It was a dark and stormy afternoon. Ellen gazed out upon the dismal Seattle streets with longing. Oh, to be down there right now, happily splashing! Instead, she was trapped inside this awful office. She sighed. Sometimes private investigating was so lonely and boring and just plain hungry. Putting her hands on the glass, Ellen stood on tiptoe to try to see Frank's franks, her favorite hot dog stand. She jumped, she squinted, but couldn't see it. Oh, she could just smell that footlong loaded with sauerkraut and onions. Her stomach began to growl.
"Oh, Ellen, here you are," began Franz Wilhelm, her boss.
Ellen jolted back to reality, trying to forget about the steamy, drippy dog of her food fantasy. In fact, she felt a little guilty even thinking about it in the presence of Editor Wilhelm.
"Yes, sir. What can I do for you?"
"Ellen, I have a new assignment for you which requires you to do a little running around town. Do you mind leaving the office for me?" he asked.
Her eyes began to sparkle...so a rendezvous with Frank was a possibility after all!
"No, of course not. I'd like to help in any way at all. Just let me get my things." She all but skipped into her cubicle and retrieved her fanny pack. She returned to Editor Wilhelm with a smile. He smiled back, or rather smirked, then said, "Don't you need to put your tennis shoes on? You'll get pretty sore running in those heels."
A flash of panic shot through her brain. Had he literally meant that she had to run the streets of Seattle? His love of calorie burning showed through the merry smile of the hollow-cheeked fitness apostle. Her stomach growled again.
"Here are a list of the stops you need to make for me. I'd like you to pick up the response packets from the people mentioned and leave them with Carol whenever you finish. I know it's a bit of a trot over to Downey Street, so you may just have to bring them in tomorrow morning with you." Misery exuded from every cell in her being for a moment, then she rallied. She was a professional after all, and this was the very opportunity she had been waiting for...a chance to come back to the office after most people were gone. She needed to get to the computers in Accounting if she was ever going to find out who was embezzling from Fit for Life and trying to bribe the mayor.
She began her journey outside. The rain had subsided for the moment, so she dispensed with the pink lipstick umbrella. She looked both ways before ordering her dog from Frank, then shoved it into her fanny pack until she was out of the view of the building. She parked herself on a bench and attacked the hot dog like a crazed animal. She was actually a little out of breath from the rapid ingestion, when she decided to review the Mayor's note one more time. She drew it out of the fanny pack and gazed at the graceful, curving letters yet again, then at the small red smudge. She ran her finger over it, smelled it, and then had a Sherlock moment. The hot dog had done the trick...for now she finally knew that the bribery note was smudged with greasy ketchup. The same kind of ketchup that was on her finger right now!
So, Ellen thought, perhaps the sender of this note was also a part-time hot dog lover. She thought about this for a while. That would narrow the field of people from within Fit for Life by quite a bit. Most of them would rather die than eat processed meat. She stood up. It was time to begin her trip, but she was definitely not going to run. Walking would give her the time to digest not only her hot dog, but the new clue while she wasted the next few hours. The later she got back the better; tonight was the night she would break into accounting!