With some frequency--a nice phrase regarding the regularity with which he visited the public library. Not daily, mind you. Several times a week. If more than once during any particular day, still only several times a week.
It was a two story brick box out on Eighteenth, which required driving. The counter-angled inset windows surely had some architectural designation, but Martin was unfamiliar. First stop: recent periodicals to the left just as you come in, a carpeted area with low low couches and chairs. With a frustrating turnover rate on the shelf space. He assumed one of three issues of anything in particular got tossed as soon as it came in the mail. He looked at the same magazines and papers many times over.
New books were in a trough near the front. He became really good with titles.
Upstairs was fiction, and three office-like study spaces with desks. Which he knew to be often occupied by drug dealers for short periods. Not sales per se, but checking lists, counting currency. This he had verifiably seen. Several times he spotted a paperback For a New Novel on the desk as they vacated.
Appeared in the library suddenly a transient type one day. Curly-oily haired, fifty to sixty years old. The typical odors: Martin assumed homeless. But the signal feature was one missing nostril, the hole gaping and pinkish but not recent by any means. The guy did not seem evasive or forward, no quirkly facial tics so often the case. He wouldn't look at you but you got the feeling he wouldn't look away if you jumped right in front of him.
What makes an eerie feeling? Are thre truly subliminal waves of the kind new-agers avow? Maybe just the fact that there is always something eerie to be associated with any one person.
So he checked it out. The guy had drifted near the Coney Isle a time or two, and word was Troopers had seen him walking in along the Interstate from the west.
On a hunch some dim recollection perhaps, from his news-clipping collection, he called a compatriot-acquaintance at the Shreveport paper.
"That sure sounds like Jimmy Lee. Acquitted in Bossier four years ago of taking the life of a salvage shop owner he was known to consort with."
"So. Anything special?"
"The body was found in pieces--too many for the coroner to count--stuffed in a bus station locker. Acquitted because of lack of evidence of the murder itself. His quote, I believe, was 'I won't agree that I done the killing.'
"In a box, a trunk, what?"
"No, just loose in the locker. The obvious tip-off being the--"
"Yes. The bus station occupied and lighted twenty-four seven."
"And no one saw him stuffing the--pieces in there."
"No one on record. However, he admitted openly from the beginning that it was a locker rented to him and that he'd done the chopping--dismembering, rather."
"Any particular reason for that act?"
"The body was in the way. They roomed together, or something."
"So my aura-sensor is in good working shape."
"I'd tune it a little finer, were I you, Martin. Another consort of his spread the rumor of many dozens done away with at Jimmy Lee's hands. And the only time he's done is for tampering with evidence. As in the said case."
The library--once the only place no one ever found him--Mac, Kelly, anybody. And now almost every visit, the transient was there.
Martin dropped the word to loitering officers at the Coney Isle. Turns out they knew already.
"Hands tied, Martin. Until we get something solid. Like a witness. Seen anything interesting lately yourself, Martin?"
Only what happens when I close my eyes at night.