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A Different Breed Of Hair

Immediately after I wrapped up Part 1 of the interrogation report, I had to scramble over to the Gallery to cover Dee for the opening of Mrs. Dagger’s wonderful show ((thanks again Mr Pearse :D)), since Dee was still unaccounted for. I felt awkward, but there weren’t many questions about her, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Arriving home to Dee’s house after the festivities, I had a strange feeling, and eventually noticed a very long white hair on the back of one of the chairs in the greenhouse out back. Chase!

Sitting in the middle of the seat of the chair was a key. It took me a moment, but I realized it was the key for the cheese cellar in Clockhaven. I scrambled back there, key clutched tightly in hand, wondering what this was about, and hoping I knew–and that I would be in time…

Turning through the archway and running down the stairs to the cellar door, I heard a weak moaning from inside. Fumbling with the key and jiggling the lock I heard Dee’s voice, “Please…”

As I opened the door, I saw her hide her eyes from the light, surrounded by bits of unripened cheese and empty merlot bottles. I bent down to help her up and she hugged me. “Fangoo…” she mumbled, obviously plastered. “I knew you’d c’m’n geddme…”

I helped her up and we wiggled our way into the cheese shop and I gave her a badly needed pitcher of water to sip while I set about getting some tea ready. Once she had some better control over her speech, I was scolded for making her look at more cursed cheese, then she giggled at me and patted my arm playfully. She hadn’t lost her sense of humour, so things looked up.

Getting a bit more serious, she asked why it took so long to find her. I explained about the Back Room bombing and all of us fearing she had been taken by the gang. I gave her a few moments to accept that the Back Room was gone, her last daily visible link with Miss Psaltery.

Once her tears had subsided, I asked her why he had locked her in there.

“He? You mean sheeee. Audrey din’ realize I wzzztill in there, and she wanted it locked tight ’cause sheee azzzum documents in there.”

I stared at her dumbfounded. I wondered of course just what documents Audrey might have stashed in Dee’s cheese cellar. I didn’t dare tell her that of all the people looking for her in this town, Chase had solved the riddle and slipped me the answer. It soon dawned on me that he knew the shock of seeing him would do her real damage, and set it up for me to find her. An impossible thought flashed into my mind: could Chase have recovered?

For now, someone else’s recovery was my priority.

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