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52

Fleeced

When Claras alarm went off, she groaned. Its my own damn fault, she thought, that I have to get up early on a Saturday. I got carried away when I called in to that show, and I certainly got more than carried away when I volunteered to work for free. She turned off the alarm and just lay there for a few minutes. I sure wish I had one of Maldwins butler students here to bring me a cup of coffee. That would make getting out of bed so much easier.

Well, I dont think Im going to have a butler in this lifetime, Clara reflected as she dragged herself out from under the warm comforter. The best I have to hope for is being reincarnated as a Rockefeller. She went into the kitchen and turned on the coffeemaker, then headed for the shower. The warm spray felt good on her back and arms that spent so many hours scrubbing other peoples dirt.

Wrapped in her robe, she hurried back into the kitchen and poured that first cup of coffee she always drank while getting dressed. Im dillydallying too much, she realized. I wont have time for a second cup today. I said Id get there early.

Twenty minutes later, she left the apartment in a pair of stretch pants, an oversized sweater, and her big winter coat. She always changed into her maids uniform at the club.

March 13th and it feels like spring is months away, she thought as she pulled on her gloves. It was another gray, chilly, lifeless day. As usual, she walked the six blocks to the subway station. The streets were empty because it was early on a Saturday. When she got to the station, she walked to the newsstand and gasped when she saw the blaring headlines of the New York World:

CRIME SPREE AFFECTS SETTLERS CLUB

CLUB PRESIDENTS GIRLFRIEND STEALS FOOD

FROM DEAD MEMBER

Clara pulled a paper from the top of the pile and started devouring the story.

Lady, you want to pay for that; the vendor asked her.

Clara grabbed a couple of quarters from her purse without taking her eyes off the page and dropped them on the counter. One of them bounced into the candy section, but Clara didnt even notice.

Thanks a lot, lady.

Oh, youre welcome, Clara mouthed as she walked away, shaking her head. And they were worried about me calling the crime show. I have half a mind to go home and go back to bed.

The subway that would take her to Gramercy Park was heading down the track. What the heck, Ill be a sport and help poor Thomas, she thought as the train stopped. She spent the entire trip into Manhattan shaking her head and going over every word of the article.


| Fleeced | c