The Paperback Edition…
Abby was silent. This was a rare occurrence for her. Then…
“Was there anyone at Doyle’s last night that you ever see at the other bars? ” Abby asked.
“You and Hannah go out every weekend and most Wednesday nights. Do you always use the phony name/job bit?” she continued.
I answered quickly…”Always.”
Suddenly Abby slapped her hand down on the table. “By Jove, I’ve got it,” she said….using just a terrible English accent.
“Maybe…maybe it was someone who works at the Journal with you or Hannah…but neither of you knew they were there last night.” Abby said.
“You know…you could be right…that kind of makes sense. ” I took another swallow of my now very tepid and therefore unappetizing coffee.
My head was starting to scream at me and I got up to get two aspirin.
Just as Abby had finished putting yet another piece of eclair on Stella’s plate, the front doorbell rang.
All of us just froze in place. No one came to our house on the weekends…NO ONE. Even Stella had paused…tongue again hanging out.
Both Abby and I said in unison. “What the hell?” I know we were both thinking the same thing…this has to be bad news.
Abby was way more appropriately dressed than I was.. so she went to see who was disturbing our little Saturday morning brunch. I returned to my place at the table…headache momentarily forgotten.
“I wonder who it is?” whispered Stella. Never one to miss any action, she had moved over to be closer to me.
Stella was a very friendly cat. She always loved the few people who came to visit us…but this was Saturday morning on a frigid, cold day in Minnesota. I think even she thought something wasn’t quite right.
“I don’t know.” I said quietly. “Why are we whispering?”
I could hear Abby talking and then heard her say, “Hang on”. She soon appeared back in the kitchen. She had a puzzled look on her face.
“What’s up?” I asked…eager to have this mystery solved.
“I need a dollar for a tip.” She opened up the cupboard over the sink and took down the old Apple cookie jar where we kept change and dollar bills. It made tipping delivery people a snap.
“For what?” I asked.
“For. A. Tip.” Abby said evenly…and gave me a look of exasperation. She then went back to the front door.
I looked at Stella. “Well, that was rude.”
“You have a killer hangover. Everything will seem rude today.” she said knowingly.
I heard Abby say ‘thank you’ and then heard her shut the door. I could feel little trickles of cold air that had filtered back to the kitchen from the opened door.
She walked into the kitchen carrying a long, white, rectangular floral box. It was heavily wrapped in clear plastic to protect it from the freezing cold.
The label on the box said “Flora’s Fresh Flowers”. It was very skinny and looked like it could only hold a single flower.
“Who’s it for?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Abby said. “There was no name on the delivery ticket. Only an address. This one.”
“Well, well,” said Stella. “The plot thickens.”