There were days when Amy was totally in love and couldn’t wait for Marcus to get more serious. And there were days like today, when Amy was fed up with her irresponsible boyfriend and his killer smile. Actually, there were no days quite like today, for Amy had become so fed up that she’d decided her best option was to go speed dating. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.
She arrived at the trendy, brick-walled club on the lower-east side – it was called a lounge, that’s how trendy it was – paid her fee, ordered a Campari and soda, sat down at a small bar table and waited for her first five-minute date.
The dates, she soon realized, all followed a pattern. During the first minute, the men announced their qualifications: they were single, living alone, definitely not living with parents; they all made good money; and they all had respectable, interesting jobs.
Donnie was typical. “Almost didn’t make it,” he said as he plopped himself down across from her. “My flight was delayed three hours.” Donny, it seems, was an oil executive working in Ecuador. “I do six months in Quito and six months in New York.”
Amy had heard about Ecaudor’s booming oil industry and was mildly impressed. “So, your first goal back in New York was to go speed dating?”
“I only get six months,” Donnie said with a disarming grin. “I didn’t even have time to change my money into U.S. So if we go out for dinner tonight, it’s going to have to be someplace that takes cards.”
That sounded like an invitation. This guy worked fast. But Amy kept her composure, made small talk and waited for the bell to ring.
Next was Henry, possibly the most attractive, self-assured man in the room, despite the plastic CVS bag he deposited by his chair leg. He saw Amy eying the contents: two bottles of vitamins, a pack of anti-snoring strips and a birthday card for someone turning sixty. “My aunt,” he explained. “She lives in San Diego and is upset that I’m not coming to the party.”
“I hope you’re getting her a present.”
‘Of course,” said Henry, then mentioned his job as a Wall Street lawyer and how he could afford extravagant presents for all five of his aunts. “I’m sending her an antique loom. She likes to weave.”
The last man of the evening had written his full name on his name tag, not just a first. “Everett Washington,” Amy said as she accepted a handshake and a little peck on the cheek. By now she was a full-blown detective, examining every article of clothing, parsing every phrase for clues.
Everett wasn’t as well-dressed as the others, but it was a chic sort of shabby; a well-made jacket fraying around the collar. Amy noted his tote bag – black with a PBS logo on the side.
“You give to PBS?” she asked, in lieu of conversation.
“I work there,” he said and handed her a card: Everett Washington. Corporate Fundraising. “It doesn’t pay much. But I have family money. Old family,” he emphasized.
“Washington?” Amy asked curiously. “You don’t mean…”
“George Washington,” he answered. “Direct descendant. Martha was the one with the money, mostly land in northern Virginia.” And he proceeded to outline the wonders of his family tree. Amy was so glad when the bell rang.
An hour later, she was at home, having a second Campari and soda, this time with her mother. “You didn’t stay afterwards?” Fanny asked. Fanny didn’t approve of her speed dating experiment. But she sensed it hadn’t gone well, so she played sympathetic.
“Losers and liars,” Amy moaned, stirring the red liquor and taking a sip. “One guy lied about his job. Another lied about being rich. And, worst, one of them lied about living alone. Married or a live-in girlfriend, I’ll bet.”
Fanny wanted to ask how Amy knew all this, but she wasn’t going to ask. Oh, what the hell! “How do you know all this?”
WHO LIED ABOUT BEING RICH AND HOW DID AMY KNOW?
WHO LIED ABOUT HIS JOB AND HOW DID AMY KNOW?
WHO LIED ABOUT LIVING ALONE AND HOW DID AMY KNOW?
Amy sighed, long and breathy, and then started with the last mini-date. Before she was through, Fanny knew the answer. “George Washington never had children,” she interrupted. “We learned that in grade school. Very sloppy.”
“I know,” said Amy. “If you invent a story about family money, you should at least do a Wikipedia search. Same thing with Donnie. If you’re going to make up a story about a job in Ecuador…”
“What’s wrong with his Ecuador story?” Amy repeated their conversation word for word. This time Fanny didn’t get it.
“I only know because I’ve been to the Galapagos Islands,” Amy explained. “He mentioned needing to change his money back into U.S. But Ecuador doesn’t have a currency.”
“How can they not have a currency?”
“Ecuador uses U.S. dollars. That’s their currency. The same for Panama and El Salvador.”
Fanny nodded and took this in. “What about the third guy? How do you know he lives with someone?”
“Snoring strips,” Amy answered. “He bought snoring strips. No one who lives alone is worried about snoring.”
“You’re right, of course.” Fanny leaned forward and took her daughter’s hand. “You know, dear, I’ve seen Marcus fall asleep in front of the TV. He doesn’t snore.”
“Just thought I’d mention.”
How’d ya do? I hope you got it right. But if you didn’t…remember, there’s still one more mystery left. Be sure to come back Monday for the fourth and final puzzle!
And in the meantime, why not give RALLY ‘ROUND THE CORPSE a try? I promise you…if you love a great whodunnit, you will not be disappointed. Here’s the link: