CHAPTER 85

At Harker?s apartment building, Carson and Michael took the elevator to the fourth floor to avoid the stink of mildew in the public stairwell.

Homicide, CSI, and curious neighbors had long ago faded away. The building almost seemed deserted.

When they reached the fourth floor, they found Deucalion waiting in the hallway, outside Harker’s apartment.

To Carson, Michael murmured, “I didn’t see the Batmobile parked out front.”

“You won’t admit it,” she said, “but you’re convinced.”

To her surprise, he said, ?Almost.”

Evidently having heard Michael’s murmured words, Deucalion said, “I used the Batcopter. It’s on the roof.”

By way of apology, Michael said, “Listen, that crack didn’t mean anything. That’s just me. If I see a joke, I go for it.”

“Because you see so much in life that disturbs you, the cruelty, the hatred,” Deucalion said. “You armor yourself with humor.”

For the second time in an hour, Michael found himself without a comeback.

Carson had never imagined that such a day would dawn. Maybe this was one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse.

She slit the police seal on the door, used her Lockaid gun, and led them inside.

“Minimalism minimalized,” said Deucalion as he moved into the sparsely furnished living room. “No books.”

“He’s got some books in the attic,” Carson said.

“No mementoes,” Deucalion continued, “no decorative items, no photographs, no art. He hasn’t found a way to have a life. This is the cell of a monk? but one who has no faith.”

Trying to get back in the saddle, Michael said, “Carson, he’s an absolute whiz at this.”

Deucalion looked toward the kitchen but didn’t move in that direction. “He sometimes sits at the table in there, drinking. But whiskey doesn’t provide him with the escape he needs. Only occasional oblivion.”

Earlier, the standard premises search had turned up a case of bourbon in the kitchen.

Looking toward the bedroom, Deucalion said, “In there, you will most likely find pornography. Only a single item. One video.”

“Exactly,” she confirmed. “We found one.”

When it turned up in the search, Michael had referred to the porn video by various titles — Transvestitesylvania, The Thing with Two Things-but now he said nothing, impressed to silence by Deucalion’s insights.

“He found no thrill in images of copulation,” Deucalion said. “Only an even more profound sense of being an outsider. Only greater alienation.”

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