It was a tuesday evening when I heard the buzzer ring. Another client – last one of the day – to keep my banker off my back. As she opened the door, the first thing I noticed was her dress. A strange checkered pattern of various dark red rectangles with white lining in between, definitely not from around here. Her glimmering eyes peeked at me from under her dark grey brimmed hat, and she spoke.
“Detective Marsh? I don’t know if this is the right place to go, but … I have information that must be given to the right people. They’re after me, and-“
“Now, hold on a sec. Take a seat, and calm down. Who is after you?”
“My family. They’ve been involved in some … shady dealings with some of the countries ours isn’t too friendly with.”
“Alright, I think you’ve come to the right place. Do you know if they know where you are?”
She paused for a few moments, double-checking that her location settings were disabled on her smartphone. She sniffed as a tear rolled down her cheek to her light brown lips.
“No… no one knows I’m here.”
“Good.” I finally relaxed. Having some family rebel with a hit out on them in your office is damn near the worst thing a P.I. could have. “Take a few minutes, we have the time. When you’re ready, tell me what’s up.”
She took a few minutes, then asked to use the washroom – which is in the hall. I grabbed my sidearm and escorted her to the common room in the hallway. Once we were back in my office, we sat down and continued our conversation.
“My family is quite wealthy … and my father maintains our family’s businesses, stock trades, that sort of thing. He’s a ruthless man, Mr. Marsh … he doesn’t care if he has to hurt or ruin people’s lives just to make more money.”
“What sort of businesses does your family have? Manufacturing? Transportation?”
“That, and research. Our research company had been testing weapons and vehicles designed for combat. They are manufactured by our factories in east Asia, and then sent all over the world to countries and political factions. But … something changed recently.”
“What changed, your father, or the companies?”
“My father… he suddenly closed the research company without consulting with anyone. It was going to be producing -” she was interrupted by an explosion outside.
Terror gripped her face as I peeked outside. A blue Audi lay in flames and several pedestrians were injured on the sidewalk beside it. She took a glimpse through the blinds and confirmed that it was her car. Shaking, she sat back down and spoke again.
“I… I have to run. That’s all that’s left…”
“I have some contacts that can help you hide. We can meet them and get you moved out of town.”
I called my contacts and had them send an escort van to the fire exit of the building. In an hour they picked us up and drove us to the warehouse they used for holding people until everything was set up for a client to escape. During the trip, we discussed the costs and agreed to an amount that she would pay – in cash – to cover the cost. We’re not a government organization, after all.
As she walked from the van to the building, she turned back to me and smiled weakly and spoke.
“Thanks again, Mr. Marsh.”
“In all this, I forgot to get your name, miss…?”
“Lenor. Lenor Delec.”
So, for some context, I wrote this short while working at an office in a large building that had multiple companies. For years I would make a quick pun in my head as I was going in, as the doors had a funny split in the name of the building.
So about 4 years later, I wrote this story and sent it to my colleagues. I watched their faces go from interest to disappointment, pain, or anger. I loved it.
So, here’s what the doors of the building looked like:
Yep. That was the whole point.