And finally, here is chapter 7 of "D Is For Doxy."
The late Leslie Martine had had a secretary by the name of Katherine Smalley. I couldn’t find her name in the telephone directory, so I used the information from the police file and drove to her house. It was an apartment over on 26th Street.
When I got there, she was just coming out her door. I interrupted long enough to make sure it was her.
“Miss Smalley, Miss Katherine Smalley?”
“It’s Misses. Yeah, what do you want?”
“I’d like to speak with you a few moments.”
“Well, make it quick, I was just on my way out.”
“My name is Steve Randall, and I’m a private investigator.”
“It’s about Leslie Martine, ain’t it?”
“Look, I already spilled my guts to the cops. I have nothing further to say.”
I was losing her.
“What I wondered was less about the murder and more about how you came to work for him. If you don’t mind?”
“Why? What’s it to you?”
“I’m trying to find his killer.”
“Well, so are the cops. They don’t need you and neither do I.”
“All I want to know is....”
“If it’ll get you to leave me alone, I’ll tell you. An agency I used to work for got me the job. Only now, we
ain’t seein’ each other eye to eye, and I got to work at some all-night joint. For a lousy part time job that don’t pay nothin’.”
“You quit working for this agency?”
“What quit? They couldn’t use me anymore and let me go.”
“What was the name of the agency?”
“What’s so great about it?”
“Nothing really, only that it was an answer I expected.”
“Well, if that’s all, mister, I gotta go to work.”
“Thanks, you’ve been helpful.”
She stormed down the hall and out in the street. I had no choice but to follow her. My car was out there. At least I had gotten what I came for. I think it was time I took what I’d found out, even though it may have been only coincidences, to Lieutenant McGee. At least show him I was trying to keep up my end of the bargain. Who knows? Maybe it might even turn out to be useful someday.
“And all three secretaries came from the same office?”
It was Lieutenant McGee’s voice.
“Yes, I checked with them all personally,” I replied.
“Heaven knows that’s one that slipped through our hands. Sometimes, we haven’t got the time or manpower to find out everything. The trouble is, now that we know, what are we going to do with it? We should at least check back into the place.”
“I think you’re right, only maybe I should do it. Being less official, I might not stick out as much.”
“You’re probably right in this one instance. If something isn’t quite above board, we don’t want to spook them.”
“Other than them, I’ve about ran out of places to check. I talked to just about everyone myself, but nobody stands out with a clear-cut motive. At least, not one that seems strong enough.”
“Well, check ‘em out, but keep me informed.”
“All right,” I answered.
Our morning meeting was at an end, so I decided to head on over to Westbury Placements once again.
Ten o’clock saw me, one more time, going through the entrance of Westbury Placements. It seemed ages ago since I’d been here last, a lot longer than the four days it had actually been. The place was the same, though. Red still sat at the desk in the hall and she eyed me as I came upon her.
“Mr. Randall, isn’t it?”
“I’m surprised you remember my name.”
“I encounter a lot of people in the course of a day. It just helps me if I can put a name with each face.”
“If Miss Springer isn’t busy, can you get me in to see her?”
“ I think I can arrange that for you. Currently, she has nothing on her schedule.”
She buzzed Springer’s office, said a few things into the box on her desk and then she said to me:
“Please, go on in.”
Her office door was closed, but I turned the handle and made my way in. Miss Springer was sitting behind her desk exactly like I’d left her four days ago. I blinked my eyes, but she didn’t change. She must be very dedicated to her work. Either that or she led a very boring life.
“How can I help you, Mr. Randall?”
“Well, I’m not really sure if you can.”
“Why don’t you try me?”
A thought too horrible to put into words crossed my mind. I blanked it out and tried to continue.
“Are you aware that there have been three murders within the last week and they all had one thing in common?”
“My answer may surprise you, but, yes. I had noticed something.”
“And, what did you notice?”
“That all three men had, in their employment, one of my girls. I didn’t really think much of it until I read of the latest death in the paper today. I found out through the story that another of my girls was named in it’s details. Lynn.... Stalmaster.”
“I noticed it, too. And I’ve talked with all three women. Most recently, Katherine Smalley. She had some sour grapes over something.”
“Her work just wasn’t up to my meticulous standards. I had to let her go.”
“She worked for Martine how long?”
“Only a couple of weeks. She was new here. I tried her out but, she didn’t cut it. Then, I had to let her go.”
“Would you say that she was the type to hold a grudge?”
“I can’t say. You’d probably know more about that than I would.”
“She worked for you, didn’t you know her?”
“I hardly knew her at all. She came here looking for work, and she demonstrated competent office skills. I didn’t care much for her attitude, but I gave her a chance nonetheless. Then Mr. Martine called to express his dissatisfaction with her. Said she wasn’t quite what he had been looking for.”
“Really? When did he place this call?”
“Let me check.” She looked in a large memo book on the left side of her desk. “It was last Wednesday.”
“The day he was killed.”
“That’s odd.” And I could tell she was thinking of something else.
“Katherine called in sick that day. I had to send someone else in to Mr. Martin on the spur of the moment.
“Who did you send?”
“One of my regulars. Susan Prescott.”
“She didn’t mention anything about it the other day when I was here.”
“I don’t think she realized he had been killed. She didn’t normally work for him, and then the next day, she
went back to her regular job.”
“Yes, and I guess the matter never came up again until now.”
“That connects her with two of the men. Did she ever work for the other one, Arthur Maxwell?”
“Without even looking, you know the answer?”
“I’ve already looked.”
“So.... you thought the same thing I did.”
“Not necessarily. Let’s just say I was curious.”
“Curious enough to look it up?”
“I saw no harm in it.”
“Were you going to tell the police about it?”
“I didn’t really think that there was anything to tell them.”
“What kind of girl was Susan Prescott? Surely you knew her pretty well. She had been with you for at least two more years that I know of.”
“She was the ideal secretary, splendid in every way. A more dependable girl, you couldn’t ask for.”
“But, yet, you checked on her?”
“Well, yes, I did. However, I immediately dismissed her from my mind. I don’t think she’s the type of girl to be mixed up in murder.”
“And what type of girl do you think usually gets mixed up in murders?”
I left her thinking about that. Most likely, she was right, though. I’d talked with Susan and she didn’t seem like the type either. But, one couldn’t always tell.
As I walked out into the reception area, Red buttonholed me.
“Will there be anything else, Mr. Randall?”
Off handedly, I rattled out, “Yeah, your telephone number.”
I hadn’t seriously expected a reply, but she said:
I stopped suddenly and turned to look at her. She had a smile on her face.
“Shall I write it down for you?” she added.
What did I have to lose? Why not take the woman up on it?
“Sure, Red, why not?”
She picked up a pencil and scribbled a few times then ripped the piece of paper off the blotter on her desktop. When she handed it to me, I noticed that part of March was showing on the edge of the paper. I folded it twice and slipped it into my jacket.
“Don’t lose it. Call me.... soon.”
“Okay. I’ll do that.” And I meant it, too.
As I walked out of Westbury Placements, the sun broke out from behind some low clouds and lit up the street. I whistled on the way back to my car.
Now, if only I could catch a break in the case.