In fact, the request had struck Maggy as odd. Mario did not seem to care about the girls who worked for him. If one failed to show up, he put another on, and if she came late, he was more likely to curse her than inquire about her health. Maggy was surprised he even knew Marie-Claude's address. When she herself had gone to work there, two months ago, he had asked for her phone number, nothing more.
"So you went straight up?"
"No. I stopped at the lodge to ask Madame...."
"Madame Gilbert if she had seen Marie-Claude lately. She said she hadn't....not for at least two days. So I thought Id go upstairs and see."
"And you borrowed the key?"
"Yes. I asked Madame Gilbert...."
The concierge broke in, defensive. "I can't go running up to the top floor all the time! My job is to watch this door!"
"Of course." Leblanc soothed her. "So you gave her the key?"
"Sure. She seemed like a nice girl. I wouldn't give it to just anybody. Marie-Claude's crazy boyfriend came by last night and wanted the key, but I told him where to go!"
"Mademoiselle Perrin's boyfriend? Do you know his name?"
"No. A big jerk with a lot of hair. I used to see them coming and going at all hours, with their hands all over each other. Then I didn't see him anymore. It's been a while. Then he shows up last night, talking crazy and demanding the key! Get the hell out of here before I call the cops, I told him. He took off quick! "
Leblanc turned to Maggy. "You know this man?"
"No. Can I go soon? " It was suddenly urgent for her to get out of the overheated room, with its smells of cheap wine and damp linen.
"Certainly. I have your address. The Homicide Bureau will want you to come down and give them a statement. Will you be home tomorrow morning?"
"I'm home every morning. Sleeping." Feeling oddly defensive, she did not bother to point out that, since she got off at five A.M., it was not laziness that kept her in bed. "Right. You'll get a call. They may need you," he added in a gentler tone, "to make a formal identification."
Maggy did not want to think about seeing the body again, but part of her knew she would see it, again and again, awake and asleep, for a long time to come.
Excerpted from The Fox and the Pussycat by Barbara Sohmers. Copyright © 1998. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved .
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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