Basement Trash

Different drafts and unfinished stories I found when looking through my computer, stuff I never got around to finished or maybe just simply left.

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4. The Strange Case of Scarlet Ryo - Chapter One

The Fifth Job

Mr. Wilfred was what one called a dry man, dry soul and dry body; even his words seemed so dry that one wondered when they would fall apart. Mr. Wilfred also happened to be a very anxious man and could at this very moment be found wringing his hands nervously in front of Willurt 8.

It took five whole minutes – seven but why put him through even more shame than what this wait already did – before weakly knocking on the door. There went few seconds before someone opened the door, but they felt as long as the five – seven – minutes did.

The door was opened by a young woman with blonde, unruly hair, it didn’t look like anyone had brushed it for ages, her grey eyes seemed tired and were filled with an almost childish rage and her mouth formed a pout.

“Did I come a bad time?” Mr. Wilfred meekly asked. She looked at him, as if first seeing him now and her pout and rage disappeared, leaving the grey eyes to shine brighter than any diamond could hope for.

“Why anytime is a bad time. At this moment I am luckily not one of those who feel as if this is a bad time. By all means, come in.” she offered and turned around, without so much as checking whether he followed or not.

Mr. Wilfred had no idea how to respond, after a moment he realized that she had walked away and hurried inside. There he found her sitting in a chair, patiently waiting for him to sit in the sofa there was across the chair.

He did as she wanted. Between them was a table; on it were multiple newspapers, so many that you couldn’t see the surface of the table itself. Two cups of coffee sat on top of the newspapers.

“You are Miss Scarlet Ryo, right?” he asked. She nodded.

“You went to lady’s house without being sure of her name, how shameful.” She giggled – Mr. Wilfred’s cheeks grew noticeable hotter – and reached for the cup of coffee nearest her. “So what might this visit be about?”

“Oh, of course, um, as I – Scarlet made a gesture to the untouched cup of coffee on the table – Thank you very much, um, as I mentioned earlier-“

“How utterly disgusting!” Scarlet loudly interrupted, it made the poor Mr. Wilfred flinch in surprise and his face had come closer to resemble a tomato due to embarrassment. Scarlets had furrowed brows and clicked her tongue in distaste.

The object of her rudeness was the cup of coffee she held. “Whoever made this, must be a fool. This coffee is cold and bitter.” She complained loudly. Mr. Wilfred was not prepared for such an unusual woman and did not know how to react, so he weakly tried to continue.

“As I mentioned earlier-“ he stopped to see if she were listening or intended to interrupt, luckily Scarlet payed attention and had forgotten about the cold coffee. “-over the phone, there have been a fire, in which a manor burned down along with the poor Smithens there lived there – god bless their unfortunate souls – and-“

“Aha!” Scarlet interrupted once again. “I have solved it.” She triumphantly declared with a confidence there made you want to believe her.

“S-solved it? I haven’t even told you what the mystery is.” Mr. Wilfred said, sounding very impressed.

“Oh not that, I’m talking about the coffee. As you kindly reminded me of, I got a phone call yesterday about someone coming, since I was making coffee, I decided to make two cups, so that my guest could enjoy some once they arrived.

I didn’t touch my cup as I knew I would forget to make another in time for the guest. I assume I didn’t put sugar or milk in it, so that the guest could decide themselves, no matter what cup they chose.

That’s why it’s cold and the lack of sugar is what makes it so bitter.” She explained.

“D-did you really solve it? Didn’t you just remember what happened?” Mr. Wilfred asked with all the boldness he had – which wasn’t a whole lot but still some. Scarlet smiled a cat’s smile as she looked at Mr. Wilfred in self-satisfaction.

“Oh but sir, that is where you are wrong. Because I did not remember, I just know myself so well that based on the little facts that I remembered, managed to solve the puzzle. Which reminds me of something, my guest still haven’t appeared, how unsettling. Where might he be?” She pondered.

“What do you mean? I- you see, I’m your guest, I called you yesterday and we agreed to meet.” He explained. Her eyes widened in surprise.

“Really?” she asked and started studying his face as to confirm whether it was true. Mr. Wilfred’s face looked more like a tomato than human now.

“Y-yes, really.” He said, normally he would show some sort of legal proof to confirm his identity, but it was as if these grey eyes stare bound him to the sofa. After a moment she seemed to have reached the conclusion that he was indeed her guest.

She clapped her hands in delight and smiled brightly. “How curious, you somehow managed to trick me into believing you were someone else. How skillful of you, I must applaud you.” She praised him; Mr. Wilfred did for some reason or another not feel deserving of any of this praise.

“May I ask you a question Miss Ryo?” he politely requested.

“Why yes, and there’s no need to be so formal. Plain Scarlet is alright with me.” She insisted.

“Okay, S-sca… Um, I was wondering why you would let me in, if you didn’t know who I was.” He said his voice was shaking and his face flustered, to say her name in such casual manner; he could never bring himself to do that.

“Oh, I just thought you wanted to come in for a bit and I didn’t see why not.” She explained.

This created thousands of new questions in Mr. Wilfred’s mind, the most dominant one being, why did you offer me the coffee then, none of them was asked since would Mr. Wilfred rather not dwell on the subject anymore.

If you were wondering what the answer might be, dear reader, I shall gladly tell you so. She simply forgot it was for the guest when she offered it, why she forgot almost immediately after making the coffee.

One might ask why she kept the coffee then but Scarlet know how forgetful she is, so she often concludes that things lying around probably was meant to be used in the future and decided to let the future her take it away once it was used.

Mr. Wilfred coughed a bit to regain her attention. “About that fire, near their manor we found a letter,” Mr. Wilfred held an important pause “and while I wasn’t allowed to bring the letter itself, I did get permission to bring a copy.” He said and from one of his pockets he now showed a piece of paper.

“Huh,” Scarlet thoughtful let out as she took the paper that Mr. Wilfred offered. She carefully inspected it, she looked from any and every angle, she exhaled the smell but when she tried to put her tongue on it, Mr. Wilfred could not idly stand by.

“Miss, please refrain from licking it. I can’t see the point in doing such thing, especially since it’s not the original letter but just a piece of paper on which I have written the content on.” He said. Scarlet looked at him with heavy disappointment.

She couldn’t understand the point of the job, if licking was prohibited. But she did need the money to pay off the rent there at the moment was unpaid or so she assumed. “Fine, I suppose I will read it now then.” She mumbled in a cross tone.

“Dearest Eliza” she started in a loud, mocking voice of childish anger. “Last night was just marvelous, don’t you agree!?” she exaggerated almost all the words and said every single one dramatic as she read them, “I can’t believe that you hold these dinner parties every year! It must be absolutely tiresome!

Please do let me help you out next year! At the very least with the food, I make the best salads! You know, the one with all the nuts that you so adore?!

Oh and how is Edward’s foot, last I saw him he was still in his studies, pretending not to be hurt! He’s such a prideful man; I almost feel bad laughing about it with you! Either way, I insist to come by tomorrow and help clean some of the things you haven’t gotten around to!

And do not object to it, I truly don’t mind coming, while I’m there I can look for my pendant that I forgot! You know the one with a twin! So it’s convenient for me to come!

How is things going with little Tom?! He wasn’t at the dinner party so I assume he was with a friend of yours?! I had hoped to meet him, it’s been a year already and he must have grown so much while I was gone!

But perhaps I will see him tomorrow then?! I will be arriving six o’clock! Yours truly, Alexandra Phitchit!” Scarlet finished and gave back the paper to Mr. Wilfred who was just happy for her to be done reading out loud.

“What are your thoughts so far?” he asked. A moment Scarlet looked to be in deep thoughts.

“The paper had a peculiar smell to it, the smell leads me to think that it was recently bought, not only that, it was picked from papers there had just arrived to the store, therefor being rather new and fresh, hence the smell from the fabric still lingers.

Based from the taste and how fragile and easy to crumble it is, I assume it was cheap. This means they invested in cheap paper; my guess is that they prioritized quantity over quality. It’s not unusual to wind up with a better offer this way.

Considering how recently it left the fabric it must have been from this country, especially since this letter was written yesterday as it says on the top of the paper. In the theory it can have been from just about any paper fabric in the country, all would be able to reach in time for this.

But I doubt that a woman such as Alexandra would buy too late at night, so it can’t have been a day-delivering, else the paper would first have been sold late at night or the next day. So the paper must have been delivered in the morning.

If the fabric was nearby there would be a bigger chance of a day- or even a night delivering. So it must have been with train or some other transport that continued during the night, so that it would arrive in time to be delivered to stores in that region.

So it must have been nearby. But there’s one thing bothering me. It can’t have been her that bought it. She talked about a yearly dinner party, which usually is held by some with a bit more money than I, also if she was close enough to someone living in a castle – “Manor” – as to call them by first name, she must have a certain amount of wealth or a title of some sort.

Also she seems to treasure accessories, of course it could be of sentimental value, it was twin pendants after all, but let’s assume it wasn’t of sentimental value for a moment. So she might have an interest in shallow possessions there can show off her wealth.

Either way, I find it hard to believe that a woman like her would prioritize quantity over quality, especially when she has the money not to. So it must be a servant. A woman I presume, which means she wouldn’t go out at night.

Both because it’s improper for a lady but also because for a servant, who have less rights and authorities easier will look away from, it’s simply more dangerous. So in the middle of the day seems likely to be the time she went.

The servant buying the cheaper offer with more paper can be due to her growing up poor, so it’s natural for her to be practical about shopping.” Scarlet deduced with a smug look on her face.

“That’s impressive but also completely wrong. As I said, I’m the one who used that paper, not her. And I didn’t just buy it; it’s been in my Study for a few months now. Even if it was her and all of that was true, I hardly see why you would bring it up.” He said as politely as he could, despite the polite than it was apparent that he had grown tired of the nonsense.

“Wrong?” Scarlet repeated that word a few times, unable to understand the meaning. “How so?” she looked curious, as if this really was a mystery to her.

“Um, can we get back to the subject? You see the reason I showed you the letter, was because of the sender.” He grimly said.

“Alexandra Phitchit? What about her?”

“She died five years ago.” There was silence a few minutes before anyone said anything. The one to break the silence was Scarlet.

“Yet here we have a letter written by her yesterday.”

“Exactly, it could be a sick joke but that this letter arrived the same day the house burned down and just happened to be outside, safe from the flames?”

“There was a fire?” Scarlet asked in surprise. Mr. Wilfred started to wonder whether Scarlet was an idiot, she had long crossed the line between being forgetful and aloof.

“Y-yes, the Smithers manor burned down.” He slowly explained.

“Oh, I see. I agree, while it could be a coincident that it happened the same day, it seems unlikely.” She decided. She unconsciously stroked her right cheek with her thumb as she usually did when thinking.

“But that’s not all. Remember the twin pendants she’s talking about?” Scarlet gave a quick nod to this and made gesture for him to continue. “Well, it’s an heirloom in her family. Yesterday one was stolen. What’s more, the one stolen was the one she used to have.” He said; the dramatic way he told this made it embarrassingly clear that he had been practicing telling this.

“How can they tell, if they were twin pendants?” Scarlet asked with her brows slightly furrowed.

“From what I heard, they keep them in separate boxes, so one pendant can go to the boy and the other to the girl. If they only get daughters or sons, the other pendant will probably go to the other owner of a pendant’s spouse.” He guessed, sounding more unsure that before.

“So what exactly is it my job is?” she asked, leaning closer to Mr. Wilfred.

“To solve this mystery and find the stolen pendant.”

Scarlet clapped her hands and got up, a smile on her lips. “Consider it done.”

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