Okay, now all we needed was to find out where the owner of the coffee house got his spiral staircase.
I made the call.
The owner, whose name was Edwin, “wasn’t available at the moment.”
“Is he on island?” I asked.
“Yes,” the woman on the phone reluctantly admitted. “But he’s not here.”
I cleared my throat. “Do you happen to know where he got his staircase?”
“Excuse me?” I could hear a blender in the background.
“The spiral staircase.” The one right in front of you. “Any idea where he got it?”
Silence. “Not really. But it was his friend Charlie’s idea. You know Charlie?”
“I met him once a few months ago. Any chance you’ve got his number?”
“Everyone’s got Charlie’s number,” she deadpanned.
Michael called Charlie.
“This is Michael, your neighbor. From the big white house down the hill.”
“We met at Jack’s Coffee House a few months ago.”
Clearly didn’t ring a bell. So much for considering yourself memorable.
Michael took a deep breath. “We’re the guys Daniel fired.”
“Oh, sure, I remember you!” he yelled. “That bastard.”
Michael held the phone away from his ear. “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but we heard it was your idea to put that spiral staircase in Jack’s. Where’d you get it?”
“We like the spiral staircase at Jack’s and we’re considering putting one like it in our house. Do you know where it came from?”
Quite a bit of hemming and hawing ensued. It was obvious that Charlie knew all about the staircase but for some reason didn’t want to tell us.
Was it stolen? Bought on the spiral-staircase black market? Or was Charlie just a jerk?
He tap danced around Michael’s questions for a surprisingly long time, but Michael was his usual persistent self (he would have enjoyed terrific job security during the Spanish Inquisition)…
…and eventually Charlie caved under pressure.
AA Ironworks. A guy named Alfredo. “But he’s got a huge backlog. It’ll take months,” Charlie added hopefully.
“Is there anyone else who could do it?”
“In Vieques?” he snorted. “Absolutely not.
Michael gave me a thumbs up.
“Then Afredo it is. Do you have contact information for him?”
“Uh. I did, but I think I lost it.”
Of course you did.
“No worries. We can look it up.”
Charlie was a piece of cake compared to Alfredo. He didn’t seem like a particularly chatty guy under any circumstances, and then there was the fact that he didn’t seem to speak one word of English.
I took the first crack at making him understand what we wanted. Then in desperation I handed the phone to Michael. He tried even harder, eventually sounding out, in a non-visual version of Charades, the words “spiral staircase.”
Needless to say, his efforts were unsuccessful.
Yes, reader, you guessed it.
Our next call was to Jane.