I WOKE UP the next morning feeling as bad as I did the night before. Mom and Dad tried to cheer me up, they meant to help but somehow it didn’t work.
Mundy called around ten and complimented me on making the front pages nationwide. I gave him a roundup of yesterday’s events.
“I read some on the wires and the net. Your name, by the way, is not mentioned. So don’t count on any fifteen minutes of fame.”
He commented less politely on Ron’s confession after I told him of my evening.
“What happens now? Your role in the case is over, isn’t it?”
“Oh, I am still on but not caring about Mr. Closeky.”
“What else is there to do?”
“Well, of course the death of Phoebe. And my personal promise to Thomas to get him the Maximilian Jewels.”
Mundy chuckled. “Which, of course, are now in the possession of the police.”
“That is no problem, I assure you. I have an idea that you can help me with.”
Mundy agreed; glad to see some part of the action, too.
“I will call you on your mobile as soon as I am back in Redondo,” I said after we had discussed the details.
Mundy hung up and I packed my things, kissed Mom and Dad goodbye and hit the Freeway.
Sunday traffic was thick and it took me almost five hours to crawl back to L.A. I called Mundy on the cell phone and he gave me a location where we could meet, near Santa Monica pier.
Another hour drive and it was close to six o’clock, my stomach signaling dinnertime. I parked my car on the beach parking lot alongside the pier and walked up the steep ramp toward Downtown Santa Monica.
“Where are you?” I called Mundy on his mobile.
“I am on Third Street Promenade, at The Gap store.”
A few minutes later, I spotted Mundy in front of The Gap, listening to a street musician, having his five minutes of walkway-time.
“Are you working or what?” I pecked a kiss on his cheek while he gave me a critical look over as if my evening with Ron had left a permanent mark on me.
“Want to do some shopping first or go to dinner?”
“Your suggestion?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
He pointed to a bookstore on the right. “Let’s go, there are some new releases I want to check out.”
Mundy held out his arm, I took it and we walked over to the bookstore just like a regular couple.
We ran into Professor Benito Salanca in the art book section. Mundy had a stack of paperbacks in front of his nose and I was looking into a book about Tiffany jewels of the sixties.
“Benito, how are you?” I tipped him on the shoulder and he looked up from the book he was browsing.
“Oh, Calendar,” he looked happy to see me, eyeing Mundy, who was balancing his stack a little clumsily.
“Oh, may I introduce you. Benito, this is Mundy Millar, a good friend of mine. Mundy, this is Professor Salanca, the one I told you about writing about the Maximilian Jewels.”
Mundy just waved his free index finger. “Read your stuff, interesting.”
“Thank you. I read in the morning papers that the San Diego police retrieved the Maximilian Jewels.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I was involved in that one in my consultant role.”
“The Maximilian Jewels came to a lot of fame, I had so many phone calls from reporters who wanted to know more about them,” Benito said.
“Well, they came to the right person, didn’t they?” I laughed.
Benito’s eyes twinkled. “A little change from the dull university research, so much is true.”
“Listen,” I said, “I have the chance to attend the official handover of the Maximilian Jewels to the Mexican government. Would you like to join me? You were a great help with your insights and I bet you are dying to see them for real again.”
Benito’s eyes were glowing. “That would be possible? What an honor! Of course, I would like to join you. If it is not too inconvenient… ”
“No, of course not. I will let you know when and we can drive down to San Diego together.”
We exchanged phone numbers, I continued browsing through the Tiffany book, didn’t like it, and my stomach was making funny noises.
“Pay up, pal, and then we go for dinner.”
Mundy steered me to his favorite Thai place, just around the corner. I couldn’t deny him this little reward for a job well done.
Monday morning, I opened my shop, started catching up on orders, mail and bills. Mrs. Otis chatted with customers; I did some design work, and ordered salad for the both of us for lunch. Anything to have a regular day.
Around two in the afternoon, Ron called.
“Hi, traitor,” I said.
He was silent for a second, swallowed the retort and turned official. “We are cordially invited to join the official return of the Royal Maximilian Set to the Mexican nation.”
“Oh, very nice, but you are too late because Fowler already invited me.”
“It will be tomorrow, one o’clock, will you come?”
“Of course I will.” I remembered my promise to Benito. “Can I bring that art historian friend of mine, Professor Salanca? He was the one providing me with all the information about ‘The Max’ in the first place. I owe him.” I spelled the name for him.
“Sure, no problem, I will arrange it,” Ron said.
“Another thing,” I started.
“This is about something else. Will our common friend Pedro Vasolar be there, too? After all, he is the director of the Mexico City History Museum.”
“Sure, he just got his head out of the sling, saved by the bell. With your help.”
“Is it possible to have a meeting with him earlier? Around noon?” I asked.
There was a very long silence on the phone. Very long. “Hello?” I asked carefully.
“Calendar, is there anything, I mean anything, I should know beforehand?”
“Even if there was, I would not share it with a stupid prick like you!”
I hung up and had the first very good laugh of the day.