Parnell Hall: The Naked Typist

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Parnell Hall The Naked Typist
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    The Naked Typist
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    Криминальный детектив / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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Parnell Hall


The Naked Typist

1

Tracy Garvin folded up her glasses, put her hand on her hip and said, “There’s a young woman here to see you.”

Steve Winslow looked up from his desk and frowned. When Tracy took off her glasses and folded them up, it usually meant she was annoyed at him. In this instance, Steve couldn’t imagine why. An unexpected client showing up and wanting to see him could hardly be considered his fault. Unless it was Judy Meyers, the actress who was Steve Winslow’s off-again, on-again girlfriend. That would explain it. Tracy Garvin’s attitude toward her was catty at best. But Tracy knew Judy. If it were her, she’d have said so.

So what was it?

Steve put down the paper he’d been reading. “What does she want?”

Tracy shook her head. “She wouldn’t say. Only that it’s urgent and she wants to talk to you personally.”

“All right. Show her in.”

Tracy didn’t move.

“What’s the matter?”

Tracy took a breath. “I didn’t point out to her how lucky she was that she happened to come by this afternoon.”

“What do you mean?”

“If she’d come by any other afternoon this week you wouldn’t have been here.”

“I know. I have a new passion. I’m learning to play golf.”

“I’m happy for you.”

“Tracy, what’s the problem?”

Tracy took another breath. “The problem is you haven’t had a client in months. And not that there haven’t been any. You’ve just turned them all down.”

“I have a client.”

“Who?”

“Sheila Benton. Her annual retainer pays for this office, pays your salary and gives me enough to get by. Basically, that is my law practice. Anything else is just gravy.”

“That’s not the point.”

“What’s the point?”

“The point is, there’s no gravy. The Jeremy Dawson case has been over for months. You haven’t had a client since.”

“Is that my fault?”

“As I said, it’s not that there haven’t been any. You’ve just turned them all down.”

“I don’t defend drug dealers.”

“They weren’t all drug dealers.”

“No, there was that vehicular homicide. The boy did it. You think I should have got him off just ’cause his old man’s rich?”

“No, but-”

“Then there was the guy shot his wife because she was sleeping around. You think I should have gone to court and plead the unwritten law? Boom, boom, kill the harlot?”

“No, but-”

“Tracy, I haven’t been turning down clients just to give you a hard time. The problem is, there’s no work, so you sit in the office and read murder mysteries all day and it clouds your thinking. Real life isn’t like that. A case like Jeremy Dawson doesn’t come along every day.”

“I know that.”

“I know you know that. What I don’t know is why you’re bringing this up now.”

“Oh.”

“Well?”

Tracy ran her hand over her head, pushed the long blonde hair out of her eyes. “Well, this woman-her name’s Kelly Blaine-I just know you’re going to turn her down.”

Steve’s eyes narrowed. “Why?”

“Well,” Tracy said, “she did tell me a little about the case. I mean, generally.”

“And?”

Tracy bit her lip. “Well,” she said, “she’s a typist, and she was fired from her job.”

Steve shook his head. “I don’t do management/labor disputes.”

“I know that, I know that,” Tracy said quickly. “But there’s more to it than that. I gather she was also subjected to unwanted attentions.”

“I don’t do sexual harassment either.”

“I know that.”

Steve looked at her, smiled, shook his head. “Tracy, we’re not communicating. I know you. You’re not really interested in sexual discrimination cases, either. You’ll pardon me, but you have a storybook mentality. For some reason this woman interests you. What is it?”

“Well,” Tracy said, “for one thing, she’s barefoot.”

Steve frowned. That was something. In New York City, no one goes barefoot. “Are you sure?” Steve said. “She couldn’t be walking the streets barefoot. Maybe she has her shoes in her purse.”

“She hasn’t got a purse.”

“No?”

“No. And she’s wearing an overcoat.”

Steve frowned. “An overcoat? In this weather?”

“Yes.”

“She didn’t take it off when she came in?”

“No. And it’s too big for her, too. It’s a man’s overcoat.”

Steve looked at Tracy sideways. “You set me up for this, didn’t you? All that preamble about there being no work and me turning clients down. That’s why you want me to take her case. There’s a punch line to all this, isn’t there?”

Tracy grinned, nodded. “Yes, there is.”

“Well, what is it?”

“I think she’s naked.”

2

Tracy Garvin held the door open as Kelly Blaine padded barefoot into the office and settled into the clients’ chair. She started to cross her legs, thought better of it, pulled the overcoat around her and smoothed it down over her knees.

Steve Winslow had stood up to introduce himself when she came in, but so far she had avoided his eyes. Steve sat back down and sized her up.

Kelly Blaine was an attractive woman, somewhere in her early twenties. She wasn’t at all what Steve had imagined. But that, he realized, was wholly based on Tracy’s statement that the woman might be nude. Steve’s mind had immediately leaped to topless dancers, nude models, hookers. He’d unconsciously been expecting a woman with exaggerated makeup, false eyelashes, heavy eye shadow, red lipstick, too much blush. A woman exuding blatant sexuality.

Kelly Blaine was none of that. Her makeup, if any, was light and natural. Her brown hair was cut short and stylish, conservatively so. But looks, Steve knew, could be deceiving. His own secretary, with sweater and blue jeans and long blonde hair falling in her face, looked more like a college student than a legal secretary. And he, in T-shirt, corduroy jacket and blue jeans, with shoulder-length dark hair, looked more like a refugee from the sixties than a lawyer.

Kelly Blaine looked up at him and their eyes met. He could see doubt in hers. Steve was used to that. He was not used to women sitting in his office barefoot in an overcoat.

“Miss Blaine, is it?” Steve said.

“Yes.”

He motioned to Tracy Garvin, who drew up a chair and sat down. “My secretary tells me you were fired.”

“That’s right.”

“Is that what you want to see me about?”

“Partly.”

“That’s good, because I don’t do management/labor disputes.”

“This isn’t a dispute.”

Steve smiled. “It was an amicable firing?”

“Hardly.”

“Would you care to explain?”

Kelly Blaine took a breath. “All right. I was working for Milton Castleton.”

“Who is that?”

She frowned. “You’re an attorney and you’ve never heard of Milton Castleton?”

“I haven’t been an attorney long. And I have an unusual practice. Basically, I handle one client.”

She frowned. “But aren’t you the one? The one who got the Dawson boy off?”

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