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The Bulgarian ambassador is found eviscerated in his London quarters, and Major Sonja Slade of the Prussian Army searches for his killer while trying to forget her own ties to the dead man.

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Sunday
Aug052012

Week 2

Kitty, the Cub Reporter

Luck is on my side. I'm not sure what to make of it all just yet, but I think I might have a new job soon, and one where I’ll be working for more decent human beings than the likes of Beastly Barton.

You really can’t blame me for popping Mr. Barton right in the mouth like that, anyway. I don’t even care that I got blood all over my nice gloves or that they’ve let me go. I just couldn’t let that BEASTLY man stand there with that awful sneer when I told him that yes, my father was THAT Samuel Kinsey. He didn’t even need to say anything, I could tell what was going to come out of his mouth, it’s not like I haven’t heard it a hundred, a thousand, a hundred million times already.

It was just too far over the line. He got what he deserved, finally, and it was COMPLETELY worth it just to see the look on his face, with blood all over his teeth and the white all around his eyes. Coward, afraid of a little girl.

Anyway, I’m one smart cookie, daddy always said so, and I knew perfectly there are a thousand typing pools hiring. Maybe even one where nobody paws at me when I’m sent in with coffee. Which brings me to my incredible luck!

I spent the morning knocking around and giving my information to all the likely spots. I was just at a lunch counter resting my feet and having a quick bite before I hit the pavement again, when a man sat down next to me. He flagged the waitress down for a cup and then turned back to look at me, so of course I looked at him, too.

He was all gray and wrinkled up like last week’s paper. He was wearing a suit that doesn’t get to see the cleaners so much, though his shoes were so shiny a man could shave with them. Funny thing, I couldn’t quite tell how old he was.

‘I don’t mean to be forward, but you look remarkably familiar,’ he said to me. ‘Have we met before?’

‘I shouldn’t think so, mister,’ I said. ‘Not unless you come in for meetings at Barton & Barton Attorneys at Law.’

‘You work there?’

I shrugged. ‘I used to,’ I said. ‘I couldn’t take it anymore, so I’m looking around for a new position.’

‘Any luck?’

‘Not so far,’ I said.

‘What do you do?’

‘Oh, the usual. Dictation and typing, filing, that kind of thing. I can type seventy words per minute.’ The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes folded up as he smiled and handed me his card.

WESTON COOPER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NEW YORK ENQUIRER

I must’ve jumped clear off my seat — no wonder he thought I looked familiar.

‘Come by my office Friday afternoon,’ he said. ‘We’re always looking for good typists. What’s your name? I’ll tell my girl to expect you.’

I chewed on my lip for a second, trying to decide if this was the right time for a little white lie; but the truth would come out to someone like him. ‘I’m Kitty Kinsey,’ I said, looking down at the scuffs on my shoes.

He snapped his fingers. ‘You’re Sam’s girl,’ he exclaimed. Then he put his hand on my shoulder. ‘He was a good man, Kitty, and don’t you believe the pack of lies they said about him.’

I could just feel that tingle in the bridge of my nose, but it wouldn’t do to lose my composure in front of someone like Mr. Cooper, so I burrowed my fingernails into the palms of my hands as a distraction. ‘I never did,’ I said. ‘Not for one minute.’

‘Listen, why don’t you come by tomorrow morning, instead? I have some things that belonged to Sam and I’d like to give them to you. And if you’re anything like your old man, you’re too good for the typing pool.

Ever thought about going into the news business, cupcake?’

‘Me? Are you serious?’

‘Serious as a heart attack.’

‘Thanks, Mr. Cooper,’ I said. ‘I — I don’t know what to say!’

He patted me on the shoulder again. ‘Taking care of you is the least I could do for Sam, after everything he ever did for me.’ While I was working out what the graceful thing to say would be, he flipped a few coins onto the counter and walked out.

Now I just need to figure out what to tell mother. She isn’t going to be happy about this. Not one single atom happy.


It turns out there isn’t much to do on an aeroplane but write in your journal. Which I absolutely must keep up on since I am now officially a journalist!

I got the job from Mr. Cooper — and an old wartime foot locker full of father’s things. Clips and correspondence, some photographs, notes, and so on. There was a photograph of mother in a swimsuit I’m sure she’d be horrified if anyone ever saw, and another of a row of tents on a sandy hillside, and a few that look like they might be X-rays, except there’s nothing in the shots, just some indistinct shadows, like ghosts or fingerprints.

There’s one… it looks like it must be the room where they found him. I can tell from the markings on the floor, the candles, and… other things. God forbid there should be two rooms in the world like that. But if it is that room, there are a few things that never made it into the press, or else they changed before the incident. For one thing, there’s a giant painting of the Queen on the wall. I never thought occultists were so loyal to the Crown. And there’s a machine in the corner, all skeins of wiring and lights and buttons. I can’t tell what it does, but it just reeks of being important and expensive.

The strangest thing, though, is what’s written on the back. It’s definitely father’s abysmal script, but it is most definitely not in English, or not entirely. It looks like it might be a chemistry formula, but it’s lines and lines long.

There are a few other bits and bobs, too, that remind me of nothing so much as the ‘treasures’ little Walter would haul out for me from his collection when I babysat. A wizened animal paw, I think maybe a badger from the claws on it, and a book that looks like a Bible, but the ink has faded and run together, so I can’t quite tell. No mystery there, though; the pages are all ruffled like it’s been dropped in a bathtub. A fistful of medals — but daddy was never in the service, so I’m sure I haven’t a clue where they came from. There’s a blue feather with white at the tip, too long to belong to any jay I ever saw. A corked glass tube sealed with an Iron Cross, full of water and flakes of iron. But they haven’t rusted, so it can’t be water and iron at all, can it?

But more about the job — Mr. Cooper said he’s sending me after ‘Sam’s last big lead.’ He figures daddy’s informants might feel safe talking to me when they haven’t opened up to anyone else. That means Bulgaria. I’m to ask after a Mme. Van Vooren, who Mr. Cooper says was a great friend of my father’s. He typed up a letter of introduction to her while I was packing up. I’m tempted to try to read it, but that wouldn’t be mannerly of me, would it? Still, the temptation is almost irresistible.

I’ll be spending the time reading his notes to see if I can work anything out ahead of time. Mr. Cooper told me not to bother, that he’s scoured them a hundred times and they don’t add up, but it doesn’t feel right to squander any information my father left behind. Not after what happened.

Anyway, this is sure to be a grand adventure, and a long way from sitting all day in a typing pool or fetching coffee and getting fresh comments from dirty old men. I just hope my German is up to the job! Do they speak German in Bulgaria?

Well, I’m sure I’ll manage. I just hope mother doesn’t get too worked up. I left her a note, I wouldn’t have known how to face her in person. But she just has to understand, and anyway I’m a grown woman. Well, grown enough, anyhow.

And now on to deciphering my daddy’s awful, awful script. Didn’t they teach penmanship when he was a boy?