Dr. Johnson cursed himself as he walked away from the lake as fast as he could, gripping his cane tightly in one hand, not even bothering to swing it.
He was rattled.
He had been followed from the Ingrid Magnusson’s bookstore by a man who looked like he could be police, or a prizefighter. A tall and broad-shouldered man who had been sitting in a chair at the reading room when he arrived.
Dr. Johnson had finally gotten permission to examine the Albigensian Grimoire, he had been waiting for more than a year for it to become available and he was eager to look into its pages, both to examine its ancient lore as well as the modern interpolations that had been made by Lord Crowley and company.
Now he had lost it and he feared Ingrid’s patron: Karl Thorrson the one-eyed giant, would not let him live it down.
Dr. Johnson was not a brave man, nor did he aspire to be one, a fear of violence reprisal had haunted him since childhood. He was graceless and physical weak, despite his height, which gave him a somewhat imposing disposition.
When he realized he was being followed he panicked and began walking toward Loon Lake.
He was hoping that he was imagining things, being paranoid as was his wont; perhaps the man was not following him after all, he thought, but then the man turned with him and matched his gait.
When Dr. Johnson got to the lake he attempted to lose him in the brushes of the steep hill that formed a ridge on the east side.
It did not work.
That is when he decided that the man must be one of the Park Police, the notorious squad of uniformed gangster that were the bane of Saint Anthony.
He did not want to be caught with the book in his hands so he decided to hide it beneath some shrubs. Then he walked away, and walked right past the man feeling as smug as could be, telling himself that he had outsmarted the sleuth, pretending that he was the better man.
The feeling did not last.
He knew the man would retrieve the book. His heart fell into his stomach as he contemplated the implications.
He would need to do something desperate if he was going to survive this blunder.
He looked out over the surface of the water as he turned away from the lake, fearing that he would be sleeping there, eighty feet below the surface before the night was through.