by Trevor Hopkins

The morning after the strange events at the Midnight Square Theatre, I got an unexpected phone call from Tillyfor.

Those events had left me confused, I fully admit. I had slept badly, formless visions haunting my brain whenever I stirred, which was often, and when I finally awoke fully I felt very much less than par. Even the application of a solid breakfast in David’s Diner, washed down with copious quantities of strong coffee, failed to do much to restore my constitution.

So, when the phone rang, I was sitting in the office chair with my head in my hands, still trying to make some kind of sense of the case. I grabbed the receiver on the second ring.

"Gask," I grunted tersely.

"Findo!" came a breathless voice I immediately recognised, "I think I've got a message from Tillykerie."

"You think?" I said, something in her tone jerking me to a more complete approximation of my full attention, "You mean you can't be sure?"

There was a worrying pause from the other end of the line.

"A note was pushed under my door last night," she said slowly, "I didn't actually notice it until this morning."

Until you pushed out whatever Pretty Boy or grizzled Sugar Daddy you were entertaining last night, I thought sourly.

"And what's in this note?" I asked, pushing aside my ungentlemanly thoughts.

"It's an apology," she replied, sounding uncertain, "It's in her handwriting, but ..."

"But, what?" I demanded.

"I don't think she'd use words like those," she said, "She's not, err, very fluent when she writes letters."

I thought very quickly for a few seconds.

"Okay, here's what we need to do," I instructed, "Put down the note, right now, on a table or something, and cover it with a book, or magazine, or maybe a plate. Don't touch it again. Just get it covered up. Then leave it alone until I get there."

"You're coming round?" Tillyfor squeaked.

"Yes," I said, "As soon as I can."

I glanced at the wall clock.

"Make that twenty minutes," I said, trying to project a sense of urgency, "Give or take. Wait for me there. Okay?"

"Okay," she confirmed, "Do you think there's something wrong?"

"Perhaps," I said, "Perhaps not. Do what I said and sit tight."

I didn't wait for an answer. There wasn't much time. I threw the receiver back down on its rest with a clatter, and grabbed my hat and coat from the stand by the door. Then I was out of there.

Part 32 Part 34