Delphia stepped out of the doctor’s office and breathed in the salty air that drifted over the buildings. She had finally paid off the last of her debts. Some weight had lifted off her shoulders, but now she felt guilty that she hadn’t exactly earned the money that she had used to pay the debts. True, she hadn’t really asked for the money that Micky gave her, but she still felt like she conned him.
Don’t worry your pretty little head about it, Moira’s voice echoed in Delphia’s mind, but it did bother her. She was walking down the street past the other shops enjoying the sun on her face, when something caught her eye. She gazed into a shop window with a display of hats. She had a little extra cash left in her pocket and it might be nice to have something new. A little voice in the back of her mind told her to save the money, but she hadn’t had anything not secondhand in a very long time. She started studying each hat and tried to pick her favorite. A shadow passed over the glass.
“I couldn’t help, but notice, Miss Fitzgerald, that all your debts were cleared up today.”
Delphia jumped from fright. She glanced over and realized Agent Spiegel was standing next to her. Miffed, she looked back at the hats.
“Tell me, how does a waitress come across enough money to pay all that off in one day?” Delphia realized he was right. It would look suspicious for her to have that much money as a waitress, but she had no idea she was even being watched. Apart from the short trip to the police station, she had no clue she was still on their mind.
“Well, what do you have to say for yourself?” Agent Spiegel asked. She turned and looked him straight in the eyes.
“I’m a good waitress and I make good tips. I’ve been saving up. I paid them all off today, because it’s my day off and I have the time to walk around town,” she said boldy. Then she pushed pass him and went on her way. Agent Spiegel started following her. She could hear his footsteps on the pavement behind her. She tried to walk faster, but Spiegel closed in and grabbed her elbow. She was about to cry out when he leaned in close.
“Act natural and this will be over before you know it,” he said. Delphia bit her tongue and allowed herself to be dragged along. She was shoved into a car and Spiegel squeezed in behind her. She had to scoot across the seat to make room for him and thought briefly about taking off out the other door. Spiegel clamped his hand onto her wrist again and nodded to the driver. He didn’t let go until they were moving. He didn’t say anything at all, but kept looking out the windows.
Agent Wilson drove the car through town then along the coastal road. He pulled over at a wayside and stopped.
“I don’t think anyone saw us,” Agent Spiegel announced.
“I know no one followed us,” Wilson said. He was good at loosing tails and they didn’t even have one to start with. He turned in his seat and handed Spiegel a folder.
“Miss Fitzgerald, do you want to rethink any of your statement from the last time we met?” asked Spiegel.
“I don’t know what you’re referring to,” she replied. Delphia folded her arms and looked out the window. She heard the folder shuffle.
“Care to take a look?” Spiegel shoved a photograph under her nose. When she saw her face she grabbed it. The picture was grainy, but it was of her and Micky O. in the lobby of the hotel. If her guess was right, it was from the night after her mother’s burial and not the afternoon before.
“How did you get this?”
“I have a photographer who is paid to be invisible. We buy him the latest cameras and he’s like a ghost. He’s worth the money,” Spiegel explained. “So do you care to explain what’s going on here?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing,” Delphia felt like crying, but tried her best to stay straight faced. “There’s nothing happening.”
“What do you mean? You have new dresses and enough cash to pay off debts in one day. I’m not a fool. Is it just a business arrangement? I’ve seen you coming out of the Cabaret lately. Have you started moonlighting there?”
“You mean, you haven’t come in and watched the show?” she sneered.
“No, I’d rather not have smut forced upon me.”
“Well then,” Delphia replied, “You’ll never know will you.” Spiegel wasn’t provoked.
“I followed you from the Cabaret yesterday to the Cormorant hotel,” Spiegel stated, “I sat in the lobby and watched you eat lunch in the restaurant. It didn’t look like a business dinner. I’m trying to help you, Miss Fitzgerald and keep you from getting involved in the seedy underbelly of this city.”
“Why me?” she asked. The photograph slipped from her hand and fell to the floor. “There are plenty of girls working for Mr. Sicero. Why do you think I need saving?”
“Er…” Agent Spiegel stammered.
“You’re different, Miss Fitzgerald,” Wilson spoke up. He turned in his seat. “You’re not one of them. They’ll eat you alive. I don’t want to see you later on chewed up and spat out on the side of the road. I’ve seen it happen. Good girls looking for adventure. They get taken advantage of and used up. I would hate that to be you.”
“But what do you want from me?”
“Just information,” Agent Spiegel said. “I want to know how Sicero runs his business. Where does all this liquor come from and when? I want to see money change hands, Delphia. You don’t mind if I call you that, do you?”
“Actually, I do mind,” she frowned. “I don’t know anything about that.”
“But Micky O. does,” Wilson pointed out, “And as you seem to have his attention, you’re in a good position to find out. You could let us know when he’s coming back to town.”
“Yes,” Spiegel agreed, “Just keep your ears and eyes open. I’ll be checking in to see if you’ve found out anything useful.” Delphia didn’t like the sound of that. They were already following her, now they’d be trying to talk to her again, if not shoving her in a car and driving her out of the city.
“Take me home,” she ordered.
“No, not until you agree to help,” Wilson said.
“It didn’t really sound like you were giving me a choice,” she pointed out.
“We aren’t,” Spiegel clarified with a stern look at Wilson, “But you can help willingly or we can keep doing stuff like this.”
“No, I won’t help you. I’m just a waitress. I don’t know anything and I never will!”
“Don’t be so sure. Now get out.” Spiegel ordered. Both of the men stared at her with cold eyes. Delphia fumbled for the door handle and opened the door. She felt Spiegel’s hand on her back shoving her as the car engine roared to life. Gravel was tossed up by the tires as the car rushed back onto the road. Spiegel yelled out the window.
“Tell Micky, ‘Hello’ for me!”
Delphia watched as it disappeared into the distance. Angry, she stomped off of the wayside and climbed over the dunes to the beach. She slipped her shoes off and started walking along the coast. She knew she’d eventually reach the boardwalk.
How could she ever tell them a thing about Micky after he had given her all that money? Moira wouldn’t think twice about ratting on one of her boyfriends, but then again none of them were one of the biggest bootleggers on the coast. Micky was different, at least that’s what she told herself. She wanted to believe there was something there, but that went against Moira’s first two rules for survival. Stop thinking about happy endings and take your heart off the table.
Delphia took a deep breath and exhaled. She at least owed him to keep her mouth shut if she heard anything. She decided on that much. She was torn between wanting to see Micky again and hoping he wouldn’t come back. If he didn’t, she would never have anything to give to Spiegel.