The piped one stood silently for a moment, and then he looked at me and said "I would like to treat you to a spiced eggnog and some holiday cookies in the cafe car." Now, I am known for many things, but turning down eggnog and holiday cookies is not one of them. "I accept your offer," said I. The piped one arranged for the turtlenecked wife to be taken to a private area where she was consoled by a female conductor. Smoking his cigar he briefly inspected the area and examined the deceased man. "Conductor, please stay here and keep an eye on the passengers. We shall return."
The cafe car was decorated for Christmas - there were lights and reindeer cutouts and the cafe car staff wore red ties and santa caps. We sat in the corner and the snow was coming down quite hard. Our server, Lavern, approached. "What'll it be?" she asked. "Nog and some of those Christmass cookies," said the piped one. Then he turned to me.
"I am Egan Shipsbrewer, and I was impressed with how you handled that woman. Who are you?"
Truth be told, my companion was clearly a man of experience and some position, and so I was flattered by his remarks. "I am Gustave Pearson Beauregard, and I know many things, including how to handle woman."
"Yes, it's quite apparent," Mr. Beauregard.
"Please, call me Gustave."
"And what is it you do, Gustave?"
"Well, yes, I own various interests."
"I see. A man of commerce. Hence traveling on a business class seat on the Pennsylvanian?"
The spiced eggnogs and cookies were served, and Shipsbrewer broke off a piece of a gingerbread man's leg and dipped it into the creamy nog. Sinatra carols played and yule tide joy was seriously in the air. A cozy Christmas scene indeed.
"Now let me get to the point,Gustave" said Shipsbrewer. "While I very much appreciate the high class of a business seat on the Pennsylvanian, and while I very much appreciate the luxury of taking this fine train on a snowy Christmas, I would not normally be on this train. No, I am here because I was sent here. The death of Luther just now is not a surprise. Yes, I see that look on your face. Well, I don't like that Luther is dead, and I can understand why you might feel me to be some sort of accomplice in the matter, but please believe me when I said if I had prevented Luther's death far worse things would happen. Indeed, I dare say you yourself would not be sitting here with me enjoying these cookies and nogs."
I sat motionless and said not a word.
"I can now see I am going to need some assistance. When I noticed you handling that woman I knew you'd be the man. I must ask you to do some work for me concerning this curious case of the death of Luther."
"I thought you said it wasn't curious?"
"Indeed, that's what's so curious about it."
"I must admit that now, despite my superior intellect, I am lost."
"Then please follow me, Gustave."
To be continued.