The Strange Case of Ella Hobbs
It was a beautiful day with a high in the low 70’s and just a few scattered clouds in the brilliantly sunny sky. A perfect day for a lunch time walk. I could smell the salt water as I walked along the waterfront. When I got to Pier 54, I saw my old friend Ivar standing in his usual spot feeding the seagulls. I am pretty sure they are the same seagulls I saw with him last time.
I stood watching him for awhile and then he spoke. “JP, I met this strange woman earlier today. She told me she was in some sort of trouble and asked if I could help her.” “What sort of trouble,” I asked.
Ivar stood stoically for a minute or two, “I’m not sure. She didn’t really stay long enough for me to ask.”
“Where did she go?”
Ivar’s eyes glanced north, “I think she headed over to the Curiosity Shoppe. Go check with Sylvester on this JP. She was very nervous and scared. He might know something.”
I tipped my hat in his direction, “Will do Ivar, whenever there is damsel in distress, JP Fremont is on the case. Keep clam!” Ivar just smiled that stiff smile of his and went back to feeding the seagulls.
When I got to the Curiosity Shoppe, I headed straight for Sylvester’s display case. But, he was busy, as he usually is, posing for pictures with tourists. I had to wait for quite awhile as a bus tour had stopped at the shop just before I got their and everyone from the bus was waiting to have their pictures taken with him.
So, I wandered over to chat with the mermaid for awhile. She said that she had seen a young woman talking to Sylvester earlier that morning, but couldn’t hear what was said as she is on ceiling duty this week.
When I finally got to talk to Sylvester, he repeated pretty much the same story that Ivar had told me with the exception of one critical fact. Someone was after Miss Ella Hobbs and they meant to do her harm. I knew now that my mission to find her was life or death important.
I hurriedly called my office to tell my secretary I would be out the rest of the day and she could take the afternoon off. I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise though because she kept talking in a whisper that some doctor was trying to get in touch with me and that I should come back to the office. I told her I was busy and hung up. I was sure that doctor was trying to collect an overdue bill. He would have to wait.
I ran across the street just in time to catch the trolley heading for Pioneer Square. Sylvester had said Ella was heading for a spot underground there.
I got to Doc Maynard’s just in time to catch one of the Underground Tours. I latched onto the tour guide and began grilling him about Ella. He had not seen or spoken with her, but one of the other guides did report that someone had gone missing on one of the earlier tours after asking where she could find the old carousel. He told her about the Waterfront Arcade and off she went.
I headed back to the waterfront trolley. It was then that I noticed someone following me. I recalled seeing her in the Curiosity Shoppe and at Doc Maynard’s, now she was sitting five rows behind me on the trolley.
I wanted to lose her but I also needed to stay on this case. I could not afford to let this trail go cold. Ella’s life may be in danger. I decided to keep going and deal with her later.
Inside the arcade, I headed directly for the carousel, bought a ticket and got on one of the talking horses. The horse I was on remembered seeing a distraught young women.
To be continued…