Reformed burglars never rest
Sleuth About Town
"Brr... I'm cold."
Those were the first words that came out of Elizabeth March's mouth as she entered the hall of the well located house in London. Luckily, the place was warm and cozy.
Empty, too. She wondered were all the servants were.
Well, they'd show up, eventually. She could bet they were in the kitchen, talking and playing cards. She didn't mind. They deserved their rest and some fun.
With that in mind, she moved to the living room, dragged a chair near the fireplace and sat there, just staring at the roaring fire.
Much was in her mind. Her past life as a burglar still haunted her. All the wrong things she had done still lived in her nightmares. The woman let out a tired sigh. All that was in the past now.
She had a new life. An agency. Friends. A new name.
Yes. A new life.
It could be a better one, if she didn't have to carefully hide her past from everyone. She had to mind every word that came out of her mind. Every letter she received. Every phone call...
She sighed and got up, reluctantly.
"Miss Elizabeth March?"
"Yes. Who's there?"
"Just a friend who wants you to know that dreams may shatter like glass..."
"What, what do you..."
He had hung up, and so did she.
She was still standing by the phone, trembling, when she heard the footsteps. She didn't turn around. It was probably just one of the servants. Yes, it was Gerald, her butler.
He had asked something whose meaning she couldn't reach. Maybe how she was.
"Sorry, Gerald. I'm fine. I was talking on the phone, and felt slightly light-headed."
She forced a smile to the man. He smiled back.
"Maybe you should take a bath and rest, ma'am.", the man suggested, carefully.
"Not now. I've got a phone call to make. After that, I'll do what you say."
She watched as the man left the room and picked the phone back up. She dialed a number, hoping the person on the other side was home. (...)
O'Leary finally gave Marc and Joseph one more name of whom might be threatening Elizabeth; a crooked British police officer named Bill Duncan. Years ago, he made some arrests and Elizabeth had been one of them. But she got out due to the lack of evidence and he has been after her since then.
Marc and Joseph went to the door and threw the chair out of the way and the door flew open. A doctor and two nurses busted in the door screaming incoherent words at Joseph and Marc who ignored them. The next place they would go would be the police station and have a little fun with some crooked cops.
Molly heard angry screaming down the hall.
"Beat him up...broken leg...ribs...!"
Molly lifted an eyebrow. "Marc must be here." she said decidedly. She looked down, and winced.
"Not my best day." she said, and leaned against the wall, her white suit splattered with blood and dirt. Her shoulder was heavily bandaged; apparently she had lost quite a bit of blood. And she was worried about Pierce, none of the doctors were talking...
"I know a few people at the Yards," Zeo told Marc, "In fact, most of them are good people, unlike the cops in the States, but of course there's always the exceptions. I'm sure I can get my friends to hand over Duncan to us for some 'questioning'."
As they walked down the hospital ward they bumped into a heavily injured Molly. They exchanged their stories as to what was happening on both sides. A nurse then informed Molly that she found Pierce, whom Molly was looking for. "We should head down to the Yard now before it gets really late. Molly, we will return here to see you right after."
The two detectives then headed over to the Victoria Embankment by the River Thames. Zeo seemed to know the area quite well. When they entered the New Scotland Yard headquarter, some officers even recognized Zeo and greeted him. Zeo asked for a Captain Leopold Parr and they were taken to see him immediately.
"Joseph! Long time! What brings you back in London? How is the Bureau treating you?" Captain Parr shook Zeo's hand.
Zeo sighed and let his old friend know that he had enough of his director, but was holding on fine. He then explained his visit to London with the O'Leary case, as well as how he was helping out with his friend with the Elizabeth March situation.
"Officer Bill Duncan? Yes, I think he works the night shift and was just reporting in. I can get you a room where you can 'interview' him...." Leopold replied. Being in the Yard for years, Captain Parr can spot an interrogator from miles away. Seeing the looks on Lacrimosa's face, the captain added, "Just make sure you don't leave any marks...."
Zeo quickly responded, "Don't worry Leopold, we won't get you into any trouble. Being in the force for so long, I know all the tricks: hammer on telephone books, smacking the palm of the feet... I assure you we won't leave a trace."
"I don't need to know the detail, just get on with what you need." The captain stated. He quickly arranged an interviewing room for them.
Molly nodded her thanks at Joseph and Marc and followed the nurse, who looked at her slight stagger with pursed lips, but said nothing.
"Your friends in here." she said, gesturing to a room. "And I should warn you; I don't know what kind of trouble you got that poor man into but he might not pull out of it."
She left, and Molly sighed and pushed open the door. Pierce was swathed in blankets as pale as his pasty flesh, and his chest rose and fell irregularly. She crossed the room and took the chair next to the bed, grasping his cold hand in hers and resting her cheek against it.
"I'm sorry, my dear, dear friend." she whispered softly, and remained there for a few minutes before rising and planting a kiss on his forehead. "Thank you."
Immensely uncomfortable with the hospital atmosphere, she checked herself out and headed for the hotel, where she slunk into her room without attracting notice from the room across the hall. There, she gingerly showered and cleaned herself up, putting on clean clothing before she sat down at the desk to think.
"Where have you gone, Jack?" she murmured to the empty air, and then wondered when she should go meet the others at the hospital.
"Maybe I'll just shut my eyes for a moment...to think." she said, curling up on the bed. The room suddenly seemed large and entirely too empty. With that last thought, she slipped into a fitful sleep, only to be woken a mere hour later.
"Ms. Maltese, we have some bad news regarding your friend Mr. Malone." a hospital aide told her in regretful tones, and Molly barely resisted the urge to scream. "Is it possible that you would know who to contact for arrangements?"
Dully, Molly gave the orderly the name and phone number of Pierce's sister whom she had met on a couple of occasions. Then she hung up and threw the phone as hard as she could against the wall, where it promptly splintered and fell in shards to the carpet. She sank to the carpet as well.
"BANG!" Elizabeth and Charlie looked at eachother "That came from Molly's room." Charlie said. "Clift watch Elizabeth I'm gonna check that out." said Charlie opening the door and drawing his pistol.
Charlie made his way across the hall...."Hmm nothing looks out of place." He thought to himself.
Charlie knocked on the door....no answer. He turned the door knob and pushed. The door came open easily. As Charlie walked in he saw Molly sitting on the floor.
" Molly, whats wrong? Was someone here?" asked Charlie. Looking around he saw the phone...what was left of it in a pile by the far wall. "So thats what made the noise." Charlie thought to himself.
"Charlie...he's gone" is all Molly said.
With a deep sigh, Molly straightened up and patted Charlie on the shoulder.
"Is Annabelle still in that room?" she asked, and when Charlie nodded, she went to her suitcase and pulled out a small bottle of liquid. As she dampened a rag with it, a sickly sweet smell permeated the room. She crossed to the door and opened it, slinking stealthily into the room across the hall where Anna was sitting on the floor, her back to her. With startling ease, Molly slipped one hand over her eyes and the rag over her nose and mouth. Annabelle kicked once and twisted, and then fell limp.
Molly threw the rag into a nearby trashcan, and then hoisted the now unconscious Anna into her arms and sailed out of the room without saying a word, leaving everyone shocked speechless.
She cradled the child to her as she descended the steps and hailed a taxi, repeating the same journey she had taken mere hours before. It seemed surreal that Pierce could have been alive and well then. And she knew that his death was her fault, for her own lack of foresight those hours ago.
She exited the taxi and one of the younger nuns was already waiting out front, her face solemn. She told the driver to stay; he would be taking them to the docks in a moment. The Sister had packed suitcases at her feet, and Molly handed her a sizeable wad of money.
"Do you know your destination?" she inquired, and the woman nodded and opened her mouth to speak, but Molly raised a hand.
"I don't want to know where you're headed. You will be in contact with the Mother Superior, I imagine. She will tell you when it is safe to return. I shall leave more money in her possession if you should need it. And thank you."
The suitcases were soon loaded into the taxi, as was the sleeping child. As the young Sister opened the door and slid inside, Molly sighed and handed her a small square.
"You may give that to her if she's ever curious." Molly, handing over the small self-portrait, and then they were gone.
Jack looked in the mirror at his cheek. Amelia's unerring aim had left a swollen cut that smarted terribly. As he turned from the mirror, he wondered if she were dead.
He felt sort of odd at the thought. He had shot her in blind rage, rage he didn't even knew he possessed. But he had a child, and she had kept the secret from him. Of course, he had been trying to burn her alive in her apartment those years ago, but he had changed since then. A bit. Enough to feel something...something, when he had held his child. She had been unconscious, but she looked like she was sleeping. She was lovely, he thought as he took a seat at his desk and began writing a business letter. She looked like a tiny miniature of her mother, except she had his dark eyes.
Once more Jack's thoughts returned to Amelia. Her friends had called her Molly. Once the name Amelia had matched her icy hauteur perfectly, but Molly seemed to suit her perfectly. Even when in the tensest of situations, facing him, the good humor was in all the angles and curves of her face. She had always been lovely, he thought. She looked like a movie star, even tired, and with a long scar over one eye. He wondered how she got it.
"Have I killed her, then?" he asked the room, with something in his voice that was almost regret. He stared at the wall for a moment, thinking on this, and then shrugged.
"So be it." he said, and put on a record, whistling a little as he slid the letter into an envelope.
The only illuminations in the windowless room was a dim ceiling lamp and a reading light on the conference table. Beside that, only two wooden armed chairs adorned the chamber. Nothing more. Zeo appreciated his friend Leopold Parr for knowing exactly what he needed. The two detective had arranged a suitcase with the 'equipment' to be used, and waited quietly in the room. Both were exhausted from the busy day they had.
The silence finally broke by two clear knocks on the door. An officer in his early thirties entered. He was clean shaven, stood straight and had piercing eyes. He looked nothing like what Zeo imagined.
"I was informed that you two are looking me?" The officer questioned.
"You must be officer Bill Duncan. Please have a seat." Zeo offered and quietly locked the door behind him. A slight frown passed between Duncan's brows but he hesitantly complied and sat down. Before he could finished asking what was going on, a handkerchief with chloroform was forced upon his face. The officer struggled hard but the chemical took effect quickly and he was soon smothered unconscious.
Duncan woke up disorientated. A naked light bulb was three inches from his eyes. The heat and the glare was excruciating. When he tried to shield his eyes from the bright light, only then did he realize all his limbs were bounded tightly to the wooden chair he was still sitting in. A phone book was placed on his chest. He tried to look around but the glare had blinded his eyesight to everything else.
"It's 2am in the morning, Duncan, so most officers have either gone home or are on duty out on the streets." The voice of the man who greet him stated, "The few who are here have been 'informed' about this, so scream and yell all you want, it will only make us happy."
"I'm a Scotland Yard officer. What do you think you are doing?" Duncan challenged; his lips were parched.
Suddenly a hammer stuck the thick phonebook on his chest. He felt was if he was hit by a truck. Duncan grunted silently, not showing signs of how heavy the blow actually felt.
"This is just to remind you who's doing the questioning." The voice said, then a hand ripped a few dozen pages off the phonebook. "You are to answer the rest of the questions quickly and honestly, or the phone book will only get thinner, and by that, each blow we administer will be heavier than the previous one."
Duncan remained silent.
"Years ago, you made some arrests and one named Elizabeth March had been part of it. Is that correct?"
"What does that have to do with..." Another heavy blow in the chest. Duncan felt as if his internal organs were turning into liquid.
"Answer the question, is that correct?" More pages were ripped away from the phone book.
"Yes." Duncan coughed.
"But she got out due to the lack of evidence."
"It happened that way." Duncan replied quietly.
"So you made a threatening phone call to her, telling her that 'dreams may shatter like glass...' "
Duncan remained silent.
"Answer the question!" Another hand ripped half the phone book away. "The next blow will permanently damage your lungs but no one will ever find out what had happened. Did you make a threatening call to Elizabeth March?" The voice bellowed, but the Yard officer's mind had drifted to a time years in the past, when he first met the dame as he worked as an undercover agent fresh off the academy. His work made the arrest of the entire crime circle possible, but he let an important evidence slip which resulted in her release. He had been after her since then, tormented between justice and affection.
"She's a burglar, not matter how she seem to have changed. Elizabeth will remain a criminal for life." Duncan declared, staring into the shadowy faces just beyond the reach of the lamp light."She deserves to be behind bar...and..." Duncan closed his eyes, "... and I cannot get her face off my mind."
That done with, Molly gave a deep sigh and started down the street. The wound on her shoulder had torn open as she carried her daughter; suspicious warmth was starting to seep through the bandages. Sighing wearily, she hailed another cab and moved around to get into the back seat. As she did so, she looked up and saw a man climbing into the back seat of a dark car. It had no license plates. Curious, she leaned forward, just at the moment Jack Billings looked over and met her eyes, letter clutched in hand.
They stared at each other for a brief moment; both too surprised or weary to draw their weapons. But as he looked on with something like surprise and admiration, she narrowed her eyes and stared at him. Her look plainly promised that the next time they met, one of them would be dead beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Was it her imagination, or did he give a slight nod before slamming his car door? And what did it mean? Was it an acknowledgement that his formerly innocent wife had become a formidable match for him? Or something else?
Molly rode back to the hotel in silence. She climbed up the steps and disappeared into Pierce's and her room, where she bent down by his luggage and picked up a shirt he had worn just a day ago. She breathed in the musky scent on the white cotton, closing her eyes, and then she began to tear it into strips and fashioned a makeshift bandage for herself. It was imperative to her, for some reason, that the others not know just how badly hurt she was.
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