The Man in Lower Ten HTML version
30. Finer Details
At ten minutes before two the following day, Monday, I arrived at my office. I had spent
the morning putting my affairs in shape, and in a trip to the stable. The afternoon would
see me either a free man or a prisoner for an indefinite length of time, and, in spite of
Johnson's promise to produce Sullivan, I was more prepared for the latter than the former.
Blobs was watching for me outside the door, and it was clear that he was in a state of
excitement bordering on delirium. He did nothing, however, save to tip me a wink that
meant "As man to man, I'm for you." I was too much engrossed either to reprove him or
return the courtesy, but I heard him follow me down the hall to the small room where we
keep outgrown lawbooks, typewriter supplies and, incidentally, our wraps. I was
wondering vaguely if I would ever hang my hat on its nail again, when the door closed
behind me. It shut firmly, without any particular amount of sound, and I was left in the
dark. I groped my way to it, irritably, to find it locked on the outside. I shook it
frantically, and was rewarded by a sibilant whisper through the keyhole.
"Keep quiet," Blobs was saying huskily. "You're in deadly peril. The police are waiting in
your office, three of 'em. I'm goin' to lock the whole bunch in and throw the key out of
"Come back here, you imp of Satan!" I called furiously, but I could hear him speeding
down the corridor, and the slam of the outer office door by which he always announced
his presence. And so I stood there in that ridiculous cupboard, hot with the heat of a
steaming September day, musty with the smell of old leather bindings, littered with
broken overshoes and handleless umbrellas. I was apoplectic with rage one minute, and
choked with laughter the next. It seemed an hour before Blobs came back.
He came without haste, strutting with new dignity, and paused outside my prison door.
"Well, I guess that will hold them for a while," he remarked comfortably, and proceeded
to turn the key. "I've got 'em fastened up like sardines in a can!" he explained, working
with the lock. "Gee whiz! you'd ought to hear 'em!" When he got his breath after the
shaking I gave him, he began to splutter. "How'd I know?" he demanded sulkily. "You
nearly broke your neck gettin' away the other time. And I haven't got the old key. It's
"Where's it lost?" I demanded, with another gesture toward his coat collar.
"Down the elevator shaft." There was a gleam of indignant satisfaction through his tears
of rage and humiliation.
And so, while he hunted the key in the debris at the bottom of the shaft, I quieted his
prisoners with the assurance that the lock had slipped, and that they would be free as
lords as soon as we could find the janitor with a pass-key. Stuart went down finally and