(Note: As I'm sure you've figured out, by now, things written in italics are memories. Feel free to read into them, for the general idea behind them will, most likely, come up again.)
Pouring two cups of coffee, she listened carefully to the tune Perry seemed to be tapping out with his pencil, against the desk. At least, it began to sound like a familiar song, after she'd noticed that it wasn't a steady beat.
She sat the cups down before taking her seat again, to pour over the same three pages she'd gone over for what seemed like hours, looking for something to jump out at her. They'd both read through the documents at least a dozen times, trying to figure out if any of it would lead to answers in the case of a recently deceased client.
"Still nothing," he said, reaching for his coffee. "How about you?"
She shook her head, attempting to concentrate on the numbers before her. "Nothing. I still can't figure out how he kept all of this time he spent at the tracks such a secret. And why he wrote down and kept all the bets he'd made."
"I was hoping that your time away might have cleared your head," he said, with a smile.
"Forty six seconds to the coffee pot and back will never be enough time to let my mind go blank. I just notice more things- like you tapping your pencil."
"It sounded like a song I used to have my grandmother play for me all the time. She and my aunt were the more revolutionary women of my family, and I loved getting to stay with them. Grandfather died long before I was born, and for a long time, Aunt Mae stayed and took care of Grandma. It always seemed like my brother was the one who got the attention in the house, he got to be the one who made big plans for the future... but when I went to stay with Grandma, I got to make plans, too. I was," she giggled, "I was going to be a dancer, and the three of us were going to live in a great big house, and I'd take care of them. Grandma played the piano beautifully, and she'd play while I practiced. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing, so it was a little more like organized spinning and jumping, but I'd have her play Clair de Lune, and-"
"That was it," he grinned. "It's the only piece of music that I've ever heard that could, in a way, free my mind. I've just now realized that playing it on the pencil doesn't have quite the same effect."
"Of course it doesn't," she smiled. "Because you're still thinking and reading and processing while you're hearing it. Doing too much of that will associate it with something else, and it'll never work again."
"I suppose you're right," he sighed, leaning back in his chair.
She watched him, for a moment, as he closed his eyes, resting his hands behind his head. She wondered if he was playing the song out in his head, taking a small break, in hopes that he'd hit on something. She wanted to laugh to herself- he'd try anything to get the job done.
She put her focus back on the forms, knowing that this was supposed to mean something. Each one had the same names on them, but they weren't any races to be found that had these horses running together. Sure, they'd located quite a few of the horses, or rather, the owners of the long dead horses, but none of them had a clue who their client was. It seemed he'd just come across those name and liked them. Or maybe he'd made up races in his head, his own way to clear his mind.
She sat one to the side, and glanced up at Perry, still content with his eyes closed and a smile crossing his lips. He was probably piecing it all together, and would hold it all from her until she came to the same conclusion without him. She grabbed his pencil, wanting to toss it at him to jar him back to reality, when she saw what he'd been pouring over for so long- all the background information she'd compiled on the man's heirs. She took a moment to examine the names, then went back to the forms- she'd finally gotten something, she thought.
"Look at this!"
She sat the last racing form next to the list of his heirs, waiting for him to see what she'd seen. He glanced back and forth between them, then gave her a puzzled look.
"Did they do a trick while my eyes were closed?"
"Oh Perry, you have to see it! Each of the names- Stephanie Nicole, Gregory Theodore, and on and on... all of them have the same initials as the horses!"
He took the papers in his hands, reading each name aloud and matching it with the horse's names. When he reached the last, he shook his head and grabbed another sheet from her, giving her an awful glare.
"What was that for?"
"You planned this," he said, very seriously.
"You had it just about figured out, then you got me sidetracked so you could... could take home the prize."
"I did no such thing!" she protested. "And how did I sidetrack you? It was your choice to take a nap, or whatever it was you were doing. How was I to know that you'd do the most... the one thing that is the most unlike you?" she fumed, trying to make her anger very clear.
He looked up at her, simply staring at her for a few moments, until he cracked a smile that sent her over the edge of being absolutely furious.
"I wish you could see your face," he laughed. "I was only teasing you!"
"I didn't find it very funny."
"You've made that quite evident, Miss Street. But honestly, this is excellent work. The first real lead we've come across. It's as if he was keeping a tally sheet of who would receive the most upon his death. Strange, for a man who had no intention of making a will until he was on his death bed, as he always told me."
"But, if you or I could barely figure it out, who else would?"
"How it was found isn't the point. It's the fact that it must have been. If you add up what we thought were bets, or losses even, I'll bet it'd come up to just about the sum left in his accounts, upon his death."
She quickly added everything together and grabbed his last bank statement, revealing a match almost to the dollar. "Do you think the person thought he had a will, with this clearly stated?"
"It's possible," he replied, getting up from his desk. "But what's more, it means that we've got people to see."
She went quickly to the outer office to pick up her purse while he turned the lights out. He'd gotten their coats, and stood holding hers to help her into it. She couldn't help but be just the tiniest bit excited, as they'd done nothing but sit in that office for a solid week now.
"I should be mad at you, though," he grinned, as she button her jacket.
"Because from now on, when I hear Clair de Lune, I'll only be distracted by thoughts of you."
"Well," she said, trying to turn away from him to hide her blushing face, "let's hope you don't hear it often."
"On the contrary, Miss Street. I could hear it every day."
She forced herself to shut the lid on the record player she'd been absently staring at. She'd paced around the apartment so much, she thought she'd wear a hole in the carpet, until the record caught her eye. She wondered if he still remembered it, as she did, or if he'd simply been trying to clear his mind before he left for the conference.
She leaned on her hands, against the cabinet, and shook her head. Another hour had passed with no word, and everything she looked at made her mind wander. She wished she could fall asleep until it was all over, but knew it was an impossibility. If she could only shut everything out, she could stand the wait.
"It sounds better than tapping it out with a pencil."
Every muscle in her body seemed to tighten, and she squinted her eyes closed. Had she imagined it, or was he really there? Slowly, she opened her eyes and saw his reflection in the picture frame, in front of her. He'd only managed a few steps toward her before she ran to him, throwing her arms around him, tightly.
"I came as soon as I got your message," he whispered, running his hand up and down her back. "I shouldn't have left you alone like that."
"He called here, too, Perry. I don't know how he's getting all this information, but... but I had to call the police."
"That answers my next question about the man at the elevator."
"Perry... I was so worried that he'd killed you. It's been hours, and the service had no idea where you'd gone. It's just not like you."
"I understand, Della. And it'd be a lie if I said I didn't nearly break the sound barrier getting here," he smiled.
"Did you and Paul find anything?" she inquired.
"A few people who had seen her with a man who matches the description, but so far, no definite leads."
"Well..." she began, nervously, knowing she had to get it out sometime, "Lieutenant Tragg may be close to finding both of them."
He took off his coat and hung it in the closet before giving her a look of disbelief. "What's he got to do with a missing persons case?"
"Well, Perry, I didn't know who else to call. I waited for an eternity for you to call me back, and when that didn't happen... I called him," she explained, as defiantly as her shaking voice would allow. "He wasn't going to do anything, then the call came while he was here-"
"From our mystery man?"
"Y-yes. Tragg took the phone from me, and I guess he made some threats, so... I had a card that I'd forgotten about in my purse-"
"Wait- what card?"
"I put it in my purse when I was at Rita's apartment last night. I'd honestly forgotten all about it until he was here-"
"Della, we've searched high and low for anything, and-"
"I know, and I'm sorry! I gave the card to him, and he called some officers to meet him at the address."
"Do you remember what it was?" he asked, going to the phone.
"I think so... who are you calling?"
"Paul, so we-" he said, before being cut off by the ringing phone.
She tried to give him a warning before he picked it up, but as soon as she reached out, he answered.
"Hello, Lieutenant," he said, sending an air of relief over her. "Yes-" he glanced at her, "that she is." He kept his eyes fixed on her as he listened to Tragg, nodding as if the man could see him. "Alright, I'll be down as soon as I can."
"Well?" she asked as he placed the phone back in the cradle.
"He says you're a very handy girl to have around. Led him right to the spot, and right into an open and shut case."
"Della, the address you had was where the man- rather, Robert Knowles, had been keeping Rita. When Tragg got there, he walked right into Rita running away from the scene of Mr. Knowles' murder."
He went back to the closet to retrieve his coat, and turned to her just before he reached the front door. "Go home and change, and meet me at the office in an hour. Call Paul, and tell him to meet me at the station."
She nodded, watching him leave, just like that. Just as if this was the routine.
Then again, wasn't it?