Mirabelle could smell the spearmint gum on April’s breath as she leaned across the marble work surface in the kitchen of Queen Pin.
“You think it’s who?” she whispered.
“I think it’s Wade,” Mirabelle replied. “He knew we were meeting yesterday to talk about the vandal. He wasn’t at the restaurant the night the parking lot by Coney Island got hit.”
“Yeah but he’s creepy. He almost laughed when I said the vandal was getting to me. It amused him. Don’t you think that’s something?”
April straightened up and pulled the cool stainless steel mixing bowl in front of her.
“Being creepy is something, yes,” April agreed, scooping cherry chip cookie dough from the bowl onto a baking sheet. “But sometimes it’s just that. I am sure people think it’s creepy the way you stare at them as they eat desserts. The other week at Liberty Diner and the pie? Seriously.”
Mirabelle grabbed the baking sheet and turned her back to put it in the oven. “It’s just different,” she said, staring at the digital numbers. “I can feel it.”
“Too bad his restaurant is in Waynedale and not downtown. You could use this new neighborhood watch as an excuse to stalk his place.”
Mirabelle turned around and looked at her friend. Her lips did not move.
“Come on,” April said, planting her hands on the marble. “You cannot be considering this.”
“I’m not considering it,” Mirabelle said, “because there’s nothing to consider. I am going tonight. I can’t let this … this person affect my business any longer.
“I’m going to do my downtown round after I close up the bakery like I said I would at the meeting last night, and then I’m going.”
“Don’t you remember?”
“I remember,” Mirabelle said, slamming the oven door, “and I don’t want to hear it.”
“You are quite the sight, I have to say,” Finn said with a chuckle.
Mirabelle was leaning up against her silver Honda Civic in a pair of black capri leggings and a form-fitting black tank top that accentuated her lean frame. The silver elastic in her hair glowed in the moonlight, and the only touch of color was the purple swoosh on her Nike sneakers.
“I had to dress the part,” she said. “Didn’t I?”
Finn shook his said. “Whatever you say. I’m still not sure how I got roped into this.”
“Because April wouldn’t come with me again,” she said.
“Because you are crazy.”
“I am not crazy,” Mirabelle protested, putting her hands on her hips. “I have an instinct and I’m going to follow it.”
“Well,” Finn said, “are you ready?”
Mirabelle took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. She pushed herself off the car and stepped up to the sidewalk.
“As ready as I am ever going to be.”
She began to walk quickly down Lower Huntington Road toward Waynedale Tavern. She kept her body close to the buildings of the businesses lining the street. Finn trailed a bit behind her, more casual with his steps and his hands jammed in a pair of dark Levis.
“Come on,” Mirabelle said, ushering him toward her. “There are some windows here, on the side of the building.”
“Yeah,” Finn said, coming up behind Mirabelle. “What about the windows?”
“I want to look in them,” Mirabelle said matter-of-factly. “You know, see if he is in there.”
She reached back and grabbed Finn’s elbow, wet with sweat from the summer humidity. “Let’s go.” She tugged him hard and crept along the edge of the building next to the tavern, a driveway separating her from the building.
“Alright,” she said. “I think I can see into the windows without your help, but I may need you to pick me up. Which one do you think I should go for first?’
Finn arched his eyebrow. “Oh, I don’t know. Why not the one in the back?” he said with no effort to hide his frustration.
Mirabelle crouched down and scurried toward the window. She looked back. “Keep watch. OK?” she whispered.
Finn rolled his eyes and gave a nod.
She ran up underneath the window and looked both ways. And then again, her head moving manically.
The concrete of the windowsill was gritty underneath the pads of her fingers. She used her hands to leverage her body up to the glass.
The room was dark, with the exception of an incandescent light bulb from the ceiling and the glow of an old computer monitor on a card table. There were towels and cleaning supplies on stainless steel racks and a box in the corner.
“It’s a storage closet,” she said, running back to Finn. “There’s a computer in there but I can’t see the monitor. I mean, I can see it but I can’t see it.
“I think I might need your help. Will you lift me up?”
Finn let out a loud groan.
“I’m not crouching down like that,” he said, following her across the driveway. “It’s 10 p.m. – no one can see us. And, if they did, they wouldn’t care.”
Mirabelle stopped in front of the window.
“I get it. OK?” she snapped. “Just lift me up. Can you just do that for me?”
Finn laced his fingers together and Mirabelle put her sneaker on his hands. She pushed herself up over the windowsill and pressed her nose to the glass.
“Oh, my God. OHMYGOD,” she screamed.
“What?” Finn let her down. Standing on his tiptoes, he looked in.
“Whoah,” he said, falling back. “What kind of website was that?”
“I don’t know. An auto parts website or something. Somewhere that sells pry bars and tools you use to, say, you know, damage cars.”