By Steve Siciliano
It was two in the morning when I first heard Samantha Lowe’s voice. I had just gotten home, had just gone to bed, and had just fallen asleep when the phone rang. While I listened to the ringing I thought about another woman -- the sad, red-haired woman I had met that night at Beason’s. I thought about the wisp of hair that kept dropping down her forehead. I thought about the woman's eyes -- those emerald-green, shining pools of sadness. I thought about her full, down-turning lips and how her diamond earrings sparkled in the dim light coming from the bar. She had smiled a little when she slipped my card under the cellophane of her cigarette pack: I thought about that too, and I hoped it was her, the redhead, on the other end of the line. When I answered the phone I was disappointed to find it wasn't.
“This is Winston,” I said.
“Is this Harry Wilson?”
You may think I'm nuts but I can tell a lot about a woman from her voice. It’s a survival skill I've learned. Some survival skills have to be learned; others are just common sense. Sitting with your back to the wall is common sense. It’s common sense to be aware of someone walking behind you and watching someone’s hands when he’s walking toward you. But you have to learn how to read a woman’s voice. It’s a skill you develop. When you’re in my business knowing how to do things like that keep you alive. “Is this Harry Wilson?’” Let me tell you what I read in Samantha Lowe’s voice -- I knew that she was an angel, and a demon. That she could be the promise of heaven, or the threat of hell. That she could be kind, or she could be ruthless. Samantha Lowe’s voice told me that she was a woman who was capable of killing.
“It’s Winston,” I said. “Harry Winston.”
“Oh. I’m looking for Harry Wilson. You’re not Harry Wilson?”
I was disappointed that the voice wasn’t the redhead’s. There were no complications in the redhead’s voice. There was sadness but no complications.
“It’s Harry Winston,” I said again.
“Harry Wilson? The private investigator?”
“All right,” I said. “What is it that I can do for you?”
“I got your name from a friend,” Samantha Lowe said.
“And you felt the need to call me at two in the morning.”
The voice was silent for a moment and I could hear the tinkling of ice cubes. “Oh, is it that late? I didn’t realize.”
“It’s that late.”
Another ice-tinkling pause and then, “Mr. Wilson, I want to hire you.”
My guts told me that whatever it was that Samantha Lowe wanted me for would be dangerous. “I’m very expensive,” I said.
“Money doesn’t matter.”
“I’m very busy right now.”
“I hear you’re very good.”
Usually I follow my instincts. I’m not afraid of danger but I don’t go looking for it. My instincts told me to tell Samantha Lowe that I wasn’t interested. Most of the time I follow those instincts. This was one of the times that I didn’t. I told Samantha Lowe that I would meet her at Beason’s the next evening.