Categorized | L. C. Frenzel's Blog

Part of a Secret Uncovered

The more Florence Duvan thought about the stranger who was interested in appraisal values, the more curious she became. He hadn’t mentioned his full name—just introduced himself as Cabot, which she assumed was his last name.

She mentioned her curiosity to Mildred, the owner of the pie shop across the street. “Everybody is asking me about that stranger who drives the Cadillac,” she said. “I don’t even know his name, much less understand why he’s looking at appraisal values in Walfor Falls.”

“I know what you mean,” Mildred said. “There isn’t any value here any more. The assessor was afraid to come to the council meeting last week. Things have gotten really bad for many folks.”

“If I knew his name I might be able to find out something about him and why he’s nosing around,” Florence said as she took another bite of a new marmalade pastry that Mildred was experimenting with. The nest of marmalade included a wild mustang grape half buried in the center. The burst of tart flavor from the wild grape was a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of the marmalade. “Mm, this is really good,” she told Mildred. “I think you should add this one to your daily special.”

“Guess it can’t hurt,” she looked around at her empty shop. “We’re so overwhelmed with customers.”

“School will be out soon, and then you’ll get some customers,” Florence said, trying to encourage her friend.

Mildred grinned, suddenly. “If you really think it might help the town, I think I can give you a clue about the Cadillac Man.”

She walked behind the counter and reached under the register, pulling out a box that she took back to their table. She opened the box, and Florence saw that it contained a large number of receipts with credit card billings attached.

“I know I should keep these locked up,” she said when she saw the look on Florence’s face. “There’s no one around her that would bother stealing them.” She dug through the pile and came up with a slip that she handed Florence with a triumphant flourish.

Florence examined the ticket. Cabot was his first name and Fleece was his surname—that and his credit card number would tell her all she needed to know. She thanked Mildred profusely, promised to keep her informed, stuffed the rest of the pastry in her mouth, and rushed back to the computer at her office.

An hour later, she sat back and grinned. The trail had been anything but straight. She discovered a Cabot Fleece who lived in Austin, Texas. The account number on the card was issued to a corporation which listed itself as Friends of the Free Range, an organization that Florence connected with a newly formed political party called the Free Range Party. Apparently, Friends was only one of several nonprofits listed as fund raisers for Craig Schumflatt, a man that Florence had heard was trying to decide whether or not to run for Governor.

Florence still had no idea why Cabot Fleece would be poking about in Walfer Falls, but it probably had something to do with the Free Range Party and Craig Schumflatt. Interesting.

She was about to go back across the street for another pastry and to tell Mildred her latest news when Shorty Johnson walked through the door with a big grin on his face.

“I’ve got some information for you,” he said. “It’ll only cost you an evening with me, and the steak will be the best rib eye in Walfer Falls.”

Florence eyed Shorty skeptically. “Where will this dinner date take place?” she asked.

Shorty blushed faintly. “Well, you can’t really buy a good steak in any of the local restaurants, so I was going to get some special cuts in Fort Worth. I thought I’d cook them on the grill in my backyard.”

Florence sighed. “I don’t know, Shorty. What’s this piece of information?”

The ex-coach narrowed his eyes. You’re not going to cheat on me, are you? If I tell you a little bit, perhaps you can make up your mind whether I’m worth it.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “I wouldn’t want you to get that desperate,” she said.

“A man’s got to protect his reputation,” he smiled back. “Let’s just say it’s about a man named Cabot.”

“You mean Cabot Fleece,” Florence smile back at him, watching a disappointed look spread across the man’s face. “I already know all about him,” she said, deciding not to mention that she had only known for less than an hour.

“Do you think he’s really trying to buy up property for Schumflatt?” he asked.

“It isn’t clear to me,” Florence hedged. “I’m keeping my eye on it.”

“So, you won’t be wanting the rib eyes?” he looked hopeful.

“Go ahead and get you steaks,” she relented. “Mildred will bring her new pastries and I have a bottle of good wine put back. I’ll farm out the kids on Melanie and we can have a nice evening.”

She could tell that it wasn’t what Shorty had in mind. She was impressed to see how graciously he bowed to the inevitable and clapped his hand flat on the table and said, “Sure thing. We’ll have a great evening. What more could a man want that two attractive women, good food, and fine wine?”

The way he said it made Florence blush.

Leave a Reply