Nan McHough splashed her way in the door of the Tip Top Café on Charles Avenue. Her friend Sheryl Howard was already seated in a booth when Nan arrived. Sheryl had wanted to meet Nan to discuss recent events and a surreptitious delivery at her office. Both women were reporters for the Herald Bagatelle newspaper, a journal which featured the more sensational side of the news.
A clap of thunder greeted Nan as she spotted the waving Sheryl in the empty café. “Hey Sheryl.” Nan struggled to get out of her raincoat.
Sheryl pointed to the opposite side of the booth. “Shhh. The walls have ears.”
Nan spoke with a hushed, but worried voice. “Did you bring it here?”
“Right here.” Sheryl patted her briefcase. The leather satchel was setting on her left, away from prying eyes. "It's your bracelet."
“I don’t think you should have, I mean, are you sure it is mine?”
Sheryl nodded affirmably.
“Then we have to take it to the police, I don’t even want to touch the envelope. My attorney says that if I don’t turn it in that I can be arrested for obstruction, but since I don’t have it I guess that doesn’t count. But, you need to send it to the police.”
Days earlier Nan had wandered into a crime scene, and now was herself, being investigated in the murder of a local street person. The bracelet, delivered in a package to the newspaper, was thought to be a link between Nan and the murder victim.
“Uh, I don’t think I want to be involved with the police, I just want to report on them.” Sheryl pulled the satchel closer to her side.
A waitress approached and Sheryl sat back in the booth. “I’m just getting coffee, do you want anything?”
Nan looked up at the waitress. “Decaf coffee, please.”
The waitress didn’t respond, just made a note, turned and left.
“Okay, Nan, I am going to simply put this envelope on your desk at work. Delivery receipt is attached.”
Nan whispered. “This conversation did not take place.”
“Got it.” Sheryl said as she waved at the waitress. “Miss, could I have my coffee in a go cup, please?”
Nan looked out the window of the café. The rain had tapered into a gentle drizzle and traffic along Charles Avenue was moving briskly along. “I guess I will sit her for an hour and then call the attorneys and tell them that the bracelet was delivered to the Bagatelle.”
“Okay. I’ll call you later.” Sheryl stood to leave as the waitress delivered two coffees in go-cups.
Nan looked up at her friend. “Remember, you didn’t see me here, and you didn’t have the bracelet with you.”
Sheryl picked up her briefcase, umbrella and coffee. “Just stopped in for coffee.”
“Right.” Nan took the lid off of her coffee cup and gently stirred in creamer. “I’ll be right here. Call me.”
Sheryl put two dollars on the table. “Later, oh, I forgot, I can’t see you.” She acted like Nan was not sitting in front of her.
Sheryl backed into the doorway to open the door and seconds later she was walking down the sidewalk in front of the café. Nan could see the general flow of traffic. A white painter’s van slowly pulled up next to the café and a man in a white jumpsuit and painter’s cap jumped out of the passenger side.
Nan disregarded the event as someone running in for coffee. Instead, the man turned and grabbed Sheryl, tore the briefcase from her arm, pushed Sheryl to the ground, and then ran back to the van. Coffee from Sheryl’s cup splattered the café window.
As the van sped away Nan struggled to free herself from the tiny booth. “Sheryl!” she screamed.
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