“Ah, yes, well…” he muttered. At the mention of her room he relived the incident in his mind, and relived his embarrassment. “I was a, well a friend, of Tooth’s. He left the place to me. I’ll be taking over the shop, and the apartments.”

“Friend, eh?” She looked at him sidelong. “I didn’t think old Tooth actually had any friends.”

“To be honest, I don’t think he did much. I didn’t even know him that well, but he seemed to be convinced that I would be a good choice to take over the shop if he passed, enough to put it in his will. He never mentioned that he had a tenant, though.”

She turned and looked at him suspiciously. “How do I know you didn’t kill him and fake the will so you could take over the shop?”

Wilson was totally set back by this wild accusation, but managed to rally. “Because the will was written at the lawyer’s office and verified by them as legitimate.”

“You still could have killed him after finding out he had put you in his will.”

“Why would I do that?” he asked, flustered. He was pretty sure that this was not how conversations with random people you just met were supposed to go.

“I don’t know, maybe you’re just a huge fan of books?”

“Well I didn’t. He was my friend! I would never kill anyone, and certainly not my only friend!” he hadn’t meant for that to come out as an outburst, but he felt like she had him up against a wall. Why was she doing this?

“Ok, Wil, don’t worry. I believe you.” She said, throwing placating gestures with her hands. He thought it was all terribly rude. And then he had a horrible thought of his own.

“Wait,” he said, turning and pointing at her, “how do I know you didn’t kill him?”

“What?” she said, flummoxed.”

“Yes, what proof do you have that you even are a tenant here? For all I know you’re the killer and you’ve been hiding out in Tooth’s spare bedroom, waiting for the heat to die down.” He was proud of that, he had read a detective novel not to long ago, and it was really starting to pay off.

“That’s preposterous”, she blustered. “I wasn’t even here! And I can prove that I… wait, I can’t prove that I live here.”

“A ha!” he shouted, elated and excited. “See, you killed him and have been staying in his rooms as the perfect hiding place, where no one would think to look.”

“Wait,” she said, “the box! That’s Tooth’s box from downstairs, right?”

“Yes…”

“Look in the ledger, it’ll be in there, I’m sure.”

“Ledger?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, getting up and opening up the box. “Look here.” She pulled out a large book with yellowing pages and flipped it open. She started flipping pages looking for the recent dates and then called his attention to an entry. “See, this one here. It says plainly, Lyn, thirty marks. That’s last month’s rent payment. I do live here.”

“Ok,” he sighed, mollified. “To be honest that’s a relief. I think I’d hate to have to have you arrested”, he said, slipping into the chair.

“You too, Wil, you too.” She lifted her mug and said, “to friends?”

Friends? All of that and the woman wanted to be friends? It seemed strange, but it was a rare enough offer. New life, new path, and he couldn’t very well sit in Tooth’s kitchen and ignore the old man’s advice, could he?

He lifted his mug and thought, why not give it a try? “To friends.”

 


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