They say if you sit at the right spot in London at the right time of day you may meet the rich guy in the black coat and make some money. He'll ask you to do some simple job, or find out some information and then slip you the notes. Sometimes its twenty pounds, sometimes fifty. Someone once made two hundred pounds for finding a green camera bag thrown away in a bin.
Maddy could use a little money today. So she sits at the corner even though she thinks that meeting this guy is about as likely as meeting Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Maddy needs the money because she spent most of hers the day before, and the pack of biscuits that she had saved for dinner is over half gone. She isn't completely broke, not yet. She has some money in her pocket, but it's the kind that jingles, not the kind that folds.
She had almost decided to give up and look in the bin behind the Chinese restaurant for some day old dumplings when she saw him. A tall man with curly black hair striding down the sidewalk. At first she thought that he would pass her by like everyone else on the street trying so hard not to see her too thin arms, tattered shoes, and worn clothing. But he walked over and sat down beside her staring at her with a glare that made her begin to believe that she wasn't actually invisible.
"Hello," he said, "What's your name?"
"Maddy," she said, "You're that man aren't you? The rich man in the black coat."
"I'm not rich," he said, "but I am richer than you. Do you think you could help me Maddy? I'll pay you."
"Okay," Maddy said, "but I'm not selling nothing. I don't sell drugs or my body if that's what you need, and I don't hurt no one, but I could use some cash yeah."
"I'm glad to hear that you have some convictions, but I could tell that by your necklace and your right glove. Here." he said handing her a fifty pound note wrapped around a scrap of paper.
"Report back to me at 221B Baker street. Find this, and there may be more work for you later." The man stood and glided down the walk. He raised his hand to stop a car, and escaped in a taxi. For someone like Maddy, that was as mythical an exit as any sleigh pulled by reindeer.
She looked at the note. It looked real enough, and fifty pounds meant a good dinner, and a warm place to sleep tonight. The scrap of paper read:
White rain boots, Slippery Joe's sausages, and a pair of brown haired dogs (beagles) all on the same street.
It was the weirdest list that Maddy had ever seen, but for fifty pounds, she'd find it even if it took her all night.