While Other People Sleep

Free While Other People Sleep by Marcia Muller

Book: While Other People Sleep by Marcia Muller Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marcia Muller
Tags: Suspense, FIC022040
particular stranger going to do when rudely yanked out of her personal fantasy?
    Pitch a fit.
    The bedclothes get dragged off, the pills go down the toilet, the cat goes into the crawl space. And I'm lucky she didn't do more—
    The Neon abruptly started up, its headlights flashing on. I slumped low, let it go by. Then I followed.
    Half an hour later Ted and I were parked several spaces apart on Van Ness Avenue near Pine Street, across from the Far West Academy of Martial Arts. He seemed to be watching its entrance.
    Regardless of what Neal thought, Ted had to suspect him of infidelity.
    I squirmed around in the driver's seat of the van, seeking a more comfortable position. Across the six lanes of rain-slick pavement was a four-story building occupied by one of our major electronics retailers, the Good Guys; some enterprising window dresser had turned TVs face out across its entire facade, and now the credits of the local CBS affiliate's news show began to roll. Soon dozens of tiny news clones began smiling and talking and bobbing their stiffly coiffed heads in perfect synchronization high above the sidewalk. I watched, in danger of becoming hypnotized.
    At the stoplight behind me brakes squealed and tires shrieked. I glanced back, saw a car that had slid sideways across two lanes. Why was it that the vast majority of San Franciscans forgot how to drive at the first drop of rain? Weren't they aware that rubber adhered to pavement even when both were wet? What would they do if they lived in Seattle, where it
rained? Or in the Sierras, where the roads were now slick with ice and snow?
    Mental question-and-answer session, designed to keep my mind alert at this late hour—as well as off the subject I'd begun to label as The Woman.
    People were beginning to drift through the door of the academy now. Through the windows of the parked cars ahead of me I saw Ted's silhouette straighten; I did the same, my hand on the key.
    Neal came outside, gym bag in hand, waving good-bye to a pair of men. He turned down Pine Street and walked toward Polk.
    Ted waited for a break in traffic, then pulled away from the curb. I waited a little longer before I followed. The Neon shot across three lanes, made a left on Bush. I got caught at the light, but when I turned onto Bush, I spotted Ted making another left onto Polk. I duplicated it, saw that he was driving unhurriedly, keeping Neal in sight as he walked along to Anachronism, bypassed the shop, and crossed in mid-block to a parking garage.
    Ted pulled over to the curb and idled there. I stopped to let pass a trio of young men who seemed to have pierced every conceivable body surface with metal objects that looked as though they'd been subjected to a few whirls in the garbage disposer, then waved across an elderly couple toting sacks from an all-night supermarket. In minutes Neal's beat-up Honda exited the garage and turned north on Polk. I eased forward, watching Ted follow.
    Separated at times by various other vehicles, the three of us proceeded along Polk, through the Broadway tunnel, and ultimately to Tel Hill. By the time I arrived at Plum Alley, Ted had emerged from his building's garage and was entering the lobby courtyard. Neal—who parked on the street, since the apartment was allotted only one garage space and Ted's car was the more valuable—had presumably gone inside.
    I idled a few doors down from the building as Ted checked their mailbox and stepped onto the elevator. Watched him through the glass blocks as it rose to the third floor. When he passed behind the art-glass windows, I realized why I always had the sense of being underwater when I walked down that hallway; Ted looked as if he were drifting among the strange sea creatures.
    Submerged, perhaps, in whatever lay heavy on his mind.
    When I got home, I found a grocery bag on my front porch. Another unpleasant surprise, no doubt.
    Without touching it, I opened the door, disarmed the security system, and turned on the

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