2016年02月25日

Or great-grandfather maybe

Chad patted Shadow down, found no weapons. They got into Mulligan's car. Again Shadow sat in the back, looking out through the metal cage. He thought, SOS. Mayday. Help. He tried to push Mulligan with his mind, as he'd once pushed a cop in Chicago-This is your old friend Mike Ainsel. You saved his life. Don't you know how silly this is? Why don't you just drop the whole thing?

"I figure it was good to get you out of there," said Chad. "All you needed was some loudmouth deciding that you were Alison McGovern's killer and we'd've had a lynch mob on our hands."

"Point."

They were silent for the rest of the drive to the Lakeside police building, which, Chad said as they pulled up outside it, actually belonged to the county sheriff's department. The local police made do with a few rooms in there. Pretty soon the county would build something modern. For now they had to make do with what they had.Or great-grandfather maybe


"Should I call a lawyer?" asked Shadow.

"You aren't accused of anything," said Mulligan. "Up to you." They pushed through some swing doors. "Take a seat over there."

Shadow took a seat on the wooden chair with cigarette burns on the side. He felt stupid and numb. There was a small poster on the notice board, beside a large NO SMOKING sign: ENDANGERED MISSING it said. The photograph was Alison McGovern's.

There was a wooden table with old copies of Sports Illustrated and Newsweek on it. The light was bad. The paint on the wall was yellow, but it might once have been white.

After ten minutes Chad brought him a watery cup of vending machine hot chocolate. "What's in the bag?" he asked. And it was only then that Shadow realized he was still holding the plastic bag containing the Minutes of the Lakeside City Council.

"Old book," said Shadow. "Your grandfather's picture's in here."

Shadow flipped through the book until he found the portrait of the town council, and he pointed to the man called Mulligan. Chad chuckled. "If that don't beat all," he said.

Minutes passed, and hours, in that room. Shadow read two of the Sports Illustrateds and he started in on the Newsweek. From time to time Chad would come through, once checking to see if Shadow needed to use the rest room, once to offer him a ham roll and a small packet of potato chips.

"Thanks," said Shadow, taking them. "Am I under arrest yet?"

Chad sucked the air between his teeth. "Well," he said, "not yet. It doesn't look like you came by the name Mike Ainsel legally. On the other hand, you can call yourself whatever you want in this state, if it's not for fraudulent purposes. You just hang loose."



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