the case of the four women (part eighteen)

This story started here.

When we were done, Stu set off for the train station, and I got a cab for the rest of us. My employer sat in front, where there was more legroom, and Miss Tumolo, Zoe, and I got into the back. Miss Tumolo had maneuvered Zoe into the less comfortable middle seat (Zoe was taller, but apparently Miss Tumolo wasn't feeling chivalrous). So, Zoe had to spend the first few minutes of the trip tugging at the hem of her miniskirt to keep it in a decent position.

Then, a few minutes later, I felt Zoe shift and poke me in the side. I glanced over and she tilted her head to draw my attention to Miss Tumolo, who was looking out at the dark city streets. Her face was turned away from us, but not enough to hide the fact that she was crying.

Zoe shrugged slightly, clearly asking me what was up. I shrugged and shook my head a bit, hoping to convey, "Don't embarrass her. Let it be."

I had an idea, but it was just a guess, and I wasn't going to share it with Zoe.

"Uncle" Mike's daughter lived in U-town. I had seen her here and there, though we had never been introduced. From local scuttlebutt, I understood that she had been rejected by her father before his disappearance, more or less as Zoe had just been, though for very different reasons. The rumor was that Miss Tumolo had been close to Uncle Mike (I had no definite information about how close, of course). Even my limited experience with her gave me the strong impression that she would not have approved of that decision. And, from what I understood, this had been right before his disappearance, so he hadn't had the opportunity to change his mind. As I say, it was all hearsay and speculation, and I kept it to myself (though of course I shared it with my wife that night).

A couple of weeks later, when the restaurant in Zoe's building was open again and she was working there full time, we went there for dinner. As Zoe approached our table, smiling, her pad in hand, Ron blurted out, "You're a guy!" But that's another story.

The End

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[Zoe Alexander is named after the protagonist of the excellent webcomic Venus Envy. She (the Zoe in this story) is not a version of the Zoe from that strip; she is a completely different person. I just selected the name as a bit of a tribute. Ordinarily, I would mention this sort of thing in my blog, but in this case, of course, it would give away the solution to the mystery.]

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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