HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: TWO holiday gifts for you! One, if you are rushing rushing rushing to do your holiday necessities, wouldn't it be nice to stop for five minutes, make a cup of tea, and read a short story? Yes, indeed. And here's one just for you.
But your second holiday gift is at the bottom of this post. And since you love mysteries, I'm giving you one to solve. And, ho ho ho, there are prizes!
THE CLUE IN THE BLUE BOOTH
I could be sitting right next to you on the subway or standing behind you in the grocery store line or waiting for my latte while you get your tea. You’d never notice me, and that’s exactly how I like it.
My skill—for blending in and being ordinary—is the hallmark of my trade. The reason I get the big bucks. I’m so careful about my identity, I don’t even meet my clients, but simply leave that to “Thomas,” my colleague. That’s not his real name, of course. I call my security company Griffin and Co., even though there’s no one else, except for “Thomas,” in the co. It would be nice to have someone else, but right now we’re the tiniest bit strapped for cash.
The “big bucks” I referred to earlier was the tiniest bit sarcastic. But we’ll be fine, as long as nothing goes wrong.
I made a final adjustment to my black felt cloche as I walked closer to the massive convention center. My unremarkableness, I supposed, was the reason I was assigned to this ridiculous job.
Well, maybe not “ridiculous” so much as “waste of time,” I thought as I pushed through the heavy revolving doors. Nothing would go wrong, and it was my job to make sure that was true. If by some chance something did go wrong, it would be my job to assess, respond, subdue, and resolve. And then instantly, as always, blend back into the woodwork.
Pausing past the bank of revolving doors, I scanned the triple-tall skylighted entryway from left to right and then back again, calculating, knowing the first-response assessment often sets the stage for what’s to come. And then I almost burst out laughing.
There were no men here. And every woman looked exactly like me.
I touched the flowered silk scarf tied around my neck, and the strand of pearls underneath. It’s not usually necessary for me to go undercover to blend into a crowd, because my whole life is undercover. But coming here in costume had seemed prudent, and now, surveying the lobby, the line of registration desks, and the vast convention floor, it turned out my costume was not only prudent, but hilarious. It was like being in a massive hall of mirrors.
Blond wigs—or, on some, I supposed, real blond hair—scarves and pearls and twin-set cashmere sweaters, stockings, and sensible shoes. Plaid skirts. Some women carried magnifying glasses, and some, like me, wore little vintage hats tilted rakishly over one eye. A fluttering canvas banner suspended from the erector-set ceiling announced why we were all dressed that way, and why we were here—not exactly why I’m here, of course, but why the rest of them were here.
NANCY DREW CONVENTION, it trumpeted. They’d included a huge graphic portrayal of the iconic silhouette of the 1930s girl sleuth, all waved hair and cloche hat and pearls and cardigan.
Just like me.
Just like all the attendees, because all were requested to dress as Nancy Drew. Clearly, these women followed directions. The organizers had promised a big-time surprise guest speaker, and as of now, word hadn’t leaked about who that would be. Not even to me, which was somewhat unnerving. I don’t like surprises.
......Want to read the rest? Just click here. And as I said: there's a real clue in this story. If you find it--don't reveal what it is! Just put: "I found it!" in the comments, then message me via my website with the answer. (Http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com and click on Contact. That comes directly to me!)
Are you savvy enough to discover it? If you are correct, I'll send you a great prize. Merry Christmas and happy reading,everyone!