The Insect World

I was fascinated, without really understanding what was done here. I knew that the table covered with an old piece of rug tacked down around all the edges was used for cutting glass. I knew that the acrid smell of chemicals in the air must come from that row of brown glass bottles on a high shelf, used somehow in the restoration of old materials. But the small tools, thin and fragile-looking, were a complete mystery to me. Apparently the work was sometimes dirtying, because stained clothing hung from hooks on the wall near the door to a small lavatory. Three or four smocks, plus trousers and old shirts, and an old basketball jacket with vague color differences on the back where some design had once appeared—“Hell’s Angels,” maybe, or a high school letter, or the name of a company sponsoring a bowling team.

The workroom was reassuring; it was as though the calm competence of it was convincing me that no dead man ever had been found in this building, nor ever could be. Not in a building like this.

Don’t Lie to Me (1972), by Donald Westlake

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