This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.
The bookstore doesn’t look like much from the outside, but then again, they never do. Over the door is a sign that was probably very proud of its job of announcing “McGinty’s Antiquarian & Rare Books” sometime in the 1940s. Now, it just looks tired and like it doesn’t care much about books anymore, and who can blame it really? Books are meant to be read, not handled with kid gloves, goggled over and sold at auction. I’ve never understood spending thousands of dollars on a first edition of the same words you can get for ten bucks in a brand new paperback. This could be why I’m always broke though.
The key that Nora gave me fits nicely into the lock and the door opens like it’s tired of its job, too. My arrival is announced by the ringing of bells, or perhaps just the one hanging on the door. I make a mental note to add a bell to my office door. All arrivals should be marked with bells.
The store has that smell peculiar to bookstores. It’s a nostalgic smell of old paper mixed with decades of cigar smoke, rat droppings or whatever it is old books smell of. Even in daylight, it’s nearly pitch black in here.
Unsurprisingly, there are books everywhere. Surprisingly, there are books everywhere including the floor. Nora said the goons made their entrance by knocking over stacks of them; I guess no one has picked them up yet.
I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for to be honest. It’s not like clues typically announce themselves, but my detective snout is tingling.
I make my way back to the office, careful not to step on the casualties on the floor, and flick on the light. Well, at least I know they weren’t after something on the computer, because there isn’t one. This could be an office from the 1800s.
It’s difficult to tell whether the office has been ransacked or if it’s normally in this state of disarray. I see Nora’s books book on a desk open to a column of numbers, probably right where she left it. Another desk–a big, oak, roll top number–is locked. It looks as if someone tried to force it and failed. I pull my trusty lock pick set out, and in all of ten seconds, it opens. Stupid goons trying to force it when all it needed was a little proper picking.
I’m half hoping that there will be a note on top telling me what this is all about. I’d even accept:
Don’t worry about things anymore. It’s handled. Here’s lots of money.
No such luck. He doesn’t even know me, let alone love me enough to leave me money. Instead, I find some papers, overdue bills, a book and a key.
The book is a small, suede-bound thing with uneven edges. It’s the kind of book that you had to read with a letter opener handy since they didn’t slice the edges when it was hand bound. I leaf through it, but can’t make any sense of it. It’s not English, whatever it is, and there aren’t any pictures.
The key looks like it belongs to something of import, but I’m not sure what since it stubbornly refuses to tell me. It’s doesn’t have any pictures either. Clues are always so obstinate.
I pocket the key, the book, and some paperwork, and lock the desk and the front door as leave.