The Death in the Willows

The Death in the Willows by Richard; Forrest Read Free Book Online

Book: The Death in the Willows by Richard; Forrest Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard; Forrest
thank you.”
    â€œDo you think there’s anything to the old woman’s demons and curses?”
    â€œGood Lord, no.”
    He sat on the edge of his bed. “I thought I knew you from somewhere, so I hope you don’t mind that I asked that we bunk together?”
    â€œNo, of course not. Please call me Lyon, or, in fact, anything you want as long as it’s not Baron Samedi.”
    â€œA voodoo bad guy.” Lyon pulled on his drink. “That one’s not in my two-oh-one file.”
    â€œTwo-oh-one file?”
    Lyon detected the vague trace of an accent in his companion’s voice, but couldn’t place the country of origin.
    â€œWhat can I do for you?”
    Collins extended a copy of Lyon’s book, The Wobblies’ Revenge . “I’m going to stop and see my grandson in Springfield, and I bought it this morning. You are the author, aren’t you?”
    Lyon glanced at his photograph on the back of the dust jacket and smiled at Collins. “I plead guilty.”
    â€œIf it’s not too much trouble, I wonder if you’d autograph it for me?”
    â€œOf course.” Lyon accepted the pen and opened the book to the flyleaf to find there was already an inscription. He glanced at it hastily:
    To my beloved grandson, Mark. May he understand the secret of the karst and why it was necessary. Your loving grandpops.
    Beneath the message was a finely drawn series of minute symbols:

    Lyon turned the page, uncapped the pen, wrote his own inscription, and returned the book.
    â€œThank you. It will make the book more precious to my grandson. I glanced through it at the store; you can’t be too careful what you place in the hands of children. It seems to be about some sort of monsters fighting other monsters.”
    â€œThe Wobblies are the good guys.”
    â€œYes, the Wobblies. And their village is attacked by the …”
    â€œWaldoons. They had wings and two heads, as I recall.”
    â€œYes, but not too frightening. I love the Wobblies and I think Mark will too. My only quarrel is that hole the Waldoons come from. You make it seem such a dark, dank place.”
    â€œThat’s probably because I’m a terrible claustrophobic, which is why I prefer hot air ballooning.”
    â€œReally, how interesting. I’d like to hear about that. Perhaps on the bus tomorrow?”
    â€œI won’t be going with the rest of you. The police want to see me again tomorrow.”
    â€œOh, that’s disappointing. Somehow I’d feel safer with you on the bus.”
    â€œI’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, and I doubt that I could help if there was.”
    Collins tapped Lyon’s photograph on the book. “I’ve also heard that you sometimes do things of an investigatory nature besides writing your books.”
    â€œOnce or twice, accidentally.”
    â€œThere are police in the hallway. Did you know that?”
    â€œYes, I understand it’s purely precautionary and probably designed to calm our fears.”
    â€œIt could be that the woman who talks about voodoo is right after all.”
    â€œI wouldn’t have thought you were superstitious, Mr. Collins.”
    â€œDemons can take other forms than the strange names she calls them. I’m an accountant by profession, and tend to believe more in the laws of probability and chance. There’s a rumor among the passengers that the gun you used this afternoon wasn’t yours.”
    â€œIt belonged to a man sitting behind me.”
    â€œDid you know him? Is he here?”
    â€œNo, he slipped away. I can hardly recall what he looked like except for his cap and beard.”
    Collins looked out the window over the darkening city. “A strange set of circumstances.”
    â€œYou’re from Yugoslavia, Mr. Collins.”
    â€œSerbia. We used to make a distinction. I didn’t realize it still showed after all these

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