Clarice Donovan lived in a nice little two story twin-home off in the suburbs; it was only a thirty minute drive from where we were at. As we pulled out front, Sumerset reached into his pocket and withdrew his wallet, flipping it open.
There was a small pad of white paper stuck inside--similar to what you'd expect FBI agents to store their IDs in. I saw him press a small cloth button on the left side of the wallet, and the paper suddenly flickered--as if it was a monitor screen.
"Woh," I said.
As I watched, he cycled through several bits and pieces of potential ID--all of them emblazoned with his mugshot. He finally settled on what looked like a pretty respectable police department ID; he pulled out an authentic looking badge and snapped it into the wallet.
"That's--what the hell is that?" I asked.
"Something you ain't old enough to toy with," he responded.
He slipped out of the car and headed straight to Clarice's house. I waited, busying myself with text messages sent to Anna. I wanted to ask her what she was doing, if she was looking around the bunker. But she wasn't responding.
Sumerset returned a few minutes later, wearing a puzzled expression. When he opened the door, he stared at me with a look that was almost accusing.
"She wants to talk with you," he said.
"Uh? I don't even know her."
"I know," he said. "And she claims she also knows. But she still wants to talk with you."
Okay, I thought. Little weird.
I got out of the car and followed Sumerset through the front door. As we walked, he quickly filled me in on the cover story.
"I told her we're trying to find her son in connection to a crime he might have witnessed," he explained.
"How do you know Sharkface is her son?"
"You'll see," he said.
When I stepped into the house, the first thing that struck me was that it was like a museum--everything under plated glass, carefully arranged and forbidden to touch. The stench of peppermints and expensive, old perfume lavished every nook and cranny--if ever there was a place capable of aging you just by walking in, this was it. On top of that, there were crucifixes and images of Jesus everywhere.
I quickly figured out how Sumerset had pieced together Sharkface's relation. Several pictures were placed throughout the room, with a big one over the mantlepiece. They showed a family, eating happily at a picnic, or playing frisbee, or posing for a photo in front of the hearth. And in all of them, at various stages in his life, was a grey-skinned youth with a bald head and a mouth full of razor-edged cutlery.
Kind of creepy, really.
Clarice Donovan sat in a rocking chair near the back-end of the room. She was an old block of a woman, short and heavy, with hair like iron and eyes like steel. She took one look at me and drew back her wrinkles into a smile.
"She told me you'd come on by."
"Uh. Okay. Who?" I asked.
"The funny blind girl," she said. "She told me that you'd need some information from me."
"The... funny blind girl?" I asked. I started hearing the Twilight Zone theme playing back in my head.
"She told me to tell you you'd find my son in the city. At this address," she said, and then she drew a small piece of paper out of her lap, holding it out to me.
"Right," I said, taking the paper--and then looking back at her. "...why are you helping me?"
"She did me a favor," the old woman responded, before smiling quietly. "She let me see my boy."
"O-kay," I said, looking back to Sumerset. But he was as implacable as rock.
"Oh, yes," she said. "The blind girl also told me to give you a message."
"Inspector Gadget," she said.
Both Sumerset and I stared at her.
"Inspector Gadget," I repeated.
"That's it? That's the message?" I asked.
"Yes. She said that, when it was important, you'd understand."
When we left the place, Sumerset and I were quiet for a long time. Didn't say anything when we got into the car. Didn't say anything when he started driving away.
It wasn't until we were half-way back home that he finally broke the long silence.
"That was just goddamn weird."
"Thank God you thought so too," I said. "I was worried that maybe I had just stepped into a bad Outer Limits episode and nobody had told me."
"Well, we got a location, anyway."
"But doesn't this--like, I don't know. Doesn't this just stink of a trap or something?" I asked.
"Consider your situation. Who'd set a trap for you? You're a two-bit player that hardly anyone knows about. Who currently has enough information to set a trap like this for you? And if they did have that information, why bother--why not just hit you where you are now? Besides," he added, "after I gear you up tonight, it won't matter what sort of situation you're walking into."
"'Gear me up'?" I said.
"We're breaking out the big guns, kid. No chances. Not tonight," he told me. "You're gonna take the battle suit."