Episode 10 â€“ The Party
After doing more checking on Doris and Harry, Jack went back to his office at five to call Mrs. Matthews. The lovebirds were clean. On his desk was a note from Lucy asking for tomorrow off because she had to take her mother to the doctor. Her mother always got sick in August because of the heat.
Jack called the New York number, Magus answered.
“Hello, Magus. This Jack again. Put Whitebread on the phone.”
“Just a minute, Jack.”
A brief pause brought Whitebread, “Hi, Jack.”
“The hat you saw near the car. Do you remember anything else? What color was the hat?”
“Maybe black, maybe brown, I don’t know. It was a dark color.”
“Okay. Put Mrs. Matthews on the phone.”
“She’s not here, Jack.”
“But I left a message with Magus to tell Mrs. Matthews I would call around five today.”
“I know, but she never returned home.”
“Put Magus on the telephone.”
Magus picked up the phone. “What’s going on, Magus?”
“Mrs. Matthews was expected home around four o’clock. She never came home.”
“What are you going to do?” asked Jack.
“It’s premature to call the police,” said Magus. “If she isn’t home by tomorrow morning, we’ll call the police.”
Nothing could be done until tomorrow. Sitting in his office, Jack had an idea. He called Mrs. Matthews’ phone number in Tampa. The telephone rang at least fifteen times before someone picked up the phone.
“Hello?” said a nameless female voice.
“I’d like to talk to Bonnie Matthews,” said Jack.
“You have the wrong number.”
“Is this Maple 6-7839?”
“No. You have the wrong number, mister.” The voice hung up.
Jack double checked the number for the Matthews’ house. His alcohol soaked brain still worked. The number was correct. He sat for a moment. The obvious plan stared him in the face. He would drive over to the house and investigate.
Before leaving the office, he called Brogan but he had left for the day. Jack drove the hot, dusty streets to the pink mansion. He decided to park on a side street a block away. The area had many mansions occupied by rich people. The streets were empty. No dogs barked.
The Matthews gates were closed. Jack tried opening the gate. It opened noiselessly. The path through the trees was shady, cooling Jack’s walk to the house.
Jack walked quietly, keeping the shadows. The house seemed empty, almost tomb-like. He walked to the front door. Should he knock or not?
Putting his ear to the door, he listened. Faintly, he heard laughter and music. Sounds like somebody is having a party and they didn’t invite me, he thought. Rather than knock and disturb the party, Jack decided to walk around the outside and look in the windows.
The first window near the front door was in the study where he had his interview with Bonnie Matthews and the staff. The descending sun’s rays illuminated the room brightly.
If he remembered correctly, there were two sets of windows in the study. He made his way through the shrubs and bushes to the second set of windows where he heard music.
Taking off his fedora, he peered into the room. There was a wild party in progress. The room was filled by thirty people all making a great effort to drink and dance and enjoy themselves.
All the party people were in their thirties. The hard drinking and frenzied dancing intrigued Jack. Maybe I should join the party, he thought. Making his way to the front door, a taxi drove up, dropping off a man and a woman. They were drunk. The woman helped the man up the stairs to the front door. The man was Sam Grant.
“Sam,” exclaimed Jack. “What are you doing here?”
“Jack?” Sam spoke incoherently. “Where’s the party?”
Jack laughed, “There’s a big party. Let’s go in.”
The woman dragged Sam inside. Sam looked bleary eyed at Jack, “Good ol’ Jack. A drinking man’s man.”
They could hear music down the hall. Jack and the woman helped Sam walk down the hall. The woman could barely walk herself.
The trio entered the smoke filled room. A woman, in the center of the room, was trying to dance a fan dance but she kept falling down to the laughter of the on-lookers.
Jack dropped Sam in an overstuffed chair and Sam immediately passed out. His girl, named Arlene, wanted to dance, but Jack begged off, citing an old war wound in the leg. Then, somebody handed Jack a drink. He tasted the drink. Whew! Straight bourbon!