illustrated by roy dismas and rhoda penmarq
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it started to rain a little harder, and sal went out to put the awning over the fruit stacked outside his store. mike was standing outside, folding up the racing form and putting it into his pocket.
"you know, that awning looks a little faded. maybe it's time to get a new one."
"everybody's a critic. help me get it up, will ya, instead of making comments."
"you seem to be doing o k. "
"just give it a liitle tug on your end, will ya. it's kind of stuck. there you go, thank you , sir. "
"isn't that better? now you're not getting rained on so much."
"actually, old chap, i found the rain rather refreshing."
sal had no answer for this, and turned to go back into his store.
"can i have a free tangerine? for helping out?"
"sure. but just a little one."
mike began carefully inspecting the tangerines - glittering with a slight patina of rain - when he heard a car's horn beep behind him.
"hey mike! mike!"
a head with a chauffeur's cap was sticking halfway out the window of a blue bentley. mike didn't recognize it right away. he knew just about everybody in new york, but sometimes it took him a few seconds to put a face and a name together.
but he didn't let on, and turned confidently from the tangerines.
"mike, we got a question for you."
of course - little danny davis, hotwired harry's nephew, all grown up now and working as a chauffeur for some uptown society swells.
"sure, danny. ask me anything." mike stayed under the awning as the rain continued.
"503 west 193rd st!" danny shouted at him.
"nothing there. used to be an umbrella store. morgenstern's umbrellas. it burned down. "
"of course i'm sure."
danny turned and spoke to his passenger, then stuck his head out again. "how about the galapagos consulate?"
"what about it?"
"where is it?"
"nowhere. there's no such thing. galapagos don't have a consulate."
danny looked back to his passenger again. they palavered for about a minute. he turned back to mike. "maybe they're in brooklyn."
"you know, 193rd st in brooklyn. there might be a 193rd st in brooklyn."
mike laughed. "there might be. hey, brooklyn, what do i know about brooklyn? might as well be staten island or china, you know."
"but there might be a 193rd st in brooklyn?'"
"yeah there might be a 193rd st in sandusky ohio or someplace, who knows?"
"well thanks mike, thanks for your expertise, it's greatly appreciated."
"no problem, kid. say hello to your uncle for me."
the bentley had a green light and sped through it.
"that was helpful," conrad observed from the back seat.
"it was worth a try."
"well, that was a good morning's work. i hope my client appreciates it."
"will he pay you?"
"oh, he's a collinson. they are on retainer."
"he appreciates it."
perkins sighed. he dropped his cigarette on the courthouse steps and ground it out. "i just wish sometimes they would show a little appreciation - not treat me like a servant."
"i wish my clients would show me a little money."
"ah, here he is now." perkins put a smile on his face. "he's punctual, at least."
"a well-brought up young man."
"oh, a very well brought-up young man."
conrad got out of the back seat, waved off davis's offer of an umbrella and hurried up the courthouse steps.
"great news, sir. great news," perkins smiled at conrad. "the matter is all taken care of. no need for you to even appear in court."
"oh?" conrad stared blankly at him. "you mean angie has come to her senses?"
"no, i mean angie has disappeared."
"what! but that's awful!"
the wind picked up a little and perkins and his colleague moved further back under the eaves of the courthouse further from the rain.
"i have even better news," perkins continued as conrad looked blankly at him. "not only has she disappeared, it seems she never really existed at all. ha, ha! so i don't think she will be bothering us any more."
"bother us! what are you talking about? what do you mean she never existed? why just two nights ago i was - i was -"
"yes, quite. quite." perkins's smile was a little thinner. "why not step out of the rain, sir? come, let's get inside, in the foyer here."
"what do you mean, she never existed?"
"there are no records of an angelina de la serafin ever existing, or of the country she claimed to be a native of - the republic of south galapagea - ever existing either. so with no accuser - no accusation."
conrad blinked uncertainly in the darker light of the foyer. "but what about - frisco johnny whatshisname - and the white powder the detectives found... and ..."
"misunderstandings. they've all been taken care of. the old-fashioned way."
"the old-fashioned way?"
"everybody is satisfied."
"i'm not satisfied," said conrad. "i'm not the least bit satisfied. we have to find angie!" he reached into his pocket and took out the letter he had received at the breakfast table. "the galapagos consulate! at west 193rd street!"
"excuse me?" perkins rolled his eyes slightly at the other lawyer, who had been silently taking everything in.
"the galapagos consulate at west 193rd street," conrad repeated.
"i doubt that galapagos has a consulate. 193rd street? does the city go up that far? what do you think, will?"
"it might, it might. hard to say what's up there though." seeing his chance, the lawyer thrust his big hand at conrad. "william wiley, attorney-at-law, my friends call me will. wiley - perfect name for a lawyer, eh, ha ha ha! i almost went into partnership with a fellow named fox once, but we thought that would be a bit much ha ha!" he gave conrad's hand a last hearty shake and released it.
"yes," added perkins, "all you needed was a third partner named henhouse."
conrad smiled weakly. "it might be in brooklyn," he said.
"it might be 193rd st in brooklyn. the galapagos consulate."
wiley widened his eyes as if this was the most brilliant statement he had heard all morning. "you know, young man, if you are serious about finding this person, you could do worse than hire a detective." he glanced at perkins. "i am sure my colleague here must have his own man at the ready. but if not -- "
"yes, yes." perkins thought for half a minute. "finding this young woman might not be mclain's area of expertise." he looked at conrad. "making women in these situations disappear is more in his line."
"disappear!" conrad was horrified.
"the old-fashioned way, sir, the gentlemanly way." perkins sighed. "he gives them a little bag, he doesn't put them in one and dump them in the river." he looked over at wiley. "if you wish to pursue this, maybe we can consider our friend will's candidate. as long as arrangements are made to everybody's satisfaction."
"of course, of course," will answered. "to everybody's satisfaction."