SINCE HIS FLIGHT back was also going through L.A., Ron and I shared a taxi to the airport. Fowler had to stay and investigate the mess further; he didn’t look pleased and I had to suppress my glee. The insurance had to pay up for employee theft, too. And no one could foresee what else might have also been peddled.
While I was settling into my business class seat with Ron eighteen rows toward the back, I noticed the headline of the newspaper that the businessman beside me was reading. It was a large paper, probably the equivalent of the Evening News. Even with my limited Spanish, I could understand ‘Mex Max stolen.’ I ripped the paper out of the hands of my surprised neighbor and started reading but couldn’t get the gist of the story. The photo showed the broken window of my former hotel room, the covered body of Senor Toledo and a drawing of one of the Maximilian Set items, straight from the Chicago appraisers.
Dying to get the gist of the story, I put the paper back into the hand of the still protesting businessman, undid three buttons of my shirt and asked him to translate it
“Please!” I said to move his eyes from my breasts to the paper. And buttoned two buttons back up.
He looked at me as if United had put him into alien class. Then to the paper. “This story? Mex Max stolen. National heritage removed from History Museum. Spectacular death of curator.” My new friend worked himself through four pages and three bylines wrapping up with the probable theft of the Maximilian Jewels by a museum curator. The theft was connected to the terrible death of the young curator, a fall from the tenth floor. There was no mention of my name, just ‘an American policewoman.’ Fair enough. One of the bylines described the ‘heritage of the Maximilian Jewels. That part was poorly written, badly researched, a rehash of the information from the Chicago experts. The minister of culture was involved. Consequences to the state of security in M.C. museums, yadda, yadda.
After my friend finished with the translation, I forcefully got his paper back into my possession. After a moment, he got himself another paper, this time, prudently, a business journal.
Just seconds after the ‘Fasten Seat Bell’ sign had been switched off; Ron was making his way toward my seat. Another stewardess tried to stop him, after all, coach was coach and business was business, but a flash of the magic shield managed to bring him through to me. He crouched near my seat and urgently showed me the papers.
“They found out!” He exclaimed in a hushed voice.
“Yes, I know,” I said, pointing at my copy.
“How did they?” Ron asked.
“Shouldn’t I be the one who asks this type of question? They are reporters; it is their job to find out. It was a public death, a public employee and a public item that was stolen. Did you hear me saying private anywhere?”
“But the information from the Chicago appraisers?”
“Either the police found a copy at Toledo’s apartment or they asked the insurance company or maybe they asked the valuator directly. Come on, who is the detective here?”
“I wonder if the other papers already know?” Ron mused.
“No,” I said. “Not likely.”
Ron looked at me, at the single newspaper in the seat pocket, then around and at me again. His eyes grew into small slits. “How do you know? Do you mean somebody leaked the story to this paper only?”
“Yes, of course,” I said. “I did.”