“What did the adding machine say to the chimpanzee?”
“I give up,” the chief said. “What did it say?”
“You can count on me.”
“Oh, that’s bad even by your standards, Smellephant. Let’s hope we can count on what this adding machine has to tell us. To me it just looks like string of digits.”
“I’m telling you Chief, if Sam typed it, it’s gotta be something. He’s one smart chimp.”
“I don’t know. You’ve been running your own private investigation,” the chief said. “Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“I thought it was. A private eye can go places the cops can’t go.”
“And how is that working out for you?”
I looked down at the spot where I had found my friend lying unconscious. “Right now I’d have to say I’m not so sure. Maybe if I’d worked with the cops — with you — Sam would still … ” I didn’t finish the thought.
“Sorry Smellephant, I shouldn’t be taking this out on you. None of this is your fault — it made sense to try doing this on the low down. I’m just frustrated because we’ve got dead bodies piling up, and nothing to go on but some numbers from an adding machine.”
“Sam’s not dead,” I said quietly.
“Sorry. Look, I know you two were — are — good friends, and we all want Sam to pull through. But we’ve got a chimp in a coma, and we’re not going to be getting any answers from him for a while. Meanwhile, the killer might strike again.”
“Not if we can figure out Sam’s message first.”
“Yeah,” the chief nodded, “if you can call it a message. It would have been so much better if Sam had been shot in the left shoulder. Then he could have used the typewriter.”
“It would have been so much better if Sam hadn’t been shot.”
“Yeah,” the chief said, “very good point. What’s that number again?”
“I’ve got it memorized: 451614295”.