This post is from the first chapter of The After School Murders. Our heroine, Janette West, has been away for a while and her old friend Margo Townsend is catching her up on things.
We finished our sandwiches and then went to her room to take a look at the file on Conrad. The one thing Margo kept in impeccable order was her ADG file cabinet. It only took her a second to put Mr. Conrad in my hands.
“I’m impressed, Muggs. Even on paper he looks good. And so much information! I’ve never seen a file this fat that wasn’t Jake Noonan’s.”
“It was a labor of love, believe me. He’s very nice and fairly easy to talk to, believe it or not. On the surface you’ll find that he tends to be rather quiet and even withdrawn at times, but don’t let that fool you. When he’s out of the classroom and relaxed, you’ll see that there really is a personality there and a very pleasant one. It’s all on the Personal Observation sheet.”
“I’m still checking out the Personal Information sheet. And these photos! How many did you take?” I picked up a bulging envelope that held about thirty snapshots and skipped through them. “Haut boy! That’s a nice car.”
“It’s a Jaguar. Custom made, if you can believe that. That’s what the boys tell me.”
“Yeah and I’ve always wanted one of those. Hey, far out! I see what you mean about the apartment. Margo, did he let you take all of these pictures?”
“Margo, were you breaking and entering again?”
“No, dear, B & E wasn’t necessary. I went in with a partner. She actually managed to get him out of the apartment while we were there and I worked very fast while they were out. Also, some of the pictures are from the party he had. Still I had to do it without drawing his attention. I’m getting pretty good, ain’t I?”
“Yeah, but don’t let Fletcher find out you’re doing this kind of thing.”
“Aw, what’s he gonna do? Besides, he’s the one that taught me how so I can be a hotshot reporter someday. Thanks to him I got a new camera, too. Makes a big difference.”
Don’t let Margo’s words give you the wrong idea. We teased the man about his nervous habits and sometimes called him by his first name, but everyone in the Guild greatly loved and respected Bill Fletcher. He was a good friend whose wisdom and advice we valued. Without Bill the ADG might not have continued to exist; and it certainly would not be anywhere near the success it had become without the help and guidance he had so freely given.
“You will get me copies of this won’t you, Muggs? I mean the paper. I don’t think I’ll need the photos.”
“Sure. But in a few weeks I want to know your observations on Conrad. I’ve got a feeling about him. I don’t think it’s anything big, you understand, just something out of the ordinary. He’s got me curious.”
“Or maybe he’s got you smitten. Sure, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“I am not smitten. He’s out of my league, too, you know. Oh, and that reminds me. There’s another file that goes with his.” She reached into a different drawer and brought out a thin little folder. “This is the one big chink I’ve found in his armor. Remember her?”
“Vicky Marshall. . . . Yeah, I remember her—the campus sex pot. Man! It was the funniest thing when Old Mac got a hold of her.” ‘Old Mac’ was what we called our principal, Mrs. MacGregor. “That dame had to buy a whole new wardrobe just for school. So she’s latched onto Conrad, huh?”
“I’m afraid so. Disgusting, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but men will be men. I mean, just look at her. She’s practically another Jayne Mansfield. But what’s worse than that is he’s dating someone he works with. That’s not very smart.”
“Oh? How so?”
“Well, a serious courtship is one thing because people have empathy for you if there are problems. But if he’s not serious—and who could be serious about her—what happens when you want to call things off? You don’t need scandal on a job you’re interested in keeping. It’s not worth it.”
“I never thought of that. Financially he probably doesn’t need a job, but—”
“There’s something inside him that needs it. And whatever that is, I suspect it’s a part of the mystery we’d like to solve.”
“I’m glad you said ‘we.’ Now the case is yours, since I don’t have him for any classes. Do you want a copy of Marshall’s file, too? I don’t have as much info on her as some of the guys might, but you’re welcome to what I’ve got.”
“Sure, I’ll take it. Why not? If I need more later, I’ll get it then. The boys’ll have plenty.”
“I’ll run them both through the mimeograph the first chance I get. Eventually I’ll get you the updates for your file on Jake the Snake, too. Say, can I get you a drink? I’m gonna have one.”
She disappeared for a moment and came back with glasses and ice. While I took a last look at Mr. Conrad’s file, she poured the wet stuff and put a drink in my hand. The first sip brought my taste buds an interesting sensation. It was my old usual, dark rum and RC Cola on the Rocks. I’d been away so long that I had forgotten what having a drink at Margo’s meant.
Writers, please take note of my other post for today. I would love to have your comments there as well.
The War This Side Of Heaven:
- Book 1 -- The After School Murders (on Amazon) Trailer: https://youtu.be/nPqwJ34CuCY
- Book 2 -- Man Trouble (on Amazon) Trailer: https://youtu.be/ta0XpOxMUAk
- Short Story -- Heart of a Man In Love (on Amazon) Trailer: https://youtu.be/D73k30F6ZZ0
- Book 3 -- Killing Old Ghosts (expected release date Summer 2016)