Chapter I - The Open Drawer
penny for your thoughts,” Laura i-m’d Nancy Sue.
“You’ve been off the computer nearly two hours!”
moment later, Nancy Sue appeared next to Laura’s
desk with her hands resting on the top of her plaid
skirt. All the women in the office had come to work
dressed as schoolgirls after going to a strip club
with the star of the show the night before. Nancy
Sue looked exasperated.
“George,” Nancy Sue said. Laura didn’t know why
she called her George but she didn’t complain. She
was used to Nancy Sue’s mysterious ways. “George,
did you come back to the office and steal cab chits?”
“Of course not!” Laura said indignantly. Laura often
said things followed by adverbs. “Is one missing?”
Sue nodded as if she had expected the question,
then sat on the edge of Laura’s desk, hiking her
skirt a little higher up her leg. Suddenly Laura
was worried that dressing like schoolgirls was a
bad idea. A plaid skirt was the type of thing that
could throw off the star of the show for the whole
day! He might forget to read the monologue. He might
forget to prep for the guests. He might forget to
act like a professional! Crazy star. She closed
another button on her white blouse and pulled up
her suede knee-high boots a little higher.
“Don’t say anything but …” Nancy Sue leaned closer.
Laura could smell toast on her breath. Nancy Sue
liked toast. “It’s very mysterious but three cab
chits are missing from Jeni’s desk ...”
a federal offense!” Laura said excitedly. Everyone
knew how tight Nancy Sue was with money. A cab chit
might be punishable by … well she didn’t know how
it would be addressed. It probably depended on who
was stealing. In Show Heights everything depended
on where you lived -- above the line or below the
line. And who controlled the line? Well, Nancy Sue,
“Listen, George, I have an idea.”
“Sue, you’ve always got an idea.”
young sleuth laughed at this remark shaking her
hair down her back. She removed her glasses and
cleaned the lenses with a lens cleaner. It was an
admirable trait. She was always well-equipped. The
whole staff understood that behind that pretty natural
blonde hair was a furiously working brain, working
on at least three problems at one time. One morning
Laura was walking across the street from the parking
lot to work when she saw Nancy Sue standing on the
sidewalk with a perplexed look on her face. She
was staring down the block. Laura knew that she
was trying to determine if it was faster to walk
through the stopped cars and risk getting caught
in the middle, which would take longer, or walk
further down the block and cross at the light. Walking
to the light would take longer but she would get
all the way across so in the end it might be faster.
And besides the light was red, which meant that
by the time she got to the corner, it would be green.
But because the light was red, she could probably
scoot through the cars and before traffic turned
onto Davenport from Yonge. Laura knew that’s what
Nancy Sue was thinking because she was thinking
the same thing herself. That’s why they were friends.
“George, meet me after the show,” Nancy Sue said.
“We’ve got sleuthing to do.” Sue went back to her
desk and within minutes the i-m box popped up on
the address; it’s in Etobicoke. Called cab company
admired Nancy Sue’s use of the semi-colon for a
minute before typing. “Good work Nancy Sue.” Laura
was happy about the invention of i-m because it
meant that the pencil Nancy Sue assigned her at
the beginning of the season would last longer. She
hated asking for a second one. Nancy Sue didn’t
like giving out pencils willy nilly. Not even to
writers and producers. Laura could just hear her.
got you the computer you asked for. And now you
are asking for another pencil…’
i-m box blinked. “Meet me at the parking lot at
Laura typed, then erased it and typed. “Okay.”
Sue was stickler for spelling. Laura went back to
worrying about to finding a guest for that night’s
show. Nancy Sue, she knew, was in the other room
thinking about cab chits.
II The Smell of Rubber
that afternoon, the i-m box popped up again.
“The star of the show goes to Etobicoke twice a
week. I know because he sends his transponder bill
to the show and I see his highway tolls. Twice a
week like clockwork. Usually after 1:00 am. He obviously
has a girl there so I thought he might be stealing
them to send his girlfriend home in a cab at the
Laura knew, would disappoint Nancy Sue. She could
not do much about the star of the show. Nobody could.
Not even God. Nancy Sue continued typing. Laura
could see the words pop up at the same time she
heard Nancy Sue tap tap tapping. She was trying
to reverse look up the phone number on the cab chit.
She had a name but neither girl recognized it.
a chit was gone this morning and he was with us
at the Brass Rail.”
you find the person, do you think they would come
on tomorrow's show and talk about it?”
Sue’s laughter wafted in from the other room. Laura
was desperate for guests. She was often desperate
for guests. In the other room, she heard the star
of the show kid Nancy Sue about her skirt. He was
trying to tease Nancy Sue. He made a lot of money
trying to tease people. Laura got up and watched
from the doorway that connected their offices. The
star of the show was standing in front of Nancy
Sue’s desk sucking on a cigarette. Nancy Sue was
making a wry face, informing him that by law he
was not allowed to smoke in the office and canceling
his house insurance with a click of the button.
Laura went back to her desk and looked out the window.
Maybe someone from Canadian Tire could be a guest.
Canadians liked Canadian Tire. Except Nancy Sue.
She said every time she entered the smell of tires
made her want to pooh.
Chapter III - A
At 9:00 pm sharp, the locks on Nancy Sue’s Mercedes
clicked open and both girls climbed in, careful
to tuck their plaid skirts beneath them.
“Where’s that?” Laura asked.
Nancy Sue answered.
“Where’s that?” Laura asked.
you eat onions for supper?” Nancy Sue revved her
engine. It was February and cold.
“No. I had Honey Nut Cheerios with you.”
I smell onions.” Nancy Sue was a super taster and
a super smeller. You couldn’t get anything past
her. Laura admitted to eating a Thai shrimp salad
“You know, George, your guests might not—”
then the star of the show walked out of the studio
and climbed into his car.
we follow him?”
“Nah,” Nancy Sue said confidently pulling out into
“He’s not our guy. He’s just going to meet his agent.”
do you know?”
saw it on his assistant’s calendar.” The night before
she had followed him to a bar in an obscure part
of town. Five minutes after he parked, another car
pulled out and a female staff member got out and
kissed him. She had finally given in to his stalking!
Nancy Sue knew everything. She was like a medium,
a soothsayer, an oracle. Laura briefly considered
booking Nancy Sue for the show but re-considered.
She’d already booked her son and her budgie. Canada
could only handle so much Nancy Sue. The Mercedes
turned onto the highway.
at that. Won’t let me in the lane. No never let
anyone in the lane. Why would you do that. The worst
The seat felt warm under Laura’s bum. She was glad
her kilt was wool.
Chapter IV - Satisfying
Conclusion Followed by Wine
minutes later the girls were driving down a dark
street in a neighborhood Laura hoped she would never
see again. A convertible raced up the street toward
a burning building. That was the kind of thing that
happened around Nancy Sue. Convertibles. Burning
buildings. You just never knew where she would take
you. They rounded the corner onto a small cul-de-sac.
here,” Nancy Sue announced triumphantly.
“Which house is it?”
“I don’t know.”
single globe lit the street.Nancy
Sue flicked on the light to read the chit and crept
the car along the side of the road.
3458, 3460! That’s it.”
was a small gray bungalow. Nancy Sue pulled up outside
and took down the license plate of the van in the
“Who do you think lives there?” Nancy Sue whispered.
way Nancy Sue said it, Laura wouldn’t have been
surprised if Liberace himself lived there. Maybe
he would come on the show. Maybe he would give her
a pencil. Just then a light went on and a neatly
dressed black man in his late twenties appeared
on the porch. Nancy Sue snapped off the light and
the two women sat in the dark, mortified. They watched
as the man walked to the van, opened it up and took
out a dry-cleaning bag. As he walked back inside,
he turned to look at the two women watching him.
I know who borrowed the cab chits.”
Laura asked skeptically.
“Yes. It was the building manager.”
do you know?” Laura said with trepidation -- the
building manager was black too.
“That’s his brother.” Laura laughed too loud.
you confront him, Nancy Sue?”
was relieved. The building manager was one of the
good guys at work. No one wanted to get him in trouble
“I’ll just hide the cab chits somewhere else.” Nancy
Sue was nothing if not practical. “Now let’s get
back downtown. Sue flicked on her blinker and pulled
the Mercedes away from the little bungalow lit by
a single globe. The two women laughed like crows
and sped off back toward the glittering towers.
It was time for a drink.
to "The Friends"