Book: Ask the Right Question

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19

On my way back to town I stopped at Bud’s Dugout for food and to make sure Mom was keeping my bail money warm. I took my time and had a big meal. A last supper, one might say.

And I fed the pinball machine until the teacher couple came in. There is something that depresses me about people keeping regular schedules for their pleasures as well as their labors. But I may have been in a tenuous mood. It had been a long day, and the day was getting longer. A sunny, deceptively warm day.

After Bud’s I stopped briefly at my office. The mail provided nothing which attracted my affections apart from a circular from something called Cosmic Detectives offering a course with Special Features. I dropped the bulk of my tailing gear and picked up my camera’s close-up kit and keys and bag of tricks. I also divested myself of all identification.

By 8:00 p.m. I was back in South Indianapolis. I parked in the Southern Plaza shopping center, and bought a lot of film in the drugstore there. Then I took the walk to my moonlight adventure.

Outside the window of Crystal’s office I felt a certain oppression from my own repetitiveness. I would have gone in the front—I have the keys to do it—but I didn’t want to spend time standing in front of the door picking out the right key. The back was the better bet, and there was less chance of an alarm on individual windows than on the front door.

I was getting practice. It was good for me; I got in without my stool.

The room was not big, but he made plenty of use of it. Storage files, books, a big desk. Clothes. There was a washbasin with a fully stocked medicine cabinet—all the ablutionaries. He had his own private john. A single bed.

There was no trace of any woman.

The items of most interest looked to be the contents of the desk and files. I decided to photograph it all, and sort it out later.

There was plenty to take. Page by page through interminable financial records. Three drawers of the file. None of it meant anything to me offhand. I saw occasional names and dollar signs, but mine was not to reason why, for the moment. The bottom dawer was correspondence. I had shot seven rolls of film by the time I got to the desk.

In the desk drawers I got more goodies. Like a drawer of cash. A scrapbook in another and an address book and a pornography collection in the bottom.

For modesty’s sake I started with the money. It was all twenty-dollar bills. I shot it so I could count the number of edges, and I took a few random serial numbers. Next drawer …

By ten thirty I had shot thirteen rolls of 36-exposure film. I had had to plug in my electronic flash.

I was about halfway through the pornography when a key slipped in the lock. I bolted upright. I’d been over-confident, uncautious. Being interrupted was the farthest thing from my mind. The door flew open and a voice of authority said, “Hold it right there, buster.”

I was so surprised, startled, that I reacted with the intelligence of a small boy caught pinching Donald Duck at the comic rack. I guess I tend to panic under pressure. A failing. I ran for the door.

That was dumb, incredibly dumb. He was in the door I tried to run through.

More than that he had a gun on me.

Christ, he could have killed me!

I’m glad he was cooler than I was. Instead of shooting he clobbered me on the side of my head with the side of his gun.

I thought it had gone off. I have a vague recollection of some sort of strange feeling. I must have been falling.

They say I fell on my electronic flash. I must have hit it with my head. It broke.

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