"There was a terrible wound on his head," Jason said, "like he'd been hit with a big rock, really hard, but the medical people couldn't find anything that could have been the weapon. I mean, there were things, but nothing with any trace of blood on it."
"And he was alone in the room?"
"Yes. And the window was open."
"On a very cold night."
"Exactly. We went and looked out, but there was no way anybody could have got out that way."
I went to the window, opened it, and leaned out to look around. There was no fire escape, and nothing that anybody could have used to climb. It was just a plain brick wall. Looking straight down, I could see an alley. The next building was a one-story liquor store, and it seemed that it would have been about as suicidal to jump three stories to that roof as it would have been to jump four stories down to the alley.
I looked down for a moment, imagining Åsa scaling the brick wall to this window. Naked, of course.
"Then Claudia came home," Erika resumed. "We heard her come up the stairs, and then she came into the room. She looked and she screamed and ran down to the library. She hasn't been in this room since. She's been staying with me."
"Interesting," Jan said, and she went to look out of the open window. She looked around, and then she turned to face them as I closed the window again, shutting out the cold air. "You're aware, of course, that a vampire would explain it," she said calmly.
"You're joking," Jason said. "That's silly."
"I happened to be sitting behind someone in a restaurant recently," Jan said, "and he was talking about a neighbor's vampire lover. Who was never seen, who always visited at night, and who seemed to come and go by the window."
Jason looked uneasy as he said, "That wasn't me. That vampire thing going around, that's just childish. No intelligent person would give that a moment's consideration."
My employer nodded and didn't pursue it.
I wondered why he was denying this now, since I had a strong feeling that it had been him. It could have been that, as a college professor, he felt embarrassed that he'd been caught talking about vampires. Or it could have been that he didn't want Erika to know that he'd been gossiping about Claudia's love life.
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