An Old Kansas City Story
The office door opening that afternoon startled Minty Wilcox and she almost looked up to see who it was. But then she thought, I’d better keep my head down and look busy. It won’t do for Mr. Mathison to catch me reading a mystery novel when I’m supposed to be hard at work. Indeed, George Mathison, the manager of the Kansas City branch of the Price Investigations Agency, was quite strict about the office staff keeping busy, especially Minty, the newest member of the staff.
Not that there was much work to do at the moment, no one there to take dictation from, no operative reports to type, no papers to file.
Still, Minty closed the black book, a favorite of hers that she liked to reread that time of year, and hid it in her top desk drawer. After that, she began typing furiously at her ancient blind-strike Remington typewriting machine. As a precaution earlier, she’d loaded a blank piece of paper in the typewriter. A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, she typed. A quick . . .
“Where’s Mrs. B?” a man asked.
After Minty lifted her hands from the keyboard and looked up, her heart started going pitty pat.
For instead of George Mathison, Daniel Price, one of the agency operatives, stood in the open door. A young man of medium height, he wore a straw boater, a white shirt with a black straight tie knotted under its stiff collar, a white vest, and white trousers.
“Oh, Dan . . .” Minty caught herself in time. Mr. Mathison was ever so strict about employees maintaining proper decorum. He had also forbidden employees to fraternize with each other during business hours—or at any time, for that matter. It certainly wouldn’t do for the agency’s most newly hired employee to err in that respect.
“Why, Mr. Price,” Minty said. “Mrs. Bradford took the afternoon off. She said she had an important errand to run.”
Daniel Price took off his hat and ran his hand over his reddish brown hair, parted in the middle. His neatly trimmed beard and mustache were also reddish brown. “Golly,” he said. “I really need someone to help me.” He closed the door behind himself and hung his boater on the coat tree next to Minty’s parasol.
“I’m sorry that Mrs. Bradford isn’t here,” Minty said. “Is it something I might help you with?” Minty stood up, went around her desk, and took a couple of steps toward the door.
“Perhaps.” He brushed his beard. “You see. I have an appointment with Mr. Ferd Heim, Jr. at the brewery across town.” Daniel fumbled with the gold chain that crossed his vest and pulled out his pocket watch along with a couple of keys.
Minty looked down at her pendant watch at the end of a light chain and pinned to the front of her shirtwaist, white with garnet red pin stripes. She flipped her watch over and read the time. “Why, it’s already half past four.”
“And my appointment with Mr. Heim is for five o’clock. Well, you will have to do, Miss Minty.”
And so Daniel Price lures Minty Wilcox off on a case that starts to sound strangely familiar as he tells her about it and she wonders what he really is up to.
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