Looking For the Yellow House
by Jeff Baker
(A Donna and Sean Reidel Mystery)
“You take that way, I’ll take this way.”
Donna Reidel pointed and her husband Sean nodded. They were tired, hungry and spattered in mud. The last three days they had been threatened, evicted from a hotel room that wasn’t even theirs and shot at.
“Of course, shot at,” Donna thought as she tried the door of the house on the end. It wouldn’t budge. The long row of houses were about the size of tool sheds and had been built in a long row on what looked like a poor man’s version of a boardwalk. But the little seaside town had been hit hard by the economic downturn; shops were closed, even the local school had been shuttered. From a distance, the town looked alive. Lighthouse beckoning ships into a safe harbor. But closer inspection revealed the boarded-up storefronts and the sealed-off door to the lighthouse, which was on automatic. After three days of tracking down leads, all Sean and Donna had found out was that what they were looking for was hidden “in the yellow house” near where the man had been found on the beach, dead. He’d lived here as a kid. Sean and Donna had been hired to find what he had stolen.
They hadn’t even been told exactly what they were looking for. “You’ll know it when you see it.”
Seeing it was the problem. And it didn’t help that the houses had all been repainted so many times that they all had some yellow paint flaking off. Donna and Sean couldn’t break into all of them. Only one house was important enough.
“We may not have time,” Donna said. “But we have to wait.”
It was warm for early spring, but dusk came early. Donna and Sean stayed hidden in the shadows. When it was dark enough
“Funny thing about a beam of light,” Sean said. “In spite of how it’s drawn in the comic books, a beam of light is usually a bluish-white, like the Moon.”
“But not that one,” Donna said, pointing at the lighthouse.
The bright beam that shone out of the lighthouse was a blazing white as it shown over the sea, but when it swung over the town it suddenly angled down and swept the ground of the town, turning a bright yellow.
“A prism,” Donna said.
“Or a busted lens,” Sean said.
“One that he knew about.” Donna said.
The two of them watched the light repeat its track through the town, making sure it followed the same path each time. When they were sure, they went to the one of the small houses the yellow beam had lighted on and after a few minutes of lock picking were inside. The small room had a painted-over window and a small cot. On the cot was a brown envelope, In the beam of the Reidel’s flashlight, the envelope practically glistened like gold compared to the rest of the furnishings of the dingy room.