Chapter no 42

Anxious People

Jack and Jim turn the entire closet upside down without 1nding any trace of the bank robber. The chest at the back is empty, apart from a collection of mostly empty wine bottles—and what sort of drunk hides wine bottles in a closet? They pull out all the clothes, men’s suits and some dresses that seem to have been made before the invention of color television. But otherwise they 1nd nothing. Jim gets so sweaty while he’s searching that he doesn’t notice the cold draft in there. It’s Jack who stops and sniPs keenly at the air like a bloodhound at a music festival.

“It smells of cigarette smoke in here,” he says, tentatively feeling the bump on his forehead.

“Maybe one of the prospective buyers had a sneaky smoke, that would be understandable in the circumstances,” Jim speculates.

“Okay, but then it ought to smell MORE of smoke. There’s no smell of it anywhere else in the apartment, so it’s almost as if someone has… I don’t know, aired the closet somehow?”

“How would that be possible?”

Jack doesn’t answer, just moves through the space hunting for the draft he initially thought he had imagined. Suddenly he picks up a stepladder that’s lying on the Aoor, shoves a pile of clothes out of the way, climbs up the steps, and starts hitting the ceiling with the Aat of his hand until something gives way.

“There’s some sort of old air vent up here!”

Jim doesn’t have time to respond before Jack sticks his head through the hole. Jim takes the opportunity to shake the wine bottles he found in the chest, and takes a swig out of one that isn’t quite empty. Because wine doesn’t go bad, either.

Jack calls from up the ladder: “There’s a narrow passageway up here, above the false ceiling, I think the draft’s coming from the attic.”

“A passageway? Big enough to crawl through and get out somewhere else?” Jim wonders.

“God knows, it’s very narrow, but someone slim could probably… hold on…” “Can you see anything?”

“I’m trying to shine the torch to see where it leads, but there’s something in the way… something… AuPy.”

“FluPy?” Jim repeats anxiously, thinking about all the animals Jack probably wouldn’t want to discover dead in a ventilation duct. Jack doesn’t like most animals even when they’re alive.


Jack curses, pulls the thing out, and tosses it down to Jim. It’s a rabbit’s head.

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