Lacey Carew’s daring adventures. Even the stairway to the second floor looked suitably rickety, with some of its spindles missing and others leaning drunkenly.

She was guided, into the front room where two men were playing cards. The one on the right was a real looker. He looked like Montgomery Clift with his dark hair combed neatly back, but his shirt unbuttoned to reveal a white t-shirt beneath. The other man was shorter and wiry. His eyes were as grey and hard as granite chips and in one corner of his mouth he clamped a pipe. A neatly trimmed van dyke beard gave his chin definition, and made him look slightly like cartoon depictions of Satan.

Removing the pipe he gave her the once over.

“You’ve caused me a boatload of trouble, sister.”

Anne’s spine stiffened. He might as well have jabbed her with a pin. “I’m glad to hear it.”

He snorted. “You got the papers?”

“First I want to see that Jilly is okay.”

The man gestured to the goon who still held her arm. “Toss me her purse.”

She clutched her handbag closer. “You don’t think I’d be silly enough to bring them with me, do you?”

Looking unimpressed with her protests, her guide snatched the purse from her grasp as easily as if he had been swiping a sucker from a six-year-old. He tossed the bag over to the man Anne had dubbed Van Dyke.

He opened it and pulled the folded sheets from the bag. Setting her purse aside, he smoothed out the pages. “Ah, here we are.”

“I’d like to have my friend back now, please.”

“These are all of them?”

“Yes. Now I want my friend back.”

Not bothering to raise his gaze from the papers he was examining, Van Dyke motioned with two fingers as if he were shooing away a fly. “Toss her in with the other girl.”

Anne planted her feet, resisting the tug on her arm. “You don’t want to do this. The police are surrounding the house even as we speak.”

He glanced up briefly before returning to his perusal. “No, their not. We’ve been watching you very carefully, and you’re alone. Just like we planned.”

She had to make it look good. With her free hand she tried to pry the goon’s hand from her arm. “This isn’t fair. We made a deal and I delivered. Those papers aren’t even worth anything.”

Van Dyke waved her away and the goon bustled her back into the hall and then up the stairs.

“Be a good girl, like your pal, okay kid. I don’t wanna have to rough you up none.”

Anne twisted her head, trying to bite the hand holding her arm. She earned a smack for her trouble, and ears ringing, she turned docile. “You’re going to let us go though right. We don’t know anything about your business and we won’t go looking. That’s for sure. Scouts honor.”

“Can it.” He unlocked a closet door and flung it wide to reveal a closet.

Inside, sitting on the floor, and looking blessedly unhurt was Jilly, blinking against the sudden light.


“Oh, Jilly.” Anne joined her and gave her a fierce hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

The goon closed the door again, eliminating the light except for a narrow strip along the bottom.

“Anne, what’s going on?”

“These creeps snatched me and started yelling about some papers, and you. Oh, it’s been awful.” Tears crept into her voice. “I thought you’d been hurt in an accident.”

Anne pulled her close again. “It’s okay.” She murmured, smoothing Jilly’s hair as if she were a child. “It’s a long story, and I’ll tell you all about it later. But for now, I’m afraid we don’t have much time. Have you tried the door?”

Jilly sniffled and nodded her head against Anne’s shoulder. “It’s really solid. I tried banging on it and on the walls, but that fellow said he’d strangle me if I didn’t stop.”

Anne stood and hands outstretched, explored the confines of the narrow closet. A shelf ran just above her head and a handful of wire hangers hung on one end of the clothes rod.

Maybe they could pick the lock. She snatched one of the hangers and handed one to Jilly. “Here, untwist that and see if you can pick the lock.”

“I already tried that.” Jilly sounded forlorn and close to tears again.

Anne bit her lip. She had to think. Maybe there would be a better chance to escape later?

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