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Chapter 10

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With high hopes, Jake approached the small yellow house. This was the last one but also the closest to the crime scene. The other two homeowners who answered their doors had not been able to offer any tangible clues to help in his investigation. Damn it. As he feared, things were already growing cold. Jake wished he'd started poking around sooner, then again he'd been tied up at the funeral. He needed a clone. Arrgh.

Stepping up on the porch, he knocked on the flimsy screen door.

The whole place looked like it would fall over given a stiff breeze. No wall, corner, or window on the house was at a right angle to another. He heard nothing, so he knocked again, as heavy as he dared. From within, the faint scuffling of feet could be heard. They came closer, and a small form took shape in the darkness of the interior.

The door opened.

Behind it stood a frail short man with thick eyeglasses. White tufts of hair protruded straight out from his pink head. He wore a yellow cardigan sweater despite the warm temperature. Before Jake could speak, he muttered, "What do you want?"

Jake lied. "Sir, I'm an investigator. If you have a minute, I'd like to ask you a few questions regarding the incident that occurred last Sunday."

"At my age, I have nothing but time. Or no time at all, depending on how you look at it."

Looking past the man, Jake saw at least two cats lurking in the dimly lit hallway. A third wound itself around the man's legs, leaving white hair on his faded blue sweatpants.

Jake smiled and nodded. "May I come in?"

The man considered the question. Pursing his lips, he looked to his left. He must 'e found his answer there because he stepped aside and motioned Jake in. The rancid house smelled of ammonia. Jake tried to breathe through his mouth with small short breaths. He wasn't sure how long he could last in here. Couldn't the old man smell how bad it was?

He opened the door farther. "You're in luck. The Price is Right just ended or I wouldn't have answered. I love The Price is Right even with Bob Barker gone."

Walking slowly, it still took a considerable effort for Jake to not kick the heels of the man's slippers as he shuffled slowly down the hall. He led Jake to a kitchen last decorated in the 1960's with avocado appliances. The faded linoleum peeled up at the edges. The man sat down at a square kitchen table. None of the chairs matched. Two were folding chairs. A fourth cat jumped on the table. He made no effort to remove the feline.

Jake sat down hesitantly, testing it before he let it bear his full weight. It held, but he didn't dare lean back.

"Sir, my name is Jakob Bryant." He pulled out his notebook. "As I said, I'm helping investigate the incident that occurred last Sunday. Can I have your name?"

"Jones. Robert Jones."

Jake fought the urge to rub his burning nostrils. "Did you see or hear anything on the morning in question relating to the murder?"


Jake repeated himself louder.

Mr. Jones smiled widely. His eyes twinkled behind the dense lenses. "Yes. I did."

"Did you tell the police about it?"

"I tried to tell some detective about it, but he lost interest quickly."

"Was his name, Noles?"

"I think so."

"Would you mind telling me what you tried to tell him?"

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