Main Street thinned back to two lanes and and Jack directed me up a switchback road. We drove past a mile of boring cedar ski lodges and halted at a row of orange traffic cones where a security guard motioned for us to park on his left.
I'd only recently learned of the Chambers Estate, largest private residence in West Virginia, home to a previous secretary of state, two poets, and the astronaut for which the local high school was named after. Finding the blueprints had taken me days. Ancient pines clustered and filled an adjacent family cemetary with unseen birdsong. The Chambers had a summer home with similar architecture in the Catskills, but that one had far fewer police records.
Alice Saint-Charles and her bodyguard Chambliss awaited us in the living room. Chambliss had gone a bit gray in the beard, but otherwise looked no different then when I last encountered him when the strip club had caught fire and we'd spent two hours chasing each other thru a maze of trailer parks in Durham. Bleached hair, two hours in the gym every day, lots of rhinestones on the belt and wrist watch from his casino days. He looked like Elton John had swallowed a line-backer.
Alice sat and gestured to a tea tray. Six foot foot two with teased blonde hair adding an additional six inches, the Chambers family lawyer dressed all in black with her long pale hands fluttering in her lap like birds.
"Sorry about your father.” Alice offered Jack a cup of something red and fluttered at Chambliss. “Hope you don't mind if he joins us, had a bomb threat last summer.”
“I wondered why you had the road block,” said Jack, turning down the drink. “Oswald must pay you well. You are missed. The Senators still have a picture of you in the New York office.”
She waved him off. "My beauty pageant days are over.”
Jack nodded and flipped the locks on his briefcase. “ I found this in Father's office,” he said, passing a file. “This is only the first few pages. The union bosses think I've mailed it back to D.C.”
"You oughtn't read that, ma'am." hissed Chambliss.
“Chambliss, would you mind taking the gentleman's drink to the kitchen to heat?" She held up the cup without looking away from the papers. "It's gone tepid."
Something moved outside, a pair of bare feet just visible between lace curtains, then walked out of view.
"How long will it take to prepare a brief?" asked Jack.
Alice shrugged. "You're the expert. It's a real dog's breakfast, some international law, some food law, half of it pre-colonial. Two weeks?"
Jack stared at the teapot. "Two weeks."
"It's a big deal, Jack. It's a big fucking deal. This is a no shit Scopes Monkey Trial motherfucking deal." Alice wet her pinky and smoothed a single perfect eyebrow. "You of all people need to weigh in on this before the next house gets blown up."
The figure by the window returned, revealing a white apron with tan arms thrust in the pockets. Jack politely avoided looking up. "Will Ms. Chambers join us? I have questions."
Alice snorted and the figure vanished. "You won't find answers there."