THE THIRD MAN

  1. I've been doing a lot of renos lately.
  2. Concurrently, the city is in the process of moving all the gas meters from inside our houses to outside.
  3. The gas man that came to my house a few months ago, Adam, was pretty nice - about my age, outgoing. We talked about Mr. Show.
  4. He noticed that, with the removal of a sun porch from the back of the house, the gas line that runs to my BBQ is kind of just hanging out in the middle of the yard, in a mildly hazardous fashion.
  5. He said, if I liked, he and a friend could come by and fix that for me, cash under the table.
  6. Sounded good to me! I duly called him up and arranged for them to come by.
  7. Also as part of the renos, I don't currently have a front fence, so it didn't seem weird when Adam and his friend, Dan, knocked on the back door.
  8. I opened the door, said hello, and was going to let them get started when a third man came around the back corner of the house. I gave him a friendly nod and went back in.
  9. For the next hour, Adam and Dan were in and out of the house, up and down from the basement. I had all the doors unlocked and open so they had ease of access.
  10. When they were done, Adam called me out to inspect the work - it looked great, so I happily paid them $200 and we all went merrily on with our days.
  11. Sitting here at loose ends, I decided I felt like reading an old Modesty Blaise, so trundled down to the office. The door was shut. I never shut that door.
  12. I reached for the doorknob, and, just as I was about to turn it, I had the following thoughts in quick succession:
  13. Adam said "he and a friend" would come by, not "he and a couple of buddies".
  14. Adam and Dan never acknowledged the third man.
  15. I never saw the third man again after he appeared in my yard.
  16. Maybe they thought he was with me, while I thought he was with them?
  17. It would have been very easy, with all the doors open, to come into my house and squirrel away in a corner.
  18. Even adjusting for an excitable imagination, there is a 25% chance the third man is in the office, waiting to murder anyone who enters.
  19. Now, instead of reading Last Day in Limbo, I am running odds on the third man and debating if I should send a description of him to my mother, just in case.