Jimmy Christmas and Daisy Dalrymple said not a word after they scrambled onto the Cadillac’s leather bench backseat. It accelerated so rapidly up the icy sidewalk that – not having safety belts (did any cars built in 1968?) – all three passengers slid around like dancers at a sock hop on a polished gym floor.
Their silver-haired driver had swooped them up like a superhero in a comic book. She took curves at reckless speeds, drove on sidewalks, turned east onto 84th Street, turned north on Winslow Avenue, sped through three red lights, zigzagged left on 87th Street, and turned north into the underground parking lot on Albany Avenue where Maid Marion lived.
At the bottom of the ramp, she made a short right-hand turn and pulled into a narrow space beside an elevator door.
She turned off the engine, leaned back against the driver’s seat, and sat motionless for a few more seconds before she smiled beatifically into her rearview mirror and said to no one in particular, “Well. That was fun.”
After another two seconds, she turned to her passengers and said, “Follow me.”
First to the elevator.
Then to her apartment on the eighteenth floor. She took their coats, strode to the seating area in her living room, pointed to a sofa, and commanded, “Sit.”
They sat. Side-by-side and perched stiffly on the edges of their cushions like suspects in a police lineup.
Maid Marion repressed a chuckle.
She turned to Lilly Snow and asked, “Are you okay?”
She shifted her eyes to the two other people in the room.
“And who are you, my mysterious unintended consequences?”
One at a time, Jimmy Christmas and Daisy Dalrymple introduced themselves.
After which, Maid Marion suggested – the way a queen might suggest knighthood or a beheading – that they all tell their stories “so we can get up to speed on the cast of characters for the events of the day.”
Then she settled comfortably into an armchair opposite their sofa, and added, “I’ll go first.”
Copyright © Shelly Reuben, 2021. Shelly Reuben’s books have been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards. For more about her writing, visit www.shellyreuben.com