Sunday had been relaxing. Henry spent the day finishing his dado jig for his router. He was starting to get comfortable using the router and was able to create a straight edge, then from that, square up the jig. He could hardly believe it when he put the square on each corner and they were all at 90 degrees. What a rush. After he finished the jig and photographed it for posterity he relaxed a bit and bought a new case journal. He jotted down a few of his thoughts.
Jan 2, 1955 A New Year…A New Case. 37th floor, Chrysler Building, Office 16…Go there in person, meet his co workers, look for clues. 8 am Monday.
Henry had called Luna, just to check if she had heard from her father, and he told her he intended to look around his office on Monday. She said that she suspected someone at the firm. Her father had been missing since Dec 24th, and Monday would be the first day the firm was open since he disappeared. Henry wondered if they knew he was missing. He would have to be coy.
The door of his office was mahogany and had his name on it. He walked in and weathered woman with a serious look was sitting behind a desk. She had a bit of a scowl on her face and was opening the morning mail. She looked up and asked, “May I help you?”, in a voice that was much kinder than Henry expected. “Yes, I was wondering if I might speak with Mr. Alexander.” He said, taking off his hat. He had decided he wanted to see if she knew anything.
“Mr. Alexander isn’t in yet, but he should be here shortly, he is never late. Do you have an appointment?”, she said, while continuing to open letters.
“No, I was hoping he might have a few minutes.” Henry said, sure now that she wasn’t aware that he wouldn’t be coming in.
She opened another envelope and the phone rang, she answered and then said, “Excuse me, are you Mr. Wood?”
“Yes.” This caught Henry off guard, but he was good enough to put on his nonchalant expression. He assumed she would elaborate. He was correct.
“Mr. Alexander apologizes for being late; you may wait in his office. He will do his best to get here as quickly as he can.” She hit a button under her desk, there was a low buzzing sound and she stood up and opened the door and showed Henry inside.
The office was very nice with a large art deco desk and book shelves along both walls. There was a plant of equal height in each corner behind the desk; in fact, everything was exactly where one would expect it to be. Luna had described her father as meticulous and now that Henry saw where he worked, he understood. The desk was free of clutter, a new pad of paper by the phone. The phone was placed so that it was parallel to the edge of the desk, with the cord draped neatly over the side. Next to the pad was a group of 6 pencils, which were all lined up next to one another. They all looked to be the same length and as Henry looked closer he noticed something odd. Every pencil was rotated so that the brand name was not showing, except one. Henry looked around the office and didn’t see anything out of place.
Having spent his entire Sunday fastidiously measuring and remeasuring every single cut and drill hole, he was feeling like he understood what it was like to be so precise. Though he wasn’t normally a neat and organized person, he appreciated its advantages and the esthetic. He leaned forward and carefully rotated the pencil around and on the other side were six numbers. He read the numbers to himself, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 23. He put the pencil in his pocket and pushed the other ones together. Just then he heard the buzz of the door. He quickly sat back down.
The secretary walked in and said, “Mr. Alexander just called and he apologizes but he is not going to be able to make it into the office. He said to apologize for not being able to discuss your numbers.”
“Thank-you” Henry said, as he stood up to leave.
“Do you mind me asking; are you a client of the firm? I thought I knew all the clients.”
Henry, quick on his feet said, “I am considering this firm. I met Mr. Alexander recently and he offered to go over my books. He said that each partner has different strengths and he would tell me who might be best for me. I won’t give my business to just any firm.”
This seemed to satisfy her and she smiled and held the door for Henry.
While he rode the train back home, he thought about the numbers. What did they mean? Obviously Mr. Alexander is still alive and well, but what is he up to. How did he know I would be there at 8 am? How could he have known I would find the numbers? He had gone into the city looking for answers and only found questions. Henry decided he needed to think, and he felt he needed to tidy up his workshop. Mr. Alexander’s office had rubbed off on him. He could clean and think. Plus he needed to find a place of honor to store his dado routing jig.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com