What seemed like an eternity later the elevator let me off at the 30th floor. There was one of those linebacker-sized constables trying to look tough while sitting in a kindergarten-sized chair outside the meeting room. He recognized me and let me knock on the door.
“Come” was the Vader-ized response. Apparently Adams was back to his old self.
I opened the door, stuck my head in, and asked, “Could we speak for a moment?”
“Please excuse me” was Adams polite reply to Leslie as he got out of his chair and moved to join me in the corridor.
After Adams had closed the door I jammed the envelope into his hands, “Take a look at this.”
Adams carefully opened it and read silently for a few moments; then came the analysis, “Curious. No husband, boyfriend, mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, or significant other of any kind. Impossible. Some rather poor police work.”
“Yes, that’s strange, but look closer at the picture. Doesn’t that look like Mary Smith?”
“I don’t see the resemblance. With different make-up and hairstyle, possibly. We’ll have to get an artist to have a look.”
“Well, it looks close to me. That’s not a face I’d forget.”
“Ok. I’ll get one of our artists on it right away.” Adams put the file back in the folder. “I think we’ve done all the questioning we can for this morning. We’ll take Dr. Warden down to the cafeteria for lunch. Maybe a little walking and some food will do these proceedings some good.”
Adams looked down at the seated constable, “Please join us. We wouldn’t want Dr. Warden to think she can take her leave when we’re being so hospitable.”
Adams and I went back in the meeting room.
“Dr. Warden, I think we’ll take a break at this point. Would you join us for lunch?”
“I imagine that’s not actually a question, but, yes, lunch would be good.” Leslie collected her things and prepared to leave.
Adams placed Donna Martin’s file on top of the other papers at his place. “Constable Williams, would you drop off these files with my secretary and then join us in the cafeteria?”
Adams, Leslie and I stepped into the corridor. Constable Williams got up, scooped up Adams’ files, and bundled them on top of his.
That was the last time I felt like myself. Once we stepped into the hall time seemed to slow down to the crawl of a cheap fx movie.
The first thing I recall was a beam of blue light was bouncing off Adams’ chest and burning a hole in the wall across from us. That light didn’t come from nowhere, but from a crouched man in front of the elevator doors at the far end of the hall. Another raygun.
Adams looked down at his chest in disbelief.
Good thing the linebacker believed. He leapt from his tiny chair, and in one smooth action pulled a big gun from his shoulder hostler and fired a deafening shot into the raygunner. The blue light special was over. Cleanup on aisle 30.
Time started to speed up for an instant.
Adams reached into what was left of the charred jacket pocket over his heart and pulled out the silver cigarette case. It was dangling by a thread. “And they say smoking isn’t good for you.”
The shot didn’t go unnoticed. Doors up and down the corridor sprung open. Lookie-loos poked their heads out to see what the ruckus was about. Some particularly stupid ones ran into the hall.
They say second-hand smoke is just as deadly as smoking them yourself. The same holds true for death rays. A second beam pierced Adams right shoulder and burned into the ceiling.
There was a second raygun man behind us squatting in front of the elevators at the other end of the corridor.
I pushed Adams out of the beam. He crashed into the wall and slumped to the floor.
The linebacker couldn’t shoot this time. Too many people in the hall.
Leslie had no such barriers and ran full steam into the second raygun man. Her shoulder connected with his chest so hard that his body broke the cheap drywall as she hit him.
The linebacker punched the wall alarm and the hall filled with electronic wailing.
Some ran to one raygunner, some to the other.
Constable Williams and I went to Adams’ aid.
Leslie sat on the floor leaning against a wall massaging her shoulder.
Chaos is held a bay in most places in this city, but here the mask had been ripped off for all to see.
The next instalment can be found here.
The next instalment can be found here.