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).
Blue stopped at her office and found several messages there. One was from Mr. Andreas Gump of the Akron, Ohio newspaper morgue. Another was from Mr. Denton Horowitz of the Dolly Agency in New York City.
Blue called Gump first.
"Oh, Miss Humboldt. How nice to hear from you. Say, I checked every lead I could think of. A Jana Andrews graduated from Kennedy High School in Akron in 1975. Lovely girl, really."
"What color was her hair?"
"I checked into that like you asked me to. She was a red- head, Miss Humboldt."
"That's what I thought." LAPD had said the girl in the car crash had red hair. "Mr. Gump, could she have had a dark-haired girlfriend in high school? A tall, very attractive girl with a name like, let's say, Jane Willoughby?"
"There was no female student with that name in any of the graduating classes in Akron the years I checked. A Bill Willoughby graduated from Kennedy High, is as far as I got."
"Brilliant, Mr. Gump. Can you find out where this guy Willoughby is today? I'd like to talk with him."
"Sure, Miss Humboldt. I'll be glad to."
"You won't get in trouble with your boss?"
"No, on the contrary. My city editor told me to pursue the story and I might get a job as a reporter."
"I'll put in a good word for you, Mr. Gump."
"I'll do all I can. Am I really helping your police work?"
"You are providing a vital service. I intend to have a letter of commendation sent to your city editor. Could you hop on it, Mr. Gump? I love you, I really do."
"You have a sexy voice, Miss Humboldt."
"So do you. Next time I'm in Akron, let's do lunch."
"I'd like that."
Next, she called Horowitz.
"Oh yes, Miss Humboldt," the dry little old man voice said. "How have you been?"
"Fine, Mr. Horowitz. You have something more for me?"
"Well, it's not much. On the first thing, I was not able to locate a fingerprint. We don't deal in that sort of thing. I checked the file on the off-chance, but there wasn't a fingerprint on record. Rarely need 'em, unless there's a lot of jewelry involved on a job."
"And the other thing?"
"I was able to contact a woman named Lila Murdoch who is now a high school principal in the Bronx. She was a model for the Dolly Agency. Very reserved, very proper, very, very, you know what I mean. That tall English look, you know? Well, Miss Murdoch is now Mrs. Cannon. The important thing is, she did some jobs for us and she remembers a girl named Jane Willoughby. Tall, dark-haired, with deep blue eyes. That's what Mrs. Cannon remembered most, the deep blue eyes. And there was some red-head the Willoughby girl was hanging around with a lot."
"Mrs. Cannon could not remember, but it sounds like Jana Andrews. That's all I got, Miss Humboldt, have I been of help?"
"You most certainly have, Mr. Horowitz. The woman we want matches the description you just gave of Jane Willoughby. When I get back to New York, I'm going to give you a big hug."
"My wife might not like that."
"She doesn't have to find out."
"We could start some awful rumors about you and me."
"I'd enjoy every minute of it. Will you keep checking?"
"I will, young lady."
Copyright © 1996 by John Argo, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.