THE MAN IN THE LIBRARY
For reasons that will forever remain a mystery, my sister scheduled the client meeting at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library—specifically, the government section, which is low traffic, offering privacy for a new client intake. The file was left on my desk with all the relevant details, including the time and place of the meeting and a brief description of the client: male, five feet eleven, brown hair, brown eyes, fortyish, average in every way (apparently his own description). The only other detail in the newly minted file was the client’s contact information and his name: Adam Cooper.
I arrived early, sat down at one of the glass-encased study desks, and read the same page of a chess theory book that I had been reading over and over again. When I heard footsteps approach, I immediately stuffed the book in my bag. The last thing I needed was to get ensnared in a long-winded discussion on chess strategy when I don’t know any.
Adam Cooper was indeed average in every way—the kind of guy who could confound a police lineup by virtually blending into the wall. That’s not to say that Mr. Cooper’s face was entirely void of character, but the character surfaced at unsuspected times. The only other thing worth mentioning was that he wore a navy-blue sweater vest. Any time someone under the age of sixty wears a sweater vest it’s worthy of comment.
“Are you the Gopher?” he asked me with an ironic grin.
“The woman who confirmed the appointment said that I should ask you that question to be sure I was meeting the right individual.”
“You are meeting the right person,” I said.
I’d never been asked that specific question before—“Are you the Gopher?”—but I had a feeling where it originated from. And I can assure you that the originator was going to suffer the consequences.
“Why do they call you the Gopher?” he asked, smiling. And here, a spark of character surfaced, teeth short and crooked in a way that made him seem friendlier. Maybe it was the sweater vest he wore, or the goofy boat shoes, or the way his bangs hung a little too low on his face. If pressed at the time, the one word I would have used to describe Adam was “harmless.”
“Call me Isabel,” I replied.
“Is that your real name?”
“No. It’s ‘the Gopher.’ But I use ‘Isabel’ professionally,” I said.
“That makes sense,” Adam replied, taking a seat. “So, Mr. Cooper.”
“Call me Adam.”
“Adam, how can I help you?”
“I want you to follow my sister.”
© 2012 Spellman Enterprises, Inc.