Excerpt of Alice in Jeopardy by Ed McBain
(Page 5 of 10)
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"A certificate of death, they say. Which is absurd in this case. The man
drowned at sea, his remains were never...forgive me, Alice," he says.
"That's all right."
"But the facts..."
She knows the facts. Eddie took the sloop out for a moonlight sail. It was a
small boat, the waters on the Gulf were very high that night. There was no one
aboard when the tanker came across her the next morning, still under sail. Eddie
had either fallen overboard or been washed overboard. Those were the facts.
"Garland has no right to withhold payment," Andy says.
"But they are."
"Yes, because there's a lot of money involved here. And because they're
in trouble financially, this goddamn administration. With the double indemnity
clause, the death benefit comes to two...by the way, no one at Garland is
claiming that drowning at sea doesn't qualify as an accident."
"Well, they'd be foolish to do that."
"They're foolish to try wriggling out of this in the first place. Other
insurance companies are paying the same sorts of claims, you know. It's
not as if nothing like this has ever happened before, Alice..."
"Some are taking more time than others, but they are honoring their
obligations. Quite frankly, Garland's position is contemptible."
"So what do we do, Andy?"
"I'd like to give them till the end of the month. If they don't settle
by then, we'll have to bring suit."
"The end of the month," Alice says.
"Yes. I'll call them again on June first. Does that sound okay to
"We'll get the money, I promise you."
"I hope so."
"Okay, Andy, thank you. We'll talk soon."
"I'll let you know the moment I hear anything."
"Talk to you later," he says, and hangs up.
She holds the receiver in her hand for a moment, and then puts it back on the
cradle, and suddenly she is weeping. She yanks a tissue from the box on her
desk, blows her nose, and dries her eyes.
Well, she thinks, the first day of June is less than three weeks away, and
I've certainly got enough in the bank to last me till then. But I don't know
what to do after June first, because by my calculation the account will
be getting very low by that time. I suppose I can always get a job waitressing,
she thinks, but that would mean having to pay Rosie even more than I'm paying
her now. But at least I'll have a steady salary and tips, and I wouldn't have to
count on commissions. So far, there has been what one might call a dearth of
commissions. So far, the commissions have totaled zero, nada, zilch.
She picks up the phone again, dials her home number, and waits. Rosie Garrity
picks up on the third ring.
"Glendenning residence," she says.
"Rosie, hi, it's me."
"Hello, Mrs. Glendenning, how are you?"
"Fine, thanks. Everything okay there?"
"Yes, fine. What time is it, anyway?"
"A quarter to one."
"Good. I want to bake a pie before the kids get home."
Rosie comes in at noon every weekday, in time to clean the house and put it
in order before the children get home at two-thirty, three o'clock, depending on
traffic. By the time Alice gets home at five, Rosie has everything ready to put
up for dinner. Rosie works full-time on Saturdays and Sundays, a broker's
"Did you see the chicken I left in the fridge?" Alice asks.
"Yes. Will you be wanting the spinach, too?"
"Please. And if you could get some potatoes ready for browning."
"Sounds good. Can you stop for some ice cream on the way home? Go good
with the pie."
"What kind of pie?"
From Alice in Jeopardy, chapter 1, pages 3-23. Copyright © 2005 by Hui Corp.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt maybe reproduced without
written permission from the publisher.