The quick tap-tap-tap of heels on tile echoed down the corridor. A key
turned in the lock and the door marked PRIVATE swung open. A lithe form was
silhouetted in the light from the hallway briefly before crossing the
"Come on, Della," came a voice from the hallway. "Why do you think I pay that cleaning fee to the building managers each month?" The speaker's bulky form now filled the doorway.
Della crossed the room and flipped on a light. "I'm not leaving this
mess for the cleaning lady to find," she said firmly. She knelt and began
gathering the few pages of paperwork that lay scattered along the side of
the desk. The phone was already sitting on the edge of the surface, having
been replaced by the lawyer on their way out a few minutes earlier.
Perry Mason sighed and reached for the desk calendar lying face-down next to
his office chair. "You always keep this place pristine, I'm sure the cleaning
woman won't feel over-worked if we leave a couple of things on the floor."
Della grabbed the cigarette lighter that had rolled under the client's
chair. "I don't care about that. It's the fact that it would take any
woman less than ten seconds to figure out why your office floor was in such a
Perry, on his hands and knees next to the side of the desk, glanced around
the corner, coming almost nose to nose with his secretary. "You're worried
about offending Clara Johnson's 'delicate sensibilities'?" he asked somewhat
Della rolled her eyes. "It's my 'delicate sensibilities' I'm worried
about! Clara Johnson likes to gossip with the night watchman, who talks to
the man at the news stand, who talks to Joyce the elevator operator. And
Joyce talks to-"
"Everyone!" Perry exclaimed.
"Exactly!" She grinned at the look of consternation on the lawyer's face.
"Hand me that pencil."
He did as he was told and within moments the desk's surface had been restored
to some semblance of normalcy. Now back on his feet, Perry opened the door
to the hallway just as he heard the sound of the cleaning woman unlocking
the door to the waiting room. Perry glanced back at Della who straightening
her skirt. Her hands passed over her hips as she smoothed out the wrinkles,
apparently oblivious to the cleaning woman's presence in the room behind
Perry reached across the space, grabbed her wrist and pulled her towards
him, closing the door behind them. Surprised by the move, Della braced her
hands against his chest and looked up at him.
"Sensibilities be damned!" he muttered and crushed her body to his,
capturing her mouth in a long and steamy kiss.
It took Clara Johnson an extra half-hour to clean Perry Mason's office that
night. She'd been lost in thought and accidentally ran the vacuum over the
cigarette box that had been knocked off the desk. It destroyed several of
the cigarettes and the resulting mess clogged the hose, spewing bits of
tobacco around the room.
It never occurred to her to wonder how that box ended up on the floor in the