The Doll’s Bad News
James Hadley Chase
FENNER opened one eye as Paula Dolan put some elegant curves and her
Fluffy head round his office door. He regarded her vaguely, and then
Settled himself more comfortably. His large feet rested on the snowy
Blotting-pad, and the swivelled desk-chair inclined perilously at an
Angle of 45′. He said sleepily, ‘ away, Dizzy, I’ll play with you later.
Right now I’m thinking.’ Some more curves filtered through the half-open
Door, and Paula came to the desk. ‘ up, Morpheus,’ she said: ”ve got a
Client.’ Fenner groaned. ‘ him to go away. Tell him we’ve gone outta
Business. I gotta catch up some sleep sometimes, haven’t I?’ ”s your
Bed for?’ Paula said impatiently.
‘Don’t ask questions like that,’ Fenner mumbled, settling himself
Further down in the chair.
‘Snap out of it, Dave,’ Paula pleaded, ”s a passion flower waiting
Outside, and she looks as if she’s got a load of grief to share with
You.’ he asked.
Fenner opened an eye again. ”s she like.
‘Maybe she’s collecting for some charity.’ Paula sat on the edge of the
Desk. ‘ I wonder why you keep that plate on your door.
Don’t you want to do business?’ Fenner shook his head. ‘ if I can help
It,’ he said.
‘We’re in the dough, ain’t we? Let’s take it easy.’ ”re passing up
Something pretty good. Still, if that’s the way you feel. ..’Paula slid
Off the desk.
‘Hey, wait a minute.’ Fenner sat up and pushed his hat off his eyes. ‘
She really a passion flower?’ Paula nodded. ‘ guess she’s in trouble,
okay, send her in, send her in.’ Paula opened the door. She
Said, ‘ you come in?’ A voice said, ‘ you,’ and a young woman came in.
She walked slowly past Paula, looking at Fenner with large, smoky-blue
She was a shade taller than average, and pliantly slender.
Her legs were long, her hands and feet narrow, and her body was very
Erect. Her hair, curling under her prim little hat, was raven black. She
Wore a severe two-piece costume, and she looked very young and very
Paula gave her an encouraging smile and went out, shutting the door
Quietly behind her.
Fenner took his feet off the desk and stood up. ‘ down,’ he said, ‘ tell
Me what I can do for you.’ He indicated the armchair by his desk.
She shook her head. ”d rather stand,’ she said breathlessly. ‘I may not
Be here very long.’ Fenner sat down again. ‘ can do just what you like
Here,’ he said soothingly. ‘ place is anyone’s home.’ They remained
Looking at each other for a long minute.
Then Fenner said, ‘ know you’d better sit down.
You’ve got a lot to tell me, an’ you look tired.’ He could see she
Wasn’t scared of him, she was scared of something that he didn’t know
Anything about. Her eyes were uneasy, and she held her high-breasted
Body as though she was ready to jump for the door.
Again she shook her head. ‘ want you to find my sister,’ she said
Breathlessly. ”m so worried about my sister. What will it cost? I mean,
What are your fees?’ Fenner squinted at the inkwell by his hand. ‘ you
Don’t worry your head about the cost. Just relax an’ tell me all about
It,’ he said. ‘ me who you are for a start.’ The telephone jangled at
His elbow. The effect on the girl was startling. She took two quick
Graceful steps away from the ‘, and her eyes went cloudy and big.
Fenner grinned at her. ‘ guess I get the same way,’ he said quietly,
Pulling the receiver towards him. ‘ I fall asleep an’ the bell goes off,
I guess it scares the shirt right off my back.