The Reader - Week 26
The homicide detective was about to look around the rest of Andy’s house when he heard the sound of a key in the front door lock. He stepped back, into the backdoor foyer, so that someone entering wouldn’t be able to see him. He heard the sound of the door opening, and then footsteps in the kitchen. He saw a fifty-ish woman step up to the table and begin to rifle through the papers that were there. She would quickly scan a page, and then go on to the next one. She seemed to be looking for something.
“Can I help you?” said the detective, steppig into the kitchen. The woman jumped, startled at first, then flustered, “I’m Lieutenant Mitchell, homicide, and you are… ”
“Homicide! Omygosh, I didn’t know Andy had been murdered,” sputtered the woman, “My name is Evelyn Thompson and I… I used to live here, with him.”
“He wasn’t murdered, this is a routine investigation. He died in custody, apparently of a medical condition. I’m here to see if there is anything that might shed some light on this man. You were his girlfriend?”
“At one time. I moved out a couple of weeks ago. We had been estranged from each other for several months before that,” said Evelyn, “The fire was out.”
“You know something about these papers?” said the officer, “Looking for anything in particular?”
“These are his stories,” said Evelyn, “He wrote constantly. I’m looking for any that are about me. I was going to confront him on the issue, I didn’t know Andy was dead, obviously he isn’t here.”
“These stories were a touchy subject between you two?”
“They were his life, his only life, he had ceased to live in the real world. I don’t want anything he might have written about me to get out. I’m moving on, I’ve found someone new, I don’t want him screwing up my new life, like he did my old one.”
The detective stood silently for a few moments, then spoke; “Is there anything you’d know that might help out investigation, about these stories, or anything else, as far that goes?”
“You have his keys?”
“I have what he had on him when he was picked up the other night.”
“There is a room in the basement that he always kept locked… ” said Evelyn, “… if you have the keys the answers to out questions might be found in there, there wasn’t a great deal of depth to the man. He kept the house clean, almost neurotically.”
“Did he have any weapons, or was he interested in explosives or chemicals?”
“No, no, none of those things. He was the most boring person on earth.”
“Yet you did live with him, for some time?”
“Two years. I was lonely. He didn’t help that situation much.”
“You don’t know what it was that he kept locked in the basement?”
“No. It was one of the things we fought about. He would go in from time to time, then come out with a briefcase. He would get in his car and then come back a couple of hours later.”
“Let’s take a look.”
They went downstairs and Evelyn led the detective to the room with the locked door. The door was massive, weatherbeaten and old; almost comically out of sync with the rest of the furnishings in the house.
“Three deadbolts,” said the Lieutenant, “Assuming they are all locked, it should be easy to get in. If they aren’t all locked, we'll have to try each one singly, then in pairs.” The detective went to work, trying various combinations. When he felt the door move slightly in its jamb he pressed the latch lever and slowly pulled the door open a crack.
“Are you sure you want to see this?” said Lt. Mitchell, “Usually this kind of secrecy is reserved for porn, or worse.”
“I would be really surprised if it was anything more exciting than a stash of Beanie Babies,” said Evelyn, “Like I said, he was the dullest person on earth. I’m only interested in what concerns me.”
“O.K., let’s do this thing,” said Mitchell.