the college murder case (part six)

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Stuart Anson's office was in a busy commercial area, so it always took a while for the car to get us there through the traffic and construction and so on. The couple of times I'd gone by myself I'd simply walked, but it was several miles from the bridge, and my employer couldn't walk that far.

Many of the buildings in the area were big and new, all glass and shining metal, but his small office was in an older building, made of stone, with creaky elevators. All the offices had transoms, from the days before air conditioners.

My employer knocked on the frosted glass door, and he called, "Come in." The glass still bore the name of the firm, Anson and LaJoie, but his partner had been dead for years. He no longer had a secretary, but his wife came in one or two days a week to handle filing and other clerical duties.

"Miss Sleet," he said, rising from behind his battered wooden desk to greet us. "And Marshall. I'm so glad to see you."

He reached out and shook her hand, and then mine. His hair was nearly gone, and his body was frail, but his grip was firm.

"To what do I owe this pleasure?" he asked as we sat down.

She put the letter on his desk. He put on a different pair of glasses and began to read.

Stu was our lawyer, and by "our" I mean the lawyer for U-town, though he was Jan Sleet's professional lawyer as well. That's how it had started. She had hired him to handle her contracts and other legal matters (including, but not limited to, bizarre and abrupt travel requests to odd parts of the world, conflicts with the local authorities when solving mysteries, protecting her sources, dealing with libel and slander suits based on her articles, and so on).

When U-town had been founded, there had been many new issues to deal with (citizenship, taxes, and many more), and I sometimes had the sense that he had no other clients anymore. He was in his sixties, at least. He charged for anything to do with my employer's professional life, but never for anything else.

His office had no ashtrays, and I had noticed that she never tried to smoke there. This was extremely unusual, and I never commented on it. This applied when we visited him. but not when he visited us, of course.

Once a week he came to U-town to report on various issues, then we took him out to dinner at one of the best U-town restaurants. There were many to choose from, and we had never had to visit the same one twice.

(Oh, and he was the person who could get us fingerprint information when we needed it, as we did in the vampire case. He had built up many connections in his decades of practice.)

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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