Wednesday, July 9, 2008

January 14, 1932

I was called today to go to Caroline Vanderford's. It was a note hand-delivered yesterday to my mailbox, not through Loockersmans or Henry. It wasn't in either of their handwritings. I traveled to Park Avenue this morning and was greated by her Butler, Robert. He smiled when he saw me and showed me into Mrs. Vanderford's office. She was sitting at her empty desk twirling a pen, much the same way she had done months before. Two cups of tea were waiting on the desk.

"I took the liberty of having Robert fix us tea, Ms. Graydon. He never forgets a cup. No milk. One sugar."

"Yes. Thank you," I said. I sat down and took a sip.

"I've called you here on unofficial business." She turned and smiled at me. "I need you to deliver this to an old friend." She pulled out a blue velvet sack and revealed its contents to be an old clay smoking pipe. "His name is Irving Lincoln. You may find him at St. John the Divine Cathedral near your university. Go in and ask the first person you see for him. Tell him this pipe is from Caroline. Do not say Mrs. Vanderford. He'll be offended."

"I will." I took another sip of tea.

"He'll be expecting you the day after tomorrow."

"At what time?" I asked.

"At whatever time is conveniant for you. He is there all day and into the night most of the time." She carefully sipped her tea. "Also take note of the small envelope on the tray. That is meant for you." She smiled as I picked it up. "Do not feel the need to read it in my presense. I assure you it isn't from me." Her smile grew wider.

Later, after Robert showed me out with only a smile and a goodbye. I immediately tore open the envelope. It was a card simply saying: FEB 16, 9PM, SMALL'S PARADISE, HARLEM. BEST, ROBERT.

I felt my face radiate heat through the cold afternoon. My stomach, at the same time, fluttering.

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