A Nose for Danger, part 18

“Sam?”

I didn’t hear any answer, and Sam wasn’t at his usual place between his adding machine and typewriter. This didn’t surprise me, since sometimes he can get lost in all those stacks of records. That’s one of the things I like about him. Sam’s got the curiosity of a chimpanzee. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

Eventually I got tired of waiting and wandered in. Still no sight of him. Seemed like as good a time as any to take a stroll among the stacks. I kind of like them, the years and years of records of everything that has happened in this crazy town.

In a way, I thought to myself, a city is like a person. Layers upon layers of history, and everything ends up in a back room somewhere, filed away, until one day it all comes out. Then everyone wonders “where the hell did that come from?”

Sam didn’t seem to be anywhere. I was thinking maybe he’d wandered out, maybe he thought he had time to go for a coffee before I came around. I was actually about to leave when I finally thought to look down. And there was Sam, unconscious, lying in a pool of blood.

I rushed to his side, felt for a pulse. The chimp was still alive, but not much more than that. A bullet had caught him in the right shoulder, had spun him around till he landed on the floor. Somewhere in the back of my mind I registered that our perp was not a crack shot. But that could wait until later. Right now, I had other things on my mind. For one thing, my best friend seemed to be dying.

The strange thing was that his left hand, the one attached to a working shoulder, was reaching up, resting on the keys of the adding machine. Curious, I looked at the adding machine, and that’s when I saw what was written there.

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