An Unexpected Visitor | Sarah Henry

A detective grows tired of single origin and years for a real car to solve. 

An Unexpected Visitor

Sarah Henry

To The Nines Award Part 1

Douglas Moonstone, part-time bartender, self-proclaimed occult detective, felt out of sorts. The weather was an easy scapegoat, and today’s weather wasn’t exactly making a case for itself. It was stereotypical Seattle: rainy, chilly, and relentlessly so. He sighed and continued to gaze at the cars moving stop and go down Eastlake Ave to downtown meetings, happy hours, dates; potentials of different types. And lately, He felt lacking in that. Looking at his Casio Classic F91W-1 to check the time: 9:00. He still had several hours until his shift at the Woody Pine began. It was a new pseudo-hippie bar that had opened up in the recently sterilized and still expanding South Lake Union neighborhood. Though he enjoyed working there most nights, bartending was certainly not something he would say was his calling.

Douglas Moonstone, though he had nine years on his brother’s fresh-faced and naïve 21, had none of the sparkle his brother’s life had. In a city that dealt in strange, Douglas’ brother was an underground superhero complete with bodysuit, well-practiced parkour acrobatics, and mysteriously convenient and contrived origin story. Apparently, though Douglas felt skeptical of this, in a wild night of carousing, young Mr. Moonstone imbibed of a questionable potion, and has felt strangely self-righteous ever since. But this is not a story about a fledgling superhero; this is a story about Douglas.


He looked away from the rain-streaked window, and around his carefully curated office. The battered wooden desk with the multitude of little useless drawers had been selected after several trips to dusty second-hand stores, and won the reward of sitting largely unused in his rented office. An old fashioned lamp, complete with green glass shade, pull chain, and tarnished metal base, sat on one side, just as you would see in any historically accurate detective drama. His bookshelves, flanked by a couple of slightly scratched and dented metal filing cabinets with sticky drawers, one which mysteriously refused to open, were covered with books on topics ranging from self-help to Satanism. Behind his desk hung a printed copy of his occult detective credentials printed on fancy paper and framed to look like a college diploma. Douglas had never actually attended college, but had dated a reasonably insane Psychology graduate student once. It was her influence actually, that encouraged his interest in the occult, through her skepticism of it.


In his limited opinion and experience of these things, he considered his office perfect, and the brass plaque outside the door of the former brick townhouse was also exactly what you would expect from a genuine occult detective. Unfortunately, most of the visitors to the office building were for Misty, the massage therapist and Areyvedic practitioner. Truth be told, since setting up his office, advertising on Craigslist, and posting flyers up around the neighborhood several months ago, Douglas had not seen one legitimate client. He shifted restlessly in his worn leather armchair, preoccupied with his lack of problems to solve.


As he continued to watch outside his window, he saw a woman hurry down the street toward his office building, umbrella shielding her from most of the rain, but not keeping the toes of her shoes from becoming wet. She walked with a sense of purpose, looking up through the rain at his office building, peering closely at his brass plaque outside the front door that would direct her upstairs and to the left. He quickly dropped his legs from their perch on his old wood desk, attempted to smooth his wrinkled plaid shirt, and ran a quick pinched thumb and forefinger over his eyebrows and mustache.


As she made her way up the stoop leading to the front door of the building, he ran around mussing things on his too-organized desk, and sat down in his chair attempting to undo the previous smoothing to look rumpled and busy. He picked up his now stale artisan coffee and swished it in his mouth because he remembered that legitimate detectives needed to have coffee breath. By now she had reached his office door and knocked sharply three times.


“Just a moment!” He said in his best attempt at a distracted and gruff voice.


“Detective Moonstone?” The voice was not seemingly impressed.


He forced himself to count to twenty before getting up and opening the door. He could hear her shaking out her umbrella, and shuffling outside while she waited. He placed his hand on the doorknob, and slowly turned.