At least four things had gone wrong in the relatively short expanse of Molly Malteses morning. One, her daughter Annabelle had once again given her nurse the slip and was now not in lessons as a girl should be, but presumably venturing around the streets of New York like a rampant little urchin.
Two, she hadn't had a respectable case in a good long while, and her understatedly extravagant lifestyle would soon be getting mighty uncomfortable if the veritable drought of business didn't end soon. She was a private investigator in New York, for heavens sakes, one would think there was a murder on every street corner to be looked after.
Three, she hadn't had coffee this morning, and so she was very irate in general. And four, the police were currently handcuffing her hands behind her back.
"You're sure this is the one you saw?" the older of the pair asked the man standing on the sidewalk. He had a deep, rumbling voice and grey whiskers. The man on the sidewalk nodded vehemently, and the younger officer took this as a cue to yank Molly towards their van, throwing her off balance wildly.
"I've never seen this man before in my life!" she said in supremely haughty tones, drawing herself with effort up to her impressive height of 5"11. Her green eyes were hard peridot, casting a glare sharp enough to cut.
"Yeah, because by all accounts you were too busy murderin' that poor fool to notice!" the younger policeman barked in her ear, yanking her head back by her long curtain of vibrant copper hair. She gasped, and taking that as a sign of his victory, the officer sneered and threw her into the back of the car.
"I was home all evening, you bloody imbecile!" she barked, furious as tears welled up involuntarily in her eyes in direct reaction to having half her hair nearly pulled out.
"Tell it to the judge." was all she heard the policeman mutter before the door slammed shut with an authoratative bang. Molly swore colorfully, then took a deep breath.
It didn’t take Marc and Riza very long to find Julia. They pulled up a chair in front of her small desk. “My name is Riza and this is my partner, Marc,” Riza said. “We’re detectives from New York. We are tracking down a little girl that was kidnapped and we saw your story in the newspaper. We have reason to believe that these kidnappings are related, since most of them were kids no older than ten years old.”
Julia put down her cigarette and stared at Riza and Marc for a moment. “I’ve been following the story for only a couple of days now,” she said. “The detectives from Scotland Yard have looked into these kidnappings. Most of my information has come from them. They believe that the Green Hand may have something to do with it. It’s best if you check with them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” The two detectives stood up and thanked her for her time and left.
“Molly’s daughter may only be a coincidence in these kidnappings, but I think there is something more to it,” Marc said to Riza as they walked back into the town square. “If it is the Green Hand, why did the go after Molly’s daughter? Does she have a bad connection with them?” Riza asked. “I don’t know,” Marc replied. “Let’s go get some new clothes and then meet up with Molly, Andrew and Vulkie.” He pulled out his pocket watch. They had about four more hours before it was time to meet back up.
"Hmmm... I don't know, single breasted or double breasted coat? I think that a three-piece suit looks elegant, but..." said Corelli, looking at the different threads, while Molly was coming out of one of the changing rooms with a light blue herringbone tweed suit.
"What do you think?" asked Molly, modelling the suit. Corelli just let out an almost inaudible whistle, then the room filled with the sound of people rushing in.
"What's going on here?" asked Penelope Pins, the tailor.
"Oh, here you are, we thought we would find you here," said Marc as soon as they got into the room.
"Everything is ok?" Molly raised an eyebrow.
Riza nodded, panting, "We've been... in the newspaper, it looks like it has something to do... with the Green Hand, and..." Riza looked at Marc.
"We saw Annabelle, in a car. She was with some men in black suits," Marc continued. Corelli tried not to look at Molly; he knew that with the sole mention of Annabelle, Molly would be trying to look in complete control of herself.
"Ok, why don't we start from the beginning?" asked Corelli.
And the uncomfortable silence.
"Hmmm... ok, let's see, we know that Annabelle here in London, and that she's with someone who has contacts in the black market, maybe someone protected by the Green Hand," started Corelli, narrowing his eyes.
"Contacts with the black market?"
"Yes, I take it you couldn't take a cab to get in here," Corelli continued, Riza nodded. "Well, I couldn't either. In a country at war like this, you can always expect a shortage of gasoline..."
"So if they escaped with cars it means that they have gasoline," continued Marc.
"Exactly! Now, who is the local representative of this Green Hand?"
"Cleopatra Green," answered Riza.
"What kind of places does she frequent?"
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