Sharp rushed through the door of Eve Iverson’s corner penthouse apartment. Floor-to-ceiling windows wrapped around two walls in a dizzying blast of blue sky and building tops.
Eve stood her ground as Sharp approached her. “Put down the phone! Please?” Sharp implored her.
But Eve wasn’t buying it. “The stalker is a woman, yes,” she said into the receiver to the 911 operator.
“Eve, listen to me. I’m a private investigator. I’m trying to find out who killed Claire. I loved her. I just want the truth.”
Eve covered the receiver. “Don’t you read the papers? The East End Burglar murdered my sister and the police are trying to find him. I’m sure they don’t need your help!” Eve lifted her hand. “Yes, she’s right here, actually.”
Just then, the cut on Sharp’s cheek popped opened and a line of blood ran towards the collar of her white shirt.
“Huh?” Sharp touched her face and recoiled at the blood on her fingers.
“Kleenex.” Eve grimaced and pointed to a box on a side table beside a plush beige couch. Also on the side table was a lamp made from a replica Grey Cup.
Sharp frowned at the sports fetish object while she staunched the blood and then said, “You want to know who did this? The thugs you sent. I saw one of them at Iverson Devotionals. He was there today.”
Eve’s eyelids slid into a squint, and her head rotated a quarter-turn on her neck.
“You followed me?”
“Yes — just like you’ve been following me all week!” Sharp shot back. “So why did you send your thugs to attack me and ransack my apartment, huh?”
Eve’s forehead crinkled like she was thinking about something, and then she pretended she wasn’t. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said as she discreetly hung up the phone.
“He has a goatee and wears a big gold ring — big enough to do some serious damage. Oh and he works for you, too, I think. Sure you don’t know him?”
“I’m not aware of any employee matching that description.” Eve placed the receiver on the coffee table that separated them. Sharp noticed that her hand was shaking. She noticed something else, too.
“You’re wearing — a ring.”
“So?” Eve twisted it around her finger.
“Engaged. Not that it’s any business of yours.”
Sharp rubbed her forehead. A wave of exhaustion passed over her.
Eve watched her and then said: “Why don’t you think it was the East End Burglar?”
Sharp looked up at Eve and started, thinking for an instant that she was talking to Claire, and not about her, to her sister.
“Ever since I began looking into Claire’s murder,” she said, “I’ve come up against resistance. Everyone wants me to drop it. The police, you — the thugs that did this,” Sharp dabbed at her cut cheek. “Everyone wants it to be the East End Burglar. Everyone wants it to be an accident. Wrong place, wrong time. Well, you know what I think?”
Eve folded her arms across her chest and said, “No.”
“I think that’s what the killer wants, too,” Sharp said. “I loved Claire and I don’t care who doesn’t want me to nose around. One way or another, I’m going to find out who murdered her.” Sharp headed for the door.
“I loved her, too,” Eve said. Her eyes were glistening.
Sharp pulled open the door.
“I know,” said Sharp, “So what are we arguing about?” Without waiting for an answer, Sharp stepped into the hallway.
Sharp walked quickly towards the elevators. She wanted to get away some place and think — some place far away from the Iverson clan.
Just then a light came on above the elevator and the doors parted. Mark Taylor stepped out and turned towards Sharp.
Sharp gulped, dropped her head, stepped past him and bolted into the open elevator.
Sharp pressed the “lobby” button, hard. Thankfully, the doors slid closed — but they didn’t get to meet in the centre. A hand was stuck between them, then a foot, and then all of Mark Taylor was leaning in, close to Sharp’s face.
“I know you,” he said.
“I don’t think so,” Sharp frowned. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a meeting — er, appointment,” Sharp said, wincing.
“Bible meeting! That’s it. I knew I’d seen your face before. Guess you forgot the wig today, eh?” The doors tried to close again, and again Mark pushed them apart.
“I’m sorry, but I really have no idea what you’re talking about. Now would you please let me get on my way, or should I call for assistance?” Sharp said, wishing her lips hadn’t suddenly gone dry. She pushed the “lobby” button again.
He watched her for a minute, and then said, “There ought to be a law against people like you.”
The doors slid closed on Mark Taylor’s sneering face, then the elevator started its descent.
Sharp thought briefly about the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada, and the fact that only 15 years ago — in 1969 — there had, indeed, been a law against people like her.
She also thought about Mark Taylor and his peculiar attitude towards her.
The elevator came to a rest on the ninth floor.
An elderly woman with clunky black jewellery stepped on. “Going down?” she asked, smartly.
“Yes, it is,” replied Sharp, “but not me.” She stepped out before the doors closed.
A moment later she was in another elevator car and on her way back up to PH1.
Sharp stepped up to Eve Iverson’s penthouse door and put her ear gingerly against it.
She frowned, pressing harder, but there were no sounds coming from the apartment.
They must be in there, she thought to herself. Then her eyes shot open.
“He’s just being old-fashioned, but you know we’ll run it together. Just like we do everything.” It was Mark’s voice.
Eve answered, “That’s not the point and I don’t want to talk about it. Can you just — leave me alone. I need some time to think.”
“No problem, babe,” Mark’s voice was getting louder; he was moving towards the door. Sharp didn’t move. She had to hear the answer.
“Please don’t call me ‘babe.’ I don’t like that particular term of endearment.”
“Look, I just want to be alone!”
“Fine. I’ll call you later!”
Sharp was considering the meaning behind their argument when the door burst open in front of her.
Mark Taylor stood in the doorway, staring at her. The white parts of his eyes were getting larger. He said, “That’s it! I’ve had it with you!”
“I was just about to knock when I heard loud voices . . . ” Sharp stammered, backing away.
“You just don’t take a hint, do you?” he came toward her, his hands forming into fists.
“Oh, I get the hint, all right. I just want to know what you Iversons are hiding,” Sharp said, stepping backwards.
“What’s going on?” Eve’s voice came from inside the apartment. Sharp could hear her mules clicking towards the doorway.
Mark shouted over his shoulder. “It’s that private dick again. She was listening at the door! Can you believe it?”
Sharp decided not to wait around and see how this pair felt about her investigation methods. She started running instead.
“You come back here!” Mark yelled, from about 20 feet behind her.
“Mark, please!” Sharp heard Eve’s voice trailing down the hallway.
She spied a glowing red exit sign at the end of the hallway and ran for the door beneath it. Mark was right behind her.
“Mark, let her go!” Eve cried from the other end of the hallway as Sharp grabbed the exit door and pulled it open. Sixteen flights of stairs zigzagged beneath her. She caught the railing, blinked back dizziness, and started her descent, two steps at a time.
Three floors later, she realized that Mark Taylor had finally obeyed his fiancée and given up his pursuit.
What does Eve see in him? thought Sharp as she continued down the stairs.
And she was still thinking about the strange loves of the Iverson clan as she emerged from Eve’s high-rise and into the sunshine and what remained of Saturday.
Image from InterContinental Hong Kong/Flickr