Bad News Travels Slow — Continued
Fiction Saturday – Continued…
My old Buick was running on fumes all the way to the gas station. So was I. A “fill ‘er up” and a vending machine cinnamon roll got me on the road out to the industrial edge of town.
I never expected a place called “Granny Sweet’s Bakery” to look so much like a steel mill.
I was able to get past the security guard at the gate by telling him I was there answering an ad for a baker. After I signed in as Tommy Dorsey he gave me directions to the personnel office, which I ignored, and hiked up the stairs to the top floor.
The Head Man is always on the top floor. They always say it’s so they can look out over their accomplishments. I say it’s so they can see who’s coming after them.
The name on the door read “J.C. Dinwiddie – Plant Manager.” Just the man I wanted to see, but when I opened the door I saw his secretary – the sign on her desk read, “P.D. Quick” – and she was. Before I got two steps inside the door she was up and moving in my direction.
“Can I help you?” she said. At least that’s what her voice said. Her eyes weren’t so polite. She looked at me like I was at her back door begging for a sandwich.
I introduced myself and gave her one of my business cards. She looked at it and handed it back to me like it was covered with ants.
“I’m here to see your Boss,” I told her.
“Concerning?” She didn’t waste words.
“Concerning what I want to talk with him about. Not with you.” I wasted a few on her.
“You’ll need an appointment. Good afternoon.”
With that she turned and headed back to her desk, letting her backside dot the “I’s” and cross her “T’s.”
“Tell Mr. Dinwiddie that I’m here representing the wife of his Boss, George Sweet. You know, the man who could have you working as a mannequin at Macy’s by next week.”
Without missing a beat she changed course toward Dinwiddie’s office. She went in and closed the door behind her. Three heartbeats and a deep breath later she was back.
“Mr. Dinwiddie will see you now.” She held the door open for me. As I squeezed past her I smiled, “Cheer up, Sunshine. You look like you just stepped in something.” She didn’t smile back.
Dinwiddie was standing behind his desk. His office had floor to ceiling windows. He could see the entire bakery grounds and halfway back into town. Nobody was going to sneak up on this guy.
I handed him my card too. He glanced at it then slipped it into his jacket pocket.
“How can I help you? You’re ‘representing’ Mrs. Sweet, you say. How so?” He gestured for me to have a seat. I couldn’t afford a real leather office chair like that – not unless I hit the Daily Double for a week.
I started in with the plain truth. “Mrs. Sweet’s husband is missing. Nobody knows the why or where. She’s hired me to find him. It’s that simple.”
“Nothing is that simple. George has disappeared, that much is true, but the why and where… Now, that part is far from simple. The police are working on this as well, are they not?” He had the speaking voice of a Barrymore.
“They are, but they have a lot of other things on their plate. I’m not sure how much of an effort they’re making.”
“Really?” he said, standing up. “Let’s find out, shall we? Oh, Chief O’Reilly, could you come in here, please.”
On the far side of the office another door opened and the City’s Chief of Police walked in. He didn’t look happy either.
Barrymore spoke up again. “Chief, can you tell our inquisitive friend here what steps your fine Police Force are taking to find George Sweet. Tell him honestly.”
I guess that Dinwiddie had room in that jacket pocket for both my card and the Police Chief.
The Chief looked at Dinwiddie, then at me, then back at Dinwiddie. He gulped, cleared his throat, and then looked back at me, sitting in that soft leather chair. Finally he spoke up, as his Master commanded.
“We’re not doing a damn thing.”
— To Be Continued —