Re: Zephyr


Herr D

Chapter 7: Foiled Plans

Parking turned out to be easy. They piled out of the van, and Shelley packed the laptop while Young Mike rigged a cardboard box with double-faced tape on the inside, putting the lens up to a subtle hole and fastening it, then arranging the viewer module on a bendy wire up near the half-open flaps. Like most of the equipment owned by Backington Studios, it looked like junk but was in fine working order. He added a Backington phone book to the bottom of the box and hefted it. He added a handful of mouse pads and a small cloth shopping bag and hefted it again. He positioned it in his hands as if it were heavy and glanced down into the darkened box. He nodded. “Ready.”
He led the way up to Jennifer’s apartment building, gliding instead of walking so as not to bounce the camera. Just as they arrived at the front door, the paramedics came out with the gurney. Shelley trotted to the lead, “Oh, no; what happened?”
The smaller paramedic looked up at her and smiled with recognition, “Bye, Shelley.” They piled in the ambulance.
Shelley turned to face the box. “Paramedics had no comment on the injuries sustained. Ma’am? Do you know what happened?” Jennifer was standing completely still, shocked expression on her face. “I don’t know. He was my apartment manager.” Mr. Han IS a jerk, but that looked BAD! She resumed walking inside. Shelley held the door for them.
Inside, Jennifer caned herself right up to Mrs. Smith. “Mrs. Smith, what happened?”
Mrs. Smith turned slightly. “I don’t know, dear. Mr. Han had some kind of accident with his stove. We may have to turn the gas off and on this evening for an inspection.”
“An inspection?”
“He said he wasn’t using his stove. But I found burn marks and smoke all over the kitchen. He probably somehow turned on the gas without lighting it.” Mrs. Smith turned to appraise Shelley and Young Mike. “You’re home early. No trouble I hope?”
“They’re carrying some things up for me.” Ugh, it’s like lying to a grandmother I never had.
“Oh. It’s good that they’re here. The elevator won’t work until the fire chief finishes. It shouldn’t be very long, but he has to check all the breakers on the same wall and all the fire alarms in this hall.” Mrs. Smith then made a face. “Mr. Han told me he offered to move you again when he called me this morning. I may have to fire him when he’s better.”
What? “Fi-fire him?”
Mrs. Smith made another face and snaked her hand around the doorjamb into Mr. Han’s apartment. Around the doorway out of sight there was a crumpling noise. She pulled a large paper bag to herself and held it out to Jennifer. “Do you recognize any of these?”
Jennifer looked down into the bag and her face began to redden. He HAS been stealing my laundry.
“The polka-dotted and the B-cup there,” she whispered, “I don’t recognize the others.”
Mrs. Smith nodded, tight-lipped. “I’m going to take these to the police. They were all over his couch when I found him. You were right about him, Jennifer. I’m glad I did what you asked and kept your keys myself.” She sighed.
Poor old Mrs. Smith. That’s the second manager you’ve had to let go in two years. See if I ever try to retire on rental properties! “If my legs weren’t a problem, I might take the job myself, Mrs. Smith.”
She smiled. “I might not mind your legs, Jennifer. At least I could trust you.”
Jennifer smiled back. “If it weren’t for my legs and my other job I might apply. But I’ll help you find someone.”
Mrs. Smith patted her on the shoulder. “I may need that, dear.” She walked toward the fire chief, who was just visible at the fire exit.
Burn him. I remember thinking that about Mr. Han . . . when was that? . . .
Jennifer walked back to Shelley and Young Mike. “Stove accident,” she said. Why don’t I believe that? “No elevators.”

[Continued next block]