Sequence: How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost (part four)
“Hundred,” a voice rose at her back, “hundred ten a month!”
She’d arrived now, at the only address she’d been able to retain, this by chanting it to herself, almost skipping to the rhythm, as she’d made her way along the walk: “300 Chiswell, Number 42, 300 Chiswell, Number 42.” Her hope was to cut a deal with the lease-holder in person.
A dark-haired young man, some inches shorter than Freda, put his head round the door, his gaze resting for a moment on her face, then dropping to her shoes…her second full-body assessment within the hour, equally disapproving. The door was heaved open wide, but the occupant continued blocking the way, and though he would not look her in the eye, Freda judged his excess energy not horseplay, but genuine anger.
“I’m sorry,” she told him, easing in behind her clutch purse, inching towards the apartment’s living room. “I am sorry. You probably deal only with agencies. But I’d happened to hear that you were subletting…”
“Rob!” Over his short head, a woman’s voice sailed. She stepped into Freda’s field of vision…black trousers, a man’s dress shirt with button studs, her bristly dark hair in an antic chignon. “You must let the detective lady in.” Rob’s friend clamped a hand on his shoulder, and pulled him backwards. Freda was nonplussed.
“I’ve finished my call,” the woman told her. “Not that that concerns you, ma’am…but on the other hand, what do I know? Your comrade may be lurking in the shadows, like he was at Boardman’s swaree. Are introductions in order, or have you already gone through my dossier?”
The embarrassing thing was that she knew them. This was Rica Bullard and her friend…yes…Freda had no excuse for this. Martin (the two of them happy when they’d sat down side by side on his mother’s sofa; he kindly ignoring such faults in her work as murkiness and lack of focus) had identified to her Boardman’s circle. But then he’d irritated her, prompting Freda over Rica’s young man.
“You’ve seen this one, haven’t you? Think about it, Freda.”
He had believed for some reason Healy would be known to Phillip. (He probably was, and the aura of bad society was now hounding the poor boy like a nightmare.)
“That,” she’d crossed her arms, “is not the sort of question I can answer about my husband.” Martin, at this, had gathered all his prints, scooping them into a brown envelope, his face darkening as though she’d snapped at him.
“Well, we’re done anyway, Mrs. Murchison. That’s all I got.”
She’d caught his sleeve before he could show her the door…it was because she’d said, “my husband”.
How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost
(2016, Stephanie Foster)