Harry inserted a bookmark between the pages and placed the book he was reading on the end table. Rising to his feet, he headed towards the kitchen to rinse his coffee mug when a loud knocking on the front door caused him to stop. Placing the mug on top of the book, he went to the door instead. Who in their right mind would be calling at this hour, so close to bedtime?
At the look on Harry’s face, the man on the doorstep suddenly scrunched his head down into his shoulders. It was obvious that Harry was not in the mood for late-night visitors. “Sorry to disturb you,” he said, “but there’s something you should know, Harry, something very suspicious.”
“I am retired, Max,” Harry bellowed. “R-E-T-I-R-E-D! I don’t do night shift anymore. Do you understand?”
Max took a deep breath and said quietly: “I… ah… I think there’s a spy in Thompson’s house. He’s out of town… Thompson, I mean.”
“Are you sleepwalking, Max?”
“I don’t do that anymore,” Max replied. “Not often anyway, not since the time I walked off the wharf and almost drowned. Anyway, she was… it’s a woman and she seemed to be talking on the phone. I heard her say some things that… well, things that sounded criminal.”
“Such as?” Harry prompted
Max swallowed nervously. “Do we have to do this on the doorstep?”
Harry sighed and swung the door open all the way. “Okay, Max, come in, but this had better be good. And count yourself lucky I wasn’t asleep when you came pounding on my door loud enough to wake the dead. Have a seat.” Harry picked up his mug and went to the kitchen. Returning with two mugs, he handed one to Max and sat down in his favourite chair again. “Okay, now tell me what this is all about.”
“Well, you know I walk around town every night. I find it helps me to relax…”
“Except for tonight,” Harry grumbled. “Go on.”
“Well it does… help me to relax I mean, and then I sleep better and I don’t sleepwalk… That got to be pretty scary…”
Harry sighed. “Stick to the story, Max.”
Max nodded. “Okay. Mr. Thompson is away visiting his daughter but tonight there was a light in the window of one of the bedrooms upstairs. I know he isn’t due back for another two or three weeks, so I wondered who could be in his house. I didn’t think a burglar would have the light on, and I wondered if some homeless person or squatter might have moved in.”
Harry sipped his coffee and nodded. “That sounds possible, I guess.” He frowned. “You didn’t go in there, did you?”
“Good Lord, no! I’m not that brave,” Max assured him.
“So what makes you think it’s a spy?”
“Well, I wanted to be sure that someone was actually in there before I contacted anyone, so I went closer and crept around until I was under the window where the light was on. The window was open a bit so I could hear her talking, and that’s how I knew someone was in there.” He paused for a sip of coffee.
“And that’s when you came knocking on my door,” Harry said. “Max, did you stop to think that Mr. Thompson might have accidentally left the window open?”