by Trevor Hopkins

"Are you sure?"

Gumshoe nodded slowly, looking glum.

"And you did shake them off?" I pressed.

The detective set his head to one side.

"I did everything I could think of," he replied uncertainly, "Every trick in the book, and them some. But they were very good. I can't be absolutely sure."

We didn't have much choice about what we would do now, in any case.

"Okay," I said, "We stay here, get some sleep, take turns in keeping watch."

"Sure," Gumshoe affirmed, "And after that?"

"Good question." I thought for a long moment, then went on, "We need to follow up on loose ends. I may have to go below again."

My fellow investigator nodded silently. He already knew he would be holding the fort here again while I followed my nose in the Lower Realms.

I turned on my heel and ducked back into the hideout, followed closely by Gumshoe. Glen and Mayfield had retired to the bedroom, judging by the giggles coming from behind the closed door. Best to leave them to it, I concluded.

"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to sleep in here," Gumshoe said dourly, looking around.

He was right. There was not a great deal of space for a human to lie down, even on the floor, and certainly no piece of furniture big enough to comfortably support even a lounging human. Comfy enough for me, though.

"I'll take first watch," he declared, "You get your head down on the couch for a while. I'll wake you later, after the bar's closed up, and I'll go upstairs to sleep there."

I nodded in agreement. Gumshoe's relationship with Rosie o'Chill, the proprietor of Chill's Bar - the granddaughter of Tighe o'Chill, who had been the owner when my brother Nether first moved in here - appeared to be both stable and long-term. Just how intimate the two humans were was a subject for speculation, at least on my part; even after far too much to drink, Gumshoe just would not be drawn on any specifics of their relationship. It was something they kept intensely private and secret. Not, I think, because they were ashamed or embarrassed in any way. It was more likely to be a security measure; somebody in Gumshoe's position would have made a few enemies over the years. It seemed likely that he wanted to avoid Rosie becoming a target, a point of weakness. He probably wasn't entirely happy to have a clutch of people here at least some of whom were the target for violence. Mind you, he was concealing it well.

Part 64 Part 66