|Harold Wayne Hamlin
Marcie Cohen felt the hot sun beating down as she emerged from the front door of the little coffee shop, located on the ground floor of the office building in which she worked. Having had an early lunch in the tiny hideaway, she made her way back to the building's main revolving doors. Once inside she consulted the directory.
She had engaged in this daily routine for the past three years. It had all begun when she had answered an ad for a computer operator. Marcie now scanned the entry for Crown Consultants -- Suite 1005. She read the name posted there in large print -- Rod Evans, Chief Consultant. He was the senior partner in the firm. The junior partner's name was listed immediately below, in smaller print and without a title -- Nick Harmon.
Welcoming the blast of coolness from the air-conditioning, Marcie gathered her thoughts and glanced at her watch. When she say it was 12:30, she hurried toward the bank of elevators. She caught a crowded car and pushed "10," going back into her thoughts as the elevator rose upward.
Prior to her present job with Crown Consultants, she had been trained and employed as a free-lance agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Her military service before that with the Navy as a communications specialist had stood her in good stead with the DEA. Her main duties had been those of deciphering messages which hadn't been coded correctly or had picked up irregularities during their flights over the Navy's Teletype lines. On many occasions she had had to "read" the holes in the Teletype tape to break the code. Marcie's reflections were interrupted as the elevator reached the tenth floor.
Coming out of her reverie, she exited the car and turned, her heels tap tapping along the corridor. Arriving at the firm's suite of rooms, she nudged the door. Much to her surprise, it swung wide. Puzzled, she raised her left eyebrow. At this hour, she reasoned, the door should be locked. Shaking her head, Marcie stepped inside and closed the door. Her heart skipped a beat.
Seated at the vacationing receptionist's desk, looking very natural and arrogant, was the firm's junior partner, Nick Harmon. Approaching him, Marcie saw the ornate handle of his letter opener protruding from between his shoulders. She came closer, taking up the still-warm wrist. Detecting no pulse, she slowly eased his lower arm back into position.
Marcie backed off a few paces and surveyed the scene before her. Harmon's wavy black head was bent forward. His unmoving hands rested on the sides of the computer keyboard as if in death he were still lying to maintain his superior manner. Her eyes took in the scattered papers on the desk. Briefly skimming them, she found nothing unusual. Marcie's gaze returned to Harmon's hands and traveled up to the computer screen.
She slowly mouthed the word--DRUG.
Fighting down an immediate urge to call the lawful authorities on her own, she searched for the senior partner, Rod Evans. Unable to locate him, she entered her office and called the police.
After what seemed to Marcie an eternity, but was in reality only two hours later, the investigation team from the police department had left. Harmon's body had been removed half-an-hour earlier. Official photographs had been taken; fingerprint men had completed their routine; Marcie had been questioned. The initial police investigation was under way.
She sat quietly at her desk, mentally reviewing the last-minute instructions that the police team had given her. The detective in charge, Captain Art Stone, had been very explicit in laying out a plan of action for Marcie. When she had shown her DEA shield and card, Captain Stone had taken her into his confidence. He had told her that Crown Consultants had been under surveillance for over two years. He also had said that he would be back later to question Evans.
In turn, Marcie had related to Captain Stone that she had been submitting reports to the DEA for about the same length of time. Nothing really incriminating, but a series of descriptive behavior summaries of the two partners. The detective's last order had been for Marcie to erase DRUG from the screen and to turn the computer off. She heard the front door open and slowly rose from her sitting position.
She looked into the reception area of Suite 1005. The gray-headed man she knew as the senior partner came through the door. "Hello, Mr. Evans," Marcie said as she noted his uneasy manner. His blue eyes darted back and forth as she spoke. "I found Nick dead when I came back form lunch. I couldn't find you, so I called the police." Concisely she narrated the events that had taken place during his absence, omitting the erasure of the screen and the time of Captain Stone's return.
Evans seemed to take her story calmly enough. Perhaps too calmly, she thought, considering his initial unrest. Marcie observed him covertly as he entered his office. As he closed his door, he gave Marcie orders that on one was to disturb him.
She entered her office, the image on the computer screen gnawing at her mind. The dead Harmon had left a clue; DRUG, she thought aloud. Marcie remembered including Evans's mood changes and Harmon's egotistical behavior in her DEA reports. An idea, somewhat nebulous, began to take shape in her mind.
Slowly she rose from her chair, giving lie to the mental activity surging within her brain. Unconscious of her physical movements, she looked out her door. She saw that Evans's door was still shut and that on one else was about. She examined the number plates on each desk phone, excepting that of Evans. Having learned nothing from her cursory inspection, she frowned and sought again the confines of her office.
Seating herself at the desk once more, Marcie pulled the desktop list of phone numbers toward her. Quickly running her index finger down the names and numbers, one number caught her attention. Its last four digits -- 3784 -- leaped out at her. Jotting down her translations of numbers into letters and checking the dial on her phone for confirmation, Marcie verified her shaky idea. She reined in her running thoughts.
In a flurry of activity, she scooted her chair back, grabbed her purse form the bottom drawer, and checked the reception area. Evans's door, she saw, was still closed. Quickly she left Suite 1005 and purposefully walked down the corridor, past Evans's private exit, to the bank of pay phones. The sound of her heels echoed as she went.
With trembling fingers, she prized a quarter from her coin holder and deposited it. She dialed the special number that Captain Stone had given her. Marcie waited anxiously after asking if he were in. When He came on the line, she stated in an excited way: "Captain Stone, I know who killed Harmon and I think I have proof. Evans did it, but I don't have time to explain now." She hung up and returned to Suite 1005.
Marcie went into her office and took up her position at her desk. Did Evans really think he could get away with murder? she wondered. As she looked out of her office again, she saw Evans's door slowly open. When he cam out, he neared her office.
"How did you know?" Evans asked. Marcie motioned him in, indicating the chair facing her. As he sat, he spoke: "Harmon and I had a falling out. I didn't mean to kill him." Evans rolled up one sleeve, showing Marcie a series of needle marks. "I thought you might be a Fed, but I really didn't know," he said. "As you probably know, Harmon was one of the biggest cocaine dealers in town. He was my source. When I heard you go down the hall, I looked out my other door and saw you at the phone." Evans repeated his original question: "How did you know?" Bewildered he rubbed his nose and shook his head.
Marcie answered him, suddenly feeling what he must be going through. She sensed his remorse and shame. At the same time, however, she maintained her view that Evans must answer for his crime. She then told him of the DRUG display and the resultant shutdown of the computer at the front desk. She also told him that Captain Stone would be returning. Marcie took him through her reasoning process. "When I went over the list of offices phones and names, and juggled digits and letters, I came up with one number that fit." She paused. "Yours, Mr. Evans," she continued. "Your number -- 3784 -- spelled out DRUG." She concluded her explanation, looking directly at Evans.
He lowered his head, speaking slowly and very softly. " I became an addict four years ago when Harmon became my partner. I had been under lots of pressure, and at the time thought that cocaine would ease things." Evans looked up. "I had become hooked and Harmon knew it. But, enough of my problems ....," he broke off. "Burying his head in his hands, Evans said: "Don't worry, Marcie. I won't hurt you. I'm glad it's over."
Marcie responded with feeling. "You don't have to wait alone, Mr. Evans. You can stay here. Captain Stone will be along soon." She looked at her watch. It was 4:00. She withdrew into her own thoughts as she and Evans awaited Captain Stone and his officers.
Someone opened a door in the corridor and Marcie turned her head to look through the window of the door leading into Suite 1005. "That may be Captain Stone now........" she uttered just as she saw the shadow of the upraised hand, which clutched the ivory handled letter opener from her desk, plunge downward into her back.
Mr. Evans walked quickly from Marcie's office toward his own to make a quick exit out into the other corridor and down the stairs.
And Marcie, Well Marcie with her last dying effort turned to her computer and typed