The Case Files of Tobias Finch: Front Matter

FROM THE DIARY OF VELMA GRAYDON: MAY 13, 1932

PENNSYLVANIA STATION

Met with the private detective who has been following me recently. He was a tall man, gruff voice, dressed in an olive trench coat and matching hat. When I first saw him at track 16, he was standing under the far staircase just as he said he would. There were no trains on either track and that end of the concourse was entirely too quiet. Obviously he planned it that way. Our dialogue was quick. When I walked up to him he was staring down at the tracks with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

“You’re right on time.” He said flicking his cigarette down to the tracks. “Smoke?” He pulled another one out of his breast pocket. He lit it.

“No.”

“I didn’t think so. Tobia Finch.” He held out his hand.

“Velma Graydon.” I shuck it.

“I know.”

“So I’ve gathered.” I said mocking confidence. “You’ve been following me.”

“You’re a smart girl.”

“You made yourself obvious.”

He smirked and took a long drag off his cigarette. “Well without further ado I’ll get to my point.”

“That’s much appreciated.”

“Miss Graydon my client is interested in what you know about the theft of his most precious collectible.”

“It would help if I knew who your client was.”

He continually took extended drags from his cigarette. “You mean you don’t?”

“Not in the slightest.”

“Didn’t you go asking about me at your hangout uptown?”

“Didn’t you ask about me?” I was starting to have fun with this.

“I did. Talked to two twin genius’s. Said you were a cold fish working for Look. A gal Friday. That was all. Then I talked to the bartender and he had nothing. Went back cause I got a tip you went in asking questions and one of the geniuses Rick, I think, said you were asking about me.”

“Well it’s good to know they’re looking out for me,” I spat.

He chuckled only half-halfheartedly, “One is a dumber stump than the other. Flash ‘em a note and they’ll say whatever you want to hear. Somehow I think you’re a little smarter than that.”

“That may be the case, Mr. Finch, but that doesn’t buy me a clue as to who your client is.”

He took yet another a long drag off his cigarette and blew it in the opposite direction. “A Mr. Fitz Roy. You’ve met him twice. Delivered something of interest to him.”

“I remember. An antique quadrant ruler”

“Well it went missing.”

“Are you sure he didn’t lose it?” I just don’t know where I was coming up with this stuff. “I can’t imagine anyone who would need it.”

He didn’t find my comment funny. “Do you know who may have it?”

“No, Mr. Finch, not in the slightest.”

He stared straight at me looking for something, but he didn’t find it.  He flicked his second cigarette butt out onto the track. “No. I guess you don’t.” He knew just by reading the expression on my face that I wasn’t lying. His eyes looked down the tracks a little defeated. I was his best lead or worse, his last hope. “Sorry to take up your time, Miss Graydon.”

“Are you going to keep following me?”

“Not unless you need to be followed.”

“I’m fine all on my own, thanks.”

He looked me over and headed for the stairs. “You’re a smart dame. Smarter than most that run through Look’s fingers. Make a damn fine gumshoe if dame’s did that kinda thing.”

“Who says they can’t?”

“Not me. They just don’t want to, is all. But you… I’ve been watching you. You got the eye for it.” He took out his third cigarette and started walking up the stairs. “A good evening to you, Miss Graydon.” And he was gone.

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