In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night by John Ball Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Heat of the Night by John Ball Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Ball
which was almost entirely glass. The opposite wall was covered with long shelves that reached from floor to ceiling and held the largest collection of books and record albums that Sam had ever seen.
    “Sit down, won’t you, please,” Mrs. Endicott invited, and then walked quickly from the room. Sam looked about him at the big, comfortable-looking chairs and decided to remain on his feet. He told himself that it would be all over in ten minutes, maybe even less, and then he could get back into his car and drive down into town once more.
    Sam turned as his host walked into the room. Endicott showed his age more than did his wife, but he carried his years with a calm dignity. He belonged in his house, and the house in turn specifically belonged to him. They fitted each other as certain captains fit the ships which they command. While Sam waited for the man to speak, he wished for a moment that his position was such that he could have these people for his friends. Then he remembered what he had to do.
    “I believe you wished to see me.” Endicott made it an invitation.
    “Yes, sir. I believe you know a Mr. Mantoli?” Sam knew it wasn’t good, but he had started now, and couldn’t retreat.
    “Yes, we know Maestro Mantoli very well. I hope he is not in any trouble?”
    Sam reached up and removed his uniform cap, ashamed that he had forgotten to do so until now. “Yes and no, Mr. Endicott.” Sam flushed. There was nothing for it now but to state the facts. “I’m very sorry to have to tell you... that he has been killed.”
    Endicott rested his hand for a moment on the back of a chair and then sank into it, his eyes focused far away. “Enrico dead. I can’t believe it.” Sam stood awkwardly still and waited for Endicott to recover himself.
    “This is dreadful, Officer,” Endicott said finally. “He was our close and dear friend; his daughter is a guest here now. I...” Sam cursed the day he had left his job at the garage to become a police officer. Then Endicott turned to him. “How did the accident happen?” he asked very quietly.
    This time Sam found better words. “Unfortunately, sir, it was not an accident. Mr. Mantoli was attacked early this morning in the downtown area. We don’t know yet by whom or how. I found his body around four this morning.” Sam wanted to say something else. “I’m terribly sorry to have to bring you this news,” he added, hoping that the words would somehow help to lessen the shock to the man who sat before him.
    “You mean,” Endicott said very carefully, “he was murdered.”
    Sam nodded, grateful that he didn’t have to put it into words.
    Endicott rose. “I had better tell my wife,” he said. To Sam it seemed as if the man had suddenly grown tired, not the weariness of a single day, but the kind °f fatigue that sinks into the bones and remains there like a disease.
    “Sit down, please,” Endicott asked, and walked slowly out of «he beautifully appointed room. Sam could feel the emptiness in the air when he had gone.
    Sam let himself down until he was perched on the front six inches of one of the deep, comfortable chairs. In that position he was half sitting, half squatting, but the posture suited his mood. He tried to put out of his mind the scene that would be taking place in another part of the house. He looked hard through the glass wall at the spectacular view, which had about it a suggestion of eternity.
    Endicott came back into the room. “Is there something specific I can do to help?” he asked.
    Sam pulled himself to his feet. “Yes, sir. I—that is, we understood that Mr. Mantoli’s daughter was staying here. We thought she ought to be notified. Later, when she feels able to, we would like to have her come down and formally identify the body.”
    Endicott hesitated a moment. “Miss Mantoli is here; she is still resting. We were all up very late last night making final plans for the music festival.” He passed his hand across his forehead.

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