Death on the Aisle

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

Book: Death on the Aisle by Frances and Richard Lockridge Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frances and Richard Lockridge
“And everybody was out to lunch. An hour ago it was a quarter to three, and everybody was here and Bolton was dead. I was here myself, Doctor. And you could have been.”
    Francis said he wouldn’t want to guess any closer. But about two hours ago, more or less, ought to place it. Say between a little after one and a little after two; say—
    â€œDuring the run-through,” Kirk said suddenly. “We started it at 1:15 and ran until—” He broke off. He yelled, “Jimmy!” Jimmy, from the stage, said, “Yeh, Humpty.”
    â€œGive me the times on the second-act run-through,” Kirk directed.
    â€œToday?” Jimmy called. Then, when Kirk answered with a yell, Jimmy said, “Sure.” He crossed to a table near the footlights and stared down at it and turned papers.
    â€œOne-twelve to 1:58,” Jimmy called. “With four script pages to go. And it’s running long, Humpty.”
    â€œIt won’t,” Humpty said. “Wait till we get it set. Forty minutes flat.” He turned to Weigand and resumed his natural voice.
    â€œI remember, now,” he said. “We didn’t quite finish—had about four minutes to go, at a page a minute. I stopped them and came back to talk to Bolton; and found him dead.”
    Weigand said, “So.”
    â€œWhat about?” he said.
    Kirk said there was a laugh where Bolton said there wasn’t a laugh—just there, before the act wound up. Kirk had tried a new timing on it and wanted to see what Bolton thought now.
    â€œNow,” Kirk said, thoughtfully, “I guess I’ll just keep it in.”
    They turned from murder easily, these people, Weigand thought. He had a feeling that Bolton’s death was secondary to Kirk; that the long director, with the collapsing forelock, honestly felt murder irrelevant when compared to the timing of a laugh—that all the others, up there on the stage, thought “Two in the Bush” more important, at the moment, and their parts in it more important, than any number of men dead in aisle seats. He regarded Kirk a moment interestedly, and then recalled them both.
    â€œDo you happen to know when Dr. Bolton came back from lunch?” Weigand said. Kirk pushed back the lock of red hair. It fell down again.
    â€œYes,” he said. “I saw him.” He paused. “At least,” he said, “I saw him start in through the stage door. I was up the street a little ways, and I saw his back. That was—oh, about one o’clock. I’d had a sandwich and come back—” He broke off and a surprised look came over his face. He stared at Weigand, and there seemed to be reproach in his stare.
    â€œThat’s one for the book,” Kirk said. “I had an appointment and damned if I didn’t forget it altogether. I was thinking about the last act and got an idea and came back to find Smitty and talk it over with him. I just put down my sandwich in the middle and came back, all full of it. And then I saw Bolton going in.”
    â€œAnd did you see him inside?” Weigand wanted to know. Kirk thought and shook his head. He said that that didn’t, however, prove anything. Bolton could have been almost any place in the theatre, and Kirk, who was looking for Smitty, wouldn’t have seen him.
    â€œAnd did you see Mr. Smith?” Weigand wanted to know. Kirk hadn’t; Mr. Smith wasn’t there. He came in after the run-through had started and Kirk by then was deep in the second act and didn’t stop. And Bolton? Kirk shook his head. He supposed Bolton was in the theatre, but as for being sure—
    â€œLook, Lieutenant,” Dr. Francis broke in. “Don’t let me interrupt you. But I’m going. This one’s dead and you can have it taken away. We’ll do an autopsy tonight, just for the hell of it, but I can tell you now he was stabbed.” Weigand said he could have told Dr. Francis that.

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