“Me?” I said. No one comes to see me. Not anymore.
“You are Mr. Pyrus,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“Just Pyrus will do. My friends call me…”
“We shan’t be friends,” she said with a sweet smile. “Can we talk somewhere?”
Shan’t we? Has this woman modeled herself on an Audrey Hepburn character, I wondered. Anyway, we couldn’t go back to my office, not with Thorn strapped to a street sign. “Let’s take a walk.”
All that commotion surrounding the shooting spree was ramping up. Police cars, helicopters, ambulances, TV reporters – all the usual. The city was getting good at dealing with this nonsense. We walked in silence down 9th toward Gansevoort Street, where the Whitney Museum had relocated a couple years ago. It was a nice space if you were into art. We ducked into a cafe on Washington St., a place with $7 coffee and $10 muffins. The place had changed. The whole damned city had changed.
I bought her a cup of coffee. She declined the muffin, saying, “I don’t eat bread.”
“What’s this all about?”
“It’s my husband,” she started. She wasn’t wearing a ring, but I could see the outline as if she’d just slipped it off. “He’s a runner. He likes to run in the early morning. When he came home Friday morning after his run…”
She looked around. We were sitting outside on a bench, our backs to the Ripoff Cafe watching people walk by. “That man who was following me…”
“Don’t worry about him,” I said. At least not for now. Maybe later.
“When my husband came home, he was agitated.” That word was a little warning sign to me. People don’t use words like agitated when they’re about to describe a traumatic event. Maybe they’d say upset. Or freaked out. But agitated? No.
“And his name is?”
“Oh, yes. Of course. Alder Fanspree. I’m Laurel.”
“What happened next, Mrs. Fanspree?”
A man in running attire came around the corner of Horatio St. and stopped in front of us. Mrs. Fanspree gasped and quickly rose and touched his cheek with her hand. He was taller than she was by a few inches. They kissed.
“Mr. Pyrus, this is my husband.”
I reached out to shake his hand.
“I was about to tell you that he was missing,” she said. “But I think we may not be needing your services after all.”
I shook his hand.
“I’m afraid we do,” Alder Fanspree said. “Need your help, I mean. Does the name Shnabullious Traffletum mean anything to you?”
“No,” I said. “Not really.” I was beginning to doubt the Fansprees. “Traffletum. Come on, that’s not even a real name.”
They were wasting my time. On the other hand, I had a lot of free time and they both did appeared to be genuinely shaken up. We sat down on the bench, the three of us. Mr. Fanspree also had the shadow of a ring on his ring finger.