Thursday, February 2, 2012

Locker 1542

“I think my brother was murdered.”

Danny Whitman stared at the note. Characteristically, no twitch in his pale face betrayed the fact that he was extraordinarily disturbed by the presence of a foreign communique in locker 1542. Danny had not reached his lofty position by reacting mindlessly to circumstance. Only the slightest sideways movement of his bleached eyes indicated his sudden awareness of his surroundings.

Locker 1542 had been chosen specially for its location. It was a top level locker in the Beitman Building, East Wing – an area which was seldom without a buzz of activity. None of the busy passers-by ever bothered to take note of a slender figure extracting this notebook or that backpack from the bank of battered lockers. But now all the factors which made locker 1542 ideal for Danny's usual purposes were working against him. In the press of humanity all around him, and the hubbub of slamming doors and clicking locks, there was no way that he could identify a single interested observer or apprehensive lurker.

Instead, he slipped the note into the breast pocket of his beautifully laundered blazer and gently closed the locker door.

An hour later, Danny spread the same scrap of lined paper in front of Lilah Davids, the youngest of his lieutenants.

“Well, it looks like ordinary foolscap,” she said doubtfully. “Torn off the bottom of one of the exam pads you buy cheap on campus.”

Danny waited. She wasn't one of his top resources for nothing, and he was confident she'd pull something out.

“Written in ballpoint, pressing fairly hard – so I might be able to read some indentations.”

“Would they be likely to help?”

Lilah scowled at the scribbled writing. “It looks like whoever wrote this did it on impulse. Tore it off the bottom of her notes. Chances are she – ”


“Come on, Dan. Look at it. With those e's its ten to one female, probably a junior. Anyhow, chances are she already pressed on this page while writing other notes. In which case, I should be able to get a partial read of whatever she's been writing about before this.”

He smiled. “Thanks Lil. And listen, give it top priority?”

“Sure. Always happy to pry into other people's stationery. Might be able to find you a match on the ink as well, for what its worth, especially if Galway buys my excuse for using the Chem lab.”

“He'll buy it.” No-one refused a polite request from Danny's crew, not even staff members. Their reasoning, hand tailored by Danny himself, was always impeccable; their credentials and reputation unblemished.

“I'll bb you when I get something. God, I better run. Mrs A will have my guts if I'm late again.”

Lilah hurtled off; satchel, kitbag and portfolio case crashing in her wake. Danny watched her go with some indulgence. Gone were the days when he ran for class. And in truth he wasn't much more concerned with finding the identity of his mysterious correspondent than he was with the prospect of Mrs Adams really having Lilah's guts. She'd contacted him, and when she was ready she'd contact him again. In the meantime though, more information was always good information. You never knew when it would come in handy.

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