The days were getting shorter, but for my money, the shortest day of the year was not the winter solstice, it was Halloween. Most people would call it an overactive imagination, but I knew that shadows were longer, light didn’t reach as far, and the things that went bump in the night did so with more gusto on this night, which was why I typically closed the office early on Halloween.
I had just made it down the elevator when my phone rang, the distinctive bass chords of “Fever” instantly recognizable. “Hey, Nikki, not really feeling up for a costume ball, tonight. Just want to pass out candy to trick or treaters.”
“As much as I would love to kidnap you to a costume ball, Matthew, that is not the purpose of my call.”
“Well, good. Pick up some Kit Kats and you can join me in handing out candy. We can watch an awful horror movie, too.” I waved to the building’s front desk people on the way out, who waved back. Typically, only one person watched the building at night, but a string of vandalisms in the area leading up to Halloween put them on edge.
Nikki sighed, audibly, almost melodramatically. “Sadly, I will need a raincheck. And I would ask that you take one as well. I have need of you, tonight.”
“What’s shaking?” I asked, stepping through the door. I turned to find my car when I spotted a familiar Mercedes with blackout windows in back. The sky was still light out, though the sun had disappeared behind the buildings.
The back window closest to me rolled down a couple of inches. I couldn’t see anything inside, but I already knew.
“Dark business is afoot,” she said. “I need a detective. More importantly, I need a friend.”
I clicked off my phone and went to the car. Inside, a light clicked on. I saw an immaculately made-up Nikki wearing an elegant ball gown in black.
“Hey, baby, you looking for a good time, tonight?”
Usually, innuendo like that made her smile. The corner of her mouth quirked up, but no smile. “I would like nothing better, but there will be little pleasure, tonight.”
Serious business on Halloween. Yeah, this is going to turn out great.
I got in the car.
Nikki pressed the intercom button to the driver, whom I couldn’t even see. “The Fairhaven Club.”
“Oh, hell,” I said.