The mystery is unfolding, chapter-by-chapter. Here’s Chapter 9. If you’ve missed the previous chapters, scroll down and catch up. New installments are posted on Fridays.
Waltzing in the Snow
Chapter 9: More than Kin and Less than Kind
Daniel walked Amanda back to the W after dinner. She was a bit tipsy and very tired. It had been a challenging day and after the gin & tonic they had shared a bottle of wine with dinner. She checked her phone. Elise had sent her a text message: All OK here. Dull day.
And she had two voicemail messages from her daughter:
Mom, how is it going in NYC? Did they find your friend’s body? It’s so morbid! I’ll be up past midnight so call me whenever.
Already 11. If you are still up call me. I want to know what happened.
Amanda called and told her daughter about the odd experience of retuning to the 6th Precinct and about her reunions with Daniel and Mr. and Mrs. Ruiz. Rebecca thought it was amazing that she knew Daniel Blake and that they had been close friends in college. Amanda thought it was more amazing that she still felt close to him all these years later and that she wanted to reconnect with her old friend.
Midnight in New York was noon in Hong Kong, so Amanda called Jason. He was astonished at the news.
“It’s all too confusing, isn’t it? The body of Maria Ruiz with the barrette you gave Candy and the hit man style shooting, plus the Russian mobster. It’s too much like a wacky crime novel, too unreal!”
“You said it Jason, unreal…”
“Oh, pretty weird on this end too.”
“Do you remember Horatio Lane?”
“The little guy with the thick glasses. He worked with Dad in Madrid and then they came back to DC together. The spook.”
“That strange little man was CIA?”
“Yup, honestly, Amanda, I know you were young but he was so obvious. He was the CIA man in the US Embassy. Dad used to call him ‘Spooky’ behind his back.”
“Oh, yeah… I remember he came to Easter dinner one year. When was that? Oh, right before I graduated from college. That was the year I invited a bunch of friends to visit.”
“Yes, all your nerdy friends — the playwright, the pre-med girl, Candy…”
“Well, I ran into Horatio Lane here.”
“In Hong Kong?”
“Yeah, I’m here. It’s not that weird a place to live.” Jason sounded defensive. He’d retired from U. Mass where he’d taught history and followed his banker wife to Hong Kong. He was blogging about Chinese art, hoping to write a book about the Boxer Revolution and hanging out with the expat community. “Well, Spooky and I had a pretty bizarre conversation about that Easter weekend. He reminded me about the big goon who showed up in time for dessert on Sunday.”
“He was somebody’s bodyguard — a big, bouncer type. I remember he had the coldest eyes.”
“Yes, that’s him. Horatio was a little weird about the whole thing. Dropped hints that Dad had hired the goon to do something terrible, made like I knew what was going on. But when I pressed him to tell me what he was talking about, he just clammed up.”
“That is strange. Very strange.”
“Spooky has got to be pushing 90, but he’s the bridge champ at the social club Ellen had to join for the business connections. It’s not like he’d make up a story. It got me thinking about the old days, when I was little and Dad was stationed in Vienna. Everything was Cold War espionage.”
“Jason, Washington in 1980 was a long way off from Vienna in the 50s.”
“I guess. No, I know you’re right. Spooky was probably trying to mess with me. It must be hard for a man like him to give it all up — the intrigue, the drama, and then, nothing.”
“Do you realize Rebecca is the same age I was when I graduated from NYU? She wants to visit you before she goes back to school in the fall.”
“Tell her we have plenty of room and I’d love to see her. Ellen is planning to retire next year, so tell her to give me a call or email me and we’ll show her around.”
“Coming back to the States when Ellen retires?”
“She wants to go back to Boston or to live in DC.”
“Boston? Didn’t you just sell the house?”
Jason sighed audibly, and Amanda chuckled in response.
“It’s a good thing she knows how to make a living,” Jason added. “I can’t believe she misses Boston.
They chatted for a while, but when Amanda started to yawn they said goodnight.