I wouldn't have picked Miss Lawrence for a nut when she first sat down in my office. She held her back rigidly straight, as if she would be penalized for slouching, and her iron gray hair was shellacked into metallic curls. Her eyes behind her sensible glasses were sharp and fiercely intelligent, and although she dressed in classic little old lady style (navy blue dress twenty years out of style, the kind of shoes that only old ladies and old fashioned nuns wore), there was nothing of the sweet little old lady stereotype in her attitude.
So she surprised me by her opening remark, especially since she sat in the straight-backed chair for a whole minute, studying me, before she made it. "You'll do," she said. "I need someone to find my unicorn."
I folded my hands on my desk. "A statue? Porcelain? Some kind of heirloom?"
She glared at me as if I'd exposed some unbelievable vein of stupidity. "No, of course not. A live unicorn. She disappeared yesterday and I must get her back."
I chose my words carefully. "I don't know, Miss Lawrence, where you got my name -- "
"It's none of your business," she replied without hesitation.
" -- But I'm a private investigator. I'm not a psychiatrist, I don't do delusional clients, and I don't have time to play games, with you or with anyone else." I began to rise from my chair, to give her the idea, but she eyed me sharply. There was something about that gaze that told me this woman, in her prime, had probably terrorized whole rooms full of people. I sank back into my seat.
"Don't pretend you don't believe in unicorns," she said, glaring at me. "I know you do. I know you've seen one yourself. I know you can still see them."
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