“That’s not uncommon,” Spieth said. But Gregson had his doubts. The building stood for something; and Gregson wanted to find out what that was; he walked into it.

“Careful… it may be booby-trapped.”

Gregson paid no mind to the men over his shoulder. His head was in the crime and it gave his brain the familiar electrical impulses. He was still wearing his marathon shorts and Stetson—any passerby would think him a slob, but he quickly slipped into the shadows.

“An apothecary?” He mused. “And it didn’t blow up? No, this is something different…” There were masks on the walls, island faces with evil smiles. A queen of hearts stood in the corner, holding a hand. Gregson brandished his pen light and shined it about the shop. Urban Voodoo came to mind.

“This is a crime scene!” A woman shouted. Gregson looked at the queen of hearts and nearly jump out of his skin. Then he turned around and noticed a tall, slender cop.

“It’s okay; I’m a private investigator.”

“Come out this moment or I’ll have you arrested.”

Gregson walked towards her. “As you can see, I have no problem with female authority,” he smiled.

CRASH. Gregson stepped on something and shattered it. Bits of glass flew everywhere.

“Get out!”

Gregson shined his light on what he had stepped on. It was a mercury detonator. The metal was seeping into his running shoes. “Get the doc,” Gregson said. “I might be insane before the day is out.” The metal had already seeped into his skin.

Under the MRI, in the medical room, a young doctor looked at Gregson. “Metal poisoning is the least of your troubles,” he said. “Your cholesterol could kill two people. I’m surprised your heart hasn’t given out.”

“That’s because I got a new one last year. Can’t you see the scars?”

“I see the scars and your heart is swollen. The good news is that the mercury that got under your skin is nothing more than what the average person ingests from a can of tuna. It seems to me that you need to stop eating.”

“Tuna sandwiches?”

“No; stop eating food. I mean hot dogs, pizza, beer, everything you like.”

“I just ran a marathon; won’t that counteract my diet?”

“You’re not a stupid fellow, so your cognitive dissonance is one for the books. I doubt a psychologist has seen anything like it. And no more marathons, at least not until you drop 50 pounds.”

Gregson left the hospital feeling discouraged; young women and doctors were telling him what to do. Maybe he was getting old, but then again, maybe he was in his prime. There was only one way to find out. He went to the Chessfield Library and looked up the building registries.

“That shop next to the mall… what’s it called?”

“Sir, are you okay?” Gregson was lost in thought, until he noticed the girl. She wasn’t older than 24.

“I’m just looking up a building that didn’t blow up.”

“I’ll just leave you to it then; ask if you have any questions.” The young girl walked to the rather strict librarian behind the counter and told on him. Gregson didn’t mind; he knew how to talk to librarians. He told them of his travels and his mysteries, which became inspiration for their book clubs and writing groups.

“The South American Shop. A curator of Caribbean voodoo. Our other branch is located in Rio De Janeiro. It’s time to take a vacation,” Gregson said.


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