“I went to his room,” Peter van der Groot said. “Not there. His bed had been slept in. I thought maybe he came early to breakfast.”
The foursome of Jon, Rudy, Karl and Odd had added Mr. Z and Peter van der Groot to their table. They had to use one of the larger tables that could seat more than four. It wasn’t near the window. This morning their gang was just five.
“Let’s eat anyway,” Jon said. “He’ll come when he’s hungry.”
“He was in his bathroom earlier,” Peter van der Groot said. “I heard him grunting in there this morning when I went to get him. I told him I’d come back.”
Peter and Mr. Z came to meals together and often accompanied each other around The Lodge.
“When I came back I knocked on his bathroom door. He wasn’t there,” Peter said.
“Maybe he’s drunk, passed out,” Karl said. “I found a gin bottle in the garbage. Maybe he’s been having a snort and passed out.”
“He’s not a drinker,” Peter said.
“Well you never know,” Karl said. “This place can drive a man to drink.”
“He’s too old for that,” Jon said. “Let’s just eat, I have to pee soon.”
The dining hall was almost empty. It was early, the staff had not yet begun to wheel out the carts with covered plates of individual meals, name tagged and color coded so each resident was fed their correct bland and mushy breakfast. Jon stuck to his oatmeal with berries and skim milk. Always the same. Karl mockingly called it baby food.
“Why were you digging in the garbage?” Rudy asked.
“Needles,” Odd Gunnerson jumped in before Karl could answer. “He’s looking for needles.”
Karl shushed Odd. “Clues,” Karl said. “You guys have zoned out while I’ve been keeping my eyes open for clues. I found a couple needles thrown away in places they shouldn’t be. Nurses don’t do that; they have to toss them in that medical disposal bin so you old guys don’t pick them up and poke yourself in the eye with them. I know what I’m doing, looking for clues while you guys have forgot that there is still a killer on the loose in here. One of you maybe.”
”Or you,” Jon said. “Where’s that breakfast girl?”
Mrs. Remple and Mrs. Krantz had changed tables as well. It didn’t seem right to sit in the same place now that there were just the two of them. It looked like they were waiting for someone to join them.
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