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Pawned (Ep.1, Pt.4)

Rolling out of bed at the crack of noon, Rue rooted around his barren cupboard for a teabag and cigarette. Finding both, he lit the vintage gas stove (vintage meaning old) to heat water, giving his cig a light off the dwindling match and discarding it in a growing pile in the corner of the tile floor. Sitting at the stained, three-legged kitchen table, Rue brought out his laptop and fiddled with the internet connection for a moment, finding his neighbor had once more changed both Network name and password. “Don’t Steal My Internet” trumpeted its weak challenge from the screen and he was in within moments.
Sorry, bub, but ‘734connect’ is not a secure password,” he muttered, cigarette bouncing on the end of his lips as he spoke. The whistle of his teapot soon called him away and he reluctantly tore himself from his news-feeds to see to the whining pot and its dancing lid.
It was fully two o’clock before Rue left the house.
Three pawnshops in, he struck gold – literally. Not only did the gentleman have the goods in his possession, he remembered Mr. Ted Dawes, having received a similar inquiry earlier in the week. This last bit of news floored Rue. Someone else was looking into his case? He remembered now the librarian’s surprise at his request for certain newspapers and the too-convenient folds that had been pressed into some of the papers she’s fetched for him. Damn it! he swore at both his hopeless situation and the woman who’d employed him, Now he’d never-
His thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a business card that the pawn shop’s greasy purveyor had flicked into sight.
Sorry, what?” Rue realized the man had been speaking to him and looked blankly at the man’s expectant expression.
I said, look her up if you’d like. She’s the one who bought Mr. Dawes’ necklace,” the man shrugged as he handed over the card, leaving Rue to wonder how close to the vest his own inquiries were kept when he came in. With a withering smile, he accepted the card and left, promising he’d return shortly with the means to procure the rest of Mr. Ted Dawes’ belongings.
Arriving back at his office, Rue fired off a quick voicemail to the elegant widow Rebecca alerting her to his having located the items she sought and that he’d be requiring funds to procure the items for her. He left out some of the details as to where the items were and excluded the fact that another interested party had snatched up the necklace. After all, it would only upset her to know the necklace was further out of reach, and besides, he had plans to get it back, anyways.
With a grimace, he now regarded the business card in his hand. It was a frilly little thing – silver-toned stars, moons, pentagrams gracing both sides, the lettering dramatic over the general purpleness of the card.
Mrs. Millicent DeLange,” he read aloud, his distain echoing in the stale, late afternoon air of his office. “Mystic and Communer with The World Beyond.” Conjurer and total quack, he supplied to himself, wondering why Mrs. Dawes would have seen fit to employ such a charlatan, if indeed she had. Dialing the number with annoyed stabs of his finger, Rue tried to ignore the fact that he’d been beaten to the punch.
Hello-ooo!” a merry voice sounded on the line after a scarce three rings.
Great. Mystic Millicent is a sweet old lady, Rue winced, introducing himself.
Why, hello, Mr. Dobbs. And what may I help you with today?”
Rue revised his initial guess of the woman’s age downward by about fifteen years. She was not all that old, just sweet – nauseatingly so. He idly wondered if he could get cavities just by talking to the woman.
Well, I was wondering if we might meet. You see, there’s this necklace that I’ve been engaged to locate and, well, I’m sure we could come up with an arrangement if-”
Your client can have it, Mr. Rue.”
He could hardly believe his ears.
Once I’m done with it, of course. And I promise you, it won’t come to any harm,” she hastened to answer the astonished PI.
Yes, yes. Of course…” his head spinning, Rue then pressed the question of when.
Oh, sometime today, if you want to come by for it later,” she mused.
What’s the catch? he wondered, blinking at his receiver in surprise, startled enough that he forgot his reluctance to visit this crazy woman’s house. “What time?” he found himself saying.
Oh, I should say, 10:30 this evening,” he musical voice rand out sweetly and he silently nodded his response, surprised when she continued, “So we’re all set then. See you tonight, Rue.”
He rang off and crossed the room, standing before his wipe-board pensively before affixing the little purple and silver card in the middle of the mess of notes, next to the words “necklace” and “pawn?” He turned back to his desk and languidly propping his feet on the corner of the desk, laced his hands behind his head. Both elated and somehow put off by Mrs. Millicent DeLange, he stared at the wipe-board and wondered what stake she held in all of this, who had engaged her and why. The small silvery runes of Mrs. DeLange’s card winked at him, a silver spider in the middle of his web of notes.