Chapter 21 Confessions in the Public Library

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Victoria left her desk and stood by the window. From her office on the 3rd floor, she could see the lunch crowd hurrying around the street, coming and going from the library.

Once upon a time, she had had her own office, first at City Hall, and later, at the library. She'd left the job at city hall due to the reporters, and after several months at the library, she'd surrendered her private office in order to sit at one of a dozen anonymous desks in the library's general administration office. It was less private, but it had a pleasant view. Her former office was being used as a locked store room but she'd left her name on the door in hopes of discouraging any reporters who might come looking for her.

When they weren't all out at lunch, her new coworkers were happy to send reporters away while she kept her head down. But from noon to 1 o'clock, everyone went out to lunch and if Victoria didn't join them, she was on her own.

From the window, Victoria watched a man with a skewed hat on the street below. He had been loitering by a telephone booth for almost half an hour. At the moment, he was leaning against a lamp post, smoking a cigarette, and watching the people leaving the library.

He was the reason she had stayed in the office when the others left. Victoria had shut the lights off and put up the 'out to lunch' sign. It was the best she could do.

He was still there.

Victoria tried to remember if she'd actually seen him before. She wondered if he was one the nice reporters who stuck to the facts or if he was one of the embellishers who liked to harass people in hopes of getting a flashier reaction.

Since Friday, two reporters had approached her on the street and three more had telephoned her work. They wanted interviews, photographs, or at least a statement from the sensational female sleuth who helped the police solve the latest murder. Of course, Riggs received all of the official credit, he was the man in charge, after all. And at Victoria's insistence, he reluctantly downplayed her role, but it wasn't enough.

The real problem, she decided, was that the official statements were straightforward and lacked sensationalism. But by emphasizing her role, and adding a few suggestive lines, the local reports had found the formula for selling more newspapers. Capitalism.

Victoria was still watching the street below when a woman in a gray felt hat exited the building. The man dropped his cigarette and moved quickly toward her. He was only about ten feet away from the woman when he must have gotten a good luck at her face, but he turned on his heel and strolled back to his post.

Victoria got a cup of water from the fountain and went back to her desk. Eating alone at her office was an acceptable price to pay for helping Winifred. She took a paper bag out of her desk and took a bite of her sandwich.

There was something else bothering her. It wasn't just the reporters and the problems they would cause for her and Walter, there was something else nagging at the back of her mind. Something, that she couldn't put her finger on it. Something wasn't right.

Victoria had just finished the first half when there was a tiny knock on the office door and it opened. It was the tall middle-aged woman from the art exhibition.

"Oh, excuse me for interrupting," the older woman said, "I read the sign, but I only have a short lunch break and I was just hoping there might possibly be someone in the office. I'm looking for someone in particular."

Victoria set her sandwich down.

"My name is Miss Snupter," the older woman explained as she came forward. "I'm looking for the woman who helps the police--"

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