he just nodded to fortescue, glanced at carol, and walked over and looked down at the body behind the counter.
a car door slammed shut out in the street.
varney, mullihan's partner, walked in. he gave carol a long once-over and ignored fortescue
"this the guy you thought?" he asked mullihan when he was through looking at carol.
"the dead guy? yeah." mullihan turned from the body to fortescue. "you know him, limey?"
"just as the proprietor of this shop. i don't recall ever encountering him otherwise."
"did he live here?" varney asked mullihan. "in the back or upstairs?"
"no, he lived on avenue d, " mullihan answered.
"i don't think i ever saw him here in the daytime," said fortescue. "but he seemed to be always here at night."
"you didn't know anything else about him?"
"no. he wasn't very talkative."
"mm." mullihan knelt down and started checking the body over. "you never asked him any questions about himself?"
"i never had occasion to. i might have asked him if he were enjoying the weather."
mullihan looked over at varney. "just like our friend the limey here said on the phone, looks like he was stabbed once. very professionally." he stood up.
varney took a pen and a small notepad out of an inner pocket of his overcoat, and uncapped the pen.
"while we are waiting for the doctor and the fingerprint man - first off, there was nobody else in here, right, when you came in?"
"no," fortescue answered.
"you look around for anything, like a knife?"
"i had to look around for a phone. when i found it, i called you - called the police."
"you didn't touch anything else?"
varney glanced at the ashtray on the counter. "you smoke while you been here? any of those butts yours?"
"no. neither of us have lit up since we have been here."
varney asked carol, "is that right, miss?"
"yes. mister fortescue told me not to. and he told me not to touch the coffee pot either, though i wanted some."
"very good. can i have your name, miss?"
"it's not miss, it's mrs. chandler. carol chandler."
"ah." varney turned to fortescue. "your name is not chandler. " behind him mulligan laughed.
"no, it's fortrescue. detective mullihan knows me very well."
"too well," mulligan added.
"are you from around here, mrs chandler?" varney kept his pen poised over his notebook.
"no, i am from westchester. i have never been in this neighborhood before."
"so - what brings you down here at four in the morning with our detective friend?" varney opened his eyes wide and held his pen up. "let me guess? you were hiring him to look for mr chandler?"
"that's a good guess."
"is it a correct guess?"
"then what are you doing here, mrs chandler?"
"i was hoping to persuade mr fortescue to hire me as his secretary."
varney, and mullihan, were too surprised by this answer to laugh.
varney looked down at his notebook. "let's start over. who saw the body first?"
"i did," carol answered. "i saw his feet sticking out. then mister fortescue took a look at him."
"but you never saw him before? the dead man?"
"you got a good look at him?"
"good enough. i'll look at him again, if you want."
"yes, why don't you?"
"all right." mullihan stepped aside and carol went over and looked down at the dead man. "no, i've never seen him before."
"you seem pretty cool about it," mullihan told her. "you seen a lot of dead bodies before?"
"i have never seen any, except in funeral parlors."
"but you don't seem - too upset, " mullihan persisted.
"what do you want me to say? i've had a long night. i feel like i'm dreaming. this is just part of the dream."
varney and mullihan exchanged glances.
"he's not a pretty sight," put in varney.
"well, he's just lying there. he's not all smashed up or covered in blood or anything."
they heard a car pull up outside.
"here's the good doctor now," said mullihan. he looked at his watch. "pretty good time for him."
"can we go now?" asked carol.
"are you kidding? lady, i hate to tell you but you still got a long night ahead of you."
"but we don't know anything!"
"we'll decide that. right, limey?"
"yes," said fortescue, addressing carol. "they can't be expected to do anything in haste. look here, detective. why don't we go down to the station now? i assume you will at least treat us to some coffee."
"oh, yes, i think the hardworking taxpayers of new york will spring for that."
"if you don't trust us to go down ourselves - "
"i will take you in, if you don't mind. good morning, doctor," mullihan addressed a small, surprisingly young looking man carrying a black bag as big as a suitcase.
"good morning to you. where's the patient?"
mullihan stepped aside. "right there."
an older man wearing thick glasses and balancing a large case on his shoulder followed - the fingerprint man.
he saw fortescue. "you, again."
"let's get going," said mullihan. "we will figure out just how unfortunate it is. call me if you need me," he told varney.
carol and fortescue followed mullihan out into the street to the police car. it was still pitch dark. the temperature had gone down a few degrees.