CHAPTER 31

Upon returning from his stroll by the coal breaker, Harmon found the house empty and a manuscript laying upon the table. A hastily scrawled note on yellow paper lay beside it, written in Harold’s chicken-scratch hand.

Found my old unfinished novel when I was cleaning out the attic. You’d said you wanted to read it whenever I fished it out. So here it is. See you later. —Harold. P.S. help yourself to the beers in the fridge.

Harold’s telephone rang.

Pressing the device to his ear, he cleared his throat and answered.

“Hello?”

“This is Maria, from St. Lucian’s Hospital. Is this the La’Far residence?”

“Yes. Did something happen?”

“He told us someone was staying with him. A one Harmon Kessel.”

“That’s me. He’s been letting his spare room. What happened?”

“Are you a family member?”

“No. I’m his friend.”

“Harold has… passed. I’m sorry.”

“What? What happened?”

She paused, falling completely silent, laying bare the busy buzzing of coworkers conversating in the short distance.

“He was… attacked… in the street. I don’t know the details. I’m sorry. That’s all I know.”

“I appreciate your forthrightness.”

Harmon shut the phone, slowly lowered it from his ear and stared at the manuscript on the table as a gentle breeze rapt the shutters.

Then and there, bereft of bonds, Harmon decided to leave town.

*

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