This ended up being a short chapter to get the story flowing.
Start the story from the beginning Chapter One: Rita Lauren)
Chapter Six: Lander May
It has been one week since I have seen my partner. She had left me to talk to Mr. Guy Jones but never resurfaced that night. I had left the car for her and walked home. The next day I rang up the driver to see if she had returned home, but he informed me that he had strict instructions that his services would not be needed. I would have checked in on her had I not been expecting to be scolded for checking up on her. So I can only infer that Lauren had decided to continue her discussion with Mr. Jones or she had decided to track down her ne’er-do-well brother.
I wouldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy the break. I have been able to get some needed sleep and relaxation since we don’t officially have a case. In addition I have had time to hit the streets. Jeff has appreciated the time we have spent, since as of late he has been left out.
I had started the day in the office, but Jeff and I were quickly getting restless. After some food I decided it was time to stretch our legs and head out of the office. Our recent escapades had raised a new club located in East Lake, The Blue Bird, to our attention. East Lake is an up and coming area and caters to the newly wealthy and young. The area contrasts South Lake which is primarily made up of old money.
The Blue Bird has been described to me as a “hip joint” or the place to be. I’ve been told that the house band is one of the best in all of Four Lakes and is accompanied by the best singers. Usually I wouldn’t be caught dead entering a place like this, but the drinks have been rumored to be the strongest around.
In preparation for the night’s events I had brought a change of clothes to the office. I opted for a three piece suit with no tie. I was told that the suit was a charcoal grey, but all I cared about was the multitude of pockets available to hide my flasks.
Jeff and I opted for a stroll to the club rather than take a cab. We had left the office with sufficiently enough sunlight, so we wouldn’t reach the club until well after dark. If I had timed it right we should arrive just after 8, which will allow me to settle down grab a couple of drinks and get a prime location.
We were a couple of blocks away when I felt the vibrations. They were easily coming from the direction of the club. The vibrations were periodic, but seemed off. It was as if another note was being forced in the measure. The best way I could describe it is like counting 5 in the time that it normally takes you to count to 4. The beat was odd and intrigued me. I used the music to guide me to the exact location, as I was unaware of the club’s ‘exact’ location.
“Hey buddy, you look lost,” said a rough and deep voice bellowed from below.
Looking straight ahead I asked, “Where can I find The Blue Bird?”
“Sir, you are standing in front of it. Can’t you see it?” he said as his voice now came from directly in front of me.
A shift in his position reviled that he had taken to higher ground. I surmised that he was a below average sized human who used a tall seat to appear more intimidating. “Sadly I can’t see,” as I pointed to Jeff with my stick.
“I truly apologize, sir.”
“Nothing to be sorry about my man. Not like you were the cause of my situation,” I chuckled.
“Anyway’s I do apologize. Go in and ask for Lena, tell her that Albert sent you. You should be well taken care of the evening.”
I decided not to say anything else and enjoy what I could only assume to be some complimentary drinks. I gave a tip of my leather hat and pulled the door open.
Jeff and I walked in and were welcomed with spicy lilac air. The band had taken a break causing the club to be unusually silent. I heard the staggered tapping of the waitress’s shoes as she approached.
I tipped my hat and said with a grin, “You must be Lena.”
In a high pitched voice, “How did you guess? Did Albert describe you to me?” Her hands fell on my right arm.
She obviously didn’t realize I was blind and had begun into her flirtatious routine. Her hands had found their way to my head and flipped the hat off of my head. I swiftly grabbed the hat with my left hand and re-positioned it on my head. “Sorry dame, you aren’t my type.”
Her once high-pitched voice dropped and her East Lake accent emerged, “How did you know who I was then?” Her hands began to fan me as she realized that I couldn’t see anything.
“Let’s keep that my little secret,” as I said winking my right eye. “Albert said you could take care of me.”
Her once flirtatious hands wrapped around my right elbow as she nudged me to move. Her pace quickened until we reached the first row of seats the abruptly stopped.
“Will this do?” Her voice was noticeably less enthusiastic and was poised to head back to perform her hostess’s duties.
“Could we settle closer to the center?”
Without saying a word she hurried Jeff and I to an empty table. We passed about 2 rows of tables and it felt like there were at least 4 more ahead. I decided not to say another word and just let it go. There was no need to make any more trouble, at least with this one.
I waited at my table for a couple of minutes, before another waitress headed my way. Before she could take my order she was diverted to the front. It seemed as though the club was starting to fill. The tables around me that were once empty now sported some young men. There seemed to be no women filtering into the club, I found this curious.
“Sir, what can I get you?” asked a very perky waitress. I would guess to be elvish and quite a young one.
“Oh I didn’t see you there,” I chuckled to myself. “Can I get three fingers of whiskey?”
“Would you like any particular type?”
“Any will do.”
She was back in a flash with my drink, but she seemed to linger.
“Can I get anything for your dog?”
I heard him whimper a little. “I think he is okay.” I could feel the Jeff stare me down, but I knew he would be fine. He just liked the attention. I promised him we would be out of here quickly if nothing came of it.
The drink was good, but not that stiff. There didn’t seem to be any interesting characters tonight, but it might be too early. The band hadn’t even come out yet.
“Welcome to The Blue Bird,” announced a voice from the center of the stage.
The club went silent as if the words he was about to say were the most important in all of the land.
“You have all come to see the headliner, Miss Lily …” The crowd erupted into cheers before he finished announcing her name.
“Please calm down. She will be out shortly, but we have a new opening act.” The rambunctious crowd went silent.
“To introduce our act I would like to welcome to the stage my good friend and partner in this fine establishment, Bobby Lauren.” This was an interesting turn of events. The way that Lauren talked about him I thought of him as some kind of criminal.
“Tonight I bring you an act all the way from North Lake. These three women are making their debut with their new sultry sound that I guarantee that you have never heard before. So please put your hands together for The Gems.”
Three women jumped onto stage while the band tuned up. As they started to sing the crowd returned to their conversations. It was clear that everyone was only interested in Lily. I shifted my concentration to engaging one of my fellow patrons.
“Sir would you like another drink?”
“I would love another drink and let’s make it a double,” I smiled at her to keep her attention. “What can you tell me about this singer Lily?”
“Isn’t that why you are here?”
“Sadly it is not. I came for the drinks and heard there was a good house band.”
The waitress pulled up a chair and took up a seat. “I would say this all started about 5 days ago. Bobby came in one morning real early saying he had found us a headliner. No one believed him after the last 2 he brought in were busts. Frankie told him to bring her in that afternoon for a try out. When …”
“Wait, wait who is Frankie?”
“Frankie is the co-owner with Bobby. He just came on stage to great everyone.”
“Sorry, for the interruption. Please continue.”
“Where was I? Oh yeah. When she came in she blew the house down. I had never heard the band sound so good, we were all dancing and moving. Frankie kissed Bobby right then and there. We were sent to get the word out.”
“So this place has been packed ever since?”
“Yep, the single men and women usually come right after work. The couples tend to stroll in after the opening acts.”
“Thank you for bringing me up to speed. I don’t believe I caught your name,” I stuck my hand out for a polite, but awkward handshake.
She grabbed my hand with both of hers, “Agatha, but my friends call me Aggie.”
I brought my hand close to my face and gave a slight peck on the backside of her left hand. “Nice to meet you Aggie. You can call me Lander.”
“I better get back to work. I’ll be right back with your drink.”
A couple of more drinks in and I was ready for this star attraction. Before I could call Aggie over for another drink the crowd went silent. There were no introductions, the music just started up.
“Thank you for coming out tonight. Please put your hands together for tonight’s opening act, The Gems.”
The voice seemed utterly familiar, but I couldn’t nail it. She started her first song and the room was just transfixed upon her melodious voice. I must admit it was something to admire.
After a couple of songs the crowd erupted into applause. “Thank you, thank you very much. Tonight I have a new song entitled Be My Baby. This is an upbeat song, so please grab someone and drag them onto the dance floor.”
As the song started I began to ponder that voice. Jeff nudged me as we had just come to the same conclusion. She had slipped back into her accent and gave it away. Lily was none other than my partner Rita Lauren. Now the big question was what kind of trouble did she get herself into?
I finished 2 more drinks and called for Aggie. I paid her some of the drinks, as I expected some to be covered, and provided a handsome tip and my phone number. There was no way I was going to be able to get a message to Lauren or talk to her after, so I decided to leave and sort this out in the morning.