Neon Blue (suspense) and This Shoal of Space (SF) by John Argo were the first two e-books ever published online for download, in the history of the world, 1996-7 in innovative weekly serial chapters. More info at the museum pages. If you enjoy this free read, which is offered in the spirit of the Golden Age of the World Wide Web, please consider buying a print or e-book edition as a way of thanking the author. A fine E-book is typically priced at the cost of a latte, yet offers many more hours of enjoyment than a cup of coffee. Thank you (John Argo).
In the morning, in her office, Blue spread Jana Andrews' clippings on the desk. A shaft of sunlight stole in to keep her company. She turned the radio onto a light rock station with soothing background music. She phoned Barnes. "Lloyd, your Rolex contact said the woman we call Jana Andrews is really Jane Willoughby, another unknown. Well, the clippings from our mysterious woman suggest there was a Jana Andrews who was a model in New York City, working for the Dolly Agency a few years back, and then got involved in prostitution and other vices afterwards."
Barnes, busy with other things, seemed to have difficulty tuning in. "What's that, Miss Humboldt?"
"I'm suggesting that Jane Willoughby and Jana Andrews may be two different people. What it boils down to is both women are probably real people, rather than one using two names."
"You may have a point." Barnes sounded harassed. "Talk to Martha Yee. Jana Andrews still is unconscious. Hasn't talked."
Blue called Tomasi next. "Well, our California bathing beauty." She told him of her hunch. "Remember, Humboldt. Leave the murder mystery stuff to Barnes and his crew. They're going to be annoyed if you upstage themand so will I, since we're in this to cooperate."
Martha Yee stopped in.
"Hello," Blue said.
Martha shut the door. "Blue, how are ya? We'll be strictly business here at work. How about dinner at my place Saturday evening. Candles. Red wine. Pasta. What do you say?"
"Sure." She wanted to say no.
Martha gave her the phone number of Denton Horowitz at the Dolly Agency in New York City. Blue called. An elderly, creaky man answered. "This is Horowitz. How can I help you?"
"Mr. Horowitz, this is Special Agent Laurel Humboldt of the Drug Enforcement Agency. It's about Jana Andrews."
"Oh yes. That business. I told Barnes all I know."
"Please, Mr. Horowitz. Does Jana Andrews ring any bells?"
"No, it didn't the other day and I'm afraid it doesn't now. Although, you know, it's been a long time. I've got a pretty sharp memory for an older gent. I've been thinking a lot about the matter, and you know what I think?"
"No, what, Mr. Horowitz."
"There was a Jane Willoughby with us for about two years. Contract, you know, hardly ever see the girl after the initial interviews. I looked and looked, and I could not find any record of a Jana Andrews. Still, I wonder if we weren't mistaken. Maybe there were two women. What I told Barnes was that I supposed Jane Willoughby was an alias for some poor scared little gal trying out her fledgling wings. I'm beginning to wonder."
"Could Jana Andrews have worked for another agency?"
"Would you know which one?"
"Honey, it could any one of a thousand or more. They open and fold on a daily basis."
"Well, I'm glad you've had second thoughts. Let me know if you find anything out, please." She gave him her phone number. He seemed pleasant enough, and eager to cooperate. His doubts gave her ephemeral courage.
Copyright © 1996 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.