Even though Eliza had warned me on the phone, I still wasn't prepared for the extent of the damage. Eliza is normally one of the most peace-loving people I know, and when she said she'd trashed Tzvetan's apartment, I assumed she was exaggerating.

I buzzed her apartment. No response. I tried several more times, and was on the verge of leaving--had she changed her mind? Had Tzvetan come back and made up with her? Were they both dead from a murder/suicide?--when I saw her rushing down the stairs. "Hi, Libby," she said as she let me in. "Sorry for the wait, but the intercom's a little damaged too. I can hear it, but I can't buzz you in from upstairs."

Ah, so she trashed the intercom, I thought as we walked up to the fourth floor. That was probably the extent of it.

But even from down the hall I could see how the door was barely hanging by one hinge. When we got closer I saw the chunk of wood and metal that the deadbolt had ripped out of the doorframe.

Inside, the apartment looked like a war zone. I remembered Eliza bubbling over the phone about her new furniture. Now it was shreds and splinters on the floor. The kitchen was full of shards of glass and china, and the mess of food on the floor was starting to smell. I was glad she hadn't decided to rip open the freon tubes in the back of the fridge.

I looked around in vain for something large enough to sit on, and when that search failed, someplace on the floor not too dangerous to plump my buttocks onto. Finally I said, "Why don't we go out to Crescendos, and you can tell me what happened?"

She nodded, somewhat jerkily. "Probably a good idea. This place doesn't hold a lot of good memories right now."

We went back downstairs and a block north to Crescendos. We arrived between sets, so it was actually quite enough to talk.

I waited for Eliza to talk. Normally she was willing enough, and now was no exception. "He came home late again a few nights ago. The car had broken down, he said--it'd been towed to a garage, and they said he had a broken piston-rod. He claimed that he got a ride with someone from the office who had to work late and had errands to run, etc. Okay, fine. I believe him, because I'm gullible.

"The next day I get a call from some parkade or other. Apparently our car had been parked there overnight, but there was no ticket on the dash or anything, so they had had it towed, and wanted to know if I could come and pick it up. I called the garage he'd claimed to have taken it to, and they hadn't seen any sign of it. So I took a cab and went to pick the car up.

"There were earrings in the back, and an unmistakable smell of perfume. And then I knew how Tzvetan had been leading me on. How many times he'd been working late, or going on business trips. Probably not as many as his boss paid him for, eh?" She laughed mirthlessly. "So I took everything of mine out of the apartment, and then something just snapped. When I came back to myself, my hands were covered with splinters and everything was like you saw it."

I finished off my cup of coffee. "I warned you about Tzvetan, if you'll remember. But that was just because I knew him in high school. I was willing to believe that he'd learned the error of his ways. I guess I was wrong." A thought struck me. "What did you do with the car?"

She grinned evilly. "I drove it back to the parkade, and left it there. No ticket on the dash. And all the piston-rods cracked as well as I could get them with a sledgehammer."

<John F. Woods gave the assignment(translated from the German)of


One of the above objects must be destroyed.>

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com