Yes, mystery lovers, read on! Our mystery unfolds all during the year in a continuing series posted monthly here on our Home Page…
In February we introduced our mystery. You met our narrator, young Brooklyn-based “Quilt Detective,” Mitzi McDruben, along with her faithful receptionist Ruthie, and able assistant, Raoul.
Mitzi took on her first quilt case: The Mystery of the Missing Quilt. Her mission? To find a missing quilt. Her time frame? Exactly eleven days. Her problem? No one knows what the missing quilt looks like! In this month’s episode, Mitzi gets her foot into the offices of Contra Nash executive, and museum board member, Rita Rowland.
Read a new mystery episode each month as Mitzi searches for clues leading to the missing quilt.
Following each episode, take the Secret Passage to receive your instructions for making or finding eleven different quilt blocks in EQ5 or EQ6.
During the final episode, Mitzi solves the mystery, and YOU discover how to put your blocks together in EQ5 or EQ6 to form a secret “Sky Lights” mystery quilt.
Our “Sky Lights” quilt was designed especially for EQ learning fun by Fran Iverson Gonzalez from Edmond, Oklahoma.
Our mystery series was written by Megan McMorris, a Free-lance author who lives in Portland, Oregon.
And now, grab your gumshoes. Tilt back your chair. But keep one eye on the door as you get ready to solve…The Mystery of the Missing Quilt!
Episode Eight: The Job Interview
“… So, guess who I saw at Happy Hour on Friday night at Third and Long? No, he goes to the Hamptons every weekend. Yeah, he has a full share on a summer house out there. Oh, wait a sec.”
The young, gum-chewing receptionist put the phone down on her desk.
“Can I help you?” she smiled at me.
“Yes, I have a 2:00 appointment with Rita Rowland,” I smiled back.
She flipped through her appointment book. “Maggie?” she looked up at me.
“Yes,” I confirmed my alias.
“You can have a seat. Ms. Rowland will be right with you.” She turned back to her conversation at hand.
I sat, adjusting my business suit (wow, those things are uncomfortable! Luckily, I don’t find myself in one often). I also don’t find myself on a job interview too often, seeing as I’m self-employed.
I decided to review my “resume” in preparation, as the receptionist chatted on about who else was at Happy Hour. I hoped that her casual manner reflected the whole office atmosphere, but I knew that was wishful thinking.
Rita Rowland, Human Resources Director
for the largest magazine publishing company in the country (Contra Nash, Inc.),
was renowned for being a tough interviewer.
She was also Suspect Number Seven.
I’d gotten the inside scoop from Ruthie’s friend Jeanie, who works as an Editorial Assistant for Miss Magazine (one of those young, hip magazines designed to “empower the young females,” I suppose. I don’t read many” women’s” magazines — too fluffy, if you ask me.)
“Mitzi, you’re in for a real treat,” Ruthie reported after hanging up with Jeanie.
(I’d asked Ruthie to handle the prep work for me on this case, since she had an “in” with her friend.) Apparently, Ms. Rowland had quite a reputation in the magazine industry for snubbing young interviewees, according to Jeanie.
“Well, Ms. Rowland doesn’t scare me, Ruthie,” I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. “You have to remember, I’ve dealt with the most unsavory characters this side of the Hudson River. Rowland will be a piece of cake.”
Ruthie laughed. “If you say so, Mitzi. Just be prepared is all I ask.” She turned to her computer and started to type my “resume,” using her notes from Jeanie.
“Preparation comes from up here,” I tapped my head. “It’s called brains, my sweet, and when you’re dealing with me, that ain’t a problem.”
I enjoy egging her on, because between you and I, I suspect Ruthie thinks I’m half-mad. I don’t want to prove her wrong, so I try to let my guard down as much as possible around her. Besides, I had reason to feel cocky.
I had basically breezed through this case so far,
and aside from a few scares here and there, I felt things had gone smoothly.
I had every reason to believe we’d find our Mystery Quilt in no time.
Cocky turned out to be the opposite of how I felt as I squirmed in my business suit in Contra Nash, Inc.’s reception area, however. As I reviewed my “resume,” I came to the disturbing realization that for a 35-year-old, I didn’t have much experience in the field.
(Ruthie had basically used Jeanie’s experience, adding a few years and titles onto it, but seeing as Jeanie was only 24, I still had a lot of explaining to do about my sorry excuse for a resume. Perhaps this was one of those moments where looking a good five years younger would work to my advantage.)
I usually don’t get intimidated by suspects — I spoke the truth when I joked with Ruthie about having dealt with the most unsavory characters.
So why did I suddenly feel an urge to signal for help from Raoul?
He was waiting outside, listening to every word.
Because Ms. Rowland was going to eat me alive!
Luckily, I’d have a lot of time to prepare after all; apparently, the receptionist’s “Rita will be right with you” was a loose translation. She left me waiting for about 30 minutes.
“Maggie?” the woman breezed up into the reception area, beady eyes pointed in my direction.
“Yes,” I stood, realizing that my palms were sweaty. Dare I wipe them on my business suit before I shake hands? She didn’t leave me with any choice, though.
“Right this way,” she said and promptly disappeared down the hall without so much as a “isn’t the weather nice out?” I had to practically run to catch up to her, but after I rounded a bend, she was nowhere to be found. Was this some kind of sick joke? Or was it not a joke at all —
Could it be a trap?
I swiveled my head at the name plates on the offices to the left and right of me, until I’d come to the end of the hallway. Straight ahead, the name plate boldly read “Rita Rowland.” But of course, the corner office, I thought as I poked my head in. She sat behind her desk, glasses on top of her head, tapping her legs impatiently.
“Have a seat,” she gestured to the chair in front of her desk, as though it was a natural course of events to leave an interviewee roaming the halls by herself. (Or perhaps it was — I’d probably gone on a grand total of two interviews my entire life, not counting the pizza joints I always ended up donning polyester aprons for to support myself during college. But that’s a story for another day.)
I sat, smile glued to my face (wasn’t that what the “How to Get That Job” books always emphasized? Be cheery?).
“So, you’re…” she frowned at my “resume.” “…an Associate Editor for Miss?”
“That’s right!” I smiled. I sure could be cheery when counted on.
“Ah. So your entire career has been at Miss, yes?”
Count on the woman to point out a “flaw.” “Yes, I really enjoy the atmosphere there, and I’ve been able to gain more responsibilities with time.” Wow, the positive vibes were just oozing out of me! I sat poised, ready for the next question.
Instead, she focused at a point behind my head. Come to think of it, I couldn’t exactly tell where she was focusing. Looking closely, I realized she had a glass eye. I wonder what the “job interview” books would say about eye contact with an interviewer with a glass eye. I tried to keep eye contact with the eye focused on me as she fired her next question, not wanting to lose points with the woman in case I focused on the wrong eye (no wonder there are entire books written on the subject of interviewing–the stuff was tough, and I wasn’t even really trying to get a job!)
“And you are essentially the fact-checker there?”
Could she not read my resume?
“No, actually I’ve been writing and editing articles for quite some time. Fact-checking is just a small part of my job,” I replied, glad that I had read the resume beforehand. I found myself getting defensive when I wasn’t even talking about my job!
“I see. Well, you’re in a tough position because you’re in the middle ground, and in magazines there really isn’t too much of a middle ground.” She clasped her hands on her desk, nodding slowly at me.
Was this the end of our interview? She hadn’t even given me a chance! Besides, how was I going to extract any information out of her? Her phone rang.
“Rita Rowland. Uh huh. Yes. I’ll be right out.”
She rose, walking to the door. “Please excuse me. I’ll be right back, there’s just something I need to take care of.”
What the heck was going on here? I couldn’t decide if she was onto me. I’d thought we’d constructed a somewhat believable resume, but you never know.
Had I aroused some suspicion with one of the suspects I’d interviewed,
and had they warned Ms. Rowland about me?
What was Rowland going to do? Escape out the back way? Come back into her office with a loaded gun? Alert the authorities?
None of these options seemed very smart, but who knows what someone will do when backed up against a wall. Meanwhile, the papers on her desk looked very tempting, indeed. Dare I steal a glimpse? At the very least, I could get some interesting gossip for Jeanie. At the most, I could get concrete evidence about her “clue” (which she’d given me no indication of during our “interview”).
I craned my neck out the door to see if she was approaching. No sign of her. Returning my focus to the task at hand (namely, the papers on her desk), something on the wall caught my eye. A huge mirror hung behind her desk (I’d been so absorbed with sweating out the interview that I hadn’t even noticed it). My first thought was that it was a two-way mirror. Is this where she retires to in the middle of interviews, cackling with her fellow human resources employees as the interviewee remains a prisoner of her office? This didn’t seem much of a stretch.
I was prevented from continuing with my theories about where Ms. Rowland had disappeared. Hanging beside the mirror was a framed quilt block. Now we’re talking! Provided that I could get a word in edgewise when she returned, I might be able to extract the clue out of her. She certainly didn’t look like she had an interest in quilting, but many of the board members so far had surprised me.
You never know who enjoys stitching quilt blocks in their spare time these days.
Ms. Rowland returned then, a full 10 minutes later (though I didn’t dare look at my watch to figure it out, because surely she’d walk in right then and then I’d never get the job!).
“Sorry about that, where were we?” she resumed position behind her desk, not looking in the least bit apologetic.
Oh, you were just telling me how I’d never get a job at your company, I felt like helpfully pointing out. Instead, she did a complete turnaround. Apparently she decided she liked me after all while observing me from her two-way mirror!
“Yes, there is a new magazine starting up that I think you’d be perfect for. It’s called AmericanHomes, and they’re looking for an Associate Editor. They want someone to write some front-of-the-book sections about fun things to do with your home, apartment, what-have-you. I think your Miss experience will fit in because you’re used to writing to young women, and AmericanHomes is trying to bring in a young, hip readership. After all, it’s Contra Nash.” She folded her hands and smiled at me.
I wanted to nod and smile “ah, it’s Contra Nash.” I didn’t, because I didn’t know the first thing about Contra Nash, Inc. Besides, I didn’t have the clue, and I was afraid she was going to shuttle me out the door, with a date for an interview, before I got a chance to get it.
“So if you bring in some clips, I’d like to set up an interview for you.”
“That sounds great!” I kept my cheery persona for good measure.
“Good. I think you’ll like AmericanHomes. It’s something I personally have worked very hard for. In fact, I was a consultant for the Editor-in-Chief, Sallie Sanchez. After many years in the business, I know what works and what doesn’t. So then, why don’t you call me tomorrow and by then I’ll have talked to the editor you’ll meet with.” She stood.
I stood. “That’s a great quilt block!” I blurted out. Very smooth, Mitzi.
“It’s funny you should mention that,” Ms. Rowland looked at me thoughtfully. “It’s the American Homes block. A dear friend made it for me after I told her about AmericanHomes Magazine. She passed away last year, and though I’ve never been a quilter, I took her position on a quilt board because the block moved me so much.”
Wow, the woman has feelings? More importantly, I believed I had my clue!
“Anyway, call me tomorrow. Now I must make a phone call, if you don’t mind seeing yourself out.”
“No problem. Thank you! I’ll call you tomorrow then.” I backed out of her office as she was already lifting the receiver of the phone.
I wandered back to the reception area, just in time for the receptionist to make plans with someone to go to Happy Hour that night (I wonder who she’ll see there? The suspense is killing me!). Several business-suited women flipped through Contra Nash’s magazines as comfortably as possible. I pitied the woman who had an appointment with Rita Rowland for a real job. I couldn’t wait to get outside and remind Raoul not to let me pursue publishing.
I’ll stick to working for myself, thank you!
To be continued…
Does Rita Rowland see through Mitzi’s roleplaying? Where did Mitzi get that business suit? And what was Raoul doing during Mitzi’s interview?
Mitzi puts another quilt block into her clue list next month when she continues her search in the Mystery of the Missing Quilt.
Now YOU help Mitzi out by drawing the American Homes block in EQ5 or EQ6. You’ll find step-by-step instructions in Mystery Quilt Lesson #8.