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A Very Short Story. By J.B. Pick.

What happens next?....

"What are you saying, Jack?"

"I'm not saying anything, I'm asking a question. This man had been working on one investigation for a whole year. He had found something. He had answers. Does he go out and kill himself?"

"Take it easy, Jack. You think that's not what I want to hear?"

"I don't know what you want hear. I don't care what you want to hear. I want to know the truth."

"Think a minute. Can you be sure he'd solved the problem. Did he put it in writing? Have you got it on tape? Did he give you a name?"

"I know because he said so. He said so, God damn it! And he never wrote it down because he's dead. And he didn't give me a name because he had to report higher up. And who does higher-up mean? Not me. It means you."

"He didn't report to this office. Perhaps he didn't because what he said wasn't true and he knew it wasn't true and he'd wasted a year and achieved nothing. The man was a dedicated obsessive, Jack. Perhaps he looked in the mirror. Perhaps he was in the last blind alley. Perhaps he went out and killed himself."

"If that's what you want to believe."

"I tell you what I want to believe. I want to believe you're making an objective assessment. The man would have recorded something. We've checked his computer. Nothing. A whole year. It doesn't make sense."

"Yes. But he's dead."

"Go home, Jack. Sleep on it. We'll talk in the morning."

"Perhaps he didn't trust his computer. Perhaps he wrote it down and it's gone. Perhaps he's gone and his papers are gone."

"In the morning. Jack."

"And who will you ring tonight?"

"Goodnight, Jack."

Jack Browning walked home in the rain and the only human being he saw was crouched in a packing case under a railway bridge.

"Lucky devil." he said.


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