Ready for an Overhaul

In the Pemberton Square area, avenues were stringed with trees budding green in early spring, and vendors and shoppers crowded the sidewalks. I’d returned from the courthouse around three o’ clock, and was now at a hot dog stand where other customers ignored my harassment.
“Hey, lady, you wanna buy it or not?” The homeless man shoved a leather loafer in my face. “It’s brand new, and cost a pretty penny, too.”
“Look…” I grimaced and smacked it from my line of sight. “I already told you. No.”
He pressed for my attention and held the footwear in his gloved hands as if he were presenting me a Fabergé egg. “You don’t get quality like this at Payless. This here’s Norman Marcus.”
I paid for my chilidog and cola then rotated toward him fully. He resembled a young Lieutenant Columbo, dated trench and all. “What am I supposed to do with one shoe? And, it’s a man’s shoe. I’m not interested, no matter how shiny or new and expensive it is.” I walked off with my lunch and peeked over my shoulder.
He pursued me toward the tall, mirrored building of McCarter & French LLP. “Why don’t you give it to your boyfriend then?”
I halted at the entrance. “If I ever get a boyfriend with an amputated foot, I’ll be sure to come and see you.” I tugged the glass door open and threw in for good measure, “It’s Nieman Marcus, by the way.”
“Nieman, Norman…” He puffed. “They all got money in the bag.”
I rolled my eyes and marched inside. ‘Hey, buddy, you can’t come in here.’ I pirouetted toward the demanding voice.
“Ms. Ferrelli, is he with you?”
“Absolutely not, Thomas.”
The guard struggled to evict him, while I’d continued on toward the droves of suits at the elevator. The button blinked green, a chime dinged, and passengers unloaded. I contemplated the homeless man’s fortitude. A couple seconds before boarding, I whipped around and hurried toward reception, dropped my belongings off at the counter then darted outside.
“Hey, wait a minute!” Usually people did what I told them, but my single-shoe salesman raced onward to the intersection of Chestnut and Park Street. “Christ.” I flung off my Jimmy Choos and scooped them up.
He was fast, healthy and fit, not the normal qualities of someone destitute in downtown Boston. Also out of character was his advice I give the shoe to my boyfriend. True, I didn’t wear a ring, but I was of age by which most people assumed I was married. He was so more observant.
On Beacon Hill, I saw him turn left for Morris Meats’ loading bay, a dead end. I reached the maw of the alley and sidled the wall. On the other side were large dumpsters, piles of crates, and a delivery van, plenty of hiding places. I had no idea if this was a setup, if someone else would join this party, or if my host intended to do me harm. I strode a few feet in and he came out in the open.
“Man…” He panted and chuckled. “Aren’t you a thick one?”
“Who are you?” My lungs heaved as I inched near. “What do you know about Norman Kane?”
“Well, she caught on after all.”
Also, true. It took me a while to realize the clever play on the name of my client, hence the expensive shoe for the charade. His reference “money in the bag” alluded to rumors Norman Kane was hired to sabotage his family’s business.
Once I pieced it together, I had one—
“Uh-uh!” He stretched out a gloved hand and reached inside his trench with the other. “Close enough.”
I stifled my movement. A cold iced my spine despite the fair April weather and my sight locked on the breast of his coat.
His voice came low and threatening, “A gift from your uncle Lou.” I balled fists and my fingernails dug into my palms. “Work quickly.”
He removed a manila envelope, let it drop to the ground, then whirled and hopped onto a wire fence. He climbed over in a parkour style and landed upright on the opposite side. A tenacious smirk, then in a less than garish exit, he shot off through the side street.
I had to admit I didn’t see that coming. I breathed normally at last, put on my high heels, and picked up the delivery from Louis Fernoza.
For the past seven years, I dodged family, old friends, and ex-colleagues, leaving no trace to my former life. Needless to say, help from Uncle Lou was the last thing I needed (or wanted) during these early days of the Norman Kane trial.