PREVIOUSLY: Bill, wearing the ring, has gone to dinner with the mysterious Bowler Hat, who gave his name as Mr Smythe. Mr Smythe ordered a Manhattan, but Bill ordered only coffee. He decided to stay away from alcohol because he needed to keep his wits about him.
“Ahh, a man of discipline.” He smiled. “Your friend Francis shared a surprising amount of wisdom in choosing you as his heir.”
“About Frank,” I interjected. “What is this all about, anyway? I mean, the ring, the Masons, his death, all this money that people keep throwing my way. I mean, I’m appreciative and all, but why? You said that you thought Frank didn’t die of drinks and drugs, per se, but that the Masons killed him, or at least had something to do with his death…”
“Take a look at this and you tell me,” he said, handing me a manila envelope. Inside the envelope was a photo of Frank, lying naked on a metal slab, eyes shut, obviously dead. With the photo came what appeared to be an autopsy report with Frank’s name on it.
I skimmed over the report for a few moments and saw that the cause of Frank’s death was listed as some kind of poisoning definitely not the alcohol or drug overdose I was expecting.
“So you’re telling me that the Masons poisoned Frank to death?” I asked incredulously.
Before he could answer, Angel came back into the room carrying a tray with our appetizers and drinks. She then took our meal orders. I went for a nice sirloin with a baked potato and double sour cream. Smythe ordered lobster with a Caesar salad. As she turned to leave, Smythe stopped her. “Excuse me, miss. I was wondering,” he began, “how much of a gratuity would you normally expect for a meal like this?”
“That’s not for me to say, sir,” she answered.
“Come, now, I’m really curious to know,” he responded with a wink.
“Well, normally on the floor I’d expect at least fifteen percent of the total check,” she replied shyly, “but given that this is a private room and all, I could possibly see as much as a quarter of it.”
“There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” he asked rhetorically, and immediately placed a one hundred dollar bill on the table. “Take it, it’s yours.”
Angel’s eyes widened as she scooped up the bill, trying hard not to smile and barely succeeding. And then she left the room.
“We’ll have the best service this restaurant has seen since the last time I was here,” he said, “and with the beaming report I’ll send her employer tomorrow, she might just get a raise in pay.”
I saw the sense in what he did. He used a meager fraction of a fraction of his wealth to get what he wanted, just as he had been trying to do with me this whole time.