|Wonder City Stories (wonder_city) wrote,|
@ 2011-03-12 09:20 am UTC
|Entry tags:||ira, mr_maguire, suzanne|
It was the first of the February thaw, and Suzanne was nearly giddy with a desire to throw off her heavy winter coat and boots and run through the grass that was just starting to peek through the snow. However, she did not -- she, after all, had a reputation. Instead, she decided to walk along the bus route home -- that way, if she got too cold or tired, she could catch the bus.
"Mrs. Feldstein," a polite young man in a sharply-tailored dark suit said when she'd gone about six blocks, "Mr. Maguire would like a word with you, if you have a moment."
Suzanne turned slowly in the direction he had gestured and stared at the vintage black limousine, gleaming under the streetlights at the curb. The windows were dark. "I... see," she said.
"He wanted me to assure you this was a friendly chat," the young man said.
"Glad to hear it," she said. She had a moment's thought of calling Ira. And then she dismissed it. What would she say? Hi, Ira, possibly getting kidnapped by the mob. I'll be home late. She shook her head to clear it and stepped toward the limo.
The young man hurried to step ahead of her and open one of the back doors. She nodded to him and stepped into Mr. Maguire's realm of soft upholstery and sharp knives.
The door shut after her with muffled finality.
He was a different Mr. Maguire than the one she'd met twenty years earlier. Not surprising, really, she thought, given the local organization's upheavals in the late 90s. This Maguire was an angular, gawky man who would probably tower over her on the street, but here was forced to slouch unbecomingly against the burgundy velour seat, his long legs splayed out to take up half the floor of the compartment. She could see why this Maguire had earned the nickname "Daddy Longlegs." Still, he wore a bespoke Italian suit, dark grey with pale pinstripes, sleek Italian leather shoes, and a forest green tie pinned with an emerald tie tack.
Maguire smiled at her, an easy smile that wrinkled his sixty-something face into a topographical map. He still had excellent salt-and-pepper hair, with no sign of thinness on top, and his teeth were white and strong. His blue eyes might have been said to twinkle, if only she didn't know that the Maguires as a rule did not have a sense of humor. As such, she did not comment on the change, merely said, "Good evening, Mr. Maguire," as politely as she had as a novice journalist.
"Good evening, Mrs. Feldstein," he said, his voice gravelly with years of smoking. She thought he could detect a very slight Jersey accent, but she might have been wrong.
The car accelerated smoothly away from the curb and Suzanne struggled to maintain her professional smile. "To what do I owe the honor, sir?"
He gave her an open-handed gesture that might have been a shrug. "My friends and I simply wanted to tell you how glad we are to see you back in the game."
This was not what she had expected to hear. "Oh?" she said, trying not to look surprised.
"We respect good, high-quality journalism, you see, Mrs. Feldstein," he said, clasping his hands together around one of his knees. "And we are... unhappy with the tabloid hacks that have cursed our fine city for several years."
"Surely they aren't all that bad, sir," Suzanne protested.
"None of them, as you know, can independently research their way out of a paper bag, Mrs. Feldstein," Mr. Maguire said. "For instance, if the police say it's the mob, it's the mob."
Suzanne began to see the light. "Well..." she began, but Mr. Maguire held up a long, spidery hand to stave off her protest.
"You have an eye for truth, Mrs. Feldstein," he said. "And I want you to know that we are grateful. I can tell you that we are absolutely not involved with these bodies down by the river."
"I know that," Suzanne said, and smiled faintly. "I was told some years ago that unless the body was found immediately and was clearly a warning, the body wouldn't be found at all."
Maguire extended a hand, conceding her a point. "We'd just like you to know, Mrs. Feldstein, that we're glad you're reporting again, and that if you should ever need a favor..." He left the statement hanging.
That was handsome indeed, Suzanne thought, and wondered why the concern about the press coverage. Filing that thought away for later, she said, "I'm very glad to be able to help reveal the truth, Mr. Maguire."
"And that's all we want from you, Mrs. Feldstein," he said. He knocked on the window to the driver's compartment, and the car immediately slowed to a stop at the curb. "I hope you have a pleasant evening."
Unmistakably dismissed, Suzanne said, "And you too, Mr. Maguire," and slid out of the car. "Thanks," she said to the young man who opened and shut her door for her, and strode off quickly.
They'd taken her partway home, she realized after a moment of brisk walking. She was only about six blocks from the house now. She was grateful. She was astonished. She wished she still smoked.
Her hands had just stopped shaking when her cell phone rang in the distinctive peppy beat of "I Want a Cape to Call My Own." She fumbled the phone out of her purse and flipped it open. "Hi, Ira," she said.
"Hi, sweetheart," he said, his voice more energetic than she'd heard it in a long time. "I've got some news for you!"
"What's up?" she thought, letting him get his news in before she dropped hers.
"One of your old friends in the police just called here," he said. "You should get down to the riverfront. There's a new body!"
She immediately looked around for a cab and frantically waved for one that was coming down the street. "Great! Er, you know what I mean. Any other details?"
"Yep," he said, triumphantly. "This one's a young woman."
From the Author:
Thank you all for your patience while I went to be with my family for the planned replacement of my dad's pacemaker. He is recovering well (knock wood) and has new cyborg parts with wifi capabilities! I like living in the future. I hope that the rest of the month will not be quite so travel-filled and worrisome.
Thanks to you all, Wonder City Stories has made it to Round 2 of the Best Fiction voting for the Rose & Bay Award! Please take a moment and go vote for your preferred finalist! It would be lovely if Wonder City were to be your choice, of course!
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