Death on the Aisle

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

Book: Death on the Aisle by Frances and Richard Lockridge Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frances and Richard Lockridge
Francis nodded.
    â€œBetween the occiput and the atlas, or first vertebra,” Francis said. “Just below the foramen magnum, in other words. Very neatly, with a very sharp ice-pick—by a person who knew the place to stab. And then he just twitched a couple of times. And …”
    But Weigand wasn’t looking at him. Weigand was staring down at the body. Clinging to the rough wool of Bolton’s trousers, visible now that the body was straightened and laid flat, was a length of orange silk. It fell away from the body and lay bright against the neutral carpet of the aisle. It was—
    â€œLook,” Pam North said, unexpectedly behind the Lieutenant, “it’s a swatch. He was going to match something.”
    â€œA what, Pam?” Weigand asked. Kirk was looking at Mrs. North with some surprise, and Dr. Francis with interest. But Weigand did not seem surprised.
    â€œA sample,” Mrs. North said. “From some material for—” she bent, not looking at Bolton more than she had to, and examined the strip of orange silk—“for a dress, I think,” she said. “Something he was going to match for a woman, probably.”
    Weigand knelt beside Bolton’s body and smoothed the silk between his fingers. Then he drew it from the loosened hand and stood up. He held it out to Kirk.
    â€œWas one of the costumes to be made of this material?” he asked. “One of the dresses for the play, I mean? You’d know, wouldn’t you?”
    He waited, then, because Kirk waited to answer. Kirk made a great business of looking at the silk and a great business of thinking about it. At just the moment when thought might reasonably be concluded, he shook his head, slowly.
    â€œNo,” he said. “I wouldn’t know, necessarily. Not unless it had been decided upon … this might just have been something Mary was showing one of the girls as a possibility. So I wouldn’t …”
    He trailed off and looked at Weigand. It was an inquiring look, and Weigand recognized it with interest. It was the look of a man who wondered whether he was putting something over. Weigand nodded at him, cheerfully.
    â€œNaturally,” Weigand said. “I see how you might not recognize it.”
    Anything, within reason, to satisfy a suspect, Weigand believed, at this stage of the game. But Kirk knew something about the orange silk; knew something he didn’t want Weigand to know. Weigand felt like shaking hands with him. Kirk had produced a ripple in waters previously too calm.
    â€œA good detective is always more or less suspicious and very inquisitive.” That was the classic definition from the “Rules and Regulations and Manual of Procedure for the Police Department of the City of New York.” Weigand agreed with it entirely. He welcomed, as cases started, small discrepancies which nurtured suspicion and encouraged inquisitiveness; or, more exactly, small things which localized suspicion. Five minutes before, Weigand had been suspicious of fourteen—no, with Jimmy Sand, fifteen—people. Now Kirk, who knew something he didn’t want to tell, had taken one step forward from the even line of suspects. And every little helped.
    Weigand changed the subject. He told Kirk he wanted to try something. Would it be possible to run through the second act again, for his benefit? Run through it, as nearly as possible, precisely as they had run through it earlier.
    â€œBecause,” Weigand said, “I want to get things clear in my mind. It’s all very confused now, naturally—where people were, and all that; because we can take it, I think, that Bolton was killed during the run-through. Would that be possible, Mr. Kirk?”
    Kirk pushed back the hair, waited for it to fall, and said, “Sure.”
    â€œAs a matter of fact,” he said, “swell! We kill two birds with one stone—you get the picture, we get more rehearsal,

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