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In the Cabinet: 13 of 13

I avoided the task all day.

I opted to spend the time of my last day in the office cleaning out my desk and drawers. This required getting some boxes, and packing material since the knives John and Mina had sent were valuable and I didn't want them damaged any more than I already had done. That took the rest of the day and I didn't actually have time to call until about 6 o'clock or so. I thought about postponing it longer, like about three weeks after I got to Virginia, but that wouldn't really be fair.

I sat down at my desk, pulled the phone towards me and dialed. Amazing how long it can take a phone to connect when you don't want the person on the other end to answer. It also takes them an amazingly long time to actually pick up the phone. You'd think that the time would shrink, since this is the opposite of the sort of nervous anticipation that comes with calling someone you want to talk to. If I were calling a pretty girl, one might expect this, but I wasn't calling a girl at all.

"Hello." His voice was so cold it nearly froze my ear to the receiver.

"Hello Mister Frost." I said.

"Hello Mister Collier." He replied, which always avoided the problem of our first names.

"I'm afraid I have to deliver some bad news to you." I told him.

"Would this have something do to with you turning the business over to Debbie and her leaving town?" He asked.

"Yeah." I had long ago stopped being surprised when he knew things. "Yeah it would. I'm afraid our agreement has come to an end. I'm leaving town tonight, and I don't think I'll ever be coming back."

"Well, this was to be eventually expected." He said in the same flat tone he said everything.

"Was it?" I asked.

"Yes." He said. "Have you lined up other work yet or are you just running screaming into the night?"

"I've more or less lined up other work." I told him.

"Good." He said. "Your talents should not go to waste then."

"So, you're not mad or anything?"

"I'm slightly put out, but with time and luck I'll find another private detective to fill your slot." He said. "Replacing you will be in no way easy, but I suppose it can be done."

"Good." I said. "I'm glad I won't be leaving you in too much of a lurch."

"Of course I'll have to end your payments."

"That's understood, of course." I said.

"Very well then." He said. "I wish you well in your future endeavors."

And with that, he hung up on me. It seemed kind of rude at the time, and looking back now, it still seems kind of rude. Still, I'd gotten out pretty easily without a lot of arguing back and forth. I leaned back and put the phone back on the hook, leaning back in my chair and turning a slow circle towards the window. I looked out the big window and noticed that it had become dark. I looked around the office and found that I had indeed turned the lights on. Somewhere along the lines I'd taken the two boxes of things I wanted to keep from my office down to my car, because I couldn't see any evidence of them here before me.

I sat in my office and looked around it, coming to the realization that I was actually going to leave this place forever. I was going to leave the Detroit area and I wasn't going to look back. I got up from my desk and walked across the room, wondering if I should say goodbye to anyone. There was no one left to say goodbye to though. Liberty had taken Jenicia back to France with her, and everyone else I knew was dead or gone. With Eddie's death, the last person I knew from my old days that had been left in the state was gone. Everyone I knew here had left already, leaving me the last one to leave Detroit.

As I walked out of the office, I switched off the lights, just like they always asked.

I walked down the stairs for the last time and I started to go through a list of all the people I knew who had died in just the last year. It was a long list and I had to keep going after I'd gotten into the car and started on my way. I was on I-75, going south and headed towards Ohio before I'd gotten done with the list.

Christmas, that's the big one isn't it? Of course Easter, Patrick, Kwanza, Chanukah, and Sam were all gone too. All the big shows were gone now. There were those totally innocent victims as well, like Sandy Cloose, Peter Rabbit, Becky Hain, I might even be willing to out Hewie Homunculus in there. The thugs, Hardrock, Coco, Joe, Opus, Chester Cat, his buddy the Professor and the other four that made up those six I killed with one blow. Killers like Amy Cook of course, along with Knock, The Fat Man, and my old friend Tom Noonan. Then there were just the dummies like Piggy, Jabber Walker and his little crew Borogove, Rath, Jubjub, Tove, Bander and the rest of the names I never bothered to learn. Of course we have to discuss a supreme dip shit like Smith. The Freedoms, poor little Columbia and her father Tom. I couldn't help but feel I was leaving some names off this list, but that just proves how long of a list it was. And that was just in the last year.

I'd kind of had the idea that it was this place that had killed them. Being in Michigan, a state that was itself dying had caused them to die with it. I should have been happy to leave the place, but to be honest I could only really feel a great sense of regret. I had lived while so many had died, and everyone I'd tried to protect beyond Jack the cat had been killed. Of course the fact that the one eyed warrior was another Jack probably had more to do with his survival than my total inability to protect a single person or their interests.

There was a lot of failure behind me, and I didn't really want to have anything do with it any longer. As I drove towards the sign that welcomed me to Ohio, I was just praying something on the Hudson wouldn't explode and keep me in this state. If I could just get across the sate line, I felt I would be okay from there. I wouldn't have to add my name to the list of the dead. I could see the border coming up, but frankly I'd become tired of the game and didn't want to play anymore.

As I drove towards the end of Michigan, but hadn't quite reached it yet, I decided that I wouldn't be narrating my story any more either.


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