Cuff Placket, Private Eye is a sewing related 1930s style detective story written by Allegra. If you’re new here, be sure to read Chapter 1 & Chapter 2 & Chapter 3 & Chapter 4 before you read today’s installment.
I looked into Pearl’s big baby-blue eyes.
“If you could leave out the part ‘bout me hirin’ you, I’d appreciate it.”
I nodded and tipped my fedora.
“Don’t worry, Ma’am. I can be tighter than a zipper when it comes to confidentiality.”
She smiled at me before she exited the hotel lobby.
I found Mr. Button sitting in the smoking lounge, his feet up on a ottoman, his pinstriped pants neatly creased, and his chubby face wreathed with smoke from a big Cuban cigar.
“Excuse me, Mr. Button,” I said, pulling a chair up next to him. “Do you have a moment? I’m with the Police Department.”
He gave a start, choked, and spent several seconds spluttering. “Certainly, certainly.” He answered, after composing himself. “May I ask what is the nature of your questions?”
“We’ve been tipped off about your daughter’s kidnapping, and we need to ask the family a few questions.”
He ran his fingers around his collar, acting as if it was too tight.
“Now see here, mister, I’ve hired the best private men to be had, and I don’t think you bustin’ in is gonna be very appreciated.”
“Are you threatening the police, Mr. Button?”
He backed down. “Of… of course not, Officer. It’s just that my wife is in bad health, and she doesn’t know of our daughter’s disappearance. She thinks the girl is staying at a friend’s house.”
Now that’s interesting. I thought, reviewing what I knew of the case. He hadn’t hired anybody, but seemed to be rather ignoring his daughter’s kidnapping, since his other daughter was the only one who’d done anything. Also, his wife wasn’t in bad health at all, according to what Pearl had told me.
I sat silent for a few minutes, threshing it all out while Mr. Button waffled about his wife’s bad health and not wanting to give her a shock.
“Mr. Button,” I broke in, “Let’s be honest. Man to man.”
He glared at me with small, gleaming eyes. “Whaddaya mean?”
“I know what you did with your daughter.”
He jumped again, as if I’d slapped him. “How dare you, sir?”
“I’m not really a policeman.” I informed him, handing him one of my cards. “I was hired by a member of the hotel staff who became suspicious of your little girl’s disappearance. Your wife knows about her kidnapping, all right, and you’re planning to get her to pay a ransom that will go into your own pocket, aren’t you.”
His eyes narrowed even more, and he leaned forward, cat-like. “Yes, that’s just about it.” Then he reached up and pulled the thick gold bell-pull that hung above his head.
Smiling in triumph, he told the waiter who appeared to call the police to kick me out, as I was threatening his life.
Two hours later, in a cold jail cell, I thought over the case. How could I have been so dumb? Who would believe the word of a penniless detective over that of a prominent southern banker? It was over, all over, and I’d played the fool every step of the way.
Well that’s it for today. To hold us over until next month’s chapter, Allegra has created an inspiration Pinterest board for this story. Go check it out…you just may find a clue lurking there! And leave her a comment below…