Word Count: 1061
Alteration Shop – Saturday February, 27th
"Do the pants fit Ms. Eames?"
"Perfect, Alima," I stepped in front of the big mirror in the brightly lit tailor's atelier. Now the legs of my new dress pants were exactly the right length.
The young woman crouched next to me and checked her hems one last time. "This fabric is really beautiful." Alima touched the heavy dark grey wool.
"I was lucky. The suit was a bargain at one of the shops on Madison Avenue."
"A bargain on Madison Avenue?" Alima raised her eye brows.
"Hard to believe, I know, but my size isn't that common and I wanted to treat myself to something special for my new job."
"But it's still too long…"
We both laughed.
"Please, slip into the jacket. I want to see the whole ensemble." Alima held the second piece for me to slip into. "Perfect, this fit perfectly and I don't have to change anything." She plucked at the sleeves.
"Great," I replied, and ducked behind the curtain to change back in my jeans and sweater.
I wrapped myself in my coat and walked over to Alima's high standing desk. She completed my bill and as I rummaged in the black shoulder bag for my wallet, my eyes fell on a paper next to the receipt.
"You can read Arabic?" I asked excitedly, and touched the characters on the other paper.
"Yes, my parents were insistent that I learned to read and write their native language and study our roots.
"Wonderful." I passed her a few bills to pay for the alteration work and freed Bobby's binder from my bag. I opened the zipper while my fingers wandered tenderly over the smooth leather. I was looking for the airmail letter.
"C…could you translate the stamp for me?" My voice cracked.
Alima reached for the envelop and put on her glasses. She touched the little picture with the beautiful sea shall. "Jumhūriyyat Jībūtī…Republic of Djibouti."
"Djibouti," I repeated, and finally the impervious clouds cleared. I clasped Bobby's binder under one arm and carried the suit with the other, heading determinedly to the exit. In the doorway I turned around and thanked the young woman. "Thank you, Alima for the translation and as always perfect hem work." Dear, using his binder made me react like my partner without even thinking.
1st Cupcakes West Village Manhattan – fifteen minutes later
I took one of the quiet internet stations at Café Angelique and ordered a Latte Macchiato and three different fruit cupcakes. I couldn't wait to get home to research Djibouti. I had to do it as quick as possible. I wanted to know more about the place Bobby had been.
The waitress brought the tall glass with the milk froth cap and the three colorful sugar delicacies. The coffee could be better, but the pastry chefs at Café Angelique really made the best cupcakes in New York City.
The first page I visited online was wikipedia to get a better overview of the country.
France first gained a foothold in the region through various treaties signed between 1883 and 1887. In 1894, Léonce Lagarde established a permanent French administration in the city of Djibouti and named the region French Somaliland (Côte française des Somalis). It lasted from 1896 until 1967, when it was renamed the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas.
Now I understood the little F next the price of the stamp. I examined a few pictures of Djibouti stamps and every single one was bilingual. Ha, Goren even with this stumbling block I got you. I flipped open his binder. Before I started to make notes on the yellow paper, I felt once again the soft leather and smelled the heavy scent. Using Bobby's binder kept alive that special bond we had built up over the years. It was a relief to have something special belonging to my former partner even when he was thousands of miles away.
Ah, since 2002 Germany provided a naval contingent, stationed in Djibouti, as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom. I found that information on the page of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I switched back to wiki. Puh, still in January around 80 F. I stroked Bobby's picture I'd stuck in a page protector and noted his red arms. He hated the beach, how would he survive in the desert?
I was assuaged. I couldn't find on first viewing any national uprisings or fighting of ethnic groups in the little country. It is more or less a one party dominated state, but Djibouti wasn't involved in a war like its three neighbors Eritrea – God, position 175 – last place on the list of Reporters sans frontiers and pursuance of Protestants – Ethiopia and Somalia. But the Gulf of Aden, the southern entrance to the Red Sea was one of the strongholds of modern piracy.
So was Bobby in a safe place? I rubbed my eyes and sighed. I looked up and froze. Dr. Rodgers stood before me with two shopping bags in her wool gloved hands.
"Doctor…Elizabeth," I whispered, and stood up.
"Detective…" We shook hands.
"Please sit down and have a coffee…eh'hem, no order something else." I was still a little surprised, but called for the waitress.
"I saw you through the window. I hope it is okay…?" she took the chair on the other side of the table.
"Of course." I smiled and studied her face. The last time I saw her was at my little Good-bye party at Major Case. Elizabeth looked exhausted. But the two bags showed labels of famous designers. I grinned because I was also soothed by shopping…shoe shopping. "How are you..?"
I was interrupted by the young woman in the short black dress with the white lace apron.
"What can I get for you?"
"I would like a peppermint tea."
"Make it two," I added.
"And…" Liz gazed at my three cupcakes.
"Plum," I whispered, and licked my lips.
"One of the plum cupcakes."
"Thank you." The waitress made a few notes and left.
"How are you doing?" I repeated my question, and knew too well when I got an answer, it would be a lie.
"Fine," she sighed, and fixed her eyes on my collar. I knew she had noticed Danny's pin. I rushed around the table as quickly and hugged the sobbing Elizabeth firmly.