Crime Time (Chapter Four, page 1 of 4)


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My first visit to the infamous room was disappointing. There was nothing exotic about it; just a cluttered mess. Tables and shelves were stacked with dozens of potted plants of various sizes, each in separate boxes. Some of the containers had a thin wire running around but most were standing alone. A numbered index card was stationed beside each item. There were three metal objects with dials and switches; machines I'll call them, from which the wires ran. There was a desk in the middle of the room with voluminous piles of paper and notebooks. A small table held an expensive looking scale. The bed Martha described as queen size was squeezed against the far wall. The place smelled like a mossy garden.

"Doesn't look very sinister, does it?" Quinn said from over my shoulder, startling me. "Can you hear the apparatus?"

"Barely," I answered. "Perhaps it's enough to put me to sleep." He laughed and muttered something about foolishness. I asked if his experiment was successful.

"All experiments are fruitful if you don't have any preconceived notions about the results. After the testing is over, the hard part begins; weighing and recording my compilations and comparing them to past exposure levels."

"You're a scientist, Quinn. What do you think about our little experiment?"

Quinn shook his head. "It's not science and it's a waste of time but what the hell; it's a rainy afternoon, with nothing else going on. Why not have some fun with parlor games. Have pleasant dreams." He turned and left.

In all honesty, I didn't think I'd sleep but I turned out the light, climbed onto the small bed and closed my eyes. If Betsy and I were forced to share it, we wouldn't get much sleep. My six foot frame more than filled the bed.

Maybe it was the near-inaudible buzz or the rain on the roof, or my imagination, by I actually napped, for about twenty minutes. I dreamt too. It was a lucid dream; half awake, half asleep. Betsy was in it but I'll spare the details. It was not unlike any night's nocturnal hallucination. I lay there several minutes after I awoke and thought about what Howie experienced. Betsy was right. It certainly didn't sound anything like what I'd just experienced.

We discussed my non-happening over chicken salad and cheese soup. I could sense Betsy's disappointment and Martha's relief. Quinn had an I-told-you-so look on his face as he made a second sandwich and opened a beer. Howie was pensive. We were clearing dishes, before he spoke.

"I'll try it again, if you folks won't think I'm a fool."

"Oh, Howie," Martha said, "you don't have to go to that much trouble just to convince us."

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