“Something has been added to Miss Taylor’s body.”
Doctor Morand and I were in his office that evening after all of his patients and most of his staff had left. He was doing his best to explain things to the uneducated, namely myself.
“I took a blood sample and could see inorganic elements.” He continued.
I interrupted, “You could see her blood?”
“Yes,” he said, “away from the body the phenomena gradually faded. Or more precisely, the blood sample faded into the visible spectra.”
“So you think some sort of medicine has been given to her?” I asked. “Wouldn’t she remember getting stuck with a needle?”
“Mister Drake,” Morand said with an effort at patience. “When I say it is in her blood that does not mean the substance entered via injection. It could have been consumed by mouth or even absorbed through the skin. But the one thing I am sure of is that her body did not produce this. There’s no evidence that this is some sort of latent glandular effect.”
“Is it permanent?” I asked in a cautious tone.
He looked lost in thought for a moment and I was about to repeat the question when he said, “It shouldn’t be. You see, Mister Drake, the body eventually processes everything that enters it. In some cases, it happens quickly and in others, not so quickly. Some medicines will settle in an organ, say the liver, brain, or bone marrow, but eventually these will drop back into the system and be processed. Now admittedly we are dealing with an entirely unknown substance but I’ll have to see her again and take another sample to see if the level in her system has changed. This could be very slow acting.”
I sat back trying to absorb everything like a black cat soaking up the summer sun through an open window. Then I asked, “Have there been other cases like this?”
Doctor Morand sat back, too and thought for a long time. I gave him as much time as he needed.
Finally he said, “Only in theory. But I don’t recall now where I read it. I’ll have
to do some research.”
I thanked him for the meeting and promised that I’d be back as I gathered information. He took my number and said he’d telephone if anything new came up.
I was glad to have this doctor as a partner on this case. If he worried about the scientific part then I could concentrate on discovering who might have done this.
As I walked back to my office I thought about an angle that can never be ignored. In every case I have to consider the possibility that a client is not what they pretend to be. Although I had a good instinct for such things and felt rather confident about Miss Taylor’s sincerity I had to consider all possibilities. In some cases I’d even be set up. Sometimes people figure a private investigator makes a great alibi or can mislead the police like a herring throwing bloodhounds off a scent.
I considered, what if Miss Taylor somehow did this to herself and then came to me to… what? I could think of no motive. There are plenty of advantages to not being seen but then why would anyone expose that secret? It didn’t make sense.
I decided to stop by the police station on my way to the office. I needed a change of subject to clear my thoughts and I had friend on the evening shift. By “friends” I mean that they wouldn’t threaten me with a holding cell the moment I walked in the door.
This night was not bad. Most everyone was in a fair mood. Most importantly I didn’t run into Stanley Fenton, a police detective who seemed always anxious to put me behind bars if he could. Or at the very least he’d like to see to it that I quit the detective business. He hated me when I solved a case that he couldn’t and he hated me when he thought I was in the way of his cases.
The topic of the evening, of course, was the cat burglar. While the number of incidents continued to grow the amount of evidence, or rather, the lack of evidence, stayed constant. Every case had no witnesses and no fingerprints. The jobs were too varied to be all insiders and too similar to be unrelated.
One thing the cops were sure about was that this was a compulsive burglar. He took things that varied in value from expensive jewelry to cheap mementos that only had value to the owner. And none of the goods had turned up for sale on the streets or been reported from other cities. This one stole because he enjoyed it. The thrill of the act was his motive.
Or her motive, I thought. What better cat burglar than one who can’t be seen. Perhaps I’d have to conduct a more thorough search of the apartment on Green Bough Avenue.