The interview was brief. I don't imagine the Sergeant or the Lieutenant Detective needed to know much more about the woman to be hired as our new typist other than how fast she could type (they tested her with a stopwatch, and she laughed as though they had just come up with the most intelligent and delightful game), was she presentable, and did she have good manners. There generally just wasn't much more to vetting a new typist. And Odalie, with that voice, had them both instantly charmed. When they asked her would she mind having to hear about the often extremely unsavory acts of the criminals who were brought into the precinct, she laughed her musical, jingling laugh and then dropped into that husky timbre to joke that she was not the sort of girl you might call squeamish, and that it was only her meals at Mouquin's that she insisted on being particularly savory anyhow. I did not think the remark was really all that clever, but the Sergeant and the Lieutenant Detective both chuckled, already eager, I believeeven at that early stageto be liked by her. I eavesdropped from across the room and heard them tell her she was hired, starting the next Monday. In that second, I swore Odalie's eyes ?icked across the room and rested on my face for the briefest of instants, and that a tiny smile twisted itself into the corners of her mouth. But this impression was ?eeting, and later it was dif?cult to be sure she had looked in my direction at all.
Damned nice girl, the Lieutenant Detective had said after Odalie departed. His summary was simple, but it actually described something I hadn't quite put my ?nger on at that point. The truth was I was probably youngerperhaps as much as ? ve years Odalie's junior yet the word girl applied to her in a much more powerful way than it did to me. Part of Odalie's allure was the way she carried with her a sort of grown-up girlishness. There was an excitement in the air around her, an excitement that might include you in some way, as though you were her secret collaborator. Her voice quivered with a sort of tomboy energy that suggested, despite her re?ned poise and sophistication, she was a robust individualsomeone not above climbing a tree or beating you at a game of tennis. And in that observation was another thing I had begun to realize: The voluptuous glee in Odalie's demeanor hinted at privilege, at a childhood that had been ?lled with automobiles and tennis courts, things that had been absent from my own childhood, andI would humbly venture to guessabsent from the Sergeant's and the Lieutenant Detective's childhoods as well. Yes, her mannerisms hinted at wealth, but perhaps wisely made no concrete claim. In this regard she was somewhat exotic to us, but in a way we probably only perceived unconsciously. And just as it is with all exotic creatures, we simply held our breath as she approached, for fear of scaring her off. No one at the precinct dared to question the reason this well-to-do young woman stood before us, laughing as though delighted to be considered for a lowly typist's job. I've always prided myself on my sharp instincts and critical eye, and yet even in my early state of disapproval the one thing I did not do was to question why Odalie should want employment. I can only say we are all susceptible to blind spots when exposed to the right dazzling ? ash.
That day, after she made her farewells and was told to return on Monday, she strode off in her childish, slightly tripping little walk through the precinct and out the front door. But as she did so, something fell from the lapel of her blue jacket and skittered noisily across the ?oor. My eyes instantly went to the tile where the object that had dropped lay glinting under the light of the bare electric bulbs. I knew I ought to call out to alert her, but I remained silent and Odalie continued on, seeming not to notice it. She disappeared through the door, and I simply sat frozen as several minutes passed. Curious, I ?nally shook myself into motion. I got up quietly from my seat and walked over to the spot where the object had been abandoned upon the ?oor.
Excerpted from The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. Copyright © 2013 by Suzanne Rindell. Excerpted by permission of Amy Einhorn Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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