N Is For Noose Page 54

’’He died of a heart attack a few weeks back.’’

’’Hey, too bad. Sorry to hear that. He didn't seem that old.’’

’’He wasn't, but I don't think he took very good care of himself. Can you tell me what brought him in here?’’

’’Oh, sure. He was looking for some guy who'd just been released from jail. We seem to get a lot of fellows here in that situation. Don't ask me why. Classy place like this. Word must go out that we got good rates, clean rooms, and won't tolerate a lot of nonsense.’’

’’Do you remember the name of the man he was looking for?’’

’’That's an easy one to remember for other reasons, but I like to test myself anyway. Hang on.’’ He went through the same procedure, face screwed up to show how hard he was working. He paused in his efforts. ’’You're probably wondering how I do this. I took a course in mnemonics, the art of improving the memory. I spend a lot of time by myself, especially at night when I'm on desk duty. Trick is you come up with these devices, you know-aids and associations-that help fix an item in the mind.’’

’’That's great. I'm impressed.’’

’’Reason I remember the time frame for your Newquist's visit is I started my study just about the time he came in. He was my first practice case. So the name Newquist? No problem. New because the fellow was new to me, right? Quist as in question or query. New fellow came in with a question, hence Newquist.’’

’’That's good,’’ I said. ’’What about his first name?’’

Estes smiled. ’’You told me that. I'd forgotten it myself.’’

’’And the other guy? The one he was inquiring about?’’

’’What did I come up with for that? Let's see. It had something to do with dentists. Oh, yes. His last name was Toth? That's tooth with an O missing. That was a good one because the fellow had a tooth missing so it all tied together. His first name was Alfie. Dentists connect to doctors. And like at the doctor's, you say 'Ahh'when they stick in that tongue depressor in your mouth? First name began with A. So mentally, I go through all the A names I can think of. Allen, Arnold, Avery, Alfie. And there you have it.’’

’’So Tom Newquist was here on business.’’

’’That's correct. Trouble is, he missed him. Toth'd been here two weeks, but he moved out June One, shortly before this detective of yours came in.’’

’’Do you have any idea why he was looking for Toth?’’

’’Said he was developing a lead on a case he was working. I remember that because it was just like the movies. You know, Clint Eastwood comes in, flashing a badge and real serious. All I know is Newquist never had the chance to talk to him because Toth was gone by then.’’

’’Did he leave a forwarding address?’’

’’Well, no, but I have his ex-wife's address, under 'nearest relative not living with you.'That's so we got someone to call if a guy trashes the room or drops dead. It's a hassle trying to figure out what to do with a dead body.’’

’’I can imagine,’’ I said. ’’Is there any way I could get the ex-wife's name and address?’’

’’Sure. No problem. This's not confidential information as far as I'm concerned. People check in, I tell 'em the hotel files are open to the authorities. Cops come in asking to see records. I don't insist on a subpoena. That'd be obstruction of justice, in my opinion.’’

’’I'm sure the police appreciate your attitude, but don't the hotel guests object?’’

Dave Estes shrugged. ’’I guess the day I get sued, we'll change the policy. You know, another fellow came in, too. Plainclothes detective. This was earlier, maybe June One. I wasn't working that day or I'd have filed it away in the old noggin,’’ he said with a tap to his temple. ’’I told Peck he better take the same course I did, but so far I haven't managed to talk him into it.’’

’’Too bad,’’ I said. ’’So who was this other detective who came in?’’

’’Can't help you there and that's my point. If Peck took this course, he could recall in detail. Since he didn't;no dice. The slate's blank. End of episode.’’

’’Could I talk to Peck myself?’’

’’You could, but I can tell you exactly what he's going to say. He remembers this investigator came in-had a warrant and all, but Toth wasn't on the premises. In fact, he checked out later that day so maybe he was worried about the law catching up with him. Detective called back the next morning and Peck gave him the address and telephone number of Toth's ex-wife, same as I would.’’

’’Did you tell Tom Newquist about the other detective?’’

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