Death on the Aisle

Death on the Aisle by Frances and Richard Lockridge Read Free Book Online

Book: Death on the Aisle by Frances and Richard Lockridge Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frances and Richard Lockridge
respectively, Mahoney, Fleming and Lawson, and were, again respectively, electrician, stage hand and stage hand. They seemed rather bored with the whole matter. Pam North seemed about to rise, but Weigand, to his own surprise, quelled her with a glance. He said a general “Thank you.”
    â€œI’m afraid I’ll have to keep you here for a time longer,” he said. “I shall need to talk to each of you separately. Meanwhile, make yourselves as comfortable as you can, and don’t try to leave the theatre. I should prefer that, so far as it’s possible, you stay on, or in the vicinity of, the stage. Right?”
    Nobody said it wasn’t right, although several looked the words. Mr. Christopher sulked obviously. It was too bad about him, Weigand decided. It was going to keep on being bad. He left the circle as it began to break into groups and found the temporary flight of stairs reaching down from the stage to the orchestra aisle up which he had climbed a few minutes before. He started down them, thought of something, and called, “Mr. Kirk.”
    Kirk turned from Ellen Grady and said, “Yes?”
    â€œI want your help, Mr. Kirk,” Weigand said. Mr. Kirk followed.

III
    T UESDAY—3:45 P.M. TO 4 P.M.
    At the foot of the steps down from the stage, Weigand turned to Kirk.
    â€œWhat I want,” he said, “is to have you—”
    He was interrupted by a heavy, official voice from up the aisle, which said: “Lieutenant?” Weigand said, “Yes?”
    â€œThe doc’s here,” the voice told him. “Wants to see you.”
    Weigand said “Right” and went up the aisle toward the knot of men about the huddled body. Kirk, after hesitating a moment, followed him. As they were halfway up, flashlights suddenly glowed, focusing on the body of Dr. Bolton. And a well-known voice said:
    â€œDamn it! How do you expect a man—”
    Weigand, followed by Kirk, appeared and Dr. Jerome Francis, assistant medical examiner, stood up.
    â€œThis,” Dr. Francis said, “is the devil of a place for a cadaver. You’d have to be an acrobat.”
    â€œWell,” Weigand said. “I didn’t put him there, Doctor. And where would you have been all these hours? Out seeing a man about a guinea pig?”
    It wasn’t, Francis said with some exasperation, “all these hours.” It was exactly … he looked at his watch … one hour and sixteen minutes since word came through about Weigand’s corpse.
    â€œAnd,” Dr. Francis said, “there were two ahead of you.” He looked at Weigand. “Every corpse in its turn, Lieutenant,” he said. “We can’t make exceptions.”
    Weigand half smiled at him.
    â€œRight,” he said. “And now you’re here?”
    â€œNow I’m here,” Francis said, “I’d have to be an acrobat. But it’s a corpse.”
    Weigand said he thought it was. How long had it been?
    â€œAnd don’t put on your song and dance about exactitude,” the detective advised. “We’ve been over that. Just a close guess, seeing as it’s a nice fresh one.”
    Dr. Francis wanted to know if it would be all right to take it out. Weigand nodded. They took Dr. Bolton out, with some difficulty, and laid him in the aisle. Kirk made a small, distressed sound and Dr. Francis looked up at him.
    â€œYou’ll get used to them,” Dr. Francis assured him.
    â€œMy God!” Kirk said. “I hope not.”
    Dr. Francis was busy. He took temperatures and examined eyes. He bent fingers and swore mildly when ink from the fingerprint pads came off on his hands. He grumbled that “they ought to wipe them off.” After a while he stood up.
    â€œUnder three hours,” he said. “Over an hour. I’d suggest you split the difference.”
    Weigand looked at his watch.
    â€œThree hours ago it was a quarter to one,” he said.

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