Just One of Those
A Mary Kelly Story
by D.L. Browne
......The Chinese have a saying:
"Dangerous enemies will meet again in narrow streets."
.......The way I remember it,
business was slow that November. Carl von Ossietzky won the Nobel
Peace Prize and everyone was learning to Rumba. We were between
World Wars and the Pinkertons over on Euclid Street were catching
all the fast balls. When the royal summons came I was engaged
in rubber band warfare with Mike Mosley and Stan Stannislaus.
Since I was getting the worst of it, it was a relief when Miss
Appleby, the office manager, showed up.
......."Mr. Brannigan wants
to see you in his office," she announced. I came out from
behind the file cabinets pretending that I had actually been
doing some filing while Stanni and Mosley shuffled papers and
opened and shut drawers and cleared their throats noisily. Miss
Appleby was unamused. A rubber band hit me on the keister on
my way out the door.
.......The boss was on the phone
when I poked my head in his office. He nodded towards a chair
and I sat down and straightened my skirt over my dusty knees;
Miss Appleby must have stopped the cleaning crew beatings.
.......Plain and functional,
Brannigan matched the office like a coordinated accessory. He
was about forty, tall and lean and pale. He wore horn-rim glasses
that disguised the color of his eyes. Or maybe they didn't have
a color. Everything else about him, from his hair to his voice,
was colorless, why not his eyes?
.......Mr. B. concluded his phone
call and got right down to business. "I've got a job for
you, Kelly, if you think you can tear yourself away from the
.......That crack was because
he'd caught me reading Black Mask magazine at my desk
a few days earlier. He hadn't said anything at the time, but
I should have known he wouldn't forget. Him and the Elephant
......."You'd be surprised, Mr. B.," I said. "Some of those Black Mask boys know their stuff."
.......He just gave me one of
those long, level looks.
.......The scuttlebutt is that
it used to be impossible to tell Mr. B. from a genuine human
being. That was before Mrs. B. ran off with David Parker. Back
in the days when the sign on the front door read Parker and Brannigan
Investigations; before my time.
......."Have you ever heard
of Millicent Hurlburt?"
......."The society matron?
......."She has a son. Jack.
He's getting married."
.......I tried to look like I
knew where this was leading. The boss was being uncharacteristically
......."And Jack Hurlburt
requires our services?"
.......Mr. B. tapped his pen
against the ink blotter as though calling his thoughts to order.
"Hurlburt will explain the situation to you," he said.
"I'll say only that I believe this case calls fora woman's
.......I knew he wasn't kidding because he has no sense of humor, but
I held my hand out like I was admiring my nails - or my woman's
* * * * *
"Just One of Those Things,"
originally presented right here way back in 2001,
is now available in its entirety digitally from Amazon.com.
Copyright (c) 2001 by D.L. Browne.
Los Angeles based writer and reviewer D.L. Browne (aka Diana Killian and Mrs. Detective) is a relative newcomer to the hard-boiled genre.
"Just One of Those Things" is D.L.'s first foray into P.I. fiction, and can also be found in Down These Wicked Streets, a collection of private eye stories she co-edited with Kevin Burton Smith. It introduces rookie private eye Mary Kelly, someone I hope we'll soon be seeing more of.
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