“His name was Ivars. They met in one of the refugee camps before coming here. She was fourteen, he, seventeen. They were in love. Days before mom was leaving with the family for the states, he disappeared. Nobody’s sure what happened. There were rumours-KGB, CIA. I just know that for years mom kept his picture next to the cyanide capsules she travelled with. At the end he gave her the music box, a little piano.”
“So the piano’s the key to this thing. Come on kiddo, let’s go see if we can stir up a little treble with this Sara girl.” I drove, she gave directions. Not a bad start for a relationship. Miss Sara has a little apartment in the hills above the city. Climbing the stairs up to the door nearly gave me a nosebleed. Looked like somebody had beat me to it. On the porch there were small drops of blood. Knocking, no Sara. “Kyra, you keep lookout. I’ll let myself in. If we get company, you holler.” She gave a slight nod.
I looked all the obvious places, the lingerie drawer, the bookcase, her desk and came up empty. Leaving the bedroom I heard the scream.
Kyra knelt in the entryway. “Damn step,” she said. “I got bored hanging outside and thought I’d help you search. I know her better than you do. On my way down I touched this under the lip of the door. No blood,” as she stood back up.
“She placed the key in my palm, drawing her hand back over my fingers as she let go. The tag on the keys read, ‘Hat Top Hotel-Rooms and Boxes by the hour.’ This case was getting to be like a little matryoshka, those Russian nesting dolls.
Down the stairs, into the car and away to the Hat Top Hotel, our relationship was moving fast. There was no main office just a main door leading to rows of P.O. boxes. This was too simple. The key fit easily inside the box and there was the music box. I handed it to Kyra.
In staccato words between tears she said, “Everything looks okay. What now?”
"Tomorrow we’ll go back to Sara’s. Maybe we’ll get lucky. I’ll meet you at the office at 9:00”
This trip found Sara in her apartment. While Kyra looked like everything you’d want in a dress, Sara looked like she could beat up your kid brother. “I figured we’d cross paths sooner or later,” she said. “Find anything interesting in my apartment yesterday?”
“Sara, we were so worried about you! The blood yesterday, and bad blood thanks to your quick disappearing act. Have you seen mom’s music box, Sara?”
Sara spoke slowly at first and gradually increased tempo, “This is going to take a while. Can I get you anything? Fine. The blood came from me. I really need to get those damn cracks in the cement fixed. I tripped coming into the kitchen and ripped off a toenail. Nothing major.
I’m CIA. I know Kyra, it’s hard to believe. After that incident with the police, I gave up trusting authorities in uniform. I rebelled. Then I decided that, I at least could be good. I could stand for something. So after college I enlisted.
While working on a case dealing with Nazi spies I came across information about the music box, I remembered you and your mom. Sorry Kyra-please forgive me.
We don’t know who Ivars worked for, if he worked for anyone at all. We do know this. He had compiled a list of top Nazi officials. Perhaps he thought it would help the war effort, perhaps he thought it would be useful after victory, I don’t know. What I now know is this. He had it engraved between the wood on the music box. Your mom’s music box."
I enjoyed the cool feel of my clothes as they touched my skin, dry material on dry skin. The air conditioner purred like a kitten with no fear of the thermometer. The knock sounded loudly on the glass pane of the agency door. I sat in my chair and awaited the next paycheck as Kyra led our new client back to my office.