Mike spoke up first. “Hey buddy, I am going to need you to look around your office.” Shrugging he added, “or what’s left of it.”
Henry set the bottle by the sink and said, “Yeah, I suppose we should go, let’s get to it.”
They took Mikes squad car and pulled up behind the fire chief’s vehicle. There were still a few gawkers, gawking outside. The third floor windows of Henry’s office were broken out and the bricks were charred half way up the 4th floor. It looks like the firefighters were able to stop the blaze from engulfing the entire building.
The Chief gave a nod to Mike, “What brings you around Mike?”
“Hey Sparky, this is my pal Henry Wood.” Mike said, and Henry said, “Hey”
The fire chief and big Mike had been friends for a long time. Big Mike had given him the nick name ‘Sparky’ when he had emerged from his first fire, as sparks and flames gushed out behind him. The building was lost, the nick name stuck. “Good to meet you Henry, what can I do for you?”
Mike looked up at the building, “That 3rd floor office was Henry’s, we wanted to take a look.”
“It looks like the fire started in a trash can. The French guy called it in.” Sparky said, motioning for Henry and Mike to follow him. Henry saw Francis, standing across the street with the onlookers, talking to a short round man with a small notebook. They walked up to the third floor and the chief explained that the fire had been contained to the one office, but the smoke had made quite a mess of the neighboring offices, including Francis’s.
The trudged down the hallway and the rancid smell of smoke and wet filled the air. The chief said, “Now be careful, and don’t touch anything, we are still investigating.” Henry looked down at the floor, the glass from his door was in a couple of pieces with a couple of letters missing, “Henry Wood Detec e Ag n y”. He stepped over the glass, careful not disturb anything, and into the office. The filing cabinets were opened and had been badly burned. The desk was mostly gone, as was his trash can. It did look like the fire must have started in the trash can and it also looked as if the offices had been given the once over, though it wasn’t turned upside down like his apartment. Henry looked around for another minute and walked out.
Henry and Mike left the Chief in the hallway, as he was talking to one of his men, and headed down to the street. Henry suggested they talk to Francis and see what he knew. He was still talking to the odd little man and when he saw Henry, said, “Henry it looks like we are going to have to move, my place is a mess too.”
“You ok Francis?” Henry asked.
“Oui, I smelled the smoke and called the fired department and I got my butt outta there.”
The little round man handed Henry a business card while saying, “I am Bobby Ward, and I am in the commercial real estate game, I have a place two blocks away, if you are interested. It is a great place and you could move in right away. I know you would love it.” Henry took the card and said, “Thanks” hoping that would shut the little man up. It did not. “We could go now, I have the keys, we could go now and you could check it out. Lets go, come on Mr. Wood, I know you will love it.”
Henry put the card in his pocket, “Now listen Bobby, we are a little busy right now, I have your card, now scram.” With that Bobby tipped his hat and said as he scurried away, “I wrote the address of the building on the card, it is office 309, on the third floor, call me and we can see it anytime you like.”
Henry, Mike and Francis talked for a while longer, and then parted company. Mike took Henry back to his car. He offered his couch to Henry, if he needed a place to stay. Henry declined, and said he would just get a room. He wanted to be alone. Henry assured Mike that the Journal was safe and that they could get it tomorrow. Mike promised Henry he wouldn’t mention the journal to anyone, though he was a bit offended, when Mike suggested there was a mole in the police department.
Henry drove back to the house, taking a long and cautious route. When he got home, the smell of chocolate chip cookies filled his nose. It was the first good thing that had happened all day. Luna yelled from the kitchen, “Henry I did some baking, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, it smells wonderful. I will try one in a minute.” He said, heading down to the basement. He went straight to the closet, hoping he might find something new. He opened the door and there was a little grey box, with the words Shop Fox on it. He opened it and there were 10 small brass bits of different sizes, two of them were marked ‘locknut’ while the other’s had different dimensions on them. He wasn’t sure exactly what they were for, but he guessed they had something to do with his router. He put the little box with his router and went upstairs.
He snuck into the bathroom to clean up a bit before he saw Luna. He didn’t want her to fuss about his cuts and bruises. Despite his assurances that he was fine, she fussed anyway. He sat, eating a cookie, as she entered ‘mothering’ mode. He replayed the day in his mind and decided that the best thing he could do at that moment, was to eat another cookie.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com