Josh Alexander was one of those egotistical writers that felt he had no fault to be found when it came to putting his thoughts on a sheet of paper. His words were pure and sweet and once transferred from his fingertips to the keyboard surface they were not to be changed unless by act of congress or some decree sent straight from the Vatican.
Physically, he was not much to look at and the only impression most strangers sucked up from his presence was the willy-nilly shocking red hair and the eyeglasses with the broken wing that made one think he was a bit daft or was one of those secure persons that didn’t care about other people’s opinions at all.
When I inquired of his landlady about his past history before he had taken up residence in this shabby part of the slowly disintegrating city, she rested her broom for a moment and opined that he wasn’t one to stop and gab much with anyone and the only time she saw him was when he knocked on her door with the monthly rent money.
Then, she straightened up a bit and I saw she was quite taller than I had first imagined and she pulled out a pack of cigarettes to light one up with studied care. She took a deep drag on the poison stick like it was her sworn duty to finish it in record time and looked me right in the eye at close range.
“I don’t like to talk about the tenants, young fellow, but I have to say that guy in room 505 is not your regular normal person like you and me talking right here on the stairway. He gets some strange visitors in the middle of the night and they make enough noise to bother his neighbors something fierce and that’s a fact.”
I soaked up this bit of news because it sort of reinforced the reason why I had been sent on this assignment to determine his background information. I had taken the job with the San Francisco office of a dubious company that collecting such details for paying customers with no questions asked. It was right after being fired unceremoniously from a certain organization with an unstated alphabet designation. I had an ingrained habit of never referring to it by actual title unless in the process of being water-boarded and unable to breathe properly without spilling the beans.
Of course, I was taking notes in my little notebook after a bad experience with using the little recorders they gave to all new employees to transcribe details onto final reports. Mine was a bit tricky and when I tried to download the data all I got was a high-pitched whine that sounded a bit like one would expect from mermaids singing on a barren shore.
The old lady was slinging a mop now and she had a rhythm that could not be denied.
Watching those well-padded hips moving in perfect unison on the steps was enough to give me pause in my information gathering efforts. After careful thought, I deduced that the landlady was not quite as old as I first thought and she was hiding a pair of long shapely legs under the shapeless dress that went almost down to her partially hidden ankles. She was wearing a pair of shallow cut work shoes with no laces that looked comfortable but ugly to the sight. It was sort of the thing that cut all thoughts of a carnal nature short and made you squirm to admit you ever had them in the first place.
I listened to her humming under her breath and I thought it sounded a little like a Russian folk song. My shrink would have loved me to tell her that in a session because I had just supposedly been “cured” of my irrational suspicions that I was being followed by agents of that revenge seeking country giving me my just due for connecting the dots with far too much accuracy. Two other members of my now-dissolved team had met with deaths under suspicious circumstances and I had fallen prey to the shadows of my mind and saw a Russian behind every lamppost.
“Do you want to come with me and have a cup of tea, young man? I have some from the old country and maybe a little sweetener to make it go down a whole lot nicer.”
She looked back at me standing below her on the stairs with my tiny notebook and my number two pencil in my hot little hand with a look that made me nervous for a reason that had no basic in logic and confused me into agreeing without more than a nod of my silly head.
She had her quarters right in room 101 and I guess that was the perk of the job of managing the five story building down in the seamier side of town closer to the Mission District than most folks would look for if they wanted stylish accommodations.
My place was up on Market in one of those buildings that had probably been there for the great fire. My living room window jutted out onto the street like a bay on the world of illegally parked cars and trams that threw off sparks wherever they went.
As soon as we entered into her home, I was struck by the piles of newspapers that lined the walls of the long hallway that dropped us into her living room similar to mine up on Market. Only hers was cluttered with tiny figurines and odds and ends that looked like they were relics from another era.
I kept looking around expecting to see a black cat hiding in a corner.
Fortunately, there were no black cats or Russians for that matter to shatter my supposed “cure” to little pieces. I discovered that Madame Redecke was actually German and that she was a widow for the past five years to her great regret. I cannot describe to you the comfort of her being German and not Russian gave me because I still had vestiges of my former obsession surrounding me at odd times whilst I attempted to earn a living scratching information from all available sources.
Madame Redecke went into another room and came back changed wearing a bib overall that did little to hide the fact that her chest was magnificently designed with twin artillery rounds of a giant caliber. When she took a deep breath, her bib straps were strained to the limit stretching and covering her darkly shaded nipples seen transparently under her white shirt. I made a valiant effort to not look at them directly because I felt it would be both obvious and ungentlemanly in such close quarters.
Between the intelligence gleaned from watching her long lean flanks working strenuously on the stairs and the fact that she was blessed with breasts a showgirl would find a major asset, I came to the startling conclusion that Madame Redecke or Heidi as she implored me to call her now that we were “friends” was a hot number and she had all the moves that pushed my buttons with the slightest hint of invitation.
The tea was delicious and she poured it into glass cups leaning down and allowing her beautiful breasts to hover within inches of my face. I might have been imagining it, but I got the scent of lilacs on a summer morning and I was certain her nipples were suddenly erect and ready for some masculine attention with me being the only man in the vicinity to be called on for furnishing said attention without hesitation.