Futures Past

Futures Past by James White Read Free Book Online

Book: Futures Past by James White Read Free Book Online
Authors: James White
up, answered fully to the description of the suspect.
       "I intend having a look around," said Michaelson, "and I shall not remove any of Mr. Smith's property unless a more detailed examination becomes necessary, by which time I shall have a warrant. In the meantime I would appreciate it if you would accompany me while I look around, and, of course, give me as much information as you can about Smith. Last time I saw him he could not even give me his name."
       He was not actually lying to Nesbitt, but he had managed to give the other a very strong reason for believing , that the suspect was an amnesia victim.
       The suspect—Michaelson could not believe that his I name was really Smith—occupied a small suite of offices. The outer office contained two desks, a few chairs I and even fewer filing cabinets. Dominating the inner of- office was a large desk covered by a thick asbestos board ] on which lay an electric toaster, kettle and frying pan. J The desk lamp was angled to point at the head of the 1 camp bed which was neatly made up behind the desk. Most J of the built-in shelving contained nonperishable groceries, 1 also neatly stacked, while a refrigerator in one corner took I care of the perishable kind. The desk's telephone table I had been removed to another corner where it supported a I color TV. A washroom opened off the smaller office where I shirts and socks were dripping dry into a bath.
       "It isn't usual," said Nesbitt in answer to Michael- I son's unspoken question, "but so long as there is no fire 1 hazard,   and Smith   is   very   careful that way,   there   is   I nothing in the rules which actually forbids it. Besides, at the prices we charge for these offices we can't afford to be too strict."
       Michaelson nodded and began taking a closer look around. The towels looked new—not brand new, but not very old, either—and the shaver and other bits and pieces had also been bought recently. A closer examination of the inner office showed that the suspect was very clean and tidy in his habits. There were books here and there, not enough to be called a library but they all looked as though they had been read several times—cheap editions or paperbacks on pretty heavy, nonfiction subjects for the most part. The exception was a small pile of science-fiction paperbacks. He noted Asimov's The End of Eternity, Heinlein's Door Into Summer, Shaw's The Two-Timers and Tucker's Year of the Quiet Sun ...
       The suspect's taste in s-f was good if somewhat restricted, Michaelson decided as he returned to the outer office.
       "Has Mr. Smith spoken to you?" Michaelson asked as he lifted the dust cover off what he thought was a typewriter but what turned out to be a small record player.
       "Often," Nesbitt replied, then explained, "he isn't very organized about his paperwork and when I suggested that he get himself a secretary, he asked me what exactly would be involved. I told him about medical and unemployment insurance payments and income tax deductions and so on: he seemed to lose interest."
       There were sheets of printed music and blank manuscript pages scattered over the top of the desk, which apparently had not been disturbed for some time. On the manuscript pages the same few bars of a melody had been written over and over again. The desk drawers were filled with more manuscript blanks and dozens of records which, like the sheet music on top of the desk, were mainly ballads. A few were familiar—pleasant enough tunes, but too derivative for Michaelson to really approve of them. There were no musical instruments in the room.
       The other desk, which seemed to be in current use, was scattered with philatelic magazines and reference books. The drawers contained magnifiers and large sheets of unused stamps in plastic folders with a few singles, also in transparent envelopes, which were even older. Michaelson had never been a stamp collector.
       "Are these valuable?"

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