Read from the beginning

“Could someone have stolen it?” I asked.

“No one knows we’re here. Only Dimity.”

“Ha. Yeah, well we know that’s not…wait, you’re not suggesting…”

Ringo ran his fingers through his hair. The notion that Dimity could have come in while we were gone, found her way down the stairs to the laboratory and taken the brew seemed unthinkable.

“She’s just playing a trick on us. Or maybe she came back, nabbed the bottle, and took it back to Tanaquil’s house. For safekeeping.”

Ringo looked at me, waiting. I continued, “How could she know where it was, or if it existed? She never went down into the lab. She doesn’t know how to open the secret door.”

“The secret door is right there and it’s wide open.”

“Why would she take it? If she wanted a taste all she had to do was ask.”

“It’s worth a great deal of money.”

“Her dad’s got buckets of money already.”

“There’s one other possibility. She’s taken it to make the handoff to Lorenzo.”

“No. She would never do that, Ringo. She loves me, she said so herself! She wants us to get married. She wouldn’t double-cross us like that.”

“Okay then you come up with a better suggestion, Romeo. You are right that nobody knows about this place. It is hidden from the road by an extraordinarily effective charm that Tanaquil herself laid upon it. Lorenzo could not find it. The Beaux Voyous are too stupid to find it.”

We both began to pace around the living room. The white noise of rain on the roof muffled our thoughts. Ringo looked up with an idea, then disappeared into the back of the house. When he returned his face was ashen.

“The Lancia is also gone.”

The rain became more intense, thunder rattling the chandelier and the glasses in the liquor cabinet. While we stood there spouting questions about Dimity, the electricity went out leaving us with only the warm glow from the fireplace. Ringo lit a couple of candles and went to the bar. He poured himself a coupe of Dubonnet and offered me one. I accepted but I took one sip and gave it back to him.

“Gah! That is awful.”

“What do you know that you are not telling me, Bo? Why would Dimity take the elixir? Why would she want to deliver it to Lorenzo? Lorenzo will take it to Poignard in order to curry favor with such a powerful man. Is she aware of that?”

“I don’t think I’m supposed to say. She has her family secrets and that’s her business.”

“Family secrets? Are you suggesting some criminal element, Bo?”

“I did not say that…but suppose she is. What would that mean?”

“It could mean that this whole time she was working for Lorenzo. Or Poignard.”

I shook my head in my hands. Was she even capable of such deception? I began to put the pieces together. She was lightyears ahead of me in worldly wisdom. She could drop mafia gangsters like hot potatoes. She was a demon behind the wheel, drank port wine since she was a child, had been around the world.

“She was in the car with Lorenzo for a while. Remember? The first day when Lorenzo picked her up on the sidewalk, ‘kidnapped her’ and brought her to us in the barn with the Lancia.”

“Yes, Bo. I remember. I’ve been thinking about that day.”

It was starting to come together but it was too hard to take.

“What if she’s got another plan, something like…swap the bottles and give Lorenzo poison instead?”

“Then why steal our new brew? She could just give Lorenzo a bottle of poison.”

I suddenly had a memory of my dream, the animated comic book dream. She was all in black, in the rain, in an alley of a big city with her foot hiked up against the wall. A man appeared and she exchanged a small bottle for an envelope full of money. At the time, I thought it was just a crazy dream.

“Oh, no! Ringo! I dreamed about this, about her. I dreamt of a dark alley in a city; it was raining. I can see it now. She’s gone to make the handoff. Where is the handoff taking place?”

“Brooklyn, in BedStuy. Lorenzo gave me an address. Fortunately, I have a place there and it’s very close.”

“Wait. You have an apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant?”

“A brownstone, yes. I go there when I need to keep a low profile.”

“When you…okay, never mind. What’s our plan? Try to intercept her and stop the deal?”

“Only if we can get to her before the meet up. To interfere with the transaction is asking for a bullet in the chest, and I’ve had enough bullets for a while. I think you have too.”

“And if we are too late?”

“Then we go after Lorenzo and take the bottle back. Or at least destroy it. But Poignard must not get his hands on it.”

“How do we stop her? She’s in the Lancia.”

“We’ve got the BMW and sidecar.”

“We’ll never catch up to her. Don’t forget that it’s raining cats and dogs.”

“She’s in the rain too.”

I was shaking my head. “We’re going to spend the rest of this night motorcycling in the rain.”

“The gas tank is full. The sidecar has drain holes in the floorboard. You’re not afraid of a little rain are you?”

“Is it too late for that Dubonnet? Maybe something a little stronger?”

It was almost 1 a.m. and New York city was a 6-hour drive if one were driving the speed limit. I figured we could get there before sunrise.