Sandalwood. The fragrance was strong in her nose as she approached the
door. She drew her weapon, the glistening .9mm, not knowing who, or what,
might be on the other side. She turned the knob on the door with only
a glance over her shoulder to make sure they had followed.
He knew they were close. Apartment 4-B was just down the hall; he could
smell the incense. Miss Parker had taken point, as usual, and Broots was
hovering between her and himself. Sydney, ever the psychologist, was trying
to figure out why Broots was so afraid of Miss Parker, until he saw Broots
catch a snicker as it tried to escape - Miss Parker had opened the door
and been met by a fierce, beaded curtain. Or, so it seemed; strands of
the beads were caught in her hair and around her wrist.
Miss Parker swatted the strands of plastic moons and stars out of her
way, pulling several of them to the floor. Well, at least the only ones
who saw that were Broots and Sydney. She would have shot anyone else.
Sandalwood was stronger now, but mixed with several other fragrances she
could not identify. Beatles music played at a moderate volume from a stereo
in the corner. The tie-dyed curtains were a nice touch, though they did
not quite fit with the other decorative aspects of the room.
Sydney followed Broots into the small apartment, absorbing everything.
The varieties of incense blended to create a wonderful fragrance, though
a little strong. The walls were tastefully decorated with hockey memorabilia
of the 1960’s. He browsed a shelf, removing a framed 8x10. “Miss Parker,
do you know who this is?” He handed the photograph to her.
“Gordie Howe. So?” She thrust the black and white back to the psychologist.
“He was a very popular hockey player. He set some impressive records.”
“Yeah, and they’ve been broken. What is Jarod doing?”
“Perhaps he’s discovering an era he missed.”
“Or he’s just gone crazy.”
Broots nearly jumped out of his skin when he turned around, coming face-to-face
with the object in Miss Parker’s hand. “Whoa! What is that?”
“It’s a bra, Broots.”
“Wha… what’s wrong with it?” He took a half step back from the garment.
Sydney placed the photograph back on the shelf and stepped closer, lifted
a portion of the brazier with his hand. “It’s been burned.”
“Discovering an era he missed, Syd? Are you sure he’s not becoming a
“Miss Parker, Jarod is trying to tell us something.”
“Yeah. That he’s gone off the deep end, once and for all.” She returned
to the collection of items in the room. Walking along the far wall, she
read the plaques beneath each piece of equipment: Terry Sawchuk’s gloves,
Maurice Richard’s home game sweater, Doug Harvey’s away game sweater,
Bobby Hull’s game stick, and Stan Mikita’s skates. Jarod had been very
busy with The Centre’s money.
“Do you know how much some of this stuff costs?” Broots held up an autographed
hockey stick, examining it in the light cast by four lava lamps of varied
colors, grouped on a desk.
Miss Parker ignored Broots and his jabbering. “Sydney, what does all
of this mean?” She holstered her weapon.
“I’m not sure, Miss Parker,” Sydney responded, not taking his eyes from
the objects in his hands -- a vinyl recording of The Beatles **Abbey Road**
album, and a pair of bell-bottomed slacks.
“Great, Syd, what’s next? Love beads?”
As though on cue, Broots jangled a string of beads. “You mean like these?”
“Give me those.” She snatched the beads from his sweaty hand. Making
Broots nervous was always great fun.
“Very clever, Jarod,” Sydney beamed, rubbing his chin with his thumb
“A beaded necklace of hockey pucks and original six team insignia? Syd,
maybe you’ve lost it.”
The impressed psychologist paid no attention to Miss Parker’s remark.
He knew what Jarod was doing even if no one else did. Yes, this was still
only a **breadcrumb,** but he understood the significance.