But all of that had brought him here, underground in the sub-basement of Dr. Monk’s library. The stairway behind the bookcase was dark, the steps were deep and the tail of his trench coat dragged as he walked. The trigger book had a bright red cover, Diseases of the Lower Intestine. A little obvious but Monk wasn’t subtle. Killed half a dozen people and left them in the train yard. All in a heap in a freight car, broken and swollen.
The sub-basement was dug personally, maybe by hand, it connected down into the old subway tunnels. There was an annex that was supposed to run through here, connect the blue and red lines. It lost funding and was sealed off; Monk broke through, quadrupled the size of his home and built his immense, arcane laboratory. It was all spider webs and test tubes, an old centrifuge, high ceilings barely filled with sickly yellow light from a solitary lamp at the bottom of the stairwell.
Hasher would kill him if he found him here, at the scene. But Hasher wouldn’t, he didn’t know about Monk’s bookcase yet. He wouldn’t for a few more hours. Not until they deciphered Monk’s cipher from the newspaper. It’d only taken the detective a few hours to solve it, Hasher would need more time, more men, the computers. He wouldn’t see the key to it, the train yard. The sequence of call letters starting with the R 17, the subway here, now, his lair. The Annex. Under the intersection of 18th and Vine. The cipher wasn’t a message, it was a map. It all led here. Into the bowels. Even the book had the library code: S18 1977. It all fit.
But Hasher wasn’t meant to be here. Not yet. The detective was. Monk and the detective were dancing around each other, dropping little love notes. This time it was in the newspaper, the last time was in the train yard, the time before that it was the detectives turn, he’d cleaved his way through Lucy’s bar, the docks, and the old observatory. He’d left messages with Monk’s men. He’d left his footprint. Let Monk know he was coming. And here he was. And Monk was gone. Leaving behind more papers, more clues. The detective stood in The Annex, the air was acrid with the smell of alcohol. He’d bothered to disinfect his patients. Their blood was still in the traps of the operating table, dark stains festering. With it, “Too Late Detective” was scrawled on the opposing wall, above the tracks that ran through the far half of the room.
He didn’t want to, but it was time to go to The Rat. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like The Rat’s game. He hated back scratching, but The Rat would know more about The Monk than The Detective would, and though he couldn’t squeeze The Rat for information, he could offer it in other ways. One of The Rat’s boys was in the clink and it wouldn’t take much to get him loose. He’d have to call Darla. Goddamn if it doesn’t always come back to Darla. Goddamn if he didn't need a drink.