A Quarter Mile Down Holborn

legal secretaryBob Franklin strode away from the police line and flicked his cigarette butt into the gutter. The cop wouldn’t let him cross and he’d already used up all his P.I. privileges with the duty sergeant.

Somehow he knew the murder was linked to an inheritance case he’d been working on but without seeing the crime scene it was tough to move forward.

He tapped a Lucky from the pack in his breast pocket and rolled it between his fingers while his Zippo flickered in the chill November breeze. A smoke always helped him consider the options.

He hated to do it but he knew he’d have to put in a call to Doreen, his ex. It galled him to be beholden to a dame he used to date but he was in a dead end and needed help.

Doreen had just come back from a legal secretarial course where she had developed her already slick skills in family law and wills & probate. Maybe she’d give him a break and leave a photocopy of some paperwork on her desk if he swung by.

From the car, he dialled her number but it went straight to voicemail. He’d have to drive over there and take the chance her boss would see him. They weren’t exactly friends, especially as he’d done the dirty on him with Doreen just 6 months earlier.

As luck would have it, Franklin found a parking space right outside Doreen’s office.

He ran up the stairs to the fourth floor where he was surprised to find a new girl sitting at Doreen’s desk.

“Hey Sweetie,” he opened, “Where’s Doreen?”

“Doreen don’t work here no more,” replied the new girl. She was a cutie. Fresh skin and blonde hair tied up in a ponytail.

“Where’d she go?” Asked Franklin.

“Holborn someplace. Seems she passed some kind of fancy legal secretarial courseand got offered a better job in mid-town.”

Franklin pulled out his packet of Luckies and offered one to the girl, taking one for himself at the same time. She declined so he put his back in the packet.

“What’s your name, Honey?” He asked.

“What’s it to you?”

“Ahhh. Don’t be like that. I’m a friend of Doreen’s and I need a little information on the Smithson case.”

“No can do, Bub. It’s confidential and I ain’t gonna lose my job over something like that.” She replied.

Sensing there was nothing to be gained from the girl, Franklin turned on his heel, throwing her an over-friendly “OK Toots. See you around,” as he left.

Maybe if he could find Doreen’s college he could get a break on where she had gone to work.

Back at the office, he combed the phone book for a list of colleges that might offer a legal secretarial course. There were dozens. But from what the girl at Doreen’s former office had said, he had a hunch it would be in Holborn. When he spotted Holborn Training in the book, it seemed a good place to start.

Experience told him colleges weren’t about to give up information on female students so he dropped by a florist on the way over, figuring he would pose as one of Doreen’s boyfriends to try to get the goods on where she had gone.

At Holborn Training, he leaned on the reception desk and quizzed the front of house girl, telling her he had just got in from out of town.

“I’m looking for Doreen Garvey. She’s doing some kind of legal secretarial course,” he said in the most girl-friendly voice he could manage.

Just as the receptionist was about to tell him she couldn’t help, one of the students interrupted:

“She’s already graduated and found a great new job over at Saville and Billings,” she offered.

“Thanks, Honey,” he replied and made his way out of the building. At last somebody had given him a break.

Saville & Billings was a quarter mile down High Holborn so he left the car and hotfooted it over, taking the steps two at a time up to the office, still holding the bouquet.

He turned the brass handle below the frosted glass and burst into the office. Nothing could have prepared him for the scene in front of him.

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