The Reader - Week 27
Lieutenant Mitchell slowly opened the door a bit. The room was quite dark. Fumbling for a light-switch, he found and old-fashioned pull-chain and gave it a tug. The room was full of books. There were bookcases filling the three walls in front of him as well as a pair of them flanking the doorway alongside. In the confined space he became aware of a scent, something vaguely spicy but not too strong, Evelyn’s perfume perhaps.
“Is this what you were looking for?” he asked, not bothering to turn around. He had gotten a brief flash of arousal—a proximity effect—and he thought that he had better keep this investigation on a professional level. He had experienced many similar incidents in the past, with other women, women who had been recently estranged from their partners. The last one was a would-be stripper, at least that was the impression she gave as her wardrobe kept “malfunctioning.”
“Ms. Thompson?” Stepping back out of the room, Mitchell realized he was alone. Listening carefully, he could hear the faint sound of a car door slam, a car starting, and the noise of tires on pavement that quickly faded away. Mitchell carefully looked around the basement, then went back upstairs and looked through all the rooms of the main floor. Satisfied that the house was empty, he went back to the basement. “Evidently Evelyn didn’t really want to find out what Andy thought of her,” he thought, re-entering the basement library.
There seemed to be no order to Andy’s book collection, although many books had Post-it notes and other motley bookmarks sprouting from their pages. Although many of the books were old and possibly valuable, others were modern best-sellers, of the kind you would find at a garage sale. In the center of one of the shelves was a nondescript briefcase: cheap, and a little shabby. “Unless there is some revelation in that briefcase, Evelyn was right—Andy Larson was the most boring person on earth,” thought Mitchell. He pondered opening the briefcase, there was not much of a chance that it was booby-trapped. It wasn’t worth bringing out the bomb squad. He tried the latches and they opened without resistance. Lifting the top, the spicy odor became stronger, and opening it all the way revealed its source.
Inside there were a dozen jars of turmeric, some of them still sealed, others that had been open at one time. One of them had lost its cover and had spilled its contents. Mitchell opened one of the sealed jars to confirm that the spill was indeed turmeric. The other contents of the briefcase were handwritten manuscripts, paper-clipped in groups of four or five pages, similar to those he had found on the kitchen table. If these were anything like the other ones, this case would be over as far as he was concerned. He would let the County inventory the house and its contents, assuming that an heir didn’t show up they would auction it all off. The sad effects of another lonely guy, living a life of quiet desperation. His only crime was that of being dull.
Lieutenant Mitchell shook the turmeric from the papers and began to read…