Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 25

Jefferson removed his hat and gave it a few flicks to shake some water onto the damp floor. He looked around for a moment, then turned to hang it on the doorknob behind him. He turned back to Mrs. Glass, slowly unbuttoning his raincoat. That made Gantry and Farthing nervous, but Mrs. Glass looked up with a bland, patient expression. She had the figurine on the table in front of her, he saw, as well as what looked like another Sciribath corpse, among a scattering of tools.

“You really do favor houses that have seen better days, don’t you?” Jefferson asked.

Mrs. Glass smiled without humor. “I find that it allows for a degree of privacy, which is useful in this type of experimentation.” She made a gesture that encompassed the room. “I care little for luxury and comfort.”

“Uh huh,” Jefferson said. “Mind if I see if my cigarettes ain’t ruined?”

“You just keep your hands out of your pockets,” Gantry said.

“Thought I was talking to the lady,” Jefferson said mildly, eyes still on Mrs. Glass.

She smiled again. “Perhaps you’d best keep your hands in sight. Mr. Gantry is responsible for my safety, and I hate to make him nervous unnecessarily.”

Jefferson shrugged. “Fair enough. I reckon he feels a bit like he has something to prove, what with all the times he’s blown easy jobs the past few days.”

There was something like a growl at that from Gantry, and he heard Farthing shuffling, but Mrs. Glass ignored it. “You think dealing with you and your fiance is an easy job, do you, Mr. Quinn?”

Jefferson shrugged again. “To tell you the truth, Ma’am, I feel like I ain’t really been on my game lately. I’ve been stumbling around like a wet behind the ears kid. It’s just sad, really. And Temperance, well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“I can hardly wait to find out what you’ve come here to talk about,” Mrs. Glass said. “I’m sure you’ll get to it eventually.”

“Well, she’s gone missing. Took a shot to the head, and disappeared. I don’t know if she was taken or if she just got addled, what with everything that’s in the wind around here. Thought you might have had something to do with it, but it seems like this is probably news to you too.”

Mrs. Glass nodded. “It is indeed. But tell me, Mr Quinn. Now that you’ve revealed that Miss Winter is not lurking just outside, ready to kill us all with that Thompson’s of her’s, why should I not allow Mr. Gantry and Mr. Farthing their fondest desire, and have them kill you?”

“You heard of a Mr. Clyburne have you?”

For a several seconds there was no sound in the room except for the rain drumming on the roof, and drops splashing into the rapidly-filling bucket.

“What do you know about Clyburne?” hissed Mrs. Glass. All pretense of cool and politeness was gone–the woman had some real trouble keeping an even keel.

Jefferson allowed himself a lazy smile. Scary son of a bitch, ain’t he. Hell, Mrs. Glass, I reckon you don’t get too frightened about much–look at that thing you’re picking at there–I’m glad to see you can still worry about about a thing or two, though.”

Mrs. Glass dropped the tool she was holding and put two hands on the table as if to rise before settling back into her chair. “What do you know about him?” she repeated, somewhat more calm now.

“The boy’s on the hunt for you, Mrs. Glass. He dropped by to tell me so, and to tell me to stay out of his way. Kind of hurt my feelings that he didn’t want to work together, really. But then, we don’t have quite the same goal, do we? I’m after putting the lid back on this figurine thing, and him, well, I think he just wants to put your head on a spike. Reckon maybe your whole organization does.” He looked around. “Maybe that’s why you favor these out of the way digs. Can’t access the expense account like you used to, maybe.”

Again, there were several seconds with no sound, and Jefferson watched as Mrs. Glass slowly regained control of herself in the flickering lamplight. “You propose a deal,” she said at last. “We help you with Temperance and you help us with Clyburne.”

Jefferson nodded. “That’d be about the size of it.”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on September 22, 2012.