Well, here they are. One thriller opening; one mystery opening. For the record, I should point out that I’ve never attempted a thriller. And now I think I know why.
The day of the funeral was hot. The kind of heat that dulled the senses and made you feel your full age, and I couldn’t afford that. Not today.
I had just come back to my office – an overpriced high-rise that, as of this morning, was double the space I needed – and dropped wearily into my chair. That’s when I noticed the package on my desk. It was a lumpy affair, done up in stiff brown paper, and secured with twine. Reluctantly turning my body away from the cool blast of the air conditioning unit, I studied it a minute before taking a letter opener and cutting the string. The paper fell away, and there it was. A gun. Not just a gun, but, unless I was very much mistaken, the gun.
The elevator door in the outer hall banged open, and I heard her quick footsteps alight. I had heard the rhythmic patter of her spiked heels too many times not to recognize them now. She swung the door open without knocking and stood framed in the doorway. She was still wearing her black widow’s weeds. They suited her.
“Hello, Frank,” she said, her cold eyes taking in the sight of the gun on the desk in front of me. “I see you got my package. Now, what the hell are we going to do about it?”
The day of the funeral was hot, and I wished I hadn’t worn hose. I doubted my grandfather would have cared, now that he was presumably experiencing celestial bliss, but my mother – who was still very much of this world – was a whole other story.
I glanced down again at the address my grandfather’s attorney had given me, and then back up at the marble building in front of me. It was one of those expensive high-rise office buildings in the city’s financial district. Okay, so, maybe the hose were a good idea.
I rode the elevator to the top floor and stepped out into a lush reception area, decorated with glass, mahogany, and leather. The temperature was cool, almost cold. I crossed the thick carpet to the receptionist’s desk and to the efficient looking young man behind it. Before I could speak, he stood up, and in a clipped accent, said, “You must be Miss O’Neill. Mr. Baines is waiting for you. Please follow me.”
Confused more than ever as to why my grandfather’s attorney had sent me here, I followed him into an office that made the receptionist area look as if were decorated with garage sale remnants. A thin, balding man, whom I judged to be in his mid-sixties, sat at an enormous desk. The desk caught my attention, not only because it looked like something that historical treaties might have been signed on, but because of the gun laying on it. “Miss O’Neill to see you, sir,” murmured the receptionist, before discretely vanishing back to the outer office.
“Ah, Miss O’Neill,” said the man, as he rose from his chair. “So good of you to come on such short notice. I was sorry to hear of your grandfather’s passing. He was a very complex man, and he thought very highly of you, which is why,” he said, indicating the gun on the desk, “he wanted you to solve what he couldn’t.”