Nineteen missed calls.
I can’t believe Blyth and all his men kept my cellular on me the entire time. I can’t believe in all my adventures it has never been broken, not even once. It’s like people just do not care about destroying this plastic brick.
Nineteen missed calls, and fourteen of them from Karina, the last of which was just thirty-nine minutes ago.
I lean back in my chair and sigh–
I think my broken ribs are working overtime to heal, but overtime is still not fast enough.
Karina… I’m really sorry about not meeting you at the Slappy Burger today. The timing wasn’t right. But I’ll make it up to you soon. I’ll promise myself that now.
Funny that Mr. Larkins never bothered to call after I didn’t come back from lunch. I wonder if that means he doesn’t care, or if I’m going to be out of a job if I miraculously survive this.
Either way, let’s focus on the present.
“One pitcher, here you go,” the server says, setting down a pitcher of beer, just like she likes it. A pitcher of beer, a baseball game on the CRT, and the delightful atmosphere of Neddrick’s in the afternoon: it’s the perfect honey trap.
And right on time, there she is in all her… casual clothes… glory…?
Casual… clothes…? A… skirt and blouse? Sh…short hair????
“M-m-m-marge?!” I shout.
“Hiya, Morgan,” she says, pulling out her chair. She sits down and straightens her skirt.
“Oh, this?” She curls her index finger through her hair, or what’s left of it. “Yeah, I got a haircut the other day. Being summer, and all.”
“You really did retire from the private detective business.”
“Um, yeah, I told you that last week,” Marge says. She grabs a glass and pours beer all the way up to the rim. “Done with that stuff for a while. I’m taking a break. Going to write a book. Spend some time with the old lady.”
“Oh, how’s Mei?” I ask.
“Still in Frankfurt. She doesn’t come back until the end of June.” She pushes the pitcher to me. “Want some?”
“Oh, sad. And no thanks. It’s all for you.”
Halfway through her first glass already, Marge’s relaxed demeanor has cleared and she’s already into business mode. This is literally the opposite of what alcohol is supposed to do for you. She sets her glass down and clasps her fingers together. If she had glasses, no doubt they would be glaring from some unknown source of light. “So, what’s the occasion?”
“There’s no-one watching us. Don’t worry.” She pours a refill from the pitcher. And this is an aside, but damn I can’t believe she cut her hair so short. Is it shorter than mine now? That’s crazy…
“Donald Blyth kidnapped me this morning and kidnapped my friends.” Or killed them, but– No.
“Donald Blyth died last week,” she says.
“It’s a long story,” I say. “But he got away and I need to know where he went. I have to stop him before–”
“I’ll stop you before you continue,” Marge interrupts. “Just because I worked for Blyth Industries on their investigation to the Social Media Killer doesn’t mean I know anything about the man. I was sent to investigate Jones, not the CEO.”
“But you… actually were investigating him before that…”
“For a privileged client whose identity I will not reveal.”
“You already revealed that. It was my boss.”
“Even if I am done with my private work for now, I still have an oath of professionalism to uphold,” she says. “Even if Donald Blyth only hired me because he thought he would be able to keep tabs on you by proxy, it doesn’t mean I was actively working against him the entire time to undermine his every move under the radar.”
She puts up a finger for me to wait, chugs the rest of her glass, and continues: “Even if he was constantly monitoring me and that infuriated me to no end, it doesn’t mean I decided to go underneath the entire investigation team’s noses and uncover information that I then sent along to respected sources which was then passed along until it ended up on a secret research server. And even if I didn’t like the man, it doesn’t mean I snooped around and found the address of a secret underground headquarters where he spends a lot of his time.” Marge shakes her head in the most patronizing way possible. “Honestly, Morgan. It’s completely foolish to believe I would do anything so brazen and risky.”
We both spend a few moments silently smirking at one another.
“You’re my favorite sister, Marge,” I say.
“I love both of my siblings,” she replies. “Even you.”
“So, since I can’t help you, is there anything else for me?”
I stand up and give Marge one last respectful nod. “No. See you later.”
“See y– Wait a minute, did you pay the bill already?”
Before she can have the chance to ask again, I exit Neddrick’s. There’s not a second to lose. But, thanks to my sister, we may have an actual chance.
(I can’t believe she just went and got a new haircut like it was nothing! What a lunatic!)