The Smell of Mahogany and Money

I decided not to call ahead to the distinguished barristers at Keller and Brown.  A walk-in inquiry to the receptionist would probably get me closer to where I need to get than being shuffled off to some junior member of the firm. 

The outside of the law offices were impressive, but nearly as impressive as what was behind those shiny brass doors and the rock solid brickwork.  As soon as your entered the place, you could smell the mahogony and the money, the mahogany that panelled the walls and the money that was able to afford such luxury.  The furniture was top drawer, the quality that persuaded all who entered that here worked people of proven success, movers and shakers who could get done what you needed to get - that is,if you had the cash to pay for it.

This breed of establishment always had classy receptionists, ladies of style, well-dressed, well-groomed, not too young, not too old.  Keller and Brown had such a receptionist.   Mrs. Devonshire was the name on her gold-leafed nameplate and she offered in a well-trained manner, "Yes, sir.  Welcome to Keller and Brown.  May I help you?"

I gave one last adjustment to my tie, one last look at my brown wing-tip shoes, then answered, "Yes, ma'am.  Detective MacKenzie, Boston Police Department.  I was wondering if you answer a question or two."

Most places such an introduction would send a shiver up the back of the receptionist, but this was a law firm and they were accustomed to investigators dropping in.  I could tell she had her set plan for such inquiries for her hand headed in the direction of her intercom before my question reached its question mark.  So I jumped in before she could re-direct me, "Ma'am, Mrs. Devonshire."  I pulled from my coat pocket the business card that I had found with Miss Yellow Roses.  "Could you tell me where someone might pick up a card like this one?"

She took it, started to look on the back, but then thought best not to.  "This is one of our lobby cards.  You see each attorney in the firm has their name down here in the lower right corner.  This card is one of those we keep down here in the front lobby."

"Thank you."

She pressed the button and leaned toward the dark red wooden box, "Betty, please send Mr. Blake out here to the reception desk.  We have a police detective here who needs some assistance."

Without an answer, she returned to me and said, "Please have a seat.  Someone will be right with you."

I nodded thank you and started toward one of for leather chairs.  But within the first step, I was taken by surprise when in a much more casual tone, the receptionist almost whispered to me, "It's Mr. Brown's handwriting."  I looked back.  She continued, "On the card."

She returned to her work of answering phone calls, and after a moment of passing amazement, I made my way to the second chair.  It seemed like the one meant for me.

And there I sat for maybe five minutes, flipping the business card in and out of my fingers, occasionally giving a grin to the very helpful, almost too helpful, Mrs. Devonshire.

Down the hallway came the distinguished gentleman, Mr. Blake, I assumed.  Early thirties, built like a former college football player, Brooks Brothers suit, but I could tell that he was no lawyer.  He had public relations written all over him.  I was about to be handled, and to be handled by a pro.





The End

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