I was just writing an interesting article on a cat napping on 5th street when I got a call. I pick up the receiver and answer, "This is Albert, who's calling?"
"Cecelia. Cecelia Sainte from across the hall."
"Hi Cecelia. Is Wallace barking again? He is probably just lonely, I left the door unlocked if you want to head over--" She cuts me off.
"No, Wallace is fine today. I have only heard a few barks. I wanted to see if you wanted to get some coffee or lunch on your lunch break today."
I could hear my neighbor across the hall breathing deeply as if she is nervous asking me on a date. "Sure Cecelia. That would be lovely. I am just finishing an article and I'll head over just now." She is holding her breath at this point.
"See you soon Albert. Just knock on my door when you are ready. I'm number 7 just across the hall when you're.. um.. ready." Then she gives a little giggle realizing she reiterated herself.
"How could I forget? See you soon."
I heard Wallace bark just on the other side of the door. As I'm walking into my apartment I thought there was a noise just outside the window on the fire escape. Must be a bird or something. Where is Wallace? "Wallace! Come here! Daddy's home! Wallace!" I place my hat, keys, and notebook down on the desk and lay my leather jacket over the back of the chair as I call for Wallace again. I search my apartment in all his favorite spots and found a letter on my pillow. Someone has been in my apartment. This is a strange letter. What's with the creepy, black crow? I pop off the crow and open the envelope. There is this letter inside. Cecelia knocks on the door, "Albert, I heard you come in. I thought I'd just come over with some more cookies!" I open the door letting her in with the letter in my hand as I read. "Put them over there." I just shake my finger in the general direction of the kitchen.
Mr. Albert Moray,
You don't know who I am. I have taken your dog, Wallace. If you want you dog back, you publish this article on the White Rose. The White Rose was a yacht transporting large cash sums and ivory from Northern Africa illegally for over 40 years. The White Rose was leaving harbor today for another trip; however, unfortunately and mysteriously sunk in a fiery explosion.
If you do not publish the article within the week, your dog will die.
I slowly read the letter again and realize that Cecelia has been talking to me the whole time. "Sorry, what?"
"You seem very distracted. Are you okay? What are you reading?" She has such a calming, limpid voice.
I read her the letter. I can hardly believe that Wallace has been stolen from me. I can feel the sorrow building up in my chest. "The strangest part is... um.. The White Rose belongs to my parents. How could they have been making their fortune for this long and I not know?"
"Maybe the letter is wrong. Can I read it?"
I don't hand her the letter. "It's not wrong, I have read it three times now."
"Maybe. Maybe.... Call you brother down at the dock. Doesn't he work down at the harbor? He should know being the dock manager and everything."
"That's a good idea."
I grab the phone and bite into a cookie. "Daniel. Daniel are you down at the docks?"
"Y-e-ye-yes. Help - help me." His voice is shaky. Thats strange. Its even a bit muffled.
"Are you okay?"
"Albert, publish the article. And come get your pathetic brother." I nearly dropped the phone. That was not his voice. That was not Daniel.
"WHO IS THIS? WHERE IS DANIEL? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
"Calm down Albert. I have Wallace. Daniel is behind Warehouse 9 when you come to get him."
"Are you C?"
There was no answer, he hung up. "Cecelia I have to go. My brother is in trouble."