hundred ten a day, plus expenses.'

'That seems pretty steep,' Foster said.

In fact, it was fifteen dollars cheaper than my usual rate, and twenty-five cheaper than he'd pay for a big agency.

He was getting my friend-of-a-friend rate. But I didn't say anything. I'd begun to regret the offer almost as soon as I'd made it; I really didn't feel like working.

Foster made his decision. 'You'll agree not to talk to my wife?'

'As long as I'm working under the other conditions I outlined.'

He nodded, fumbled in his pockets. 'I'm sorry. I thought I'd brought my checkbook along. I guess I didn't.'

'Well, you send me a check for one day's pay as a retainer. While you're at it, you might send along a good snapshot of Rafferty, taken after the accident.'

'Will do. Thanks, Frederickson.'

'Don't thank me yet. Has it occurred to you that you could discover some things you don't really want to know?'

He thought about it, shook his head. 'I want to save my marriage. I don't believe the truth ever hurt anybody who didn't deserve to get hurt.'

I suppressed the temptation to tell him how wrong he was. 'You must have asked Frank Manning about the building. What did he say?'

'He didn't say anything. He told me it was professional ethics not to comment on another man's work.'

2

Dr. Franklin Manning kept professor's hours-highly erratic. I was lucky: it was after six, but I found the tall, gawky-limbed man in his loft-sized office, playing in his sandbox. He would stack a series of multicolored blocks into different configurations, study each for a few moments, then knock down the blocks and start over again. Great buildings rose and fell before my eyes.

Well past seventy, Manning was still Professor of Design, a world authority on all aspects of architecture- far too valuable for the university to retire. He loved blue suits; they were all he owned. For all his brilliance and knowledge of color, he could never quite seem to find ties that matched.

I asked him whether he thought Victor Rafferty had designed the Nately Museum.

'I don't think I want to comment on that, Mongo,' he said after a long pause.

'C'mon, Frank,' I prodded with a grin. 'The least you can do after sending some business my way is to answer a few questions.'

'I'm an old man, Mongo, with an old man's distaste for lawsuits. Some people consider me an expert on these matters; I could say something that someone else might take serious exception to.'

'There's not going to be any lawsuit here, Frank; at least, none revolving around any conversation we have. I'd like to hear what you have to say strictly for my own information. I understand it's only an opinion about something nobody can be sure of.'

'The Nately Museum is Victor Rafferty's work,' he said drily.

The absolute certainty in his voice took me completely by surprise. 'Have you seen Rafferty's sketches?'

'What sketches?' he asked absently.

'Foster's wife told him Rafferty made preliminary drawings of a building like the Nately Museum.'

He destroyed a monument, started to build another. 'Nobody ever saw Victor Rafferty's sketches, not until after the building was already up. He'd even prepare the major portions of the blueprints himself. He had to; most of the time it was the only way he could make the builders see how the structure was actually going to be put together.'

'Then how can you be so damn sure, Frank?'

'I don't need a sketch with Rafferty's name on it to know that the Nately Museum is basically his work.' He spoke slowly as he put an oblong blue block on top of a square red one, then stood back to study the' effect. 'The building has Rafferty's stylistic fingerprints all over it. The Nately Museum is a Victor Rafferty creation inasmuch as it is a Rafferty concept; it has his signature. There are a thousand details in the building that lead me to that conclusion. If you had a week, I'd go over all of them with you.'

'How long did it take to build the museum?'

He thought for a few moments. 'About a year and a half.' He paused, then added: 'Word got around fast that something special was going up. The building has won just about every major architectural award.'

'Frank, do you think Rafferty's alive?'

He looked at me as if I was a very slow student who had accidentally stumbled into a graduate course and would have to be gently eased out. 'Rafferty's dead, Mongo. Died in … '69, I think.' His eyes went out of focus for a moment as he looked at a memory. 'Yes. It was August of '69. I attended the funeral.'

'Is there any possibility that Patern could be Victor Rafferty?'

'Not the slightest.' His tone was emphatic. 'I knew Rafferty, and I know Patern. Richard was one of my students.' There was a curious note of disapproval, even scorn, in his voice.

'You don't like Patern?'

His silver eyebrows arched. 'Now, Mongo, I never said any such thing. Richard is a gifted, brilliant architect. He's also, well… abrasive. He can be grating at times.'

'The point is that you don't think Patern could have come up with a building like that on his own, if I'm reading you right.'

'Anything's possible,' he said evasively. 'It's possible that the idea for the Nately Museum originated with Richard. In my opinion, the structure is a Victor Rafferty concept.'

'Then Patern must have stolen the idea somehow.'

Frank put up his hands as if to ward off an impending attack. 'Whoa, my friend. I don't want to slander anyone. I said that Richard was an aggressive, ambitious young man; I didn't say he was a thief. As far as I know, he's completely honest-and proud. He wouldn't have to steal another man's ideas.'

'But the fact remains that he's now the shining star of his architectural firm.'

'Sure,' Frank said easily. 'The Nately Museum is a beautiful building.'

'With a design that you believe came from a dead man. How can that be unless Patern stole the idea?'

'You're the detective, Mongo.' He shrugged. 'I'm sorry if what I have to say seems contradictory.'

It was getting pretty tedious marching around in verbal circles; I decided to try a new tack. 'You've told me something about Patern. What about Rafferty?'

'A man apart,' he said slowly, as if choosing each word with great care. 'I knew him quite well; and yet I didn't know him; I'm not sure anybody did.' He breathed deeply and flashed a broad grin. 'I trust that's sufficiently confusing. He was a giant; like many giants, he was inaccessible.'

'You must be able to tell me something else about him.'

Frank shrugged again and thrust his hands into his pockets. 'As an architect he was without peer. As a person, well, that's something else again. He would occasionally come to see me to discuss some professional matters. . ' He paused, chuckled. 'We'd usually end up here, at this table. We'd play like boys for hours, challenging each other to come up with new designs and concepts. Rafferty was good to be with at those times. But I'm rambling.' He took one hand out of his pocket and rubbed the bridge of his nose. 'Victor had an incredible ability to concentrate, to filter out all distractions. But he could be extremely impatient-even cruel-if he felt his time was being wasted. You see, he simply didn't care about most other aspects of living. I'm sure his health was atrocious even before the accident. Horrible diet; he had an absolute passion for those cheap fast-food-chain hamburgers.'

'How'd he get along with his wife, Frank?'

He made a gesture of distaste. 'I don't know anything about Rafferty's personal life, Mongo. I only met his

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