CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE
Wednesday night — 9:05 p.m.
New York City, New York
“Seth!” Ava yelled into her cellphone.
“Ava?” Seth asked. “Just a second.”
Seth told the orchestra to take a short break. There was a heavy wind in the background for a few minutes and the sound of Ava walking. A door opened and the wind ended.
“Ava?” Seth asked. “Where are you?”
“That’s just it,” Ava said. “I can’t tell you. They’ve sequestered my whole team. We’re working on this project. Top Secret. I was only allowed to call because of your message.”
“What are you working on?” Seth asked.
“That’s just it,” Ava said. Her voice became very pointed. “I cannot tell you.”
“Got it,” Seth said with a shrug.
“Where are you?” Ava asked. “Sounds like the orchestra.”
“We decided to work a bit this afternoon,” Seth said. “I’m behind from all of the Big Daddy stuff. We have one last run through before we break for the night. Should I call you back?”
“Right, right,” Ava said, with a distracted air.
A sharp male voice spoke in the background.
“Listen,” Ava said. Her attention back to Seth. “I’m specifically not allowed to speak to you.”
“Oh?” Seth asked, but Ava spoke to quickly for him to ask why.
“I am calling because of your phone message,” Ava said. “You received an envelope with information about the Cigarette Killer?”
Seth didn’t respond for a moment. He scowled.
“Really?” Seth asked.
“What did you receive?” Ava asked.
“It’s complicated,” Seth hesitated.
Ava was clearly sequestered to go through the Cigarette Killer case. Seth swallowed hard.
“Yes?” Ava asked, in a hard tone.
Seth realized that someone must be listening. As if she could hear his thoughts, she continued speaking.
“Our conversation is recorded,” Ava confirmed. “If I don’t get it the first time, it will be on the tape.”
Seth felt a wave of relief. He had thought that somehow she was angry with him. Clear communication was the only thing that made the separation and the bullshit that was always a part of their relationship work. He nodded.
“I woke up this morning to R.J.,” Seth said. When she didn’t respond, he began to understand the pressure she must be under. “You’ll remember that R.J. was my driver before I had a driver’s licence. He worked for Big Daddy until he moved to Denver to drive me. When I went to Vietnam, he drove my mother until she died. Even though he lived in Denver, he remained a part of Big Daddy’s extended family and business. He came to New York City because he had heard through his contacts that my life was in danger.”
Betraying her feelings, Ava took a quick in breath. She didn’t respond.
“Anyway, we drank a lot of coffee, ate a few burritos, and then went to talk to Claire,” Seth said. “Of course, Bernice is staying with Claire until her apartment is completed.”
“Who is Bernice?” Ava asked, slipping into interrogation mode.
He heard other people in the background and realized that they must all be listening. Unintimidated, Seth waited a moment to focus his mind before he continued.
“Bernice is Big Daddy’s wife,” Seth said. “Her mother, Susan, was best friends with Big Daddy’s parents, Dinah and Bud, uh, his name was Art, Arthur, probably, but I’ve never heard anyone say it. Everyone called him ‘Bud.’ Bernice grew up around the Savoy and then eventually in the projects there.”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.