Eugene, the one-eyed dog, barked disapprovingly at the sound of the doorbell.
Vance looked at his watch—it was three o’clock at night.
Lying on his bed, he had been reading a rather poor catalog dealing with rococo antiques. He turned off the light. It was full moon and his bedroom was now shrouded in a whitish gleam, still bright enough to see by.
He got up, walked into the study, and soundlessly opened the second floor window. He bent forward and looked down.
Three men and a woman stood on the lawn and looked at the entrance of his house, without speaking but in obvious anticipation. They were young, in their late twenties. The men looked like clones of one another. They were all short and skinny, with swarthy complexions and black, combed-back hair. Schmierig, Vance thought, using one of his grandmother’s German expressions. The girl was the tallest of the four. She was a pretty brunette, her hair in a short bop. She was dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans, her hands stuck in the back pockets.
Vance cleared his throat.
“Can I help you?”
In unison, they turned their heads up towards him.
The man on the left answered. He was dressed in a white shirt and business trousers and had a pair of sunglasses stuck into his hair. His voice was flat and soft, with a heavy accent.
“Are you Mr. Vance?”