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from Killing Time In LA by Kenneth Lawson

Copyright © 2020 Kenneth Lawson

Chapter 2 Day Two, Friday,June 10, 1949

As the morning sun broke through the cracks in the vation blinds I woke up early. Laying in the bed staring at the ceiling I couldn’t help thinking that something was off somewhere yesterday. Who called me late yesterday, who else's knew I’d been to see Lane in the morning?

 I quickly dismissed that idea that I was seen going down to the holding cells with Bob. It wasn’t something I’d done before. No one down there would recognize me. It had to be someone he talked to after I was there. He’d told them I was there. That Was the only thing that made sense. But why call me, not the police station? Because you don’t know who’ll answer the phone. And you don’t know who to talk to. Talking to the wrong person could be fatal for him and possibly even you.  

 After laying in bed for a while and watching Brenda sleep I finally forced myself out of the bed. Once I was up and moving it was the bathroom first . Then coffee.

 In the kitchen I found the coffee and fresh filter and made a pot of coffee. I knew the smell would wake Brenda, so I made some breakfast while it did its thing. 

But the time the pot was about ready, I had some eggs and toast ready. I poured myself a cup just as Brenda came from our room. 

“You're up early..”

“Yeah I couldn’t sleep. This Lane thing is worrying me.” I pulled her close and we kissed.

I told her about my ideas about my phone call yesterday while we ate.

“Do you know who else he talked to yesterday?”

“No I don’t, That's My first call. I’m going to call Bob in a bit and have him check. And See what he found out about who he's with or near. And who he talked to during the day”

***

After we finished eating I called Bob.

He told me he’d gone down to check Lane late last night and had a talk with the Duty Sergeant. Lane’s lawyer had been to see him. 

The Sergeant had moved him to a spot where there was no one in any cells near him on His request. Bob said that he stopped down on the way this morning and Lane was fine. Still sitting in the corner of his cell on the bed in a fetal position. 

I thanked him and hung hup.

 As I was heading to the bedroom to finish getting dressed There was a knock on the door.

  Instinctively I reached for the revolver that lay on the bedside table. Hiding it behind the flaps of my Bathrobe, I answered the door.

Through the glass in the door I could see a tall skinny young man. 

Cracking the door and carefully looking out. 

“Yes, can I help you?

“Your James St.James aren’t you?”

“”Yes who wants to know?’ I still didn't open the door any further.

Eas fromClearnce, Clearance Hardy, Lanes Hardy’s brother. I was hoping I could talk to you.”

“You called me last night?”

“Yes, Sorry about that. I was worried about him. I still am.”

“You have any Id?”

“Um Yeah..”

He pulled his wallet from his back pocket. Holding it up where I could see his driver's license.

“Oh, Just a second..” I closed the door and motioned for Brenda to head for our room. 

I pulled my bathrobe up tight around me and slid my revolver in my pocket and opened the door.

 Stepping back I let him in.

  “Coffee?”

I asked as I found my cup, and dumped the cold coffee from it and poured a new cup.

“Uh yes, Thanks.” He stood in the middle of the living Room. I motioned him into the kitchen with my cup.

“Cream? Sugar?”

“Ah black is fine, thanks”

I handed him a cup and pointed generally to a chair at the small round table.

He took the hint and sat down.

 I shifted the revolver in my pocket as I sat down across from him.

  I ran over the reports I’d read in my mind as I played with my cup.

“Talk to me.”

“Well, it's like this; Lane’s a genesis. At least with math, he’s forgotten more than most of ever knew about math.. “

“But.. ?”

“He’s not a people person. He doesn't do well with people he doesn't know, and frankly he's not good at dealing with people in general. He freezes up stutters and generally comes across as an idiot. Which he’s not. “ That squared with what I’d seen yesterday in the holding cell.

“Did he kill Emma?”

“NO..No he couldn't. She was the one thing he loved more than math. She’s the only one he got along with . Right about then, Brenda came in. She was completely dressed. I reached up and kissed her as she found her cup.

 As she sat down in the extra chair, I introduced her to Clearance. 

“As you were saying..” I prompted again.

 Clearance Hardy then went on to tell us how Lane had been gifted with math skills way beyond his years. And He was now a tenured professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He's been teaching advanced math and working with the defense department on some top secret military projects during the war.

“Recently?”

I don’t know. I haven't seen much of him. Emma also has been teaching too.”

“What's she teach?” Brenda asked.

“Science, I don’t remember, I never really understood exactly what it is . Some Kind of specialized studies..”

“I see….”

“I need you to prove Lane didn't do it.. I want to hire you to find out what really happened..”

“The police are on it..”

“Come on, you know they got his confession,, and that's it for them. They're happy they got someone for it, They don’t care if he did it or not..”

I knew that . Except for Bob, they all seemed only too happy to let Lane take the rap for it.

“Look I don’t know.. I can look into it, But if it looks like they’re right,..”

“They’re not!. I know him. He couldn’t hurt her..He didn’t..!”

 “Okay, take it easy, I’ll look around.”

“Brenda, will you get an agreement written out. I wanna make this official.”

“Clearance, While she’s doing that, I need you to write down everyone you can think of that he knows at the college and anywhere elses you can think of, who they are, what they are to him, and you. And Emma too. Everything.”

 I handed him a blank notebook and a pen. I headed for our room. 

 Once The door was closed I hurried up and got dressed. I wasn’t leaving him out there with Brenda any longer than necessary.

 By The time I got back into the kitchen he was busy writing away. I took a page from my notepad and wrote a note and handed it to Brenda. She glanced at it and nodded. A minute later she made an excuse about having to run to the store or something. We kissed goodbye and she left.  

 I talked to Clearance for a few minutes and he handed me some money for a retainer. Which I wrote a receipt for and gave him.

  Seeing Him Out the door I watched as he got into the car across the street. As he drove off I wrote down the plate number. A second later I saw Brenda go by behind him.

Once he was gone I headed for the phone. Calling Bob I told him about my visitor. And That I’d let him hire me to find out what really happened to Emma and Lane. He reminded me about staying away from the investigation. I told him I would if there was an investigation to stay away from.

In my office I found the phone books and started looking up numbers to go with the names he’d written down. There weren't a lot of them. Some professions and a few students, and a few odd names that didn't have any notations next to them. These were that interested me the most. 

After I filled my notebook with names and addresses I headed out.

 The first stop was the college. The campus was bigger than I imagined. It took me a while to find my way around. Eventually I found the administration building and talked to one of the deans of the math department. 

He gave a glowing report of Lane and his abilities with math, and as a teacher. His students all liked him. According to him. But he didn’t see Lane that much and hadn't seen him in a while.  However, he did point me towards his building and tell where his office was.  As it was summer break the buildings were mostly empty and I only ran into a few faculty members and a few students doing summer classes or looking for help. 

 His office was on the ground floor. Near the back of the building. 

***

The sound of the typewriter told me where the office was. The door to the outer office was open when I found it. She was busy typing away on some papers when I knocked on the frame. The small outer office consisted of a wooden desk and a couple of chairs and a small sofa, and an end table with some books and magazines. His secretary was young. Probably about 25 at most. She was wearing a pullover sweater and a short skirt.

At the sound of my knock she looked up. Startled.

Uh, Hi, I’m James St.James, The chancellor, Dean Warner Told me I could see Professor Hardy’s Office..”

She pushed her hair back and tried to stand up as I walked into the small room.

“Oh sure, If he says it alright, I guess It..” She was nervous.

“It's terrible what's happened to him..”

“Yeah I Know,”

“ You don’t think he killed her, do you? I don’t.. He was always so nice to me. “

She was nervous..

“ I don’t know yet, That's what I’m trying to find out, MIsss..?”

“Jennifer Lamb.. I’m his PA for this summer.”

“Nice to meet you Miss Lamb..:

“His office…”

I noticed the sign hung on the door. “Police Crime Scene Do Not Enter”. 

“Yeah they were here yesterday early. I wasn’t here. So they must have had his keys.” She opened the thin center drawer on her desk and pulled out a set of keys.

 I stood to the side while she unlocked it and let it swing open . The door was on the far right side of the room it led to.

 “How's this? How about you disappear for a while While I look in here? That way if anyone spots me, you won’t be in trouble?”

“She nodded, “Sound good to me.. I need a break . I'll Meet you in the commons room up front..” She handed me the keys and headed out the door of the outer office. 

Lane Hardy's office was a large corner office.

**

With my handkerchief in my hand I stepped into the room. The small conference table was directly in front of me. It was mostly covered with files and papers. A few pens and pencils scattered all over the table indicated that work had been done there. I suspected by glancing at some of the papers that she’d been grading papers here.

 The small window directly in front of me lit it somewhat making it easier to read the papers at that end of the table.

 

A blackboard ran along most of the side wall above the wainscotting.. It was covered in marks in various sections . Most of which made no sense to me. Numbers were intermixed with various signs and lines and letters and abbreviations.

 

 Two other windows framed the other end of the room. One on each side of the far corner. The space between them was covered with a bookcase that ran from floor to ceiling. a small section had been converted to a bar and music center. The desk was in the middle of the corner pulled out at an angle allowing him to view the entire room from his chair. I carefully made my way behind the desk. The chair slid out easily and I sat down. Sitting in his chair I begin to get a feel for him. It was neat. Everything in its place. The phone was on the right. Along with a small notepad and a couple of pens. On The left of the leather ink blotter was an ink well. Flanking the outside of each set of objects on the desk were several pictures. One was a woman in her early 20’s and the another was him and her together. Obviously a wedding picture. Intmixed between the bigger pictures were a number of smaller prints. All were black and white. In front of the pictures was a small tray held a couple of fountain pens. His calculator was next to the phone on his right. It was a big lever action machine that had a lever you pulled down to make it do whatever function you were doing.

 I carefully opened each drawer. Everything was neat and organized in each drawer. In the bottom drawers where I usually found dirty magazines or bottles of liquor I found ...






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