Danny Dove raised a hand. The bartender walked right by him. He frowned. How rude. He wasn’t going to tip for service like that. He wanted a drink, and the keeper of the liquor ignored him sitting on his favorite stool.
“How’s it going?” A man in a hat with a bent brim settled next to Danny. He held a cigarette in his lips as he looked around. Some of the smoke wrapped Danny in burnt wood and some kind of flower scent.
“I don’t think you should be smoking.” Danny frowned at the stranger. “The bar frowns on it.”
“It’s okay.” The stranger smiled. “I can put it out if someone makes a big deal of it. Name’s Breach.”
“Danny.” Dove looked at the bartender again. He really wanted something to drink.
He waved his hand to get her attention.
She came over. She glanced at Breach, then back to Danny.
“How can I help you?” She leaned forward to listen to his order.
“I just want a shot of vodka.” Danny smiled at her. She nodded, but didn’t smile back at him.
“A beer for me.” Breach reached into a pocket of his cargo pants and pulled out some money. He handed it over to cover his order.
“I’m sure she knows me.” Danny looked down at his hands. “Why is she giving me this silent treatment?”
“Maybe she doesn’t know you as well as you think.” Breach puffed on his cigarette as he looked the club over.
“I have been a regular here for three years.” Danny waved at the smoke around him. “Do you have to smoke?”
“It takes my mind off my problems.” Breach took a drag. “What do you do for a living, Danny?”
“I manage some stock for some people.” Danny paused as the glass of vodka came down on the bar. The beer tapped down a few seconds later. “I make some money off the transactions as part of doing business for them. What do you do?”
“I wander around.” Breach took the beer stein and sipped the contents. “Sometimes I chase down a rumor that interests me.”
“How do you support that?” Danny frowned as he sipped at his plain drink. He noted it didn’t seem to do much for him. He wondered why.
“What do you mean?” Breach cupped his cigarette in one hand as he drank the beer.
“Don’t you use money to chase this hobby?” Danny put the glass down on the bar.
“No.” Breach smiled. “Most of my needs are free. I don’t have to charge for my services and I have a low overhead in other ways.”
“What do you do with your money?” Danny wondered if he was in the middle of a con job.
“I keep it in my pocket until I need it, but I rarely do.” Breach sipped the rest of his beer. He shook the cigarette out when he realized it had burned down to the butt.
“I can triple your money.” Danny smiled. “Then you could get what you’re carrying from the market a hundred fold.”
“I doubt that.” Breach shook his head. “I don’t have anything that you could convert to stocks. All I have is things that needs to be converted to money so I can use them.”
“I can still do an estimate to tell you what you could earn if you wanted.” Dove stood. “I’ll be glad to show you. No one is at the office. We can go there now and I can put in the numbers for you.”
“All right.” Breach nodded. “Business slow?”
“Not really.” Dove led the way from the bar. “I just can’t seem to find anything I want for some reason.”
“Don’t worry.” Breach held the door for a couple entering the bar before throwing away his cigarette in an urn. “I’ll help you with that.”
“How are you going to do that?” Dove frowned at his new client as he walked out on the walk and headed for his office. Breach followed while lighting up a new cigarette.
“I’m good at finding things people think they have lost but are right there in front of them.” Breach smiled as he walked.
“I guess that makes sense.” Dove pointed at a block of glass and steel down the street. “There’s my office building. I can set you up an account in my office.”
“Are you sure about this?” Breach lit another cigarette as he walked.
“I don’t see why not.” Dove checked his pockets for his identification badge. “The new account won’t open until the morning."
“That’s fine.” Breach nodded. He doubted he would be in the city in the morning. On the other hand, he had nothing better to do at the moment.
He breathed smoke out as he stepped into the office building behind Dove. The smoke clung to the hedge manager as they walked across the lobby. The guard paused when he saw the man in the suit.
“Mr. Dove?” Confusion ran over his face. “Is that you?”
“Sure is, Rick.” Dove smiled. “I’m taking this new client up to my office. His name is Breach.”
“Okay.” Rick didn’t look convinced by that explanation. He stared at Dove as the money man walked to the elevator. “No smoking, sir.”
“What’s the problem, Rick?” Breach hung back as Dove waited for the elevator.
“I thought Mr. Dove was dead.” Rick glanced at the visitor. “The word was he jumped from the roof.”
“So his showing up in the middle of the night is unexpected.” Breach nodded. “I totally get that. I’ll see if I can find out what’s going on before we leave.”
“Let me know.” Rick stared at the hedge manager. “Put the cigarette out. No smoking is in effect.”
“Sure.” Breach walked to the elevator. He puffed on his cigarette as he got in the elevator.
“He said that you should put that out.” Dove pointed at the burning tobacco. “Why haven’t you?”
“I like to smoke, and I don’t believe in no smoking ordinances.” Breach puffed on the cigarette until he had finished it off while they were riding up to Dove’s office.
“That’ll get you fines around here.” Dove stepped off the elevator. He walked down to an office. He frowned at the door. “This should have my name on it. I wonder what’s going on.”
“Let’s go in and see what’s going on.” Breach tried the door, and it opened for him.
They stepped into an empty office. Everything that had went into Danny Dove’s existence at the office was gone. Even the furniture had been stripped out of the rooms.
“I don’t understand.” Danny looked around. “Where is my stuff? It was just here. Where is it?”
“Calm down.” Breach went to the window and looked out on the city. He frowned with his reflection. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I don’t know.” Danny turned in place. “Where is my desk? Where is my computer?”
“Stop.” Breach turned from the window. “What do you remember?”
“I remember breakfast. I had eggs and toast. I scrambled them because that was the easiest way to cook them.” Danny closed his eyes. “After I ate, I rode the train into town and walked here from the station.”
“What do you remember about work?” Breach lit another cigarette. “What did you do when you got in?”
“I checked the stocks my funds are invested in.” Danny looked at the cigarette. “I had a bonus for doing a good job for one of my accounts.”
“Did you talk to anyone?” Breach held the cigarette in his hand as he watched Dove try to think about his day.
“I can’t think of anyone.” Danny shook his head.
Breach stabbed the lit end of the cigarette into the palm of his other hand.
The office transformed around them into a gritty version of what used to be. Dove looked around him with mouth open. An image of him sat at the flickering desk. He swept his hand through his image’s head with a distortion in the air.
“How are you doing this?” Danny gestured at the image with both hands.
“Magic.” Breach waved his burning hand. “Get out of the way so we can see what happened to you.”
Danny went to stand next to a flickering file cabinet. He frowned as he tried to remember his day.
“Let’s see if we can narrow down what happened.” Breach held up his hand. “The guard said he had heard you had jumped from the roof of the building. Let’s say he comes in at six. When do you usually leave, after that?”
“Sometimes.” Danny shrugged. “It depends on how busy a day I had.”
“I doubt you lasted until six.” Breach tipped his hat back with his normal hand. “Let’s see if you’re here at five.”
The office shifted. The image of Danny had vanished. His secretary, Doris Goise, stood crying while talking to someone in a suit that he didn’t recognize. A badge showed briefly, so this was the detective in charge of things. He didn’t seem to be getting the answers he wanted.
“Let’s go back to four.” Breach watched as a small clock on the wall rolled backwards. Danny sat at his desk, talking on the phone. He silently berated the other person.
“I lost some money on some stocks.” Danny covered his mouth and chin with a hand. “I wanted to sell but couldn’t because of some glitch in the system.”
“Let’s move forward until we catch up with the woman talking to the cops.” Breach put the stub of his cigarette in his mouth as the image ran for him.
Danny made several phone calls. He stood up and headed for the door of the office while pulling on his jacket. He said something to his secretary before he left.
“Let’s see where you went.” Breach held out his hand as he led the way to the exit.